The Philippine story: ‘Sick man of Asia’ now transforming, revitalized, dynamic


DEBUT IN DAVOS President Aquino keynotes the World Economic Forum (WEF) activity, “Partnering Against Corruption Initiative-Private Reception,” in Davos, Switzerland, where he said transparency and a level playing field remain his administration’s priorities. It is Mr. Aquino’s first time at the WEF. Malacañang Photo Bureau

DAVOS—President Benigno Aquino III has pitched to the international investor community the Philippine story of transformation from being a “sick man of Asia” into one dynamic country bucking a global economic downturn.

“What we offer you today is a Philippines where change has set in. That, perhaps, is the single most compelling reason to come in and invest in our country,” Aquino said in a roundtable meeting with global business executives at the World Economic Forum on Friday.

The President invited investors to participate in three rapidly growing sectors in the country—agriculture, tourism and infrastructure.

“Those who have already bet on the Philippines have not been disappointed; they have seen the sincerity of our commitment to restoring integrity and leveling the playing field.

“This is a commitment we intend to keep with all who want to conduct honest, fair business in the Philippines,” he said in the business forum organized by Credit Suisse.

Mr. Aquino told prospective investors he couldn’t promise a completely risk-free environment, noting that any worthwhile endeavor was not without its risks.

Nevertheless, he said the “sick man of Asia is now revitalized, more dynamic than it ever was in its history, marching toward equitable progress.”

Contrasting his administration from that of his predecessor’s, when he said decisions were based on political factors—mainly, on the desire to stay in power—he said the government was now earnestly refocusing efforts toward leveling the playing field, minimizing regulatory risks and investing in people.

He said the government was empowering the Filipino through health, education and conditional cash transfer programs that would aid their transition from being below subsistence living toward gainful employment.

“We already know that, given the right environment, the Filipino is able to thrive; how many of you have ridden cruise ships or stayed in hotels manned by Filipinos? How many have been awed by the creativity, loyalty and professionalism of our workers in the business process outsourcing industry?”

PH full of optimism

“In a world increasingly dominated by uncertainty and pessimism, is it not refreshing to witness a country full of optimism, experiencing positive, meaningful change and inviting everyone in to ride its momentum?”

The President again referred to his administration’s thrust of eliminating corruption as a means to drastically reduce poverty and open opportunities for both the Filipino people and business, thereby allowing the Philippines to achieve inclusive growth.

On efforts to level the playing field, the President said that when contracts are no longer awarded arbitrarily, and when the rule of law applies to all, a sense of justice and fairness naturally takes over. “Among investors, in particular, this instils confidence: That the Philippines is worth the price of admission,” he said.

In the first three quarters of 2012, the domestic economy has grown by an average of 6.5 percent, much faster than the 4.9-percent trend growth during the nine-year Macapagal-Arroyo administration.  The stock market has trebled in the last four years to record highs.

“These are truly exciting times for our country. We are realizing the long-untapped potential of our country and we are here to invite you to join us,” he said.

3 priority areas

On the priority areas for investment, Mr. Aquino said tourism and agriculture were crucial because they play into the key strengths of our country—an abundance of natural resources—and because they tend to spur growth all over the archipelago, not merely in urbanized areas.

Since he came into office, he said the government had been working towards rice self-sufficiency by going back to the basics and helping our farmers through improved irrigation systems and a genuine certified seeds program.

“As we focus on the basic needs of our farmers, we have not lost sight of the value of innovation, and of moving up the value chain,” Aquino said.

“For example, coco coir and coco water used to be considered as waste. Today, they are the reasons behind the revitalization of our coconut industry,” he said.

In 2009, Aquino said the Philippines exported a total of 483,862 liters of cocowater.

By 2011, this has increased exponentially to more than 16.7 million liters of cocowater.

“Coco coir fiber, transformed into geotextile materials, has among others, been found effective in erosion control,” he said.

The Department of Publics Works and Highways (DPWH) is already using this technology in their projects, and investments into the coco coir industry reached P293.75 million pesos or around $7.34 million in 2012.

On tourism, the President mentioned the Department of Tourism’s “It’s More Fun in the Philippines” campaign and noted favorable tourism reviews from publications like Conde Nast Traveller, the New York Times, and Travel + Leisure Magazine.

In 2012, he said there were 4.3 million tourists that visited the country, a little short of the 4.6 million target which he said was a consequence of some political tension in the region, referring to the territorial dispute between the Philippines and China.

“In spite of this, though, China’s Oriental Morning Post named my country the ‘Best Tourist Destination’ in its annual World Travel – Special Trips awards, and the Shanghai Morning Post identified the Philippines as the “Most Romantic Destination” in the world—an award surely inspired by the magnificent sunsets over our numerous white sand beaches, or the pristine, secluded coves dotting our many islands,” he said.

The hotels that have been sprouting up around the Philippines in the past two years are proof positive of the tourism boom, Aquino said, noting that an additional 1,599 rooms have been built in Boracay. “So, whether you want to come to the Philippines for business or for leisure, we will gladly accommodate you,” he said.


Infrastructure is also seen as a prority in attracting investments.  The President acknowledged that this was the key to further growth and development in tourism and agriculture, among other sectors.

“For example, a lack of paved roads or even adequate transportation hubs redounds to longer traveling time: imagine how much the quality of produce will suffer in two to three days of road travel, or even the difficulty that tourists will have in reaching the more far-flung parts of my country,” he said.

Aquino cited the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report which showed that the Philippines was lagging behind Southeast Asian neighbors in terms of quality infrastructure, including the quality of roads. “This presents an opportunity, because we are committed to closing this gap and increasing our competitiveness,” he said.

Last year, Aquino said disbursements for infrastructure reached $4.9 billion and another $5.7 billion is allotted for this in 2013.

“Part of this allotment will go to the complete paving of our national road network by 2016. Since 2010, our DPWH has already completed 28 percent, or 2,006 kilometers, of the 7,256 kilometers of national arterial and secondary roads that needed paving,” he said.


National connectivity

The President added that the country was seeking to boost connectivity all around our country through the following: train systems in Metro Manila; expressways that cut across the National Capital Region and reduce travel time drastically; the construction improvement of both domestic and international airports, as well as the exploration of a new nautical highway that could cut travel time between Luzon to Mindanao, from three days to 15 hours.

“We are exploring opportunities for the private sector to join us in these endeavors, and we hope that you will consider partnering with us in the future, towards our mutual benefit,” Aquino said.

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  • Ben

    Like all politicians before him, he is beholden to military cronies who are mostly power grabbers holding to important positions and lacks vision for advancement.   The customs, the airports,  the higher education institutions that are left behind in competitiveness.  Science and entrepreneurship are all but gone for Filipinos for lack of patronage by government and always ready to import instead of fostering Philippine industry all because corruptions continue as lingering ailment.  With all the money coming in from investment houses all over the planet from stock market boom, Philippines could only offer real property development and high rise condominiums development.   With this process, Filipinos will continue to be servers, dishwasher, laundrymen for expats.  What a shame. Totally shameful

  • zafirol

    I feel sorry for the critics of Aquino. They maligned him.insult him, called him names and continually look for ways to make him look like a fool.They must be praying that he would screw up sooner to prove their point. Yet his stars continue to rise, recognized by famous leaders around the world  and  has a high approval ratings by the Filipino people. The Lesson of today, “YOU CAN NOT PUT A GOOD MAN DOWN’

    • Marlou Wang

      Mga alipores, cohorts, bayaran, etc. yun ng pekeng presidenteng babae na siyang dahilan ng pagkamatay ni FPJ.

    • Dy Pailad

      We are lucky that Gigi Reyes is not his Chief of Staff. He would have screwed up by now. 

    • FernandoBusi

      Don’t feel sorry for me feel sorry for yourself. We don’t pray that he screws up hes doing it by himself the way he is running the country. We do pray that he gets some sense though, the only way to stop all these accusations would be to give us the real score, pass the FoI bill undiluted that would be one big step for the broader masses. As for me I have enough info sources and brains to know the real score. 

      Eto na lang simple request why dont you get the country’s Poverty Level computed based on the metrics used at the time of his mother, wouldn’t that be a fair assessment?

  • parefrank

    What else was to expect? Noy at Davos, a big chance to brag about improvements and performances which only exist in his view, not in reality. That he and BSP do not stop the peso speculation but really make it easy, is in his eyes an improvement because the peso is high. But he does not care that this system robs bikkions from OFW families who get less and less for their remittances whil the local prices in pesos increase and increase. That the admin dreams of an inflation of 3 or 4 percent can not change the reality that prices in reality increas 10, 15 and more and more percent in reality. That is a real “cynamism” at the expense of the majority of hard working Filipinos. A straight path…

    • Bayang_magiliw

      He was invited to Davos beacause they see credibilty in our president. And of course as leader of our country, he must take advantage of it and promote our country so in the future we will no longer go abroad for work. As far as I know, GMA or even Erap was not invited when they were presidents and this in itself is already an accomplishment.

      • FernandoBusi

        I think GMA was at Davos but really is it that important? Tell me what has ever been accomplished at Davos of any significance cause I know of only one, the creation of NAFTA and its not even pertinent for the country.

        You know what really happens in Davos? Party all night by the rich and famous. Policy is not set in Davos, its a networking event. 

    • barcelona03

      The BSP is doing its best to keep the dollar stable.  If it did not do its job, the conversion rate of peso to dollar would have been in the mid 30s to 1 by now.  You must be the only person who is unhappy with the BSP.  FYI Gov. Amando M. Tetangco Jr. of BSP has been named Central Bank Governor of the Year by foreign publications too many times already.  The latest was given out this month — 2013 Asia Pacific Central Banker of the Year given out by The Banker (member of Financial Times group).  Meanwhile, Finance Secretary has had his fair share of awards, including 2012 Euromoney’s Emerging Market Finance Minister of the Year award.  Can you tell us whom you would rather working in the BSP and DOF? If you are an Arroyo fan like a lot of the trolls here you shouldnt have any beef with Tetangco either.  He assumed office during the time of Arroyo in 2005.  To the credit of Aquino, he didnt appoint a new BSP Governor upon assuming office in 2010.  Can you imagine other politicians doing that??  

  • rodben

    ” MOST ROMANTIC PLACE IN THE WORLD” plenty young women are available.

  • rodben

    I am proud to be Pinoy but I am not proud to the gov’t leaders all the same Ramos, Gloria now Noy2, every time the visit in other countries they always says Philippines is now  progressive upon his/her watch,but still thousands of Pinoys are leaving the country to work abroad or migrate, by the way there travel expenses are paid by the tax payers..

  • Angelicus1

    President Aquino Jr.’s speech in Davos is so uplifting to the morale not only of Filipinos in PH but also Filipinos abroad, especially in America where most of them reside . The speech is marked by integrity, spoken from a leader whose words are backed by action. In just a few years, after replacing a tainted ex-President who acted above the law (and is awaiting justice), the change in the Philippines is transformational, like turning a new page. This speech will be met well by foreign investors. I don’t fear global corporations “invading” the Philippines because that is where the line should be drawn. Filipino public officials who are above corruption, who follow the written laws, who watch out for the interest of the Filipino people ought to be able to make sure the natural resources of the Philippines are put to good use for the people. That protection of natural  resources be rigidly enforced for the good earth’s welfare, that infrastructure be carefully maintained, that self-discipline and order instead of  chaotic greed becomes the rule … then it is clear the path has been laid for the recovery of the Philippines from “sick man of Asia” to the promise of tomorrow.

    • FernandoBusi

      Have him certify FoI Bill as urgent and I will buy the moonshine he is selling, until then I will remain well informed and skeptical of whats actually going on in the country, 

  • kalikasanipagtanggol


  • DakuAkongUtin

    Pnoy , salamat for bringing the sick men of Luzon to control all levels of kotongeros in all of Republik of Luzonyan. Tapusin na ninyo ang mag sawsaw dito sa Bisayas at Mindanao.

  • Elizalde2013

    Foreign Investments will pour in if the Aquino administration will try hard to push for the revision of ownership percentage …. from 60-40 %(filipino:foreign) ownership percentage to 51-49 %(filipino:foreign) ownership! Most of the successful countries are already have this like Singapore, Thailand, Dubai(UAE), Malaysia etc…. 

  • Touch_Me_Nuts

    In the straight eyes of William Esposo, we can malign
    Enrile, and the whole Senate all we like, but it’s in poor taste to rub Mr.
    Aquino and his government on the wrong side. Mr. Aquino, after all, is the
    princely son of sainted Mdme. Cory.  hehehe


    13 people were just gunned down in Atimonan by government
    operatives and the government has already declared it as legal.  CJ Sereno is now a rubber stamp jury facing
    the Pasig River. hehehe Giving it a new meaning for the word freedom in the Filipino
    Webster dictionary. hehehe Freedom is not defined as, and synonymous to
    free-for-all. hehehe Indeed that’s what this country has so proudly now. hehehe


    A fawning mob and still a few cannot still figure out the
    making of a demagogue. This country relishes in myth, and in misplaced
    nationalism that buoy the starved image
    of many insecure people. Mr. Aquino is now viewed by his circle as having
    conquered the summit in Davos, Switzerland. hehehe Aquinomics doesn’t even
    make sense according to many sound financial gurus. Hehehe Suddenly Mr. Aquino
    became a wizard in the school of economics. hehehe

    • parefrank

      Not the wizard, maybe the  apprentice who wants to mace magics and can not control the outcome.

    • zafirol

      Must be frustrating that no matter how you maligned Aquino , he still is getting recognized and given honor to speak in Switzerland about the Philippine economic improvement. While also in your deep beliefs, you think he is worst than an id**t but the world leaders want to listen to his speech. Too bad that you are as smart as a wizard, but still cant find a way to bring him down.

      • Touch_Me_Nuts

        To bring down a jerk is somebody else’s business. Ours is
        just to vent our unsolicited views. Are you so paranoid of critics? hehehe A typical
        Filipino pikon. Can’t stand being kidded on the square?. hehehe You can’t seem
        to muster a certain degree of self-respect with your fawning attitude for our
        fearless leader. hehehe Grow up and see a good movie movies once in a while!
        And don’t stay too close to your mother’s skirt… hehehe Don’t mimic Mr.
        Aquino.. hehehe

      • Touch_Me_Nuts

        A strong republic is battle tested by holding on to criticisms
        no matter how brutal they can be. Fawning attitudes from like-minded people can
        actually sink a ship. Many leaders are often fooled by sycophants. We have seen
        it happen many times. A metal gets it strength by dousing it hot with water.
        Kapish? hehehe

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