PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Good morning. This morning it’s a privilege for us to have Mr. Jose Maria Concepcion, Joey, back again.
He is the Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship and he is also the President and CEO of RFM Corporation, a major food and beverage company in the Philippines.
He currently holds the position of Chair of the Board of Unilever RFM Ice Cream, URIC, and a director of Concepcion Industrial Corporation.
He will talk about investors’ confidence in the Duterte administration and the Philippine economy so it’s a joy to welcome Mr. Joey Concepcion.
CONCEPCION: Good morning. Basically, I just… I’m here to explain what the private sector view is on the Philippine economy.
I guess despite the ratings of our President which is slightly down, what really is important is that the business community is solidly behind the President.
As you can see, our stock market a couple of days ago, for a while hit all-time high. And if there is no business confidence, then you won’t see the stock market making a new high.
From my own group, which I somehow — together with the conglomerates, the large conglomerates — the Ayalas, the Lucio Tans, the Gokongweis — all of us have formed a cluster ‘no basically to work closely with the economic team headed by Secretary Sonny Dominguez.
I believe, a couple of days ago or yesterday there was a news item that things are moving very slow. And I got off the phone with Secretary Art just to remind me of our discussions.
Briefly about a week ago, the conglomerates met with the economic team, we were briefed. And we, for the past actually month or so, have been engaging with them on how the private sector can partner closely with the government in their Build, Build, Build program.
And over the past weeks, they were very much open to really bring the private sector in towards a PPP or a modified PPP arrangement which was done in the previous administration.
And now, the business sector has — and wants to engage ‘no with this government to really be partners with them in their nationwide building program.
And one of the areas that is of extreme interest is the airports in the Philippines.
We have the unsolicited offer of Ramon Ang of San Miguel for Bulacan and we have also the Ayala group, very much interested in NAIA.
And together with the other conglomerates like Lance Gokongwei of Cebu Pacific and Michael Tan, they too would like to be part of this partnership, especially in the airport.
We have also have other people interested in Sangley. Mr. Virata has indicated his interest in Sangley. So you have various groups very interested in helping the government be a strong partner in hastening the process of all these airports.
In fact, the Aboitizes and the Gotianums are interested, as well as Megawide, Edgar Saavedra in also these airports, especially provincial airports.
And definitely, Secretary Dominguez, Art Tugade, Secretary Pernia and Diokno who are part of this group that we have formed are definitely welcoming the private sector.
So if you’re saying that there is a weakness in confidence in the business community, definitely not.
You have the proposal of MVP group for the MRT. So from my perspective, everything is moving as fast as possible.
The government has secured financing for the subway and the train. And that’s coming and going to be funded by China and Japan.
So by and large, definitely the large conglomerates and my exposure in really working closely with Secretary of Trade in our programs in entrepreneurship and mentoring and all of that, I go around the different provinces and I meet the different entrepreneurs and you can see it is a vibrant spirit that’s there.
Our mentoring program that we are doing with our smaller entrepreneurs, there is greater confidence because as advisor to the President and my role as an ABAC Chair, I’m looking at basically as, you know, the prosperity for all theme of ASEAN.
Now, in doing that, we are focusing on basically three Ms: mentoring, money, and market.
And this is how we’re going to — the framework basically in helping our micro and small entrepreneurs.
Mentorship which is a program that we’re doing right now with the Department of Trade, the Department of Agriculture. Mentoring all of the MSMEs in the different provinces ‘no, through the offices of the regional, provincial directors, through the Negosyo Centers.
So that is happening right now massively. So that’s how I get the feel of how the business community, not only from my level or the large businesses who are very bullish about the Philippine scenario.
But very bullish also at the bottom, especially the small entrepreneurs. And that’s important because it’s not only the big boys that are optimistic, but the many of our micro and small entrepreneurs have to be optimistic.
Then you have the other “m” which is very important, the money side. How is government going to help these entrepreneurs? And you have seen Congress passed the new budget and especially a lot of money is going to help our micro and small entrepreneurs.
To the shared service facility, I was told the DTI got a one billion budget for the shared services. That is money directly going to our micro and small entrepreneurs.
There are a lot of programs that are gonna be pushed in the money side. More money. We’re getting the big banks to go down and lend through rural banks many of these MSMEs.
And then the market side, the large conglomerates have also promised to really bring the micro and small entrepreneurs into the system. There’s suppliers or help them enter the supermarkets.
So by and large, if we look at the entire framework of the business dynamics and creating prosperity for all, we’re using the three Ms both in trade and even in agriculture.
In the last — in the first ASEAN agricultural summit that was held last week, it was phenomenal. I mean you can see the community, I mean especially agriculture which is quite challenged and a lot of poverty is because agriculture has to be fixed.
Many of our farmers in the rice and coconut sector, according to Senator Villar, are the poorest. How do you elevate them and move them beyond poverty?
So despite the challenges that I see which is basically poverty in this country, there is a great sense of optimism especially from the bigger conglomerates, all the way down to micro and small entrepreneurs.
And if you look at the macro environment, what are secretaries are trying to do as fast as possible is to really provide the macro environment.
You have of course the politics and all of that noise there. But we have to remember that the business sector has to be focused on its vision aligned with the government on how in the end all of these infrastructure will really help many of our small entrepreneurs and eventually the general population.
And in market, if you look at one of the three Ms that are reported, market, you need connectivity, you need train, you need a subway, you need the airport, you need the bridges, the roads, the ports, and all of that.
That is a very heavy investment and that’s why the large conglomerates have to be called to help and I see them now really very interested.
I think in the next 60, 90 days you will see more offers for our airports in the country. I mean… I believe that we will see more unsolicited proposals being given to our economic team for them to decide on the airports.
And my principle there is that, okay if Ramon Ang wants to build Bulacan, allow him. If the Ayalas and the airline people wanna help and build NAIA, allow them. If somebody wants to do Subic, allow them. Provided that there’s no government guaranty or government to support in borrowing money. Let them, these private companies use their own balance sheet.
And I think the banks there have so much cash that they can also lend to these conglomerates.
The point being is that, entrepreneurs, founders like these conglomerates, also have the passion to help this country. And the only way they’d understand is getting into the business that they know how to do.
And I’m glad that all of them together with myself, have banded together and promised to work with government in their Build, Build, Build.
And they’ve also pledged that if they lose the bid, they will not file any case. That’s what we agreed verbally.
So I am really optimistic. I think the stock market will continue to do better. Interest rates will continue to be what it is. Our foreign exchange will play within a range, that’s the way it is.
Everybody has their time. At one point in time, we saw the Euro at 146. You saw the Yen moved and swinging. There’s nothing wrong with the foreign exchange swinging.
Commodity prices are basically stable. Power rates have come down, especially for us, it’s come down because a lot more companies being set up.
So the supply is there. More supply is going to the system. That is all from my own perspective.
You’ve got a labor force that is peaceful at this point in time. You can count. I don’t know if I’ve heard of many major strikes, basically, we have industrial peace.
So our country is conducive. Yes the drug war is continuing to be fought by our President and the military.
And whatever it is, the drug solution is definitely a problem and the process of solving the problem, we have to trust our leadership on what is the best process.
And listening to all forces to me, we have to have a country that is safe. Marawi is one instance wherein in the end, it was more than just terrorism.
And there maybe a lot more of this around the country. And I’m glad that the President is really focusing on providing security in making this country drug-free.
Because in the end, without the right macro environment, no matter what a businessman does to grow and be part of a growing economy, it would be always challenged.
So the structure, the macro structure, has to move in that direction. And we are bullish, and again, I will always say, the reflection of the business community is really always looking at our stock market.That is the index of confidence for business confidence.
But you can also go down and talk to our smaller entrepreneurs and you can see that things are improving for them.
What are threats in the Philippines? We all know that down the road, we’re shifting gradually to a digital economy. You can see that.
I mean what is happening in America, what is gradually happening in ASEAN, although we are at a slower pace. But you cannot avoid the shift towards a digital economy.
And a lot of young people today and the millennials don’t even watch television. They just look at their cellphone basically, rely on data. It used to be the most important thing was getting enough load for SMS. Now the most important thing is getting enough load for data.
And why is that so? The Filipinos are the number one users of Facebook. I mean even in advertising platforms, it’s changing rapidly from traditional TV moving now to on demand. You can see that happening today.
You can also see that there are numerous applications being developed overseas and even domestically which is creating a market place for many entrepreneurs to penetrate.
Lazada is — which was purchased by Jack Ma is going to activate further. So more companies are moving towards logistics. A payment system is going to be improved.
So we are shifting to a digital economy. The opportunities for the micro and small entrepreneurs to sell directly to the consumer and you can see it to yourself, you hear, either Uber or Grab users.
At a certain point in time, you would be so dependent on Uber and Grab that the moment that service is out, you will be lost.
And that’s what happening even in many companies. We’re doing away with car programs today. We’re telling them, “Just use Uber because anyway you can’t park or one — the second thing, you don’t need to maintain your car anymore.”
So change of habits is happening. And as a result, with artificial intelligence coming to be and it is going to happen in digital economy, our BPO can be threatened. There is no issue and we’ve talked about that.
How do you prepare for that? You have to prepare for the next leg, which is tourism. We have 7,100 islands. You need airports in all of these areas that can land an Airbus 320.
Look what happened to Boracay. When they allowed, the runway was built, you can now land an Airbus 320. Within any country in Asia, it’s easy for a plane to just land there and that spurs tourism.
So there’s so many areas and islands still that have that great potential. So the provincial airports are of great interest to many of these conglomerates.
And hopefully, in the next 60, 90 days, we will see their proposals and definitely, the secretaries are welcoming this development and hopefully, this is the kind of relationship that we have to develop between the business sector and government.
And yes, there are always concerns on how the government is spending money on all of this. In the end of the day, it’s the results that count. The growth rates cannot always be… There are always dips.
In my corporation, you cannot grow 10 percent, 15 percent. There are ups and downs. I don’t question every expense that I — my people make. That is their judgment call. But in the end, it’s the result that counts.
When the confidence towards the President goes up and down, that is the way it is ‘no. It is the way even in the private sector.
So we have to look at the opportunities. Right now, the barometer of confidence to me in the business side is pretty high. And that can continue to be maintained if they see that the country is moving forward.
Yes maybe you would say that there are challenges in the Build, Build, Build program but they took time for the government to secure financing from China and Japan.
And you know, these ODAs do take time. Before they start, they have a lot of studies. But Art was telling me, they’re looking at groundbreaking the train, if I’m not mistaken, sometime December or January next year. They‘re looking at the subway towards 2019.
But he can give you a more accurate number. But from what he narrated to me, they’re doing their job. But all of these things take time especially if you have [right of way?] problems, that’s normal.
And I’m just still optimistic. So I just felt that it was important for me to share with you my own optimism.
And it’s not only my optimism, I think you can… You yourself have your own exposure with the business community.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS:
Leila Salaverria (Philippine Daily Inquirer): Good morning, sir.
Ms. Salaverria: Sir, how strong is business confidence in the country if foreign direct investments are down in the first six months of the year?
CONCEPCION: Well, you should ask Secretary Mon Lopez that question. The way I look at it is a matter of timing. I don’t know what areas are down but it’s a matter of timing.
Maybe some of their plans are delayed or whatever. The commitments that are made during the foreign trips do take time to materialize ‘no.
So, basically that. But overall, if I look at it, we have, in my own company, we are working on a joint venture as well with an ASEAN company.
Yes, that’s the plan, there’s a commitment but things can get delayed as studies may not be completed, things like that.
Ms. Salaverria: So you don’t think the political developments and business environment in the country have contributed to this decline in FDI?
CONCEPCION: Well, let’s put it this way. For those who have been working and investing in the Philippines, they understand the situation.
For the newcomers who are first-timer investors, of course, they are more sensitive to what is happening and I guess that’s why the pace maybe is a bit slower.
But when you talk to — and I get exposed to a lot of these entrepreneurs and — there is the optimism.
But remember, sometimes projects of a greater magnitude take time ‘no. The studies, the timing, the funding, and I will not deny that some concerns are there ‘no.
But overtime, as they build their confidence, people invest. And today — I mean, you can look at the stock market. If you look at new investors, the Deutsche Conference has finished recently. And you look at the number of investors who are fund managers, who are money managers. These people are the first ones. The moment there’s a sign that there’s a lot of problems, then they are the first to pull out because these are the easier ones to pull out. That’s the measure.
Now, on the foreign direct investments, of course, these are the long-term ones. They take time. So sometimes, the commitment is a commitment. There are always delays.
Ms. Salaverria: Sir, you mentioned some concerns. Could you tell us what these are? And how much of a factor do you think are the criticisms of the killings in the country? Because these are coming not just from members of the political opposition but from agencies like the UN and from other countries. Do you think these have affected the investors — the desire of investors to come to the country?
CONCEPCION:Let’s put it this way: A businessman will come to this country if they can make money. That’s number one.
If they see the opportunity to be able to get a good return of their investment, they will continue to invest in the country.
The moment that scenario is not there, then don’t expect them to come. They’re not gonna come for the love of the Philippines, you know what I mean? It is all about a return on their capital, that is how they judge it.
The other areas, like the macro environment, the cleansing process that’s happening right now with the drug problem, it’s a matter of point of view. Each one has their own point of view and style, right?
The process is, to myself, I mean when I talk to other business people, at least they see somebody trying to solve the drug issue, trying to solve the level of crime.
Of course, as we all know, and if you all watched “Narcos,” or — you could see that it is similar.
I mean, just look at history in other countries and look how these issues are being solved.
To me, I look at it in creating greater wealth for the poor, right? In the end, what causes all of these problems in drugs and criminality? It’s poverty, right?
So my focus is to try to have a program that will help alleviate those at the bottom of the pyramid because that is the real long-term solution.
In areas and why we don’t… Look at why are… Why are a lot of poor getting hit? Why are they all infected with the drug problem? Because basically, that is where it is, that’s the root cause, it’s poverty.
Well, the rich people, if we have a problem, we can take Xanor, Valium or whatever, Prozac. These people, sometimes, they resort to. They escape, they drink, they take drugs, and that’s common in the world ‘no.
So my rule as an advisor to the President is I’m not here to solve the drug problem, that is not my expertise. I focus on what I know is best which is entrepreneurship.
And to me, focusing on the three Ms on mentorship, which we are doing massively to help them. Because as you do that, you are giving confidence, solving the money issue and solving the market issue. Because to me, poverty is the root cause of all evil and for you, who think the Philippines is unique then just watch in Netflix. Get an idea of how other countries try to solve their drug problem.
But nevertheless, what I think is important is creating the right macro environment, right? Providing a peaceful place for us, Filipinos. That you can walk the street without somebody robbing you.
And again, it’s far complex. In a way, sometimes, we deserve a stronger type of leadership.
When you have too much democracy, things just move so slow. And if you look at the success of China, and I try to analyze it with a lot of friends, China has moved towards from a communist state to a more democratic state, has allowed them to really accelerate their development rapidly because you have one person creating the right path.
I’m not saying we move towards a dictatorship but somehow, I think the Filipinos need a little bit of discipline. And in any organization, whether private sector, whether my company or any big company, we are not too democratic.
Because the founder or the entrepreneur or the CEO takes that lead and the vision. What is the vision? And sometimes, when you have a very democratic corporation, you tend to lose track.
So that’s how I look at it. I mean, I’m not saying we have to change the structure in this country and move towards that no, I’m not saying that.
I’m saying that sometimes, we need a little bit of discipline.
Ina Andolong (CNN Philippines): Good afternoon, sir. Sir, you mentioned earlier that commitments made could have or could take some time to materialize. The President’s foreign trips generated supposedly P37 billion in pledged commitments. Do you have an idea sir if how much of these have already materialized and or ilan pa po ‘yung hinihintay?
CONCEPCION:I’m the wrong person to ask. You should ask Secretary Mon Lopez that. But I’ve been in the foreign trips. We have met with the business community there. I’ve seen them make pledges, you know. They signed MOAs and all of that.
And many of the conglomerates and many others are part of it and some of them materialize and some of them just don’t, you know. That’s the way it is. It is an intent to proceed with a venture.
And I guess, maybe when you interview Secretary Mon Lopez, he can explain to you in detail.
But even going back to history, that is always the case. What the President’s trips try to do is to really expose our country.
We are just one of the many countries out there. You are trying to attract investors.
Just to give you an idea, publicly listed companies. The CEOs and the founders travel all over the world and meet investors for them to invest in their own companies.
Just look at it: Philippines Inc. is a company. If the President will not — and he is the CEO of this country — if he will not going to travel, we will not be at the top of mind of many of these investors, whether investors in business or whether investors in their government to fund our country.
So it is very important for the President and his economic team to continue to travel and lure people out there. And especially, I guess some people misunderstand what the President is doing so the more he goes to these trips, the better it is for us ‘no.
Joseph Morong (GMA): Sir, from a businessman’s point of view, why do you think the FDI is down by 90 percent?
CONCEPCION:I think I already answered that. The foreign… I think you should talk to Secretary Mon Lopez ‘no.
Mr. Morong: It seems, sir, that what you’re trying to explain is the local businessman like yourself and the conglomerates that you mentioned have a strong confidence. But vis-à-vis foreign investors, do you think that there’s a difference in appreciation of context of the Philippines?
CONCEPCION:Definitely not. Just look at it. I have, maybe in my own small company, I have maybe about 45 investors, fund managers, long term investors.
Larger corporations have more. How can you hit an all-time high in the stock market of 8,400 when the perception would be the Philippines is a basket place? That stock market should be going down today, right?
Same thing with Donald Trump. President Trump, despite his style, look at the stock market. Phenomenally all-time high. I mean, absurdly all-time high, right?
But not many people like his style right? I mean… But what is he selling? It’s the same thing. His message is resonating well to the investors. In the same manner, by and large, maybe their President’s message is also resonating well to some investors.
Not maybe all, not maybe all. But to some, by and large, a majority, or else, the stock market today should be down by half.
When we had problems with our leadership in the past, the entire stock market crashed, the peso will hit all-time high of 60 bucks. But still, we’re playing within a range.
So to me, that’s the barometer. I can check because when I meet with all these people — I’m not only saying the conglomerates. Since we have an engagement with DTI to mentor. Right now, we have finished mentoring 1,700 mentees, MSMEs. That’s just the first one year.
If you look at the 1,700, they are all buoyed with confidence. So I guess, you have this noise. There are concerns. I’m not denying that there are — these concerns are to be ignored.
But my role is limited to really helping people achieve greater prosperity. And I think if we try to develop, it’s a matter of point of view and style.
This current administration, they believe that this is the way forward. If we want to move towards a federal state, then you have to be able to trust your next leaders.
I mean, these are going to be what I call the heads of state, your new presidents, your small presidents. So to me the cleansing process has to happen, whatever form it is so that the chances of a federal government — moving towards a federalism, will be higher to succeed.
Mr. Morong: Do you think, sir, the 90-percent drop in FDI is a problem to be solved? And if so, how do you correct and invite more foreign investors into the country?
CONCEPCION:Well, I don’t know. I’ll be honest with you. As I say, I don’t really look at Foreign Direct Investments if there is a blip there, is it consistently going down for the last three, four years?
So you have… You can’t look at it from one… If I miss my target in my corporation, I’m down by 20%, is it because of something went wrong? Now if it is constantly going down for the last two, three years, then maybe you have a problem.
But if it is just a blip this year, I wouldn’t be concerned. Because we don’t look at our country on a year-to-year basis. We look at it long term.
In fact, you might have gone up so fast that you have to adjust. Nothing is always a direct arrow going up. There are always cycles and that’s normal.
To me, just… I don’t know. I’m in the business community. We look at our growth, we look at the consumption, spending. We look at all of this.
And we’re pretty happy. What’s more important is the exposure that I have as I said with MSMEs, they’re also happy.
Elijah Rosales (Business Mirror): Sir, good morning. PCCI President George Barcelon over the weekend asked the Duterte administration to focus its eyes on the economic plan and to not be distracted by political spats. As the adviser of the President on Entrepreneurship, do you suggest the same? That the President hold back or stay away in some unnecessary disputes?
CONCEPCION:I think it’s very important that we remain focused on the economic agenda. The programs of — the massive infrastructure build which is very important, which creates greater connectivity, will enhance, actually, the development especially for many of the Filipinos who are at the bottom of the pyramid.
Just on tourism alone. And agriculture, the impact is huge. When you improve your logistics cost and bring it lower because of a better road, if we’re able to connect the South and the North freeways together, you can imagine the cost of logistics will go down. Because the cost of delivery — I mean the time of delivery will be much shorter.
Just coming here, I mean the traffic is one hour. I mean, in my Waze, it said 30 minutes but actually it was one hour.
So we will still feel that pain because that’s part of the change that’s happening right now. This building of the roads will cause traffics. But I’m confident that under President Duterte who is a strong-handed leader and really wants to make it happen, the secretaries will see to it that it will happen.
And I’m confident… And that’s why, I mean the stock market is reacting to that. The stock market is reacting to the future, never the past. Because if the future is bad, the stock market is down. So if you are to look at it, the stock market… America is reacting to Trump’s promise of America first. I mean it is to me the right thing. America first because you build your country first before others. In the same manner in the Philippines.
So he’s looking… Our President is looking towards the future. And I think we should all try to look at the future rather than what’s today.
And let’s make the judgment and see if the FDI is really going downtrending for the next three years. Not just judge it on a year-to-year basis because it’s going to be a roller coaster. There’s no company out there that grows all the way up. Impossible. So how can you expect the country to grow that way? It doesn’t exist. Okay?
Let me… You guys, I don’t know if some of you cover the stock market, maybe try to understand for them, that it’s cyclical.
So yes, you may have a big investor, but he delayed something for whatever reason, we don’t know. So Secretary Mon will have to check, why are you delaying and all of that. That will take time. But you look at it not on a year-to-year but look at it on a three-year cycle. Then you’ll have a better indication.
Now if the cycle I just going all the way down, then maybe — then you start to identify what area, why, and all of that. But for now, for my only thing is that we have to just prepare for the future, which is a digital economy.
It would present a lot of opportunities, but it would also can affect… If you have here Amazon, this little Alexa. If you don’t have it, just Google it and try to see what Alexa can do. That is a preview of artificial intelligence. You will understand why it can become a threat.
Just try it. So that’s what I’ve been telling, we have to build a next leg which is tourism. Because tourism will — definitely that’s our natural core. We have so much islands. So we need the airports immediately.
And that’s what I… I’ve been asking the conglomerates and the economic team, “Let’s go and get those airports done.” Even if we have three airports here, who cares? Let them compete. Maybe the… You know, it will just spur tourism.
I can just tell you that… I mean, that is so huge an opportunity. The casinos here? It’s gonna draw a lot of people. I mean that’s why NAIA cannot be closed. They have to expand that. And if we don’t prepare for the next leg and we get hit because of artificial intelligence, then who do we blame? Ourselves.
So let’s not keep looking at the bad things and, “Oh, wow, the Philippines dipped down by X amount…” And we’re scared already. That’s not the way to run a company. Think of the Philippines like a corporation. Thank you.
Mr. Rosales: Last question, sir. You are the Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship. Sir, what do we do with these small and micro entrepreneurs who might end up competing with bigger business outfits given the economic team’s proposal to liberalize the retail outfits, sir?
CONCEPCION: As I share this with PFA, I believe that the micro and small are insulated from all these guys. Let me explain to you — they’re just too small.
If I were a — let’s say a operator in Thailand who wants to set up a cart operation here, I can’t do that alone. I’ll partner with somebody here. So to me, it presents an opportunity for greater partnership.
It’s actually the other reverse eh. The big guys who are here, the H&M and all of these guys, Uniqlo, they have affected the larger ones. But for the small ones, it’s very difficult to set up a thousand carts.
And when I talk to the CEO of Potato Corner, Joe Magsaysay, he’s doing that abroad. He is looking for partners himself because he cannot expand Potato Corner on his own. He looks for partners because they know the terrain, they know where to go.
And so if these models come here — and by the way, they’re already coming here, whether we like it or not, informally or formally, through franchising or whatever — it’s happening right now. Greater competition is happening by Filipinos getting franchise concepts here.
So it’s just a different instruction. Now, if you’re going to be rather than a franchisee, you’re now going to be a partner. So I’m not concerned whether they drop it.
In fact, I think it will hasten the development of entrepreneurship here even more. So many of these guys will look for smaller chains and partner with them and — like us. I mean, my partner in ice cream is Unilever. I don’t think I will have been able to become the number one ice cream with a 90 or 85 percent market share if I were alone.
Definitely, I give the credit to our partnership with Unilever. So there is nothing wrong with partnerships, whether you’re big or you’re small.
And especially when you’re small here, they will lead you more because penetrating the grassroots businesses are more difficult.
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Thank you, sir.
All right. Again, it’s a comforting thought that the encouragement to look at the long term. All right.
June 2017, our visitor receipts increased:
More and more tourists continue to explore the Philippines.
The Department of Tourism (DOT) reported an increase of P27.1 billion for the visitor receipts for the month of June which is 30.68 percent higher than the P20.8 billion visitor receipts of the same month last year.
Do you want me to say it again? All right, okay. From the top.
The Department of Tourism (DOT) reported an increase of P27.1 billion for the visitor receipts for the month of June which is 30.68 percent higher than the P20.8 billion visitor receipts of the same month last year.
This results in a total amount of P146.34 billion visitor receipts for the period of January to June 2017, which is 14.89 percent higher than P127.37 billion of the same period last year.
In addition, tourist arrivals for the month of June reached up to 474,854 tourists, which is 3.42 percent higher than the [459,138 tourist] arrivals last year. Apparently visitors have a great confidence in the nation.
DPWH also to transition to a new monitoring system:
No more ghost projects in the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).
To improve transparency, accountability and to eliminate corruption, DPWH will be installing the Project and Contract Management Procedures and Application (PCMA) nationwide [by] 2017.
This software has a built-in geotagging feature enabling them to add geographic identification data to photos, videos and other posts that will accurately monitor infrastructure projects and accomplishments.
No fake pictures.
PCSO increases daily medical aid to 13.55 million pesos:
The Duterte administration continues to provide access to health services.
Effective October 1, the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) increased its Individual Medical Assistance Program (IMAP) allocation from P8.98 million to P13.55 million which will be distributed to its 40 branch offices nationwide.
The allocation increase aims to efficiently provide financial assistance to individuals with [health-related] needs including hospitalization, dialysis, cancer treatment, medicines and other medical requirements. All in all we see a rounding up of government services being delivered promptly and adequately.
We’re open to a few questions.
Maricel Halili (TV-5): Hi, sir. Good morning. Sir, on other issue.
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Yes, ma’am?
Ms. Halili: Sir, may we have your reaction on the suggestion of Atty. Gadon saying that he would like the President to be a special prosecutor on the impeachment case against Chief Justice Sereno?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Really, I think we answered that yesterday and it’s not within the purview nor the priority of the President to be dealing with those things.
Ms. Halili: Is this allowed constitutionally, sir?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Allowed or not, it is not where the President’s priorities are.
Ms. Halili: Thank you, sir.
Catherine Valente (Manila Times): Good morning, sir.
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Yes, ma’am?
Ms. Valente: Can we get po the Palace’s reaction on the decision of the Supreme Court junking the petition of Senator De Lima to dismiss po ‘yung illegal charges against — ?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: That is within the Supreme Court’s purview. It’s… We leave it to them to address that.
Pia Gutierrez (ABS-CBN): Sir…
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Yes, ma’am.
Ms. Gutierrez: Hi, good morning, sir. Sorry for my voice, sir. Sir, SWS President Mahar Mangahas was in ANC this morning and he said that the drop in President Duterte’s ratings is actually fast higher than average and he… Can we get your reaction to that, sir?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: There are several ways of understanding that. I think what we need is a little bit more time to make comparative studies and analysis so that we can make a fuller comprehensive understanding of that report.
Ms. Gutierrez: And also, sir, Father Jerome Secillano of CBCP has said that President Duterte is partly to blame for his ratings decline especially when he admitted that he lied particularly about Senator Trillanes’ bank accounts, sir. Can we get your reaction on that?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I think the word that the President said was “invented” and it was taken in a different context. I think that’s a matter of perspective.
But on the whole, as the Presidential Adviser said, there are dips and highs and lows and these are part of the cycles even of a corporation.
Ms. Gutierrez: Thank you, sir.
Mr. Morong: Sir, ano lang, maikli.
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Yes, sir.
Mr. Morong: May declarations on holidays, sir? ASEAN, sir?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Ang alin?
Mr. Morong: May mga declarations tayo for — official declarations ng holidays related to the ASEAN? Wala pa?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Wala pa, wala pa.
Mr. Morong: Okay, sir. Going back to the topic. Sa DOT tourism data, does it — it means that foreigners are spending more and staying longer in the Philippines. Does that…
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: If that maybe the analysis, but it definitely says that there’s more spending happening.
Mr. Morong: Why is that so? Why do you think so?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Like you said, maybe we’re attracting better customers.
Mr. Morong: Better markets?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Better markets.
Mr. Morong: Okay.
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: And staying longer.
Mr. Morong: Sir, sa FDI, how do you explain, sir the — from the government’s perspective and since wala dito si DTI Secretary Lopez. How do you explain the 90 percent drop of the FDI?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Again, if PA Joey said, “Let’s defer to Sec. Mon.” We’ll find out also regarding those matters.
Mr. Morong: Okay.
Alexis Romero (Philippine Star): Usec, but regarding the decline of the foreign direct investments, the goal of the President in coming up or in visiting other countries is to attract investments. Does this show somehow that he failed in attracting investments from other countries?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I wish you were here earlier the way PA Joey explained it. He said that in the long term, FDI… The President travels in order to attract — in order to attract these things and there are… And we need to understand this is all within a year yet, less than a year, actually.
And there may be reasons why there’s a drop, there’s what. But on the whole, it is part of a strategy to create multiple income streams.
However, he’s achieving the same but right now, an increase in participation locally. So again, waiting for the — waiting on the report of Sec. Mon, his goals are still being achieved.
Mr. Romero: But is Malacañang upbeat that these figures will improve eventually?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Definitely. Definitely. Especially so that the President has given us assurance that his whole intention is to finish his term and that is to make sure that…
We need to understand what the President has said. He said he wanted to lay a foundation for a comfortable life for all.
And he’s in fact, he’s looking forward to beyond 2022. Not for himself, but for the rest of the administration, for other administrations to come in, in order to bring in a decent life for the Filipino, inclusively for every Filipino.
Mr. Romero: Thank you, Usec.
Mr. Morong: Sir, reaction lang po, just to — for fairness sake. ‘Yung mga — kahapon, I think there were foreign European parliamentarians who held a press conference at the Senate and they slammed some of the government’s programs. And then they said that the GSP+ is under review and that can cost ‘yung mga agricultural products natin to have tariffs and the government seems to be silence in dissent. Just a reaction from the Palace, please.
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: First and foremost, regarding the HRW saying about other claims, especially let’s say about the deaths.
Let’s be very clear first that the PNP statement regarding the EJKs, for example, is based on the operational guidelines of Administrative Order No. 35, adopted and signed on April 18, 2013 during the Aquino administration wherein extrajudicial killings have been referred to as, “wherein the victim was a member of or affiliated with an organization to include political, environmental, agrarian, labor, similar causes, or an advocate of above-named causes or the media practitioner or persons apparently mistaken or identified to be so.”
So AO 35 also referred to EJKs, “when the victim was targeted and killed because of the actual or perceived membership, advocacy or profession, or the persons responsible for the killings as state agent or non-state agent and the method and circumstances of attack reveal a deliberate intent to kill.”
AO 35 has not been repealed or revoked. Thus, the definition of EJK under the Duterte administration remains the same.
Having said that, let me emphasize that even — Again, let me just say, even one death is one death too many.
Regardless the coverage under this definition, deaths related to drug operations or properly clarified as deaths under investigation or DUIs are also being addressed by law enforcement and appropriate actions being taken.
Let me take you to some of the actions that are being taken. For example, ES Salvador Medialdea signed an order for the dismissal of Police Director Joel Pagdilao and Police Chief Superintendent Edgardo Tinio for serious neglect of duty and serious irregularity in the performance of duty.
Also, NCR Police Officer Chief Director Albayalde ordered the relief and retraining of the entire Caloocan City police personnel.
Also, 70 operatives of Police Regional Office, Central Luzon Regional Public Safety Battalion flew to Cagayan de Oro to augment the police forces in Mindanao and the ongoing crisis in Marawi.
Also, PNP’s internal affairs already conducted over 1,900 drug-related investigations against law enforcement officials from July 1, 2016 to June 15, 2017.
In summary, we need to understand that these things are being addressed. Except that perhaps there’s a lot of noise on the outside and — auxiliary noise.
However, the President is quite serious in addressing all of these matters. Thank you very much.
Ms. Gutierrez: Sir, may we get your reaction. One of the suspects in the death of hazing victim Atio Castillo, Ralph Trangia, has arrived in the Philippines. This was after President Duterte himself assured the family that the government will help in getting justice for the death of their son.
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: And we expect that he will receive justice. The family will. Thank you very much. One more?
Mr. Morong: Sir, nakarating na po ba sa Palace ‘yung resignation yata ni Gambala?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: We haven’t. No report. Yeah.
Mr. Morong: Thank you.
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Going back
Enemies neutralized – 777
Civilians killed by terrorists – 47
Civilians rescued – 1,750
Recovered firearms – 818
Recovered unexploded explosives – 28
Recovered IEDs – 8
Government casualties, killed-in-action – 159
Buildings cleared – 39
And also, Marawi Casualty Landbank account – P102, 086, 119.03
And for the Marawi IDPs – P136,595
We expect a quick resolution hopefully soon. Thank you very much.
— END —