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Philippines – The Philippines…moving forward

Last 09 May 2016, The Philippines held the sixteenth (16th) presidential elections.

The Filipinos elected a man who has promised to clean it all up. Based on the size of the President-elect victory, Filipino people has clearly had enough of crime-ridden streets , rampant corruption, monstrous traffic jams , political nepotism , crumbling rail systems and poor telephone and Internet services. All of these with his hardline anticrime position drove Rodrigo Roa Duterte, the first politician from Mindanao to be elected President and the first city mayor to jump straight to the highest office in the land. Rodrigo “Rody” Roa Duterte born March 28, 1945 also known by the nickname Digong, is a Filipino lawyer and politician of Visayan descent and the first Mindanaoan president of the country. He will be sworn in as the country’s 16th Philippine President to be held on the 30th June 2016 at noontime.

Despite strong economic growth during President Aquino’s six-year term, one of Asia’s worst rich-poor divides did not improve and one in four Filipinos still live on P50.00 a day or less. Critics say part of the problem was inadequate investment and job creation, partly due to foreign investment restrictions in the Philippine Constitution. President-elect Rodrigo Duterte wants to change the Constitution to lift restrictive foreign investment laws as part of his eight-point economic plan to boost the economy. Foreign entities cannot own more than forty (40 ) percent equity in certain businesses, including those requiring franchises granted by Congress, such as aviation and telecommunications. Some economic sectors are outrightly off limits to foreign investment, including most retail activities, broadcasting, domestic shipping and pharmaceuticals. Foreigners also may not own land though they can enter into long-term leases.

President elect Duterte’s economic transition team said “We will ensure the attractiveness of the Philippines to foreign direct investment by addressing the restrictive economic provisions of the constitution,” Broad goals of Duterte’s economic strategy was unveiled three days after the longtime mayor of the southern city of Davao won a landslide victory. The transition team announced that the administration wants to maintain the target of 5% of the GDP to be set aside for infrastructures. They also want to address the bottleneck on the Public-Private Partnerships, which plays a major role on the infrastructures here in the country.

The President elect also mentioned that he will initiate reforms in the Bureau of Internal Revenue and the Bureau of Customs which would be complemented by reforms within the bureaucracy of these tax collecting agencies. One reform being recommend is increasing the VAT from twelve (12%) to fourteen (14%) percent. This might affect several industries where VAT is prominent like goods and services and housing market. With the 2% increase on the rate, they might not get the value they used to get for their money. Rental payments that are inclusive of 12% VAT will be significantly higher. Suddenly, the same expat housing allowance will not have the same value.

Additionally, processing of immigration work visas will also have delays as the incoming immigration chief has not made any announcements yet on the changes he will make on the Bureau. But, as the new administration promised, they will promote more effective actions and eliminate corruption and bribery, unnecessary procedures to make the process more efficient for the people.

With the incoming President Rodrigo Duterte breaking traditions in his inauguration, from the venue to the magistrate that he will take his oath of office, Filipinos will be watching from their homes to avoid traffic. Duterte will take his oath at Rizal Room, the largest room in Malacañang Palace before a schoolmate and fraternity brother Supreme Court Associate Justice Bienvenido Reyes in austere rites seen as historic. Presidents traditionally take their oath of office before the Chief Justice.

The President-elect has refused to be inaugurated together with Vice President-elect Leni Robredo, who belongs to a different political party. But former Senate President Aquilino Pimentel Jr. said Duterte and Robredo should be jointly inaugurated as a symbol of unity after the highly divisive national elections.

Quoting from the Documentary film The Philippine Moves Forward, “ The Philippines is experiencing a political and economic resurgence that when followed through will turn the nation into the global player that it aims to be. It is not just learning from the mistakes of the past, but also driving the present with good governance and business prudence. “

The world watches as the Philippines is moving forward !