December 19, 2011
MANILA, Philippines - The business community is worried that the conflict between the Aquino administration and Chief Justice Renato Corona might divert the attention of the government from the need to prop up the sagging economy.
According to Hubert d’Aboville, president of the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, the whole business community is hoping the “fight” between President Benigno Aquino III and Corona will soon be resolved.
Corona, an appointee of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, was recently impeached by 188 members of the Hous
of Representatives. He will be tried at the Senate acting as an impeacment court in January.
“All we want is a country that has a level playing field and stability and a government that keeps the sanctity of contracts. So we want [the Aquino administration] to concentrate on business,” d’ Aboville told InterAksyon.com on Thursday.
He noted that latest figures showed that foreign direct investments (FDIs) were cut further by 33 percent that made it more urgent for the government to act on the economy rather than politics.
“We must not waste time. We have to increase our FDIs and create jobs. If they do not act on it quickly, the Philippines would lose out to the competition all around and investors will not wait for weeks and weeks and months for the government,” d’Aboville said.
According to economist Benjamin Diokno, former secretary of the Department of Budget and Management, investors look at the Philippines as the “worst” destination in terms of political stability and “second worst” in terms of rule of law.
But Diokno said the current debacle involving the executive and the judiciary would not automatically turn away foreign investors. He said investor confidence would depend on how the impeachment proceedings against Corona would be carried out.
"If it [impeachment] would be fair, legal and orderly, then it would not be detrimental to the country that much,” Diokno said.
Another danger with the impeachment complaint is that if the process becomes protracted, then the Aquino administration would become consumed with the issue instead of focusing on the economy, according to Diokno.
On the flipside, the economist said that if the case against the chief justice would not prosper, then there is the risk that Aquino's image as a leader promoting transparency and fighting corruption would be tarnished.
"It could be worse for the economy,” Diokno said.
Meanwhile, the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Indusrty (PCCI) still does not have an official stand regarding Corona's impeachment.
Lawyer Miguel Varela, incoming PCCI president, on Thursday said that the local chamber was still feeling its way through the political bickering.
“We just want to focus on how we can work with the government through the public-private partnership program. We’re inspired by the president’s program of transparency and the foreign investors that we just talked with last week said what the government is doing is good,” Varela said.
According to Varela, there is no crisis to speak of so the doomsayers must refrain from saying so and just let the impeachment process take its course.
“Let’s just continue to do our business,” he said.
Source: Interaksyon (www.interaksyon.com); News; 16 December 2011