Speech of President Aquino, Ground Breaking of Nestlé’s 5th Factory in the Philippines

Speech
of
His Excellency Benigno S. Aquino III
President of the Philippines
During the ground breaking ceremony of Nestlé Philippines, Inc.’s 5th manufacturing facility in the Philippines
[November 23, 2010, First Philippine Industrial Park, Tanauan, Batangas]
There are many things to be thankful for today. First of all, thank you, Nestlé, for inviting me to the ground breaking of your 5th manufacturing facility in our country. It is an honor to be present as you write a new chapter of your historic and prosperous venture. Nestlé has reflected the local and foreign businesses’ continued confidence on the capabilities and strengths of the Filipino people for a full century. Thank you for your underlying faith in the country’s potential.
Our burgeoning manufacturing industry, which, in 2010, contributed 83 billion pesos to our Gross National Product (GNP), owes a great deal to your efforts. Your sector has given rise to 3 million jobs, comprising 8 percent of our country’s total labor force. Slowly but surely, companies such as yours have contributed to the success story that we want our national experience to be. I am hopeful that you will continue with your operations, and I pray for your further success.

But beyond that, it is for your true grit—for holding the fort, and being steadfast in your commitment to doing business in the Philippines—that credit undoubtedly is due you. We have come from a dark time when our economic growth did very little to improve the lives of our people. Now, government is a partner ready to repeat your company’s slogan and mean it. Good food, good life.
Your dedication to the welfare of the Filipino people is commendable. Your “I Choose Wellness” program, among others, aligns itself perfectly with what we are trying to do for our people. It gives me therefore great pleasure seeing that your company focuses on the health of consumers amidst all your objectives of obviously maximizing profits.
As you start the construction of your 5th plant, allow me to give you a forecast of what we can all look forward to.
The foundation of a thriving economy is confidence. A week ago, we launched our public-private partnerships (PPP) initiative through Infrastructure Philippines, which attracted no less than 600 domestic and foreign fund managers, bankers, and other potential investors. They sense that the country has turned a corner. That what was impossible yesterday—trusting the government to deal with investors fairly and predictably—is not only possible, but a mutually beneficial opportunity, now.
Remember when I said, on the day I decided to accept our people’s call for me to seek the presidency, that I believe that the presidency is about the efficient allocation of resources? This is what we’ve been undertaking in a methodical manner since we assumed office. For too long, time, energy, and money, has been wasted on getting around or breaking the rules, instead of focusing on whether the rules help or hinder our goal of a better life for all. At the Infrastructure Philippines 2010 Summit, I shared our policy and governance orientation with potential investors who have been burned too often by our government officials embarking on the crooked, instead of the straight path.
My vision for all of us, is for us to be able to prove within six short years, that the straight path is not only the path to success, but which creates success stories as we follow that path. The straight path lets us see our common objective: a Philippines in 2016, very different from the Philippines we had as of June, 2010. The straight path lets us walk our talk with confidence—the optimism and sincerity that allows us to set aside the trivial and focus on the real journey ahead. It involves listening, and then implementing the lessons that come from genuine open-mindedness.
In the past, I imagine the good people of Nestlé have had to go through some unnecessarily difficult processes when dealing with the government. But we have found that there is still plenty of room to make things more efficient. From cutting red tape, to undertaking the prioritization of key industries, to developing and promoting a region-based promotion program, we are maximizing opportunities brought about by international trade and investment agreements. The Philippine Government is committed to extending all the necessary support to ensure the smooth operations of firms already established in this country, such as Nestlé, toward long-term growth and economic development.
Moreover, my whole team is committed toward the creation of a business environment that is rational, transparent, and predictable. And here, we have already had successes. We have reduced the time it takes to register a business name from four to eight-hour endless days, to fifteen (15) minutes and reduced the information requirements, from sixteen, to seven fields. This can now be done online.
For us to be successful, we must prove that the crooked path is the path to failure. While we’re on the topic of the world wide web, allow me to mention that the Department of Finance has also recently established a website called Pera Ng Bayan, which receives complaints on the misuse of public funds. We have also increased opportunities to punish fraud by tax payers and government employees by having the BIR and BOC file highly visible corruption cases alternating every other week.
Of course, all these reforms find the virtues of honesty and integrity vital to their success, and there have been cynics who carry a fatalist or even a defeatist approach to our country’s problems. But Nestlé is the perfect example of how honesty begets success. I am aware that your company has been honored by the Bureau of Internal Revenue as one of the two top corporate tax payers in the country. Your truthfulness and dedication to providing the people with quality products that they use and consume in their daily lives have become the foundations of your many triumphs, and our administration and the Filipino people, through your example, are reminded that the same can be done with this country.
I thank you for keeping your faith in our country and in our countrymen. We will not let you down. The change has begun; it can be accomplished. Together, we will make possible what was for so long, thought to be impossible: a Philippines so successful, so confident, so capable, that the contrast with the past will be like the difference between night and day.
Thank you.