Businessmen 'bullish' on economy ahead of Duterte SONA


Posted at Jul 22 2016 11:20 AM

MANILA – Businessmen are “bullish” on the economy ahead of President Rodrigo Duterte’s first policy speech next week, with his economic managers promising to match his tough rhetoric with decisive action, a business leader said Friday.

The 71-year-old leader is expected to detail his legislative priorities in his State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday. In his inaugural address last month, Duterte promised to crack down on red tape and flip-flopping policies that have hampered business.

“It’s not an exaggeration to say that this economic team is off to a running start. A lot of the early moves of the administration have been very well received. That partly explains why the mood is very positive and very bullish,” said Makati Business Club Chairman Ramon del Rosario.

Duterte has tapped hotelier Carlos Dominguez as finance secretary and University of the Philippines economics professors Benjamin Diokno as budget secretary and Ernesto Pernia as socioeconomic planning secretary.

The economic team has promised to spread growth to the country side, address the past leadership’s underspending, and fast-track the overhaul of the country’s decrepit infrastructure.

“The message is: This is a team that is willing to make decisions and make decisions quickly and that they’re very action oriented. That is the kind of message that appeals to the business community,” he said.

Del Rosario, however, expressed concern over the killings of hundreds drug suspects since Duterte took office. During the campaign, he had urged the electorate to place the tough-talking Davao City mayor under scrutiny.

“I have to say the concern about respect for the rule of law should still be emphasized,” he said.

“I think we should be vigilant to make sure what is happening, or what seems to be happening, which is widespread unexplained deaths of people, does not become an epidemic of wanton killings without due process,” he added.