Press Release
September 23, 2016

Recto : Investors are attracted by incentives, not repelled by invectives

Hard-nosed investors are attracted by incentives, and are not easily repelled by invectives. They go to where money can be made, and the Philippine is an irresistible large market of over 100 million consumers.

Kung saan pa nga ang maraming mura, doon nila gusto - murang kuryente, murang labor, murang lupa. Lahat ng klase ng murang inputs, love nila.

The leader of the land where they'll be sinking their money in can drop 'F' bombs for all they care. In search for the almighty profit, business will go where it can be made, even to places where real bombs explode on a daily basis.

Throughout human history, merchants march with soldiers to war, often ahead of mercenaries.

What is, however, impolite to investors are the abrupt changes in rules. What is inelegant language to them are the rules of red tape.

They can perhaps live with a president who constantly curses for as long as government policies are consistent, and contracts, except fraudulent ones, are honored. They can live with a president who predictably swears for as long as the rules of business are predictable.

Businessmen operate under a presumed climate of certain risks, and they know how to manage them. A president's colorful language is not a risk to be managed. Trading does not stop because the president has again thrown a tantrum.

For as long as the President's verbal tirades do not metamorphose into official state policy, no great harm is done, except maybe to our sensitive ears. There is, however, a need to boost our global tourism PR drive to negate the bad press we are getting.

The current set-up--in which Cabinet members grab the nearest microphone every time the President had said something of high shock value in order to reassure the nation and the world that existing policies remain and current treaties are not rescinded--are just fine enough in calming our nerves.

We can only be thankful that after the President's regular "shock and awe" show, Cabinet members already know the drill, and come out with firehoses ready.

Investors are not complaining about the President's bad language. The objects of their ire are bad traffic, bad infrastructure and slow internet. Thankfully, our economy rests on strong fundamentals. The numbers that matter are healthy, so far.

But this is not to say that we should condone presidential outbursts. I think those close to him should start speaking truth to power and remind him that good statecraft requires the discipline of carefully choosing the right words for the right occasion.

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