© Copyright, 2015 (PHNO)
 http://newsflash.org  | NOVEMBER 18 -19, 2015

NOY'S CORNER THIS PAST WEEK...
(MINI-READS followed by FULL REPORTS below)

APEC PHL: LONGEST ROAD TRIP OF MY LIFE: 8 HOURS TO GO TO WORK


NOVEMBER 18 -A view of the South Luzon.  LONG WALK: Thousands of commuters from Cavite province are forced to walk from Coastal Road to get to their place of work and other destinations. Since Monday, authorities have barred most vehicles from entering Roxas Boulevard, a short distance from the Philippine International Convention Center, venue of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Leaders’ Meeting. NIÑO JESUS ORBETA INQUIRER file photo IT -IT WAS a usual manic Monday. I had no idea that the longest road trip of my life was about to begin. Two years ago, I took a plane ride to Ilocos province in lieu of the eight-hour land trip to Laoag City because I hate long rides. On Monday, I found myself caught in a situation I had managed to evade in 2013—in a hellhole that is Metro Manila. It usually takes a three-hour bus ride from my hometown in Indang, Cavite province, to my workplace in the Inquirer on Chino Roces Avenue in Makati City. But Monday proved to be an exception. It took me eight hours on the road—riding four jeepneys, three pedicabs, a train, bus and taxi—and thrice my usual one-way fare to get to work. Stranded passengersI was waiting around 1 p.m. for an Ayala Avenue-bound bus in front of Robinsons Pala-Pala on Aguinaldo Highway in Dasmariñas, Cavite, when I learned that Cavite buses were barred from entering Coastal Road until Friday due to the ongoing Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) meetings.According to the bus driver, the farthest drop-off point was at Longos in Bacoor town, the only recourse for passengers taking public rides. But when I got to Longos, there were no jeepneys nor buses plying the Baclaran route. Other stranded passengers were taking the pedicab to Zapote Road, and I wound up sharing one with another passenger.“It’s P20 each, just past the bridge,” the pedicab driver said in Filipino.It was a swift seven-minute ride to Zapote and I was looking forward to catching a bus from Alabang going to Buendia. But no bus was in sight; only crowded jeepneys with a “Kabihasnan” signboard, indicating a Parañaque City destination. I saw a few jeepneys headed straight to Baclaran but they were full as well. If I took a jeepney bound for Kabihasnan, I thought, I could then take a ride toward Baclaran.I grabbed a bite at Jollibee-Zapote, used the restroom and bought bottled water to prepare myself for what looked like a long, exhausting trip ahead.
I was contemplating my travel game plan when I noticed a stranded mother nursing her 3-month-old infant. She said she was also from Cavite.“I will just go back home. I already texted my husband,” she said in Filipino.The man on my right was on his cell phone, most likely talking to a coworker.“Please tell Ma’am Nanette that I can’t make it. Sorry, but I’ve waited (for a ride) long enough,” he said, sounding defeated.READ MORE...

ALSO: Aquino trumpets Phl growth in APEC leaders' retreat


NOVEMBER 19 -Leaders start the opening plenary session at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in Manila, Philippines, Thursday, Nov. 19, 2015. AP/Noel Celis/Pool Photo
President Benigno Aquino III on Thursday opened the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders' retreat by trumpeting the country's economic achievements under his watch.
The 20 visiting leaders of the APEC member economies gathered at the Philippine International Convention Center where Aquino delivered the opening remarks. In his speech, Aquino said the APEC hosting presents a chance for the Philippines to showcase the results of reform. "These past five years, the Philippines has experienced strong economic growth, our fastest in nearly four decades, thanks to good governance and critical structural reforms throughout our bureacracy allied with the support and commitment of the public at large," Aquino said. "Furthermore, we are proud of our growth not just for growth's sake but the Philippines has set aside trickle down economics and has chosen to invest in our people so that our growth is felt by each and every citizen," he added. Aquino cited the government's Conditional Cash Transfer Program, employment training scholarships and universal health care. He said these initiatives have "helped people regain control of their own destinies."  Aquino reminded his fellow heads of state that the theme of this year's APEC meetings is inclusive growth. He said the APEC meetings have a "people-centered agenda that embraces all segments of society as invaluable participants in a growth that is holistic, creates jobs, sends children to school, puts food on the table, raises standards of living, protects the environment, fosters creativity and innovation and levels the playing field." READ MORE...

ALSO: At APEC, Aquino blames Gloria Arroyo for poverty in the country
[“When one thinks about it, it is quite sad. If 10 years ago my predecessor had done what we’re doing now, I can only imagine where the Philippines would be,” Aquino told delegates at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation CEO Summit. In his speech, Aquino pointed to his administration’s efforts to fight corruption, including the hospital arrest of Mrs. Arroyo and three opposition senators on plunder charges and the ouster by impeachment of former Chief Justice Renato Corona.]


NOVEMBER 17 -......Bedlam. The traffic was bumper to bumper on Edsa on Tuesday due to the closure of two lanes for the use of Apec VIPs. Inset, President Benigno Aquino III delivers a speech at Makati Shangri-La Hotel during a State Luncheon for the Apec delegates. Lino Santos and Malacañang Photo Bureau “We plugged leaks throughout the bureaucracy, and we did not shy away from confronting the most complex and crippling problem of our nation, namely, corruption,” Aquino said. “Over the last five years, we cracked down on all those proven to have engaged in wrongdoing. Now, a former President is under hospital arrest after being charged with plunder. The former chief justice who had no compunctions about being selective about implementing the law was removed through impeachment, after it was revealed that he violated our laws by failing to declare over 98 percent of his assets as mandated by our Constitution.”  Aquino also played up the 1986 People Power revolt that toppled the regime of President Ferdinand Marcos and installed his mother, Corazon Aquino, in his place. “In 1986, millions of our people gathered in Edsa—our capital city’s most prominent avenue—and other cities throughout the nation to overthrow a dictator, who had for too long subjected our country to his tyranny and oppression. People armed only with rosaries, good intentions, and belief in their countrymen stood up to tanks, artillery, and planes. This was the miracle of Edsa, which made possible that which was impossible, and returned democracy through People Power. After 14 years of Martial Law, our people were successful in lifting my mother into the presidency to lead the rebuilding of our nation,” said Aquino. Aquino also recalled the words of his father while their family was in exile during the Martial Law years. “I will never forget one particular instance, when my family was in exile in Boston, and I asked my father: ‘If we are in the right, why are we the ones in exile?’ He responded with a question of his own: ‘How can those who cannot even eat, think of concepts such as freedom and dignity? The first freedom is the freedom from hunger.’ That is the first that has to be won,” said Aquino. Aquino told the business leaders he shared his father’s words because the focus of the meetings in days to come—Apec’s Inclusive Growth Imperative—was “deeply personal” to him. READ MORE...

ALSO by Horace Templo: Bragging instead of learning


NOVEMBER 13 -By Monday, our hosting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Leaders’ Meeting in Metro Manila would become very obvious—not because we would be seeing in person the superstar world leaders of the 21 Apec economies—but because we would be experiencing more orderly traffic conditions in the metropolis.
Throughout Metro Manila, PNoy closed all government offices and schools from Tuesday until Friday, and private sector companies on Wednesday and Thursday. He also banned trucks on major roads, and allowed only a few airplanes to fly in our skies by canceling a thousand local and international flights. For a country like ours where more than half of the population is poor, such hosting is very expensive. These closures, bans and cancellations, however, are not much to fuss about when compared to what the dragon Chinese government did when it hosted the Apec meetings last year in Beijing. To spare the delegates from inhaling its usual Beijing smog, it limited the number of running vehicles by employing the odd-even scheme in plate numbers, suspended industrial factories that emit pollutants in the air, and halted work at construction sites that create dusts. It even banned outdoor barbecues. We remember that when we hosted the Apec meetings in 1996, nobody’s daily routines were disrupted. Then President Fidel Ramos simply held the Leaders’ Meeting inside the Subic Freeport. In fact, he also suggested that we use for this year’s venue the nearby Clark Freeport. Because of its proximity to Metro Manila, the embassies of the Apec countries could easily support their delegations with little disruption and greater efficiency. But beyond the disruptive effects, his suggestion was justified for valid reasons. It would highlight the Clark Freeport/Airport and Subic Freeport/Seaport as our most dynamic economic platform; accelerate the completion of the NLEX-SLEX cross-corridors and the North Rail system; and open up new areas in Central Luzon for job-generation, livelihood, agro-industry, etc. But Metro Manila was chosen instead because it is the only place that can accommodate the 10,000 delegates who are expected to attend during that week. Moreover, we also heard that organizers decided to hold the Leaders’ Meeting in Manila “to give in to the security concerns raised by the various governments.” These security concerns surprised us because we never thought that security was ever a problem inside Clark Freeport. What if it existed in Metro Manila, could it easily be contained? Aside from not seeing our usual traffic jams, we would neither see our homeless poor loitering, begging and sleeping along Roxas Boulevard. That is, if PNoy’s bureaucrats succeed in concealing them from view of the delegates. The media—newspapers, radio and television—might cooperate and keep to a minimum level their criticisms against PNoy’s government in addressing our day-to-day problems, but the militant progressive blocs could even intensify their protests. Unknown to most of us, the official preparations for these Apec activities started three years ago. Without admitting our high poverty incidence, our national organizing committee was able to make “Building inclusive economies, Building a better world” as this year’s theme. At the domestic or national level, “the inclusive growth strategy of each member-economy is to create employment opportunities and jobs, integrate the majority of the population into the economic and social mainstream, and alleviate poverty through good governance and domestic reform.” To PNoy’s economic team, these are familiar words that merely rephrased the National Economic and Development Authority’s description of Philippine Development Plan 2011-2016 as a “framework of inclusive growth, which is high growth that is sustained, generates mass employment, and reduces poverty.” The choice of this theme should enable us to learn more about how other Apec member economies have addressed their poverty problems, and not as an invitation to brag about our insignificant achievements concerning inclusive growth. READ MORE...

ALSO: ‘APEC in Manila a success, in experience and outcome’


NOVEMBER 21 -APEC 2015 chairman President Benigno S. Aquino III joins fellow world leaders - Despite public inconvenience, the Aquino administration yesterday declared the Philippines’ yearlong hosting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit a success. Officials also praised the government’s handling of the week-long APEC Economic Leaders’ Meetings in Manila that capped the country’s hosting of the annual gathering. “It was a success experience-wise, content-wise and outcome-wise,” Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima told The STAR. Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said the country’s hosting of the 21-member bloc meetings was an achievement that put the Philippines back in the global limelight. “Just hosting an APEC is an achievement enough: it’s a collective endorsement by APEC members of the stellar performance of the Philippines,” Abad said. “But hosting it successfully as the Aquino administration just did further raises the stature of the country before the global development arena,” he added. Marciano Paynor Jr., chairman of the APEC 2015 National Organizing Committee (NOC), said the nearly P10-billion budget for the event may not have been completely used, thanks to good weather. “From a logistics perspective, we were within budget. I believe we may even have savings,” Parayno said, without citing data. “Part of the budget was for contingencies in (case of) weather-related issues,” he pointed out. According to data from the Department of Budget and Management, a total of P9.885 billion was allotted for the APEC meetings, but only P7.913 billion was spent this year. The remaining amount of more than P2 billion was shelled out from 2010 to 2013 as the country’s contribution to APEC. The budget was sourced from the Office of the President and the Department of Foreign Affairs. For his part, Guillermo Luz, co-chair of the APEC 2015 NOC, said the Philippines accomplished its objectives in hosting the gathering, both from a “substantive and hosting point of view.” This year’s APEC meetings marked the first time in almost two decades the Philippines served as host to the trade and economic group. The previous meetings were held in 1996 under the Ramos administration. For security reasons during this week’s Economic Leaders’ Meetings, Malacañang banned private vehicles from plying Roxas Boulevard where the gathering was being held, and also reserved parts of EDSA as “APEC lanes.” Despite the week being mostly a holiday, heavy traffic persisted on major highways such as EDSA, causing public inconvenience. Paynor said there needs to be a change in public mindset. “There are always three sides to a coin: heads, tails and the thin side. Let’s always look at things positively, not negatively. And let’s not forget the thin side because more often than not, that’s where out-of-the-box solutions come from,” Paynor pointed out. Palace refutes critics The Aquino administration yesterday refuted the claim of critics that the Philippines actually incurred losses in hosting the APEC summit, saying the economy grew after holding the regional economic forum. Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said that the country’s gross domestic product before APEC stood at $3 trillion but has since “more than doubled.” “Pre-APEC trade is $3 trillion, now it’s $21 trillion. It grew seven times,” Coloma quoted Purisima as saying. He said exports increased by more than 15 times because of APEC. Purisima said the Aquino administration has now prepared itself to open the local economy to foreigners since over 90 percent of the country’s economic activity is open to foreigners. “We’ve been upgraded 22 times in the last five years. Upgrades affect the entire economy,” Purisima said, adding that the Philippines’ largest trading partners are still the US, Japan and China. “We can cooperate with other APEC members for technical resource training, etc. The beauty of APEC is it gives us voice in important fora. Eight members of APEC are G20 members,” Purisima pointed out. “APEC is an opportunity to showcase why good governance is important for sound economy,” he added. Coloma downplayed the losses that detractors have been harping about. READ MORE...

ALSO: EDITORIAL - A lost investment; P5-Billion hospital PPP contract scrapped


NOVEMBER 22 -As this year’s host of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, the government presented the country as an attractive place for doing business. On the eve of the summit, however, its flagship private-public partnership program delivered a different message.
Megawide World Citi Consortium Inc., a subsidiary of listed builder Megawide Construction Corp., announced it had scrapped its contract with the government to modernize the Philippine Orthopedic Center. The P5.69-billion build-operate-transfer project, awarded by the Department of Health to Megawide in December 2013, was supposed to be completed in 2017. Megawide secured loans from three government banks earlier this year to finance the PPP project, which would give it a 25-year concession to run the renovated hospital. The project would use land owned by the National Kidney and Transplant Institute. Explaining its termination of the deal, Megawide cited the delay in the award by the DOH of the certificate of possession. The DOH explained that it had failed to persuade the NKTI management, where the health secretary chairs the board, to allow the use of its land for the project. Pulling out of a contract with the government is not done lightly. The costs for project studies alone can be considerable. Some investors have complained that the government has been unwilling to shoulder the cost of the preliminary spadework for proposed PPP projects. Even worse, there are complaints that the government is remiss in doing its part – such as securing right-of-way agreements and awarding certificates of possession – once a project has been awarded. READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

Longest road trip of my life: 8 hours to work


A view of the South Luzon INQUIRER file photo IT Thousands of commuters from Cavite province are forced to walk from Coastal Road to get to their place of work and other destinations. Since Monday, authorities have barred most vehicles from entering Roxas Boulevard, a short distance from the Philippine International Convention Center, venue of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Leaders’ Meeting. NIÑO JESUS ORBETA INQUIRER file photo IT

MANILA, NOVEMBER 23, 2015 (INQUIRER) By: Mary Ann A. Perido @inquirerdotnet Assistant Head, Editorial Production Systems 01:29 AM November 18th, 2015 -IT WAS a usual manic Monday. I had no idea that the longest road trip of my life was about to begin.

Two years ago, I took a plane ride to Ilocos province in lieu of the eight-hour land trip to Laoag City because I hate long rides. On Monday, I found myself caught in a situation I had managed to evade in 2013—in a hellhole that is Metro Manila.

It usually takes a three-hour bus ride from my hometown in Indang, Cavite province, to my workplace in the Inquirer on Chino Roces Avenue in Makati City. But Monday proved to be an exception. It took me eight hours on the road—riding four jeepneys, three pedicabs, a train, bus and taxi—and thrice my usual one-way fare to get to work.

Stranded passengers

I was waiting around 1 p.m. for an Ayala Avenue-bound bus in front of Robinsons Pala-Pala on Aguinaldo Highway in Dasmariñas, Cavite, when I learned that Cavite buses were barred from entering Coastal Road until Friday due to the ongoing Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) meetings.

According to the bus driver, the farthest drop-off point was at Longos in Bacoor town, the only recourse for passengers taking public rides. But when I got to Longos, there were no jeepneys nor buses plying the Baclaran route. Other stranded passengers were taking the pedicab to Zapote Road, and I wound up sharing one with another passenger.

“It’s P20 each, just past the bridge,” the pedicab driver said in Filipino.

It was a swift seven-minute ride to Zapote and I was looking forward to catching a bus from Alabang going to Buendia. But no bus was in sight; only crowded jeepneys with a “Kabihasnan” signboard, indicating a Parañaque City destination. I saw a few jeepneys headed straight to Baclaran but they were full as well. If I took a jeepney bound for Kabihasnan, I thought, I could then take a ride toward Baclaran.

I grabbed a bite at Jollibee-Zapote, used the restroom and bought bottled water to prepare myself for what looked like a long, exhausting trip ahead.

I was contemplating my travel game plan when I noticed a stranded mother nursing her 3-month-old infant. She said she was also from Cavite.

“I will just go back home. I already texted my husband,” she said in Filipino.

The man on my right was on his cell phone, most likely talking to a coworker.

“Please tell Ma’am Nanette that I can’t make it. Sorry, but I’ve waited (for a ride) long enough,” he said, sounding defeated.

READ MORE...

Damn good fight

But going back home to Indang was never an option for me. I had traveled this far so moving forward was the only way to go. Plus it’s Apec week and there’s much work to be done at the office. If this were a battle, I wasn’t giving up without a damn good fight.

I walked a few blocks toward Zapote Road Skyway where I finally found a Parañaque-bound jeepney.

Throughout my Kabihasnan ride, I was texting my younger sister Michelle, who lives with her husband in Las Piñas City, for directions. Her last reply to me warned against cell-phone thieves teeming in the area. But I was using my cheap but trusty dual SIM Nokia phone, my iPhone safely tucked inside my other bag.

At the drop-off point in Kabihasnan, all Baclaran-bound jeepneys turned out to be full. It was already 3 p.m. and the heat was killing me.

I had to wrestle my way inside a jeepney bound for Baclaran. I overheard a burly man advising a student to take the LRT or MRT upon reaching Baclaran. I thought it was a good idea. By taking the LRT 1 to Gil Puyat station, I could ride a jeepney to Chino Roces Avenue.

Enterprising

But the roads were choked and the jeepney was moving at a snail’s pace. Fellow passengers had started getting off, opting to walk instead toward the train station. The waiting was too much to bear.

I joined the crowd and walked on Quirino Street until my feet hurt. Enterprising men were offering motorbike and pedicab rides at P50 a head. I haggled and rode a pedicab to the Baclaran LRT 1 station for P30.

“You’re striking it rich today, huh?,” I told Tom Ilustracion, the pedicab driver.

“Yes, ma’am. I was supposed to ply Roxas Boulevard, but it’s closed,” he said.

It was past 5 p.m. when I reached the LRT 1 station in Baclaran. I paid P16 for a single trip to the Gil Puyat station which was also teeming with passengers. I was hoping to get on a PRC-bound jeepney which goes past our office, but the drivers weren’t plying that route.

“Buendia is closed,” they said. I stood on Buendia Avenue along with other stranded passengers, waiting for an Ayala-bound bus, a jeepney or a cab.

I waited some 30 minutes before going inside a fast-food outlet to use my smartphone and call a GrabTaxi cab. But no Grab driver showed up even after an hour of waiting.

My stomach was grumbling, my legs were aching, I was tired and couldn’t take another step. Then I had a bright idea.

Only P100 left

I hailed a pedicab and asked the driver to take me to the Cash & Carry Mall on Filmore Street near Osmeña Highway. I paid him P40, which left me with only P100 in my wallet. I joined the queue at the taxi lane, my last resort.

The long queue at the taxi lane was expected, but I lined up anyway while trying the GrabTaxi app once more. I waited for an hour, while my phone battery run dangerously low. Just as my turn came at the taxi lane, a GrabTaxi driver on Osmeña Highway picked up my request.

I heaved a sigh of relief. After eight agonizing hours and poorer by P296, in what was probably the longest day of my life, I made it to the office at 7:51 p.m. What a helluva ride!


PHILSTAR

Aquino trumpets Phl growth in APEC leaders' retreat By Louis Bacani (philstar.com) | Updated November 19, 2015 - 1:14pm 2 223 googleplus0 0


Leaders start the opening plenary session at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in Manila, Philippines, Thursday, Nov. 19, 2015. AP/Noel Celis/Pool Photo

MANILA, Philippines - President Benigno Aquino III on Thursday opened the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders' retreat by trumpeting the country's economic achievements under his watch.

The 20 visiting leaders of the APEC member economies gathered at the Philippine International Convention Center where Aquino delivered the opening remarks.

In his speech, Aquino said the APEC hosting presents a chance for the Philippines to showcase the results of reform.

"These past five years, the Philippines has experienced strong economic growth, our fastest in nearly four decades, thanks to good governance and critical structural reforms throughout our bureacracy allied with the support and commitment of the public at large," Aquino said.

"Furthermore, we are proud of our growth not just for growth's sake but the Philippines has set aside trickle down economics and has chosen to invest in our people so that our growth is felt by each and every citizen," he added.

Aquino cited the government's Conditional Cash Transfer Program, employment training scholarships and universal health care.

He said these initiatives have "helped people regain control of their own destinies."

Aquino reminded his fellow heads of state that the theme of this year's APEC meetings is inclusive growth.

He said the APEC meetings have a "people-centered agenda that embraces all segments of society as invaluable participants in a growth that is holistic, creates jobs, sends children to school, puts food on the table, raises standards of living, protects the environment, fosters creativity and innovation and levels the playing field."

READ MORE...

"In short, growth that balances the pressing needs of the present with our shared mission of living beyond the region and a world that is better than what we found," he said.

Aquino hoped that the APEC summit "will become an incubator for ideas that improve our regions' prospects for the future."

The 21 APEC leaders will conclude their retreat on Thursday afternoon.

They are expected to issue a declaration that denounces terrorism and vows united efforts to combat its root causes such as poverty.

"Economic growth, prosperity, and opportunity are among the most powerful tools to address the root causes of terrorism and radicalization. We stress the urgent need for increased international cooperation and solidarity in the fight against terrorism," the leaders said in the draft declaration seen by the Associated Press.

"We are mindful that despite the unprecedented economic growth that has lifted millions of people out of poverty, it continues to be a reality for millions of others in our region. We call for more intensive efforts for its reduction and eradication. We also acknowledge that inequality acts as a brake on economic growth and that reducing it is essential to spurring development and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific," the draft resolution read.


MANILA STANDARD

At APEC, Aquino blames Arroyo posted November 17, 2015 at 12:01 am by Sandy Araneta



SPEAKING to world business leaders at the Apec CEO Summit Monday, President Benigno Aquino III again blamed detained former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo for the poverty that prevails in the Philippines, referring to her term as the “lost decade.”

“When one thinks about it, it is quite sad. If 10 years ago my predecessor had done what we’re doing now, I can only imagine where the Philippines would be,” Aquino told delegates at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation CEO Summit.

In his speech, Aquino pointed to his administration’s efforts to fight corruption, including the hospital arrest of Mrs. Arroyo and three opposition senators on plunder charges and the ouster by impeachment of former Chief Justice Renato Corona.

Bedlam.

The traffic was bumper to bumper on Edsa on Tuesday due to the closure of two lanes for the use of Apec VIPs. Inset, President Benigno Aquino III delivers a speech at Makati Shangri-La Hotel during a State Luncheon for the Apec delegates. Lino Santos and Malacañang Photo Bureau
“We plugged leaks throughout the bureaucracy, and we did not shy away from confronting the most complex and crippling problem of our nation, namely, corruption,” Aquino said.

“Over the last five years, we cracked down on all those proven to have engaged in wrongdoing. Now, a former President is under hospital arrest after being charged with plunder. The former chief justice who had no compunctions about being selective about implementing the law was removed through impeachment, after it was revealed that he violated our laws by failing to declare over 98 percent of his assets as mandated by our Constitution.”

Aquino also played up the 1986 People Power revolt that toppled the regime of President Ferdinand Marcos and installed his mother, Corazon Aquino, in his place.

“In 1986, millions of our people gathered in Edsa—our capital city’s most prominent avenue—and other cities throughout the nation to overthrow a dictator, who had for too long subjected our country to his tyranny and oppression. People armed only with rosaries, good intentions, and belief in their countrymen stood up to tanks, artillery, and planes. This was the miracle of Edsa, which made possible that which was impossible, and returned democracy through People Power. After 14 years of Martial Law, our people were successful in lifting my mother into the presidency to lead the rebuilding of our nation,” said Aquino.

Aquino also recalled the words of his father while their family was in exile during the Martial Law years.

“I will never forget one particular instance, when my family was in exile in Boston, and I asked my father: ‘If we are in the right, why are we the ones in exile?’ He responded with a question of his own: ‘How can those who cannot even eat, think of concepts such as freedom and dignity? The first freedom is the freedom from hunger.’ That is the first that has to be won,” said Aquino.

Aquino told the business leaders he shared his father’s words because the focus of the meetings in days to come—Apec’s Inclusive Growth Imperative—was “deeply personal” to him.

READ MORE...

“We will have important conversations about how we can free our people from the oppression of poverty, and how to empower them to take part in sustainable economic growth. Today, perhaps I can tell you about the Philippine story: what we have done to achieve large-scale transformation,” he said.

Aquino recalled in a meeting with his Cabinet in which they discussed why the poverty rate hardly moved over the last 10 years—or what he sometimes refers to as the “lost decade.”

He said the numbers were alarming. Income growth was low, and inequality was at incredibly high levels, in terms of access to employment and social development opportunities, particularly in health, education, and social protection. All this, despite relatively consistent economic growth.

“We resolved that this sort of trickle down economics was not the way forward, and that the only real growth is that which is felt by the many. Thus, inclusive growth became the north star of our national policy—growth that truly helps each and every Filipino lift themselves up from poverty, and play a meaningful role in continuing our country’s growth story,” he said.

The President’s claims about reducing poverty come amid a recent survey by the Social Weather Stations that the incidence of hunger had worsened to 15.7 percent of the population, with 3.5 million families experiencing hunger at least once in the last three months.

To make the most of scarce resources, the government turned to “bottom-up budgeting,” Aquino said.

“We reached out to communities, believing that they, more than anyone else, know their own needs. We took advantage of technology to implement mechanisms to aid in transparency and accountability, through websites.... These gave our citizens greater power to monitor our budget, and also to report individuals suspected of wrongdoing,” he said.

Aquino said his administration had also increased the budget for infrastructure, from 1.83 percent of gross domestic product in 2010 to 4.1 percent of GDP this year, with a target of 5 percent by 2016.

“Indeed, our entire growth strategy hinges on the idea of empowerment. Empowered citizens, after all, are empowered consumers, whose income will go to the goods and services produced by companies. The end result: Instead of having many big fish in a very small pond, we are moving our economic ecosystem into a bigger pond, where everybody can grow and reach their full potential,” Aquino said.

In an earlier interview with the Apec secretariat, Aquino said global climate change was at the top of his agenda during the Apec summit.

“We’re trying to get away from the cycle of a destruction brought about by typhoons and reconstruction that doesn’t change anything. We get visited by 20 typhoons a year. So, [we need to] stop the pattern of destruction-reconstruction, destruction again, reconstruction again. Let’s build back the communities better,” he said.


MANILA STANDARD

Bragging instead of learning posted November 13, 2015 at 12:01 am by Horace Templo



By Monday, our hosting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Leaders’ Meeting in Metro Manila would become very obvious—not because we would be seeing in person the superstar world leaders of the 21 Apec economies—but because we would be experiencing more orderly traffic conditions in the metropolis.

Throughout Metro Manila, PNoy closed all government offices and schools from Tuesday until Friday, and private sector companies on Wednesday and Thursday. He also banned trucks on major roads, and allowed only a few airplanes to fly in our skies by canceling a thousand local and international flights.


by Horace Templo

For a country like ours where more than half of the population is poor, such hosting is very expensive. These closures, bans and cancellations, however, are not much to fuss about when compared to what the dragon Chinese government did when it hosted the Apec meetings last year in Beijing.

To spare the delegates from inhaling its usual Beijing smog, it limited the number of running vehicles by employing the odd-even scheme in plate numbers, suspended industrial factories that emit pollutants in the air, and halted work at construction sites that create dusts. It even banned outdoor barbecues.

We remember that when we hosted the Apec meetings in 1996, nobody’s daily routines were disrupted. Then President Fidel Ramos simply held the Leaders’ Meeting inside the Subic Freeport.

In fact, he also suggested that we use for this year’s venue the nearby Clark Freeport.

Because of its proximity to Metro Manila, the embassies of the Apec countries could easily support their delegations with little disruption and greater efficiency.

But beyond the disruptive effects, his suggestion was justified for valid reasons.

It would highlight the Clark Freeport/Airport and Subic Freeport/Seaport as our most dynamic economic platform; accelerate the completion of the NLEX-SLEX cross-corridors and the North Rail system; and open up new areas in Central Luzon for job-generation, livelihood, agro-industry, etc.

But Metro Manila was chosen instead because it is the only place that can accommodate the 10,000 delegates who are expected to attend during that week.

Moreover, we also heard that organizers decided to hold the Leaders’ Meeting in Manila “to give in to the security concerns raised by the various governments.”

These security concerns surprised us because we never thought that security was ever a problem inside Clark Freeport. What if it existed in Metro Manila, could it easily be contained?

Aside from not seeing our usual traffic jams, we would neither see our homeless poor loitering, begging and sleeping along Roxas Boulevard. That is, if PNoy’s bureaucrats succeed in concealing them from view of the delegates.

The media—newspapers, radio and television—might cooperate and keep to a minimum level their criticisms against PNoy’s government in addressing our day-to-day problems, but the militant progressive blocs could even intensify their protests.

Unknown to most of us, the official preparations for these Apec activities started three years ago.

Without admitting our high poverty incidence, our national organizing committee was able to make “Building inclusive economies, Building a better world” as this year’s theme.

At the domestic or national level, “the inclusive growth strategy of each member-economy is to create employment opportunities and jobs, integrate the majority of the population into the economic and social mainstream, and alleviate poverty through good governance and domestic reform.”

To PNoy’s economic team, these are familiar words that merely rephrased the National Economic and Development Authority’s description of Philippine Development Plan 2011-2016 as a “framework of inclusive growth, which is high growth that is sustained, generates mass employment, and reduces poverty.”

The choice of this theme should enable us to learn more about how other Apec member economies have addressed their poverty problems, and not as an invitation to brag about our insignificant achievements concerning inclusive growth.

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After all, the other Apec economies—which account for 40 percent of the world’s population, 54 percent of world GDP, and 47 percent of world trade —have almost eradicated their peoples’ poverty.

Our economy might have grown impressively in terms of its recent gross domestic products, but this is a type of growth that has neither generated mass employment nor reduced poverty.

The best that the President could do for our poor, it seems, is to hide them away in a sea resort for a week as what his social welfare secretary did when Pope Francis visited us early this year.

PNoy can’t brag about our conditional cash transfer program to poor families that doles out a maximum of P1,400 per month, monthly social pension to indigent senior citizens of P500, or about our social security pensions that average P3,169.

Instead, he should learn from the other Apec leaders how they are implementing these programs.

What if—in the week of the Apec Leaders’ Meeting—PNoy signs into law the P2,000 pension increase? That would be bragging of which he must support with a systematic increase in contributions.

And what if—in that same week—he also lowers the income tax rates? That would be super bragging of which we wouldn’t mind.


PHILSTAR

‘APEC in Manila a success, in experience and outcome’ By Prinz Magtulis (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 21, 2015 - 12:00am 0 2 googleplus0 0


APEC 2015 chairman President Benigno S. Aquino III joins fellow world leaders, namely, (L-R) (front row) Republic of Chile President Michelle Bachelet; Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau; Brunei Darussalam Prime Minister Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah; Commonwealth of Australia Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull; People's Republic of China President Xi Jinping; Republic of Peru President Ollanta Humala; Socialist Republic of Vietnam President Truong Tan Sang; United States of America President Barack Obama; Kingdom of Thailand Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-Cha; and Chinese Taipei former Vice President Vincent Siew. (back row) Hong Kong, China Chief Executive CY Leung; Republic of Indonesia Vice President Jusuf Kalla; Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe; Republic of Korea President Park Geun-hye; Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak; United Mexican States President Enrique Peña Nieto; New Zealand Prime Minister John Key; Independent State of Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O'Neill; Russian Federation Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev; and Republic of Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, for the traditional Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders’ Meeting (AELM) Family Photo at the Main Lobby of the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC), Cultural Center of the Philippines complex in Pasay City on Thursday (November 19, 2015). Working with this year’s theme: “Building Inclusive Economies, Building a Better World.” (Photo by Robert Viñas / Malacañang Photo Bureau)

MANILA, Philippines - Despite public inconvenience, the Aquino administration yesterday declared the Philippines’ yearlong hosting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit a success.

Officials also praised the government’s handling of the week-long APEC Economic Leaders’ Meetings in Manila that capped the country’s hosting of the annual gathering.

“It was a success experience-wise, content-wise and outcome-wise,” Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima told The STAR.

Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said the country’s hosting of the 21-member bloc meetings was an achievement that put the Philippines back in the global limelight.

“Just hosting an APEC is an achievement enough: it’s a collective endorsement by APEC members of the stellar performance of the Philippines,” Abad said.

“But hosting it successfully as the Aquino administration just did further raises the stature of the country before the global development arena,” he added.

Marciano Paynor Jr., chairman of the APEC 2015 National Organizing Committee (NOC), said the nearly P10-billion budget for the event may not have been completely used, thanks to good weather.


PAYNOR

“From a logistics perspective, we were within budget. I believe we may even have savings,” Parayno said, without citing data.

“Part of the budget was for contingencies in (case of) weather-related issues,” he pointed out.

According to data from the Department of Budget and Management, a total of P9.885 billion was allotted for the APEC meetings, but only P7.913 billion was spent this year.

The remaining amount of more than P2 billion was shelled out from 2010 to 2013 as the country’s contribution to APEC. The budget was sourced from the Office of the President and the Department of Foreign Affairs.

For his part, Guillermo Luz, co-chair of the APEC 2015 NOC, said the Philippines accomplished its objectives in hosting the gathering, both from a “substantive and hosting point of view.”

This year’s APEC meetings marked the first time in almost two decades the Philippines served as host to the trade and economic group. The previous meetings were held in 1996 under the Ramos administration.

For security reasons during this week’s Economic Leaders’ Meetings, Malacañang banned private vehicles from plying Roxas Boulevard where the gathering was being held, and also reserved parts of EDSA as “APEC lanes.”

Despite the week being mostly a holiday, heavy traffic persisted on major highways such as EDSA, causing public inconvenience. Paynor said there needs to be a change in public mindset.

“There are always three sides to a coin: heads, tails and the thin side. Let’s always look at things positively, not negatively. And let’s not forget the thin side because more often than not, that’s where out-of-the-box solutions come from,” Paynor pointed out.

Palace refutes critics The Aquino administration yesterday refuted the claim of critics that the Philippines actually incurred losses in hosting the APEC summit, saying the economy grew after holding the regional economic forum.


COLOMA

Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said that the country’s gross domestic product before APEC stood at $3 trillion but has since “more than doubled.”

“Pre-APEC trade is $3 trillion, now it’s $21 trillion. It grew seven times,” Coloma quoted Purisima as saying.

He said exports increased by more than 15 times because of APEC.

Purisima said the Aquino administration has now prepared itself to open the local economy to foreigners since over 90 percent of the country’s economic activity is open to foreigners.

“We’ve been upgraded 22 times in the last five years. Upgrades affect the entire economy,” Purisima said, adding that the Philippines’ largest trading partners are still the US, Japan and China.

“We can cooperate with other APEC members for technical resource training, etc. The beauty of APEC is it gives us voice in important fora. Eight members of APEC are G20 members,” Purisima pointed out.


PURISIMA

“APEC is an opportunity to showcase why good governance is important for sound economy,” he added.

Coloma downplayed the losses that detractors have been harping about.

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“Looking at the big picture, losses incurred this week will be recovered eventually in terms of continuing and sustained growth and development of the Philippine economy as a favored investment and tourism destination,” he stressed.

“Good governance requires that decisions are based on what would be beneficial for the country and what would best serve our people’s long-term interest,” Coloma explained.

“We acknowledge that there will be differences in viewpoints and we are willing to engage all stakeholders in meaningful dialogue as well as consider suggestions for improvement. Reasonable criticism is always welcome in a healthy democracy,” Coloma said.

The departure of APEC leaders started yesterday with the plane of Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau taking off from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) at 8:30 a.m.

The Canadian prime minister was later followed by leaders of Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Taipei, South Korea, New Zealand, Russia and Japan.

US President Barack Obama, on board the blue and white Air Force One B747, left at 12:17 p.m. bound for Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to attend the two-day Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit.

President Aquino also left yesterday afternoon to attend the ASEAN summit.

Pasig City Rep. Roman Romulo urged the government yesterday to harness the APEC summit to advance human capital development so Filipinos could compete against their peers in the international labor market.

“APEC should be harnessed as an opportunity for human capital development, particularly through agreements covering training and technology,” he said, as 21 APEC leaders ended their annual summit here.

“The most important thing for us is to have a mindset of looking out for favorable human capital development opportunities for the Filipino worker, professional and entrepreneur,” he said.

He said the next administration should pursue the recommendations made during the APEC high-level policy dialogue on science and technology in higher education held in Manila last August.

He added that among the recommendations were: encourage implementation of mobility of science, technology and innovation experts; and advance cross-border education and inter-university collaboration on science and technology.

Romulo chairs the committee on higher and technical education of the House of Representatives. - With Rudy Santos, Jess Diaz


PHILSTAR EDITORIAL

EDITORIAL - A lost investment (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 22, 2015 - 12:00am 2 8 googleplus0 0

As this year’s host of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, the government presented the country as an attractive place for doing business. On the eve of the summit, however, its flagship private-public partnership program delivered a different message.

Megawide World Citi Consortium Inc., a subsidiary of listed builder Megawide Construction Corp., announced it had scrapped its contract with the government to modernize the Philippine Orthopedic Center.

The P5.69-billion build-operate-transfer project, awarded by the Department of Health to Megawide in December 2013, was supposed to be completed in 2017. Megawide secured loans from three government banks earlier this year to finance the PPP project, which would give it a 25-year concession to run the renovated hospital. The project would use land owned by the National Kidney and Transplant Institute.

Explaining its termination of the deal, Megawide cited the delay in the award by the DOH of the certificate of possession. The DOH explained that it had failed to persuade the NKTI management, where the health secretary chairs the board, to allow the use of its land for the project.

Pulling out of a contract with the government is not done lightly. The costs for project studies alone can be considerable. Some investors have complained that the government has been unwilling to shoulder the cost of the preliminary spadework for proposed PPP projects. Even worse, there are complaints that the government is remiss in doing its part – such as securing right-of-way agreements and awarding certificates of possession – once a project has been awarded.

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The government has been blamed for the lackluster response to the PPP program. The experience of PPP participants can only further dampen investor interest. The first PPP project – the P2-billion, four-kilometer Daang Hari-SLEX link road, renamed the Muntinlupa-Cavite Expressway – was awarded in December 2011 but opened only this year, delayed by right-of-way and interconnection problems.

Responding to criticism, the administration has touted recent awards of PPP projects. As the Megawide deal showed, however, it’s a long way from the award of a project to its implementation.

Megawide says it remains interested in participating in PPP projects, but investors inevitably will consider the fate of its hospital venture.

If the government wants to encourage more PPP projects, it must reassure investors that the hospital deal is the exception rather than the rule in doing business in this country.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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