Duterte assures China investors: I will not allow corruption
BEIJING – President Duterte has assured Chinese investors that he is ready to discipline the Philippines’ bureaucracy to allow their businesses to thrive, even if it means forcing greedy officials to swallow coins and paper bills.
Duterte, who is here on a four-day visit, said businesses previously hesitated to invest in the Philippines because of corruption and peace and order issues that plagued the country.
“I would like to assure you that during my term I will not allow corruption. And if you go to the Philippines with your partners or he must have something there as an agent, let him come to me for any of your problems,” the President said during a business forum last Friday.
“So many things to say but what I can assure you is that I will not allow corruption. I will not allow wrongdoing. I will not allow anything that will destroy or disturb your business,” he added.
Duterte said he has ordered agencies to cut the processing time for permits to two days. Prospective businesses, the President said, would be given a list of requirements to spare them from having to return to government offices and to remove opportunities for corruption.
“They give you a list of what you have to produce and you gather those documents and clearances and I will not allow the government office to add or take away some of the things that were given you. If you give them the list, that is it. And your agent cannot be going back and forth,” the President explained.
“I do not like postponing actions because the more that they ask you to come to their office, the more the opportunity (for) corruption exists. Because, by delaying the release, it only means one thing – he is asking for money,” he added.
Duterte urged investors to report government personnel who are extorting money from them.
“So if you encounter or your agents or your lawyers will tell you that this official is asking for something… you just tell me and I will call that official, whoever he is, in my office and in your presence and kindly bring some money – old money and coins – with you, I will tell the official to eat the money and swallow the coins in your presence,” the President said.
“I am not joking. I have done it several times and perhaps I will do more until and unless the bureaucracy of the Philippines behaves,” he added.
Duterte assured investors they would be able to get their return of investments (ROI) and would not face difficulties leaving the Philippines if their business encounters problems.
“We will guarantee your ROI. You take your money away if you want to go or transfer. Do not worry. We will not make it hard for you. It is not our money, it is your money and if you want to go out, if you are not satisfied or if you are losing, then by all means tell us and get your money without any disturbance at all,” he said.
China is the largest trading partner of the Philippines, with bilateral trade exceeding $55 billion last year.
Chinese investments in the Philippines totaled 48.7 billion yuan in 2018, a huge jump from 576 million yuan two years ago.
Duterte went on to cite the gains of the Philippine economy, which has grown for the past 82 consecutive quarters and recorded an above six percent annual growth rate since 2012. He said his administration has also embarked on the Build Build Build infrastructure program, which is being supported in part by Chinese loans.
He also mentioned the launching of the construction industries’ roadmap for 2020 until 2030 and the sending of the first ever Philippine construction mission to China. The mission seeks to benchmark on digital building technologies and deliver quality construction in the most efficient and effective manner.
“More importantly, they are here because they are eager to partner with you in creating new and sustainable construction technologies and solutions given your know-how. In return, they can offer you the benefits of your potential trading arrangements with the various economies, especially the US and European Union,” Duterte said.
“We therefore have a win-win situation here and I invite you all to take advantage of it fully. The Philippines aspires to build globally competitive integrated iron and steel industry,” he added.
Duterte praised DMCI Holdings chairman and president Isidro Consunji, saying he “represents some of the most reliable and reputable construction companies in our country.”
He also welcomed the agreement between HBIS Group Asia and the Steel Asia to establish an integrated steel mill in the Philippines, a project that he said would improve the Philippines’ capacity to produce high quality safe steel products by 2030.
Duterte likewise cited an agreement between the Philippines and China on the development of industrial parks where Chinese investors and manufacturers can set up factories. The construction of the first industrial park is expected to start in the first half of 2020.
The President also reiterated his commitment to fight illegal drugs and crime and warned those who are into narcotics and other illegal activities to “avoid the Philippines.”
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