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Duterte to Singapore: PH is open for business

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte wooed a group of business leaders in Singapore by discussing the many developments and reforms in the Philippines especially in the key growth sectors: energy and infrastructure.
“The Philippines is open for business and we welcome what you have to offer,” the President told them at the Jurong Ballroom of the Shangri-la Hotel in Singapore on Friday, Dec. 17. This would mean more investments and encouraging competition, putting an end to protectionism in industries that are monopolized. “More competition would only mean better services and affordability of quality products for all,” he said.
The President encouraged big businesses to invest in the Philippines by assuring them that his campaign against drugs and criminality have made the streets of the country much safer. “Over the last few months, we’ve improved our peace and order situation. Filipinos today generally feel safer and the crime has remarkably dropped, especially in the urban areas,” Duterte told them. The President said that his war against drugs and crime has won broad-based support among all socio-economic classes in the Philippines. The focus in solving peace and order has been rewarded by a GDP of 7.1 percent growth during the first three months of the administration, according to Duterte. Manufacturing sector likewise jumped by almost 7% generating more decent jobs. Unemployment figures therefore improved to 4.7% , coming down from 5.4 and 6.5% in previous quarters.
Singapore is the country’s largest trading partner and the largest source of investments from ASEAN. The Philippines’ attractiveness as an investment economic destination has also been cemented with the huge goodwill earned from the President’s visits, that generated investment pledges from China, Russia, Japan and Malaysia. Duterte told the movers and shakers of the finance, petroleum and food industries in Singapore that the key to maintaining the Philippines’ economic momentum is infrastructure. “My administration is committed to raise infrastructure spending to 6 to 7 percent of the GDP, focusing investment on the bottlenecks – more importantly in transportation – that would lower the cost of doing business in the Philippines,” he said.
The administration has approved open for investment infrastructure projects worth nearly 20 billion, including a long-overdue roads, bridges, airports and an international port project. The biggest project includes a railway system that would connect the entire Mindanao island. Various companies in Japan, China, and Korea are looking to participate. The President said other big-ticket items that are up for grabs are power plants, a container port, toll ways and bridges, and special economic zones, all of which are being looked into by our biggest conglomerates, including San Miguel, Ayala, and Metro Pacific.
“Our economic and business sector continue to be generally upbeat due to a combination of prudent macroeconomic and promotional trade and investment policies,” Duterte said. Duterte said that his administration is determined to cut red tape and corruption and make the Philippines more business friendly. He invited investors to come to the Philippines and gave them the assurance that their investments and profits are protected and that they can directly report to him if they are encountering problems in corruption or harassments. “Our vision for my country is to uplift the quality life of Filipinos, properly nourished and healthy, educated and empowered to address inequality and bring prosperity for all,” he said. Meanwhile, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong met again with President Duterte on the last day of the Philippine leader’s state-visit.
The Singaporean Prime Minister hosted lunch in honor of the visiting leader at a simple yet modern food bar called the Coconut Club. The two leaders had a bilateral meeting on Thursday at the Istana, the official residence and office of the President of Singapore. The President and the Philippine delegation was served with Kerabu or salad with dried shrimp, peanuts, onions, and tomatoes and Nasi Lemak and Soto Ayam or coconut rice, fried chicken, fish fillet, anchovies, cucumber, fish cake, egg, and chili paste served with chicken herbal broth. They also enjoyed Chendol, a chilled coconut milk with palm sugar syrup and pandan-flavored jelly.
On Thursday night, Singaporean President Dr. Tony Tan Kem Yang also hosted a state banquet in honor of President Duterte. Before flying back to the Philippines, President Duterte dropped by the Singapore Botanic Garden where he was presented the orchid named after him. Dendrobium Rodrigo Roa Duterte (Dendrobium Sonia Beauty x Dendrobium Urmila Nandey) is a compact, robust and vigorous hybrid which produces upright flower sprays that bear up to 15 striking and well-arranged blooms. Its sepals and petals are violet-red, with lip of the same tone but darker complementing each bloom.

Criselda Cabangon David, a happy mother of two kids, is a full-time Sociologist at the City Government of Lucena, Quezon Province. She is currently the Managing Editor of Ang Diaryo Natin Sunday News, a weekly local community newspaper in the Philippines and an active member of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines.