20 May 2015

APEC News Releases

Official hopes APEC talks would replicate Boracay Island’s success story
(BORACAY ISLAND, Aklan) Chair of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation 2015 Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM), Laura del Rosario, said she hopes the ongoing APEC discussions would open up new frontiers in the region for the benefit of its people, much like Boracay Island’s humble beginnings.

During the opening of the SOM2 at Shangri-La’s Boracay Resort here, del Rosario shared a story on how Boracay got its name and how it began its transformation into a major tourist attraction.

The island’s development, she said, started from the vision of an enterprising couple, Lamberto and Sofia Tirol, who settled in the northern part of the island.

The Tirol couple, regarded as the pioneer of the island, relocated to Boracay to plant coconut, corn and tobacco, as well as raise goats.

Still nameless at that time, the island got its name when one day, Lamberto was looking seaward and noticed a formation of small bubbles as the waves washed ashore.

He called his wife, saying “Akay, anggud ka bora.”

“Bora” in the local language means bubbles and “akay” is a term of endearment. The natives overheard the conversation and started calling the island Boracay, del Rosario related.

“But more than just giving the island a name, the couple’s decision to settle in the island and till the land for livelihood and stimulate development started a chain of events that would change the landscape of the island and set it on a course toward being the tourist destination it is today,” she noted.

Later on, economic activities in the island gradually diversified from rice farming, goat raising and other activities into tourism. By the 1980s, Boracay was already beginning to become a popular destination for tourists who wanted a quiet vacation.

The advancement in connectivity and the rise of the Internet however got in the way, she said.

By the 1990s, Boracay’s beaches came to be known as among the best in the world.

Since then, Boracay has become a leading tourist spot and home to tourism-related enterprises of different scales.

“So you see, my dear colleagues, the island was borne out of the industry of the people and entrepreneurial spirit delivering, rendering services, willing to take chances,” del Rosario told the APEC delegates.

“This is the same spirit that thrives in the works of APEC to open the highways to new frontiers and address next generations’ issues with a forward-looking approach to economic policy.”

She said current APEC discussions fearlessly tackle issues that would help uplift the lives of ordinary people.

Participants see economic growth through the lens of inclusiveness and give primary emphasis on the varying nature of the Asia-Pacific region and promote cooperation, not only in trade and business facilitation but also on issues that affect the common people, she explained.

Also in the discussion agenda are connectivity and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs). The aim, according to del Rosario, is to build a human system that focuses on sound economic policies, which are truly inclusive and empowered.

“We want our children and future generation to be educated and equipped with the knowledge and skills that will sustain them through the changing economic and technological landscape long after we are gone,” she said.

“We want to fully harness the advancement in technology to our advantage and improve the quality of life that our people have. We want technology to sustain our way of life rather than extinguish the resources, which our very sustenance depends on.”

The discussions also call for good governance and good regulatory regimes embedded in the economic ecosystem, she added.

In conclusion, del Rosario said she hopes the APEC delegates would find time to enjoy what Boracay Island has to offer and realize that it is indeed more fun in the Philippines. PND (as)

Palace on order to arrest 14 linked to Vice President: It’s not politics but application of Senate rules
The Palace on Wednesday denied that the administration had a hand in the order to arrest 14 people associated with Vice President Jejomar Binay, arguing that it was the result of their failure to appear before the Senate.

“It’s not about politics. It’s about the application of the rules in the Senate,” Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said when asked to comment on the accusation made by the Vice President’s camp that the administration was behind the Senate’s arrest order.

“There are rules within the Senate that they have to follow. The arrest order is a logical consequence of the failure to explain and failure to appear before the Senate body,” Lacierda said.

The Senate on Tuesday sought the arrest and detention of 14 people for their repeated refusal to appear before the Senate committee investigating “questionable transactions” related to government projects allegedly involving Vice President Binay and Makati Mayor Junjun Binay.

Lacierda further noted that those who showed up when they were summoned by the Senate committee were not served a warrant of arrest.

“For instance, you did not see Mr. Bobby Ongpin being issued a warrant of arrest because he showed up. You didn’t see Mr. (Mario) Oreta being issued a warrant of arrest because he showed up,” he pointed out.

“There is an application of the rules of the Senate that those who fail to appear were given a warrant of arrest and those who showed up and explained themselves were not issued a warrant of arrest. It’s as simple as that,” he added.

Businessmen Roberto Ongpin and Mario Oreta, owner and president of Alphaland Corporation, respectively, have appeared before the Senate to deny accusations made by former Makati Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado that Vice President Binay received millions of pesos from a land deal between the Boy Scouts of the Philippines and Alphaland. PND (ag)

APEC working on policy and regulatory environment for internet economy
(BORACAY ISLAND, Aklan) Member economies of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) are working to provide an enabling policy and regulatory environment to support efforts to realize economic and social benefits offered by connectivity crucial to achieving inclusive growth.

They also intend to accelerate investments in Internet infrastructure, recognizing the increasing importance of the Internet economy in providing jobs and opportunities across the Asia-Pacific region.

Ambassador Laura del Rosario, who chairs the APEC 2015 Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM), said on Wednesday that no business sector or segment of society will be “untouched” by the power and potential of connectivity.

“Connectivity, through the Internet economy, will help bring SMEs (small and medium enterprises) to market, improve education and health services delivery, link small farmers to large markets, and change the way we design, create and consume products and services, among others,” she said.

The majority of global Internet users already reside in the region and that the number is growing, indicating the importance of the Internet economy to the Asia-Pacific region.

However, as economies mobilize to deal with the policy framework for managing this phenomenon, the lack of common legal and economic frameworks to support the free flow of information is slowing the diffusion of Internet technologies, innovation and opportunity across the region.

This imposes costs on businesses and especially on SMEs looking to expand their opportunities and break into overseas markets.

“We operate in six ASEAN economies and each has different regulations for third-party taxi booking applications like GrabTaxi. This means we have to do business one way in one market and another way in others, which disrupts scalability and the social impact we are trying to make,” said Nina Teng, Vice President of Public Affairs for GrabTaxi.

Teng called on regional economies to collaborate with one another and with companies on developing new regulations for the Internet economy.

For his part, Eduardo Pedrosa, Secretary General of the Pacific Economic Cooperation Council (PECC), underscored the importance of collaborative efforts among innovators, regulators and policymakers.

“Things are moving so quickly if we rush to regulate, we might strangle the very innovations we want to promote,” he said.

Pedrosa said the PECC has been contributing to the APEC’s initiative on the Internet economy. The PECC is the only non-governmental official observer of APEC.

He said the international organization has established a task force composed of experts from business, the academe and the government to determine the issues APEC will be addressing through the Ad Hoc Steering committee. It will also provide some independent analysis of those issues and recommendations for actions. PNA (ldv)