Having abandoned their offices, which were turned into mere “bodegas” (stockrooms) in Escolta, Ermita, Malate, and Binondo, once prime destinations for the country’s commerce and tourism, Manila Mayor Francisco Domagoso urged the business sector to give Manila another chance.
“Take a second look again at Manila,” appealed Domagoso, also known by his screen name previously as Isko Moreno, in his address before the Foundation for Economic Freedom event held at the Manila Golf Club in Makati City.
FEF, led by former Prime Minister Cesar Virata and former Socio Economic Planning Secretary Gerry Sicat, is a public advocacy organization advancing economic and political liberty and good governance, among others.
He said the people then running the Manila city government should be faulted for decisions of businesses to leave the country’s capital and move to other areas.
He acknowledged that the loss of trust in the city government had driven away businessmen who opted to transfer their business operations to other areas in Metro Manila.
Before, he said businessmen were grabbing every chance to have their offices and businesses in Manila, particularly in Escolta, Ermita, Malate, and Binondo.
He noted that everybody wanted their business card with places in Manila as the address of their office and business operations.
But then, they lost interest to continue their businesses in the capital because people had been accustomed to doing the wrong practices which they had regarded as right.
To give a better look of wrongdoings under the previous administrations, the former undersecretary of the DSWD said “there’s mining in Manila,” which elicited laughter from the audience.
He also jestingly told his audience, some of them were bankers, that they had entered a wrong business.
Instead, they should aspire to become Manila mayor since there is a Post Office in Manila with a “drop box.”
“That’s why there was this one guy who promised to stay for one term, but forgot everything because of a P5.4- billion reason,” related Domagoso while obviously referring to his predecessor, former president, and Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada.
The Commission on Audit also asked the previous administration to account for P5.4 billion which went missing from the city government’s coffer.
“I also have my sins in life especially when I was young but not to that level which was called “mandarambong” in the 70s, “magnanakaw” in the 80s and “plunderer” in the 90s...”
But with the ongoing changes in Manila under the battlecry “Bagong Maynila, which is being carried out by Domagoso, who declared himself as the real “Batang Maynila,” he exhorted investors to give the city a try.
He said Manila was most qualified when we talked about the “Ease of Doing Business.” He recalled that President Rodrigo Duterte in his SONA last July called on government offices to observe the Ease of Doing business so that simple business transactions could be done in just three days,
In Manila, Domagoso pointed out that getting a business permit entailed just one day. He said there were 11 steps in eight windows to secure a business permit.
He vowed to return payment of made if one could not get his business permit in just one day.
He also said the tax collection system had been organized at the Manila City Hall to ensure the paying public would not be burdened and avoid corruption.
“Why would you prolong the payment if taxes,” he said.
He acknowledged the old practice of giving problems to taxpayers.
According to Domagoso, payment should be made easier so that money would immediately enter the city’s coffers which would be given in return to the people in terms of basic services.