October 29 2015


President Aquino graces 17th Asia Pacific Retailers Convention and Exhibition
President Benigno S. Aquino III on Thursday stressed the importance of Asia-Pacific economies working together to further boost the retail sector.Attending the opening of the 17th Asia Pacific Retailers Convention and Exhibition (APRCE) at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City, the President said he agrees with the convention’s theme, “Asia Fast Forward”, as it highlights the region’s growing strength as an economic community.

“The question of how we must make the most of the future is best answered by the theme of your conference: We have to fast forward. This is not only apt for your drive to realize the potential of the Asia Pacific Market; it is also apt for us Filipinos. Whether for your sector, or my countrymen, it is clear: Now that we have so many successes under our belt, now that we are realizing our aspirations, we cannot allow ourselves to backslide. This is the time to work even harder, and even more closely with one another, to build on what we have achieved,” the Chief Executive said.

In his speech, the President also mentioned how the government transformed the Philippines, which was known as “the Sick Man of Asia” before he took office, to “Asia’s New Darling” to attract more foreign investors.

“In spite of the challenges my administration faced, we were determined to succeed. Our job was to effect true transformation, and convince all stakeholders—from the common citizens to investors abroad—to partner with us to rebuild the country,” he said, noting that his government had to undertake drastic reform, utilizing many of the strategies that retailers employ.

There was a need to strengthen the system and reinvent the country’s entire image, he said.

“We plugged leaks and closed loopholes in processes, instituted transparency and accountability, went after the corrupt, and leveled the playing field. We invested, and continue to invest, massive resources into our greatest competitive advantage—the Filipino people,” he said.

The President further pointed out that by channeling funds into health, social services, education, and welfare, the Filipinos were empowered to take part in the growing industry and the economy at large.

These past few years, he added, the country has been conducting an aggressive marketing campaign “to tell everyone that the Philippines was once again open for business under new management”.

“Our campaign has been extremely successful. We did not only revamp our image, we also effected true change. The Philippines is now called Asia’s New Darling. Since 2010, we have climbed the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Rankings: When we started, we were at 85th; now, we are at 47th and we have every intention of being ranked even higher in the near future. Our GDP (gross domestic product) growth has been one of the region’s fastest, clocking in at a 6.2 percent average over the last five years. Last year, we broke our record for the largest ever net foreign direct investments,” President Aquino said.

This is the second time the Philippines is playing host to the APRCE. The first was 22 years ago.

“This is the best possible time for the Philippines to play host to this convention. I am told that the Asia Pacific continues to be the top destination for retail brands, with a market of billions. You will likewise be happy to know that recent reports give us so much reason to be optimistic for the Philippine retail industry,” he said.

The Chief Executive cited that in the Nielsen 2015 Second Quarter Global Consumer Confidence Report, the Philippines showed the biggest quarterly improvement in consumer confidence, rising seven points, and placing second only to India in terms of consumer confidence, in a survey of 60 markets.

The President further noted that the Philippine Retailers Association (PRA) has been working with the Department of Tourism to train micro-entrepreneurs in popular destinations around the Philippines in retail and tourism trends, through the Lakbay-Turo para sa Micro-Tourism Enterprise Program.

“This creates an atmosphere of cooperation and solidarity, in which each stakeholder is empowered by his fellowmen: to do greater things, to move, every day, a little bit closer to the realization of his dreams. Indeed, more professionalism on your part—the willingness to share best practices and knowledge—opens up so many opportunities for everyone involved. We see this also embodied in the Federation of Asia-Pacific Retailers Associations’ (FAPRA), and our very own PRA, which strives for collective success in an industry typically characterized by intense competition,” he said.

Some 1,500 international delegates and more than 1,000 local participants are expected to attend the biggest and most important retail industry event in the Asia-Pacific region.

Also present during the occasion were Trade and Industry Secretary Gregory Domingo, PRA President and Chief Operating Officer of Duty Free Philippines Lorenzo Formoso, PRA Overall Chairman Frederick Go, and FAPRA Chairman Melmet Nane.

The APRCE is the main activity of the FAPRA, which is composed of 17 retail groups from Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Philippines, China, Hongkong, Chinese Taipei, Japan, Korea, Australia, New Zealand, India, Mongolia, Fiji and Turkey.

The 17th APRCE features more than 30 international retail and brand experts led by Alan O’Neil, managing editor of Kara (Ireland); Kevin Kelley, principal and co-founder of Shook Kelley Design (USA); and Christopher Guillot, business development manager for the Asia Pacific at Fitch Design Pte. Ltd. (Singapore).

Held every two years, the APRCE has become Asia’s largest and longest-running retail convention and exhibition since it was first held in 1983.

According to the United Nations, the Asia-Pacific region accounts for 60 percent of the world’s population with an estimated 4 billion people, making it a top destination for global retail chains. Asia continues to serve as the main driver of retail growth in the world as the countries’ economies develop and grow robustly. PND (jm)

Election is not vindication, says Palace official
Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. on Thursday maintained that election into office does not vindicate the Marcoses from the atrocities committed during the Martial Law era.

The Palace official was reacting to a statement made by Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. that President Benigno S. Aquino III should move on from the Martial Law years instead of asking the Marcos family to apologize.

Senator Marcos’ mother, the former First Lady Imelda Marcos, represents Ilocos Norte’s Second District in the House of Representatives, while his sister, Imee, serves as governor of the province. The senator is running for vice president in the 2016 elections.

“President Aquino has said time and again that there can be no reconciliation without justice. While it may be easy to say, ‘Just move on,’ we believe that in so doing, we will not be doing justice to the thousands of families whose members suffered violence during the dictatorship,” Secretary Coloma told reporters during a press briefing in Malacañang.

“As noted by the President, the government has in effect offered an apology by creating a Human Rights Victims’ Claims Board to redress their grievances. As reported by the board, more than 75,000 claims have been received. Evidently, the claimants are not accepting the view that election means vindication,” he added.

He further said that the President believes in educating the Filipino youth who were born after the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution on the importance of the values of freedom and democracy.

President Aquino had earlier stated that the Marcos family should say sorry for the atrocities committed during Martial Law.

When asked to comment on Senator Marcos’ statement that President Aquino should apologize for the Mamasapano incident, Coloma said there is no need for it because the Chief Executive has already taken responsibility for the death of the 44 members of the Special Action Force.

“Matagal nang tinatalakay ang mga usaping iyan dahil makailang beses nagtalumpati sa bansa ang ating Pangulo at inilatag niya ang mga buong kaganapan hinggil sa nangyari sa Mamasapano. Inako ng Pangulo ang responsibilidad para dito at maaalala ninyo noong ika-anim ng Pebrero sinabi niya that ‘I will carry this with me till the end of my days’. At sa aming palagay ay sapat na ang mga naipahayag ni Pangulong Aquino hinggil dito,” said the Palace official. PND (jm)

President Aquino offers prayers to departed relatives ahead of ‘Undas’
President Benigno S. Aquino III visited the Manila Memorial Park in Parañaque City Thursday afternoon to offer prayers to his departed loved ones ahead of this year’s Undas commemoration.

The President arrived at 3:36 p.m. and made his first stop at the Cojuangco mausoleum where the remains of his maternal grandparents, Jose and Demetria, were laid.

He then went on to the gravesite of his parents, former Senator Benigno ‘Ninoy’ Aquino, Jr. and former President Corazon ‘Cory’ Aquino, which was adorned with fresh Malaysian mums, stargazer lilies, orchids, and magnolias.

Presidential sisters Ballsy Cruz, Viel Dee, Pinky Abelleda, and brother-in-law Eldon Cruz joined President Aquino in praying the holy rosary. The other sister, Kris Aquino, was not around as she is currently in Hawaii on vacation with her sons.

After saying their prayers and lighting more candles, President Aquino and his family engaged in casual conversation and stayed for a few more minutes. They left the Manila Memorial Park together before 5:00 p.m.

President Aquino also paid his respects earlier to Mr. Teodito Lansangan at the La Funeraria Paz in Sucat, Parañaque. He was one of the drivers that served in his family who passed away last October 27 due to cardiac arrest at the age of 74.

Meanwhile, President Aquino continuously monitors the situation at various piers and airports to ensure the safe and convenient travel of citizens who will observe Undas outside Metro Manila, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said.

“Pinag-utusan na lahat ng mga kinauukulang ahensya at opisyal na gawin ang lahat ng nararapat para matamo ang layunin ng isang safe at hassle-free commemoration ng Undas o All Saints Day,” Coloma told reporters in a press briefing. PND (hdc)

Manila to host APEC Climate Symposium
Scientists, government representatives, academics and policymakers throughout the Pacific Rim will converge in Manila on November 2 to 4 for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Climate Symposium to discuss emerging issues in climate prediction and its applications.

The symposium, an annual event held since 2005 by the APEC Climate Center (APCC), aims to enhance the ability of economies and societies to cope and respond to weather and climate-related disasters, and especially those that will be exacerbated by climate change. The activity also contributes to the strengthening of the regional climate network in science and policy.

With the urgency posed by climate change, the symposium heeds the call to action by discussing practical measures and policies to mitigate and respond to hydrologic disasters. It hopes to integrate the perspectives of distinguished scientists and practitioners and managers from national and international organizations around the Asia-Pacific region.

During the symposium, the delegates are expected to explore measures to maximize the utility of climate information for the benefit of APEC economies and beyond.

The Philippines, as an emerging economy, is not an important emitter of greenhouses gases. Nevertheless, the country is highly vulnerable to climate change, because of the diversity of its ecosystems, susceptibility to natural disasters, drought and desertification-prone areas, urban areas with problems of air pollution and mountainous ecosystems.

As a manifestation of the country’s commitment to engage in multilateral efforts aiming to address the global problem of climate change and achieve sustainable development, the Philippines has participated in the discussions and negotiations leading to the ratification of various international agreements. These international agreements are geared towards the mitigation of the effects of climate change and the strategic adaptation to the conditions.

At the institutional level, the Philippines was one of the earliest countries to recognize the importance of a systematic institutional response to the problem of climate change. The creation of the Inter-Agency Committee on Climate Change (IACC) on May 8, 1991 under the Environmental Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, was a concrete manifestation of the Philippines’ attempt to promptly address the issue of climate change.

The ultimate aim of the committee is to harness and synergize the various activities being undertaken by the national government and civil society in response to the crisis posed by growing problem on climate change.

The essential mandate of the IACC is to perform various coordinative, development and monitoring functions with respect to activities related to climate change in the country. As an organization that is at the forefront of advancing the government’s climate change agenda, the IACC likewise formulates policy actions and recommendations while at the same time assumes a very significant role in terms of shaping the Philippines’ national positions in the various international negotiations that aim to mitigate the effects of global climate change and prevent the worse possible consequences of this.

As one of the first countries to sign the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) in 1992, the Philippines expressed adherence to the principles of sustainable development and environmental preservation based on the notion of equity and the unique capabilities of the participating countries. More specifically, Article 3 of the UNFCC states that countries who have aligned themselves with the mandates set forth by the Convention “should protect the climate system for the benefit of present and future generations of humankind, on the basis of equity and in accordance with their common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities”.

The Clean Air Act of 1999, also known as Republic Act 8749, was enacted to arrive at an effective air quality management program that will mitigate the worsening problem of air pollution in the country. Reinforcing the country’s drive towards a healthier environment was the enactment of the Solid Waste Management Act of 2000 (RA 9003) that aims to provide a comprehensive solution to the country’s garbage problem.

In 2000, the Philippines forwarded to the UNFCCC its Initial National Communication, the milestones of the country insofar as accomplishing the objectives of the Convention are concerned.

More specifically, this report presented the gains made in the fields of greenhouse gas abatement and inventory. Also noted were gains significantly achieved in strengthening institutions and processes in relation to the mitigation, prevention and adaptation initiatives in the country.

Recommendations of the report include the institutionalization of the process of greenhouse inventory, particularly among the government agencies concerned and greater involvement of the academe through related studies. More studies on adaptation and vulnerability under climate change conditions are also suggested. (APEC Communications Group)

Ten APEC members confirm attendance to Manila meeting in November
Ten member economies of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) have already sent their official confirmation for the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting (AELM) in Manila next month.

According to National Organizing Committee (NOC) Director General Ambassador Marciano Paynor, Jr., no leader from the other 10 member economies has given any indication that he or she will not attend the November meetings.

The Philippines is this year’s host of the AELM to be held on November 18 to 19.

“At this point, (there is) no indication of anyone not attending. We have as of now 10 official confirmation and the others are coming,” Paynor said during the Kapihan sa Manila Bay at the Luneta Hotel when asked about the attendance of heads of states.

So far, the United States and Russia have confirmed their attendance. Paynor did not identify the other eight members that have confirmed their participation.

He added that although China has not confirmed the attendance of President Xi Jinping, there is no indication that China will not be in Manila for the meetings.

“All economies sent advance teams, a probability a lot of leaders are coming in,” Paynor said.

“If we go by historical data, very few leaders did not come mostly because they could not for internal or domestic reasons — mostly an election. In fact, we were assured Canada and Australia are coming,” he added.

Paynor assured that the Philippines is ready for the APEC meetings next month.

Of the 44 APEC meetings under the Philippines’ chairmanship, nine more meetings will be held starting November 4.

A dialogue will also be held between the alliance composed of four Latin American countries and the APEC.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos is participating in the APEC meeting as an observer.

Meanwhile, Paynor also appealed for public understanding for inconvenience from November 13 to 21.

“But the point is we have to make a good sacrifice. This is part of good hosting. During the coming weeks, one of our most important considerations is security,” he said.

Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo said the APEC meetings are very important to the Philippines because of the impression the country will leave on the visitors and leaders of businesses.

“We have to make a really positive impression. It will matter to us. In the long term, it will help us,” he said.

Chief Superintendent Manuel Gaerlan, who is in charge of the joint APEC security forces, explained the reason behind the rerouting and closing of streets during the AELM.

“We do not want the movement of delegate and leaders blocked. We are requesting cooperation and understanding of the motorists and the riding public,” Gaerlan said.

“We are appealing for understanding. We are given the chance to host once in 20 years,” he added.

To minimize inconvenience to residents, the government earlier announced November 18 to 19 as special non-working days. For the public sector, work was also suspended on November 17 and 20.

Rerouting schemes will be put in place within Metro Manila. (APEC Communications Group)