Benigno S. Aquino III, Regional Economic Manager’s Briefing Speech 2010

12 Oct

Speech of His Excellency
Benigno S. Aquino III
President of the Philippines
During the Regional Economic Manager’s Briefing and Dialogue with Industry Leaders

[September 17, 2010, Malacanang Palace]

I came almost prepared I had to borrow Mr. Del Rosario’s speech so I can answer the points raised, ano? A point by point raised. But, first of all, thank you all for being here.

As typical of our days, we have so many topics on hand. I started out with meeting a Canadian Minister, followed up by my review of the report by Justice De Lima, et al.  I’m halfway through the report. I had to be here afterwards. I’m actually at the point where the letter from the Ombudsman has already been delivered.  Hopefully, I’ll be able to finish it as soon as I get out of our meeting.

But first, let me congratulate you for being really united in our quest for transformation of our society, the institutions that we find ourselves and the practices that have not really redounded to the benefit of the people.

May I try and respond to the points raised by Mr. Del Rosario given that he has already noted all of our recent successes like the stock exchange index, the strong peso, the 13 times oversubscribed first Philippine peso bond denomination.

Key positions in government had been filled.  I think there’s some of you in this hall who have been approached and have been asked to join government and for various reasons have refused to do so. There is really an urgency to fill up all of the positions, there’s actually a ban starting September 25, if I am not mistaken, due to the Barangay Elections.  So there is an urgency to meet and fill up something in the neighborhood of 4,300 positions.

Now, look, if you were an HR Manager and you were tasked to look for all of this talent, you’ll ask them:  are you ready to come and help serve the people? You will be given a pittance of what salary you had; you will be criticized before you accept the position. You will be criticized whilst in position and after leaving that particular position.  And at the end of the day, perhaps it would be only the President that will thank you, and can you consider giving up six years of your life and holding all of your plans in abeyance. And to a large degree, we have had a lot of successes in that aspect. So you get the people that are competent, trustworthy to do the job but at the same time, you have to be wary of people who self promote.  We almost made a mistake of appointing somebody to a key law enforcement position and to be honest with you I’m fortunate that I had a rethink of this particular individual because daily I keep getting reports that this individual does not have such a stellar record.  And in fact it’s the complete opposite of what we would want to achieve.  And we are trying our best.

There are a lot of side issues. In America I understand they have something called the ‘‘plum book.” The plum book is a list of government positions that had to be filled up.  When we started in office, we were told we only had 1,000 positions to fill up.  And then eventually, they did come up with a number of above 4,300.  And then afterwards, they gave us all of these positions that supposedly had tenure.  And we have been challenged as to the validity of an executive order calling to task all of these midnight appointments.  So be assured we are trying our best.  We are having a lot of successes but getting the right people to all of these jobs obviously is not that easy given that there are very, very few perks and benefits that we can give to them.

I’m sorry I’m at the portion that there are a lot of notes also. There is of course the communications aspect. There are a lot of things that have been done.  It’s a personal bias I do not call attention to things that I have done correctly.  I respond to criticisms of alleged ill-conceived actions.  But again, it’s a personal bias and perhaps I will have to modify; perhaps we do have to call attention to things that have already been achieved.  Even given the limited time that we have been here I was raised to be modest and to be humble and if I start the day off with an emphasis on praising myself I think that is so totally wrong. But at the same time, if  it detracts from the ability of the people to be aware of exactly what is happening to further increase their aggravation of things that are not… or seemingly not yet being done.  Then perhaps there has to be a happy compromise between the two and our Communications Group is really working on that.

With regards tax evasion and smuggling. Each of the concerned agencies has promised to file cases, major cases every other week. Meaning, the BIR files one week, it’s the Customs that does the second week, and so on and so forth.  They promised 26 cases at least.  And be assured that I am on top of the two agencies as well as their respective secretaries… well, singular secretary rather.  And I keep asking — well, let me correct myself — two secretaries because the DOJ Secretary is also one of the people I keep pestering as to the status of cases they have been filed and prospects for getting convictions.  And obviously I will be escorting the first convicted individuals to their new accommodations at the National Bilibid. We have also done a survey of the National Bilibid’s properties and there is great room for expansion. But I would request that most individuals not opt to join this particular subdivision.

Review of the Labor Code? Yes, we will do that. I’m very, very pleased with the performance of Secretary Baldoz.  She has yet to come up ill-prepared for any question I throw at her even coming out of the blue.  I appointed her first in an acting capacity because she had risen from the ranks.  I’m not exactly sure.  I don’t know her from Adam before I appointed her whether or not we would have a very good working relationship.

In the course of about a week ago, I did ask her in the midst of talking about the issues affecting PAL if she would consider accepting the position on a permanent basis.  And I believe she will agree to do so and we are really very fortunate to have her so we will task her to review the Labor Code.  I invite everybody who has inputs to this to do so. And of course, once we talk to management labor will have you this cries of how and how being that we are very pro-management, so we will ask them also for their own inputs.

I guess what I’m trying to say is I really am a firm believer of the fact that one, we are here as your servants. We are here to hear your voice.  We hope to achieve a consensus. The consensus gets implemented.  Everybody winds up a winner and the start of all of that is honest dialogue with all sectors concerned. If we have the end in view that once growth redounds to our own growth, then I don’t think any hindrance to achieving that consensus is to be expected.

NAIA 3 to be honest with you, I am still studying all of the position papers sent to my office with regards to NAIA 3.  I think they number about five or six different reports and none of them will be less than an inch thick, so you will give me a little more time to come up with the detailed plans of how we envision NAIA 3 to be.  I’m tempted to tell you our target date for opening the said facility fully, but since the plan is almost done but is not yet completely done, I am again forced to not tell you of all the plans at this point in time lest I be accused of not fulfilling all of the promises that we have made.

Okay, with regards to the common carrier, in fact, I understand this part needs legislation. You know all measures for taxation and appropriations emanate from the House. We will discuss this with our allies in both chambers to do so at the earliest possible time.

With regards to disaster and mitigation, there is a comprehensive plan already in existence at the agencies tasked with disaster relief have already responded. The latest has been the flashfloods in Koronadal that happened recently,  DSWD was on hand and had mitigated the negative effects on our citizenry. From the first disaster under my watch ‘Basyang’ to the present, we have already seen other concerned government agencies for the most part fulfilling their roles.  And you know, to be honest with you, one of the worst reports I got upon entering office was that there were 66 provinces with components at high-risk to flashflood and flooding.  Of course, we only have 80 provinces, so that practically says the entire country is at risk. There are long-term solutions necessary like massive reforestation but at the present time the current budget contains only items for about 80,000 hectares of millions that have to be replanted and various engineering works that have to be done both social and physical engineering but all of these will have to take time.

We are in the process of… I thought I have finished my time.  If you have noticed though we have already corrected certain agencies in government,  I did mention that most government agencies have been performing but, of course, there are other agencies that have not been performing their roles. I point you in particular to weather. Our weather reports to my mind seem to be more accurate these days. They seem to be less reprints of previous weather predictions, and I don’t know if you agree with me but our people are now better prepared to meet these disasters, and all it took was to replace one individual who believed he was God’s gift to the Filipino people.

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One Response to “Benigno S. Aquino III, Regional Economic Manager’s Briefing Speech 2010”

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