Philippines president says opening economy to new players, tells oligarchs ‘I owe you nothing’

admin   •   November 24, 2016   •   10732

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte gestures while delivering a speech during the 80th National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) founding anniversary at the NBI headquarters in metro Manila, Philippines November 14, 2016. REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte gestures while delivering a speech during the 80th National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) founding anniversary at the NBI headquarters in metro Manila, Philippines November 14, 2016. REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco

 

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte vowed on Wednesday to open up the economy to new corporations to halt graft and protectionism, telling the country’s oligarchs he owed them no favors and to be content with their billions.

The outspoken, populist leader said it was high time to change regulations and liberalize sectors like energy, power and telecoms to make the country more competitive, and give Filipinos better services and a share of the wealth.

Duterte, who was swept to office in May by a huge margin on a platform tilted toward the poor, said he had consciously shut powerful tycoons out of his election campaign and where his reform plan was concerned they would have to like it or lump it.

“The only way for deliverance of this country is to remove it from the clutches of the few people who hold the power and money,” he told a news conference.

“I do not owe you anything, that’s precisely why I was avoiding you during the last election. I am not trying to destroy you. You have the advantage, you’re here already, be content with that. But let us open everything.”

The mercurial former mayor has shown no qualms about confronting conglomerates who dominate the Philippines economy, which is growing at one of the world’s fastest rates.

Despite jitters among investors that Duterte’s volatility could impact policy, the economy expanded 7.1 percent in the July-September period – the first quarterly data of his presidency.

Duterte spoke moments after arriving home from a leaders’ summit in Peru of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), whose closing statement committed to fight “all forms of protectionism”.

Investors have long been frustrated at being shut out of some sectors in a market of more than 100 million Filipinos, either squeezed by local monopolies or regulations that limit foreign investments, like in telecoms and utilities.

The Philippines currently has 21 billionaires, according to Forbes Magazine, with a record number in 2016. The richest had a net worth of $12 billion.

TIME TO SHARE

“You can count on your fingers the power players of this country. I would not say that they are the elite,” Duterte said.

“I would like just to send this strong message: it’s about time that we share the money of the entire country and to move faster, make competition open to all,” he said.

“You stymie competition and we will always be at the mercy of the corrupt people.”

His remarks suggest he is determined to deliver on pledges to thwart protectionism, having already warned the telecoms duopoly of Philippine Long Distance Telephone and Globe Telecom to shape up, or face new competition.

Philippines’ data and voice services are ranked among Asia’s slowest and most intermittent, a source of angst for businesses.

Duterte said that in the power and energy sectors, the government was looking into regulatory requirements and institutional arrangements “to hasten the entry of new players”.

He also said he would be diversifying sources of hardware for his military, bemoaning its use of American “hand-me-downs” and efforts by a U.S. senator to block the sale of 26,000 new M-4 assault rifles to the Philippines police.

He said his new friend, Russian President Vladimir Putin, had told him to turn to Russia instead, and had made him a buy-one, get-one-free guns offer.

“It’s for free, so I get double,” Duterte said. — Reuters

PLDT assures connectivity during 5-day cable maintenance period starting Sept. 26

Marje Pelayo   •   September 25, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Telecommunications and digital service provider PLDT informed its customers of a possible Internet traffic on the duration of the five-day emergency maintenance activities by one of its international cable system operators.

In its advisory, PLDT said one of its submarine cable systems, Asia-America Gateway, will conduct maintenance works in the waters of Hong Kong from Saturday, September 26 at 9:00 AM to Wednesday September 30 at 5:00 AM

Because of this, PLDT customers may experience service interruptions during the five day maintenance efforts but the company assured its clients that measures will be undertaken to minimize the effects. 

“In light of this, we wish to assure PLDT and Smart customers of continued internet connectivity all throughout.  We have identified alternative cable systems to keep our connectivity resilient,” the PLDT said.

“We have also adopted measures such as traffic rerouting and local caching, ensuring that most frequently downloaded content is located in the Philippines,” it added. 

The company assured that students can still do their online studies and exams, and users in homes and businesses can go about their normal internet-based activities during this time.

PLDT to conduct emergency maintenance from September 26 to 30

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 24, 2020

Telecommunications firm PLDT on Wednesday (September 23) announced they will conduct an emergency maintenance on one of its submarine cable systems from September 26 to 30.

Network Advisory on the Asia-America Gateway (AAG) Emergency Maintenance Activities: https://bit.ly/AAG_Maintenance#PLDTAdvisory

Posted by PLDT on Wednesday, September 23, 2020

In an advisory, the telco firm said the operator of the international trans-Pacific submarine cable system Asia-America Gateway (AAG) will conduct emergency maintenance activities. Customers will experience ‘minimize impact’ in internet connection, however, the PLDT assured they will continue their service for all PLDT and Smart subscribers.

“We wish to assure our customers of continued connectivity, as we have alternative cable systems to keep our services going during this maintenance period of AAG,” the advisory reads. AAC

Duterte hits gov’t critics, vows to uphold human rights at UN

Robie de Guzman   •   September 23, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte blasted the critics of his administration’s campaign against illegal drugs, criminality and terrorism, whom he said are using the human rights issue to discredit functioning institutions and mechanisms of a democratic country and a popularly elected government.”

In a pre-recorded message aired at the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Duterte highlighted the Philippines Anti-Terrorism Law which was passed amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The measure drew criticisms, with several groups claiming this could be used to silence and prosecute political opponents.

“A number of interest groups have weaponized human rights; some well-meaning, others ill-intentioned,” Duterte said in his message.

This is the first time that Duterte participated in the gathering since he became president four years ago.

“They attempt to discredit the functioning institutions and mechanisms of a democratic country and a popularly elected which in its last two years, still enjoy the same widespread approval and support,” he said.

“These detractors pass themselves off as human rights advocates while preying on the most vulnerable humans; even using children as soldiers or human shields in encounters. Even schools are not spared from their malevolence and anti-government propaganda. They hide their misdeeds under the blanket of human rights but the blood oozes through,” he added.

Duterte said his administration remains committed to protecting human rights and continue to take part in “ open dialogue and constructive engagement” with the United Nations.

“But these must be done in full respect of the principles of objectivity, non-interference, non-selectivity, and genuine dialogue. These are the fundamental bases for productive international cooperation on human rights,” he said. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

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