Business groups react to 'state of lawlessness'
MANILA, Philippines – Uncertainty over the Philippines' political path is expected to put potential investors on the sidelines, after President Rodrigo Duterte declared a "state of lawlessness" following a deadly blast in his hometown that killed at least 14 people and wounded over 60 others.
"When you have situations like this, public killings and uncertainty over the political path, it is going to give concerns on potential investors," Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) honorary chairman Sergio Ortiz-Luis Jr said in a phone interview on Saturday, September 3.
Ortiz-Luis said Duterte's declaration can be viewed in two ways: "On one end, it is stepping up campaign against drugs and the Abu Sayyaf Group. On the other, it spells concerns among prospective investors." (READ: Making sense of Duterte's declaration of state of lawlessness)
"I have already heard that there are prospective investors concerned on the extrajudicial killings. Because of this, they are taking a wait-and-see attitude. With the declaration, their concerns might be amplified," the official of PCCI, which is the biggest business organization in the Philippines, added.
‘Business as usual’
Although Duterte's declaration might put prospective investors on the sidelines, Ortiz-Luis said that for existing businesses in the country, "it is business as usual."
"I don't see any impact on the existing businesses here. I also don't think it will impact the country's business climate in the long term. They (potential investors) will just wait for everything to settle down," he added.
His remarks were echoed by former ambassador and owner of soft drinks bottler Macay Holdings, Incorporated Alfredo Yao, who said "if there will be some effects on the potential investors, it will just be temporary."
"Let us say potential investors are adopting a wait-and-see attitude. They would just wait for the events to settle down," he added.
The former ambassador said Duterte's "recent political moves are just some effects of his iron fist stance on drugs and Abu Sayyaf group," Yao said in a phone interview.
"We are 100% supporting the President. For the first time, we got a president with political will and courage to do it," Yao said.
A 'want and need'
For the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP), businesses want and need peace in Mindanao.
"As the Abu Sayyaf obviously doesn't want peace, the government and military will have to fulfill their mandate to protect the population," ECCP senior advocacy adviser Henry Schumacher said in a mobile phone reply.
"Acts of terrorism scare investors, not the fight against terrorism," he replied when asked if he expects foreign firms to shy away from investing in the country because of Duterte's recent pronouncements.
John Forbes, senior adviser for the American Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines (AmCham), said his group hasn't read about the declaration of state of lawlessness yet.
"But those responsible for national security should be alert to prevent such tragedies elsewhere and bring the perpetrators to justice," he replied in a text message. (READ: Davao bombing: Man leaves backpack after massage)
"AmCham is deeply saddened by this bombing in Davao and the loss of life and expresses its condolences to the city," Forbes added.
The Makati Business Club said in a statement that it strongly condemns the act of terror that took place at the Roxas Night Market in Davao City.
"We call on the government to bring the perpetrators to justice and restore peace and order in a swift, humane manner," the business group added.
Duterte, a former Davao mayor for almost two decades, ordered a lockdown in the city, allowing soldiers and police officers to search anyone's houses and vehicles.
Duterte assured the public that what he declared "is not martial law."
To make sense of the declaration of state of lawlessness, Rappler has talked to several lawyers. (READ: What's a 'state of lawlessness'?)
They said it is the "mildest" of the 3 commander-in-chief powers of the President granted by the Constitution.
The second one is the power to suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, while the third is to declare martial law. – Rappler.com