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While the official campaign period for national candidates just started last Tuesday, we have been seeing or hearing them in many gatherings and campaign materials since last year. The presidential candidates (not in order) – VP Binay, Sen. Poe, Sen. Santiago, Sec. Roxas, and Mayor Duterte have been active in reaching out to the different sectors in the country, from the countryside to the metro.
Last week, we had Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte in our Negosyo Talks: Meet the Presidentiables Series. In an earlier fora, we had the privilege to listen to Vice President Binay, former DILG Secretary Roxas, and Sen. Poe. Go Negosyo invited the presidential candidate, Mayor Duterte to a forum to discuss his platform, and answer questions related to business and entrepreneurship and issues raised against him, and his plans for the country if he is elected president.
The forum was led by TV5’s Luchi Cruz-Valdes and joined by panelists – Mike Toledo of the Phil. Bar Association, Myla Villanueva of MDI Holdings, Babe Romualdez of Stargate Media Corporation, Sherill Quintana of Oryspa, Grace Gupana of ABS Gen Herbs, and Go Negosyo’s Mon Lopez.
I saw a man of integrity and simplicity. His good record and uncorrupted local governance is commendable. I think his solutions to the problems are radical, solid and doable, but I just find it hard to accept the drastic approach of going beyond the law itself to implement the law. Absolute power can corrupt and dictatorship is dangerous and can be abused, maybe not by the leader but by those below him.
But I can say Duterte is serious in his plans. Let me share with you his views.
Known for his straight-forward and uncensored answers, Duterte proved to us he is more than just what the media projects him to be. We had our fair share of laughter from his remarks and jokes, and also approving nods for his opinions and arguments.
First, I am glad to hear he is for the empowerment of MSMEs in the country. Duterte mentioned that a sizeable amount of budget would be given to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to work with institutions like Go Negosyo in promoting entrepreneurship. Our entrepreneurs appreciate the full support he intends to give to the industry. We can see a vibrant entrepreneurship growth under his leadership, not simply because of the financial aid he promises, but also because of the support to entrepreneurs to become competitive and creative through training programs and entrepreneurship education.
On the related topic of taxes, he acknowledges the fact our economy is dynamic and must be well-studied before he makes necessary changes. He was advised not to commit anything regarding taxes, but if he becomes the president, a committee would be organized to address this matter and other programs that would help the business sector. He adds, “The only commitment I can give you is that those who are earning P20,000 or less must have no tax.”
We can also expect an open economy under his leadership attracting more foreign investments, and welcoming the reality of globalization and integrating economies under ASEAN, APEC and other regional cooperation, and ensuring that we build likewise competitive industries to be able to compete globally.
With respect to the China issue, Duterte is open to joint exploration with specific margins or limitations. He honestly acknowledge we are not geared up for any military dispute against the Chinese army, so he sees bilateral cooperation as the way to deal with China.
He promises to give a large amount of the national budget to the Education and Agriculture sectors which need the most support today.
But aside from all the other issues that he wishes to address, he is most determined to fight corruption and eradicate crime and illegal drug use. With more than 20 years of quality leadership in Davao City, Duterte’s iron fist will surely be experienced by lawbreakers and offenders. But with due respect to Duterte’s solution of going beyond the law to solve crime and drugs, doing this will encourage more vigilantes to do the same and will result to lawlessness in the country.
After hearing his answers and opinions on national issues, I can say Duterte is one serious candidate. He is firm in his judgments, with solid plans to change the system. More than his rough side, we learned how he is knowledgeable and well-versed on Philippine history, geopolitics, and international issues. Yes, business and economics is not his forte, as he had confessed, but he is open to getting advice from experts who will help him carry out the development plans for the country.
Our Meet the Presidentiables Series was a success. We were able to see and hear how these presidential candidates plan on changing the Philippines for the better. They may have different takes and strategies on national issues, but one thing is common for all of them – they promise to continue the positive growth that we are experiencing today. And with only a few months left, we hope that the Filipinos will choose the right leader. As they say, ‘May the best candidate win.’
Let me invite you to the 8th Filipina Entrepreneurship Summit on Feb. 18 at the World Trade Center. Be inspired and be empowered as champion Filipina entrepreneurs share their stories and give advices to aspiring Filipina entrepreneurs!