At the 2016 Presidential Dialogues of the Makati Business Club
Fairmont Hotel, Makati City
[March 30, 2016]
To Chairman Ramon del Rosario of the MBC and the members of the Makati Business Club leadership–Vice Chairman Jaime Zobel, Doris Ho, Gigi Montinola, Guillie Luchanco
Likewise to the leadership of the MAP, President Perry Pe–mabuti ka pa, Perry, presidente ka na. [Laughter and applause] How does it sound? Does it sound good–”President Perry Pe.”
Vice President Marife Zamora; immediate past president Popoy del Rosario; Noel Bonoan, one of the directors; and of course, what was jointly referred to by both organizations as valued member of their leadership, Cora dela Paz, both of MBC and MAP; [Applause]
I see so many friends and even family members all the way back there in the audience. [Cheers and applause] Thank you very much for the time.
Fellow workers in government… I just want to say [to] someone who’ve I have worked with for so long in the executive, both in the DTI days and recently in the Aquino administration–Secretary Greg Domingo is here with us. [Applause]
Japanese Ambassador Ishikawa-san, we are honored that you are here. [Applause]
To the executive directors of the MBC and the MAP; Peter Perfecto of the MBC, and Arnold Salvador of the MAP; to the all the other members of the leadership of the Makati Business Club and the MAP; friends, ladies, and gentlemen:
Magandang tanghali po sa inyong lahat, and thank you all very much for being here this afternoon.
I’m very, very pleased and encouraged. I thought I would be the last speaker in this series, because as Ramon had said, it is alphabetical. So, the thought that crossed my mind was the ballroom was full, all the tables are full, they have heard already all the previous speakers–so they have not yet been convinced. So, I’m glad that you are here waiting to be convinced. [Laughter and applause]
I thought long and hard about my remarks here this afternoon. In a manner of speaking, this is a homecoming for me. I have worked with many of you. I have labored and toiled [during my] DTI days, DOTC days, as senator, as congressman before that, and more recently, as a member of the DILG. And there is a saying, one of the hardest to go back to are the people that you know so very well. So, it’s with great deal of trepidation that I approach this afternoon’s session.
But what came to mind is the reality that I am here, although you’ve known me for a long time, but I am here really as a job applicant. And it is in that context that I approach today’s session.
Your decision is not very different from a decision that an investor will make regarding the Philippines. In a manner of speaking, this is an investor’s forum. You know all about the country. You operate in the country. You make money. You go through your jobs and your professions and your businesses operating in the country. And now, you are interviewing who would be the next CEO for your company, or for your country.
And so, you all have skin in the game. You’re all invested here. Your fortunes, your investments, your companies, your stakeholders are all dependent on your decisions and on your choices. And to use a venture capital phrase, the country right now has gone from “diaper” to “short pants”. And the question for us as a nation, “How do we get from short pants long pants and who’s the best the best person that can take us through the transition?”
The problems of getting from diaper to short pants are very, very different from the problems that will get us to long pants. We want to get into the big boys game.
We have gotten many, many accolades from across the globe. If you take a look at the context in which we operate, we were once called the Sick Man of Asia, as if we were lepers or unable to keep pace with our newly industrialized country-neighbors. We were called the “gang that couldn’t shoot straight.” We were called “The people that never missed an opportunity miss an opportunity,” “Keystone Cops.” More elegantly, The Economist called the country “event rich”–coups, volcano eruptions, earthquakes, tsunamis, storms, political turmoil, and so on and so forth.
But here we are six years later. What was once the Sick Man of Asia is now referred to as Asia’s Bright Star. It is not simply a headline. It is backed up by various assessments of international agencies. And even we ourselves, when we looked upon our book of accounts, so to speak, we can say that we have progress quite far.
To continue the analogy of the Sick Man of Asia, we are now no longer in the emergency room, no longer in ICU. We have now been discharged from the hospital, well on our way to getting better and learning now how to go from walking to jogging to running. And if you take a look at all of the other assessments, the vital signs of the patient appear good. Our unemployment rate is at 5.8 percent, the lowest in 10 years. The average GDP over the last six years is about 6.2 percent. World Economic Forum, Global Competitiveness Index, we have improved 40 slots from 87 to 47. Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index–134 to 95, and so on and so forth. You are very, very familiar with all these information.
And by the way, I’ll make my remarks–or at least the outline of my remarks–available on our website, so you can look at all these data data that I’m referring to.
But more importantly, out-of-school youths went down from 2.9 million to 1.2 million in the current year–2015 I mean. Self-rated hunger went from 23.4 percent, nearly ¼ of our population, to 11 percent, roughly 1/10 of our population.
The question is, how did we do this? This did not happen by miracle. This did not happen in a wink of an eye. This took all of us, all of us collectively put a good, clean, decent government in place in 2010. And that government, holding true to the precepts of good governance of Daang Matuwid, was able to enable you, the private sector, to attain all of these accomplishments.
Continuing with the analogy of the patient, how did we do this? Well, there were some blockages, so to speak, in the artery of our country, the arteries of country. And what we did was to unblock these blockages so that we could unleash the vibrancy and the dynamism of you, the private sector, so that you, the private sector could in fact lead the growth and development of our country.
What are these blockages? First was corruption. There was a very, very strong anti-corruption plank that was put in place. The former Ombudsperson who was not very anti-corruption was induced to resign. The former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, who lied on his SALN accounts, was forced to resign. Senators have been put under the bar of the judicial system and are now in fact, awaiting their trials. Congressmen, governors, and so on and so forth.
I just want to, at this point, debunk that this has been selective. Because if you take a look at the records of the Ombudsman, as well as the Sandiganbayan, there is no predisposition for non-Liberal Party members. In fact, there are many Liberal Party members who have been subjected to this anti-corruption stance by the present government. So there is no room for corruption anywhere in a country that seeks to develop and wants to modernize. And that is something that has really been a good plank, a fundamental plank, in our platform.
How did we do this? Well, one of the other blockages was limited resources. What we did was we created fiscal space, we grew the economy–you grew the economy, we enabled the growing of the economy simply because there was clean leadership at the top. We improved tax collection efforts. I know that there’s mixed reviews here about the current BIR commissioner, but here are the facts: From 12.2 percent tax collection effort, we improved in last year to 13.7 percent. It might not seem like a lot, but 1.2 percent of GDP, which is about 14 trillion pesos, I did a quick math, translates to about 210 billion additional resources that we are now able to deploy for social services for infrastructure and other needs of our country. So that 1.2 percent differential in clean, good tax collecting effort led to 260 billion annually, annually, that has now been deployed to better use.
We had very, very good debt management so that what was interest expense at roughly 25 percent of our budget has now been reduced to about 13 percent of our budget. Again, those 12 percentage points, applied to a 3 trillion peso budget, translates to about 360 billion pesos. What was once paid to the international and domestic banks as interest payments, because of good governance, because of good management of the economy, has lowered our cost of interest and now has enabled us to raise these resources to be able to redeploy them to better use.
There were wrong priorities–this was another blockage. Government was pursuing the wrong priorities. So what did we do? We invested in our single biggest resource, which was our people. Our people are the ones who create the vibrancy in our economy, and they are the ones, in fact, who are able to create the value-added to spur our economy forward. So we invested in our people. How did we do that? On education, we closed the classroom gap, the teacher gap, the textbook gap, the desks and chairs gap.
Just to catalog some of these things: by the end of this year, we would have created 184,000 classrooms all across the country. That’s real. Each one of those things is geo-tagged, each one of those classrooms will be used. Great majority of them are now being used by our kids to learn their lessons in school. We would have hired 274,000 teachers. At the start of this year, we already hired 214,000 teachers. Imagine any of your companies hiring this many people in five years. It really transforms the nature of your organization, to be able to hire this number of people in order to provide the lessons that our kids need so that they can become productive members of our economy.
We invested in physical infrastructure as well, and in our resiliency. I remember in 2009, 2010, the entire capital expenditure outlay of the government was roughly 170 billion pesos. Last year, 2015, it was 580 billion pesos–times three. This year, 2016, it’s 800 billion pesos–times five. And all of that, without raising our debt as a percent of the economy. Without raising interest rate as a percent of our total budget.
So closing the leakages, creating the fiscal space, managing the government and the economy well created all of this fiscal space that we could now redeploy these resources to where they have the utmost value-added for our country. And that’s to our people, as well as in physical infrastructure.
These are all examples that have been talked about over the last five years. And the reason I bring them up is because unlike all other candidates, I’m the only candidate that is saying or that is standing on the platform of continuity. Ituloy. Typically, when it’s election time, palitan! Tanggalin! Patalsikin! I don’t know the English translations of those, so it makes it difficult. Remove! And for our foreign guests. “Kick them out,” and so on and so forth, right? But we in Daang Matuwid are running on the platform of continuity, of “ituloy.” And so it’s important that you and I understand where we came from, how we got to where we are. Because this is what we believe in. This is what we’ve worked for collectively over the last five years, and this is what we hope. These are the principles that we hope to continue.
But that’s not all. The question in your minds now is “Okay, Mar, you told us, diapers to short pants, how do we now get to long pants?”
Here’s how we do that. We will do that by continuing to grow the economy. We will continue to grow the economy based on three pillars: first will be manufacturing. Manufacturing is roughly 25 percent, 30 percent of our GDP. I believe that we need to be able to grow this, and we can grow this–excuse me… So, manufacturing: We will be able to do this by attracting quality jobs that are now looking for a better site than where they are presently.
Just the other day, I was in a factory in Porac, Pampanga. 10,000 workers. Company’s called SuperL. They just recently came here. They saw the example of one of the companies that I’m very familiar with because I and Greg, when he was with us at the BOI, was able to invite them, Luen Thai, they got about 60,000 workers here. So this company, who is a competitor of theirs in China, saw the move of Luen Thai. They investigated, and they came over about four years ago. Now, 10,000 workers. The monthly, the monthly amount, the monthly cash that goes into the local Porac community is about 150 million pesos.
The point I’m trying to make is that we’ve been able to do this before, and we can do this again. Companies will find a hospitable climate here. They’re very happy that they’re here, and in fact are inviting their suppliers to come and join us here.
A million jobs might sound impossible–not that difficult. A hundred such companies, a hundred at ten thousand, is a million jobs. And I find that that can be very easily attained so long as we stay the course, we continue the course.
So manufacturing, tourism. The latest statistic of our tourism is about 5.2, 5.4 million tourists having entered the country. We believe that we could double this to 12 million tourists in the next six years. The plan that Sec. Mon Jimenez has put together requires about 65 billion pesos in capital expenditures by the private sector for hotels, restaurants, and so on and so forth, only requiring that the government continue its infrastructure spending so that the roads, ports, airports, and other necessary infrastructure to move the people across the archipelago are likewise in place.
And lastly, in agriculture. Agriculture is the big elephant in the room. We all know and we all benefit from the products of agriculture. And yet, agriculture is really one of the areas with the greatest poverty all across our country. And it’s not easy–it’s not hard to see why. Agriculture represents roughly an eighth, about 12 percent of our GDP. And yet, roughly a third of our people are dependent on agriculture. So it’s a very, very narrow slice of the bibingka, with so many people dependent on it.
And what’s the secret to agriculture? How do we invigorate agriculture? Well, I’ll talk about it a little bit in the “how” portion, but basically, we’re gonna grow the economy focusing on these three areas. We’re gonna develop new sources of economic activity. We’re gonna invigorate the low-growth sources, such as agriculture; what was once a low-growth, we can invigorate it by the following means.
And what’s important is how we are going to do it. There are five elements that are very clear in my mind. First, we have to continue investing in our human capital. The way we’re going to do this after having invested in the physical gaps and shortages–the classrooms, the teachers, and so and so forth–we now need to move up the value chain. We now need to improve the quality of our education. That will require teacher training, that will require more scholarships for teachers so that they can get their masterals that will require an entire sector, our education sector, to learn new ways of teaching old lessons. And one of the most important elements here is internet penetration. There’s a worldwide study that says, 2009, again evaluated 2012, that says, for every 10 percent internet penetration in a low to middle-level country–that’s us–it will improve GDP growth by about 1.3, 1.4 percent. Simply providing access.
Internet today, Internet access today is the same as what our road access was in the past. The road is what connected that far-off community to the rest of the country and the rest of the world, and now that is what Internet connectivity will do. So we will invest, the government will invest if necessary, we will build out the areas where connectivity must be put in place so that every school all across the country, all of the school sites all across the country will now be connected with internet to enable all of these communities, all of these children, to be part of the world as we know it today. [Applause]
So investing in human capital, improving the quality for education is very important. One of the key programs that we’re going to do is we’re going to give a scholarship–Ramon, you might be very happy to hear this–we will give a scholarship of 100,000 pesos to all of the valedictorians of all the high schools all across the country. That’s about 5,000–[applause] There’s about 5,200 senior high schools. Each one’s gonna have a valedictorian. These are the best and brightest by definition of the principles, and the school system in those places. So all of these valedictorians will get a scholarship of up to–it’s not cash grant–of up to 100,000 pesos. In other words, if they can get to La Salle, or Ateneo, UP, or any of the other schools, in other words, their poverty would not be a limit to the kind and quality of education that they can get. So that’s what we’re gonna do. [Applause]
It’s quite simple, you know. 5,000 valedictorians and 100,000 pesos is roughly 600 million pesos a year, times four years we’re gonna give them this hundred pesos, so long as they can stay in school, is no more than 2.4 billion pesos. Here we are, talking of no more than 2.4 billion pesos as if kayang-kaya. Remember not so long ago, when a billion pesos was so difficult for us because there is no fiscal space. But that was we’re gonna do for our kids: We’re gonna make sure that none of them are limited. If they’re the best and brightest Filipinos that we can produce today, they will not be limited in what they can attain.
But that’s not all: The top 10 percent–not top 10 in numbers but the top 10 percent of that graduating class–there are roughly 1.1 million seniors in high school that are going to graduate. So the top 10 percent is roughly 100,000 kids. These hundred thousand are also going to get a stipend similar to what GASTPE can now provide, about 10,000 pesos each so they can go to the best college that they can get into, so that again, their poverty will not be a limit to what education that they can get and what future they can build for themselves.
So this in general is what we’re gonna do in continuing to invest in our people. The kids themselves, so that they have access; the teachers themselves, so that they can teach better; those who are in school, and then the infrastructure, physical infrastructure, such as the Internet so they can be much better connected with the rest of the world.
Next area: energy. When we talk about energy, most often the first thing out of people’s mouths are “second most expensive in Asia after Japan.” That’s true too. But that does not tell the whole story of energy. There is a huge potential in energy as we move and transition our country from relatively dirty energy to relatively cleaner energy. Right now, roughly half our energy mix is dirty. That’s oil, and that is coal. About 50 percent is dirty. The other 50 percent–geothermal, hydro, renewable energy–is the other 50 percent.
Historically–and again, it’s important to see this in context–historically, the most important parameter was cost, and the cheapest was coal at about 3.80 per kilowatt hour. Every other technology is more expensive. But now, because of the Paris accords, I intend to be able to avail of the Paris concessions so that in fact these rich countries who dirtied up the air to begin with are then held to their promises of providing support for countries such as us who want to move away from dirty energy such as coal and move towards renewable. More CNG, more hydro, more geo, and more of the renewable energies. That will create jobs, that will create opportunities, and that will create a better climate for all of us into the future. [Applause]
For Manilenyos who are here, on a parochial note: Roughly there are 5,300 city buses that ply Metro Manila’s routes every day. All of them are diesel. One of the first acts that I will do is to mandate that in a certain period of time, within one, two, no more than three years, all of them will convert to CNG so that they can have clean transportation, as how it should be in Metro Manila. [Applause]
Just a note: I think it’s important that you realize there can be no “one size fits all” solution. Metro Manila, because it’s urban, because it’s very, very dense, has relatively dirtier air than outside Metro Manila. CNG, as a bus, both for CAPEX, is more expensive than regular. So I think what we need to do is we need to transition properly, the sequencing of moving to cleaner transport as we go along, because why burden somebody who lives in Romblon with a mandated CNG bus when there is really right now no dirty air pollution problem in Romblon? That’s all that I want to say. So that’s how we’re doing this: phase by phase in the highly urbanized cities, and before we can look at moving off in the countryside. So that’s what we’re going to do here in Metro Manila.
Speaking of Metro Manila, again: These buses, 5,300 buses more or less in NCR, all have different franchises. All have different owners. All have different compensation systems, and that contributes to a large part of the traffic that we have in NCR. So one of the things that we’re gonna do is I’m going to go to Congress. I believe that this cannot be done by executive fiat alone. We go to Congress and we get along, and I believe that I can do this in a short order of time, that says all of these franchises will be truncated so that in fact, we can bid out one bus carrier per route so that the buses themselves are not competing with each other and in their competition, taking up lanes, one after the other, and racing down the highways for the next rider. [Applause]
Likewise, compensation of the drivers. The drivers now are paid by passenger. And that’s why they have to race to get the passengers. I mean, I don’t mean to pat the economists on the back, but really, everything is incentive system, that’s what the economists say, right? However, how you incentivize people is how they’re going to behave. So if the driver is gonna get paid a fixed wage, irrespective of how many passengers he has, then he will stay in line, right? And not take up lanes and not cause traffic as he goes and tries to earn a living for himself.
So that’s what we’re gonna do with energy, and that’s what we’re gonna do for the traffic here in Metro Manila.
Countryside development: I talked a little bit about that in agriculture, one-third of our people are dependent on this. Let me just give you–there’s a lot of data here. But let me just tell you a story, very, very simple. I was in Benguet sometime a week or two ago, and we came across a sayote farmer. Sayote farmer, how much do you get for your sayote? Three to four pesos a kilo. That same sayote becomes six pesos a kilo in La Trinidad, Benguet. That’s the trading post there. It becomes 12 pesos a kilo when you go to Baguio central market. That’s at the end of Session Road. And that becomes 50 pesos a kilo when it gets here to Balintawak and to Manila. All of us, all urbanites, pay 50 pesos per kilo for that sayote. That farmer earns four pesos per kilo for that sayote.
That’s why our farmers are poor: Because the 46 peso-differential is not made by them. So how do we make our farmers go from subsistence, hand-to-mouth existence, to a situation where they are self-sustaining, where they have real incomes that they can put away money and plan for their future? Simple: We need to increase their incomes. But that’s not the story. The story is how?
We cannot do this by subsidies, because subsidies will create a whole different set of problems. The way we do this is to enable them to aggregate their supply and their demand into scale. Because as we all know in the world today, without scale, you cannot be competitive. It is scale, it is scale economies, it’s what gives you negotiating power, it’s what gives you the power to say no to low prices. It’s what gives you the power to negotiate for capital so that you can invest in your farms, you can invest in your post-service facilities, you can invest in your warehouses, in your chillers, in the trucking, and so on and so forth–so that in fact, you can earn a real living putting food in all of our plates here in the urban centers. That’s what we’re going to do for our agricultural sector.
Imagine 30 million Filipinos in our countryside who presently, may be, in subsistence hand-to-mouth, if all of them or a large portion of them get some help so that they can in fact be productive income generating members of our economy, imagine the boom in our countryside, which will create the demand, which will create further economic activity. And that will add another one and half percentage points to our GDP as we move to growing our economy into the future. That’s what we’re gonna do for our countryside. [Applause]
I got about two-three pages. Is that okay? Then, we have 20 minutes for Q and A.
Other blockages: infrastructure. We are all very familiar with the blockages of infrastructure. We need to invest more. There’s no substitute for it. The demand for infrastructure is directly related to the growth to the economy.
I remember when I was DTI, Greg, when we were working in the car manufacturing plan–60,000 units a year, vehicle sales. It was a good year for the car industry. This year, it’s 300,000 units. Streets aren’t getting any wider especially in urban areas. So, the only way to build capacity is to build second level and third level. That’s what we’re going to do.
Are you disappointed? Yes, there is some disappointment. But, you know, I just want to say, many of the solutions that are already in place, and are already being worked on. The NLEX-SLEX Connectors are being built. That will add another 14 lanes north-south radial all across NCR. Parts of that will be done by the end of this year, and will be fully completed by the end of next year. So that’s in the works already.
Other things that are important is building a new airport. I know that many of you like the convenience of having NAIA right in our backyard here. But here’s the thing: Take Charles de Gualle, take Chek Lap Kok, take Narita–there has to be movement out of the city.
Remember that the first airport–all of you are too young to remember this, and I only know this because Jaime told me a story from the history books. [Laughter] The first runway was Ayala Avenue. Di ba? So, we moved the airport from inner city to outer city Parañaque. Now, we have to move it again. We are growing. We are 100 million people. We are a country that is looked upon as the Bright Star in Asia. So, we need to step up as well.
What’s the difference? NAIA–440 hectares only. Intersecting runways–0624, that’s the long runway and then the one heading to Baclaran is called 1331. So, if you’re using this, you cannot use this. If you’re using this [one], you cannot use this [one]. Parang, it’s fairly straightforward. So, there is a limitation to what NAIA can produce.
Can we do this immediately? No. But one of the first things that we’re gonna do is I’m gonna start the high-speed rail–not a commuter line but a high-speed rail similar to the high-speed train that gets you from Chek Lap Kok to Tsing Yi–I think that’s the first stop–and then to Kowloon and then to Hong Kong island. [Applause]
High-speed rail–we need to do that because there is no new airport, there is no new location without having that high-speed rail system. Simultaneous to that is an elevated highway so that, again, we can get that 90 kilometers more or less from central business district NCR to Clark as fast as possible. You can get there. Our target is 35 minutes similar to what it is in Hong Kong. [Applause]
I don’t know if the clapping is just from our family or not… [laughter] but while we’re at it, why Clark? Why Clark? Clark is 2,000 hectares. NAIA is 440 hectares. It’s not much rocket science to figure out. In Clark, we can have three parallel runways, whereas in NAIA, we are limited by the very configuration that already exists in NAIA. Number 2, and here’s the best part of it, for those of you who haven’t figured it out–440 hectares, 4.4 million square meters, pick a number, 100,000 pesos per square meter. The last bidding for the FTI terminal was at a multiple of a hundred thousand. So, the point I’m trying to make is 100,000 pesos per square meter, roughly 2,000 dollars per square meter, 4 million square meters, 8 billion dollars–it pays for the entire move! It pays for the entire growth and development. [Applause]
But if elected president, I’m not gonna spend it all. I’m not. I’ve thought a lot about this. That 440 hectares which is a central business district should not be made available to the market all in one blow because it will depress prices. So what I intend to do is, again, go to Congress and say every president gets to only sell a portion of that 440 for major undertakings of our country, so that in fact this is our nest egg for growing our economy from where it is today to long pants. That’s what we intend to do with this asset from what it is in the central business district. [Applause]
Last item, last sort of blockage that will unleash the energies of the private sector of our economy: judicial system. Not much is talked about the judicial system. Let me tell you two facts. The first is this. The last study that I read calculated that roughly two or three trillion pesos worth of assets are locked up in litigation. They cannot be transacted. They cannot be hypothecated. They cannot be–nothing could be done to them because it’s locked up in litigation. Maybe one party or another wants it to be in litigation. But imagine this potential in our economy that’s not being used, that’s not being deployed. So there is a great deal of blockage. There is a great deal of potential in unlocking these assets that are tied up in litigation. And that relates to the next point.
The next point is this–the next president, and maybe this is one of the most important reasons as to why we should be very careful in our choices–the next president gets to appoint ten Supreme Court justices. The wrong choice might mean that black becomes white and white becomes black or red becomes blue and blue becomes red. Because they can interpret. Ten Supreme Court justices. And that’s why we need to be very, very careful. It will change the entire character of our judicial system. It will therefore change the entire character of the rules and regulations under which we live as a society, and under which we build our businesses as an economy.
So, I think that’s one of the areas that we need to pay attention to. We have started to do that by having continuous trial. That’s one of our goals. Just the other day, over Holy Week–I didn’t finish it because as always I fall asleep–I saw a movie (it was a documentary) where in a matter of few weeks or months, they were able to finish the entire litigation.
The point is, don’t hire a lawyer if he cannot appear in the hearings because for the poor, in particular, justice delayed is really justice denied. They don’t have the money to keep paying the lawyer to show up. They don’t have the resources to keep after a long protracted legal process. So, continuous trials is one of our goals. We’ve started that. We patterned it after the Ecozone System. We call it the Justice Ecozone. So what we’ve done is we’ve completed all the necessary elements: the Public Attorney’s Office, the Prosecutor, the judges, the clerks, so on and so forth, including E-warrant, E-subpoena, so that in fact in that area–it’s now being tried in Quezon City. I’m going to do that for the rest of the country. We started that when I was DILG together with Secretary Leila de Lima and Chief Justice Sereno where we said, “Let’s have an area where everything works, where justice is actually fast, effective, efficient. So, people can actually get justice. Let’s complete all of the elements, so justice can be obtained.” That’s what we’ve done in Quezon City. That’s we’re going to do for the rest of the country. [Applause] That way you can have meaningful justice all across our country.
What can you expect in the manner in which we will govern? These are some of the things that we will do [and] how we’re going to do it.
I think it is very important that we go back to our long relationship. You know me. We’ve had a long relationship, many interactions, many engagements. We have not agreed all the time. There have been instances where my own decision may have run counter to the particular bottom line of one of your members.
For example, as a senator, I investigated the pre-need scam. I still maintain that it’s a scam. Hundreds of thousands of people lost their savings buying into the notion that if we put our money there, by the time tuition time comes for our kids–But what happened? The money evaporated.
Cheaper medicines law: I saw in the other countries, that there was, because of competition or government intervention, prices of medicines were cheaper. So I advocated that. Maybe one or two members may not have been so happy.
Passenger bill of rights, where what all of you, when you travel, come to expect as ordinary course of business, that if your flight is delayed or if you’re bumped off, you will be compensated. Why is that available to you as you travel abroad but not available to you as you travel within the country?
I bring these examples up simply to say that we have had disagreements. But let me say, and I think that you know this in your hearts, it was never personal for me, and certainly not personal not against you. It was always what was for the common good. It was always what I thought was right. And that’s what you can expect from Mar Roxas. [Applause]
I believe government is an enabler. Government is your ally to help you grow, to help you be productive and successful. Because your success is our economy’s success, is our people’s success. Jobs, incomes, livelihoods is the point of all of these, so that people can live with honor, with dignity. They have a job. They have certainty. They can plan. Things that perhaps all of us here take for granted are not givens for 90 percent of our people, if not more. And that’s what we want to do. We want to be able to build a society so that in fact, it’s not just the economy, it’s not just the business sector, but the entire people, our entire society, is able to grow, to develop, to build good, productive, meaningful lives for themselves.
I invite you, I invite all of you to join me in that task, to join me in that journey. As we go from short pants to long pants, as we move our country to modernity, [applause] to maturity, and to greater opportunity for all.
Maraming salamat at magandang tanghali sa inyong lahat. [Applause]