[OPINION] Faster than average

SKETCHES By Ana Marie Pamintuan (The Philippine Star) | Updated October 11, 2017 – 12:00am

The actual numbers are still high: 67 percent satisfied, and 73 percent with “much trust” in President Duterte.

Since pollster Social Weather Stations (SWS) started taking surveys when Corazon Aquino was in power, all presidents have seen their ratings slide, with the initial high score never regained.

So Duterte need not be overly concerned. The fall in his satisfaction and trust ratings was just a matter of time.

What should bother him is the sharpness of the fall. The satisfaction rating plunged from 78 percent in the second quarter to 67 percent in the next three months, and trust from 82 to 73 percent – a decline that SWS president Mahar Mangahas described as “a little faster than average.”

The fall is steeper in net figures, or the number of satisfied against the dissatisfied: 48 percent, down from 66. The net trust rating also fell sharply, from 75 percent to 60. If Duterte continues to suffer a double-digit drop in every quarterly survey, his numbers could fall below zero in less than two years.

As Mangahas pointed out, Noynoy Aquino enjoyed the longest “honeymoon period” among the post-EDSA presidents, enjoying good ratings for over three years, with the numbers falling only after the slaughter in Mamasapano, Maguindanao. Corazon Aquino and Fidel Ramos also did better than Duterte but Joseph Estrada fared worse.

Mangahas said Gloria Macapagal Arroyo did not enjoy a honeymoon period. This should be reassuring for Duterte and his supporters; GMA has been the longest serving president of the republic since Ferdinand Marcos.

Echoing the reactions of previous presidents, Palace aides said Duterte is not engaged in a popularity contest. Asked if the honeymoon is over, presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said, “The love is still there.”

Mangahas said presidents should expect respect rather than love, and should give “satisfactory service.”

* * *

I don’t know if you can call it respect, but lawmakers’ support for the Malacañang occupant tends to be influenced by popularity as reflected in survey ratings. Congressional support can of course be swayed by Malacañang’s clever utilization of public funds, including the crude but timely distribution of cash gifts in brown paper bags during crisis situations. But high popularity is the easier, cheaper way for a president to keep a super majority intact in Congress.

When there’s a precipitous drop in a president’s survey ratings, the political butterflies smell blood. There can be greater resistance to a president’s legislative agenda.

A steep drop in popularity this early in a six-year term also weakens a president’s endorsement power, which is critical for his allies in the mid-term elections less than two years from now.

If alliances, tenuous to begin with, begin fraying, even Duterte’s top priority, his war on illegal drugs, can suffer. There will be greater resistance to his brutal methods, and more cooperation with the individuals now documenting abuses that could bolster accusations of state-sponsored summary executions of drug suspects.

* * *

The other major pollster, Pulse Asia, is expected to come out with the results of its third quarter survey shortly. The two pollsters usually have similar results, so the SWS findings will likely be affirmed in the Pulse Asia survey.

Without waiting for the affirmation, the administration can start assessing what can be done to stop or even reverse the slide in the President’s ratings.

The steep fall indicates growing impatience for results in several areas. Since the President failed to deliver on his self-imposed deadline of six months to eliminate the drug menace, as he claims he did in his home city of Davao, he should deliver solid results in other areas.

He can jettison some of the incompetent members of his team, whose appointments are clearly just for political accommodation. Public services are suffering, the incompetents are wasting people’s money, and it’s the President’s image that’s taking a hit. After a year and a half, amateur hour and the period for repaying political debts should be over. The public can be spared from these NPAs or non-performing asses (that’s right, the donkey).

The President can address some of the sources of disaffection during the previous administration, which contributed to his dramatic rise to power. For example, I still don’t have my driver’s license card a year after I was given a provisional license, and my car still doesn’t have license plates. These are common complaints.

Last week the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Employers Confederation of the Philippines expressed exasperation over the political bickering and the weak focus on project implementation. They’re “sick and tired” of the political noise, one business leader lamented. The Joint Foreign Chambers of the Philippines also recently released its assessment of progress on the President’s 10-point socioeconomic agenda.

No one expects Duterte to stop his war on drugs because of his slipping ratings. But the sharp fall should tell him that the means to his end could use a recalibration. His ratings plummeted during a survey period that covered public dismay over the killings of teenagers and other abuses related to the campaign against the drug menace and criminality.

The campaign has also suffered from perceptions of being selective, with Duterte supporters shielded from Tokhang and Double Barrel. He has accused Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, not entirely without basis, of selective justice, so he should also avoid selectiveness in his own causes. Whether in fighting the drug menace or corruption, he must be an equal opportunity tormentor. Admittedly, this may be a pipe dream in our society.

Duterte’s avowed abhorrence of corruption, shaken by accusations against him and his family, can still be burnished if he launches an anti-graft campaign with the same zeal that he has applied in going after notorious drug dealers.

Much can be achieved by a popular president, and there are many world leaders who can only dream of having satisfaction and trust ratings in the 60s and 70s.

Popularity is a precious commodity that must not be squandered.

Source: http://www.philstar.com/opinion/2017/10/11/1747575/faster-average

[OPINION] Strong democracies


Two strong democracies celebrated their National Day yesterday, although their embassy receptions in Manila are always held on different dates. Last night was the reception of South Korea; today is the reception for German Unification.

The two countries are good examples of functioning democracies that sprung from wars including fratricidal armed conflict. Germany has overcome the challenges of unification to become Europe’s strongest economy.

All countries have problems, but both nations have worked to ensure that the elements needed for democracy to work are in place, starting with the rule of law, which is one of the foundations of free rather than anarchic societies.


Germany is now promoting not merely justice for its people but “global justice” and “strength of the law” as foundations for “global governance.” We’ll be happy with justice for ordinary Pinoys, and not just for those who can afford expensive lawyers and accountants.

Several expats from advanced economies have told me that perhaps the only thing that can end our intractable problems – patronage politics, the stranglehold of a miniscule fraction of the population on power and wealth, the shameless rent-seeking, corruption and tribalism – is a war as blood-drenched as their civil wars and revolutions. There should be so much blood in the streets, the expats said, that people would be sickened by the violence and vow to work together to prevent further bloodshed.

Our bloodless people power revolt, they acknowledged, restored democracy – a feat so impressive it truly seemed like a miracle. But structural weaknesses and social injustice remained in place. And those behind the world-class looting and gross human rights violations during the dictatorship have never been punished.

Modern South Korean society emerged after a civil war that divided the Korean Peninsula. The war was brutal and drenched the country in blood, but Koreans told me that it had an unintended upside: it became a social equalizer. A Korean who was a young boy at the time of the war remembered everyone becoming impoverished, scrounging for food, and then uniting to rise from the ashes of death and destruction.

Today South Korea is one of the few countries that can boast of economic growth that is generally inclusive. Graft and crony capitalism became problems after the war, but the country saw to it that anti-corruption laws were applied to all, sending to prison two presidents and crooked heads of the chaebolsor business conglomerates that are mostly family-owned.

The country remains technically at war with its increasingly belligerent northern neighbor, which could account for the South’s competitive spirit.

How does one succeed in competition? By capacity-building. Like other top Asian economies, South Korea has invested heavily in every nation’s most precious resource, its people – through quality education and constant skills upgrading, through programs encouraging innovation and creativity. It has also invested in decent public health care.

Like other prosperous, inclusive economies, the Koreans also strengthened institutions particularly the justice system so that the rule of law would prevail and leveling the playing field would not be mere political rhetoric.

From the results of Oplan Tokhang and Double Barrel, we can see the limitations of killing. By learning from others’ experiences, we can skip the bloodshed proposed by the desperate and get serious about implementing long-needed reforms.

* * *

Many proposals that don’t call for bloodshed have been offered by the business community. I’m going over the “Arangkada Philippines and the Ten-Point Socio-Economic Agenda of the Duterte Administration” – a publication of The Arangkada Philippines Project, with American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines Inc. senior advisor John Forbes as the principal author. TAPP was launched by the Joint Foreign Chambers six years ago to encourage faster economic acceleration of the country.

I’m still in Chapter 2, but several suggestions on increasing competitiveness and ease of doing business are worth presenting here. One notable observation, from the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP), is that the 1987 Constitution has an inherent flaw: “the integration of economic policies into its provisions.”

“While a Constitution embodies the fundamental law of the land and lays down principles and general guidelines, economic policy must be more specific, changeable, and consist of programs that cater to the changing needs and challenges of market fluctuations,” MAP declared in a position paper.

Amending the Constitution remains iffy at this point, but there are other proposals in the Arangkada report that are doable.

One is for the President to just issue executive orders for key reforms, instead of waiting for the necessary legislation. Congress can later pass the laws to formalize the measures in the EOs.

There’s a snag here, which we saw when Duterte issued an EO on the reproductive health law: the Supreme Court effectively stopped the EO implementation. Du30 might yet get his revenge on the SC and its chief.

Other sound proposals in the Arangkada, but which the notoriously self-absorbed congressional super majority will surely reject, are the strengthening of the Anti-Money Laundering Act, and the amendment of the law on the secrecy of bank deposits, so that all government officials, whether elected or appointed, can’t invoke the secrecy privilege.

Apart from several much-amplified proposals for improving the justice system, Arangkada suggests limiting the cases handled by the SC to national issues to reduce its workload and speed up the final resolution of cases.

Another is to strengthen “economic justice” by setting up special courts to handle specific matters such as contract enforcement and land dispute settlement. There can be courts dedicated to infrastructure cases, commercial issues, cybercrime and the environment.

Also suggested is the greater use of alternative dispute resolution and arbitration for out-of-court settlement of civil disputes.

The Arangkada calls for increasing the pay of members of the judiciary, boosting scientific investigation capabilities, hiring more judges and strengthening the Office of the Ombudsman.

We should also push for an improvement in the appointment and promotion system in the justice sector so that it becomes much less politicized. The flawed system is one of the biggest reasons for corruption, incompetence and inefficiency in the justice system.

The Arangkada report includes tables showing the Philippines lagging behind ASEAN’s top six economies in several areas including police efficiency.

We’re still a long way from achieving the levels of development of Germany and South Korea. But we’re aware of our problems and there are suggestions from various sectors on what can be done. Many of the suggestions, however, will put an end to rent-seeking and the monopolistic perks enjoyed by political clans and the nation’s wealthiest.

If the political leadership sits on the suggestions, it renders proposals born of desperation attractive.

[OPINION] Fostering Filipino creativity

By:  | 05:26 AM September 29, 2017

One just needs to mention names like Arnel Pineda, Lea Salonga, Monique Lhuillier, Kenneth Cobonpue and Margarita Fores to affirm that Filipinos can be world-class creators of beauty across the senses—be it in sound, sight and taste. We are an artistic and creative people, and the world knows it.

So why aren’t we cashing in on this asset more than we are? Why haven’t we become the “Broadway of Asia,” and instead have our artists and directors go to Singapore to practice their craft there, and help our neighbor position itself better for that title? Why can’t we have more Kenneth Cobonpues attaining as much global recognition even while based here at home? Why aren’t more Filipino fashion designers hitting the big time in the international fashion scene, even as we are supposedly seen as the “Milan of Asia” within designer circles? Why has the once vibrant Philippine film industry lost market share to Hollywood imports, while its products have failed to gain the same international following enjoyed by other East and South Asian cinematographers? And why don’t we see as many higher-end Filipino restaurants gaining wide following abroad beyond expat Filipinos, as Thai, Korean, Japanese and Chinese restaurants have long done?

It’s all probably a combination of lack of access to better facilities and technology, lack of willing investors, weaknesses in marketing, and inadequate government support. A few years ago, Myanmar beat the Philippines in an international animation competition in Bangkok. An observer noted that the Myanmar entrants came with full government support, while the Filipinos were on their own. And yet our animators are already prominently part of internationally acclaimed animation creations from well-known Hollywood producers like Disney, Pixar and Nickelodeon. Meanwhile, in the area of food, the Thai government has made a deliberate push to project Thailand as the “Kitchen of the World,” and, among other forms of support, has come up with a one-stop service to produce and export Thai food products and cuisine overseas.

The Arangkada Project of the Joint Foreign Chambers (JFC) observes: “There is a lack of understanding and appreciation of creative industries as a whole. This is partly because the creative cluster cuts across multiple economic sectors and does not yet constitute a cohesive or distinct sector in the traditional sense of an industry cluster.” Arangkada lists at least 13 industries that fall under the category of creative industries, including advertising, animation, architecture, broadcast arts, crafts, culinary arts, cultural/heritage activities, design, film, literature, music, new media, performing arts, publishing, and visual arts. For years, Arangkada has recommended a deliberate effort to map the Philippine Creative Industry, noting that more successful countries have found sector mapping to be an essential prerequisite to develop and promote the sector.

Arangkada also notes that existing legal restrictions work against full development of the sector. The practice of foreign professionals in areas such as architecture, engineering, interior design, landscape design, and others is prohibited or restricted by the Professional Regulatory Commission. The Philippine Constitution bans all foreign equity in the media and limits it to 25 percent in advertising. Apart from constricting potential investments in the sector, these also deter the “cross fertilization” that is
essential for domestic creative talent to be better attuned to international trends and demands, hence be truly world-class.

The latest annual Arangkada Philippines report reiterates 11 recommendations the JFC has put forward for years, toward fuller development of Philippine creative industries. The starting point would be creation of a Philippine Creative Industries Master Plan that details where the industry should go, and steps to pursue its goals. The master plan would undertake the long suggested mapping exercise and create a consistent policy framework for the sector.

There’s so much more our innate creativity and talent can gain for our people, but we must be much more deliberate about it.

Source: http://opinion.inquirer.net/107498/fostering-filipino-creativity#ixzz4uzASpbAI 


[OPINION] Improving the investment climate

By:  – @inquirerdotnet  |  / 05:08 AM September 23, 2017


The National Competitiveness Council has been tracking the Philippines’ progress across various global indices since 2010, and by most indicators it has gone up the rankings over this period. It’s a remarkable achievement for the country, which has struggled to improve the relative attractiveness of its business environment to international investors. But despite these improvements, it would be premature to pronounce Philippine competitiveness a success. As we discussed in the recent Arangkada business forum, there is still a lot of room for the country to introduce reforms and institutionalize the practices behind our improvements.

The Joint Foreign Chambers (JFC), in a daylong forum dubbed “Arangkada: Implementing the Ten-Point Agenda,” gathered an audience of stakeholders to discuss the specific areas for reform and the potential measures that could be undertaken by the government. The conference provided insights on how the investor community views the Philippine market and how the government intends to address some of the investor concerns. The Arangkada publication has several recommendations. Here are the first three:

The Philippines should continue aggressive efforts to improve its rankings. The government and the private sector should select areas of competitiveness which are the most important to investors and where the Philippines can move up the most and the fastest, and focus resources on improving these.

The Philippines should equal or exceed Indonesia and Vietnam in the next few years and Thailand in the medium term in terms of rankings in major global competitiveness indices.

A review of potentially anticompetitive legislation and policies that may substantially prevent, restrict, or lessen competition is in order.

One specific area is the foreign investment negative list. The government is currently reviewing the list, which was last updated in 2015. The list outlines the sectors where the government has decided to exclude foreign participation. But under this administration, officials have spoken of ensuring the highest possible easing of foreign restrictions to date.

The commitment to ease restrictions is a positive development. However, the list itself is only one part of the broader restrictions that the Philippines has imposed on foreign participation. Foreigners hoping to invest in some sectors, like the practice of some professions or the media, will still have to wait for legislation or even constitutional amendments before they can participate. Even then, fostering a good business environment goes beyond liberalizing the economy on paper. A more attractive economy will be the result of several factors, including a stable macroeconomic environment, adequate infrastructure, lessened red tape, and low incidences of crime and corruption.

Unlike his predecessor, who convened the Legislative-Executive Advisory Council only twice during his term, President Duterte has decided to convene it regularly. This ensures better coordination among the leaders of the government branches to discuss the legislation needed to achieve the administration’s socioeconomic agenda. So far, the council is prioritizing these proposed pieces of legislation: the Ease of Doing Business Act to cut red tape, the Rightsizing the National Government Act to streamline the bureaucracy, Comprehensive Tax Reform, the National Transport Act to address the transport crisis, and the amendment to the Public Services Act to liberalize the telecommunications, transport and power industries.

Alongside these legislative measures, the government should incorporate automation into its processes. For example, it could use automation to streamline the business permitting and licensing system, cut bottlenecks in land titling, and interconnect various agencies. These measures would reduce opportunities for corruption.

Foreign investments have been increasing in the last few years. Last June it surged by 182.7 percent—a vote of confidence in the country’s prospects. We cannot lose this momentum. Economies worldwide are also increasing in competitiveness. We must work doubly hard lest we get left behind.

Source: http://opinion.inquirer.net/107343/improving-investment-climate

Tetangco receives lifetime achievement award from JFC

By Richmond Mercurio (The Philippine Star) 

Joint Foreign Chambers of the Philippines presidents with past and present Arangkada Lifetime Achievement Awardees during the recently concluded sixth anniversary of Arangkada Philippines Forum at the Marriott Grand Ballroom. In photo, from left, are Ho-Ik Lee (KCCI), Bruce Winton (AmCham), Julian Payne (CanCham), 2014 Arangkada Lifetime Achievement Awardee former PEZA director general Lilia de Lima, PAMURI chairman Shameem Quraeshi, Tom Grealy (ANZCham), 2017 Arangkada Lifetime Achievement Awardee former BSP governor Amando Tetangco Jr., Hiroshi Shiraishi (JCCIPI), 2015 Arangkada Lifetime Achievement Awardee SGV founder Washington Sycip, AmCham executive director Ebb Hinchliffe, Evelyn Ng (PAMURI), Arangkada chief-of-party John Forbes, and JCCPI vice-president Nobuo Fujii.

MANILA, Philippines — Former Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) governor Amando Tetangco Jr. has been awarded the Arangkada Philippines Lifetime Achievement award by the Joint Foreign Chambers (JFC) of the Philippines.

The Arangkada Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes individuals of any nationality that have lived and worked in the Philippines for 25 years and have contributed significantly to improving the country’s business environment.

JFC said Tetangco was chosen as this year’s recipient given his accomplishments as central bank governor which played an important role to the foreign investment community.

Among these accomplishments include managing inflation, the exchange rate, and the debt burden highly effectively, achieving record levels of reserves exceeding $80 billion, making reforms to increase the foreign banking presence in the Philippines, raising confidence of rating agencies to give investment grade ratings, and emphasizing financial inclusion and financial education for young people, among others.

“Being BSP governor is a role that had many challenges but one that I will always cherish. I feel very honored and also humbled to have been given the opportunity to serve in that capacity,” Tetangco said.

“Now that my term at the BSP has ended, I look forward to the work exemplified by private sector organizations like the JFC that proves public service is not a monopoly of the government.

The private sector has a tremendous role to play in improving people’s lives. I will constantly bear this lesson in mind as I move on to this new chapter of my life as a private citizen,” he added.

Source: http://www.philstar.com:8080/business/2017/09/22/1741357/tetangco-receives-lifetime-achievement-award-jfc

At least $10 B yearly FDI possible with reforms — JFC

By Richmond Mercurio (The Philippine Star) 

MANILA, Philippines —  The Philippines can easily attract at least $10 billion in foreign direct investments (FDI) annually once existing restrictions and improvement on its overall competitiveness are addressed, the Joint Foreign Chambers (JFC) of the Philippines said.

JFC officials said yesterday while the country may be considered the “rock star of Southeast Asia” as far as economic expansion is concerned, it remains a laggard in terms of FDI due to several factors affecting its business environment.

“The Philippines should receive $10 billion a year. But what is preventing the country’s economy from running on all cylinders? Growth of business processing, manufacturing, and tourism have been high, but the growth of agriculture has been weak and mining has moved backward despite its high potential,” Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Philippines president Hiroshi Shiraishi said.

“The really relevant criteria is how we are doing compared with our leading ASEAN neighbors such as Vietnam, Thailand and so on. Our target should be to have at least the ASEAN average in FDI. And we still have a long way to go,” Canadian Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines president Julian Payne said separately.

The country’s net FDI last year zoomed 40 percent to a new record level of $7.9 billion, surpassing the full-year target of $6.7 billion.

“The key point is how quickly the new administration can proceed with its stated intention to remove restrictions of FDIs. There have already been a number of initiatives,” Payne said.

In a new Arangkada Project publication released yesterday, the JFC outlined various recommendations on reducing cost of doing business and increasing competitiveness and ease of doing business in the Philippines.

“There was a lot of concern about the reputation impact of the extrajudicial killings. But most companies have realized that in most sectors, it hasn’t changed the day-to-day operating environment and most companies are pushing ahead,” Australian-New Zealand Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines president Tom Grealy said.

“The underlying economic management is good, and there is fundamental reform coming which will potentially set the Philippines up for the next 20 years, particularly the tax reform so it’s quite actually an exciting time,” he added.

With regard to tax reform, the JFC said concerns have been raised by its members over proposed provisions in the first TRAIN that could have negative effects on business process management, ROHQ, automotive, and beverage firms.

The group said some of these concerns were ameliorated in the House version of the new law, while others may be resolved in the Senate and the bicameral reconciliation process.

“JFC members support taxes that are more progressive than regressive, that incentivize individuals and corporations to work hard to produce income, save, and invest, that impose a significant burden of taxation on consumption, support investment and job creation, support needed physical and social infrastructure programs, and are collected fairly, fully, efficiently, and without corruption,” the group said.

Source: http://www.philstar.com/business/2017/09/15/1739165/least-10-b-yearly-fdi-possible-reforms-jfc

Major reforms required for 9% GDP growth–JFC

By  Cai Ordinario | September 14, 2017

BUSINESSMEN belonging to the Joint Foreign Chambers (JFC) on Thursday identified reforms that must be undertaken by the Duterte administration to grow GDP by 9 percent and achieve the goals of its 10-point socioeconomic agenda.

The JFC’s recommendations are contained in its publication, titled  “Arangkada Philippines and the 10-Point Socioeconomic Agenda of the Duterte Administration”, which was presented during a forum held in Pasay City.

“Despite the impressive progress, in comparison to its other major Asean neighbors, the Philippines still lags behind in terms of overall competitiveness,” the report read.

Citing the most recent data from the World Economic Forum (WEF) Global Competitiveness Report, the Arangkada publication noted that the Philippines rated considerably lower than Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia, and only slightly ahead of Vietnam.

“The unfortunate 10-place drop from 47 in 2015 to 57 in the 2016 WEF competitiveness ranking underlines the need to both sustain improvements and increase efforts to move ahead of the competition, which is not standing still in their own efforts to attract more investment,” the report added.

The JFC said it outlined numerous recommendations for boosting the economy, increasing competition and improving the investment climate, infrastructure building, rural development, investing in human-capital development and strengthening the implementation of the reproductive-health law.

The group also called for promoting science and technology, developing creative industries, promoting manufacturing and strengthening the poverty alleviation and social-protection program.

“The government should adopt policies to double the GDP growth rate to 9 percent. This has to be supported by a clear long-term industry policy,” the Arangkada report read. This clear long-term industry policy, the JFC said, will allow the Philippines to also increase its earnings from merchandise exports by 15 percent annually and hit the $100-billion mark.

European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines President Guenter Taus said for the longest time factories were only doing assembly work.

When it comes to manufacturing, Taus added the countries that have strong industries are South Korea, Japan, the United States  and EU. The manufacturing sector has created 5 million to 7 million jobs in these countries.  In order to “create” a manufacturing sector, Taus said the government needs to support small and medium enterprises to enable them to manufacture and deliver goods.

“If you look at $25 billion or $30 billion in export in the electronics sector and look at the related import figures, you will be shocked. Everything we actually do here, what we keep here is labor because all the rest is import, and what we export is a semifinished good, not the finished product,” Taus added.

American Chamber of Commerce senior adviser John D. Forbes said this is linked to the recommendations from the last Sulong Pilipinas summit, which urged the government to focus on the country’s competitive advantages.

Forbes added, however, the industry road maps have not identified specific commodities or products that the Philippines can concentrate on.  While a 9-percent GDP growth and a double-digit export growth has not been recorded in nearly 10 years, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia said these are “doable targets” for the Philippines.

The highest GDP growth registered by the Philippines in nearly 40 years is 7.6 percent, while the highest export growth in 10 years was posted in 2010 at 33.98 percent.

“A higher growth is always an ambition, and we all want to grow the economy faster, exports, investments, so [there’s] nothing wrong with that. This is why they are using the word arangkada,because it’s really quantum jumps, quantum leaps,” Pernia said at the sidelines of forum.

“[These targets are] feasible, especially when we remove the restrictions on foreign investment and the negative list,” he added.

Philippine Association of Multinational Companies Regional Headquarters Inc. Director Safdar Quraeshi said agriculture is a “clear competitive advantage” for the country.

However, Quraeshi added many agribusinesses do not have access to shared machineries, solar technology and other innovations.

He said the government must extend incentives to these agri firms while encouraging the growth and development of companies belonging to the business-process outsourcing sector.

In the January-to-June period, the economy grew by 6.4 percent, slower than the 7 percent posted in the same period last year.

GDP expanded by 6.5 percent in the second quarter on the back of strong manufacturing growth, trade, and real estate, renting and business activities.