This is troubling for those that wanted to see Duterte make a difference in the Philippines. The story below showed up in Yahoo news feed so it is out there internationally and it looks like the desperate moves of a despot wanting to turn his people against a foreign enemy to distract his own population.
Rather than focus on increasing jobs and foreign investment the whipping up of anti American sentiment is going to slam the brakes on foreign investment regardless of what continent the investor hails from. Few countries have been as benevolent as the U.S. and if you look at the Philippines/American War the people simply weren’t ready for self government after hundreds of years of Spanish rule. Some would say they weren’t ready in 1946 when full independence was granted, after the U.S. allowed and encouraged commonwealth status in 1935 to allow the new government to get its feet wet in governing.
Few other countries have been as generous in helping other countries with billions of American tax dollars flooding into the country since 1976. Few other countries would have left peacefully and orderly after the base lease extension negotiations broke down in the early nineties. When that happened Subic Bay lost 20,000 jobs directly on the base and maybe twice that from supporting businesses off the base. The Clark closing lost 15,000 jobs tha paid on the average of 26,000 pesos per month, over 100 million dollars pumped into the area. And the money at Clark and Subic and the other four U.S. bases in the Philippines was in addition to the 300 to 400 million dollars a year that the U.S. flat out gave the Philippines.
World wide the economy is beginning to falter with as much as 30% downturn in business activity in some industries. The Call Center industry is also losing steam according to contacts out at Clark Freeport Zone where companies are losing contracts and suspending new hiring. The vast majority of the call center contracts come from U.S. companies or are servicing U.S. consumers and you can be sure that they won’t be servicing Chinese or Russian consumers anytime soon.
As an American that invested in the Philippines I am concerned about the anti American rhetoric coming from Duterte, wondering how much worse things can get once the leadership of the country turns against Americans. The place is a mess as it is, damned near impossible to get anything done due to the corruption and sheer laziness of the government workers. What happens when we become the target instead of the golden goose that needs plucking?
I personally kept my investment low in the beginning, counting upon being able to get several containers of product out of the country before the deal went tits up. It could all be gone tomorrow and I’d still have made money and if needed one final container could be shipped at a week’s notice to clear out the remaining inventory and the more valuable equipment. But literally two years of effort have gone into setting up the business and obtaining permits and we are still unable to import needed machinery and supplies so any thought of pulling out and coming back later when the business climate improves with a leadership change is out of the question. It is really a shame, cheap labor that is highly motivated if dealt with fairly and firmly, good infrastructure for getting containers in and out, inexpensive accounting services available, decent pricing on locally sourced materials due to intense competition, and a population that generally admires Americans for the most part. The Philippines could have become the next factory for the world but instead they are about to chop off their nose to spite their face.
I come in every six weeks or so and stay for a week, mostly working at the factory so I am somewhat insulated from the general population. My question to those that have made the Philippines your home is if you have witnessed any rising anti American sentiment or are the locals generally not following along with Duterte’s direction?