A call for unity, healing

NOW that elections are over, the Cebu business community is now calling for healing and unity to usher in a fresh start for the new leadership.

“Given the results, the people have spoken. It is time to heal and learn to work together for the betterment of our future as a people. We see the fresh mandate as an opportunity to work closely with the winning candidates for the economic progress of Cebu,” said Melanie Ng, president of Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) yesterday.

Latest unofficial tallies have shown that Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte is leading the presidential polls with a wide margin against the Aquino administration’s bet Mar Roxas. Duterte, the presumptive president, has already appealed for reconciliation now that the elections are over.

“I would like to address myself to my opponents. These past few days have been quite virulent for all of us – the black propaganda and false accusations. Let us begin the healing now,” said Duterte during his press conference at the Royal Mandaya Hotel, after casting his vote last Monday.

Heated interactions

Political analysts have considered this year’s election as one of the hottest and one of the most talked about in social media.

Social media giant Facebook noted that the Philippines has the “most engaged elections” in the Asia-Pacific region. The company disclosed that 22 million people engaged in conversations related to the Philippine elections on Facebook, generating 268 million interactions.

“Let’s now work together as a nation whoever is elected by the majority, where leaders adhering to the rule of the law...Let the healing start, for the good of the country,” said Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) past-president Phillip Tan, in a separate interview.

The business community also lauded the electoral process this year, noting the country just had “the fastest and cleanest election” by far, amid the glitches experienced and some expected election-related complaints.

“The democratic process that we underwent yesterday was highly commendable,” said Ng, adding that the fast transmission of results was due to better technology adopted.

Praise for the process

“This did not happen in previous elections,” she said. “Overall, the election process was good. I suggest that the organizers learn from the glitches that happened so that they can be avoided in 2019,” said Ng.

While it would still be a “wait and see stance” on how the incoming administration will bring the country’s economy to greater heights, CCCI vowed it would continue to advocate for better policies to improve the ease of doing business, better infrastructure to support our economic growth and better services for the sustainability of Cebu.

“There’s a lot that needs to be done and a lot that we still need to do for Cebu. It’s now time to think as one and to work as one so we can get the right things done,” Ng said.

Reports last Monday revealed that Duterte prefers “hard investments” over hot money inflows in the local bourse. He also eyes easing foreign ownership to increase investments in the country.

“I am willing to change the 60:40 equation,” he said. Duterte, however, noted he is not in favor of selling the local business entirely to foreigners.

Meanwhile, industry leaders are calling on the new government to take a proactive role in resolving longstanding challenges to Philippine productivity and competitiveness, including inadequate infrastructure and a neglected micro, small and medium enterprise (MSME) sector.

The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, in a statement, said the government must work on developing an efficient, productivity-enhancing infrastructure system to reduce production and logistics costs, enhance workers’ output and stimulate a second round of private sector investments in manufacturing, agribusiness, SMEs, and tourism, among others.

Optimism

Other key interventions to realize inclusive growth include stabilizing macroeconomic conditions, improving the regulatory and policy environment, optimizing social investments, and increasing agricultural productivity.

“The Philippines remains in a special spot with numerous positive forces converging in our favor. Propelling the country to greater heights requires the cooperation of all sectors of society. On the part of the business community, we welcome the clear mandate given our new leaders by our people and the credibility of the elections, and we stand ready to be an active and participative partner of government in ensuring sustainable and inclusive growth that benefits not just a select few but all Filipinos,” the group said.

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