Speech for the 71st Annual Convention of PICPA

Posted on October 24, 2016

(71st Annual Convention of PICPA, 24 November 2016, SMX Convention Center SM Lanang Premier, Davao City)

To PICPA national president Ramonito Pernato, Chairman Felix T. Fabian, Davao chapter president Marko Romeo Fuentes, the organizing committee, to all the CPAs and esteemed guests who have gathered here for this momentous event, ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon.

It is my honor to speak to you today on your 71st Annual Convention on behalf of President Rodrigo Duterte. The president wishes to congratulate you on a successful and productive convention, and he hopes that your organization will continue to promote professional accounting, nurture its members, and contribute to the positive change that the government is striving for.

PICPA and each of its individual members play a significant part in reaching our country’s goals and I am blessed to see all of you here. This convention is a venue for establishing friendships that create deep connections and enable productive collaboration.
But more importantly, this is a platform for the sharing of ideas and best practices, current events, developments, and issues faced by each sector in the accounting profession.

Seeing the need to rise to the challenges in this new age, PICPA has rallied its members under the banner “Level Up,” urging all of its members to aim higher and to elevate the way work is done. And I cannot agree with you more on this urgent call to reach for a new level, to rise.

Let me take this opportunity to share with you the steps that the government is taking in the hope of advancing the nation to a higher level.
This administration firmly believes that the people – the human capital – is the most crucial element in nation-building, in encouraging economic growth, and reducing poverty. To “level up” the human capital means improvement of labor productivity, the spurring of innovation, and the sustainability of growth.

Thus, creating and improving services for the people is the number one priority of the government. Education, health, and social security sectors will be given the biggest share – 40.1% or almost half – in next year’s budget.
Flagship programs in the social services sector will be sustained. The Conditional Cash Transfer or CCT will provide health and education cash grants to eligible poor households, granting a monthly education and health allowance that will assist low-income families. The Duterte Administration has also introduced a rice subsidy of 20 kilos of rice for 12 months as a top-up to the CCT program. All in all, CCT is allocated P78.7 billion with P23.4 billion owing to the rice subsidy.

The National Health Insurance Program or NHIP will give Filipinos access to affordable and quality universal health care services.

Government hospitals and health facilities nationwide will be modernized under the Health Facilities Enhancement Program, making them more responsive to the health needs of the people. Overall, healthcare is allocated P151.5 billion, a sizeable increase from this year’s allocation.

Education is of prime importance, and it is given a rightful allocation of P700 billion. The Department of Education alone is given P570 billion for its objectives of universal basic education. The increased budget for the Basic Educational Facilities will also continue to build classrooms and equip schools for the K-12 program. Meanwhile, tertiary Education is allocated with a bigger budget for building facilities and to offer scholarships for teachers.

The government promises a positive change that is felt by the people, not only in the aspect of social services but also in public infrastructure.

The Filipino people can look forward to numerous infrastructure projects that will make way for the easy transport of passengers and goods. In the 2017 proposed budget, P860.7 billion is allotted for public infrastructure, over a hundred billion higher than the 2016 allocation, and this is just for one year alone. This ensures the immediate launch of numerous construction projects across the country, 18 of which are already approved and ready for bidding in less than five months after the inauguration of President Duterte.

This focus on public infrastructure projects means more roads, bridges, transport terminals, ports, and other public works connecting you to cities and rural areas, bolstering agriculture and tourism development. And for the next six years, we estimate that the government will spend between P8.2 to P9 trillion to realize the dream of a golden age of infrastructure in the Philippines.

Construction of infrastructure will be non-stop come 2017 and each project will be monitored efficiently by using modern technology such as geotagging and mapping with drones. This technology allows for transparency, making it easy for the government to validate and evaluate the actual progress of projects even in remote areas. Overlapping projects and fictitious or “ghost” projects will be eliminated.

Transport infrastructure will be pursued to address the traffic crisis costing us, as a JICA estimate 3 years ago, P2.4 billion pesos daily. Road networks will receive P328 billion next year. Alternative modes of transport to decongest urban areas will also be pursued, such as the P1.0 billion allocation for the Metro Manila Bus Rapid Transit Line 1 and the P25 billion for rail transport systems all over the country.

A modernized Philippine National Railway is also underway, worth more than P250 billion, which will connect Tutuban to surrounding provinces such as Laguna, Batangas, Legaspi, and as far as Sorsogon.

The Mindanao Logistics Infrastructure Network is another big-ticket project that will cost P31.5 billion pesos to improve trade and transport in Mindanao. A key factor to unlocking the potential of Mindanao is upgrading its infrastructure. This is especially true with Mindanao being the poorest island group in the country.

Our economic policies are sound, but they will be for naught if lawlessness persists. The President’s war against crime and illegal drugs is founded on the conviction that peace and order is a precondition to economic growth. If there is no peace and order, there is no progress. Thus, the President has ordered a vigorous enforcement of the law to address criminality.
He also commanded the continued implementation of peace agreements with numerous stakeholders. Ongoing discussions are being carried out to encourage understanding and cooperation as a people of one nation.

The government has already undertaken steps to expedite the peace process in Mindanao. An Executive Order has already been signed by the President for a more inclusive Bangsamoro Transition Council (BTC). This will allow numerous stakeholders to sit at the negotiation table, from the MILF, to the MNLF and even the Indigenous Peoples. The BTC will resume work on the proposed law that will create the Bangsamoro Region.

The government has also engaged the CPP-NPA-NDF in peace talks to put an end to the longest running communist-insurgency in Asia. A third round of negotiations is scheduled for early next year in Oslo, Norway. Beyond releasing political prisoners, President Duterte has appointed personalities from the Left in his Cabinet. Lest we forget, he also declared a unilateral ceasefire during his first State of the Nation Address. Evidently, this administration is serious in forging lasting peace.

The government aspires for a complete transformation, for the nation to “level up” in terms of improved public services; peaceful, secure, and healthy communities; and prosperity and a comfortable life for all.

I wish to emphasize and remind each of you of your significance in realizing this aspiration. What you can contribute in actualizing national progress as individual CPAs and as PICPA is invaluable. Your continued support is needed now more than ever by the government and the Filipino people it serves.

On behalf of the President, I thank you all for your warm welcome and for your time. May your organization continue to grow so that it may cultivate more generations of honorable Filipino accountants.

Thank you and good afternoon.