Opening Remarks for the 22ND ASEAN Transport Ministers Meeting

Posted on November 17, 2016

Sec. Benjamin E. Diokno (22nd ASEAN Transport Ministers Meeting, 17 November 2016, Philippine International Convention Center, Manila)

To the honorable ASEAN Transport Ministers, the ASEAN Secretariat and Delegates, officials of the Department of Transportation headed by Secretary Arthur Tugade, Secretary Mark Villar of the Department of Public Works and Highways, members of the National Organizing Committee, guests, ladies and gentlemen, good morning.

I am honored to speak before you today on behalf of President Rodrigo Duterte. The President sends his warm regards to the ASEAN transport leaders and wishes for the successful conduct of this Meeting.

This government believes in the power of efficient and sustainable transportation as a means to move people, enhance business, and attract investments. And as this transport meeting proves, transportation projects and policies are a good way to establish cooperation and cohesion among ASEAN nations.

In the next six years, the Duterte administration will roll out and implement big-ticket infrastructure projects. His marching order: Build, Build, Build. We want to build more roads, bridges, and rail networks, develop airports, and modernize our ports. In our National Expenditure Program for 2017 and for the first year of the Duterte presidency, the government’s infrastructure spending will represent 5.4% of the Philippines’ Gross Domestic Product. It is by far the most aggressive push for infrastructure in our history. In 30 years, infra spending did not even go beyond 3% of our GDP.

When it comes to our transportation system, we want a complete turnaround. And we are confident that with political will, swift action, and bold solutions from two strong-willed men — President Duterte and Secretary Tugade, our goals are not far behind.

With better mass urban transport systems, we hope to improve investment rates in the country. With seamless connection, we hope to connect our cities and our people. And with better linkages, we hope to facilitate the transport of goods and services. We aim to build the first rail network outside of Luzon, link provinces in the Visayas, and address the traffic crisis in the Metropolis. We will do these not just with massive infra spending or strong political will, but we will accomplish all these with transparency. Under the Duterte administration, there will be no corruption. So with confidence, I wish to assure our partners in the ASEAN that NOW is the best time to invest in the Philippines.

Even the President’s war against crime and illegal drugs is designed to improve the over-all business climate of the country. With safer cities and communities, there will be more investments and more opportunities for social and economic growth.

As one ASEAN community, we want the same things for our countries and our people. We want connectivity, ease of travel, lower prices of goods and services, and ultimately improve the quality of life of our people. And that is the beauty of having a common blueprint such as the ASEAN Economic Integration. With stronger economies, we will be able to generate more jobs and address the root causes of poverty. We are able to find ways to interconnect not just our cities but also our skills, resources, and ideas.

On behalf of the President and the government of the Philippines, I thank you all being here and for being so generous with your time and expertise. Thank you for keeping the spirit of our partnership and cooperation alive. We truly value and cherish your friendship.
Thank you. Good morning and Mabuhay.