Duterte tough talk stirs investor unease: European Chamber

Vivienne Gulla, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 27 2016 04:12 PM | Updated as of Sep 27 2016 09:16 PM

President Rodrigo Duterte speaks at an event at the presidential palace. Malacananag photo

MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte's constant jabs against critics of his bloody war on drugs has begun to alarm foreign businessmen, making it difficult to sell the Philippines as an investment destination, a European business group said Tuesday.

With foreign funds pulling out of the Philippines and the peso weakening against the dollar, the atmosphere is "not very conducive to business or selling the Philippines abroad," said Guenter Taus, president of the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines.

Foreign investors were net sellers for the 23rd straight day on Monday while the peso weakened to a seven-year low to the dollar as Duterte sustained his tough talk against the United States, the United Nations and the European Union. 

“I think it is alarming to a certain extent, because we have been building relationships with the government in all aspects... Whether this focal point is going to shift, we don’t know yet, but yes, it sings certain alarm bells for businesses to see," Taus said.

Duterte cursed at the EU, a major trading partner, last week for joining mounting international criticism of his anti-narcotics campaign. 

But Taus acknowledged that Duterte's economic managers were working to project an "investor-friendly image" for the Philippines.

Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno said Tuesday the peso's weakness should not be a cause for concern as this would boost the purchasing power of households who rely on dollar remittances.