Aquino gets ‘very poor’ mark in luring investors

Published by rudy Date posted on April 3, 2011

Lack of concrete plan to address economic woes

CLARK FREEPORT, Philippines—Economist Bernardo Villegas said the Aquino administration was doing “very, very poorly” in attracting foreign direct investments (FDIs) to the Philippines.

Villegas gave the rating in an open forum last week after he briefed the Pampanga Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PamCham) on the economy at the Holiday Inn here.

In Davao City, the founder of fast-food chain Chowking also gave Aquino poor economic marks.

FDIs in the Philippines in 2010 totaled only $1.8 billion, Villegas said. In contrast, China took in $110 billion in FDIs; India, $15 billion; Indonesia, $10 billion; and Vietnam, $7 billion.

The Philippines, he noted, was absent from a recent list of preferred investment destinations.

Villegas attributed the low influx of FDIs to constitutional provisions banning and restricting foreign ownership in key economic sectors.

He said this fact raised the need to pursue revisions to the 1987 Constitution by way of convening Congress as an amendment body.

The amendments should “exclusively be [about] economic provisions,” he pointed out.

Charter change

But he proposed that the ownership of lands by foreigners should be “limited” to the site of the factory, office and residence.

“I appeal to you to support Cha-cha [Charter change] in 2013,” he told PamCham leaders and members during the briefing.

Villegas said he expected President Aquino to be leading the Cha-cha initiative.

The economist urged traders to take a global perspective so they could see that the world economy was beset by the following: a slowdown of the United States economy, the surprising economic growth of Germany, the heavy debt burden of PIGS [Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain], and the triple whammy ignited in Japan by an earthquake, a tsunami and a nuclear disaster in March.

Villegas said traders should also consider the impact of a booming China and emerging markets, the destabilization in the Middle East and the political crisis in Egypt.

Japan should not be out of the radar of Filipino businesses because its reconstruction from the recent disasters was going to take only three to four years, he said.

According to Villegas, the Philippines has reached a “tipping point” in terms of infrastructure development, economic policymaking and instituting good governance.

He disagreed with views that corruption was the reason for widespread poverty in the Philippines, insisting that the prime cause was neglect of rural and agricultural development.

He said agriculture should be pursued to make good use of the Philippine Nautical Highway (linked together by roll-on, roll-off vessels), which was put up by the administration of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

He said Aquino’s private-public sector partnership program in ventures that would fuel economic development would become fruitful in 10 years and make the Philippines competitively at par with Thailand.

However, he said crises on food and water might erupt in 10 years and Pampanga was in a position to benefit because it has abundant land and water resources.

He urged traders not to overemphasize exports and instead service 60 percent of Filipinos who now constitute the middle class.


Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the third general membership meeting of the Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc., Chowking’s original owner Robert Kuan said the government had no concrete plan to address the country’s problems and how to move it forward until 2016.

“I don’t see any direction yet,” said Kuan, who now chairs the St. Luke’s Medical Center. “[President Aquino] has to have a vision of what will happen to the country during his incumbency. The success of an individual or a certain company is [in] having a vision and direction.”

Kuan said the lack of leadership in a company begets employees with no direction as well.

“If I were Noynoy (Aquino’s nickname), the most crucial thing that I will do is to develop a picture of the country six years from now…. When I started the first store of Chowking, I told my workers, ‘Ten years from now, I expect you to be in middle management,’” he said.

Kuan said he planned to build a Chowking branch “in all nooks of the country and even abroad” when he first set up the fast-food restaurant. It now has 155 stores in the Philippines and overseas.

He eventually sold Chowking to Jollibee in 2000. –Tonette Orejas, Judy Quiros
Central Luzon Desk, Inquirer Mindanao

Month – Workers’ month

“Hot for workers rights!”


Solidarity with CTU Myanmar,
trade unions around the world,
for democracy in Myanmar,
with the daily protests of
people in Myanmar against
the military coup and
continuing oppression.


Accept National Unity Government
(NUG) of Myanmar.
Reject Military!

#WearMask #WashHands

Time to support & empower survivors.
Time to spark a global conversation.
Time for #GenerationEquality to #orangetheworld!
Trade Union Solidarity Campaigns
Get Email from NTUC
Article Categories