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Tuesday, August 20, 2019
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Palace: Human rights issues not affecting Philippine economy

MALACAÑANG on Tuesday, March 19, expressed confidence that human rights issues hounding the country have no adverse impact on the Philippine economy.

Refuting claims that supposed human rights abuses are affecting the business confidence in the Philippines, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the country has experienced the "strongest" economic growth under President Rodrigo Duterte's watch.

"There is no direct correlation between human rights and the economy, as some quarters, particularly two international lawyers groups, would like to point out," the Palace official said in a statement.

"The Philippine economy has been growing at least six percent under the Duterte administration and according to our economic managers, the strongest economic growth we have seen since the mid-1970s," he added.

Panelo made the remark after Christopher Leong, president of regional lawyer group Lawasia, said in previous reports that the alleged extrajudicial killings and the state of rule of law in the Philippines could affect the confidence of foreign investors.

Over 5,000 suspected drug offenders have been killed since the President wage a war on illegal drugs in 2016.

The drug-related death toll has raised worry among human rights advocates and the opposition groups, who claim that Duterte's drug war merely incites extrajudicial killings (EJKs).

Panelo maintained that the Duterte government adheres to the rule of law and protects human rights, amid crackdown on illicit narcotics trade.

"While we continue to adhere to the rule of law and uphold international humanitarian law and the protection of human rights, the critics and the detractors of the administration continue to vilify the President and the government, even raising the issue of human rights in connection with the drug war to other issues such as trade, business and the economy," he said.

"The international groups of lawyers claim that our foreign investments have been or will be adversely affected by the issues on human rights and EJKs. It’s farther from the truth as shown by the economic growth stated above," he added.

Quoting the country's economic team, Panelo said foreign investments are anchored on principal considerations, such as "macro-economic fundamentals, no or minimal restriction on foreign equity on investment areas and activities, ease of doing business, good infrastructure, non-restrictive labor laws, and consistent policy milieu."

Panelo also cited that despite "virulent media propaganda war" against anti-narcotics campaign, the Philippines's foreign investments were at around $10 billion both in 2017 and 2018, compared to the first two full years of former President Benigno Aquino III administration's two billion dollars in 2011 and $3.2 billion in 2012.

"There has been a strong investor confidence in the economy under the decisive leadership of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte," the Palace official said.

"These are hard facts and figures, which cannot be disputed and which should be relayed by those in capable positions to the public, including those in the international community. They are more reliable than some anecdotes that are politically colored by some groups or interests," he added.

Panelo also bragged that Duterte's "strong" political will has been recognized in pushing for reforms by signing Republic Act 11032, or the Ease of Doing Business Act.

He added that the Philippines' 48-notch jump to 19th place out of 193 countries in the e-Participation Index of the United Nations "underscores the Administration’s notable performance to streamline the business registration process in the country."

He also noted that the Build-Build-Build Infrastructure Program was "now full steam ahead."

"As we all know, lack of infrastructure hampered the competitiveness of our economy; thus, the Administration committed more resources to infrastructure," Panelo said.

"In his first two years in office (2017 and 2018), the President obligated 6.3 percent of GDP (gross domestic product) to infrastructure, which is two to three times as much as his previous predecessors—1.7 percent under [Fidel] Ramos, 1.8 percent under [Joseph] Estrada, 1.6 percent under [Gloria Macapagal] Arroyo, three percent under Aquino," he added. (SunStar Philippines)


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