By Darryl John Esguerra

President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. (RTVM Screengrab)

MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Wednesday urged business leaders in Brunei Darussalam to seriously consider the Philippines as their “prime investment destination,” touting the country’s brimming economic potential and improved regulatory processes.

“I enjoin the business leaders of Brunei to seriously consider the Philippines as your prime investment destination. We are committed to fostering mutually beneficial outcomes for the business sectors of both our countries,” Marcos said at the Philippine Business Forum in Brunei’s capital city of Bandar Seri Begawan.

“Together, let us approach the future with determination and confidence, striving towards shared prosperity and success. Let us all make it happen in the Philippines. Let us do it together,” he added.

In his message, Marcos enumerated key policy reforms and legislations that support the proposition for the Philippines as Brunei’s strategic partner for regional growth and investments.

The President cited the Retail Trade Liberalization Act, the Foreign Investments Act, Public Services Act, and the Renewable Energy Act, which he said, liberalized foreign ownership in sectors such as air transport, telecommunications, shipping, retail, and renewable energy projects.

He also underscored the steps taken to improve the ease of doing business, demonstrated by efforts to simplify tax payments and regulatory processes such as the establishment of Green Lanes Initiative for Strategic Investments to streamline the process of investment approvals for strategic projects.

The establishment of the Maharlika Investment Fund, the President said also demonstrated the country’s commitment to finance priority projects and drive socio-economic development.

The Chief Executive also shared the recent enactment of three priority bills, which further the developmental goals, namely the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Code of the Philippines, the Internet Transactions Act, and the Tatak Pinoy Act or the “Proudly Filipino” Act.

Stronger PH-Brunei ties

In the same speech, Marcos also conveyed the Philippines’ commitment to strengthening business ties with Brunei and foster economic growth within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

This as the President reaffirmed the unwavering commitment of the Philippines to regional economic integration on multiple fronts.

He said the Philippines sees vast potential in sectors such as agribusiness, renewable energy and Halal industry development.

“We stand firm in strengthening the business relations between the Philippines and Brunei Darussalam. Our partnership is a symbol of the shared aspiration to foster economic growth and shape a more vibrant ASEAN community,” Marcos said.

Marcos is on the last day of his two-day state visit in Brunei, coinciding with the 40th anniversary of the bilateral relations between the two Southeast Asian countries.

Along with Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, the President witnessed on Tuesday the signing of agreements for cooperation on key areas such as maritime cooperation, agriculture, seafaring, and tourism.

RE venture

In a separate meeting also on Wednesday, Marcos called on energy business leaders in the oil-rich sultanate to invest in Philippine renewable energy (RE), citing the country’s efforts to develop other sources of energy and reduce the use of fossil fuels.

“We tried to open up some sources. We have our own source but we need to further develop and explore some of the potential gas fuels that are in the Philippines,” he said.

He likewise acknowledged that there are “geopolitical concerns” to consider, wherein some of the gas and oil deposits are located in “conflict areas” of the West Philippine Sea.

“That’s why we are trying to diversify our suppliers. And hopefully, we take to heart the lessons that we learned during the pandemic when supply chains suddenly were shown to be more vulnerable, much more vulnerable than we had imagined,” Marcos said.

Ready to collaborate

Speaker Martin Romualdez said the House of Representatives stands ready to collaborate with the executive branch and private sector stakeholders to implement measures that support the President’s vision in making the country a leading investment destination in the region.

“The House of Representatives is fully committed to supporting these efforts, recognizing the vital role that foreign investment plays in our nation’s progress,” Romualdez said in a statement on Wednesday.

He said by enhancing the country’s investment landscape, the government aims to drive economic progress, generate jobs, and improve the quality of life for all Filipinos.

“We are confident that with the President’s leadership and the collective effort of the government, the Philippines will achieve sustained economic growth and become a leading investment destination in the region,” Romualdez said.

He noted the enthusiasm for partnership between the business leaders of both countries with the signing of memorandum of understanding between ASEAN Business Advisory Council–Philippines and Brunei, and the National Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Brunei Darussalam (NCCI) and the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), which were presented to Marcos.

Romualdez echoed the sentiment of the President that the partnership and collaboration between the Philippines and Brunei, as well as other neighboring countries like Indonesia and Malaysia, augurs well for shared prosperity, development, and peace across the region. (Filane Mikee Cervantes/PNA)