MANILA - President Aquino today faced business and civil society leaders from the Asia Pacific region at the 23rd Pacific Economic Cooperation Council (PECC) General Meeting in Pasay City.
In his speech before the international delegates, the President mentioned the creation of a task force whose objective is to solve Metro Manila's horrendous traffic situation.
"A task force of different agencies is hard at work to alleviate traffic along Metro Manila's thoroughfares. Critical transport infrastructure like seaports, airports, bus terminals, and light rail transport continue to be upgraded, while big-ticket projects for transportation systems are in the pipeline," he said.
The President has ordered Secretary to the Cabinet Jose Rene Almendras to oversee the scrutiny and implementation of possible programs and schemes on traffic situation, including the most recent move by Malacanang to deputize the PNP-Highway Patrol Group as lead implementing unit to ease traffic along EDSA.
"This will not only ensure that the Philippines becomes more competitive, but that the benefits of trade, investment, and growth are able to reach even the most far-flung communities of the Philippines,' Aquino said.
The President told delegates that the Filipino people will be demanding for the continuation of "Daang Matuwid" in light of a change of leadership by 2016.
"My countrymen will continue to demand integrity, accountability, and sustainable, inclusive growth even after I have stepped down from office. They will demand the continuity of the successes we have reaped." he said.
He assured the delegates that the Filipino people will continue to demand good governance, particularly transparency and accountability, in light of corruption allegations that have hounded public governance in the country.
"Even more encouraging is the fact that transformation has not just taken place in our institutions and our economy; it has taken place in the mindset of Filipinos. We see today a people who have felt the effects of good governance and who will refuse to accept anything less," he said.
He also assured the business leaders that the country's economy is strong and its growth will continue.
"We have climbed competitiveness indices at a tremendous pace; we have achieved investment grade--and continued to receive upgrades--from the three major credit ratings agencies. The Information Technology-Business Process Management (IT-BPM) sector now employs over a million individuals and earns nearly $19 billion in revenues. Philippine manufacturing has rebounded completely: growing by 8% from 2010 to 2014, which is significantly higher than its 3% growth from 2001 to 2009. In 2014, foreign direct investments were at an all-time high at $6.20 billion," he said.
The President added, "Nowhere is this optimism more evident than in our own countrymen. Under the previous administration, from the first quarter of 2003 to the second quarter of 2010, domestic investments totaled only P1.24 trillion. On the other hand, under our watch: From the third quarter of 2010 to just the last quarter of 2014, investments by Filipino nationals stand at P2.09 trillion."
"The Filipino people are front and center in our governance agenda. Over the years, they have proven to be our country's greatest resource--from the time they rose up against a dictator to reclaim democracy, to the time they voted for meaningful change in 2010, and even to the present day, as they fuel our resurgent economy. They are our Bosses, and we see them as our most vital partners in growing the economy. This, we believe, is the quickest path to inclusive growth." he said.
The President mentioned the expansion of the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program that helps the underprivileged to sustain good health and quality education.
He said that the fruits of the CCT program was evident when around 333,000 Filipino boys and girls graduated from their school levels because of the program. From 786,000 households in 2010, the CCT program now has 4.4 million households as beneficiaries.
"By itself, the CCT already displays the importance our administration gives to education. We also realize, however, the inclusivity can only be achieved by providing our people quality education through which they can gain the capacity to enter careers that truly utilize their innate skills and creativity, as opposed to unskilled labor. This enables them to take on jobs that have a distinct growth path, as opposed to ones that condemn them to day-to-day subsistence such as those considered menial labor." he said.
For the second time since 1999, the Philippines hosted the PECC meeting which is attended by some 250 participants. For the next two days, they will discuss issues and challenges affecting the regions major and emerging economies ability to institute and sustain balanced and inclusive growth. Recommendations from this meeting will feed into the APEC Leaders' meeting which the Philippines will chair in November.