23 September 2015


APEC Business Advisory Council calls for policies relevant and responsive to micro, small, medium enterprises
(ILOILO CITY, Iloilo) Innovative financial services, policies and initiatives will help ensure the participation of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in regional and global trade growth.

This was emphasized by the woman behind Magsaysay Maritime Corporation, the largest manning company in the country, during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) SME Finance Forum held here this week.

“MSMEs play a vital role in boosting economic development in the Asia-Pacific region,” said Doris Magsaysay Ho, 2015 chair of the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) , in her Opening Remarks. “Unfortunately, many MSMEs are unable to access financing, thus stifling their ability to grow their business, pursue innovation, or comply with minimum standards to enable their participation in local supply chains, much less, global value chains.”

To create the changes sought, the so-called “shipping heiress” said ABAC sees the need to provide “financing instruments” that will provide financing for start-ups, “financial innovation” that responds to the changing business models, and “innovative financial policies” that foster financial inclusion and literacy.”

ABAC also encourages initiatives that promote an enabling environment for trade and supply chain finance and alternative financing mechanisms

And as Asia-Pacific is the world’s most natural disaster-prone region, MSMEs have to be equipped with responsive financial instruments that will allow them to mitigate disaster risks and to recover quickly, Ho said.

“As a country with a significant share of disasters each year, we see the great need for financial instruments such as micro-insurance for business continuity and catastrophe bonds to help communities in their reconstruction.”

There is also the need to look at digital financing solutions that “potentially allow deeper penetration than financial services providers in many economies.” Ho noted that the “business models of digital finance” are changing the environment for lending, savings, insurance and payments in a way that warrants more attention by policymakers.

“The economic evolution brought about by the digital revolution affords us options that we have never had before,” she said. “We need to address digital finance issues that impact financial access and their alignment with global and regional efforts.”

Ho further stressed there has to be a clear understanding of the perspectives across disadvantaged communities in order to more effectively promote financial inclusion.

“These are people who, if given the right opportunities and access to resources, may just become the next successful global entrepreneur,” said Ho.

Work has been done over the past years to bring about “higher levels of trade and investments, lower tariffs, ease of doing business, and our people having wider and cheaper sources of goods and services,” she added.

“It is a fact, however, that the benefits from these reforms need to trickle down to MSMEs in more significant ways to ensure that our objectives of job creation, wealth generation with equity, and wider access to the opportunities of global trade are actualized,” Ho pointed out. “We hope we can rally around a clear vision and action plan that will allow MSMEs to assume its rightful place at the table, so to speak, in ensuring a more inclusive approach to the region’s development.

The SME Finance Forum is being held on the margins of the SME Ministerial Meeting held here this week.

According to Ho, these dialogues between the private and public sectors are vital to ensure that policies are responsive and inclusive.

“Much has been achieved but significant work remains to be done,” said Ho.

ABAC was established by APEC leaders in 1995. This private sector body presents recommendations to APEC Leaders in an annual dialogue and advises APEC officials on business sector priorities and concerns. ABAC meets four times per year, and ABAC representatives also attend Senior Officials’ Meetings, the Annual Ministerial Meeting and the sectoral Ministerial Meetings.

ABAC comprises up to three senior business people from each APEC economy and the appointments are made by the Leader of the member economy concerned. The Chair of ABAC comes from the economy that is hosting APEC and therefore changes annually. ABAC represents a diverse range of sectors and includes small and large enterprises. (acg)

APEC hosting brings at least 3,000 visitors, creates jobs in Iloilo City
(ILOILO CITY, Iloilo) Hosting the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings brought some 3,000 to 5,000 visitors to Iloilo City, as the city aims to have three million visitors by 2020, Iloilo City Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog said Tuesday.

Iloilo City, recognized as “the most livable city” in the Philippines in 2015, is currently hosting APEC meetings on disaster risk reduction, small, and medium enterprises (SMEs), and food security from September 21 to October 6.

Its premiere Iloilo Convention Center (ICON) is the site of these meetings, Mabilog said, adding that some 30 non-APEC conventions are now booked at the newly inaugurated ICON.

Mabilog said these conventions will last until the end of this year.

“This could again add to the number of visitors that would come and visit Iloilo,” the mayor said, placing particular significance on ensuring visitors enjoy their stay in the city because “if they have a good experience, they can share this with their friends and family, and bring them here.”

But the surge in the local tourism industry is not the only benefit the city is currently experiencing.

The mayor reported that hosting APEC also benefits its jobs situation because for every six tourists, at least one job is created.

“This is a good start for Iloilo’s vision for unemployment and increase in purchasing power. When there are visitors…there would be some shopping…There is a boost in the local economy — which is happening right now,” Mabilog said.

The mayor said he hopes the 30 post-APEC conventions would provide job opportunities to city residents as other industries are also starting to invest here.

“These conventions could have a domino effect on other industries because right now, hotels are being built here,” Mabilog said.

He added that there is an expansion of businesses here by the Ayalas, Gaisanos, the Double Dragon, SM, Robinsons, Richmonde, Megaworld, and Filinvest.

These companies are looking at building condominiums and residential places, as well as retail shops, which can cater to the expected influx of tourists following the city’s hosting of APEC meetings.

Iloilo, being strategically located at the “heart of the Philippines,” is a good place for conventions, the mayor said.

“With the facilities, amenities, and Iloilo City’s strategic location, we are very ideal to become the next destination for MICE [meetings, incentives, conferencing, exhibitions] after Manila, Cebu, and Davao,” Mabilog added. (acg)

APEC to launch Financial Infrastructure Development Network
(ILOILO CITY, Iloilo) The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) will launch the Financial Infrastructure Development Network (FIDN) this year.

During a press briefing on the margins of the APEC SME Finance Forum here Tuesday, GE Capital International Commercial Distribution Finance Leader in Asia, Christopher Wohlert, said the APEC will launch the FIDN later this year.

The FIDN is the recommendation of the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC), adopted during the recent APEC Finance Ministers’ Meeting.

The FIDN aims to promote an enabling financing environment for micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to improve the sector’s access to finance.

“Given the myriad of financing challenges facing MSMEs, the ABAC welcomes the adoption by the Finance Ministers, at their meeting in Cebu, of our recommendation for the establishment of a public-private FIDN,” ABAC Chair Doris Magsaysay-Ho said.

“The FIDN shall serve as a specialized subgroup within the Asia Pacific Financial Forum to facilitate workshops, dialogues and studies to support the establishment of legal frameworks for Credit Information Systems, secure transactions and the use of movable assets as collateral,” she explained.

Meanwhile, Department of Finance Undersecretary Gil Beltran noted that even though MSMEs comprise 97 percent of enterprises in the APEC, and employ 50 percent to 80 percent of the workforce, only 15 percent of MSMEs in the region have access to formal financing institutions.

“We are more interested in getting the informal lenders like the NGOs (non-governmental organizations) and the cooperatives to be part of our statistics before we start formulating targets,” he added.

The finance official observed that in the Philippines, nine million out of the 10 million microcredit borrowers are serviced by non-banks.

“So it is really the non-banks that are providing the financing,” he said.

“Of course, the big banks started to provide wholesale loans to microfinance providers, so there is now a link of what we used to call informal sector and big formal sector, which is a good development,” Beltran added. PNA (kc)

APEC members must have mutual recognition of trade standards, says World Trade Organization expert
(ILOILO CITY, Iloilo) An expert from the World Trade Organization (WTO) has urged member economies of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) to mutually recognize their trade measures, particularly non-tariff measures.

Market Access Intelligence Chief of the WTO, Jürgen Richtering, said there has been an expansion of non-tariff measures globally on the margins of increasing free trade agreements and economic integration.

“Unfortunately, non-tariff measures have (been) proliferating a lot and are there to stay,” Richtering stated Tuesday during a press briefing in line with the APEC meetings being held here.

Non-tariff measures are legitimate policy measures that can potentially affect trade in goods in the international market, he said.

Earlier, the Philippines’ head of delegation for the APEC Small and Medium Enterprise Ministerial Meeting, Jerry Clavesillas, noted that complying with global standards, particularly non-tariff measures, would help Filipino micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to participate in the global value chain.

The WTO receives more than 2,000 notifications on standards and regulations annually from WTO member countries, although not all are new standards but mostly amendments on regulations, Richtering said, acknowledging the need for more mutual recognition of standards and regulations in the region, such as the APEC and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

He also called attention to the need for governments and businesses to have quick access to information on trade measures.

“What we need to do is to make access on information on these measures more easily accessible to make it easier for companies, government to exchange information on how to address these measures,” the WTO expert stressed.

“We on the WTO try to make transparency on trade policy measures,” he said, adding that one of the major pillars of the WTO is to deal with government agencies to ensure in that information in WTO would be directly available to the government, business sector, and the academe by setting online forums, among others. PNA (kc)

Trade official cites regulations, financing as major hurdles in developing small, medium businesses
(ILOILO CITY, Iloilo) Reducing regulatory barriers, as well as gaining access to financing are the biggest non-tariff measures being faced by micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), a trade official has said.

Director Senen Perlada of the Department of Trade and Industry told reporters during a press conference here Tuesday that there was a good exchange among the APEC delegates when they tackled non-tariff barriers on MSMEs.

Those who contributed to the discussions were real practitioners, among them Indonesia, Vietnam, and Taiwan, Perlada said.

One discussion was on how to reduce the regulatory burden of MSMEs, beginning with behind-the-border regulations; another was financing, Perlada said.

“That has been a common theme among the representatives and there were some really good testimonials on how they (enterprises) actually grew from being MS (micro, small) to becoming Ms (medium),” he said, adding that they have heard a number of success stories.

There were also exchanges on the importance of the public and private sectors working together, and on labeling requirements, which differ from one economy to another, Perlada said.

“The APEC workshop served its purpose by having that discussion,” he said. PND (as)

More APEC collaboration sought to give small, medium businesses more access to finance
(ILOILO CITY, Iloilo) Public and private sectors in the Asia Pacific are pushing for further collaboration to provide micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) better access to finance that would help them participate in global economic activities.

Chair of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Business Advisory Council (ABAC), Doris Magsaysay-Ho, said here Tuesday that the ongoing APEC SME Finance Forum seeks to discuss and obtain wider support for concrete initiatives to address the key issue of providing MSMEs efficient and sustainable financial services.

Ho also mentioned that the Boracay Action Agenda to globalize MSMEs widens the opportunity for close collaboration between the APEC and the ABAC to improve MSMEs’ access to financial mechanisms.

The ABAC, she said, has recommended the Financial Infrastructure Development Network (FIDN), discussed during the recent APEC Finance Ministers’ Meeting in Cebu, as it aims to support the establishment of legal frameworks for Credit Information Systems, secured transactions, and the use of movable assets as collateral.

“The region is home to more than a billion people who do not have access to a bank account or formal financial services. There has to be a clear understanding of the perspectives across disadvantaged communities in order to more effectively promote financial inclusion,” Ho said.

“These are people who, if given the right opportunities and access to resources, may just become the next successful global entrepreneur,” the ABAC chair added. PNA (kc)

Access to financing, lack of information — major stumbling blocks to development of small, medium businesses
(ILOILO CITY, Iloilo) Inaccessibility to funds and lack of information are the major hurdles faced by local micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in expanding their businesses, a trade official said on Tuesday.

The Philippines has a lot of financing products and services but access to them is a matter of concern for MSMEs, along with some issues on collateralized lending and the availability of banks or financing institutions in certain areas, Trade Undersecretary Zenaida Maglaya said during a press conference here on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) discussions on MSMEs.

Another hurdle is the lack of the available information for MSMEs, she said.

Maglaya however noted that the government is looking into ways to adopt change in terms of innovative financing packages of products and services.

She expressed hope that APEC economies would be able to come up with such innovative approaches by networking with one another.

Maglaya described the APEC as a good venue for member economies to learn from one another in terms of opening special windows for MSMEs, such as providing them surety or guarantee funds, and reducing the risks encountered by the government and other private financing institutions.

The Philippines, she said, is learning from Taiwan’s experience regarding the cost of financing for small exporters, which does not exceed 4 percent, including all the guarantees. Taiwan’s single-window financing system is also Internet-based.

This insight from Taiwan would help Philippine officials in terms of benchmarking what they can do and on how the government, the private sector, and the banking system could work together to bring down the cost of financing for MSMEs, she explained. PND (as)

Trade expert tells APEC economies to strengthen trade facilitation among small, medium businesses
(ILOILO CITY, Iloilo) An International Trade Centre (ITC) expert on yourcalled on the 21 member economies of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) to strengthen trade facilitation among micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

Governments should improve their trade facilitation interventions for the benefit of MSMEs, along with the increasing number of non-tariff measures in the global market, ITC Chief for Market Analysis and Research Mondher Mimouni said during a press briefing on the sidelines of APEC meetings here.

“Non-tariff measures are legitimate. We need them to protect human health,” said Mimouni.

He however noted that some countries are using non-tariff measures as barriers to trade.

“The problem is not fully linked to non-tariff measures, in most cases. The problem is how non-tariff measures are used or the procedural obstacles that non-tariff measures create,” he said, noting that the price of goods being traded are affected due to required procedures that comply with non-tariff measures.

“This (trade facilitation) is what we need to create, in order to reduce the cost,” Mimouni said, emphasizing that trade facilitation could offset the costs resulting from non-tariff measures, through reforms in the business environment, such as by cutting the rates of obtaining certificates and implementing paperless transactions. PNA (kc)

President Aquino creates National Cybersecurity Committee
President Benigno S. Aquino III has issued Executive Order No. 189, creating a National Cybersecurity Inter-Agency Committee that will assess the vulnerabilities of the country’s cybersecurity.

According to the executive order, the increasing number of cyber threats that put government and commercial information systems at great risk necessitates the creation of a body that will coordinate government agencies in preparing appropriate and effective measures to strengthen their cybersecurity capabilities.

The National Cybersecurity Inter-Agency Committee will issue updated security protocols to all government employees involved in the storage, handling and distribution of all forms — digital, electronic, snail mail, and others — of documents and communications.

It will also enhance the public-private partnership in the field of information sharing, involving cyberattacks, threats and vulnerabilities to cyber threats; and conduct periodic strategic planning and workshop activities that will reduce the country’s vulnerabilities to cyber threats.

The committee will also serve as the country’s coordinating arm in domestic, international and transnational efforts on cybersecurity.

The committee will be under the Office of the President, and will be chaired by the Executive Secretary and co-chaired by the Director General of the National Security Council and the Secretary of Department of Science and Technology.

To serve as committee members will be the respective secretaries of the departments of energy, finance, foreign affairs, interior and local government, justice, national defense, transportation and communications, Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office, and Presidential Communications Operations Office, as well as the commissioner of the National Telecommunications Commission, the chairman of the National Privacy Commission, and the executive director of the Anti-Terrorism Council – Program Management Center. PND (ag)

President Aquino says new group could be responsible for Samal Island kidnapping
President Benigno S. Aquino III on Wednesday said that initial reports show that a new group could be responsible for the kidnapping of foreigners and a Filipino citizen from a resort in Samal Island, near Davao City.

“Mukhang sa initial na mga report sa atin, parang bagong grupo ito. Siyempre, mag-a-account ulit ang ating intelligence services. Bakit nawala sa radar ito? O baka naman talagang bagong-bagong buo itong grupong ito,” President Aquino said during a media interview in Luna, Apayao province.

The President however expressed confidence in the country’s military and police in tracking down the kidnappers.

“Mataas ang kumpiyansa ko na hindi tumitigil ang ating kasundaluhan at kapulisan sa pagtugis sa lahat nitong mga elementong ito,” he said.

“Asahan po ninyo na hindi tumitigil ang ating security sector sa pagtugis dito sa mga taong ito.”

According to news reports, unidentified gunmen kidnapped three foreigners and one Filipina from the Oceanview Resort in Samal Island on Monday night.

The gunmen and their captives have reportedly been sighted in Davao Oriental. PND (ag)

APEC working group emphasizes contribution of women and youth to economy
(ILOILO CITY, Iloilo) The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Small and Medium Enterprise Working Group (APEC SMEWG) has underscored the contribution of women and the youth in the region’s economy.

“We have continued to ensure that women and young entrepreneurs are prominently featured in our programmatic work, as they play a significant role in each economy,” APEC SMEWG Chair John Andersen said during the opening of the 41st APEC SMEWG Meeting held at the Iloilo Convention Center here on Wednesday.

“Women have an uncanny way of making certain that their business plans and the execution of their goals are precise and successful,” he said, adding that young entrepreneurs meanwhile are the APEC region’s movers and shakers, owing to their innovation, new ideas, and use of new technology.

“Young entrepreneur represents the transformational change that will propel APEC economic growth forward,” he said.

Andersen pointed out that aside from women and young entrepreneurs, the APEC is now focusing on micro enterprises to participate in global economic activities.

“The expansion of our work to include a greater focus on micro entrepreneurs is a task we welcome, and we hope… we can set a solid platform for micro entrepreneurs to share in the benefits of globalized trade,” he said.

The Philippines is hosting the 41st APEC SMEWG following the meeting in Atlanta, Georgia last June.

According to Andersen, the APEC SMEWG Meeting aims to discuss the working group’s Strategic Plan after it is reviewed by an independent assessor.

“This assessment will help us make midcourse corrections,” he said.

Andersen noted that the APEC SMEWG has intensified its cross-fora collaboration to increase opportunities for micro, small and medium enterprises in regional and global trade. PNA (kc)

APEC meeting pushes for business continuity planning to make small enterprises disaster-resilient
(ILOILO CITY, Iloilo) The Philippine government is pushing for business continuity planning to help micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) become more resilient against disasters and prevent economic losses.

A business continuity plan is a strategy on how a business can continue operating even after they are affected by disasters at different levels — from short-term effects to permanent loss of structures.

During the press briefing for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) SME forum here, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Undersecretary Zenaida Maglaya said a business continuity plan “is all about resilience — how to prepare them (MSMEs) from any disaster that may hit them right now”.

The Philippine government, she added, is doing a lot of awareness campaigns, sessions, and seminars on the importance of business continuity planning because “this is where we identify exactly what are the problems that can hit a country or an economy when a disaster hits (and) how to simulate what you have to prepare for.”

The trade official also highlighted the importance of working with the private sector, particularly the bigger companies, to prepare MSMEs against the effects of disasters in the country.

As the government builds an awareness campaign for business continuity planning, bigger companies are also encouraged “to do the same”, Maglaya said.

“We are talking of a parallel move of our government helping our SMEs and the bigger companies to also work with the suppliers and make them more disaster-resilient, and making sure they are also prepared,” she added.

Maglaya suggested that bigger companies with suppliers coming from the MSME industry must begin identifying their suppliers and their capacities to endure the economic impact of disasters.

Being resilient is more than just building structures and factories to be disaster-prone, the undersecretary said.

Rather, “it is also more (about) identifying who your suppliers are. Can they easily be hit? Do you know where your workers are, where they live? If something happens, do you get your workers back to really continue operations?” she added.

These requirements and needs by the MSMEs to become more resilient have to be addressed, she said, “because at the end of the day, we are talking of the continued flow of goods (and) minimizing the effect or any obstacles in the supply chain.”

Some 65 percent of the Philippines’ labor force consists of MSMEs.

When super typhoon Yolanda (international name Haiyan) hit the Visayas region in 2013, it was the MSME industry that experienced massive economic losses. Most of them were unable to immediately continue operations.

The APEC meetings in Iloilo, happening from September 21 to October 6, are focused on policies for MSMEs, food security, and disaster risk reduction and management.

About 500 participants from the government and private sectors attended the MSME Summit to discuss topics on technology, markets, finance, and services of government.

According to Maglaya, these are four important areas where MSMEs need support to enable them to be part of the global value chain.

“Being a concern and being the theme of APEC on one thing—that our SMEs to be part of the global value chain, there is a need to identify what are the obstacles and possible hindrances to enable them to reach out to more markets, (to) make it easy for them to facilitate trade, and to see whether there are good financing opportunities for them,” she said. (acg)

President Aquino presents accomplishments in Apayao
(LUNA, Apayao) President Benigno S. Aquino III, on his first official visit to Apayao on Wednesday, presented his administration’s accomplishments in the province before an estimated 5,000 crowd at the Bienvenido Verzola, Jr. Memorial Sports Center here.The President, who got a warm welcome from the audience that included school children and local officials, bared that more than P7.5 billion has been allocated for major infrastructure projects that will spur economic development, as well as open potential tourism destinations in the province.

“Simple lang po ang mga naging gabay natin sa pagpili ng mga proyektong ipapagawa para sa inyo: Tugunan ang pangangailangan sa tamang proseso, ng tamang proyekto sa tamang lugar, gamit ang tamang materyales at disenyo,” he explained.

He cited as an example the Kabugao-Pudtol-Luna-Cagayan Boundary Road Project.

“Bukod sa upgrading ng 52.15 kilometro ng kalsada, kasama rin po diyan ang pagpapatayo ng Mangoli, Paco, at Nagan Bridges. Kapag nakumpleto po ang proyektong ito, ang biyaheng inaabot dati ng 5 oras mula lower Apayao hanggang upper Apayao, magiging dalawang oras na lang,” the President said.

“Nariyan din po ang 134 kilometrong Abbut-Conner-Kabugao-Solsona Boundary, Ilocos Norte Road kung saan 55.05 kilometro ng kalsada ang ina-upgrade natin, kasama pa ang pagpapagawa ng Butao bridge,” he said, noting that once this is completed, the 8-hour trip from Tuguegarao to Laoag via the Maharlika Highway and Manila North Road will be reduced to 4 hours.
“Kasama na rin po dyan ang pagpapaayos ng mahigit 13 kilometrong daan mula Claveria hanggang Kabugao,” the President continued.
“Nagpagawa rin po tayo ng mga kalsada para mas madaling puntahan ang mga tourist spots dito sa Apayao,” he said, referring to the Turod-San Gregorio-Shallom-Lussok Road Project that would make the Lussok Crystal Cave in Luna accessible to tourists.

“Natapos na po ang 4.21 kilometers niyan, at 3.30 kilometers pa ang mabubuo pagdating ng Enero sa susunod na taon. Meron ding Poblacion-Lappa-Marag Road Project, para mas madali nang puntahan ang limestone rock formations at ang Manacota Underground River sa Marag Valley,” the President added.

Before proceeding to the Bienvenido Verzola, Jr. Memorial Sports Center where he delivered his speech, the President inspected the Far North Luzon General Hospital and Training Center, which was renovated under the Health Facilities Enhancement Program (HFEP) of the Department of Health.

“Siguro po, yung iba sa inyo naaalalang nagsimula ang ospital na ito sa isang lumang public school building na aapat lang ang kuwarto. Sa HFEP, napaglaanan natin ito ng 23.08 million pesos para sa infrastructure upgrading noong 2011, at ng 26.5 million pesos naman para sa equipment upgrading noong 2014,” he said.

The hospital, he said, has already increased its 35-bed capacity to 100 beds and is now equipped with X-ray machines, patient monitor, continuous positive airway pressure machine, and heavy-duty examination light.

“Ongoing na rin po ang construction ng kanilang solid-waste management plant. Sa 2015 HFEP naman, nakapaglaan na ng kabuuang 25 million pesos para sa kanilang proposed 4-storey ward. Ngayon nga po, ang Far North Hospital ang nag-iisang Level 1 core referral hospital sa buong Apayao. Pati nga mga ospital sa ilang parte ng Cagayan at Ilocos Norte, dito nagre-refer ng mga pasyenteng nangangailangan ng espesyal na pasilidad,” said President Aquino.

He said the Far North Hospital’s transformation is just part of the bigger transformation the country has experienced under Daang Matuwid.

“Malinaw po ang ating paninindigan: Gaano man kalayo o kaliblib ang probinsiya; ano man ang partido ng namumuno sa LGU (local government unit); o sinuman ang nakakuha ng pinakamaraming boto sa lugar; walang maiiwan sa ating paghakbang,” he added.

The President said Apayao residents have benefitted from the government’s social service Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) with 7,867 household beneficiaries and education programs, citing 715 graduates under the Training for Work Scholarship of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority; 228 graduates under the Private Education Student Financial Assistance; and 225 graduates through the Special Training for Employment Program.

“Lahat po sila, may sapat na kakayahan at kaalaman para maghanap ng mas magandang pagkakakitaan. Makakatulong sila sa kanilang pamilya, sa kanilang komunidad, at sa ating bansa. Ganyan po ang siklong pinasimulan natin sa Daang Matuwid,” he further said.

The President also noted that 113,408 individuals in Apayao are covered by PhilHealth and that the province’s peace and order situation has improved since 2010.

The President expressed his gratitude to the Apayao people for trusting and supporting the Aquino administration’s Daang Matuwid.

“Sa lahat po ng tagumpay na ito, nagpapasalamat ako sa mamamayan ng Apayao, sa kanilang patuloy na pagtitiwala at pagsuporta sa Daang Matuwid. Sa inyong pakikipagtulungan din, 42 proyekto ang napondohan natin sa ilalim ng tinatawag na Bottom-Up Budgeting. Ito po yung mga proyektong kayo mismo ang nagmungkahi. Pinili ninyo ang patubig, pagsasaayos ng mga kalsada, tulay, at evacuation centers. Kagaya po ng lagi kong sinasabi, kayo ang gumawa nito,” the President said.

President Aquino also reminded the Apayao people to vote wisely to ensure the continuity of the government programs that will benefit the future generation.

“Sa darating na eleksiyon, kayo po ang pipili kung magpapatuloy o lilihis tayo sa landas na ito. Maraming popustura at mangangako sa inyo ng buwan at bituin. Ang matindi ko pong pakiusap: Tingnan niyo ang mga bagong kalsada at tulay; ang mga nagbubukas na oportunidad; ang mga kabataang nabibigyan ng pagkakataon sa mas magandang kinabukasan. Ang mga iyan po ang nakataya sa gagawin ninyong pagpili. Tiwala po ako na sa patuloy nating pagbabantay at pagkakapit-bisig, tuluyan nating makakamit ang isang Pilipinas na mas mapayapa at mas maunlad, kung saan ang bawat Pilipino ay may kakayahang abutin ang mas matatayog pang pangarap,” he concluded.

Also present during the event were Apayao Governor Elias Bulut, Jr., Apayao Representative Eleonor Bulut-Begtang, Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio Singson, Health Secretary Janet Garin, Interior and Local Government Senen Sarmiento, and Presidential Legislative Liaison Office Secretary Manuel Mamba. PND (jm)

President Aquino confirms meeting with Leni Robredo, daughters on Vice Presidential bid
President Benigno S. Aquino III confirmed that he met with Camarines Sur Representative Leni Robredo, two of her three daughters, and Liberal Party standard-bearer Manuel Roxas II on Tuesday to discuss the possibility of Robredo running for vice president.

“Wala pang tapos na usapan. Mag-uusap kami ulit, pero maganda ‘yung parang clearing the air. ‘Yung expectation settings, lahat, nandoon nailagay; bakit kami pabor na siya ang maging vice president natin, et cetera,” he told reporters during a media interview in Luna, Apayao on Wednesday.

When asked what Robredo could contribute to Roxas’ presidential campaign, the President said it would be her “positive image”.

“Si Leni, palagay ko, positibong-positibo ang imahe… Kung maghahanap ka ng talagang hindi pwedeng masasabing ‘trapo’ o traditional politician… ang isa sa mga mukha nito—si Leni Robredo. Siyempre, nandiyan na rin ‘yung siya ang kasama, karamay ni (late interior secretary) Jesse (Robredo) sa lahat ng nagawa niya sa Naga at sa buong Pilipinas din sa maraming pagkakataon; ‘yung katatagan ng loob,” he said.

“Ang dami na niyang dinemonstrate (demonstrate) na kahanga-hanga talaga. So, ito, isasama niya sa pagkampanya—kasama ni Mar (Roxas) at ‘pag pinalad silang dalawa—mayroon tayong talagang isang team na talagang magpapabilis ng lahat ng nagawa na natin dito sa Daang Matuwid,” he added.

Also present during the meeting was Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman.

It was the second time the President met with the widow of former interior secretary Jesse Robredo to convince her to run as Roxas’ vice president in next year’s national elections. PND (ag)