By Arjay L. Balinbin

PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte wants to meet with business leaders “on a regular basis,” the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) said on Sunday.

Mr. Duterte said this in a meeting with business leaders and some Cabinet officials at Malacañang last Wednesday, April 3.

“I was abroad and didn’t attend, but I was told the discussion went well and even the water issue was covered,” PCCI Chairman George T. Barcelon said in a phone message.

He added: “PRRD, I was told, would like to have a meeting with the business community on a regular basis.”

Asked what could be the reason for the regular meetings, Mr. Barcelon said: “I surmised to get regular feedback and inputs.”

Business leaders who attended the meeting, based on a photo released by The Philippine Star on Sunday, were CLSA Exchange Capital Corp. Chairman and CEO Luis Virata; International Container Terminal Services, Inc. Senior Vice President and Head of Asia Pacific Region Christian Gonzalez; Udenna Corporation President and CEO Dennis Uy; Go Negosyo Adviser on Agripreneurship and Mindanao Project Head Ginggay Hontiveros; Go Negosyo Adviser on MSME Development Merly Cruz; PCCI President Bing Limjoco; and Federation of Filipino Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc. President Henry Lim Bon Liong.

Also present at the meeting were Wilcon Depot Founder and Chairman William Belo; Sta. Elena Construction and Development Corp. President and CEO Alice Eduardo; SM Prime Holdings Director Hans Sy; LT Group, Inc. President and COO Michael Tan; PLDT Chairman and CEO Manny Pangilinan; Federal Land, Inc. Chairman Alfred Ty; Filinvest Development Corp. President and CEO Josephine Gotianun-Yap; Robinsons Retail Holdings, Inc. President and CEO Robina Gokongwei-Pe; Aboitiz Equity Ventures Executive Vice President and COO Sabin Aboitiz; Philex Mining Corp. Senior VP of Corporate Affairs Mike Toledo; Megawide Construction Corp. Chairman and CEO Edgar Saavedra; and Pilipinas Global President and CEO Ernesto “Bong” Sta. Maria.

The business leaders were joined by Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Jose Ma. A. Concepcion III, House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Executive Secretary Salvador C. Medialdea, Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez, and Presidential Spokesperson Salvador S. Panelo.

Ms. Puyat said in a phone message that the meeting was organized by Mr. Concepcion.

“We talked about tourism, agriculture, infrastructure development, and digitalization,” she said.

The President, in turn, “spoke about his drive against corruption and illegal drugs,” she also said.

In a social media post, Mr. Conception said: “I discussed the three pillars for inclusive growth including tourism, agri-business, and digitalization.”

Sought for comment, Ms. Limjoco, PCCI president, said in a phone message: “We believe that these three areas will greatly contribute to the goal of inclusive growth and development in the country.”

She said the President “talked most of the time” for about “one and a half hours” during the meeting.

Mr. Pangilinan, according to Ms. Limjoco, “reported what Maynilad has done” regarding the water crisis.

Asked if the President had any feedback, Ms. Limjoco said: “Not really. But he was listening.”

Mr. Lopez, Ms. Limjoco said, “reported that SM and Robinsons City mall [have] helped in Go Lokal,” which is DTI’s market access platform for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the Philippines.

Also asked if the President had instructions for officials that would be beneficial to the business sector, she said: “He focused on drugs.”