President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's Speech during the Groundbreaking Ceremony of the Global Gateway Logistics City
Clarkfield, Pampanga, 26 August 2008
Thank you. Thank you, Secretary Mendoza for your introduction.
Our friends from Kuwait; our officials from the Philippine government; ladies and gentlemen.
As we say among our Muslim brothers, assalamo alaykom. As we say here among my kabalens, mayap a anggat panapun kekongan!
Last December, we were in Kuwait. The visit was a humanitarian mission, to ask for the commutation of Marilou Ranario and May Vecina's death sentences. And we thank His Royal Highness the Amir of Kuwait for granting our plea.
The visit also gave us the chance to advance Philippine economic and investment opportunities with business leaders. We're able to showcase our country's extraordinary value for investment: a strategic location, a productive and English- speaking work force. These are increasingly being recognized by foreign investors all over the world, from Europe and North America to the Middle East as explained to us by his Highness Sheikh Al Sabah.
We have had a chance to meet with many prestigious Kuwaiti companies and we are very happy about the interests that they are expressing to invest here in the Philippines. Among the firms, the Kuwaiti firms we've met with are the Kuwait Gulf and Link group or KGL. And we encouraged them to avail of the significant opportunities offered by our country.
I remember one night, or was it at day time when Ambasador Rabi brought Sheikh Al Sabah and we talked about the prospective investment here and what some of the bottlenecks might be, and I called up Nestor Mangyo, and lo and behold, the bottlenecks were gone, right, Nestor? Congratulations!
And so it is with joy that we now launch the logistics and service center of KGL, to be called the Global Gateway Logistics City here in Clark.
Last April during my birthday celebration, we witnessed the signing of the agreements for this project. Now it's only four months after that, and we see it beginning to take off. Welcome to Clark! Welcome to the Philippines! We thank you for your trust in our economy.
We ended 2007 with the strongest economic growth in a generation.
Our nation is on the move. For the first time in a long time, we're on track to balance our budget. We have the revenues needed in the bank to invest in our people. And Invest we do: in education, the environment, healthcare. In roads, bridges and basic infrastructure like the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway. How many of you have driven through the SCTEX? I'm sure a lot of you and I'm sure those who have -- agree that it improves our transport system and ability to move people and products.
We have made tough choices. And our congressmen helped us make those tough choices. I want to thank them again through our congressman, Tarzan Lazatin, here. And the congressman from Batangas, another favorite destination of Kuwaiti investors, Dodong Mandanas. And because of these tough choices that Congress helped us with, the global crisis occurring now did not catch us helpless and unprepared. Through foresight, grit and political will, we have built a shield that has slowed and somewhat softened the worst effects of the global crisis on our country.
And with the investment venture we are launching today, KGL joins Texas Instruments and other members of our billion-dollar club. Welcome! As was explained in the briefing earlier, the Global Gateway Logistics City will be a world-class logistics and business park eventually worth over $1 billion… We can hardly wait to see it when it's there, a billion dollars worth of logistics and service facilities.
This is part of the 10-point legacy that I unveiled in 2004. The 10-point legacy can be remembered by the acronym BEAT THE ODDS: budget, education, automated elections, transport and digital infrastructure, terminating the rebellion and bringing peace to Mindanao, healing the wounds of EDSA, electricity and water, opportunities for jobs, decongesting Metro Manila and, finally, DS in BEAT THE ODDS is Developing Subic-Clark into a competitive service and logistics center.
And that's why I made it a point to have this event because today's launching boosts our Legacy Number 10.
The Global Gateway Logistics City as shown in the briefing earlier will be the first fully integrated master-planned center for airport and aviation-oriented operations and businesses in the Philippines; it will be a crucial hub in what we envision to be the best service and logistics center in the region. We anticipate with excitement their state-of-the-art facilities - we see the drawings -- including excellent infrastructure, a comprehensive security system, which is just the Phase I and sophisticated communications networks, along with many other physical amenities. And we count on Global Gateway to be managed and maintained to the highest international standards, befitting the international companies who will be locating here.
Today's launching also gives flesh to the agreement on tourism signed earlier this month during the official visit of His Highness, the Prime Minister of Kuwait.
During its construction phase and when it becomes operational, this project will give job opportunities for the great Filipino worker. Our great Filipino workers' skills are known and acknowledged in Kuwait. Kuwait hosts the third largest Filipino community in the Middle East - over a hundred thousand Filipinos. But when His Highness, the Prime Minister, visited last week, he said they would welcome even a million Filipinos. There is no limit, there is no quota to limit the number of Filipino workers in Kuwait. Indeed, we're happy to have KGL here because Kuwait has been a very good friend of the Philippines.
Kuwait was the first Arab country to extend a developmental loan to the Philippines 30 years ago. Its biggest project is the road from Pagadian through Lanao del Norte and Sur and Maguindanao to Cotabato City -- 115 kilometers. And now during the visit of the Prime Minister, they formalized the offer to help upgrade the Davao Regional Hospital into a national cancer center, the Cotabato Regional Medical Center into a regional cancer center, and modernize the Zamboanga Medical Center surgery block.
The Kuwaiti government's projects and the Kuwaiti investments in our country --such as these KGL Logistics and Service Hub -- inspire our efforts to achieve Legacy Number 5, to bring peace to Mindanao so that our Muslim brothers would be truly a part of the unified Philippine society.
We have never deviated from the objectives of the peace process. But peace must be anchored on justice. The rampage of some lawless MILF groups in Mindanao calls for resolute military and police action. The P10-million reward for Commanders Kato and Bravo manifests the government's firm resolve to hasten the neutralization of these criminals so that justice can be achieved and we can move on with the peace process. The targeted lawless groups are historically the recalcitrant commands. They are the ones who've been creating trouble before and during the proceedings of the peace process. And they likely will be the ones to create problems even after a final agreement would be forged between the government and the MILF. So the campaign against them is intended to remove the obstacles to the peace process.
So I say to the Filipinos; to the world; to our Muslim brothers in the South; to the OIC through our Kuwaiti friends, there is no all-out war. What we are doing, we are doing to have all-out peace in Mindanao.
We wish for all insurgents to turn their swords into plowshares, their arms to farms.
We ask all sectors to be with us, including our brothers in the OIC.
To our Kuwaiti and American friends, for your support for Mindanao, for your compassion for our Filipinos in Kuwait and in the United States, and for this investment, in these all-important Logistics and Service Center, We thank you! We are confident that Global Gateway Logistics City will become a sterling investment of beacon and progress.
Thank you. Daghang Salamat kekongan. (OPS) [top]