Corona trial not hurting economy, businessmen say

MANILA, Philippines - Businessmen told Rappler that impeaching the country's Chief Justice is boosting business confidence or at the very least not hurting it.

During an event of the influential business group Makati Business Club (MBC) on Tuesday, March 13, MBC chair Ramon del Rosario Jr said the finding of a recent survey among members showing bullish investment prospects in 2012 could be attributed to the Aquino administration's efforts to stamp out corruption.

The chief example of which is the president's fight to impeach Chief Justice Renato Corona, points out del Rosario. 

"It's the first time ever that the President has taken on the Justice of the Supreme Court. And I think he saw the Chief Justice was going to be an impediment in his campaign for accountability in government," explained Del Rosario.

"I would say the business community is behind him (President Aquino)," said Del Rosario. 

Del Rosario had expected the business community to be divided but said he sees "strong consensus" that impeaching the Chief Justice is "a step forward" especially in a country where "corruption has been a major issue in the economy for a long time." 

High risk

However Del Rosario admitted that the stakes are high. He shared that if the Aquino goverment fails in its war against the Chief Justice, "we'll see a reduction in confidence in terms of investments taking place, in terms of commitments towards hiring more people and expanding their businesses."

That would mark a turn from the upbeat attitude MBC members showed in their most recent survey, which found that 79.6% believed growth would improve in 2012.

Bart van Ark, the chief economist at The Conference Board, an independent research association, didn't take a stand on the impeachment but said that if the government's efforts prove its commitment to transparency, that will be important to foreign investors who "are looking for a low risk environment" when they consider "a new investment environment."

Fair and quick trial

Previously, an economist and 2 former finance secretaries told Rappler that the impeachment trial would not negatively impact the Philippine economy as long as the trial would be quick and fair.

Watch University of the Philippines School of Economics Dean Emmanuel de Dios, and former finance secretaries Ernest Leung and Margarito Teves share their thoughts on the impeachment trial:

- Rappler.com