Crooks get 12 slaps

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte delivers his speech during the Guangzhou Automobile Group Co., Ltd. (GAC) Motor Philippines Brand Launch at the Metro Tent Convention Center in Metrowalk Complex, Pasig City on November 7, 2018. TOTO LOZANO/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

Businessmen will have the benefit of slapping a corrupt official a dozen times in front of President Rodrigo Duterte at anytime of the day as a way to humiliate grafters in government.

The President, in a speech during the launch of a Chinese carmakers’ local operations late Wednesday, said he is doing his best to provide businessmen with a level playing field.

“If it is indeed something which amounts to corruption or graft, I’ll give you the privilege of slapping that person a dozen times in front of me. That way, you place him in humiliation and he is shed off of his dignity,” Duterte added.

“I’ve always been of the belief that unless this country will have law and order and corruption stops in government, we will go nowhere. Mark my word and remember me when I’m gone,” the President said.

He told his audience made up mostly of executives in the car industry and government officials that his administration is doing its best “to ensure a level-playing field for investors.”

“We will continue to provide both foreign and local investors with the assistance they need so that their ventures may prosper and flourish,” he said.

He cited the recent signing of the Ease of Doing Business Act which Mr. Duterte said will simplify government services and transactions.

“With this law, we expect to attract more investments and encourage stakeholders to actively contribute in strengthening and cultivation of our industries,” the President added.

Nowhere to go

“I’d like to encourage, urge and move businessmen, especially foreigners and locals, that if there’s anything that bothers you in the course of your business, in your application to do business or in the running of your business, and you run into something like attempts or demands amounting to corruption, everybody is put on notice that you can have an audience with me in my office by the Pasig River,” he said.

Mr. Duterte said he will make himself available “24 hours” for any complaints of corrupt acts in government.

“Just approach me about any senator, congressman, any public official or your friend and all you have to do is call 8888,” he said.

Complainants can also go live on television and he will pick it up from there, according to Duterte.

“On TV, give his name, the person trying to extort or ask money from you or even little favors,” he said.

“It is not allowed by law. That’s why I said, unless we stop corruption, the Philippines would be just like a flotsam going by the tide of the sea, to and fro,” he added.

“If you have something against anybody in government, anybody at all, go to me, I will contact you and I will call the person you are complaining against and the three of us will talk,” according to the President.

Right medicine

He said humiliation would be the right remedy “for an idiot who is not needed in the government.”

“Humiliation and maybe a loss of face is more than just the money. It is the worst way of losing whatever is left of you in this planet,” Duterte said.

He added part of government efforts in creating a business-friendly environment is the ongoing campaign to eradicate criminality, illegal drugs and corruption.
If these social ills are removed, Duterte said, “we will attain genuine peace, foster economic growth and promote sustainable development for our people.”

More jobs readied

Economic officials said continued reforms undertaken by the President would result in higher job availability for Filipinos.

Contrary to what is being peddled by critics, the Malacañang-backed Package 2 Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) or what is called as the Trabaho (Job) bill would not result in job losses but will lead to 1.4 million new work opportunities in the next decade.

At a briefing to Senate reporters, Finance Undersecretary Karl Chua said the Trabaho bill would also benefit 250,000 micro-small-medium enterprises by lowering corporate income taxes from 30 to 20 percent in the next 10 years.

“This is a lot of new capital that can be used for them to expand to create jobs,” Chua said.
“Based on that…our estimate is that 1.4 million jobs will be potentially created,” he added.
Chua, at the same time, dismissed apprehension that TRAIN 2 will lead to loss of investments and closure of existing businesses.

Critics of President Duterte, particularly the political opposition, have been calling for the scrapping of the proposed tax reform measure –blaming it as the cause of the high inflation rate.

Competitive incentives set

“This is a proposal that actually provides more competitive incentives, additional incentives. Whenever you hire more people, invest in the countryside, train your people, buy local –all of these will create jobs,” Chua said.

Chua, however, maintained that the TRAIN Law is not a big contributory factor to the inflation – citing external issues like the increasing oil prices and the trade war.

“The country is doing very well despite the external factors so we hope that they (business) check on the package of our reform,” Chua added.

“Incentives will continue to all those deserving,” he said, stressing that incentives will be performance-based, transparent and time-bound, and not eternal.

He added they are working double time to reach out, particularly to the Senate, to explain the benefits of TRAIN 2. The House of Representatives has already passed the measure while the Upper Chamber has yet to tackle it.

“This is the first time that we go for major reform that is why we are explaining the benefits of this reform again and again…we remain optimistic that this is something worth pursuing, something they can consider,” Chua said.

with Mario J. Mallari

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