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PIA Press Release
2008/07/17

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's Speech

Delivered during the Forum on Alternative Fuels for Public Transport and Launching of DOTC's Katas ng VAT: Microfinance for the Wives and Immediate Families of Public Utility Drivers and Conductors

PTTC, Pasay City, July 16, 2008

Maraming salamat, Secretary Mendoza. (applause)

Secretary Remonde, Secretary Fernando, LTO Chief Suansing, mga lider ng transportasyon, mga kinatawan ng ibat-ibang sektor na nasa transportasyon lalo na yung mga driver at konduktor at kanilang mga pamilya, magandang umaga sa inyong lahat.

Unang-una, congratulations at salamat sa DOTC sa mabilis na pagtugon sa utos na tulungan ang mga drayber ng jeep at iba pang pampasaherong sasakyan sa panahong ito sa biglaang pagtaas ng presyo ng langis at iba pang bilihin sa buong mundo hindi lamang sa Pilipinas.

Ang sunod-sunod na pagtaas ng presyo ng langis ay nagmumula sa pandaigdigang pamilihan. Sa sandaling ito sa kasaysayan ng mundo, sa mabilis na pagtaas ng pangmundong presyo ng gasolina at pagkain, coupled with the rising frequency and intensity of disasters, kailangang hawakan ng Pilipinas ang ating sariling kapalaran. We must become more self-reliant and self-sufficient.

Sa bago at di nakasisigurong panahon, we must navigate uncharted waters. As we ponder the weighty issues we face, the first imperative is to listen. To listen to the cry of our people for succor and support. To ponder the call of well-meaning sectors for longstanding policies to be reviewed. And to lend our ears to one another's insights and ideas, united by a singular wish to ease the pains and address the concerns of ordinary Filipinos.

We have been listening, pondering, lending our ears, and taking needed actions, harnessing all the resources at our command.

To give relief to the millions of our poor burdened by escalating world rice prices, we have maintained NFA rice at P18.25, and to do that we have spent eight billion pesos and counting. Sa Thailand, 56 per kilo ang bigas, sa Vietnam 67, at doon pa tayo bumibili. Ang bigas ng Indonesia na may subsidyo ay 25.30 at ang Malaysia ay beinte siyete. Kaya mas mababa ang ating presyo, maging commercial o maging NFA. Either magaling tayong lahat na mga bansa na humawak ng pangmundong krisis, o kasinsama lamang tayo sa isa't-isa.

For jeepney drivers and commuters squeezed by the quadrupling of diesel's cost, we are fighting kotong and colorum to boost driver's income while keeping fare increases to the cost of one text message per ride.

Noong isang buwan, magkasama tayo noon muli, nagpalabas tayo ng apat na bilyong piso mula sa koleksyon ng value-added tax sa langis -- dalawang bilyon para sa pambayad ng kuryente ng apat na milyong mahihirap at isang bilyon bilang scholarship at pautang sa 70,000 na estudyanteng maralita. Noon nilabas natin, magkasama tayo, kalahating bilyon pautang upang palitan ang motor ng mga sasakyang pampubliko ng mas matipid na makinang LPG, CNG o biofuels. Na sa pag intindi ko itong forum na ito ay follow-up doon.

Doon sa biofuels, upland farmers also stand to benefit from jatropha seedling propagation or planting. Meron ng 900 hectares sa Tamlang Valley sa Negros Oriental, 500 sa Fort Magsaysay, 200 sa Camarines Sur, isang daan sa General Santos City -- na bibisitahin ko pagdating ng 21st of July -- 60 hectares in Narra, Palawan, 40 para sa TRICAP -- yung mga katutubo in Cagayan de Oro, 14 hectares in Bohol, 5 hectares in Cadiz in Negros Occidental.

Mamaya, ilulunsad ang kalahating bilyon upang palitan ang makonsumong bombilya sa mas matipid na fluorescent para sa mga palengke, paaralan, ospital, gusali ng pamahalaan, kalsada, tahanan at traffic lights. Doon ako pupunta mula dito, nauna na nga si Mayor Peewee Trinidad dahil participant din siya doon.

Sa sunod na Katas ng VAT na nakolekta naman mula Abril hanggang Hunyo, may karagdagang one billion na pambayad ng kuryente ng mahihirap at yung -- ginagamit ko itong pagkakataon para ilunsad -- kalahating bilyon ng kapital na ipauutang sa mga maybahay at kapamilya ng mga namamasadang tsuper at konduktor. (applause)

To put more money in poor people's pockets, our programs include more aggressive microfinance. Cumulative loan releases to low and middle income men and women who want to start or expand their own businesses have reached 102 billion pesos or 36 times more than the P2.8 billion we started with in 2001. Some of the institutions involved are the Land Bank with a loan portfolio of P69 billion; People's Credit and Finance Corporation, P8 billion; National Livelihood Support Fund, P3 billion; DBP, one billion, and DSWD's SEA-K, P800 million. And before big banking raises an eyebrow, let me say that the repayment rate is 98 percent. Kaya malakas ang loob nating magpahiram sa mga maybahay at kapamilya ng mga tsuper at konduktor. (applause)

So today, I take this opportunity to direct all government-owned-and-controlled financial institutions and corporations currently involved in grassroots microfinancing to craft a special, easily accessible, half a billion peso microfinancing program for the wives and the immediate family members of drivers and conductors of public utility vehicles such as PUJs, PUBs, taxis and FX, to be funded from additional VAT revenues resulting from the high price of oil.

I am also enjoining, thru Cerge Remonde who is in touch with them, private-run microfinancing institutions to carry out a similar microfinancing program with the wives and immediate family members of drivers and conductors of public utility vehicles as target beneficiaries.

Kailangan humanap ng naiibang mga paraan sa panahon ng pagsubok. Bago at naiibang pagtugon ang programa sa munting pautang para sa mga maybahay at kapamilya ng mga manggagawa sa hanay ng transportasyong pampubliko. Umaasa tayo na makadaragdag ito sa kita ng kanilang mga mag-anak at hindi aasa lamang sa nag-iisang kita ng tsuper or konduktor sa pamilya.

Mapasibol din sana ng programang microfinance ang masigasig na diwa ng pagnenegosyo na ating pinasisigla para sa paglago ng ekonomiyang pambansa. Alam ng mga maybahay at kapamilya ng mga namamasadang manggagawa ang labas-pasok ng kabuhayan ng lansangan bilang mamimili ng mga produktong pinopondohan ng mga tagalabas at madalas ibinebenta nang hulugan, in schemes defined by their own jargon -- "two gives," di ba yun ang tawag? Two gives or even more.

Dalawang uring kabuhayan ang maaaring paggamitan ng munting pautang: kapital sa pagbebenta ng mga produktong kasalukuyang binibili ng mga umuutang na kapamilya, o puhunan upang sila na ang gumawa ng mga bagay na iyon.

Napakalaki ang mga gawain at biyayang pangkabuhayan na ibubunga ng programa sa munting pautang para sa mga pamilyang magbebenepisyo. At harinawa, mababawasan din nito ang paulit-ulit na pagtaas ng pasahe tuwing aakyat ang presyo ng krudo, na nakabibigat sa ating mga mananakay.

Sa mga darating na araw, may kalahating bilyon ding halagang ilulunsad natin upang mapataas ang kakayahan at kasangkapan ng mga munting ospital sa lalawigan, yun bang primary care hospitals gagawin nating secondary care hospitals para magkaroon sila ng delivery, caesarian, simple surgery.

Para sa mga kalamidad naman, maglalagay tayo ng bumabagay na halaga para sa Panay at ibang mga pulo na natamaan nung bagyong Frank.

Balancing the budget this year would have been a nice target for our fiscal turnaround. But amid the call to review economic policies, we have in fact done our review months ago. Even then we said that we may need to forego the pleasure of a balanced budget in the present global environment. We announced our willingness to spend as much as 75 billion pesos if necessary on social welfare. But if things improve next year, we will return to our target.

Sa madaling salita, dinig natin ang hinaing at panawagan ng karaniwang mamamayan, at tutumugon tayo, gamit ang lumalagong kaban ng bayan.

The global crises did not catch us unprepared or without reserves. Thank God and thank the Value-Added Tax.

We took hard decisions -- hard on our people, unpopular with big business -- but good for the country, as events have shown without doubt.

We raised new revenues from bold fiscal reforms: more money for more and better roads, ports and other infrastructures. With more money, we spent a lot on health and education. We spent a lot to train and retrain a growing workforce. And because we prepared for it, we have been able to shield our nation from the worst effects of the food and fuel crises worldwide.

Our 56 percent energy self-sufficiency is the highest in Philippine history. We are promoting, as we are doing here today, natural gas for transport; we are promoting geothermal steamfields, which are among the largest in the world; we are promoting windmills like those in Ilocos and Batanes; we are promoting solar power that lights up many communities in Mindanao even today.

The new Galoc oil field should produce 17,000 to 22,000 barrels per day, eight percent of our daily oil consumption.

The Renewable Energy Bill has passed the House. It is now up to the Senate.

And so therefore on this day, as we have this forum on alternative fuels, and as we launch the microfinance for the wives and immediate families of public utility drivers and conductors, let me assure our people of one thing: Your government shall continue to harness all the resources at our command to help ordinary Filipino families pressured by cost and calamity. At the same time, we continue to build a better tomorrow.

Maraming salamat sa lahat nang tumutulong sa ating adhikain.

Thank you. (applause) (PIA-MMIO) [top]

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