MANILA, OCTOBER 27, 2003  (STAR) BABE'S EYE VIEW By Babe Romualdez  - Whatís this I hear that some businessmen are planning to liquidate their assets and sending them abroad? All of this because FPJ is reportedly running?

The trouble with some businessmen is that they complain too much and cry like babies. They enjoy the privileges of this country, make money, but when crunch time comes, they go away. Which reminds me of the movie The Godfather where Don Vito Corleone mocked the singer Johnny Fontane and told him to stop crying like a baby. In the same manner, when things are not favorable for their business, these Filipino businessmen complain, pack up their bags and go off somewhere. When things are going smoothly, they come back to the country. Ano ba ito? Pag may ginhawa, sama-sama; pag sa hirap, kanya-kanya. These businessmen should once and for all be given a one-way ticket out.

Thereís no such thing as a free lunch, not in this country, not anywhere. We can only harvest what we plant. To be fair, there are a lot of businessmen who know an opportunity when they see one and they grab it. I know of this old-rich family who hasnít stopped buying tracks and tracks of real estate in and out of Metro Manila. No wonder the rich only gets richer. We also know of a Chinese businessman who is quietly acquiring businesses that seem to need more capital. Today, he is one of the wealthiest yet low-key businessman in the country. One wealthy person thatís working hard to help our agriculture get back on its feet is Secretary Cito Lorenzo. He joined the government as a sacrifice and not to make money. Now he is getting "nuisance suits" from big-time smugglers that he stepped on. Many Japanese and Korean businessmen are coming in the country to put up small- and medium-scale businesses in and around the country. After the visit of US President George W. Bush, many American businessmen are looking at the Philippines once again as a potential investment destination.

From what I understand from Ed Angara, the united opposition is fielding Fernando Poe Jr. only as interim president. They hope that if he wins, he will eventually call a constitutional assembly and shift to a parliamentary government. From what I was told, FPJ agreed to run with that platform. The same is true with GMA who wants to be president only up to 2007, and then have a parliamentary government to take over. We do not really know how all these would turn out. It would seem both FPJ and GMA are running on the same platform. It seems many are seeing the parliamentary form of government as the best political structure that will work for the country. I have not spoken to Raul Roco and Ping Lacson but itís safe to assume they are more inclined to keep the presidential form of government and finish the full six years if ever one of them wins. What is important is that businessmen should start supporting a candidate that they feel has the right kind of program of government. We must begin preparing ourselves to look for a candidate that will have the political will to make the necessary changes.

Whatever noisemakers say about the recent state visit of George W and his praise for the present administration, the idea that Bush has endorsed GMA is absolute hogwash. The truth is that the United States will support any country that believes in Americaís stand against terrorism. Thatís exactly what GMA did during 9-11, which ultimately established this new relationship with the US. It is because of this relationship that the United States considers the Philippines as a strong and close ally in the region. Of course, it is no secret that Bush has a special liking for GMA. It is neither a secret that Bush would like to see GMA, whom he considers his friend and phone pal, , to win in the May elections. But as a matter of policy, the United States would like to see our democratic system work. At least we are certain of one safety valve Ė the United States will meddle in the countryís affairs if a Noriegan or Talibanic government will take power. As a matter of fact, the US is moving to help the Armed Forces of the Philippines make the necessary reforms and ultimately prevent another mutiny from taking place. In our November issue of People Asia magazine, Editor- in-Chief Joanne Rae Ramirez and her team highlighted the significance and long-term benefits of the Bush visit. The magazine has many photos of US President Bush and First Lady Laura Bush and their entourage from the time Air Force One arrived in Villamor Airbase, the Bush speech at the joint session of Congress, and the state dinner at the Palace. This coming November issue will surely be a collectorís item.

Itís about time businessmen stop complaining and make a stand. Everyone must do their part in helping the people choose the kind of leadership that has the vision of where we want to be in the next decade. We must look into the platform of candidates and see who can best address the long-term problems of this country, like unbridled population growth and the growing poverty. We must stop complaining and put our money where our mouth is. * * *


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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