PH bags at least $1.25 billion in investment pledges from Indian firms

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This story was updated to reflect Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez's statements and President Rodrigo Duterte's speech at the Philippines-India Business Forum.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 25) - Department of Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez said Friday the Philippines has bagged at least $1.25 billion worth of investment pledges from Indian companies.

"Our business engagements resulted to… investment commitments amounting to at least $1.25 billion dollars, at least 10,000 jobs," Lopez said at the Philippines-India Business Forum in New Delhi, India.

Lopez is part of President Rodrigo Duterte's delegation to India for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)- India Commemorative Summit and India's Republic Day celebration. He arrived in the South Asian country and met with Indian companies a day before Duterte's delegation.

On Thursday, Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said in a press briefing with Lopez the $1.25 billion would generate an estimated 105,500 jobs for Filipinos. Lopez later clarified the 105,500 was still a "preliminary" count and subject to validation.

"[The] Latest partial total is placed at 10,000, since other companies are not yet ready to reveal the amount of investments and jobs to be generated," he said.

However, Lopez said in the forum the numbers could increase as companies "finalize their plans."

Lopez and Roque earlier said the $1.25 billion investment could be even bigger, as it did not include companies that had committed jobs but did not specify how much they would invest.

He said most of these jobs will be in infrastructure development, renewable energy, Information Technology (IT) and business services. It will also include customer service, "experience transformation," robotics, and software services.

Business engagements between the Philippines and India have also led to 12 business agreements, two Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs), and 10 letters of intent.

This includes an MOU between the Philippines' Board of Investment and Invest India, India's national investment promotion and facilitation agency.

The National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) of India also signed an MOU with the Philippines' IT Business Processing Association of the Philippines (IBPAP).

Companies that said they would expand operations in the Philippines include Indian renewable energy giant Adani Green Energy Limited, IT-BPM company Hinduja Global Solutions (HGS), and Tech Mahindra.

Lopez said Adani has pledged $1.1 billion in investments and more than 3,000 jobs, while HGS and Mahindra have committed 2000 jobs each.

Duterte promises to "protect" Indian businesses

Duterte, meanwhile, promised to protect Indian investors -- as long as they don't engage in corruption.

"I will protect you. I will make the guarantees, just do not give in to corruption," Duterte said in his speech before Indian businessmen. "We invite, we protect."

While he recognized the difficulty of doing business in the country before, he said the Philippines has "improved many things."

He told the businessmen to let him know if officials are making unreasonable demands or making it hard for them to do business.

"If you give the bribe money and I come to know about it, you'll find your applications in the wastebasket, but if you do it right, I will assure you of protection," he said.