'Foreign investors care about money, not drug deaths' — biz leader

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Members of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) countered claims that investors are being scared off by the rising number of drug deaths.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Local business leaders have come out in staunch defense of the government's bloody war on drugs.

Members of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) countered claims that investors are being scared off by the rising number of drug deaths.

"What companies have said they will close down because of the war on drugs? I would like to ask them, name one or two," PCCI Honorary Chairman Sergio Ortiz-Luis, Jr. said in a press conference on Monday.

The cold, hard truth, he pointed out, is that foreign investors focus only on income. "They don't care if 50 percent of Filipinos are killing each other so long as they're not affected."

The American and European Chambers of Commerce have earlier raised concerns about the death toll of the government's anti-drug push.

They claimed that the killings could worsen, instead of improve, law and order in the Philippines.

They also worried that relationships with traditional allies, like the United States and the United Nations, are strained. President Rodrigo Duterte has famously lashed back at US and UN officials who have called for an end to the drug deaths.

While the Philippine economy remains one of the fastest-growing in Asia, they said the political uncertainty could overshadow this and dissuade investors from entering.

PCCI Chair Benedicto Yujuico said this was largely a "matter of perception."

"Most of the Southeast Asian nations think that what is being done by the Philippine government is good in terms of eradicating crime and drugs. In terms of the Western countries, most of them are bringing up the issue of human rights and whether or not what we're doing here is proper," he explained.

Drugs are a menace to the country, and it is only right for the government to fight it aggressively, the PCCI members said.

They claimed that businesses gain from this since employees feel safer and the operating environment, made more stable.

While there have been drug deaths – both from police operations and vigilante killings – they said it is but a price to pay to win the war on drugs.

"There is no difference between the civilians who die in wars against the Abu Sayyaf and those who die in the war on drugs," Ortiz-Luis said.

"Unless we accept the fact that there will be collateral damage, then we will not be able to solve [the drug problem]."

According to government data, 1,152 drug suspects have been killed in police operations from July 1 to September 19.

Independent counts put the tally closer to 3,000.

A total of 17,759 people have been arrested, police said.