News Release

Malacañan: President Duterte’s pivot to Asia already paying off

Newly-appointed Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. holds his first press briefing in Malacañan on November 2, 2017. He told the members of the media that he is vowed to fulfill President Rodrigo Roa Duterte's order to do what is best for the country and to tell the truth. VALERIE ESCALERA/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

President Rodrigo Duterte’s pivot to Asia has already been paying dividends especially after his successful trip to Japan recently, newly appointed Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said on Thursday, November 2.

In a press briefing in Malacañang, Roque described the President’s recent Japan trip as “very successful” as he came home with $6 billion worth of investments.

“We came home with 6 billion worth of investments; we came home with the promise to build a subway and I’m most excited about a subway because that’s really the solution to the traffic problem,” Roque said.

He added that the liquefied natural gas facility will be built in the south with the help of Japan, which will be a cheaper alternative energy source. Japan is also providing 40 patrol vessels that would improve the country’s maritime capability.

Roque underscored the agreed currency swap, which would make the Philippine peso convertible to the Japanese yen. This would largely benefit Filipinos working in Japan.

“So it was a hugely successful trip. Proof that the pivot to Asia has been paying off,” he added.

Roque also mentioned a new report by the World Bank regarding ease of doing business, as the Philippines dropped by 14 notches on its rank.

Although the country fell in the rankings, he said its scores have improved. The report compared the Philippines to a list of only about 30 countries and not all countries in general. If the country was compared with all other countries, there would have been an improvement, he said.

“Nonetheless, we will take this report very seriously and I think the President has shown a political will to get things done and I’m sure that this report will be a reason for us to further innovate and make sure that doing business in the Philippines will become easier,” the Palace spokesperson said.

Roque also welcomed the impending decision of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that would finally lift the temporary restraining order (TRO) on contraceptives, which has been preventing the full implementation of the Reproductive Health (RH) Law.

“As you know, the President is fully committed to enforcing the RH Law. Population management is important to economic growth. And with this development, I see no reason why the Supreme Court will continue with his temporary restraining order,” he said.

The new Palace spokesperson also discussed the recent attack by an ISIS-inspired individual in New York that killed several people, which he described as a global scourge.

“We, of course, express our condolence to the victims and we have advised the Filipinos in New York to inform the closest consulate if there are any Filipino casualties,” Roque said.

“But beyond that, you know, this attack proves that terrorism is really a worldwide problem. It’s also, I think, attributed to the same terrorist group that is responsible for Marawi,” he said.

The recent incident in New York proves that the issue of terrorism had ceased to be a domestic issue, he said, noting that there is a need for concerted action among states in dealing with the menace of modern day terrorism.

Roque then called on the public to be extra cautious and vigilant and immediately coordinate with the authorities if they observe suspicious acts or individuals, packages or anything possibly related to terrorism.

“Let’s be vigilant, let’s be observant, and let’s not hesitate to inform the authorities in case we believe there is a threat coming from anything or anyone,” he said.

Joining Roque Thursday was Executive Director Mitzi Cajayon-Uy of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Council for the Welfare of Children. This is in connection with the country’s celebration of the 25th National Children’s Month.

The annual program will be implemented by the Council for the Welfare of Children, Department of Social Welfare and Development, and the National Youth Commission Council.

Cajayon-Uy said one of the major activities is the launching of Pito, Bata, Pito, A Call For Help or C4H, an initiative of the Council for the Welfare of Children in partnership with the Rotary Club Pasay Cyber City on November 6.

It symbolizes the children’s call for support, help, and immediate response in times of threat or danger brought about the violence against children or any emergency situation. It is also a strategy to advocate and monitor the implementation of the Convention of the Rights of the Child in local level.

“The celebration of the NCM is just but one manifestation or where it is evident that responsive, collaborative, partnerships and linkages are at work,” Cajayon-Uy said.

The kick-off activity for the National Children’s Month celebration will be on November 6, at San Francisco High School at Misamis Street, Bagong Bantay, Quezon City. ###PND