Traders watching Duterte's 'controversial' statements: fund manager


Financial markets are watching the "controversial" statements of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, after the tough-talking frontrunner in the presidential race widened his lead in the most recent surveys, a top fund manager said Monday.

The 71-year-old Duterte, who has vowed a ruthless six-month campaign to stop crime, has not spoken at length about how he planned to sustain the Philippines' robust economic growth, which is among the fastest in the world.

"Of course there may be some comments that will tend to be very controversial, comments made by the presidential candidate from Davao," Fund Managers Association of the Philippines President Joy Tuplano told ANC's "Market Edge with Cathy Yang."

Tuplano was asked what factors might affect trading in the two weeks leading to the May 9 elections aside from an expected rate hike by the Federal Reserve and a phase-out of special deposit accounts by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.

"The presidential candidate might have made controversial remarks but yes, he is leading and he is definite with what he wants to do with the country. I leave it to the Philippine electorate to decide," said Tuplano, who is also executive vice president and trust officer at Metrobank, the country's third largest lender.

As debates heat up at the campaign homestretch, Tuplano said businessmen, especially foreign investors, were waiting for more definite economic policies from the candidates.

"They're probably saying, they hope candidates would talk more about this. We need foreign ownership to be expanded," she said.

During Sunday's final presidential debate all five candidates spoke in general terms about spurring economic growth to create more jobs and agreed to stop "endo" or the hiring of employees on contractual basis.

Duterte widened his lead over closest rival Sen. Grace Poe by 12 points in the April 12-17 survey by ABS-CBN and Pulse Asia. It was the biggest lead so far in what started as a tight, four-cornered fight with Vice President Jejomar Binay and administration bet Mar Roxas.

Duterte's trash talking has won him both loyal fans and fierce critics. Most recently, he drew outrage for joking about the rape of an Australian missionary inside a Davao city prison in 1989.

Duterte told the ambassadors of Australia and the United States to the Philippines to "shut their mouths" after they criticized him for the joke.

He also cursed at Pope Francis for causing traffic jams during his visit to Manila in January 2015.