24 March 2015

President Aquino opens 4th Euromoney Philippines Investment Forum
President Benigno S. Aquino III highlighted his administration’s economic achievements during the 4th Annual Euromoney Philippines Investment Forum at The Peninsula Manila in Makati City on Tuesday.

In a speech delivered before business leaders and investors at the hotel’s Rigodon Ballroom, President Aquino said the country has had an impressive number of achievements that have contributed to its economic progress.

The President noted the country’s “all-time high of $6.2 billion in foreign direct investments and a respectable 6.1 percent Gross Domestic Product growth” last year.

“2014 was a banner year for net Foreign Direct Investments, reaching an all-time high of $6.2 billion, 65.9 percent higher than what we received in 2013. We have likewise posted impressive growth: from 2010 to 2013, the Philippines averaged a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth of 6.3 percent. Compare this to the previous three-year period, under my predecessor, where growth was just at 4.3 percent. On top of this: even in spite of the lingering effects of Typhoon Haiyan and the uncertainty in the global economy, our country still posted a respectable 6.1 percent GDP growth figure last year,” he explained.

President Aquino also cited a Bloomberg report saying the Philippines is forecasted to be the world’s second fastest growing economy in 2015.

“The tremendous amount of confidence the global community has developed for the Philippines is incredibly gratifying, especially considering that, not too long ago, we were known as the ‘Sick Man of Asia.’ However, our administration remains hard at work so that we can maximize every opportunity available to us, and I think many of you will agree with me when I say: You ain’t seen nothing yet,” he said.

He also pointed out that infrastructure is one of the sectors that have benefitted from “our drive to become more competitive”.

The budget of the Deparment of Public Works and Highways, he said, has more than tripled from P165 billion in 2010 to almost P570 billion in 2015.

“We can expect this to grow even more, as our goal is to have infrastructure spending comprise 5 percent of GDP by 2016,” he said.

The President said that under the Public-Private Partnership program, nine projects have been awarded, 16 are in the process of being bidded out, and more than 30 other projects are under various stages of development.

President Aquino further said that the government has been pursuing options to address the projected power shortfall this summer due to the threat of the El Niño weather phenomenon and the rehabilitation of the Malampaya gas field.

“We are expediting the rehabilitation of the 300-megawatt (MW) Malaya Thermal Power Plant Unit 1 to help augment power supply in Luzon. We are also requesting the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines to optimize the dispatch of hydropower plants, which will generate additional energy supply during peak hours. Partnerships with the private sector have also proved useful: Under the Interruptible Load Program, as of January 2015, 252 participants have signed up to use their own generators and de-load a total of 688.67 megawatts during times when power supply is too tight,” he said.

He indicated that 48 committed incoming power projects with 4,693.8 MW of power are expected to come between now and 2018.

Out of these 48 power plants, 21 will be from renewable energy, in line with our goal of diversifying our energy mix and building a power supply that is as clean and reasonably priced as possible, he added.

Emphasizing that the country’s greatest resource is its people, President Aquino said his administration will continue to channel funds to programs that have the twin effects of creating a skilled, talented, and healthy workforce that can attract more investors, and of allowing the people to retake control of their destinies.

The President told business leaders and investors attending the forum to “take a closer look at the Philippines”, inviting them “to bet on the Filipino people and discover for yourself how it’s more fun and more profitable to do business in the Philippines”.

“Together, I am convinced that we can work to accelerate this country’s performance and propel it to even greater heights,” he concluded.

Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima earlier introduced President Aquino as guest speaker while Euromoney Institutional Investor Asia Chief Executive Officer Tony Shale delivered the welcome remarks.

Some of the key topics to be discussed during the 4th Euromoney Philippines Investment Forum are the Philippines and the ASEAN Economic Community; infrastructure analysis; capital markets: financing growth; real estate investment trusts in the Philippines; solving the energy and power crisis; and digital economy. PND (jm)

President Aquino hosts special luncheon for Ateneo, La Salle volleyball teams
President Benigno S. Aquino III hosted a special luncheon for the volleyball teams of Ateneo de Manila University and De La Salle University, congratulating the players for their sportsmanship and for maintaining the spirit of unity despite their long-standing and intense rivalry.In his speech, President Aquino recalled that the initial suggestion was for the Ateneo Lady Eagles to be invited to the Palace but it was decided that the De La Salle Lady Spikers be included as well, along with the Ateneo Blue Spikers who recently grabbed the championship.

“Kaya naman, binabati ko po ang mga bumubuo sa tatlong koponang ito, mula sa inyong mga kasapi sa loob at labas ng court, mga manlalaro, coach at manager, gayundin ang mga institusyong inyong kinakatawan,” he said.

The President lauded the players of both Ateneo and De La Salle, saying they reflect the enthusiasm and determination of today’s youth, and are true role models of young Filipinos who are determined to succeed in whatever endeavor they pursue.

He said he hopes that the example they have shown would be emulated by the country’s politicians, now that there are those who want to sow confusion.

“Naisip ko rin po na sana, ang mga pulitiko, pati na ang mga kasapi ng iba’t ibang sektor ng lipunan, ay ganito rin ang ipamalas na ugnayan,” he said in his message to the athletes.

“Kapag tinanaw nila ang isang tunggalian o kompetisyon, matanong sana nila sa kanilang mga sarili: Healthy ba ang rivalry na ito? Kapag naman may kritisismo, matanong sana nila: Constructive ba ito?”

While the country is composed of numerous islands, the Philippines will remain one nation, the President said.

Like volleyball, he added, the country could succeed if there is unity, proper strategy and coordination.

“Iyan nga ang panawagan sa atin ngayon, lalo na sa inyong mga kabataang magmamana sa ipinupunla nating reporma: ang mag-One Big Fight laban sa katiwalian at kahirapan,” he stressed.

“Basta’t nagkakaisa at buo ang pusong makipagkapwa, siguradong makakamit ang kolektibo nating hangarin bilang isang bansa.”
The Ateneo Lady Eagles defeated the De La Salle Lady Spikers last March 14 to complete a season sweep and bag their second consecutive championship in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) Season 77 women’s volleyball tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena.

The Ateneo Blue Spikers also won their first ever UAAP men’s volleyball title by taking down National University last March 7 at the Mall of Asia Arena. PND (as)

Government to focus on good governance, fighting poverty in next 15 months
The administration of President Benigno S. Aquino III will focus on pushing good governance, creating jobs and fighting poverty in the next 15 months, a Palace official has said.

“In the next 15 months, the administration will intensify efforts at job creation while maintaining fiscal discipline in order to rein in inflation. Good governance is imperative in achieving inclusive growth,” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said in a statement on Tuesday.

“The government continues to implement measures to stabilize prices of commodities. Various programs have been put in place to bring about poverty reduction. This includes breaking intergenerational poverty through the conditional cash transfer program, skills development for enhanced employability, and improving the business climate in the country through good governance,” he added.

Secretary Coloma issued the statement following the March 1-7 Pulse Asia survey that found the administration’s performance ratings “do not significantly differ” from the results of a similar survey conducted in November 2014.

The Aquino administration also got a positive 31 net approval rating in responding to the needs of those affected by calamities.

Coloma said the administration scored positive net approval ratings in eight other urgent national concerns: stopping the destruction and abuse of the environment; defending the country’s territorial integrity against foreigners; fighting criminality; enforcing the law; increasing peace in the country; fighting graft and corruption in the government; creating more jobs; and controlling fast population growth. PND (as)