Speech of President Aquino during the 75th Anniversary of Proctor & Gamble Philippines

Speech
of
His Excellency Benigno S. Aquino III
President of the Philippines
During the Procter & Gamble Philippines 75th Anniversary Gala Event
[November 16, 2010, Hotel Sofitel Philippine Plaza, Pasay City]
One of my severest critics happens to be my youngest sister—not only in terms of what I wear—but sometimes she does compliment me; and one of the compliments that she has bestowed upon me recently was she said that I have relatively good skin. So sometimes I’m asked: “What soap do you use?” And I said: “It’s Safeguard.” (And I guess in five or six years time I will probably be your client for Downy also.)
First of all, let me congratulate Procter & Gamble Philippines for 75 prosperous years of business in the country. It is a pleasure to join you as you mark your company’s milestone; this celebration is a testimony of your continuing commitment to the Philippines.

Procter & Gamble Philippines has made significant contributions to our government’s efforts to improve the country’s investment climate. Allow me to express my gratitude for the key investments you have committed, and the ventures you plan to commit to the country. I’m aware of the planned expansion of your Cabuyao plant, a 2.5 billion-peso project that will expand capacities and improve the quality of your consumer products. (I think I am very lucky this week I keep on announcing billions in investments. Hopefully it will not be juxtaposed to billions in population growth.) This expansion is a concrete indication of your company’s creativity, initiative, and dynamism.
Our economy’s growth is reflected in your company’s growth. You are proof of the continued confidence placed by foreign investors on the strengths and capabilities of the Filipino people and its government.
The manufacturing sector is a key component of our economy. In the second quarter of 2010, it contributed around 83 billion pesos, equivalent of 22 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and a 12 percent increase over the same period last year. The industry’s successes shine through with the Filipino people as well. As per the Labor Force Survey (LFS) of the National Statistics Office (NSO) conducted last July 2010almost 3 million individuals earn their living from the manufacturing sector. This is 8 percent of the country’s total labor force.
For over seven decades, Procter & Gamble Philippines has touched the lives of millions of Filipinos. Your investments have created jobs, nurtured families, and generated revenues for the government. As we continue to improve business confidence in the country, I look forward to increased investments from you, if possible.
In previous years, our nation was mired in a culture of greed and corruption. As a result, the people lived in a dark hole of cynicism and hopelessness. But today our nation has re-awakened to a new dawn of optimism and confidence through a government that is sincere and committed to serve its people with integrity and transparency. The world is beginning to see the Philippines in a new light; as a people committed to doing right and capable of transforming our country into a better place where opportunity abounds and business can indeed prosper.
Nowhere is this more apparent than in our promotion of public-private partnerships (PPP). With the government clearing the way, private enterprise will be able to operate in a climate that will allow it to grow and contribute to the alleviation of poverty. This week, the first ten infrastructure projects will be offered for investments that are ready for rollout in 2011. I’m confident that investors will see the value of these projects and the incentives we are providing. And there will be more to come.
The details will be unveiled later this week at the PPP conference, but the bottom line is that we are leveling the playing field for businesses, cutting red tape, streamlining processes, undertaking the prioritization of key industries as well as developing and implementing region-based promotion programs so we can maximize local opportunities and opportunities from international trade and investment agreements. These initiatives put more substance to our battle cry: Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap.
These new initiatives will support programs already in place to make it easier to do business. The Department of Finance (DOF) has established the website called perangbayan.com which receives feedback from citizens on the performance of civil servants, as well as relevant information on graft and corruption. Within months after its launch, Pera ng Bayan had its first success when the BOC filed a case against a manufacturing company for the technical smuggling of 14 million kilos of hot rolled coils. The initial information came from a tip reported to Pera ng Bayan by a concerned citizen.[1] It doesn’t end there. As of October, the BIR has filed fifteen cases against tax evaders under the Run After Tax Evaders (RATE) Program, involving more than P8 billion, while the BOC in turn has filed eleven (11) cases against smugglers under the Run After the Smugglers (RATS) Program involving more than P35 billion.[2]
For its part, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has posted on its website all lump sum disbursements in order to promote greater transparency and accountability in the handling of the people’s money. Through zero-based budgeting, it is eliminating waste by cutting funding for programs that are not effective and increasing allocations for programs that have been proven to work. Make no mistake about it, this administration is serious in efforts to create a strong, competitive, and sustainable economy.
But as we work to help businesses grow and ensure the prudent use of government resources, I call on the private sector to share in the responsibility. This is a gentle reminder to pay the right taxes and be responsible corporate citizens.
And indeed, Proctor & Gamble is an example of a responsible corporate citizen. May I commend your Live, Learn and Thrive (LLT) programs that help our government address socio-economic and environmental sustainability? You have provided shelter for homeless families in Tondo by donating over 200 houses through the Gawad Kalinga program. In times of natural calamities, you have displayed the well-known solidarity or bayanihan spirit of Filipinos by supporting the disaster management and community health programs of the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC). Over 20 million pesos worth of your products and financial aid have been distributed to the victims of these calamities. You have extended government efforts to improve education and healthcare for the people with your programs such as the Multi-brand Commercial Innovation Handog Edukasyon, Mother’s Education projects and annual scholarships to deserving college students in partnership with the Philippine Association of Schools of Medical Technology and Public Health (PASMETH). Your Greenovation program, which aims to promote more environmentally sustainable products and practices, is consistent with our platform on environmental protection. It is through these kinds of programs wherein government efforts are supplemented by private endeavors in order to fill the gaps especially in hard-to-reach areas.
Let us continue these strategic collaborations. By working together, government and business can achieve mutually advantageous goals that benefit the entire nation.
In closing, let me again thank you for your continued faith in the country. As we emerge from a time of darkness to a new dawn, I can assure you that your faith will be rewarded through the realization of the dream of a more prosperous and fair nation.
(And may I apoligize for being late and for wearing the wrong outfit; And I thank Dick Gordon for joining me in wearing the wrong outfit.)