Press Release
October 27, 2015

27 October 2015

Good afternoon everyone.

Let me begin by saying that I would like to apologize for the miscommunication or misunderstanding this morning. I actually received the invitation from PCCI last week. But we have already scheduled to meet some friends from the province who came specifically to meet with me at a certain time this morning. So, when I received many follow-ups, and I know I have many friends from here, I said I was going to try to speed-up our initial meeting so that at least I can come here and make a greeting to all of you.

I know that sometimes, schedules like these happen, but we have to woman up to it and try to fix what we can as long as we're fixing it for the better. And it's always important for a gathering of business individuals from different parts of the country because you are needed in nation building as our partners. I would also like to say that I heard from one businessman that business should also be in the business of producing property. And this is something that we are really striving for and that we would want to achieve in government.

I guess that you have invited presidentiables to be here earlier and today so that you can have an idea of what our platform is. It is your right to know as our voters, as our constituents, as Filipinos.

So, just a snapshot, if you may. I don't want to impose too much on your lunch. But, I think that on the first day in office, more than concentrating on an inaugural ball, I think that a Cabinet meeting should be called. Each of the team members will get his or her marching orders.

This presupposes a fact that I will form a Cabinet. Of course, I will invite the best and the brightest to be part of our official family. Competence will be the main hiring criterion. I don't care if you didn't vote for me, for as long as you can do the job, you'll be in. If you are from the private sector, perhaps, I can convince you to take a six-year sabbatical of poverty, knowing how much less you are going to be paid in the public sector.

Every appointee of mine will be covered by and subscribed to an individual performance pledge. It is not enough that you give a rundown of what your job entails. The important thing is to demand a rundown of deliverables. We should transform--and this may be a bold move--one of the rooms in Malacanang into an infrastructure war room for projects, with real time feedback capability, if possible. We should draw all kinds of maps, from poverty maps, disaster maps, tax maps, and we should try and infra map for change.

My specs for such maps contain the following: how much will it cost, when will it be completed. We will also put an employment odometer in each, which means we will be able to estimate how many jobs each project will cost.

In the first 100 days, for example, we should be sending to Congress a ramp of bills to be passed with dispatch. First, is the Freedom of Information Bill, which I have sponsored and debated on in the Senate as the chairman of Public Information and Mass Media. Second, is the new anti-red tape act. If you read the newspapers today, it says that the outdated regulations cost our country 140 Billion in opportunity losses.

Under my watch, red-tape should not be a profit center for government. If you're starting a mom-and-pop operation, or if you're in a sole proprietorship, working for your home with no employees, why should you spend 45,000 in fees and licenses alone? In the ease of doing business we have I proved quite a bit but it takes about 15 steps to start a business in the Philippines while in Thailand it just takes 4 steps. And I think that we can see this in terms of foreign direct investments. It is quite an achievement that the government has 6 billion in foreign direct investments but our neighbors have more than that, 8 billion in Vietnam and in Thailand even more.

Tourist arrivals in the Philippines is also something that we should increase now our average is a little around 5 million tourists a year whereas Thailand has 26 million and a little bit more in Vietnam. I think that this is an area, tourism, where we can have an added value in terms of employment and in terms of opportunities. But we are not going to achieve such without the proper infrastructure and without the proper business climate. So one thing, is to continue our fight against corruption, we should make sure that red tape is reduced. I also firmly believe that we should reform our tax code and from the onset we have already supported the reduction of our tax payments.

I think that we should re-classify the different brackets for taxes. We are one of the highest in Asia and yet our government services still have to be improved. From 2011 until the present, we have about 600 billion in unspent fund in the government and reducing taxes will only take away about 30 billion, so when they say what programs we have to cut, we don't even have to cut programs we just have to be more efficient in being able to roll out our projects so that more opportunities will be created.

These are just a glimpse of what we can do. And I hope that the message comes across that the business sectors are our partners. We need you and you need the government to be an enabler and I think that even if they say that my resume is quite lean, compared to the others in terms of my length of service in the public sector, My resume is lean enough that I don't have the added baggage that is not necessary to be able to be successful in government.

Another area which I didn't mention but we should really consider supporting is agriculture. Agriculture has the highest poverty incidence. The majority of our countrymen are dependent on agriculture but we need to increase mechanization, we need to give them the proper insurance, the crop property insurance, the farm to country road for our farmers. I know that this is said every now and then but I need small water impounding facilities, we need more dam for irrigation, 500,000 hectares of land still needs to be irrigated. There's a question about whether we need to be rice self-sufficient, or we should have food security. But definitely we should think of food security and the livelihood and insistence of our farmers.

To everyone here today, again I stress that you are our partners in government. That we will not be successful if we do not help each other and I can guarantee you that having been raised by parents who are also entrepreneurs, I understand the challenges that face the business community but we belong to the small business owners, what more the many others trying to get a loan from the bank, trying to get their permits approve, so these are the things that I feel that we can concentrate on so that we can increase foreign direct investments and so we can also help our local businessman. Thank you so much for the opportunity you've given me this afternoon.

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