Speech of President Aquino at the PinoyME People Powered Markets Trade Fair

Mr. Noynoy AquinoImage via WikipediaSpeech of His Excellency Benigno S. Aquino III
President of the Philippines
5th anniversary of President Corazon Aquino’s PinoyME Foundation and the People Powered Markets project

[Delivered at the NBC Tent, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City on February 22, 2011]

Twenty-five years ago, we introduced People Power to the world. We proved that tyranny can be toppled by peaceful means. This week, we are once again reliving the events that transpired in Metro Manila’s streets in February 1986.

We are doing this not out of mere nostalgia, but rather to recognize that it was only the beginning of a greater revolution, one that continues to this day. The spirit of change that invigorated and empowered our countrymen to take the streets has been channeled into a continuing commitment to making every Filipino part of the solution to our problems. Suffice it to say: People Power lives, and it has already manifested itself in many sectors of our society.

It was originally my mother who wanted us Filipinos to continue tapping into the spirit of People Power so that we may create better lives for our less fortunate countrymen. And I must congratulate PinoyME for doing just that through their continued work toward giving our countrymen more opportunities to defeat poverty through their own efforts—specifically through microfinance and microentrepreneurship.

These activities of PinoyME have been a significant help in our administration’s efforts to alleviate poverty. Through your help, less fortunate Filipinos are able to earn additional income. This reduces their dependency on state subsidies, and strengthens their resistance to external shocks such as calamities or family emergencies.

But in fact, all microfinance institutions deserve recognition for taking the lead in promoting a lasting way of lifting the poor out of poverty. In their own right, they are also revolutionaries. The risks they have taken in lending to the poor have long been considered unbankable—but they did it. They developed a unique model in which profits can be made while the lives of the poor are improved. In short, they changed the paradigm of banking all over the world.

This means a lot for our private sector. A new opportunity for turning us into a nation of savers and entrepreneurs, and at the same time, another way of practicing corporate social responsibility has been introduced to them. Eliminating poverty in this country is no easy task, and if our private sector can make even larger contributions, then we will be able to help more people transform more lives.

On the part of this administration, we would like to tell you that we will continue the revolution that my mother and others started in making entrepreneurship among the poor a strategy for poverty alleviation. We will make microentrepreneurship one of the key elements of our framework for poverty reduction and inclusive economic development. Most of all, we will work to institutionalize the National Strategy for Microfinance that was formulated way back in 1998. We will also make sure that microcredit will not be used as a tool for political patronage. And we will likewise consolidate the remaining credit programs for the poor under the more competent branches of government to make them more efficient and effective.

Many of us here have backgrounds in Economics, so I should tell you: People Power is one of our country’s biggest competitive advantages. As Filipinos, we value this yearly opportunity to reignite our commitment to unity. We have this one event to look back to so that we can be reminded of our common dream: A Philippines that fulfills its great potential; a Philippines that can bring about a better quality of life for its citizens. And thus, we must keep utilizing this People Power to its fullest extent.

I applaud the People Powered Markets project as an effort by different stakeholders to give new meaning to people power—one that makes poverty alleviation a long-term social project. We must change the rules of the marketplace so that we can give the poor and the marginalized opportunities to participate in an even playing field. We must bring the disadvantaged sectors of our society into the mainstream of our economy if we want to restore our national pride and push our nation toward progress.

Addressing this challenge is a collective responsibility of all Filipinos. Each one of us must remember the time when the streets were buzzing with our genuine hankering for reform. And each one of us must act as if we are still wearing the same yellow ribbon in our hearts, and work as one nation, one Philippines, toward the fulfillment of the revolution that began in 1986.

And before I end, may I just share with you and prod your memories to remember what EDSA was? For us, the iconic image would be our citizens pushing against the behemoth tanks, armed only with prayers and love for their fellow Filipino, who in most instances was a stranger to them. They stood tall, they stood side by side, they were ready to give up everything if only to improve our lot. Those of you want a changed Philippines, we must take care of the least of our brethren.

Thank you. Good afternoon.