Why Mar Roxas won’t win the election

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Presidential candidate Mar Roxas interviewed by news presenter Mel Tiangco (credits: GMA News TV).

Honestly, Mar Roxas is one of the most qualified person to become the president of our country for the next six years. He has been in electoral politics for more than two decades since the death of his younger brother, Dinggoy and has been a national figure since former Joseph Estrada appointed him as secretary of the Department of Trade and Industry and stayed with the post even after Erap’s resignation during EDSA II. He has made several achievements that we are benefiting right now like the flourishing Business Process Outsourcing or BPO (though all credits should not go to him) and cheaper generic medicine. He became senator in 2004 and in fact, elected with highest number of votes during that time because of his posturing as “Mr. Palengke” to connect himself to the masses. He used his senatorial term as a springboard for his ultimate ambition, to become the president of the Republic of the Philippines and since then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo became unpopular due to electoral fraud and corruption allegations, he distanced himself from her and after 2007 midterm elections, he was already considered as one of the presidential contenders for 2010 along with then Senate president Manny Villar and then Makati mayor Jejomar Binay, his eventual opponent this election. The scenario had changed unfortunately to him when former president Cory Aquino died in August 2009 after suffering with colon cancer and her death immediately changed the landscape of the presidential race that time, 9 months away, by the way. The clamor to let then fellow senator Noynoy Aquino to run for president was increasing and thus, dooming the presidential ambition of Mar Roxas because Noynoy and Mar came from the same party, the Liberal Party, and it would be a destructive to the opposition that time to have both run as president under separate tickets and to prevent factionalism in LP, Mar Roxas eventually gave up his presidential ambition and slid down to as vice presidential candidate for Noynoy Aquino. The election went other ways to them; Noynoy won the presidency while Mar lost the vice presidency to Binay. His defeat didn’t stop him his aspiration to become president as a year later after the election, he was appointed as secretary of Department of Transportation and Communications and another year later due to unfortunate death of Jesse Robredo due to plane crash in Masbate, he was appointed as secretary of Department of Interior and Local Government and used the position as the vehicle to his recent presidential candidacy.

Despite of his experiences and qualifications, there are so many hurdles of Mar Roxas’ ambition to become president of our country. Those hurdles have been used repeatedly for many years, by the way. One of the hurdle of his candidacy is his upper-class origin, being a son of former senator Gerry Roxas and grandson of former president Manuel Roxas. Being a member of political upper-class echelon in our society makes him so aloof to the public who mainly come from lower-middle class and lower class echelons as he has a difficultly understanding the plight of those people because of the single fact that he grew up with silver spoon and the general public would obviously cringe his upbringing and this same people would rather rally for allegedly corrupt Jejomar Binay over unblemished Mar Roxas because the former grew up like them while the latter didn’t. Another hurdle to his ambition is his snobbish personality behind the scenes brought by his upbringing as he had inability to deal with several local officials like Tacloban mayor Alfred Romualdez during the aftermath of typhoon Yolanda as Mar said to Tacloban Mayor that “You’re a Romualdez and the president is Aquino” and those statements made Mar unlikable to become president as being president, you have to be a conciliator and seemed that he cannot do that because it would contradict his grown-up personality. The hurdles I have mentioned are the reasons on why Mar Roxas will not become our president to succeed Benigno Aquino III and I think his presidency would be as mediocre as the current one because of his lack of concrete vision for our country that the electorates have been searching for years. Mar, if you want to save your candidacy, it would be better to support ideas that would alleviate the poverty like removing the foreign equity ownership restrictions from our constitution as you had supported when you were the secretary of DTI during Erap’s presidency.

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Why I am not voting for any presidential and vice presidential candidates this coming May 2016 election

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Top (presidential candidates from left to right): Jejomar Binay, Rodrigo Duterte, Grace Poe, Manuel Roxas III, and Miriam Defensor-Santiago. Bottom (vice presidential candidates from left to right): Gregorio Honasan, Alan Peter Cayetano, Francis Escudero, Maria Leonor Robredo, and Ferdinand Marcos, Jr.

Many of my friends, whether online or real life, have been wondering on why I am not going to vote for any presidential or vice presidential candidates this coming May 2016 elections. I have acknowledge that this election season, so far, is the most crucial in our recent history as this year is the 30th year after EDSA I revolution which means it’s already a generation ago and the current president is the son of EDSA I president Corazón Aquino who is Benigno Aquino III. So far, compared with two previous presidential elections I’d followed, most of presidential and vice presidential candidates have already presented their platforms once they are elected this coming May 9. Let me discuss every presidential and vice presidential candidate and why I won’t vote for them.

PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES:

JEJOMAR BINAY

No one can deny the fact that Jejomar Binay is one of the most ambitious among presidential candidates as he has been vying for the presidency since 2008 and supposedly planned to run as president, only gave up because former president Joseph Estrada had declared his intentions to run in 2010 presidential election and to prevent fragmentation of the lower class or masa vote that time, he had to slide down and ran as vice president with Erap and he won as vice president while Erap lost to current president Aquino.

His platform of government is mainly a continuation of the current administration’s one with populist and some reformist twists like deepening the popular Pantawid Pamilya Pilipino Program or 4Ps and amending the economic provisions of the 1987 constitution to align with the ASEAN Integration and future membership with Trans Pacific Partnership or TPP. The downside of his candidacy is that he has been embroiled with corruption allegations when he was the Mayor of Makati and has not answered those allegations before the Senate of course for political reasons and instead, he had preferred to connect himself with the lower class voters who can relate with themselves of who he is, from his physical appearance to his rag-to-rich personal history.

I won’t vote for him because I foresee that despite of his planned reforms on economic provisions in the 1987 constitution, which I have vehemently advocated for years, the country will not get better in the long run as he prefers to maintain the political and business establishments to be in their respective places beyond his presidential term. The country, for sure, cannot tolerate another president who has already have allegations of corruption before being elected as president and many his skeptics have already foreseen him as potentially worse than Marcos, Estrada, and Arroyo combined in terms of managing country’s coffers.

RODRIGO DUTERTE

Rodrigo Duterte is a reluctant presidential candidate like the current president during 2010 presidential campaign. He is only running for president because he is afraid that his opponent, Grace Poe, would win and have the United States dictate the internal policies of the country as she used to be an American citizen. He had always denied presidential run as late as during the filling of Certificate of Candidacy last October because of family reasons like initial opposition from his daughter, Sara, and his advanced age in which he admitted one time that he might die in office, if he is to be elected as president. In the end of the day, he declared his intentions to run as president last November.

His platform of government is all about revamping the system of government from shifting from current unitary to federal form like in the United States and fighting crime and corruption. His platform of government is the dream of many voters in the country who wants dramatic and systematic changes within their lifetimes and of course, there are oppositions from those who have been benefited with the current system. The downside however, is himself because he is willing to bring his style of governance in Davao City to national sphere which for me, it won’t work because local and national government political realities are far different respectively and many people cannot stomach his iron fist style of governance in the national arena due to experience during Ferdinand Marcos presidency.

I won’t vote for him because it would be difficult to fulfill his plan to shift from unitary to federal form within limited 6-year presidential term and also, his plan to fight crime would only deal small time criminals not big time one like drug lords and politicians who have been involved in crime. His plan to fight corruption would obviously enraged politicians, whether his backers or not, and thus, making his plans for constitutional reform difficult without their support. Therefore, his plan for a wholesale structural constitutional reform is improbable for the next 6 years. I won’t vote for someone who is expected to disappoint the people.

GRACE POE

Grace Poe became a presidential aspirant right after her victory as senator in 2013 senatorial election. Since then, the people had been expecting her to run as president because for a reason that she is the adopted daughter of movie star and former 2004 presidential candidate, Fernando Poe, Jr., who lost the election then due to allegations of electoral fraud ordered by former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Before her declaration of presidential candidacy last September, there were negotiations within the ruling Liberal Party to have her as the vice presidential candidate with Mar Roxas, of course, as presidential candidate. The negotiations broke down because Grace Poe didn’t want to become a mere second-fiddle of Mar Roxas because she knew that being a vice president under potential mediocre Roxas presidency would harm her chances of winning as president in 2022, had initial Roxas-Poe tandem proceed. After the negotiations broke down, she declared herself as presidential candidate and picked Chiz Escudero as her vice presidential candidate and right after the announcement, she led the opinion polls until Duterte’s declaration of his own presidential candidacy.

Her platform of government is actually similar to Binay and Roxas, which I’ll discuss later on, with continuation of most initiatives of current Aquino administration with reformist twists according to her declarations like amending the economic provisions of the 1987 constitution. The downsides of her candidacy are that, she has been embroiled with several disqualification cases against her candidacy due to problems of her residency in the country after she returned from the United States and of course, her foundling status where many law luminaries like Justice Antonio Carpio argued that she must be disqualified because the 1935 constitution, the constitution in force during her birth, never recognized her as natural born because she is a foundling.

I won’t vote for her because of similar reasons of not voting Binay as amending the economic provisions of the 1987 constitution only without planning to proceed to revise the rest of the constitution beyond her presidential term would perpetuate the political and social problems that have been suffering for years. Unlike him, I don’t think she would enrich herself while in office. Another concern would be the possibility of disqualification after taking office and have Chiz succeed her as president and many people cannot stomach to have him as president through succession not election and that’s the another reason on why I won’t vote for her as the country cannot risk itself another constitutional crisis that could put the country once again as one of the laughing stocks in Asia.

MAR ROXAS

Like Jejomar Binay, Mar Roxas has been vying for the office of the president since he was senator, way back 2007, and he had already campaigned for the presidency by the time former president Corazón Aquino died in August 2009 due to colon cancer. The death of former president Cory Aquino changed the landscape of the presidential race that time as many Cory supporters had been clamoring to have her only son, the current president Benigno Aquino III, be the presidential candidate of the Liberal Party. Mar Roxas, after several clamors, eventually slid down from his presidential aspirations and became vice presidential candidate of the current president. The current president eventually won but he unfortunately, lost in a close race to Jejomar Binay. A year later, he was appointed as DOTC secretary and another year later, due to the death of Jesse Robredo via plane crash in Masbate, he was appointed as DILG secretary and as a secretary DILG, he served as one of the closest advisers to the president to the extent that he had acted as de facto president in some instances.

His platform of government is really a total continuation of the policies of current Aquino administration and his presidential campaign right now has been revolving around the slogan of Matuwid na Daan or Straight Path in English. One of the downsides of his candidacy is that he is associated with the blunders committed by the Aquino administration for the last 5 years like his decision to terminate contracts for MRT maintenance, dismal handling of the aftermath of typhoon Yolanda, and inept dealing with the Mamasapano massacre. Another downside of his candidacy is his inability to connect with the majority lower class voters despite of his several posturings or epalisms since he was a senatorial candidate in 2004 and these voters have already been fed up of his actions and want someone who comes from their ranks which he doesn’t come from them.

I won’t for him because the downsides of current administration might worsen the country in the long-run and might tarnish the legacies of Cory and Noynoy presidencies forever through his incompetence in running the country. Without piecemeal constitutional reform as he promised, nothing will occur to our country for good. In other words, Mar Roxas presidency will be the maintenance of the whole status quo since 1986.

MIRIAM DEFENSOR-SANTIAGO

Miriam Defensor-Santiago has already been a presidential candidate for three times and her first attempt in 1992, she nearly won due to division of Cory Aquino votes between Fidel Ramos, Ramón Mitra, Jovito Salonga, and Salvador Laurel and division of Ferdinand Marcos votes between Imelda Marcos and Danding Cojuangco. In her second attempt in 1998, only less than million had voted for her due to Joseph Estrada’s candidacy, thus her candidacy back then was not taken seriously by the people. While her presidential dream had become elusive over time until recently, she has become a senator for two occasions from 1995 to 2001 and from 2004 up to the present and she has passed hundreds or thousands of bills that we are enjoying right now. For me, along with Juan Ponce-Enrile, she is one of the most astute politicians I’ve ever seen because of her ability to stand issues which can be liked by some and be hated by other, thus she’s not afraid of alienation as long as she stand with her principles.

Her platform of government is actually composes of needed social reforms that most of her potential voters, the youth, wanted like anti discrimination law for LGBTs or legalizing divorce. She has also promised like Binay, Poe, and Duterte, to amend the economic provisions of our 1987 constitution. The downsides however, are that she had only announced her candidacy when she thought that Rodrigo Duterte was not running until his eventual declaration in November and thus, her candidacy was unplanned and doesn’t even have political ads on free TV to disseminate her candidacy. Her health is still in question to some despite the fact that her doctors declared her as lung cancer free.

I won’t vote for her because I afraid that her cancer might reappear during her term and if gets worse and die in office, her running mate, Bongbong Marcos, would succeed her as president and people especially the older one who have grown up during Martial Law years, would surely enraged Bongbong presidency especially if he becomes president through succession not election. Another is that, the current presidential system doesn’t suit to Miriam’s style of leadership because she might be tempted to abuse executive power to apply her agenda.

VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES:

GRINGO HONASAN

Gringo Honasan only ran for vice president because Jejomar Binay had a hard time to find his vice presidential candidate as leading aspirants like Bongbong Marcos, had rejected his offer, so that, their future presidential candidacies won’t be derailed with an association with corruption-tained Binay. In other words, Gringo is a reluctant candidate for vice president.

I won’t vote for him not because of his history as coup-plotter during Cory Aquino presidency but because he won’t be that productive as vice president compared as a senator right now. His image has been rehabilitated because he has chosen to be a senator not to be as vice president or president that once he aspired when he made coup attempts against former president Cory Aquino and for sure, her supporters would be horrified with his presence in Malacañang.

ALAN PETER CAYETANO

In 2013, Alan Peter Cayetano originally aspired himself to be the president this year and in fact, launched an exploratory committee to find out whether his ambition to become president is feasible or not. The whole thing had changed after the Mamasapano Massacre as he used to be one of the proponents of Bangsamoro Basic Law or BBL and since he knew that BBL had become unpopular among the majority Christian Filipinos, he withdrew from supporting the proposed law and became an ardent opponent of it. His later opposition has angered the Moros who have been expecting the BBL to be passed before the closure of the current 16th Congress and since he knew their opposition and possible backlash to him if he pursued his planned presidential bid, he slid down to vice presidential race and Rodrigo Duterte picked him as his vice presidential candidate.

I won’t vote for him because he’s a typical airhead populist politician who has swayed supporting a bill which could have been good for the Moros for the sake of pandering the sentiments of majority Christian Filipinos who have been opposing the BBL due to lack of understanding with autonomy for the Moros and I don’t want to have him dictate whosoever becomes president in decision-making especially the matters like BBL.

CHIZ ESCUDERO

Chiz Escudero is perhaps, one of the most ambitious politicians in our generation because of the fact that he served as one of the ardent critics of previous Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo administration and many people have had adored his opposition to unpopular Arroyo that time. He was the responsible person who made Jejomar Binay’s vice presidency possible while at the same time, he campaigned the presidential candidacy of the current president who is his close friend. But, his friendship with the current president was not reciprocated by the latter during the first three years of the administration because the president had preferred Mar Roxas instead of him and that was the reason when the time Grace Poe was elected as senator and her presidential candidacy became inevitable, he moved closer to her and became her closest adviser as he used to be the closest adviser to her adopted father in 2004 and because of that, he was rewarded by becoming her vice presidential candidate.

I won’t vote for him because he’s an obvious a power hungry person and ready to back stab any politicians he felt never followed his personal ambitions to become president someday. Politics aside, he broke his own family by abandoning his first wife and his children to marry his current wife, Heart Evangelista, despite the fact that Heart’s parents had opposed her marriage with a politician like Chiz. If he becomes vice president while Grace Poe is disqualified while in office, he would become the president through succession and people don’t want to repeat the EDSA II fiasco anytime soon, so no to Chiz Escudero.

LENI ROBREDO

Leni Robredo like Gringo Honasan, is a reluctant vice presidential candidate, as Mar Roxas like Jejomar Binay, had a hard time to find his vice presidential candidate after negotiations with Grace Poe to have her as his vice presidential candidate, broke down due to conflicting ambitions. Since Grace Poe was already off the table, the Liberal Party tried to convince the widow of late DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo, Leni, to run as vice president for Mar Roxas. At first, she turned down the offer but after several weeks before the filing of Certificate of Candidacy in October, she finally accepted the offer of the Liberal Party to become its vice presidential candidate.

I won’t vote for her because for me, she is too premature to join national politics especially becoming vice president or president given that she had only entered politics, less than a year after the unfortunate plane crash of her husband in Masbate, and our recent experience shows that those who have lesser experiences in LGU and Congressional politics, have a hard time to adjust him/herself to the responsibilities as vice president and especially, president. The current president is the manifestation of that inexperience, although he had been 12 years in the Congress, he had a hard time to adjust to higher executive job as critics would like to say that his government is akin to a typical supreme student government in schools and universities. I don’t want the experience of the current president be repeated to Leni even though she is running for vice president. She should have run as senator this election instead as vice president.

BONGBONG MARCOS

Like Chiz Escudero, Bongbong Marcos is also one of the most ambitious politicians in our generation as being one of the heirs of Ferdinand Marcos and many people have expected that he could restore the upsides of his father even though many of those who have expecting him were not born yet during the regime of Ferdinand Marcos. Many Marcos opponents had taught that EDSA I revolution would be the end of Marcos political hegemony but they were wrong as few years after the revolution, Marcos family was able to restore electoral politics where Bongbong’s elder sister became congresswoman representing Ilocos Norte, he himself became governor of Ilocos Norte, and his mother, Imelda, has become congresswoman of Ilocos Norte today despite of her advanced age. As senator, he has never disappointed his supporters and has proved his critics wrong by passing several bills that have become laws in which ironically, many of those are being supported by the current Aquino administration. The downside however of his vice presidential candidacy is that he carries the baggage of being a Marcos and many people especially those who suffered the atrocities of Martial Law including the family of the current president, won’t accept to have him in Malacañang in the future as president, so while he is still running as vice president, they will find ways to stop him from getting the second highest position in the country as they knew that once he wins the vice presidency, his presidency would be inevitable.

Perhaps, he’s the most qualified person to become vice president but I won’t vote for him because I don’t want political dynasties in the national sphere be perpetuated with his future vice presidency or presidency itself. I don’t want also that if Miriam wins and dies in office, he would succeed her through succession because becoming a president through succession would become someone less legitimate in the eyes of the people and I don’t want to happen that to Bongbong. I have foreseen him actually as the winner of the vice presidential race because of the fact that he’s the only vice presidential candidate well known across regions and social classes.

CONCLUDING REMARKS

Even though I’m not going to vote with anyone of presidential or vice presidential candidates, but I’m ready to work with whosoever wins as president and vice president because I have already a vision for a better Philippines and I want not just the expected winners of this election but the future leaders to educate and understand my visions for a better Philippines be applied, so that future generations should enjoy before I die of advanced age.

 

 

 

 

Juan Ponce Enrile resigns as Senate President

Excerpt of Senator Juan Ponce Enrile's resignation speech as Senate President.

Excerpt of Senator Juan Ponce Enrile’s resignation speech as Senate President.

Just few hours ago, Senate president Juan Ponce Enrile announced his resignation as the President of the Senate. I wasn’t surprised with his announcement as the ruling party of President Benigno Aquino III has gained an upper hand in the upper house during the recently-concluded senatorial elections last 13 May where 9 senators from the ruling party have won over only three from Enrile’s United Nationalist Alliance. His own son, Jackie, never won the election because of allegations that he killed a certain a certain Ernest Lucas had unveiled during the campaign season that doomed his own candidacy. On Senator Enrile on his part, he faced several criticisms on what he did of giving “cash gifts” to some senators including Miriam Defensor Santiago during Christmas season.  He also gained several ire from his younger colleagues like Alan Peter Cayetano and Antonio Trillanes IV where he unveiled the former’s father debt obligations when he was alive while for the latter, he exposed his “connivance” with the Chinese government regarding the Spratly and Scarborough issue which of course, Trillanes was angry on Enrile’s revelations.

During his resignation speech as the Senate president, he expressed on regrets on what he did during his 5-year Senate presidency which I think a typical political warrior should say. He lambasted of course, Alan Peter Cayetano and Antonio Trillanes IV. He defended his actions like giving cash-gifts to some senators. He defended his son, Jack from accusations that doomed his  candidacy like killing certain Ernest Lucas Jr. and Alfie Anido during Martial Law days.  He also vowed to clean-up his name for the remaining three years as a senator.

Senator Alan Peter Cayetano said that Enrile should explain his issues on Senate funds. Senator Antonio Trillanes said that Enrile’s resignation speech as the Senate president was just a “Drama for the media” to gain sympathy for him.

Senator Jinggoy Estrada as the Senate president Pro Tempore, was designated as the Senate president for the meanwhile.

Senator Franklin Drilon, a close ally of President Benigno Aquino III, was rumored to take over the Senate presidency by the start of the 16th Congress session in July.

I think his resignation was honorable way to give-in to the newly elected senators and of course, to the strengthening PNoy coalition in the Senate. His resignation has signaled the beginning of the end of long and colorful political career of Juan Ponce Enrile from being a Defense minister during the Martial Law years of Ferdinand Marcos, being one of the protagonists of EDSA I, and up to the present senatorial career. His resignation should be a reminder that we cannot last forever in a certain position in the government and have to give way for younger and yet deserving ones to lead our government. I would like to say, good hindrance to Senator Juan Ponce Enrile.

The Philippines’ investment grade does not guarantee foreign direct investments (FDI)

The Philippines gained its  first investment grade from Fitch, an international credit rating agency.

The Philippines gained its first investment grade from Fitch, an international credit rating agency.

The Fitch, an international credit rating agency, upgraded the Philippines’ Long-Term Foreign-Currency Issuer Default Rating (IDR) to ‘BBB-‘ from ‘BB+’. The Long-Term Local-Currency IDR has been upgraded to ‘BBB’ from ‘BBB-‘. The Outlooks on both ratings are Stable.

The agency has also upgraded the Country Ceiling to ‘BBB’ from ‘BBB-‘ and the Short-Term Foreign-Currency IDR to ‘F3’ from ‘B’.

The significance of upgrading the credit rating of the Philippines by the Fitch to an investment grade is that the cost of obtaining credit by the government and the private businesses from the international financial market would decrease as they would perceive that our country’s finances are stable to caution for any external or internal shockwaves that may hit our economy. It means that more opportunity for the government and the private businesses to borrow money to invest in our economy, no matter it is for real job generation or speculative purposes.

In the eyes of some foreign investors who are not really knowledgeable the culture of doing business in our country, they would perceived that the Philippines is open and stable to do their business even though it is not.

I glad that the Philippines obtained its investment grade by the Fitch due to our government especially during the previous Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s government, who sacrificed herself to push her initiatives to balance our government finances and assuring private investors to invest in our economy despite of several attempts by FPGMA’s opponent to topple her from the president back then and the Subprime financial crisis that affected the economic development during the sunset of her administration. Fortunately for the current president, Benigno Aquino III, he continued what her predecessor had done by maintaining the fiscal soundness of our government and stability in our economy despite of the weak global economy.

However, the investment grade given to us from the Fitch does not assure that bulks of foreign direct investments needed for our long-term economic development will come to our country, whether short-term or long-term, as our government has not yet addressed the pressing concerns of easing the cost of doing business for foreign investors to do their business for massive job generation like constitutional 60/40 foreign ownership restrictions of setting-up enterprise, unnecessary fees and permits needed to comply by a foreign investor, red-tape in the government, and many others.

Foreign individuals or multinational corporations will not easily affirmed the notion that our country’s recent investment grade  means that their investments are safe from the barriers I stated above as these investors who wants to pour their capital in infrastructure, manufacturing, mining, oil and gas extraction, agriculture, transportation, and tourism will not going to waste their time and especially money to follow or circumvent our stringent regulations of doing business and instead, they would rather invest their bulks of capital to countries with liberal investment regulations like Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Cambodia, or even Myanmar, which these countries could give a better assurance for their investment to realize than us. Only those who are in the speculative portfolio investment industry will pour their capital in our country which in nature, for short-term and does not generate bulks of employment opportunities for millions of Filipinos who are unemployed or underemployed.

Therefore, we have to be cautious and realistic that investment grade does not give an assurance that our country has a better environment for businesses and jobs to flourish. Once the government addresses political constricts on doing business, this would be the time that foreign direct investments will pour in our country for our economic development.