NEW YORK, SEPTEMBER 24, 2010 (STAR) By Aurea Calica – President Aquino said he was ready to show that the Philippines would be a better investment site under his management even as he was still hounded by the Aug. 23 hostage fiasco during his visit here.

Aquino said he got the opportunity to explain what his government was doing to restore confidence in the Philippines and attract more investments.

The President was asked about the hostage-taking incident when he was interviewed by the editors and reporters of the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.

Officials who accompanied the President said he was not actually grilled about it and in fact was able to enlighten the foreign media about the steps being taken to move forward and that the Philippines “is open for business.”

Aquino said it was understandable for the foreigners to inquire about the hostage crisis. He said the report of the incident investigation and review committee led by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima would have a “part two” to make it clearer and more helpful in making institutional and procedural changes.

“I think I was able to answer properly,” Aquino said, adding he would like to demonstrate that he was serious not to allow such an incident to happen again.

He also said he was happy that China appreciated the report and that it would be reviewed to make it more complete and justifiable, especially if charges would be filed against certain people.

Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima said they were looking forward to the business meetings set here and the results of these would be announced after the agreements or contracts had been signed.

“It’s very important that the international press get to know what the economic agenda of President Aquino is, get to know President Aquino and talk about the difference between now and the past and what we can do in the future,” Purisima said.

“And it’s very clear that they realized that we don’t have the credibility issue, the mandate issue that has dogged the Philippines the past 10 years and that we’re dealing with the three things that held us back – bureaucracy, corruption and infrastructure problems,” he said, adding that the foreign audience were very pleased with the administration’s direction and “we’re getting a lot of support.”

Energy Secretary Jose Rene Almendras said the President had very good interaction with the foreign media.

“I think one of the things that we can all be very proud of is that one of the media practitioners we met actually made a comment – something like one of the more brilliant young leaders we have met this session around,” Almendras said.

“One of them even said that his knowledge of detail is quite intimidating,” Almendras added.

Almendras said he, Purisima and Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo barely had to answer questions because Aquino was very familiar with all the topics that he was talking about.

Purisima said they were expecting substantial investments to come into the country.

“We should be happy,” he said, adding that they would make sure all the meetings here would translate into actual jobs for Filipinos.

He said the main message was that the Philippines was open for business under a new management whose focus would be on good governance.

Purisima said the business delegation were with Aquino to give assurance that the prospects in the Philippines were bright.

“That’s part of the opportunity, business magic,” Aquino said.

Aquino met with the officials of AES Corp. to discuss the development of the Masinloc power plant in Zambales. AES is the largest international investor in the Philippine electricity industry, with investments of over $1 billion.

Aquino said AES has plans to expand its operations in the country and would help the Philippines achieve energy security.

Almendras earlier said AES was going to expand their capacity by 600 megawatts.

Recently, AES reported that it had doubled its power production at its subsidiary, AES Philippines Inc. which owns and manages the 600-mw Masinloc coal-fired power plant in Zambales.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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