MANILA, Philippines – President Aquino conceded yesterday that his three-year-old administration is not perfect, but expressed willingness to learn more in order that the country’s improving economy gets better as he enters the second half of his six-year term.
“Our continuing education – our acknowledgment that we do not know everything yet – makes certain that we will not become obsolete or irrelevant,” he said in a speech he delivered at the Global Development Networks’ Annual Global Development Conference.
He added: “Perhaps that is the most resounding message of this conference: that we remain in pursuit of more knowledge – that we are saying yes to that natural human desire to get better.”
Aquino made the statement at the Asian Development Bank main office in Mandaluyong City where the GDN’s 14th Annual GDC was held.
A case in point that government is willing to learn was the historic success of coco-water where there was global demand – where it grew from a $370,000 to a $15.1-million industry from 2009 to 2011 alone.
“So, through approaching the problem in the context of its immediate environment, and with a dash of local ingenuity, we turned literal waste products into vibrant industries,” he said, using as example coco juice and coco coir that had no significant use before.
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“We found that we could effectively use the material to strengthen our roads and prevent erosion, which is why our Department of Public Works and Highways has been using it in its projects,” Aquino revealed. Coco coirs are extracted from coconut husks.
“From correctly reading local conditions, we were able to turn coco-water, which used to be a mere waste product, into an engine of empowerment,” he said, noting GDN’s solutions to poverty, hunger and unemployment was more “specific and effective.”
“We have long heard that the first step in solving a problem is acknowledging there is a problem. But perhaps we can build on that idea: The first step to solving any problem should be identifying the correct problem, otherwise any solution would be directionless, and therefore ineffective,” he said.
“This conference helps us do just that. It puts more solidity to the analysis of the problem, which will hopefully redound to more specific, more effective, and more strategic solutions,” he added.
He stressed that it was incumbent upon the government to ensure inclusive growth through social and infrastructure programs such as the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program that provides financial assistance to families that keep their children in school and consult with healthcare personnel; and close the classroom gap that will allow more children to attend school.
He disclosed that the next phase of “continued interventions” in his government include mass housing, job creation, tourism and agriculture.
“The next three years will see continued interventions on the poorest of the poor but also, a focus on the vulnerable but emerging sectors of society, all made possible by prudent public finance policies and honesty in public administration: by continuing efforts to build mass housing on site and not in far-flung areas; by creating durable jobs in industry, tourism and agriculture,” Aquino said.
“This is what our government has chosen to do. The difficulty is that while the problems may be universal, the solutions are not,” he pointed out.
“Each region, each country, each city and town has its own reality – and the solutions we come up with must be tailored fit to local conditions. This means that our solutions may not be the best for your own communities, and we must study their effects and how to maximize positive interventions in a specific and thorough manner,” he concluded.