Pinoy businessmen in the United States and abroad are getting a boost from a government-funded program aimed at helping the country’s struggling industries, as the Philippines prepares to receive billions of dollars in military aid from the United Nations.
The United States has pledged $9 billion in military equipment to help the Philippines build a new military force to counter China’s growing influence in the South China Sea and in the Central American nations that are competing for access to lucrative energy markets.
The money is being offered as part of a $1.6 billion package approved Monday by Congress to combat the Philippines’ growing economic woes.
President Rodrigo Duterte has said he wants the military to be the mainstay of his administration.
He has also said the military should be a key partner in combating drugs and terrorism.
But many in the business community, including some prominent leaders, fear the Philippines will become a pariah for investing in a rapidly developing economy.
Duterte is known for his tough stance against corruption and cronyism, but critics say he has made a mockery of the countrys economic recovery by signing deals with wealthy businessmen.
The new program, called the Military-Industrial Complex and Investment (MICA), is aimed at building the infrastructure needed to fight the rising tide of corruption and criminality in the Philippines, said Marcos Almodovar, the president of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, a business lobby group.
The Philippines has been on a downward trajectory since Duterte took office in June.
The economy contracted 4.2 percent in the first quarter of the year and the government has struggled to keep its deficit under control.
The program aims to help Filipinos in manufacturing, construction, real estate, tourism, manufacturing, financial services, information technology, communications and other sectors, said Almodovich.
It is part of the Duterte governments effort to address the rising burden of chronic and underinvestment in sectors that are critical to the country, he said.
“It’s a good idea.
But I’m not a believer in a program that will be able to do anything in the short term,” he said in an interview.
The Philippine government says the MICA program will provide $1 billion over the next three years to improve the countryís economy and attract foreign investment.
It has said it hopes to attract $2.6 trillion in foreign direct investment by 2025.