Today on Rappler.
PHILIPPINES: THE NEXT ECONOMIC MIRACLE?
Once dubbed Asia’s “sick man,” the Philippines’ focus on governance is reaping economic benefits.
Its stellar economic growth takes the spotlight at the World Economic Forum on East Asia, happening for the first time in more than two decades in Manila.
More than 600 political and business heavyweights from around Asia gather to discuss opportunities for development in the region.
In 2013, the Philippines grew 7.2% and won investment grade status from credit rating agencies – a mark of investor confidence.
Business leaders say the Philippines could be the next Asian economic miracle.
But they add, more reforms are needed to speed up inclusive development and make it easier for businessmen to invest in the country.
Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company or PLDT Chair Manny Pangilinan says the government should focus on “hard developments” by being more investment-driven.
MANNY PANGILINAN, PLDT CHAIRMAN: The soft part of development is important, reforms, governance, and perceptions of the Philippines improving. But there are the hard parts of development as well . It can't all be perception...
The main reason why inclusive growth is not as inclusive as it should because we're mainly a consumption-driven economy, and it's time to switch that to an investment-driven economy
Tourism Secretary Mon Jimenez says decision-making in government should not mean slow action.
MON JIMENEZ, TOURISM SECRETARY: The Philippines is a very real democracy, and very often there is a tremendous temptation to dispense with what would be a sustainable democratic way of doing things.
[Q: but does democratic have to mean long?] I do not give in to the temptation to throw the rule book away.
Karim Raslan, chief executive of Malaysia's KRA Group, also says using political capital may be needed to implement reforms.
He adds, extending the current 6-year-term of the president may help speed up development.
KARIM RASLAN, KRA GROUP CEO: Democracy is a means, not the end. You have to get into the rulebook and change the rules and you have to use the political capital to do that, to make things faster. Your point on long-term vision is totally right, but then very tough when you can only have a president for 6 years and he can’t do two terms. I think that's another case of the rulebook, you should have two terms, and I think you do need two terms, one term is not enough.
ASEAN HEADS OF STATE SHARE PRESENT ECONOMIC GOALS
Heads of state at the World Economic Forum on East Asia present their economic goals.
All say economic prosperity is the result of a stable socio-political environment.
Despite the calamities that struck the Philippines in 2013, Philippine President Benigno Aquino attributes the country’s economic growth to good governance and pursuit of wrongdoers.
Aquino says the next step is to make economic prosperity more inclusive.
BENIGNO AQUINO, PHILIPPINE PRESIDENT: We are aware, however, that inclusive growth cannot be achieved simply by delivering to our people the services they rightfully deserve. Government must also actively find ways to create opportunities for the people. This is why inclusive growth is not just a mantra for us; it is the yardstick by which we measure any government undertaking. After all, it is a participatory public – one that is empowered, and one that gives government their trust and confidence – and a government that never misplaces that trust that ultimately makes equitable progress possible.
Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono says investing in education and promoting entrepreneurship can help address inequality.
SUSILO BAMBANG YUDHOYONO, INDONESIAN PRESIDENT: I believe our generation is now endowed with resources and know-how to beat age old problems of poverty, deprivation, and conflict.
The key challenge in addressing inequity is how to ensure that those at the bottom and middle also enjoy the same, if not more socioeconomic mobility as those at the top. Hence, mobility for all.
While the Philippines and Indonesia start to reap the benefits of earlier efforts, Myanmar is just starting to pick up after years of political isolation.
NYAN TUN, MYANMAR VICE PRESIDENT: Myanmar had reduced poverty rate from 32 to 26% in 2010 and it has been trying to reduce the poverty rate to 16% by 2015 however challenges are everywhere. Since it is a long term process, long term and sustained political commitment is required.
IS PH READY FOR ASEAN INTEGRATION?
Equitable economic development and the free movement of goods and people – that’s the idea behind regional economic integration by 2015.
But is the Philippines ready for this?
Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez and Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima say the Philippines will benefit from regional integration.
MON JIMENEZ, TOURISM SECRETARY: If you’re talking about Asia, we are right smack in the middle of everything. We are also going to be a beneficiary of a single ASEAN visa onset and open skies.
But Purisima acknowledges there’s still work to be done on the level of leadership and implementation.
CESAR PURISIMA, FINANCE SECRETARY: The 10 countries are very different, the gap between the richest and the poorest is so wide. Look at the industries that were integrated ahead, look at the tariff levels, it’s down to zero...we’re moving forward, it's never quick enough.
AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes says economic integration will mean the efficient use of resources and reduced costs.
He says the private sector and the government must be on the same page.
TONY FERNANDES, AIRASIA CEO: I think we’re a long way to get to a perfect scenario, but we're on the taxiway, that’s a big step. I don’t think five, six years ago was a pipe dream.
There’s a disconnect between what private industry wants and what government are pushing. They don’t talk to the guys on the ground to really know what needs to be done.
PH ON THE MOVE TO ASEAN INTEGRATION
Who wins and who loses when the ASEAN economic community emerges in 2015?
For Ayala Corporation chair Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, competitive businesses will be in a better position to thrive in the regional market.
He also says the Philippines has already moved towards integration, although he says not everyone is aware of the broader economic framework.
JAIME AUGUSTO ZOBEL DE AYALA, AYALA CORPORATION CEO: Very much so, I think people have seen this ASEAN economic community as a preparation, a date and then all these things happen. That’s not really quite what’s been happening, there have been a lot of wins with each passing month, this passing year, we’ve really moved already.
Anyone in industries that have been very closed will have a tough time adjusting.
The ones who would lose are the ones who have been comfortable or thrived in a highly protective environment.
Zobel de Ayala also says he is optimistic about the Philippines sustaining its economic growth.
He says the government needs to invest in infrastructure to support growth, and not be complacent.
JAIME AUGUSTO ZOBEL DE AYALA, AYALA CORPORATION CEO: The key is to use good times to prepare for challenges ahead. But that having been said, the Philippines is having a great run.
The 1st couple of years building confidence and momentum. theres lot of momentum now. The story of the country is good, the credibility is there. The key is to take that momentum and give it everything you've got all the way to end.
SM Investment Corporation Vice Chairman Tessie Sy Coson says integration within ASEAN will not immediately happen with the 2015 deadline.
She says it will be a period of heightened awareness, but the changes will happen in 5 years.
TESSIE SY-COSON, SMIC VICE CHAIRMAN: I think right now it’s more of awareness. The actual integration may come 5 years later which is actually the original date of integration.
For us, we like it in the sense that we would be able to see more people coming in and see the business models will evolve, there will be more cooperations among businesses in this region, but of course there’s more competition.
PURISIMA: INSTITUTIONALIZE REFORMS FOR INCLUSIVE DEVELOPMENT
What does the Philippines need to do to sustain its growth?
Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima says the Aquino administration is moving towards institutionalizing reforms to make development inclusive.
Purisima says it’s important that citizens feel the effects of what he calls good governance under Aquino.
CESAR PURISIMA, FINANCE SECRETARY: That the people continue to feel the difference of good and bad governance in their own lives, because I think ultimately that is what will assure us that we can sustain this because if the people know that governance is actually good for them, then they will demand more.
Purisima also acknowledges the negative impact of corruption on economic growth.
He says the problem is rooted in a system that does not encourage excellence.
CESAR PURISIMA, FINANCE SECRETARY: There are different types of corruption, 90% based on need, and because their families have needs and I don’t excuse that. And 10% based on greed.
But the one based on need, we can address it by a performance-based compensation system, an incentive system. Corruption is a problem and the root probably is a system that doesn't recognize performance, that doesn't encourage meritocracy.
5 AREAS OF FOCUS FOR SUSTAINED GROWTH
Will Asia be able to keep its momentum?
Experts identify key areas of focus for the region’s sustainable growth, like infrastructure, political stability, peace and security, the growth of the middle class, and better regional connectivity.
With plans for an integrated ASEAN in 2015, trade ministers from across the region discuss investment challenges and opportunities.
Indonesia’s trade minister Muhammad Lutfi says the rapid growth of Indonesia’s middle class is a good opportunity for manufacturers to come in.
Singapore’s finance and transport senior minister Josephine Teo emphasizes the need for connectivity across the ASEAN region.
While it is a challenge at the moment, Teo says connectivity is central to the vision of a successful economic integration.
JOSEPHINE TEO, SINGAPORE SENIOR FINANCE AND TRANSPORT MINISTER: In fact there is a masterplan for ASEAN connectivity that has three key priority areas. One is, we need land connectivity. It’s ok to have more cars, more vehicles, provided we have the roads.
Another very important aspect is that – we also need rail connectivity. And so, land connectivity, as part of ASEAN connectivity is one area that’s got challenges, but there are also tremendous opportunities.
I think in today’s world, given the kind of technological advancements we need broadband, a cyber connectivity. is a very important area.
PH SLIPS IN IMD WORLD COMPETITIVENESS RANKING
After climbing 5 notches to 38th spot last year, the Philippines slides to 42nd place in the 2014 IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook Ranking.
The ranking is based on the perceptions of 60 economies as a place to do business.
In a statement, IMD says most big emerging markets slid in the rankings because of slow economic growth and inadequate infrastructure.
IMD names 5 challenges facing the Philippines in 2014: infrastructure, corruption, unemployment and underemployment, an undeveloped financial system, and natural disasters.
ABAD ASKED ABOUT PORK SCAM AT WEF SESSION
During a discussion on transparency at the World Economic Forum, Budget Secretary Butch Abad is put on the spot with a question about the pork barrel scam.
Abad was named as one of the officials who colluded to divert public funds to fake NGOs in exchange for kickbacks.
A reporter from the Wall Street Journal asked about the government’s fight against corruption after Abad talked about good governance initiatives.
The Cabinet secretary says the fact that the exposé happened during the Aquino administration shows transparency.
He adds, “[The President] has allowed a system that can talk about it and that prosecutes the guilty… creating an environment and lowering tolerance for it is something this administration has made happen."
MEDICAL WOES DELAY RELEASE OF NAPOLES AFFIDAVIT
The camp of alleged pork barrel mastermind Janet Lim Napoles says it won’t be able to submit her affidavit yet because of her medical problems.
Napoles' counsel Bruce Rivera says, “Mrs Napoles is sick, how can she look at the documents? Her doctors won’t let us.”
Almost a month after having a hysterectomy at the Makati Hospital, doctors discovered “abnormal vaginal bleeding.”
A Makati regional trial court earlier ordered her brought back to her detention center in Laguna before Friday but the bleeding prompts doctors to withdraw Napoles’ discharge order.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima says she will ask for the deadline for the affidavit to be moved to Monday.
Senator TG Guingona grants De Lima's request, saying it was a "valid reason."
SENATE ORDERS DE LIMA: SUBMIT LUY FILES
The Senate orders Justice Secretary de Lima to submit the digital files of whistleblower Benhur Luy.
De Lima and the National Bureau of Investigation or NBI has until May 28 to produce a copy of the contents of Luy’s hard drive.
Luy’s digital files became the subject of controversy after the Philippine Daily Inquirer released reports about the contents of the hard drive.
Records from Luy's hard disk drive supposedly detailed the financial transactions of alleged scam mastermind Janet Napoles.
THAI ARMY DECLARES COUP
Thailand army chief Gen. Prayut Chan-ocha announces a military coup on live TV Thursday.
This is the 12th successful military coup Thailand had since 1932.
Prayut says the military plans to restore order and implement political reforms.
The military imposed martial law Tuesday, but denied it was a coup.
This comes after the ouster of prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra from office earlier this month for alleged abuse of power.
Thailand’s been embroiled in a power struggle since the military ousted Yingluck's brother Thaksin as prime minister in 2006.
VIETNAM MULLS 'LEGAL ACTIONS' AGAINST CHINA
Vietnam is considering “legal actions” against China after the rising superpower deployed an oil rig in the disputed South China Sea.
On Thursday, Reuters reports Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung is considering --quote-- “various defense options, including legal actions in accordance with international law.”
This comes after Dung issued a joint statement along with Philippine President Benigno Aquino to show “deep concern” over China's moves.
Dung criticizes China's deployment of an oil rig and vessels near the disputed Paracel Islands in the South China Sea.
During the World Economic Forum on East Asia, Dung hits China’s aggressive actions despite Vietnam’s protests.
Dung says Vietnam “always wants peace and friendship,” but says China has continued to use force.
NGUYEN TAN DUNG, VIETNAM PRIME MINISTER: Vietnam always wants peace and friendship, we have exercised utmost restraint and exhausted all channels of dialogue to communicate Chinese authorities of different levels demanding China to withdraw its drilling rig. However up to now China not only failed to respond to Vietnam’s legitimate demand, on the contrary, it has been slandering and blaming Vietnam while continuing to use force.
US online giant eBay says cyberattackers broke into its database with customer names, passwords and other personal data earlier this year.
The attack potentially affected eBay's 128 million active users.
Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy calls for the end of Europe's visa-free Schengen area.
He pushes for the creation of a Franco-German economic bloc at the heart of the eurozone.
In an opinion piece in a French magazine, Sarkozy says Europe's migration policy is a failure.
He says the existing Schengen must be replaced by Schengen II, where member countries can join only if they previously agreed to the same immigration policy.
Star Wars fans now have a chance to appear in upcoming installment "Star Wars: Episode VII.”
For each $10 contribution to the campaign dubbed “Star Wars: Force for Change” participants will be automatically entered for a chance to win this once in a lifetime experience.
Director J.J. Abrams says the campaign is dedicated to finding creative solutions to some of the world’s biggest problems.
The campaign runs from May 21, 2014 to July 18, 2014.
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Newscast Production Staff