President Aquino Cites Gains After U.S. Trip

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MANILA/LOS ANGELES – President Benigno S. Aquino III reported a successful three-day visit to the United States that would improve the country’s diplomatic relations with other nations as well as boost its trade and investment. The President arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport at 7:05 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 19, from California after attending the US-ASEAN Special Leaders Summit and a working visit to Los Angeles.
In his arrival speech, the President said that the Special Leaders Summit with President Barack Obama covered such topics as innovation and digitalization and their benefits to economies.
“Sa larangan ng global pandemics at climate change, nagbahagi tayo ng ating karanasan, at idiniin natin ang kahandaang tumulong upang mapalawak ang kaalaman ng ating mga karatig-bansa,” he said.
With regards to the issue of maritime concerns in the South China Sea, the President said the Philippines’ position continues to gain support from the international community.
“Kung dati nga po ay iilan lang ang nagbabanggit ng isyung ito, ngayon, maliwanag sa inilabas na joint statement ng kapulungan ang paninindigan ng ASEAN at ng Estados Unidos: dapat panatalihin ang seguridad, stabilidad, at kalayaang maglakbay sa West Philippine Sea at South China Sea; at dapat idaan sa mapayapang proseso ang pagresolba ng anumang alitan, alinsunod sa international law,” the President said.
While in Los Angeles, the President said he met with several companies engaged in creative services, high technology manufacturing, and infrastructure.
Many of them showed interest in investing in the Philippines, he said, adding that the chairman of Walt Disney plans to visit the country this year, signifying his wish to help strengthen the country’s creative industry.
Western Digital, a computer hard drive manufacturer, also expressed its interest to expand its operations in the country, according to the President.
“Kinapanayam din po natin ang AECOM, na inaasahan nating magiging katuwang sa capacity-building ng ating mga kababayan pagdating sa imprastruktura,” he said.

The President also delivered a speech at the Los Angeles World Affairs Council, where his father, the late senator Benigno Aquino, Jr., had a similar speaking engagement.
President Aquino was also presented an Honorary Degree in Humane Letters by the Loyola Marymount University, an honor that he said was not only for himself but for all Filipinos.
The President also met with the Filipino community in Los Angeles, asking their support for the continuity of his Daang Matuwid agenda.
Noting that this may well be his last foreign trip as Chief Executive, President Aqunio said, “Napakalaking karangalan nga pong maging kinatawan ng Pilipinas sa iba’t ibang pagpupulong—at ang idiin sa ating mga kausap ang panibagong sigla ng ating bansa, at ang kahandaan nating makiambag sa paghubog ng isang mundong payapa, mapagmalasakit, at tumatamasa ng malawakang kaunlaran.”
“Sa taas-noo nating pagharap sa kanila, damang-dama po natin ang respeto nila sa positibong transpormasyong naabot natin sa pagtahak sa Daang Matuwid. Tunay nga po: Napakasarap maging Pilipino sa panahong ito.”
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LOS ANGELES, California – President Benigno Aquino III trumpeted the gains achieved under his administration as he faced the Filipino community here on Wednesday (Thursday in Manila).

In his speech, the President shared to his “bosses” in California, which is home to more than a million Filipinos, the significant improvements happening in the Philippines through his “tuwid na daan” policy particularly in economy, anti-corruption drive, social welfare programs, health and education system.

Aquino said in his more than five years in office, he has taken steps to fight corruption by sending corrupt officials, including his predecessor, to prison.

“Talaga pong pinangatawanan natin ang sinabi nating “walang corrupt”. Dahil natigil po o nabawasan ng malaki ang pagwawaldas, ang layo ng kakayahan ng gobyernong magbigay ng oportunidad sa ating mga kababayan,” he said as he spoke before the members of the Filipino community here.

He boasted the gains of the administration’s conditional cash transfer program called Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), which household beneficiaries have ballooned from 780,000 to 4.4 billion.

The President revealed that this figure might increase to 4.6 million before he steps down from office in June.

He noted that the 4Ps program has lifted around 7.7 million individuals above the poverty line.

On education, the Chief Executive updated Filipinos in California about the recently implemented K to 12 program of the Department of Education (DepEd), which extended the basic education system by two years.

“Ang Pilipinas kasi kung naalala niyo ‘yung sinabi ko sa inyo noong araw, isa na lang sa tatlong bansa sa buong mundo na may 10-year basic education cycle. Ngayon po lumipat na tayo sa 12 –year basic education cycle para mapagbigyan naman lahat ng kabataan natin na matuto,” he said.

He likewise shared the improvements in classroom buildings wherein he noted that the DepEd was able to surpass its target.

From its initial target of building 66,800 classrooms, DepEd has vowed to complete its construction and repair of 185,149 classrooms by June, said Aquino.

On health, Aquino touted his administration’s efforts to achieve universal health care through a massive expansion PhilHealth coverage to all Filipinos belonging to the marginalized sector.

“Ngayon po, nasa 91 percent na ang PhilHealth beneficiaries. At ito pa nga po: lahat ng kabilang sa pinakamahirap nating kababayan, iyong tinatawag na two quintiles or 40 percent of our population, libre na ang pagpapagamot sa mga pampublikong ospital sa pamamagitan ng no-balance billing na programa po ng PhilHealth,” he said.

On economy, the President reiterated how the gains of his administration have transformed the Philippines into “Asia’s Rising Tiger” and “Asia’s Bright Spot” from being the “Sick Man of Asia.”

“Natamasa natin ang pinakamabilis na six-year economic growth mula noong dekada sitenta, at ang growth nga po natin nitong past six years… ang average ay 6.2 GDP growth,” he said.
He likewise cited the upgrade in the country’s credit ratings, which translates to lower borrowing costs.

He also related improvements in government’s disaster response and in building “more resilient” communities.

The President called on the Filipino community to continue the reforms he has started by choosing the right leaders in the 2016 elections.

“Mga Boss, nagsimula po tayo hindi sa zero, alam niyo yan, nasa negative tayo. Ngayon po nasa very positive na tayo. Ang hamon po sa atin ngayon, kung paano masisigurong magsusunod-sunod at lalawak pa lalo ang mga tagumpay na nakamtan natin,” he said.

“Kung maghahalal po tayo ng hindi tama, kayo na ang mag-isip kung ano ang mangyayari sa atin? Pero kung maghalal naman po tayo ng tama, magpapatuloy ang tamang nangyayari sa atin,” he adde

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