17 September 2015

APEC News Releases

Pampanga to pilot APEC policy toolkit on women’s health, says Secretary Garin
(MANILA) The Philippines has volunteered to pilot the Healthy Women, Healthy Economies Policy Toolkit in Pampanga to serve as a guide for the rest of the 21 member economies of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) in adopting the toolkit, according to health ministers’ meeting chair, Health Secretary Janette Garin.

Germany-based Dr. Sarbani Chakraborty, the global public policy senior director of the pharmaceutical giant Merck, said in an interview that after the field test in the Philippines, APEC economies are expected to voluntarily implement the health policy toolkit by 2019.

In a forum, Department of Health (DOH) Assistant Secretary Paulyn Ubial said the Philippines volunteered to conduct the pilot project in 2014 during the APEC Summit in Beijing.

During the test, companies in Pampanga’s economic zone would voluntarily adopt the toolkit by answering a scorecard where they have to identify specific interventions.

The DOH and Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) will then give the companies points for adopting certain practices identified in the toolkit.

The point system gives a green mark or 90 points and above for best practices; a yellow mark for 71 to 89 points; and a red mark for 70 points and below.

“We will give grants for green scores. These grants will enhance their program,” Dr. Ubial said.

The Philippines is developing an action plan for testing the toolkit.

“One of the things that we are discussing with the regional health office, DOLE, and DTI (Department of Trade and Industry) is how to go about actually asking private sector partners or companies in the economic zone in Pampanga to actually adopt the toolkit,” Ubial said.

The health policy toolkit for women seeks to address the increasing rate of non-communicable diseases among female workers; improve women’s access to health care by providing indigenous and non-regular employed females with health insurance for them and their families; provide them access to maternal health care and education; raise awareness of what constitutes sexual harassment in the workplace and due process and fair treatment of both complainants and accused persons; increase coverage of public spaces and public transport; and address discrimination in the workplace among pregnant women, among others.

In a related development, Dr. Garin said she and her fellow health chiefs from APEC member economies have been formulating a checklist for the past 18 months to help governments, companies, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) improve health-related barriers to women’s ability to enter, remain, and rise in the labor force.

“Women’s empowerment and the promotion of gender equality are keys to achieving sustainable economic development in APEC,” she noted.

The beneficiaries of these policies are 865 million women workers, particularly the indigenous, cross-border, migrant, unregulated, and local casual laborers, as well as the urban poor.

Ubial said implementing these policies would result in an evident gain of financial income for businesses annually.

“When the toolkit was first adopted in the United States by its health department, there were lots of reviews as to evidence that showed significant improvement in terms of economic, as well as collateral benefits for involving women in the economy,” she noted. (acg)

President Aquino: Women can bring inclusive growth sooner
(MANILA) President Benigno S. Aquino III on Thursday emphasized the role of women in the Asia Pacific in promoting inclusive growth in the region.

“That is precisely why we are here: to express our collective belief that harnessing the talents and potential of all women can bring about inclusive progress sooner rather than later,” President Aquino said addressing the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Public-Private Dialogue on Women and the Economy, held at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City.

He cited the contribution of Filipino women, both in the public and private sector, mentioning the “good number of women of unquestionable moral standing” he has appointed to key government positions, among them Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Social Welfare and Development Secretary Dinky Soliman, Health Secretary Janette Garin, Philippine Economic Zone Authority Director General Lilia de Lima, Bureau of Internal Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares, and former head of the Commission on Audit Grace Pulido-Tan.

“Over the last five years, these women have bullishly pursued necessary reforms and have refused to back down, even in the face of those with great power and influence, and deeply entrenched interests,” the Chief Executive said.

“They are pillars of our administration’s reform agenda, and they are living proof to young people who wish to enter public service that they will not be defined by their gender, but rather, by their integrity, their work ethics, and their willingness to serve,” he added.

In the private sector, President Aquino noted that 54 percent of registered businesses in the country are owned by women who are mostly involved in micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs). These enterprises account for 63.7 percent of the country’s total employment.

“Our goal is to have an inclusive economy, and if it is clear that women are the better partners towards having inclusive growth, then it behooves government to provide more opportunities to women entrepreneurs,” he said.

These opportunities, he said, include the Sari-Sari Store Training and Access to Resources (STAR) Program, a partnership of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority and Coca-Cola, which trains women owners of neighborhood retail stores in bookkeeping, inventory management, accounting, and other disciplines.

The STAR Program helps sari-sari store owners to professionalize and formalize their approach in a typically informal enterprise, he added.

“Even better: We are also teaching them how to maximize the utility of their profits,” the President said.

“We are already hearing of so many success stories. For instance, there was one owner who used to earn just P800 a day. After going through the program, her daily earnings reached P4,000.”

President Aquino said the government aims to train 200,000 Filipinas under the STAR Program, which began in December 2011.

Congress has also passed laws that expand the horizon of opportunities for women, he said, adding that in 2011, it repealed antiquated provisions of the Labor Code that prohibit women from working at night.

“It comes as no surprise, then, that according to the World Economic Forum, the Philippines is the only Asian country in the top ten, in terms of closing the gender gap,” the President said.

“But make no mistake: Our performance in this index will not stop us from pursuing even more progress. Women still face a number of pressing issues, and the issue of gender equality calls for continuous reflection and corresponding action. For this reason, we must always approach our jobs, and even our smallest interactions with people, with the empathy, consideration, and respect necessary to create a truly inclusive society,” he said.

The four-day APEC Women and the Economy Fora will conclude on Friday. PNA (kc)

Advocate highlights workplace gender inequality
The three largest economies in the world do not have a national strategy that gives women wider access to leadership roles that could help them contribute more economically, an advocate for gender equality has said.

“The US, China and Japan, the three largest economies in the world, do not have a national strategy to improve women’s access to leadership roles — whether from government or in business,” president of the Global Summit of Women, Irene Natividad, said in a panel discussion on Thursday.

“All three major APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) economies have the lowest rate of change in the percentage of women holding board appointments.”

Natividad said that although these major economies do not have major strategies to give women wider opportunities, 22 countries have produced laws on quotas for women on corporate boards.

Norway has propelled this initiative, and in two years, it has allotted 40 percent of board seats to women, she said.

In France, 32.3 percent of board seats are held by women, up from 7.2 percent in 2004, while in the US, the figure has risen from 13.6 percent to 19.2 percent, a very slow growth for a country that is based on equal opportunity, Natividad noted.

Among APEC economies, she said, Malaysia is the only economy to have a target of 30 percent of board seats allocated for women, and this was announced by its prime minister.

Malaysia has already doubled the number of women sitting on boards, from 6 percent or 7 percent, to about 12 percent at present.

Natividad explained that while quotas have improved the status of women in corporate boards, the strategy is sometimes viewed as controversial because it raises questions about the system and leads to the appointment of incompetent and unqualified people to serve in boards.

She further said that aside from crafting laws that favor women, there is a private sector strategy that other countries have adopted in an effort to move gender diversity to corporate boards.

These are principles that are usually put together by a commission or stock exchange by which corporate good governance is to be measured, she said, adding that some 25 countries have included gender diversity in their corporate governance code.

In this strategy, the gold standard is Australia, Natividad said, noting that the Australian Stock Exchange has made gender diversity on board a listing requirement.

This means that annually, all member companies must report on the percentage of women on their respective boards, in senior management, and in the general workforce.

Companies are also required to report on how to improve those numbers and this kind of transparency in reporting has created a competition among companies, she said.

“Quotas are working, gender diversity codes are also working, what is not working is doing nothing,” Natividad said.

Aside from these initiatives, women must accept responsibilities, she noted.

“We should not wait for the call for leadership but rather we must grab opportunities as they arise. We have to take risks. We cannot just whine and say ‘whoa’. We must look at the barriers we are facing,” she said.

“We cannot look at the government or business to solve all of our economic problems.”

Natividad acknowledged the bleak global picture on women taking leadership roles, as only 5.4 percent of chief executive officers (CEOs) in the world’s 500 largest companies are women — or 27 women out of 500.

In Western Europe, only two women are CEOs of blue chip companies, and in Brazil, there is none.

On what governments, companies and women’s organizations need to do in the future to accelerate women’s leadership role in APEC member economies, Natividad said women must be viewed as assets in economic development.

“First, we must stop seeing women as economically vulnerable and instead, we must see them as economically valuable. That change is critical to our making progress,” she noted. PND (as)

Global population of women is the market for the 21st century, says advocate
The global population of women has eclipsed that of China and India combined, making it a major market for major products and services, an advocate said on Thursday.

In a forum on women empowerment, Irene Natividad, president of the Global Summit of Women, cited a study noting that women have a potential economic clout that is bigger than the economies of China and India combined.

The study highlighted the importance of women in macro terms and why they should be engaged in every part of the economy, in every part of each company, and in government growth strategies.

“In other words, women are not a market niche, we are the market for the 21st century and we must remember that,” Natividad said.

Today, she said, women compose 40 percent to 50 percent of the global workforce and the figure is growing.

Some 80 percent of them are micro entrepreneurs, and 30 percent to 40 percent are owners of small businesses.

All these women have tremendous consumer clout that can determine the future viability of every company in the world, she said.

Natividad further said that women in APEC economies are becoming educated, and starting businesses despite several barriers and challenges.

Being an outsider also puts them in an advantageous position, giving them a sense of discovery and innovation and helping them become economically independent, she said.

She pointed out that to give women more opportunities to assume a wider leadership role in APEC economies, the world must stop seeing them as economically vulnerable and instead see them as economically valuable.

“It is not just a simple case of a change in language from seeing women as needy and wanting, to seeing them as powerful instead. It actually requires a deeper appreciation and understanding on the part of business and on the part of government,” she said.

The APEC Women and the Economy 2015: Public-Private Dialogue on Women and the Economy was held at the Philippine International Convention Center on Thursday. PND (as)

Philippines pioneers significant meetings on women’s participation in APEC
(MANILA) The Philippines become a significant venue for the promotion of women’s participation in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC).

Chair of the APEC Women and the Economy (WE) Fora, Nora Terrado said on Thursday that the Women’s Senior Leaders Network was founded in the Philippines in 1996.

On the other hand, APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) Chair Doris Magsaysay-Ho noted that the inaugural meeting held in Manila 19 years ago called for mainstreaming gender perspectives in APEC economies.

“In 1996, APEC leaders directed the ministers to put emphasis on the full participation of women and youth in APEC’s economic cooperation agenda,” Magsaysay-Ho said.

After two years, the country pioneered the hosting of the first APEC Ministerial Meeting on Women.

The Philippines is currently hosting the four-day APEC WE Fora with the theme, “Women as Prime Movers of Inclusive Growth”.

Terrado said the return of the APEC WE meetings in the Philippines has resulted in the finalization of the region’s strategic plan for 2015 to 2018.

The strategic plan has identified specific objectives, targets, and outcomes to support integration of gender-responsive policies and program and advance women’s economic empowerment, she added.

Addressing the APEC Fora on Thursday, President Benigno S. Aquino III highlighted the country’s advancement in empowering women and increasing their participation in the economy.

President Aquino mentioned that women are holding top positions in the Philippine government and about 54 percent of registered businesses in the country are owned by women.

He said the government continues to provide programs for women to encourage them to engage in entrepreneurial activities, and it has passed laws to expand opportunities for woman.

“Most prominently, in 2011, we repealed antiquated provisions of the Labor Code that prohibited women from working at night,” President Aquino cited.

“It comes as no surprise, then, that according to the World Economic Forum, the Philippines is the only Asian country in the top ten in terms of closing the gender gap,” he added.

“Our performance in this index will not stop us from pursuing even more progress. Women still face a number of pressing issues, and the issue of gender equality calls for continuous reflection and corresponding action. For this reason, we must always approach our jobs, and even our smallest interactions with people, with the empathy, consideration, and respect necessary to create a truly inclusive society,” said the Chief Executive.

He stressed that the Philippines will remain a partner of the APEC in empowering women to achieve inclusive growth. PNA (kc)

President Aquino says he is okay with a Poe-Escudero tandem
President Benigno S. Aquino III is apparently looking forward to a friendly competition between Senator Grace Poe and Liberal Party standard-bearer Manuel Roxas II in next year’s presidential race.

Speaking to reporters in Malacañang on Thursday, President Aquino thanked Senator Poe for recognizing his administration’s anti-corruption efforts when she announced her candidacy on Wednesday night.

Poe will be running alongside Senator Francis Escudero as her vice presidential running mate. Both served as key allies of President Aquino in the Senate and their respective bids in 2013 were supported by the administration.

President Aquino acknowledged that a Poe-Escudero tandem in 2016 is not entirely antagonistic to his ‘Daang Matuwid’ philosophy, as both senators also promised to continue his good policies.

“Tayo ay nagpapasalamat at binigyan naman tayo ng kredito sa paglaban sa mga tiwali. Kung talagang ‘yon ang pakay po nila na ipagpatuloy, bakit naman natin ikakagalit ‘yon?” he told reporters during a press conference.

Both President Aquino and Roxas have called on Poe to become the Liberal Party’s vice presidential bet. She however declined, opting instead to pursue higher goals, which the two gentlemen said they respected.

President Aquino said Poe informed him of her decision the night before she made her announcement and promised that she would not resort to mudslinging against him during the campaign period.

“In fairness, mahaba-haba ‘yung text na ipinadala niya sa akin—10:00 ng gabi bago siya nagdeklara—at talagang ikinatutuwa ko naman na, in a sense, parang nagpaalam, nagpaliwanag ng kanyang mga intensyon,” the President said of his conversation with Poe.

“May mga pangakong inilabas, isang parte ‘non, sabi niya—hopefully, hindi mag-object si Senator Grace—sabi niya ‘darating tayo sa kampanya na kung saan makakarating sa kampo mo na inaatake kita at never kong gagawin ‘yon,’” he added.

While he felt grateful for the courtesy extended to him by the senator, President Aquino said he would not mind being criticized by their opponents, so long as the latter remained truthful to the issues at hand.

“Sa akin naman, kung talagang kailangan na ako ay i-criticize, bakit hindi? Basta ilagay natin sa tamang lugar, sa tamang konteksto, at ‘yung nakabase sa katotohanan,” he said. PND (hdc)

Palace thanks the people for vote of confidence on Aquino administration
Malacañang on Thursday thanked the Filipino people for reaffirming their satisfaction with the performance of President Benigno S. Aquino III, following the results of a Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey that showed that public satisfaction with the President is at its highest point in a year-and-a-half this quarter.

“This is a clear vote of confidence on the Aquino administration’s good governance advocacy that has brought about significant reforms. The Filipino people have acknowledged the tangible results of Daang Matuwid, in terms of improved quality of life, as a result of steady and sustainable economic growth for the past five years,” Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said in a statement.

The latest SWS survey showed that the President’s satisfaction rating has risen to a “good” +41, 11 points higher from the “good” +30 he got last June, and the highest he earned since the “good” +45 he gained in March last year.

The survey was conducted from September 2 to 5 among 1,200 respondents, 300 individuals each from Metro Manila, Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.

“Indeed the country’s journey along Daang Matuwid has come a long way, going into the last nine months of the President’s term — and bodes well for the country’s future,” Secretary Coloma said. PND (ag)

President Aquino: It is clear – SAF commandos took Marwan’s finger
President Benigno S. Aquino III on Thursday described as “baseless” and “irrelevant” the alternative narrative that Malaysian terrorist Marwan was killed by a companion, who also cut off his finger and gave it to commandos of the Special Action Force (SAF).

“Pero maliwanag naman po sa presentasyon natin ngayon: SAF ang nandoon; imposibleng pagdudahan pa na SAF ang kumuha ng daliri ni Marwan. Ibig sabihin din po: Lahat ng iba pang salaysay ukol sa sinasabing alternatibong naratibo ay wala nang basehan, at wala na ring saysay,” the President said during a press conference at the Heroes Hall of Malacañang Palace.

He explained that it was his responsibility to investigate the alternative narrative that was presented to him to uncover the complete truth — that doing so would ensure that the tragedy does not happen again.

The President presented a photograph showing Marwan with his right hand covered with a cloth, saying he thought that Marwan’s right hand was hidden because this was where the finger was taken.

He then showed a picture showing a SAF trooper holding Marwan’s left hand, in the act of cutting off a finger, and another showing Marwan’s left hand missing a finger, with the trooper still present.

“Ididiin ko lang din po: Pinasuri natin sa cybercrime division ng National Bureau of Investigation ang SD card na naglalaman ng mga larawang ito. Ang report: ‘Our forensic examiners concluded that the pictures are authentic and unaltered,’” the Chief Executive said.
He further noted that the bounty on Marwan was enormous that many are trying to muddle the reports in the hope of obtaining the reward.

Our investigation has allowed us to gain clarity on the matter, he said.

“Ngayon pong tapos na ang usapin ukol dito, uusad na tayo sa paghahanap natin ng katarungan, lalo na para sa mga nasawi. Sa ngayon po, 90 na indibidwal po ang haharap sa patas at masinsing proseso ukol sa pagpaslang sa 35 commandos ng 55th Special Action Company na bahagi po ng SAF,” the President said.When asked about the alleged involvement of foreigners in the January 25 operation to neutralize the terrorists, the President said this is against the Philippine Constitution.

“Ang SAF walang kasamang foreigners. Bawal sa Saligang Batas natin na mag-o-operate ang foreign troops in our soil,” he said. PND (ag)

Philippines’ E-Commerce Roadmap seeks faster internet speed, better tax system for small businesses
(MANILA) The Philippines’ E-Commerce Roadmap 2015-2020 aims to make the country’s Internet bandwidth faster and its tax system “friendlier” for micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), an e-commerce advocate and expert told Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) participants here Thursday.

During the APEC Public-Private Dialogue on Women and the Economy, held at the Philippine International Convention Center, Janette Toral of digitalfilipino.com, a website launched in 1999 that specializes in e-commerce, social media, and Internet marketing, highlighted the need to address a number of issues in the country’s e-commerce industry.

“Improving our infrastructure for the Internet and setting up businesses and making it easier for them (entrepreneurs) — making it easier for them to pay for their government dues — have to be enabled by the government,” she said.

The roadmap, Toral added, includes solutions to improving the country’s slow Internet speed, improving Customs barriers in terms of taxes and tariff rates, as well as making the tax system “adjustable” to the needs of the MSME market.

She said these adjustments in the country’s e-commerce industry would hopefully push MSMEs to be “more compliant in the process, as we move toward using e-commerce to make things better.”

Although many government agencies are utilizing e-commerce to make processes easier and faster, Toral said, more should begin accepting e-commerce as part of the process to provide access to MSMEs.

Last August, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the lead agency of the e-commerce roadmap, launched the BIMP-EAGA Submarine and Terrestrial (BEST) Cable System to boost the participation of MSMEs in Mindanao.

The BIMP-EAGA is the Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area.

DTI Undersecretary Prudencio Reyes, Jr. said high Internet cost and slow connectivity hold back MSMEs from participating in efforts to strengthen the economy through harnessing e-commerce.

He noted that less than 30 percent of the total 97 percent businesses in the country use the Internet to market their firms in the global market.

“The e-commerce roadmap is setting the direction as to how we should implement e-commerce in this country and make it possible, and make it easier for young entrepreneurs,” Toral said. (acg)

Improving E-Commerce to encourage women’s economic participation in Asia Pacific
(MANILA) Improving e-commerce in the Asia Pacific will encourage more women to engage in economic activities.

DigitalFilipino.com website owner and e-commerce advocate Janette Toral, during the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Public-Private Dialogue on Women and the Economy (APEC-PPDWE) on Thursday, said e-commerce is seen to value at US$ 9.9 trillion by 2020.

China is expected to be the most dominant market for e-commerce by 2020 amounting to US$ 2.1 trillion.

“APEC will have the most e-commerce purchase; that means the action is here (in Asia Pacific) right now and that is why a lot of investments are coming in our space and e-commerce is something we can’t ignore,” Toral said.

“E-commerce can help influence our economic growth,” she added.

In the Philippines, Toral said that the country is improving the e-commerce sector through a roadmap.

The e-commerce roadmap targets the sector to share 25 percent of the country’s GDP by 2020 and establishing 100,000 micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) doing e-commerce.

To achieve these targets, Toral cited key deliverables including cross-border e-commerce policies, e-commerce education, establishing Philippine Internet Broadband Masterplan, National Single Window, Data Privacy Commission, National Retail Payment System, e-notary, simplified tax system, and updating tariff regulations, among others.

APEC WE Fora Chair Nora K. Terrado, on the other hand, said that APEC women now have more access to technology which they can be more engaged in e-commerce.

Terrado, who is also a Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) undersecretary, mentioned that Asia Pacific consumers spend more on e-commerce with 85 percent of purchasing decisions coming from women.

She added that economic participation of women in the Asia Pacific region can be strengthened through providing better e-commerce platform. PNA (kc)

Education can close gender gaps in technology, innovation sectors, says bank executive
There is a big opportunity to close the gender gap in the coming years, especially in the fields of technology and innovation, a global banking executive said on Thursday during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Public-Private Dialogue on Women and the Economy, held at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City.

Citi’s Chief Client Experience, Digital and Marketing Officer, Heather Carroll Cox, said her company sponsored a documentary in May for a conference on women, held in San Francisco.

Citi is a leading global bank with approximately 200 million customer accounts and does business in more than 160 countries and jurisdictions.

The film, “Code: Debugging the Myth”, showed very startling statistics about the US workforce, she said, citing that according to the documentary, there will be a shortage of one million engineers in the US by year 2020.

Cox noted a decrease in the number of American women graduating from college and universities with degrees in computer science and engineering.

Less than 18 percent of women in the US graduate with computer science degrees, and less then 27 percent of them graduate with engineering degrees, she added.

“We have a huge opportunity to step in to this new digital world and to really step up the opportunity to help our women become equipped to work in the new world economy,” Cox said.

She further said that first to eighth grade boys and girls are equal in terms of performance in math and science, but four years later, in the 12th grade, boys are four times more likely to be placed in advanced computer science programs.

When they get to college, 57 percent of all college degrees in the US are issued to women every year, she added.

“The opportunity is profound to drive and be part of the innovation cycle but how do we make sure that we have the right talent to do it?” she said.

Cox also mentioned a report from the Mackenzie Global Institute, the “Power of Parity”, which shows how equality for women can generate $12 trillion in global growth by 2025.

“This is something that we should care about deeply. The opportunities impact our economies this way,” she said. PND (as)

President Aquino urges candidates for 2016 elections not to make extravagant promises
President Benigno S. Aquino III on Thursday called on politicians not to promise the sky, the moon and the stars as they seek public office in next year’s elections, out of respect for the Filipino voters.

The Chief Executive made the appeal in response to Senator Grace Poe’s presidential bid, which poses a challenge to the candidacies of Liberal Party standard-bearer Manuel Roxas II and Vice President Jejomar Binay.

As the administration’s presidential bet, Roxas is the one expected to pick up from where President Aquino’s ‘Daang Matuwid’ leaves off in 2016, while Poe and Binay are promising to make things even better for the country.

“Kung mapapaganda pa nila ang nagawa natin, sino naman ang magagalit doon? Siguro ang susunod na tanong diyan: ‘Ano ba ang gagawin ninyo na mas mahigitan pa ‘yung ginagawa na namin ngayon?'” he told reporters during a press conference in Malacañang Palace.

“Ang importante sa atin huwag tayong bumalik sa kung saan tayo nanggaling. Huwag naman sanang lumabas na itong limang taon na ito ay, kumbaga, nagkaroon lang tayo ng intermission, tapos babalik sa katotohanan na pangit. Dito na tayo, pagandahin natin ‘yung magandang nangyayari na sa atin.”

President Aquino, however, called on candidates to refrain from making extravagant promises during the campaign period, especially when they know they cannot follow them through.

“Huwag nating ipangako ‘yung langit, at saka mga estrella, at saka ‘yung buwan, kung hindi naman natin talaga kayang abutin ‘yon,” he told reporters, emphasizing the importance of being earnest.

“Galangin natin ang mga taong pinagmumulan ng kapangyarihan, nagbibigay ng mandato, ang ating mga boss, (at) ibigay sa kanila ang katotohanan,” the President said.

President Aquino has vowed to actively support the candidacy of Sec. Roxas but he has also acknowledged that it is the Filipino voters who will decide who his rightful successor would be.

“Ang taumbayan ang magdedesisyon sa tamang oras kung sino ba talaga ang magpapatuloy ang ating pagtahak dito sa ‘Daang Matuwid,’” the President said.

The campaign period for next year’s elections officially starts on February 9, 2016, according to the Commission on Elections calendar. PND (hdc)