PRESIDENT Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. was scheduled to arrive home on Saturday after a six-day visit to Switzerland.
Marcos attended the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos and met with business leaders on the sidelines of the event to persuade them to invest in the Philippines.
During his one-on-one dialogue with WEF President Børge Brende, Marcos said his administration is concentrating on empowering micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) which make up a large part of the economy.
Sen. Mark Villar, who accompanied the President to Switzerland, said Marcos obtained good inputs from experts, stakeholders and international counterparts in relation to the Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF).
On Wednesday, Marcos told the forum the process for the establishment of the MIF is in the pipeline.
“Such a fund is one tool among many in our efforts to diversify our financial portfolio, which includes our existing institutions pursuing investment that will generate stable returns, but also welfare effects spanning employment creation, improvement of public service, and a decrease in costs of economic activities,” Marcos said.
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Villar said the President’s meeting with business leaders will boost economic recovery and provide job opportunities.
Seven of the country’s business tycoons also joined the Philippine delegation in Davos.
In a separate interview, Private Sector Advisory Council lead convenor and Aboitiz Group Chief Executive Officer Sabin Aboitiz said the private sector is “very, very happy” to work with the Marcos government.
The delegation also included Kevin Andrew Tan of Alliance Global, Jaime Zobel de Ayala of the Ayala Group, Lance Gokongwei of JG Summit Holdings, Ramon Ang of San Miguel Corp., Teresita Sy-Coson of SM Investments, and Enrique Razon of International Container Terminal Services Inc.
On Friday, Albay Rep. Joey Salceda defended the President’s Switzerland trip from criticisms that it was a “lavish” affair.
In a television interview, Salceda said Marcos wants to prove to the world he is a better version of his father, the late former president Ferdinand Marcos Sr.
“He has to sell himself as a Marcos, remember that, because the Marcos that the world knew was a very different one, his father but I think the son, I think, is presenting himself to be a better version of the father,” Salceda said.
On Thursday, the Makabayan bloc at the House of Representatives slammed the “lavish business trip” after it was reported that at least 70 personalities were part of the presidential delegation.
Marcos’ participation at the WEF was his eighth overseas trip since he assumed his presidency in June last year.
Salceda said those trips were necessary to attract investments to the country.
“It’s like a vacuum in international marketing of investments in the global markets so perfect that the Philippines would be first out there after three years of virtually … very little international marketing, especially Davos. There was no Davos in the past three years. So, I think it is justifiable as long as it is not every day. I think it’s a very well-picked event, like the Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), the APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Conference), it was a way of projecting,” he said.
Salceda, however, said that Marcos’ statement that his family’s exile in Hawaii in 1986 was the “dark days” even for the Philippines was debatable.
“That’s the problem. We need to desegregate first, which is dark days for his family, and the second part, which is the dark days for the country. There is a tendency for politicians to usually, once they make this pronouncement, to usually add more, add black pepper and salt, basically, generally, if you go through the way he was saying it, it was a natural qualifier just to say they did not the only ones who suffered, it was also the country, but of course, that is quite debatable,” Salceda said.
During his meeting with Brende, Marcos said that when he returned to the Philippines from exile in 1992, his desire to defend the family name pushed him to start his career in politics.
“We should look at it from so many parameters. Of course, now we have a Constitution which we respect so I think it that way, and he was elected through that similar, through that same Constitution so, I would say, he himself is benefiting not from those dark days that he was talking about,” Salceda said.
Former president and Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo said she believes Marcos made “a good impression here in Davos.”
Arroyo was also part of the Philippine delegation.
A political analyst said Friday Marcos’ participation in the WEF was a good way to showcase the Philippines and his economic agenda without the need for more state visits.
Dr. Froilan Calilung, director of the Local Government Development Institute, said the forum served as a “one-stop shop” for Marcos to connect the country to the rest of the world since it was attended by 51 other world leaders.
The President being accompanied by the country’s top business leaders also gives the impression of the Philippines has a stable economy which in turn will give foreign investors the confidence to pour in capital, Calilung said.
Marcos’ understanding of globalization and trade liberalization, he noted, was very laudable.
The next step, Calilung said, is to follow through on all the negotiations to ensure the pledges would actually translate into investments and revenue for the country.