MANILA, MARCH 6, 2011 (STAR) By Aurea Calica - President Aquino launched yesterday the first batch of infrastructure projects worth roughly P47.1 billion under the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) program.

Aquino made the announcement shortly before embarking on state visits to Indonesia and Singapore.

The President said the five big-ticket infrastructure projects, once completed, would help ease the movement of goods and products in and out of the country.

The projects are the expansion and upgrading of Light Rail Transit 1 and privatization of the operation and maintenance of Metro Rail Transit 3, both up for public bidding this month; linking of the South Luzon Expressway with Daang Hari Road, set for bidding next month; the NAIA Expressway Phase 2 for May; and the NLEX-SLEX Expressway link project in June.

“Our people will also have the benefit of riding the privatized MRT (Metro Rail) 3 and LRT (Light Rail Transit 1) lines, which promises upgrades in services while creating a more sustainable business model for our Metro Manila rail system,” the President said.

Aquino attended the launching at the Development Bank of the Philippines in Makati City where he also inaugurated the PPP Center Satellite Office yesterday morning.

Last night, he left for Indonesia and Singapore on state visits aimed at strengthening ties with the two members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and encouraging their investors to come to the Philippines.

“It brings me great pleasure that we are launching the first batch of PPP projects lined up for bidding in 2011. These projects will undoubtedly further stimulate our economy, which has already experienced unprecedented success in recent months,” he said.

“And with an estimated investment of more than a billion dollars lined up for bidding, these projects give us more reason to be optimistic: we can expect thousands of jobs for our people, growth in our economy, and long-term, mutually beneficial partnerships with large corporations,” Aquino said in his speech.

“But these investments help our economy in other ways too. When these projects are finally completed, many of our citizens will benefit from these projects directly,” he added.

An improved transport and road system, he said, “bodes well for our economy, for our businesses, and for our people.”

“Make no mistake about it: these projects promise so much for our economy and for our people, and they will play a vital role in our administration’s fulfillment of our social contract with our people,” Aquino said.

“I will be leaving for state visits to Indonesia and Singapore so that I may enjoy the company of their leaders and deepen our ties with them,” he said.

“At the same time, I will be on the look-out for more potential partners in our PPP projects, and for agreements that will prove to be beneficial for our countrymen,” he added.

“And when I get home, I will go straight to the office to continue to fix what needs to be fixed in this country.”

‘Change not just an idea’

Aquino said that by pushing for the projects, he was fulfilling his campaign promise of good governance and reform.

“And in eight months in office, we have heeded their call. By means of weeding out corrupt officials and ending corrupt practices, we have instilled the values of honesty, integrity, and accountability into government institutions,” Aquino said.

“But of course, this is not enough. We realize that the end goal of running a transparent government is the delivery of services to the people – that our citizens are able to work in an economy that will afford them food, shelter, education and employment,” he noted.

“I know that there are those who make a living out of being critical of our administration. And perhaps that is to be expected in any country where free speech is a right granted to each and every person. But they cannot argue with results. They cannot argue with children who have finally found classrooms to study in, food to eat, and homes to live in. They cannot argue with roads that have been paved with not one corrupt official receiving tribute. They cannot argue with facts – that from our reform, and from our honest-to-goodness hard work, come developments that concretely change the way our people live for the better,” Aquino said.

“Our administration believes that change is not a mere idea. It is something that must become palpable in our economy, in our roads, and, ultimately and most importantly, in the lives of our people,” he said.

“Through projects such as the ones we are inaugurating, we are beginning to show the world that change is not just a word that politicians throw around. We are beginning to show them how change can and should reach ordinary citizens,” the President stressed.

Aquino said what his administration has achieved is a stepping stone to sustainable progress.

“And it should be expected that we would be in a celebratory mood, but in fact, the best way to respond to this success is to work even more and harder… If we are to catch up with the rest of the world, it is imperative that we outthink and outwork our competitors,” the President said.

“I invite all of you to continue working with us. We are in a good position now. We have finally driven away the darkness of corruption and deceit, and we have won back the daylight that promises prosperity for this country,” he said.

“And so long as we continue to fulfill our roles in our collective responsibilities, I am confident that the Philippines can be even more successful. I know that not all of us can participate perhaps in paving new roads and new highways in and around, for instance, the capital city; but all of us play a significant role in rebuilding this country. Let us not forget that. Let us build, build, and build,” Aquino said.

P-Noy’s lean delegation

Consistent with his three previous foreign trips, President Aquino leads a lean 53-man delegation as he embarks on a four-day state visit to Indonesia and Singapore, Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. said yesterday.

The President left at 8:55 last night on board a Cebu Pacific flight at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3.

Ochoa said a total of P12.27 million had been set aside for the two-leg state visits, excluding airfares, in line with the President’s “minimum expenditures, maximum returns” approach to foreign trips.

“The President continues to believe that we can achieve all the targets of our foreign trips without having to spend more than what is absolutely necessary,” Ochoa said.

The President is scheduled to meet with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudyohono and witness the signing of three agreements on basic education, sports cooperation, and cooperation on preventing and combating transnational crimes and capacity building.

The Chief Executive is billeted at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Jakarta, where he is to stay until tomorrow, before another state visit in nearby Singapore.

Today, Aquino and Yudhoyono will have a joint press briefing at lunchtime after his courtesy call and a photo session with the Indonesian leader at the Jepara Room in Istana Merdeka.

Bilateral meetings will also be held and attended by Secretaries Albert del Rosario (Foreign Affairs), Cesar Purisima (Finance), Gregory Domingo (Trade), Jose Rene Almendras (Energy), Philippine National Police chief Raul Bacalzo, Philippine Sports Commission chairman Ricardo Garcia, Secretary Herminio Coloma, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles, DFA Undersecretary Erlinda Basilio and charge d’affaires Ma. Rosario Aguinaldo of the Philippine embassy in Jakarta.

Aquino will also be meeting with the Filipino community this afternoon. He will be the guest of the Indonesian leader in the state banquet tonight at the Banquet Hall in Istana Negara.

Aquino’s March 9 schedule includes, among others, a meeting with Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and a meeting with Anthony Salim of Salim Group in the morning, before he ends his state visit early afternoon.

Tomorrow, the Chief Executive will fly to Singapore to meet with Singaporean President SR Nathan and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and discuss the Aquino administration’s PPP initiatives, the Philippines-Singapore Action Plan, and other bilateral and ASEAN concerns. Singapore will also honor Aquino by naming a breed of orchid after him.

Others with the President’s delegation are Manuel RoxasII, Presidential Adviser on Peace Process Teresita Deles, and Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. Chairman Cristino Naguiat.

“The President wants to try to pack as many meetings and briefings as possible to maximize his visits to these two countries. This way he hopes to get more done, given how short his stays in Indonesia and Singapore will be,” Ochoa said. – With Delon Porcalla, Rudy Santos


Philippines president to visit RI Monday The Jakarta Post | Sun, 03/06/2011 3:10 PM | World A | A | A |

[PHOTO - JAKARTA'S President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.]

Republic of the Philippines President Benigno Simeon Aquino III is scheduled to visit Indonesia for three days starting on Monday.

Aquino is slated to arrive in Jakarta on Monday night, a statement from the Office of the Special Staff to the President for International Relations said.

He is planning to visit the Kalibata War Heroes Memorial Cemetery on Tuesday before meeting President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

Both presidents are slated to sign several memorandum of understanding (MOUs) related to education and sports, as well as to extend the MOU on police cooperation.

Aquino plans to attend an official state dinner at the State Palace and depart Indonesia on Wednesday night.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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