Aquino calls for solidarity in APEC

By: Aileen Garcia-Yap, Norman V. Mendoza September 11,2015 - 12:40 AM
President Benigno Aquino III delivers the welcome remarks during APEC Finance Ministers Meeting at the Shangri-La Mactan Resort and Spa. (CDN PHOTO/ LITO TECSON)

President Benigno Aquino III delivers the welcome remarks during APEC Finance Ministers Meeting at the Shangri-La Mactan Resort and Spa. (CDN PHOTO/ LITO TECSON)

CITING the “Philippine story” of better growth rates and upgraded credit ratings, President Benigno S. C. Aquino III yesterday called for solidarity and greater cooperation among the Asia-Pacific economies to achieve progress.

The President, who flew in just to address the delegates to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Finance Ministers Process, made the call amid fears of another financial crisis spawned by China’s devaluation of the yuan.

China, the second biggest economy in the world, is among APEC’s 21 member economies along with the US.

On a lighter note, President Aquino urged the ministers to experience Cebu.

“You are in the Philippines’ Queen City of the South, and I hope you can take time off your busy schedules to enjoy its pristine beaches, its vibrant metropolis, and most importantly its people, who are living proof that it is indeed more fun in the Philippines,” Aquino said in his welcome remarks yesterday afternoon.

The President shared what he called the “Philippine Story” of instituting reforms, cutting red tape and implementing a conditional cash transfer program to promote inclusive growth. The cash grants now benefit about 20 million people in 4.4 million households, or one out of every five Filipinos.

Aquino said the Philippines overcame “tremendous challenges” to post from 2010 to 2014 an average gross domestic product growth rate of 6.2 percent, “the fastest period of economic growth for our country in four decades.”

He also noted that the Philippines improved its global competitiveness ranking, received 22 positive credit rating actions and maintained one of the lowest credit default swaps in the region under his administration.

“I have chosen to share it (Philippine story) with you to illustrate that, regardless of the seeming magnitude of the challenge, progress can be achieved sooner rather than later – especially if we work with solidarity, coherence, and integrity,” Aquino said.

Achieving progress on a regional level would need a “greater amount of work, cooperation and time,” he added.

CEBU ACTION PLAN

The President said his optimism was reinforced by the Cebu Action Plan, a roadmap named after one of the Philippines’ “most progressive provinces.”

The plan, which will be launched by the APEC finance ministers today, aims to make the Asia-Pacific region more financially inclusive, transparent and resilient.

The Cebu Action Plan will also help equip APEC economies with the tools to respond to natural disasters caused by the new normal of climate change, which Aquino said are some of the gravest threats to the economies.

The plan includes a list of initiatives that APEC economies will implement over the next five to 10 years.

PROTEST

A couple of hours before Aquino arrived, a group of about 50 people tried to march towards Shangri-La’s Mactan Resort and Spa, where the finance ministers have been holding their meetings since Wednesday.

Senior Superintendent Armando Radoc, Lapu-Lapu City police chief, immediately sent a crowd dispersal unit to prevent the group from getting near the five-star resort.

“We received an order that protesters should not distract the APEC delegates,” Radoc said.

The protesters, accompanied by Bayan Muna members, had reached Barangay Mactan when the police caught up and negotiated with them for a peaceful dispersal.

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