Makati mayoral row worries businessmen

(CNN Philippines) – The political power struggle in Makati — between Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay Jr. and Vice Mayor Romulo Peña — won't do any good for the country's top financial center.

Last Monday, the Department of the Interior and Local Government served Binay a suspension order issued by the Office of the Ombudsman to facilitate its investigation of plunder and graft charges filed against the mayor in connection with the allegedly overpriced Makati City Hall Building II.

On the same day, the Peña took his oath as acting city mayor.

Armed with a freeze order issued by the Court of Appeals, Binay said he was still in charge.

But the DILG says otherwise, pointing out that the freeze order came only after it had served the suspension order.

Binay has filed a complaint asking that the DILG, specifically Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II, be cited for contempt for ignoring the Court of Appeals ruling.

In the meantime, business transactions in Makati have been delayed and transaction have become confused, according to business CNN Philippines interviewed on Wednesday (March 18).

Donald Dee, chairman emeritus of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce, said: "The thing that we would hate to see is that the institutions are not able to implement and are not able to smoothly implement whatever actions they want to take. And they are causing disruptions because of it."

For his part, Francisco del Rosario Jr., president  of the Management Association of the Philippines, said: "They have to resolve this in the soonest time possible because as I mentioned, people who are getting licenses, permits, and approvals from city hall, if their projects are delayed it means they will incur additional costs. Incurring additional costs is not good for business community.

Dee himself said his company is already feeling the effects of the political row: "Iit will have real terrible effect. In my case, I have established a company here in Makati, a travel business. We cannot move because we do not know who to talk to. In the meantime, the registration will be late."

19-march-2015-francisco-del-rosario.jpg "They have to resolve this in the soonest time possible," says Francisco del Rosario, president of the Management Association of the Philippines, of the issue on who's really in charge in Makati.

And worse, he said, the dispute may turn away investors.

"We will be accused by investors that in the Philippines, everything is inefficient, everything doesn't work. We don't know who's leading, who's supposed to make decisions. These kinds of things we cannot afford to have."

"The business community expects that justice will be served," Del Rosario said. "So if something wrong is perceived to have happened — for example, corruption — they really expect the justice system to implement the laws and file cases need be."

Businessmen said there's a lot at stake here — not only mone but the continuity of future developments.

They want authorities to step in and end the political circus.

As a country, the investors are looking at us," Dee said. "They expect that we can resolve this problem quickly.