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31 March 2011

President Aquino Speech during the load-out Ceremony of the AG&P Co. at Batangas

His Excellency Benigno S. Aquino III
President of the Philippines
During the load-out ceremony for the British Petroleum (BP) whiting refinery project of the Atlantic, Gulf & Pacific Company of Manila
[Delivered at the Heavy Fabrication Yard of the AG&P, San Roque, Bauan, Batangas on March 31, 2011]
P-NoyImage via WikipediaKauna-unahang pagkakataon kong makabalik ng Batangas—hindi ho ako naimbita ni Mark [Leviste] masyado ho dito—kaya sasamantalahin ko na hong magpasalamat talaga sa suportang iginawad ninyo sa atin, na siyang naging daan, o nagbigay-daan, para naman po talagang mapunta tayo sa tuwid na landas. Maraming, maraming salamat po sa inyong lahat.
Kadalasan po, ‘pag nagtatalumpati tayo, Tagalog po ang ginagamit nating salita. Ngayon pong napunta tayo sa Batangas, minabuti po ng aking mga manunulat na gumawa ng talumpati sa Ingles. Medyo hindi ko ho maintindihan kung bakit nagkaganoon. [Laughter] Kaya pagpapasensyahan na ho ninyo, maraming importanteng kailangang masabi. Sasabayan ko na po muna itong talumpati sa paraan na kanila pong isinulat:
The story of the Atlantic, Gulf & Pacific (AG&P) Company of Manila is one that is very familiar to us. AG&P was one of the leading industrial engineering companies in the world. But it fell on hard times. Now, after a long period of recovery, it is back on its feet, recognized as one the most experienced steel fabrication and engineering firms in the Philippines.
This story is familiar to us because this, too, is our story—a story of a country once among the most prosperous in Asia that had fallen on hard times—a country that, today, is solidly on the path of recovery and rediscovery. The story of AG&P is very much like the story of the Philippines.
Today, we are building further on these similarities. As we stand here in this facility, both AG&P and the Philippines scan the horizon with a newfound sense of confidence and optimism.
There are many positive things on our horizon. Despite the turmoil in the Middle East and Japan’s current crisis, our economy continues to grow. In 2010, our construction sector, in particular, experienced a 10.5 percent growth and contributed 1.6 percent to our Gross Domestic Product growth. This year, prospects are just as bullish, and AG&P will be one of the reasons for this. On behalf of the Filipino people, we all thank you.
As one of the most experienced steel fabrication and engineering firms in the Philippines, it comes as no surprise that your company’s excellence and expertise has also been given recognition outside the country. For one, you have been awarded an initial 130 million dollar contract by U.S. engineering firm Bechtel to create modules for a liquefied natural gas facility in Australia. Moreover, you are set to undertake a number of similar projects in Australia as well, with an estimated value of 10 billion dollars over the next seven years. For all of this, again, congratulations. We are all proud of you.
I must also add, however, that while these triumphs underscore your competence on a global scale, these also emphasize the talent and skill of the Filipino worker. You have been employing Filipinos and sending them to the Middle East, Africa, Russia, New Caledonia, and many other countries. Thank you for giving our workers a stage in which they can show the world what they are truly capable of.
Even with your success in partnering with companies abroad, you have played a significant role here as well—specifically in the Malampaya Offshore Gas Field project, which is the largest source of natural gas in the Philippines. Natural gas contributes to 44 percent of our power generating capacity in Luzon, and at least 34 percent nationwide.
Indeed, your efforts provide a big lift to our country’s economy. However, I would like to assure everyone here that our administration will not leave all the heroics to you. Just as you have excelled in your industry, just as you have impressed the world with the quality in which you deliver, we are doing everything we can to build an environment where business can thrive and prosper—and employ people. It is important that we do this, especially at this point in time, when many of our countrymen have been repatriated because of the conflict in the Middle East. Many of them are currently looking for jobs, and we want to make sure that they can put their skills to good use in successful companies such as AG&P. Through the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), we have already prioritized our repatriated citizens for free skills training programs. These will help them land new jobs or venture into entrepreneurship. Moreover, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has been burning the midnight oil—coordinating with local business organizations and with recruiting agencies to find jobs for our repatriated OFWs. I hope that you can join in this initiative and extend your assistance further, particularly to Filipino engineers displaced by the turmoil in Libya. Let us have our workers ply their trade back here, where they can help Filipino companies with their talents.
As we strive to create a more attractive business environment, we have begun a number of projects, many of which may be of some interest to you. For one, we are planning the establishment of three natural gas pipeline projects within the next three years, primarily in Luzon, amusingly named “BatMan 1,” which is Batangas to Manila 1, “BatMan 2,” Bataan to Manila, and finally “BatCave,” which is Bataan to Cavite. [Laughter] Ang with an energetic governor like Governor Vilma Santos-Recto, “Batgirl” is also present. [Laughter]
And we continue to support the exploration, development, and utilization of natural gas.
Both of our stories have reached a point where we can be confident again—confident in each other, in ourselves, and in our respective and shared paths to success, and this load-out ceremony is an embodiment of that confidence. But we do not want this confidence to end here. We want it to reach every Filipino. We want our people to feel their potential for success and to actually actualize it. We want them to know that they are world class—that their products and services can be appreciated on a global scale by some of the biggest companies in the world, such as British Petroleum and Bechtel. This optimism should be felt by all of us, and it should lead to benefits not just in our economy, but more importantly, in the way our people live.
The prosperity of our nation should be judged by the prosperity of our people, and thus, we will make certain that they actively benefit from each step we make toward progress. The same way AG&P and the Philippines share similar stories, all Filipinos share one national story—one that reminds us of our collective task to make sure that we move forward together; that no one is left behind. This is what our country asks of us, and together, we must respond. We must ensure that daylight will continue to guide us for years to come.
At bago po ako magtapos: Talaga naman pong nakaka-impress ang nagawa ninyo dito. Ako po’y noong bata, nahihirapang gumawa ng mga puzzle. ‘Yung mga kapatid ko pong babae mas magaling gumawa ng mga puzzle. So ang nagpa-puzzle ho sa akin ngayon: Paano ho kaya natin ikakarga lahat nitong mga kinonstruct [construct] n’yo dito sa barko pong ito. Pero sa palagay ko po, sa pagkadalubhasa n’yo ay pati iyan naka-schedule na, naplano nang maayos, at baka ho ahead of schedule pa. Talaga po, itong araw na ito, pinakita ninyo ang gilas ng Pilipino. Talagang, mabuhay po kayo. Maraming-maraming salamat sa lahat, at ipagpatuloy po natin ang pagtungo sa tuwid na landas.
Listen to PNoy Speech.