23 July 2015

APEC News Releases

Iloilo City hosts welcome dinner for APEC delegates
(ILOILO CITY, Iloilo) The city government of Iloilo on Wednesday night hosted a welcome dinner for the delegates of the two-day Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting, to be held here to discuss infrastructure and capital market development.

“Fostering the APEC’s infrastructure through long-term investment and capital market development also signifies bringing our economies closer together,” Iloilo City Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog said in his welcome remarks.

“Cooperating and creating jobs and prosperity, so that people from all APEC economies could provide better life for their constituents and give the younger generation a better and brighter future.”

During the dinner, held at the Department of Education’s City Division Office, the delegates were entertained by musical groups from the University of San Agustin and the John B. Lacson Foundation Maritime University.

Iloilo City is honored to host the APEC meeting as it gives the city an opportunity to showcase its strengths and potentials as an investment destination, Mayor Mabilog said, adding that Iloilo’s strategic location serves as a gateway to the rest of the Visayan region, making it attractive to potential investors from the Asia-Pacific region.

Prospective investors, he said, could consider Iloilo City’s wide range of business sectors, such as retail, manufacturing, business process outsourcing (BPO), agro-processing, and tourism.

“Iloilo City is a modern, bustling population center proud of this heritage and culture. We believe the economic outlook for Iloilo is enormously dynamic and the potential to growth is palpable,” Mabilog said.

“We consider Iloilo City a globally competitive premier city, where hard-working leaders and people live and work together in mutual trust and respect.”

Some 400 hectares of reclaimed land in Iloilo City are being developed into an industrial zone and another 400 hectares of reclaimed land intended for businesses have been identified by the city government.

The city received P150 billion worth of investment pledges in 2013 from various private enterprises intending to open their businesses in the zone.

The city government has reported that about 60 percent of the amount has already been spent by investors in construction work.

The APEC meeting, “Fostering APEC’s Infrastructure through Long-Term Investment and Capital Market Development”, will be held at the Royal Garden Hall Convention Center on Thursday and Friday (July 23 to 24). PND (as)

Philippines on track to hit infrastructure spending by 2016
(ILOILO CITY, Iloilo) The Department of Public Works and Highways’ (DPWH) proposed P391 billion budget for next year will support the government’s target to increase infrastructure spending to 5 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) by 2016.

The department’s Undersecretary for Planning and Public-Private Partnership Maria Catalina E. Cabral, during the opening of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting here Thursday, said the DPWH budget for 2016 indicates the government’s thrust to improve the country’s infrastructure.

“By 2016, we shall have submitted a budget proposal of P391 billion or US$8.7 billion. This will show how serious the government is in increasing infrastructure spending to 5 percent of the GDP by 2016,” said Cabral.

The DPWH’s 2016 budget is 43 percent higher than the P273 billion allocation for 2015 and more than double its P190.9 billion budget in 2014.

The department will also get the second highest allocation from the P3 trillion 2016 national budget, next to the Department of Education and followed by the Department of National Defense.

“These tasks of improving our land transport system, coupled with its major flood control system and other basic social infrastructure all over the country, have led our country to grow by leaps and bounds, as shown in our latest GDP, and sustain high economic growth and be more globally competitive,” she said.

“We are committed to deliver networks of roads and bridges that will make our archipelagic country as one, for a safer, faster and more convenient physical connectivity throughout the Philippine islands and be convergent with our neighboring country in the Asia-Pacific region,” she said, adding that this poses a big challenge, not just to the government but to the construction industry as well.

Cabral noted that the government, in partnership with the private sector and financial institutions, has completed the construction of 43.21 kilometers (km) of high-standard highway network in Metro Manila and its surrounding areas.

About 201 km of road projects are nearing completion, while three road projects that total 112 km are in the pipeline, she said.

“We are now in a fast-track mode to be able to increase our available resource base and promote PPP investments,” Cabral said.

Iloilo City is hosting the two-day APEC workshop, “Fostering APEC’s Infrastructure through Long-Term Investment and Capital Market Development”, at the Royal Garden Hall Convention Center here. PNA (km)

Asia Pacific’s private sector urged to help develop infrastructure in the region
(ILOILO CITY, Iloilo) The respective private sectors and financial institutions of countries in the Asia Pacific have been urged to help develop the region’s infrastructure, as the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) workshop on infrastructure financing and capital market development opened here Thursday.

During the opening of the APEC meeting, the Department of Public Works and Highways’ (DPWH) Undersecretary for Planning and Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Maria Catalina Cabral emphasized the need to intensify the partnership between the government and the private sector to hasten urban and rural development.

“We have to engage our partners in the private sector to come in and put in the much needed resources to finance the needs of the rapid urban, as well as rural development,” Cabral said, adding that APEC member economies need to increase their financial resources and promote PPP investment for infrastructure projects.

The DPWH official mentioned that the country’s urban and rural areas are growing faster than the development of road networks and other needed infrastructure, leading to the inefficiency of the existing infrastructure.

“This is why we are here, to put our heads together, learn from each other’s best practices, and also the not-so-good practices, learn from the experts, and come up with the concrete and doable solutions,” Cabral said.

“An economy would not succeed without the needed physical foundations of economic growth in place,” she added.

She further stressed that the private sector’s involvement in infrastructure projects would complement the government’s capital for these developments.

For instance, she said, the DPWH has proposed a P391 billion budget for 2016, which is 43 percent higher than the department’s P273.9 billion budget in 2015 and more than twice its P190.9 billion budget in 2014.

“This will show how serious the government is in increasing infrastructure spending to 5 percent of the GDP (gross domestic product) by 2016, which poses a very big challenge, not just to the government but also to the construction industry,” Cabral noted.

“Let us sit down together as a global family to further foster our cooperation and collaboration in infrastructure development,” she said.

The two-day APEC workshop, “Fostering APEC’s Infrastructure through Long-Term Investment and Capital Market Development” held at the Royal Garden Hall Convention Center here, aims to identify concrete and practical initiatives to address the two major obstacles in infrastructure development in the region: the lack of a pipeline of bankable infrastructure projects in developing countries and the lack of appropriate financial instruments and enabling policy frameworks. PNA (kc)

Palace says country to pursue rules-based approach in settling case against China
The Philippines will continue to pursue a rules-based approach in resolving its maritime row with China, Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said on Thursday.

“Walang pagbabago sa posisyon ng ating pamahalaan hinggil sa rules-based approach at ‘yung peaceful resolution of maritime entitlement issues in the West Philippine Sea or South China Sea,” he said, commenting on reports that the Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines has called on Manila to drop its case against Beijing and instead opt for bilateral negotiations to settle the dispute.

Secretary Coloma noted that the government is determined to see the case through until the Arbitral Tribunal makes a final decision on the issue.

“Malinaw po ang layunin natin dito at iyan ay ang magkaroon ng ruling ang permanent commission on arbitration para mabigyan ng sustansiya ang mga nilalaman ng United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea na kung saan isa pong signatory ang Pilipinas,” he explained.

It was reported on Thursday that Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to the Philippines, Zhao Jianhua, has renewed his country’s call for Manila to withdraw the case it has filed at the Arbitral Tribunal in The Hague and return to bilateral talks to resolve their maritime dispute.

“Let’s (go) back to bilateral talks. We’ve always been pursuing a peaceful settlement to the dispute in South China Sea but it seems that China and the Philippines have different approaches. But our preference is peaceful negotiation directly between the two parties,” the Chinese envoy was quoted as saying on Wednesday.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague has begun hearing the case filed by the Philippines against China in 2013.

Last July 7 to 13, the Philippines’ legal team presented its case before the Arbitral Tribunal to convince the tribunal that it has jurisdiction to hear the country’s case against China.

China has refused to participate in the court proceedings. PND (ag)

President Aquino to inaugurate Muntinlupa-Cavite Expressway
President Benigno S. Aquino III will lead officials in inaugurating the Daang-Hari-South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) Link Road Project/Muntinlupa-Cavite Expressway (MCX) on Friday.

In a statement issued on Thursday, Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said “the MCX Road Project is the first Public-Private Partnership Project under the Aquino administration which involves the construction of a four-kilometer, four-lane paved toll road that passes through the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) reservation that connects Bacoor, Cavite to the SLEX”.

“Once fully completed, the road would decongest traffic in Cavite, Las Piñas and Muntinlupa, reduce travel time by an average of 45 minutes from Daang Hari to Alabang Interchange, provide a new access to the NBP property and improve the overall competitiveness of Region IV-A (CALABARZON) as an investment destination by providing an alternative route to/from Metro Manila and Cavite,” the statement added. PND (jm)

Canada commends Philippines for successful public-private partnership initiatives
(ILOILO CITY, Iloilo) Canada has praised the Philippines for establishing an effective public-private partnership (PPP) center and for rolling out PPP projects, making it a model for other economies in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Asia-Pacific region.

“I do congratulate the government of the Philippines. I think President Aquino’s government has done a model PPP center under the leadership of (PPP Center Executive Director) Cosette (Canilao) and the results are obviously there in terms of projects that have left, projects under review, and projects in the pipeline,” Canadian Ambassador Neil Reeder said in a media briefing on Thursday.

“And I’m beginning to see how PPP centers evolve and develop around the region that obviously some of the experiences of the Philippines and the models that the Philippines has chosen to advance infrastructure are in fact being adopted by other economies in the region.”

Canada’s experience in PPPs spans 22 years, both at the national and provincial levels, said Reeder.

It has 221 completed PPPs with a total value of $70 billion, and has been doing so well despite the challenges, he said, adding that Canada shares those experiences with the Philippines and other economies interested in Canada’s PPPs.

Reeder also mentioned that Canada’s prime minister has announced two weeks ago an additional $5 billion in infrastructure projects, showing how Canada is very keen on the development of PPPs.

Canada is also supporting the development of PPP centers in the region, including in the Philippines, with the contribution of $4.2 million to the PPP Center to strengthen its capacity to deliver on the government’s PPP agenda, he said.

Aside from the Philippines, Canada is also active in other ASEAN countries, having contributed to the ASEAN center for excellence in infrastructure, which will help facilitate PPP projects in the ASEAN region with a $4.5 million fund.

It has also made a $4.5 million contribution to Indonesia, and will release another $14 million to help the ASEAN country in its PPP infrastructure, Reeder said.

“It is important to mention (this) because we want to share our skills to allow these countries like the Philippines and others to build up capacities to project the infrastructure that you need for the country as it grows and develop and becomes more prosperous,” he said.

Reeder noted that Canada is very pleased to work with the Philippines throughout the APEC year in the APEC advisory panel, which shares best practices and experiences within APEC economies.

Reeder and Canilao co-chair the APEC PPP Experts’ Advisory Panel. PND (as)

Public-Private Partnership centers to fuel infrastructure development in Asia Pacific
(ILOILO CITY, Iloilo) Establishing public-private partnership (PPP) centers in Asia-Pacific countries will fuel infrastructure development in the region, Canadian Ambassador Neil Reeder said during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting here on Thursday.

Reeder, who is also co-chair of the APEC PPP Experts’ Advisory Panel, said the Philippines’ successful PPP Center has become the model for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the APEC regions.

“The Philippines chooses to advance its infrastructure development through the PPP Center. The Philippines adapted successful practices and its practices are now being adapted by other economies in the region,” he said.

Following the country’s establishment of a PPP center are Indonesia and China, the envoy said, adding that they could adapt best PPP practices from Canada, which is one of the most successful in the region.

He mentioned that the Canadian government has provided the Philippines’ PPP Center some $4.2 million for capacity building.

“I do congratulate the government of the Philippines,” Reeder said. “President Aquino’s government has done a remarkable PPP Center.”

The PPP Center was created to facilitate the implementation of the country’s PPP projects to accelerate development, particularly in the infrastructure sector.

The Canadian envoy further said that the ongoing APEC workshop on infrastructure financing and capital market development, has stirred “tremendous interest in the PPP concept and tremendous interest from the private sector in assisting PPP projects”.

Reeder said that at least $3 trillion is needed to fund infrastructure development in the Asia Pacific.

“The demand is huge,” he noted.

“All these economies are now trying to advance infrastructure projects and the infrastructure process,” he added.

Meanwhile, he said the Philippines’ hosting of the APEC is a big opportunity to bring the Asia-Pacific region to the country, which will support the government’s move to position the country as an investment destination.

In particular, the PPP Center is looking for private partners for the expansion of the Iloilo International Airport, he said.

The PPP Center is also in talks with the local government of Iloilo City for a rail project that would ease traffic congestion and link the city to other parts of Iloilo.

A government center is also being eyed here where all government offices will be located in one area. (kc)

Public-Private Partnership Center sees passage of Build-Operate-Transfer law amendments this year
(ILOILO CITY, Iloilo) The Public Private Partnership (PPP) Center hopes to see the passage of the amendments to the Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) Law this year to institutionalize the reforms in the government’s PPP initiatives, its chief has said.

“With regards to the BOT Law amendments, we already submitted it to Congress, both the lower house and the Senate,” PPP Center Executive Director Cosette Canilao said in a press briefing here Thursday.

Canilao said the House of Representatives has wrapped up the committee hearings and the proposal is with the appropriations committee and will go to the plenary in the next few weeks.

“We have also submitted the proposed amendments to the Senate committee and there will be a hearing, I think, next week,” she added.

She said the BOT Law amendments, also known as the PPP Act, would institutionalize the reforms that have been started, like for example, the creation of the PPP Center and the PPP governing board for the proper governance structure.

The PPP Center has also asked for the creation of a project development and monitoring facility to be made part of the law, so that the hiring of consultancy and transaction advisors and even independent post-award consultants could be accelerated.

“We have also introduced the concept of projects of national significance so if there is a government project located anywhere, for example here in Iloilo, that will be shielded from any adverse local government action,” she explained.

Canilao further said that they have clarified the mechanism for processing unsolicited proposals.

The proposed amendments aim to remove the current roadblocks not only in bidding out projects but also in implementing the projects after they are awarded, she said, adding that they hope the BOT Law amendments would be passed this year, as it is one of the priority bills of President Benigno S. Aquino III.

“We are closely working with the leaders of both houses in making sure that this would be taken up in the next few months,” she said. PND (as)

Government monitoring rehabilitation projects in Yolanda-devastated areas
The government continues to monitor the completion of rehabilitation projects in areas of Eastern Visayas that were devastated by Typhoon Yolanda, a Palace official said on Thursday.

“Patuloy pa rin pong tinututukan ng pamahalaan ang pagkumpleto sa mga naumpisahan nang proyekto sa relocation at rehabilitation, at resettlement. Pansinin po natin, sa maraming lugar ay inilikas po at inililipat mula sa danger zones ang ating mga kababayan,” Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said during the daily press briefing in Malacañang.

He was reacting to the civic organization Social Watch Philippines’ criticism that the Aquino administration has failed to rehabilitate areas affected by the super typhoon in 2013.

Secretary Coloma said the rehabilitation of these areas is not easy.

“Hindi naman po madaling proyekto ‘yan dahil kapag nilipat po sila ay kinakailangan ding tiyakin na kumpletong human settlement ang ating itatatag. Ibig sabihin, hindi lamang pabahay; dapat ay mayroong livelihood, meron din pong transportation, electricity, water, at iba pang utilities. Kaya po siguro naantala o natatagalan ang kumpletong pagpapatupad ng mga ilang mga rehabilitation projects,” he explained.

He said that during Cabinet meetings, President Benigno S. Aquino III would constantly ask for updates from concerned agencies, such as the National Housing Authority (NHA), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), and Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

“Pansinin din po natin na hindi pa naman tapos ang panunungkulan ng administration. At sa bawat pagkakataon, tuwi pong magkakaroon ng pagpupulong sa Gabinete, hinihingi ng Pangulo ang update mula sa NHA, DILG, DND, NDRRMC, DSWD, TESDA, DOLE — lahat po ng mga nagtulong-tulong upang mapanumbalik ang normal na kabuhayan ng ating mga kababayan na apektado ng kalamidad at patuloy pa namang itinataguyod ang kagalingan ng ating mga mamamayan,” Coloma added. PND (jm)