Sunday, 27 January 2013

PIA News Dispatch - Friday, January 25, 2013

President Aquino's Speech on Philippine experience to weed out corruption gets 'very good' reception from global leaders and top financial executives
 DAVOS, Switzerland) President Benigno S. Aquino III's speech on the country's experience to weed out corruption received a "very good" reception and served as inspiration from global leaders and top chief executive officers as well as chief financial officers attending the World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting here.

"The reception I think was very good. There were a lot of private sector people there, corporations from different fields, there were some BPO (business process outsourcing) companies, there were some services companies and all of them spent a lot of time chatting with President Aquino, having the pictures taken with him," Presidential Communication Development and Strategic Planning Office Secretary Ramon Carandang said in a press briefing here on Thursday.

President Aquino delivered a 10-minute speech before world leaders, chief executive officers and representatives from big corporations during the WEF's activity on "Partnering Against Corruption Initiative" on Thursday here.

"I think people understand that the Philippines is really taking serious steps to reform its economy, and I think they are very appreciative of that," Carandang said.

According to Carandang, the President's speech during the forum highlighted "some of the actions that we took to fight high-level, high profile corruption were touched upon such as the impeachment process... Just to give examples of some of the things that we're doing to reform not just the fiscal picture but also the political landscape as well."

Carandang also described the audience gathered during the forum as a mixed crowd composed mostly of chief executive officers, chief finance officers and other world leaders.

He noted that also present in the audience were Filipino delegates notably Jaime (Augusto) and Fernando Zobel.

Carandang noted that the President was the first speaker during the forum, followed by the leader of Mongolia. Other leaders from India and Peru also spoke and shared their experiences and what they're doing about in their own country.

"Well Mongolians, i think have caught some global attention also because they're making very strong statements against corruption as well. Their economies also (are) growing quite rapidly. So they were also being recognized as well," he stressed.

Carandang pointed out that what brought everybody together during the forum on Partnering Against Corruption Initiative, "was that you had governments that were taking concrete steps and they were willing to share what they learned with the corporations."

"I think this is good because when the CEOs hear from the leaders and not just President Aquino but the President of Mongolia - when they hear straight from the leaders about what they're doing to fight corruption, I think it helps instill confidence in them because everyone of those people was a potential investor in our country," Carandang noted.

"So when you explain all of these things to them, they sometimes act a little surprised because some of the moves that we've taken are quite bold. So I think it creates a good impression of not just the leadership but a country in general," Carandang said. PND (rda)

President Aquino thanks IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde for her confidence in the Philippines
 DAVOS, Switzerland) President Benigno S. Aquino III thanked International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Christine Lagarde for her confidence in the Philippines during their meeting on the sidelines of the President’s attendance to the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting here.

President Aquino met with Lagarde on Thursday evening (Swiss time). The meeting took about 40 minutes, according to Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office Secretary Ramon Carandang.

“It was basically a courtesy call; they exchanged pleasantries. Ms. Lagarde informed the President that the IMF had upgraded the growth projections for the Philippines,” Carandang told members of the Philippine media here.

“They (IMF) said that based on their analysis, things were looking very positive for the Philippines, and that they were confident that the growth targets could be attained, given the momentum that we‘ve had,” he added.

IMF has raised its economic growth forecast for the Philippines for 2013 to 6 percent from 4.8 percent.

Carandang said IMF increased its 2013 forecast for the country because “they expect growth to be faster than they initially expected.” He said that President Aquino, in turn, thanked Lagarde for her confidence in the Philippines.

During their meeting, President Aquino shared his government’s efforts to bring about growth through wise spending of government expenditures and leveling the playing field to encourage more investors, said Carandang.

The Secretary said the President also commended the IMF chief. “Ms. Lagarde has a tough job because it is her job to convince world leaders to make difficult choices. He commended her for being able to do that in such an effective way,” he said.

Also present in the meeting were Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, Budget Secretary Butch Abad, Secretary Cesar Purisima, Secretary Gregory Domingo, Secretary Rene Almendras and Secretary Arsenio Balisacan. PND (co)

Hepatology Society of the Philippines helps government in addressing various concerns related to liver diseases, Aquino says
 President Benigno S. Aquino III acknowledged the role of one of the country's leading liver organizations in helping the government address various concerns related to the liver diseases.

 "A healthy populace lays the foundations for a revitalized society," the Chief Executive said in his message to the Hepatology Society of the Philippines (HSP) on the occasion of its 2013 HSP Convention.

 The organization opened on Friday its 2013 HSP Convention "Unraveling Prometheus: Hepatology in the 21st Century" at the Garden Ballroom, EDSA Shangri-La Hotel in Mandaluyong City. The convention will end on Saturday.

 "We in government count your organization among our reliable partners in this mission: the HSP Convention is crucial to improving our country’s level of liver health, as you discuss issues and develop solutions to challenges within the ever-changing landscape of hepatology in the 21st Century," President Aquino noted.

 "May this be a productive and engaging assembly, as you create more opportunities to realize your potential as healers and as catalysts of change. It is our communal responsibility in this era of daylight to secure our people’s health, that they may be able to take part in nation-building," the President said.

 President Aquino called on the organization to stay united with the government and remain committed to their common endeavors to improve the health of the people.

 He, likewise, encouraged the members of the organization to cultivate the values of integrity, transparency, and accountability in their hearts and deeds for the benefit of the Filipino people.

 The HSP is committed to the study of the liver in health and disease. It is also involved in research, education, advocacy and formulation of national health policies in partnership with the global community. PND (js)

Aquino vows to continue institutionalizing reforms to effect country's enduring progress
 DAVOS, Switzerland) President Benigno S. Aquino III on Thursday vowed to relentlessly pursue efforts in institutionalizing reforms in the country saying his government "wants change to become an enduring mainstream of progress rather than a mere blip in the radar and a case study for failed expectations."

"To etch positive, meaningful change in stone, to build real foundations to progress, to ensure that Filipinos are able to thrive and succeed within the Motherland ---that is our challenge," the Chief Executive said in a 10-minute speech he delivered before global leaders, chief executive officers, chief financial officers and other stakeholders attending the World Economic Forum activity on "Partnering Against Corrupt Initiative (PACI)" here.

The President expressed the belief that the entire Filipino citizenry "are up to it, and are in fact already showing the world we are ready, we are dreaming again, and we are on the way to achieving those dreams."

The President said that when he assumed office on June 30. 2010, he was confronted by a government where corruption was rampant, and a citizenry that had spiraled into apathy after almost a decade of absentee leadership.

"The system was characterized by transactionalism and an every-man-for-himself attitude, fueled by a drive to remain in power rather than to render public service," he said.

He noted that as a leader of the more than 90 million Filipinos, he had to show that change and the fight against corruption yielded positive results for the economy, and that these in turn yield benefits not only for those at the top but the majority of Filipinos.

"When I came into office, I found that our National Food Authority, the government agency tasked to ensure rice efficiency -- had an outstanding debt that, from 300 million dollars less than a decade before when my predecessor started in office -- had bloated to around 4.4 billion dollars, the President said because the previous administration insisted on importing more rice than was needed to feed the Filipino people," the President said.

To solve this problem, President Aquino said the administration empowered the farmers by pouring in more funds into irrigation, arterial roads, research into higher-yielding varieties and other technologies.

""From importing almost two and a half million metric tons of rice in 2010, now if the weather permits, we are looking at full rice self-sufficiency -- and even the possibility of exporting it by the end of this year," he said.

 Another example of corruption mentioned by the President was the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) which, he said, for the longest time was the hotbed of kickbacks and fund leakages.

The President pointed out that this has changed under his helm by implementing mechanisms for a transparent bidding process, one that encouraged competitions among contractors.

As a result, the President said, the DPWH has saved, as of the end of 2012, around 300 million dollars .

"Take for example, a tunnel underpass project at the heart of the National Capital Region Originally, projected to cost around 17 billion dollars, it ended up costing only around 10.75 million dollars," the President said adding that it was also completed a full hundred days ahead of schedule.

President Aquino likewise cited the impeachment of former Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona. He said that after a trial that was followed by the entire country, our Chief Justice was impeached and removed from office.

"As you can see, we are changing the attitude of the world towards the Philippines because we are changing the attitude of Filipinos towards the system, Our task is to weed out the corrupt, level the playing field, and instill a sense of justice and fairness," he concluded.

During his speech, the President also cited the gains made by his administration as a result of the reforms he has instituted in the last two and a half years of his administration.

"Stability ensues and stakeholders begin to buy into the system -- investors flock in, economic gains are channeled into investments in our people's future such as those in health and education, and the citizenry is empowered to spur growth further." he said.

The President told the CEOs, CFOs and the government leaders present in Davos about the Philippine Stock Exchange index which, according to him, has broken its own record high 70 times since he came into office.

"We've recorded two consecutive ten place jumps in the WEF's annual competitiveness ranking index; our GDP grew by 7.1 percent in the third quarter of 2012, surpassing most projections," he said.

After getting upgrade after upgrade from credit ratings agencies, the President said the administration is "on the cusp of investment grade status -- and are, in fact at this point, afforded rates equivalent to investment grade in securing our loans." PND (rda)

Palace assures public  health workers: ‘You will remain employed’
 Malacanang made an assurance on Friday that workers in government hospitals will not be displaced once government’s corporatization of health facilities fully takes effect.

 A group of health workers expressed its concern that the public-private partnership (PPP) being undertaken by the government will result to job losses among government hospital workers.

 In a press conference in Malacanang on Friday, Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said PPP projects including those on health facilities are being discussed by the PPP center.

 These projects are about to be bidded out by the government and Valte said, adding the Palace understands the sentiments of the public hospital workers about the corporatization.

 “Hindi ipa-privatize. Hindi bibilhin ng private entity. The government will continue to own these hospitals. Just for the record, hindi privatization, corporatization because there will be private investors who are interested in putting money to modernize the facilities and such,” Valte explained.

 The Department of Health, according to Valte made a commitment that workers from government hospitals will not be displaced. Affected workers will be transferred to other government hospitals after the modernization and once the government determines the manpower needs of such hospitals.

 “Kung wala silang espasyo doon, ililipat sila ng DOH sa ibang lugar or ibang ospital o baka sa DOH mismo para hindi naman sila mawalan ng trabaho,” Valte said.

 With regards to concerns that modernizing government hospitals would also mean costlier medical services, Valte said the government’s aim is to provide inclusive PhilHealth coverage for everyone particularly the poor.

 “Tandaan natin na we are aiming for universal healthcare... ang mga tinatawag nating ‘poorest of the poor’ ay mako-cover na ng PhilHealth. Alam naman natin na sa ngayon 100 percent na ang kino-cover ng PhilHealth, ‘yung mga indigent patients natin. As such, their hospital bills should be covered by PhilHealth,” she explained. PND (as)