President Rodrigo Duterte is the antithesis of a pitchman out to convince foreign businessmen to bet their luck on the Philippines. Instead of pleading the case of the Philippines as a worthy investment site and comparable with other destinations in Asia, Mr. Duterte does the opposite—he scares away potential investors with his arrogance and reckless statements.
Mr. Duterte on Tuesday urged foreign businesses in the Philippines worried about his deadly war on drugs to pack up and leave, as he launched another anti-American tirade before flying to Japan to attract investments. He voiced outrage at comments the previous day by the top US envoy to Asia that his fiery rhetoric and crime war, which has claimed about 3,700 lives in four months, were bad for business.
US Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Russel merely aired the sentiments of many people around the world about Mr. Duterte’s tirades during his meeting Monday with Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. Mr. Russel’s statement was an expression of concern that should be appreciated in the face of Mr. Duterte’s out-of-control diatribes.
The succession of controversial statements, comments and a real climate of uncertainty about the Philippines’ intentions, according to the US diplomat, had created consternation in a number of countries.
“Not only in mine and not only among governments, but also growing concern in other communities, in the expat Filipino community, in corporate boardrooms as well,” says Russel.
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez, meanwhile, was more circumspect about Mr. Duterte’s rants. He conceded that some investors, including those in the outsourcing industry, were nervous with the new administration and its approach to diplomacy. The finance chief promised to do “rational things that are to their benefit.”
Mr. Dominguez clearly is aware of the ramifications of Mr. Duterte’s thoughtless remarks. You drive away foreign investors, major and minor ones, and you will lose the opportunity to create more jobs and reduce poverty.