MANILA -- President Benigno Aquino III had secured US$2.5-billion worth of investment pledges from his business trips in the United Kingdom and the United States last week.
Upon arrival at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) on Sunday, Aquino said he was exhausted from his seven-day official visit to the two countries but he is excited and happy to report to the Filipinos the fruit of his trips.
The President said half of the total investment pledges came from Rolls Royce, Asea Gaz Asia Ltd. and commodities trading giant Glencore, owner of the Philippine Associated Smelting and Refining Corp. (Pasar), all of which are based in the UK.
Glencore plans to expand its smelting capacity by investing US$600 million; Gaz Asia will work with Aboitiz Equity and invest US$150 million to develop plants that will convert organic waste materials into liquid bio methane; and Rolls Royce has signed a P280-million service contract with Cebu Pacific for the purchase and service of new airplane engines.
The other half of the investment pledges will come from US-based businesses, namely GN Power Limited, which plans to put up two 300-megawatt coal plants in Bataan; Underwriters Laboratories Inc., which will invest in a global technology research center in Manila; and the Citigroup and USAid, which have proposed a mobile financial inclusion program that will bring the benefits of mobile banking to the rural areas.
"In sum, the amount of investments coming here from the companies we have met in Britain and in the United States: At least two and a half billion dollars, or roughly P100 billion," Aquino said in Filipino.
"These numbers are equivalent to jobs that would bring food on the table of Filipinos," he added.
The President said aside from strengthening the Philippine economy by providing jobs and livelihood, these investments further strengthen the ties the Philippines has with the UK and the US.
He also mentioned his meetings with British Prime Minister David Cameron and Duke of York Prince Andrew.
He said the British government praised the progress of peace talks and growth of the country's gross domestic product (GDP), which surpassed the expectations of many.
Aquino said the US government also lauded the improvement of the country and reiterated its promise to support the Philippines' endeavors.
"(US) President (Barack) Obama himself stressed out the importance of the Philippines as their ally, engaging joint interest to maintain free and peaceful expedition in the West Philippine Sea… In that interview, it became clearer what we could expect from them and them from us," Aquino said.
Aquino added that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed support in building the Coast Watch System, which will go a long way in protecting the Philippine waters.
Clinton also said there will be an additional Peace Corps volunteers to be deployed in the country.
Aquino also shared about the debt for nature swap with the US. As beneficiary, Philippines will not be required to pay the US$23-million debt to the US; instead the money will be used for planting trees.
He added the country will also get an additional US$30 million under the Partnership for Growth program that supports anti-poverty projects.
"We were gone for six and half days from our country; 42 hours of which we spent inside the airplane. You see that we did not waste our trip and we took all the opportunity to push our country to the path of prosperity and development," the President said.
He said as the country celebrates Independence Day on June 12 (Tuesday), the government will not stop in improving the lives of every Filipino.
"With your help and our friends all over the world, we will achieve our goal," Aquino said. (PNA/Jill Beltran/Sunnex)
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