Back from US, PNoy says 43K jobs to be generated in 3 years
Editorial Cartoon by Manix Abrera
In his arrival statement made at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) around 3 a.m., the president said he and his delegation secured $2.4 billion in investments, and a grant $434 million by the Millennium Challenge Corporation for social welfare programs.
"It's good to be home," said Aquino. "In the last week during our visit to the United States, we were able to send our message across: the Philippines is open for business."
Aquino, who attended more than 40 meetings with political, business, and civil society leaders during his week-long visit, said several US investors expressed their readiness to invest in the Philippines.
"These meetings covered a wide range of sectors such as power generation, consumer products, business and knowledge process outsourcing, health care, and garments and leather goods," he said.
The president said: "We were able to secure a commitment of at least 43,650 new jobs in the next three years, including some 4,500 in construction related jobs. And because of the multiplier effect, we estimate 200,000 more jobs to benefit our countrymen."
Aquino said US-based power firm AES Corporation will expand the capacity of its Masinloc coal-fired power plant by up to 660 megawatts, with a project cost of $1 billion. He said the construction of the plant, which may last three to four years, will create 1,500 jobs. More jobs will be created for plant operations.
Beverage giant Coca-Cola will also invest $1 billion in the Philippines for the "upgrading and replacement of equipment and creation of new products and processes," Aquino said.
Other companies will invest a collective total of $400 more million, he said. Among the companies he met with were pharmaceutical firm Pfizer, Hewlett-Packard (HP), JPMorgan Chase, General Electric (GE), and several others.
Trade relations with RP
Aquino said he and the prime ministers of Singapore and Malaysia, with whom he separately met in the US, also agreed to expand trade relations with the Philippines.
"Masasabi natin na ang mga pag-uusap na nanganap ay hindi lamang pakitang tao. Malawak at detalyado ang mga naging usapin natin. At nararamdaman ng mga dayuhan ang bagong sigla at kumpyansa na nararamdaman din ng napakaraming Pilipino ngayon," Aquino said.
(We can say that the talks were not just for a show. They were wide-ranging and detailed. The foreigners felt the confidence that is felt by many Filipinos today.)
"Hinihikayat ko ang ating mga kapwa Pilipino na panay pa rin ang batikos, makiisa sana kayo sa ating pagsisikap (I am urging other Filipinos who keep on criticizing [the government] to be one with us in working hard," he added.
Energy Secretary Jose Rene Almendras, who was one of the four Cabinet secretaries who went with Aquino to the US, said in an ambush interview that Aquino disclosed only the "sure" agreements that have already been signed.
He said the Philippine government expects more investments to come based on the enthusiastic response of business leaders in the US, even as he said the jobs that have already been secured were already "definitely more than what we expected."
Almendras added he was surprised by the very response of the business community to Aquino.
"More than focusing on numbers, on amounts, I think what's even worth bigger celebration is the sentiment," said Almendras.
"I was telling myself, my God I've seen the president locally and we would see people rush to him, we would see people shake his hand or even in New York you'd see Filipinos go to him," he said. "But when you see even businessmen, investors, senior government officials really go out of their way and seek him out, it's really a testament to the trust factor that is there."
Aquino was accompanied during his US visit by Almendras, Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo, and Finance Secretary Cesa Purisima. Several of the country's top business leaders comprised the president's business delegation.
Meeting with Obama
Aside from attending various business meetings, Aquino attended the United Nations general assembly where he delivered a speech calling for "global people power" against inequality; and the US-Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) leaders meeting.
He also had a seven-minute one-on-one meeting with US President Barack Obama. GMA News' Sandra Aguinaldo reported that among the topics they discussed was the cleanup of Corregidor because of the ammo dump there supposedly dating back from World War II.
Aquino and Obama are set to hold a longer bilateral meeting in the future although no date has been set, Aguinaldo reported.
Upon his arrival at the NAIA, Aquino was welcomed by other members of his Cabinet, including Executive Secretary Paquito "Jojo" Ochoa Jr., Social Welfare Secretary Corazon "Dinky" Soliman, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Tourism Secretary Alberto Lim, Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson, Education Secretary Armin Luistro, and Presidential Peace Adviser Teresita Deles.
Aquino's working visit to the US was his first official trip abroad as chief executive. — LBG, GMANews.TV