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PIA Press Release

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's Speech at the 5th Global Filipino Networking Convention

Sydney, Australia, 7 September 2007

Mga kababayan sa Australia at sa iba't ibang bahagi ng mundo!

Ikinagagalak ng ating delegasyon, bahagi dito ay APEC delegation at bahagi rin dito ay business delegation bilateral mula Pilipinas. Meron pa tayong isang kasama pero siya ay talagang ang pinuntahan niya ay kayo, ang chairman ng ating Philippine Retirement Authority, si Egay Aglipay (applause). Nasisiyahan kaming lahat mula sa Pilipinas na makita kayo dito sa 5th Global Filipino Networking Convention. Salamat at nagkaroon tayo ng ganitong pagkakataon.

Congratulations to the Filipino-Australian convenors for this year's convention, as well as the community leaders who made this event a success. Congratulations to Malyn who is the president of the Filipino Communities Council of Australia, and to Lolita Farmer, head of the Global Filipinos Australia and the Convention's Organizing Commitee, and one of the 2006 recipients of the Presidential Award for Overseas Filipinos.

Yung mga hindi taga-Australia nagugulat, ang galing-galing raw magsalita ni Lolita. Well, what she gets her award for is because she's a very successful practicing lawyer here in Sydney.

So to all of you who are not from Australia, welcome to this part of the world and especially to the original convenors of this convention, Loida and the other leaders of NAFFA (applause). I'm sure you're so proud that NAFFA has gone such a long way (applause). and also other commmunity leaders from around the world.

Indeed, this is a first, it maybe your fifth convention, but it's a first because it's the first time that this Global Filipino Networking Convention is held outside the U.S. and the Philippines. Mabuhay kayong lahat!

And congratulations for holding this event in time for the 15th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders' Summit.

Nung ikinukuwento ko nung Mayo because I made a state visit here, na babalik ako rito one day ahead of the summit because I will speak to the Filipino communities, nagulat sila, how can you swing another convention when the APEC convention is taking place? But you are all here and that is again Mabuhay to your organizational abilities.

But it's also good for the Filipinos from all over the world to be here at a time of APEC conference so that we can also keep up with what's happening in APEC.

At a time of uncertainty in the world, APEC remains a central pillar of global engagement and dialogue. We Filipinos believe in strong global engagement for our country and our people -- lalo na kayo, you know that, you're practicing it, to grow our economy, ensure peace and security and lift our nation out of poverty.

Figuratively speaking, the more bridges we build, the more people can cross to new lands and new ideas. You, the overseas Filipinos, have demonstrated that we must be open to the world and peoples and places other than our own. That is what the 21st century will be about.

You know, it's not so much a function of poverty, you are professionals, you didn't go all over the world because you are poor. In New Zealand which is very rich, 25 percent of their population are overseas, a lot of them are here in Australia. And in Portugal which is not a poor country either, it's like us, 10 percent of the population are abroad.

So that really means that the 21st century is about going to new places and being with peoples other than our own.

That is why APEC plays such a large role for the Philippines – it is one of the most important bridges we can build and cross together. We want the Philippines actively engaged in local, regional and global affairs because that is the future.

In the summit, we hope to see greater regional economic integration made possible with all 21 APEC economies agreeing to pursue the path of trade liberalization and a discussion on how the APEC can work together to address the global challenges of climate change through a framework for cooperation following up the Kyoto Protocol.

Prime Minister Howard in fact has decided to make climate change the major topic at the Summit.

So let me also tell you about us and what we're doing adapting to climate change. In the Philippines, we embrace sustainable development. We've moved forward with an aggressive effort to create a Green Philippines, including reducing reliance on fossil fuels with our biofuels, wind and solar efforts and geothermal programs. It is good for our economy and good for the health and well-being of our people to have a strong economy and clean environment. That is why we welcome Australia's initiative to discuss climate change at the APEC because there's need for concerted international action to address the global challenges of climate change. We have a clean development mechanism under the Kyoto Protocol. This has allowed developing countries like the Philippines to voluntarily reduce its greenhouse gas emissions through private sector initiatives. But there is a need for expansion. There's a need for greater levels of international cooperation and financial support to promote strategies to adapt to climate change, capacity development and technology transfer to avert security implications of the adverse effects of climate change.

Security implications, you know, for instance, Australia is a very big exporter of milk to the Philippines. Australia is already suffering from climate change. Milk production has gone down by 10 percent. Therefore, the price of milk in the Philippines has gone up. So we have adverse affects of climate change and we have to deal with them. So that's what we call adaptation strategies.

Countries like the Philippines contribute less than 1% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions. So we are not a villain as far as climate change is concerned. They call our kind of country a climate taker rather than a climate maker. So domestically for us more than working to reduce greenhouse gas, what's important for us is how to adapt to the climate change. And that is adaptation strategies, and that is what we need. It's more important than reduction. Still, reduction is important to the extent that we can contribute.

On our part, for instance, we must learn and adapt from our neighbors the technology, policies and economic tools that will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. At the same time we are the second largest producer of geothermal energy in the world after the U.S., therefore we can also contribute by sharing our experience in developing clean alternative energy sources like geothermal power.

And APEC presents an opportunity to engage our allies in all of these things -- in various economic, political and security issues at a time when the world needs closer cooperation.

This lunchtime, for instance, President Bush had lunch with five ASEAN leaders and the foreign and trade ministers of the seven ASEAN nations who are members of APEC. Tomorrow I will meet Malaysian Prime Minister Badawi so we can discuss the peace process in Southern Philippines which is being facilitated by Malaysia. That's one of the usefulness of an APEC summit.

The APEC, along with the ASEAN and other trading agreements, provides the opportunity for nations to work together to lift up our poor, not just in the Philippines but all over the world. We believe in the power of the global trading system to alleviate poverty and modernize nations through market forces. That does not mean we believe that countries like the Philippines are ready to compete head-to-head today in every sector, but it does mean that because that is what the 21st century is all about, we cannot afford to be afraid of globalization. I guess, just as we say that we are a climate taker rather than a climate maker, we're a globalization taker rather than a globalization maker, it's there. Let us use it to fight poverty.

Poverty alleviation is the number one most important part of our agenda in the Philippines and our vision to lift the Philippines into modernized country status in 20 years.

Iyong ating mga reporma sa ekonomiya ay nasa harapan ng ating kampanyang bawasan ang kahirapan. Ito ang ating pangkalahatang layunin.

Mula nang ang inyong lingkod ay umupo bilang Pangulo hanggang ngayon, mataas ang ating hinangad para sa ating bansa. Hinarap natin ang hamon: walang nakaakalang makakakuha tayo ng mas malaking buwis and cut down on tax cheats. And no one thought we could bring our budget deficit under control, pre-pay our debts and raise employment, ngunit nagawa natin ito.

And I must acknowledge our congressmen and women, including our former congressmen, because the biggest single act that led to the surge in our economy, was the passage of our Value Added Tax which in one bold stroke raised enormous amounts of revenue. Binigyang daang bumilis ang ating pag-angat ng bago nating nahanap na salapi para sa pamumuhunan.

Ang pagbalansyado ng kaban ng bayan ay unang hakbang lamang. Ngayon namumuhunan tayo sa matagal nang dapat nagawang pamumuhunan sa human at physical infrastructure. Kasama dito ang bilyun-bilyong piso sa edukasyon, kalinga sa kalusugan, training kasama ng bilyun-bilyon sa mga bagong tulay, kalsada, pantalan to upgrade the competitiveness of the Philippines (applause). This in turn attracts more investments at lumilikha ng mga dagdag na trabaho. Mas maraming trabaho, mas kaunting kahirapan.

And we not only want to have infrastructure – human and physical infrastructure, we also want to make the environment friendly to business by reducing red tape and corruption.

Our anti-corruption advisor, Mr. Tony Kwok, who was the former anti-corruption czar in Hong Kong, who was a key player in efforts to clean up corruption there, believes that perceptions cloud the reality of our progress in reducing corruption and red tape in the Philippines. The fact is that we have undertaken the effort to curb graft through criminal justice, through administrative controls and through procedural reforms. This effort is focused on the revenue agencies, that's why they have improved their performance in recent years and agencies that are in the frontline of day-to-day public services. One of them would be the retirement authority, di ba Egay? I think Loida knows that very well, and now you're happy. Okay. because that's a frontline service that deals with overseas Filipinos.

We take this issue very seriously. And we believe perception will match reality in a few years. However, this is a problem that has plagued the Philippines and other countries for generations and, as experience has shown, it won't necessarily be eliminated overnight but progress is being made.

Mabisa ang ating plano sa ekonomiya. Itong second quarter nitong taong ito mula Abril hanggang Hunyo, umangat ang produksyon sa loob ng ating bansa o Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 7.5 percent (applause). That brings the first semester GDP growth to 7.3 percent. Umangat naman ang mga produksyon ng mga Pilipino kasama iyong mga overseas Filipinos o Gross National Product ng 8.3 percent. Thank you (applause).

Ang overseas remittances mula sa mga Pilipino katulad ninyo na nasa labas ng bansa ay umaabot na ng P13 billon o 11% ng ating GDP.

Ang ating Bangko Sentral ay masipag na nagtatrabaho upang iangat ang tinatawag nilang financial literacy lalo na ng mga overseas Filipino workers at kanilang mga pamilya. Nagkakampanya ang Central Bank at ang kanyang mensahe: ang financial freedom hindi tumigil sa may sapat na pondo para isostento ang mga batayang pangangailangan ng isang pamilya. Nag-iipon, nag-iimpok and turning this hard-earned money into solid working capital is equally important. Sa mga financial literacy campaigns ng Bangko Sentral, pinaiiral ang kultura ng pag-iimpok. OFWs and your families are encouraged to channel these savings into investments.

In the Wall Street Journal the other day, they wrote a very beautiful article about the Philippines, our harsh measures are paying off with our growth rate. And that article by James Hookway also said that a lot of the overseas Filipinos are not just sending things for basic necessities but also investing.

Ngayon, parami nang parami ang mga remittances na ginagamit sa pamumuhunan sa Human Resource Capital sa pamamagitan ng edukasyon at kalinga sa kalusugan ng mga benepisyaryo; physical capital sa pamamagitan ng real properties, kasama ang pagbili ng lupa at pagtayo ng tahanan; and also in your case our prosperous overseas Filipinos, you support Gawad Kalinga and so many other projects that are really real property investments. And also pati na rin yung sa retirement homes na binebenta ni Egay Aglipay sa ating mga overseas Filipinos; and financial and capital investment sa pamamagitan ng financial instruments gaya ng stocks, mutual funds, at mga negosyo gaya ng mga Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). At yung mga microfinance gaya ng Opportunity International, we also thank our prosperous overseas Filipinos because you have supported a lot of microfinance NGOs, kaya nagpapalit ang kultura ng mga remittance. At sana tuluy-tuloy ito.

Iginagalang ng ating bansa, ng ating mga mamamayan ang mga overseas Filipinos dahil sa inyong sakripisyo at malasakit sa inyong trabaho, inyong pamilya at ating bansa, buong loob na tinatanggap iyong mga kontribusyon whether it is as remittances to your families which…... I said not just of basic needs but of investments or your contributions to classrooms, contributions to Gawad Kalinga homes, contributions to microfinance.

But we are working towards the day when the ordinary Filipino no longer needs to go abroad for a job; that overseas work is just another career option and not the only choice a hardworking Filipino has to earn a living.

Our ambitious economic reforms will help break the offshore cycle. It will increasingly be keeping our best and brightest right in the Philippines, closer to families and friends, helping to build our communities and providing the next generation of leadership.

In fact in my visits to other countries and also in my visits to our investments from abroad coming to the Philippines, more and more former Filipinos have availed of I believe the Dual Citizenship Act of 2003 which Lolita talked about. And as far as the overseas voting is concerned, we are open to ideas for further improving the implementation of the Overseas Absentee Voting Act of 2003 to encourage more Filipinos overseas to register and vote. I'm sure the congressmen and congresswomen who are here will be happy to listen to your suggestions on how that law can be improved.

We have also strengthened the Balik-Scientist Program by increasing the incentives for Filipinos to share their scientific and technological expertise for nation-building in the Philippines. One of our Filipino-Americans, Dado Banatao, is helping us put up, not just put up but now implement a science and technology-based development. And because of the masterplan that they have put together, we are now spending more than a billion pesos a year on new expenditures on science and technology, including scholarships for masters and doctoral degrees and research development.

And for OFWs coming home, we have the National Reintegration Center that has been established to assist returning Filipino overseas workers to develop skills they will need when they decide to return to the Philippines permanently.

Maraming mga overseas Filipinos ay umuuwi na para magtrabaho sa mga bagong investments and I have seen them. For instance, Texas Instruments in Clark, there are Filipinos who have come home to work there. When I went to Hanjin in Subic, it's a one billion-dollar investment in Subic and they're gonna put 700 million dollars in another facility coming up soon. When I interviewed those who were there, I asked them, ano'ng ginagawa n'yo dati? iyong iba fishermen dati, iyong iba housewife, iyong iba nababanda doon sa mga disco ng Olongapo. But some of them were overseas workers who found that their job in Hanjin is comparable to the job they had abroad.

Doon sa mga minahan, the mining companies also. In fact, speaking of mining, ilan sa mga minahan ay pinamumuhunan ng mga kompanyang Australyano. Kaya nandito si Secretary Lito Atienza, makikipag-usap sa kanila.

Kaya inaasahan kong lahat tayo ay tuluy-tuloy na magtutulungan para sa ikabubuti ng ating bayan. At inaasahan kong tayo'y magsisikap at sama-samang abutin ang ating layunin para sa ikauunlad ng Pilipinas.

You, the Filipino communities in Australia and around the world, have a role to play in the Philippines' participation in the international community. Whatever your profession, wherever you reside, you willingly carry the indelible mark of the Filipino. I am glad that you are confident of your competence, your brilliance and your standing in both your motherland and in your host country.

Indeed, the Filipino is a true global citizen. Ang Pilipino ay isang tunay na mamamayang global.

Kaya, mga minamahal kong kababayan:

Naniniwala ako sa pangitain ng isang mamamayan, maunlad at progresibong pilipinas. At alam ko na kayo ay naniniwala rin doon kaya taun-taon gumagawa kayo ng networking convention. What is the commonality even if you come from all over the world, you are Filipinos and you love your country.

Ito'y tanda ng progreso ng Pilipinas, imagine your 11 percent contribution to our GDP, lahat ng ito ay kaugnay ng hangarin na isulong ang progreso ng Pilipinas sa tulong ninyo. Kasi yung mga halimbawa sa mga taga-New Zealand, kinukwento sa akin, pag pumupunta yung 25 percent nila sa ibang bansa gaya dito, tinutulungan pa ng mga nanay at tatay nila na galing sa New Zealand. Kayo, the opposite, kayo ang tumutulong. Imagine kung ang ating bansa hindi ganoon ang kultura ninyo, kung hindi kayo tumutulong ay di yung 11 percent ng GDP, wala sana yon. So talagang napakalaking bagay na ang mga Pilipino kahit na saan sa buong mundo, mahal pa rin ang Pilipinas, kaya hindi brain-drain dahil binabalik n'yo sa inyong investments, not only for the future when you go home but even while you are abroad at tinutulungan ninyo ang ating bansa.

Sa pagkakaisa at bayanihan, walang makakahadlang sa pag-usbong ng bagong Pilipinas dahil ganoon ang Pilipino, kahit na saan sa buong mundo, Pilipino pa rin.

Ako'y nasisiyahan sa inyo.

Maraming salamat sa inyong lahat. (OPS) [top]

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