October 28 2015

APEC News Release

Philippines has just begun harnessing its potentials, says President Aquino
Few months before stepping down from power, President Aquino said his administration has laid the ground work that future administrations could build on to further harness the country’s potentials.

“Looking back on everything that has happened over the course of my administration, I tell you today the best news of all: we’ve only just begun,” the President said in a speech during the 41st Philippine Business Conference in Marriott Hotel on Tuesday.

“While we have already achieved so much, I submit that we have not even scratched the surface of what the Philippines has to offer, which is why we have to nurture these beginnings.”

The President said there’s a need to protect the successes that the Filipino people have made and the country must continue to build on them.

Sustained good governance likewise means sustained good economics, he told businessmen. And if it’s when bolstered by a depth of experience and ironclad integrity, it accelerates inclusive growth, he added.

At the same time, he said he is confident that like the rest of his countrymen all over the world, local businesses will do their part to ensure that the Philippines rises to greater heights.

“The world has already begun witnessing what the Filipino is capable of, and I am convinced that, if we continue working together, we can show them even more of our boundless potential, and ultimately prove that nothing is impossible to a united Philippine nation,” the President noted.

He said he already directed his Cabinet Secretary to prepare the appropriate response to some of the issues raised by the business sector although many of those concerns are now being addressed by the government.

“We’d like to tell you that a lot of it is already being addressed, and we’d like to tell you what to expect in the last eight months of our administration,” he told the businessmen.

Among the successes mentioned by the President include the rapid growth of the country’s gross domestic product, with an average rate of 6.2 percent in the last five years of the administration. This is the the fastest five-year average growth in nearly four decades.

From 2010 to 2014, he said the country increased net foreign direct investments by almost six-fold. The Philippines also recorded the lowest unemployment rate in a decade.

Also, the Philippines received 22 positive credit rating actions, with the most momentous ones coming in 2013, when Moody’s, Fitch, and Standard & Poor’s all declared the Philippines investment grade, according to the President.

The government has also vastly expanded the Conditional Cash Transfer Program, with around 4.4 million household beneficiaries receiving cash stipends.

It has also implemented the K to 12 reform to ensure that Filipino youth have a strong foundation for further learning, or employment, he said.

“Technical and vocational education has perhaps never been stronger, especially now that our Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) is working more closely with the private sector to implement training programs,” he said.

State universities and colleges are also implementing reforms to become truly relevant to the needs of communities they serve and the demands of the job market, he noted. PND (as)

President Aquino attends 2015 Community-Based Greening Program Congress
President Benigno S. Aquino III has commended the contribution of various sectors and institutions in the successful implementation of the Community-Based Forest Management National Greening Program (CBFM-NGP).

In a speech delivered at the opening of the CBFM-NGP Congress on Wednesday, the President also stressed the need for a stronger commitment among stakeholders towards the rejuvenation of forests and the environment for future generations.

As of September 2015, the NGP has planted 728.971 million seedlings in 1.2 million hectares, increasing the country’s forest cover from 6.8 million hectares to 8 million hectares.

The NGP, as of July 2015, has also generated 2.8 million jobs, benefitting 397,983 individuals. It involves about 3,000 People’s Organizations (POs), 1,884 of which are holders of CBFM Agreements, providing tenurial security and incentives to communities to manage specific portions of forestlands.

“Klaro po na Inaani na natin ang mga positibong bunga ng ipinunla nating magagandang inisyatiba—mula sa pangangalaga sa kalikasan, sa pagpapaunlad ng ekonomiya, hanggang sa paglalatag ng pagkakataon na maghahatid ng benepisyo sa mamamayan. Naabot po natin ang mga tagumpay dahil sa ating ambagan, malasakit, at pagkakapit-bisig. Imbis na maging pabigat sa isa’t isa, imbis na unahin ang sarili, isinulong natin ang interes ng mas nakakarami,” President Aquino said before some 2,000 participants of the two-day Congress being held at the World Trade Center in Pasay City.

“Sa loob ng mahigit limang taon, sa inyong pakikiambag at sa gabay ng Panginoon, nagawa nating posible ang mga bagay na dati’y inakala nating imposible. Sa mga susunod pang panahon, lalo pa tayong magkabit-bisig upang gawing permanente ang reporma. Lalo pa tayong magsikap upang tuluyan nating mapitas ang mas mapipintog na bunga sa Daang Matuwid. Malinaw na ito lamang ang subok at tunay na landas patungo sa isang Pilipinas na mas masagana, mas patas, at di-hamak na mas maganda kaysa sa ating dinatnan,” he further said.

Pursuant to Executive Order No. 26 dated February 24, 2011, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources implemented the NGP, a six-year program aimed at planting 1.5 billion trees in 1.5 million hectares.

The government is expecting to reach the target of 1.37 million hectares by the end of this year, utilizing 953 million seedlings. The balance of 547 million seedlings for 2016 is expected to cover 330,648 hectares, bringing the total area of about 1,698,431 hectares or 198,431 hectares above the target.

President Aquino also noted the government’s aggressive campaign against illegal logging, which has contributed to the natural process of forest re-growth or natural regeneration.

“Kasabay naman ng ating National Greening Program, pinaigting pa natin ang kampanya laban sa illegal logging at ipinunla ang kaisipang delikado ang pakikisangkot sa ganitong gawain. Maganda nga po ang balitang natanggap natin: Ang 197 illegal logging hotspots sa bansa noong 2011, naibaba na natin sa 23 nitong Oktubre. Ang nakumpiska naman pong 30.71 million board feet ng ilegal na troso at forest products, nagamit natin para maipaayos ang 388 na school buildings, at magpagawa ang mahigit 146,470 na mga upuan at kagamitan sa atin pong mga pampublikong paaralan. Ang nakikita nga po natin dito ay yung tinatawag na ‘convergence’, kung saan nagtutulungan ang iba’t ibang ahensiya ng gobyerno para sabay-sabay at sistematikong tugunan ang samot-saring suliranin,” he explained.

“Sa pagbabayanihan ng pamahalaan, mga pamayanan at organisasyon, nakapagtanim na tayo ng 766 million seedlings sa 1.2 milyong ektarya ng lupain. Nalampasan na po natin ang pinagsamang 1.19 milyong ektarya ng naunang apat na administrasyon. Ang good news pa nga po: Ang milyong ektaryang natamnan natin ng puno, magagawang mag-absorb ng 30 milyong tonelada ng carbon kada taon. Ang dating forest cover naman na 6.8 million hectares bago mag-umpisa ang programa, lumawak na sa 8 milyong ektarya. Ibig-sabihin niyan: mas malinis na hangin para sa milyon-milyon nating kababayan; mas masiglang kalikasan at mas napangalagaang likas na yaman, na mapapakinabangan ng mas nakararami,” the President added.

Environment Secretary Ramon Paje and Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. also attended the opening of the CBFM-NGP Congress, which aims to get feedback from the national, regional and provincial PO Federation relative to the CBFM implementation and their participants; highlight good practices of the CBFM-PO in the implementation of NGP; chart the roadmap of the CBFM-NGP Network towards the continuous commitment of support to CBFM and NGP in the years to come; and present NGP accomplishments and way forward activities to sustain NGP gains.

This year’s Congress, which carries the theme, “Pagsibol, Pagkakaisa, Pagbangon”, is also a follow-through of the first CBFM Practitioners’ Congress held on February 15 to 17, 2012 at the Fontana Convention Center in Clark, Pampanga. PND (jm)

APEC urges World Trade Organization members to ratify treaty amendment granting special licenses for export of medicines
The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) has urged all World Trade Organization (WTO) members to ratify the Protocol Amending the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement, considering the importance of facilitating access to medicines.

The call was made by APEC ministers responsible for trade in their Statement on Supporting the Multilateral Trading System issued at the conclusion of their 21st meeting held in Boracay in celebration of the WTO’s 20th anniversary last May.

The Protocol Amending the TRIPS Agreement is the first multilateral treaty amendment agreed by WTO members since the WTO Agreement came into force in 1995. It serves to permanently incorporate into the TRIPS Agreement additional flexibilities to grant special compulsory licenses for the export of medicines, referred to as the “Paragraph 6 System”.

First established by a decision taken by members in 2003, Paragraph 6 System is a “waiver” and pending amendment allowing generic medicines to be made under “compulsory licenses” exclusively for export to countries that cannot produce the medicines themselves.

The system deals with a problem identified in Paragraph 6 of the 2001 Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health by removing a limit in the TRIPS Agreement’s Article 31(f) on the amount nations can export under a compulsory license to countries needing the medicines.

According to the WTO Agreement, a member formally accepts the Protocol by depositing what is referred to as an “instrument of acceptance” for the Protocol with the Director General of the WTO.

As stipulated in the Protocol, it shall enter into force in accordance with Article X:3 of the WTO Agreement, namely, the Protocol shall take effect upon acceptance by two-thirds of the members for members that have accepted the Protocol; thereafter, the Protocol shall take effect for each other member upon acceptance by it.

In their Statement on Supporting the Multilateral Trading System, the APEC trade ministers noted that since the WTO’s establishment in 1995, the Asia Pacific has been one of the fastest-growing trading regions, benefiting significantly from the stability and predictability of the multilateral trading system.

The ministers reaffirmed the “value, centrality and primacy of the multilateral trading system under the auspices of the WTO in promoting trade expansion, economic growth, job creation and sustainable development, as well as in supporting developing economies to integrate into the global trading system”.

“We will continue to work closely together to strengthen the rules-based, transparent, non-discriminatory, open and inclusive multilateral trading system as embodied in the WTO,” they said.

They further pointed out that WTO has significantly contributed to the fight against protectionism since the onset of the 2008 financial crisis.

“We note that, while global economic growth continues, there is potential for stronger growth through more robust international trade,” the APEC trade ministers declared. (APEC Communications Group)

President Aquino declares August 9 of every year as National Indigenous Peoples Day
President Benigno S. Aquino III has signed Republic Act 10689 declaring August 9 of every year as a special working holiday to observe National Indigenous Peoples Day.

The new policy was created to “advance the rights and collective well-being of indigenous peoples” nationwide.

The National Commission on Indigenous Peoples has been tasked to promulgate the rules and regulations for the meaningful observance of National Indigenous Peoples Day.

President Aquino approved the law last October 23 after the House of Representatives and the Senate ratified it on May 26, 2014 and July 28, 2015, respectively.

According to the United Nations Development Programme, there are 14 million to 17 million indigenous peoples in the Philippines, belonging to more than 100 ethno-linguistic groups scattered in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. PND (hdc)

President Aquino signs Republic Act regulating forestry practice in the Philippines
President Benigno S. Aquino III has signed Republic Act (RA) 10690 regulating the practice of forestry in the country.

In signing RA 10690 last October 23, the President recognized the importance of professional foresters in nation building and development.

The goal is to develop and nurture competent, globally competitive professional foresters, who will observe the highest standards of excellence.

The law, also known as the Forestry Profession Act, will govern the examination and licensure of professional foresters, supervise and regulate the practice of forestry in the country, and develop and upgrade the curriculum on forestry education.

It will also develop the professional competence of foresters through mandatory Continuing Professional Development (CPD), as well as integrate forestry as a profession.

The law also mandates the creation of the Professional Regulatory Board for Foresters, which will be under the administrative supervision of the Professional Regulatory Commission (PRC).

The board will be composed of a chairperson and two members to be appointed by the President though recommendation from the PRC.

Foresters applying for licensure examinations must be a Filipino citizen with good moral character, and must have completed a bachelor’s degree in forestry, forestry products engineering, or agroforestry from a school, college or university recognized by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED).

Anyone practicing forestry without a valid certificate of registration and professional identification card, or attempting to use or is using the seal, certificate of registration and professional identification card of a registered forester, is violating the provisions of RA 10690.

Abetting the illegal practice of forestry by an unauthorized person and securing a certificate through fraudulent means are also punishable under the law.

In carrying out the provisions of RA 10690, the board will be assisted by the PRC, accredited professional organizations, government agencies, and private organizations.

The chairperson of the PRC shall include in the commission’s programs the funding for the forestry board, which will come from the annual government budget. PND (as)