n the surface, the
Philippines can seem like an enjoyable and friendly place to do business.
But scratch the surface and you’ll find yourself in a strange and alien
world where a whole new set of rules and attitudes apply.
Just recently, the Fraser
Institute, a well-known North American think-tank, ranked the Philippines
third from the bottom, on its annual survey of the best places to do
business for mining companies. The country is missing out on multi-billion
dollar foreign investments—not to mention the thousands of jobs new
businesses can provide—simply because foreign companies see the Philippines
as unreliable. Rules can change mid-stream, and local jurisdictions can
impose ever increasing requirements. The country already suffers from a
history of failed business projects where foreign investors were left
“holding the bag.” A prime example is the construction of NAIA Terminal 3
where German airport services firm Frapport AG found itself entangled in a web
of government agencies, bureaucrats, the courts, and the previous
Gloria Arroyo administration. Unfortunately for Frapport AG, a simple
straightforward airport project turned into a nightmare. Sadly Fraport AG’s experience is in
no way an isolated
case. These things happen all the time in the Philippines where there is no
requirement for full disclosure and all parties to a deal—no matter how
minor—usually have another secret deal going on the side.
Although the Philippines
has recently improved its overall credit rating, that improvement has not
translated into a significant boost in foreign direct investments to the
country. In fact Indonesia continues to receive four times as much foreign
investment even if it now rates lower than the Philippines. Why? As we point
out above, the reason is the Philippines has, over the years, built a
reputation of inconsistency and unreliability, in addition to widespread
corruption, a poorly educated populace, inadequate infrastructure, and a
hopelessly ineffective judiciary.
From large multinational
corporations to mom-and-pop businesses started by balikbayans, many
entrepreneurs who set up shop
here in the Philippines, have since left in frustration. Many point to the
almost whimsical attitude of local officials who seem to delight in giving
businesses a difficult time simply to prove to everyone that they can. When
business owners realize that the odds are stacked against them despite
their best efforts, they close shop and move elsewhere. And in today’s world
of global connectivity, that could be anywhere else outside the Philippines.
The recent pork-barrel
scandal that is currently all over the news also highlights just how
widespread and far-reaching corruption is in the country. Sitting senators
who took an oath to serve the people are now accused of serving only
themselves to the tune of tens of millions of pesos. They are now fighting
tooth-and-nail to exonerate themselves. And why shouldn’t they, others
before them stole much more yet never spent a day in jail.
It may seem
counterintuitive to some but Philippine courts have a lot to do with
improving the business climate of the country. Government officials can offer
all kinds of business incentives and talk till they’re blue in the face. But
unless the Philippines has a properly functioning judiciary, reputable
foreign businesses will have to think long and hard before they ever invest
or set up shop here.
Doctor Expedito Castillo, a retired internist with training in sports medicine thinks so. Castillo who lives in New York points out that Los Angeles—where Manny Pacquiao now trains for his May 2nd fight, and Las Vegas—where Floyd Mayweather trains and where the boxing match will take place, have enormous differences in terms of elevation. Los Angeles is just 233 feet above sea-level, while Las Vegas is a whopping 2,000 feet above sea-level.
What in the world has happened to cops in the United States? It seems that today only psychotic, unstable, individuals are joining the U.S. police force this days. People from all across the globe were more than willing to give American cops the benefit of the doubt, at first. But in instance after instance, from Ferguson, MS and the killing of Michael Brown, a young black man who witnesses say was unarmed and posed no threat at all to police; to today’s cold-blooded murder of Walter F. Scott, 50 by South Carolina police officer Michael T. Slager,
NPA Celebrates 46 Years of Destroying the Philippines
Founded by Bernabe Buscayno, or “Kumander Dante” as he was more commonly known, the New People’s Army established on March 29, 1969 marks its 46th year of existence. From less than 40 founding members and a handful of firearms, the NPA grew to over 26,000 members in the 1980s. Today however the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) places NPA membership at less than 5,000 nationwide. That number is expected to dwindle even further as progress and education creep in to the far-flung towns and barrios that were once breeding grounds for recruits.
Lee Kuan Yew and Ferdinand Marcos, What a Difference!
An Australian living in the Philippines published a book titled: “The Unlucky Country. The Republic of the Philippines in the 21st Century.” The author Duncan McKenzie came up with the title as the counterpoint to “The Lucky Country” a book written in the mid-sixties that refers to Australia. In his book McKenzie explains that the Philippines is unlucky because, for starters, it is an archipelago and therefore naturally fragmented.
Will the Philippines Ever Speed Up Its Glacially-Slow Justice System?
We’ve all heard the saying “justice delayed is justice denied.” That maxim has been around since time immemorial. In fact the Pirkei Avot (Hebrew for “Ethics of the Fathers”) which dates back to the 1st century B.C. mentions an old rabbi saying that goes: “the sword comes into the world, because of justice delayed and justice denied." In 1215 A.D. a clause from the Magna Carta similarly declares that “to no one will we refuse or delay, right or justice."
Amal Alamuddin Clooney Wants to Defend Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo ...Why?
Okay so she's George Clooney's wife, she's got great looks, a law degree and ambitious enough to make a name for herself apart from that of her superstar husband. Fair enough. So Amal Alamuddin Clooney decides to take on high profile cases of injustice around the world. Even better. But filing a complaint with the United Nations Human Rights Council on behalf of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo? What's up with that? Better do your homework Mrs. Clooney. It won't take long for you to realize that Arroyo is getting exactly what she deserves.
Manny Pacquiao Should Not Be Given a Tax Exemption
Senator Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III has proposed a bill to grant Manny Pacquiao a special tax exemption for the income he will earn from his May 2nd boxing match with Floyd Mayweather Jr. Pimentel justifies his bill as a "fitting tribute" to the Filipino eight-division world champion adding that "Manny is now part of our history and of world sports history. Let’s give him this tax incentive in recognition to his invaluable efforts to promote boxing and the country around the world."
With Negotiators Like These on Our Team, Who Needs an Opposing Side?
What on earth happened to these two women—supposedly handpicked by the president himself to argue on behalf of the Philippine government in peace negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front—who now seem to be mouthpieces for the Moros? Have Secretary Teresita Deles, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process and Professor Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, chair of the negotiating panel become mesmerized by the tough "macho" image the rebels project?
Why is the NBI Going After Those Who Uploaded the Sagonoy Video?
According to NBI Director Virgilio Mendez, they have identified the individuals who uploaded the video showing the coldblooded killing of PO2 Joseph Sagonoy. The cellphone video was purportedly taken by Muslim rebels during the Jan. 25, 2014 encounter between the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebel group. The video shows a wounded Sagonoy who is shot twice in the head at close range.