(from left to right) FPI chairman Jesus Arranza, PhilExport president Sergio Ortiz-Luis, Jr., PCCI chairman emeritus Francis Chua.

MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte's policy of cracking the whip on slow-moving bureaucrats seems to have hit a sweet spot with the business community’s movers and shakers.

Leaders of three of the country's most influential business groups, the Federation of Philippine Industries (FPI), the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) and Philippine Exporters Confederation (PhilExport), agree that the president’s policy direction to further ease doing business in the country by cutting red tape is a confidence builder.

FPI Chairman Jesus Arranza said the constant delay in the issuance of business permits and other licenses only reflect the level of corruption in government agencies, both in the national and local levels. He said by forcing slow moving government offices to hurry up, the chief executive is doing businessmen a big favor.

Arranza, however, appealed to the president to take a closer look at corruption at the barangay, as it is also tasked with the issuance of various permits. He said that public spaces, such as sidewalks, are often used as private parking lots or are occupied by vendors under the protection of barangay officials.

“The culture of patronage and corruption is very strong at the barangay level,” he said after listening to Duterte’s 4th SONA on Monday.

Meantime, PhilExport president Sergio Ortiz-Luis Jr. said the president’s directive that business permits and other government licenses be issued within three days sends a strong signal to lazy or corrupt bureaucrats that it is time to shape up. He explained that the snail-paced movement of the bureaucracy is an added burden to the export sector, which is now caught in the crossfire of the US-China trade war.

“We are happy with efforts to make doing business easier for entrepreneurs. Efforts to fix airports and sea ports as well as to create new departments on water resources, OFWs and disaster resilience are also definitely in the right direction. Compared to the last regime, this one is definitely superior,” he added.

For his part, PCCI chairman emeritus Francis Chua said he is convinced the president is “dead serious” about putting a stop to corruption in government as well as making life easier for those engaged in business activities.

He added that the current administration’s approach to the West Philippine Sea territorial dispute is the most practical under the circumstances. Chua explained that Duterte’s non-confrontational stance against China allows the country to reap some economic benefits from the disputed seas.

“Right now, he (Duterte) does not have the resources to go to war. So, he is exhausting all diplomatic avenues to extract the most benefits for the country. Permitting China to fish in our seas is allowed under the UNCLOS agreement. Just like China is allowing us to fish in Scarborough, which we lost because of the negligence of past administrations,” he added. (PNA)