Friday, December 9, 2011

At the inauguration of the new Epson Precision Philippines, Inc. facility in Batangas

From Website of GPH Government of the Philippines

Right to Work and Economic Rights

His Excellency Benigno S. Aquino III
President of the Philippines
At the inauguration of the new Epson Precision Philippines, Inc. facility in Batangas

[Delivered at Lipa City, Batangas, on December 8, 2011

Director General Lilia de Lima; His Excellency Toshinao Urabe; Mr. Minoru Usui; Mr. Osamu Koshiishi; Mr. Kazuyuki Amano; Mr. Tadaaki Hagata; honorable Mayor Meynardo Sabili; Mr. Tomas Alcantara; Epson Precision Philippines, Inc. officials and employees; fellow workers in government; honored guests; ladies and gentlemen:

In the welcome address delivered in Filipino, I feel compelled to speak in Japanese. [Laughter] Unfortunately, the only word that comes to mind right now is arigato gozaimashita.

Since I assumed office, I have had the good fortune to be invited to a significant number of inauguration ceremonies—from hotels, to shipyards, to factories similar to the one being inaugurated today. You all know how busy the schedule can get, but I must tell you: Whenever I’m invited to something like this, I do my best to make time and attend.

It’s always been important to us that businesses operating in this country find success and expand, and that new factories like this open here. And in these uncertain times, I would say that it is doubly important. So allow me to say that I am very thankful for your confidence in our country and that it is a privilege for me to be here to inaugurate this new factory with you today.

It is a point of pride for me that companies like Epson, who already have a workforce of more than six thousand people in this country, have been impressed enough by the skill of our workers to expand their manufacturing operations here. Again, let me say arigato gozaimashita. I have always said that the resourcefulness, the work ethic, and the ingenuity of Filipino workers are some of the biggest selling points in attracting investments in our country. And this factory, which will produce products for a world-renowned industry leader, is proof positive of the capabilities of our countrymen.

Epson Precision Philippines is putting in around 4.5 billion pesos into this new factory, which is to become a projector production facility. But so soon before it’s done, there are already some encouraging projections being made—that by the end of 2012, this factory will be giving jobs to 2,000 more qualified Filipinos. And who knows, perhaps by the time I step down from office, you will have employed much more than that.

We all know how 2,000 new jobs can serve as a substantial boost to our economy, but think about how it changes the lives of the 2,000 Filipinos who will then be able to earn a decent living, keep food on their tables, and send their kids to school.  More than that, these 2,000 Filipinos will also have the opportunity to work for EPPI, a company that has a reputation for treating its workers right, winning the Outstanding Employer Award given by the Philippine Economic Zone Authority three times in the past six years. [Applause] So I cannot emphasize how much this new facility can help our country.

I’d also like to point out that the inauguration of this factory significantly contributes to one of the cornerstones of our economy—the electronics industry. People outside the industry might not know this, but the electronics industry directly employs around half a million Filipinos—and this number has been steadily growing. Moreover, last year, the amount of investments made in the industry reached a record high: 2.3 billion dollars. And if that doesn’t drive home how important the electronics industry is, from January to September of 2011, it accounted for half of the entire country’s exports. Suffice to say, your sector has always been one of the strong points of our economy, and make no mistake about it: We have every intention of keeping it this way.

Allow me to share with all of you what we’re doing to improve the investment climate for companies in the electronics industry. For one, PEZA-registered enterprises such as yours receive a number of fiscal incentives—from income tax holidays, to exemption from export taxes, to duty-free importation of equipment. Likewise, the government provides significant fiscal and non-fiscal incentives under the Omnibus Investments Code for companies registered with our Board of Investments.

In addition, the Board of Investments has also been working closely with the Advanced Research Center for Development and the Congressional Commission on Science and Technology, to improve science, engineering, and technology research and development systems in the country.

We’ve also been working with organizations such as the Semiconductor and Electronics Industries in the Philippines, the Electronics Industries Association of the Philippines, and the Philippine Appliance Industry Association to make sure that your concerns are both heard and addressed at the soonest possible times.

We are also aware of how the recent global crisis has made life a bit harder for all of us, including export-oriented companies like yours. So, in this light, we have been working overtime to come up with strategies to strengthen exports, including those in the electronics industry. We’ve been diversifying access points to manage risks in export sales. We’ve been studying prospects in North and South America, in North Asia, and in some ASEAN partner countries as well. We’re also actively conducting export promotional activities such as fairs, and outbound and inbound missions. We are continuously monitoring the situation, and we are doing what we can so that the environment you operate in remains conducive to growth.

We all know the challenges facing the global economy at this time. Your continued confidence in my country signifies a shared mindset: Stability does not simply mean letting things be. When something doesn’t work, you have to move to fix it—even if it means ruffling a few feathers, and even if it means taking some risks. Otherwise, strategic goals will never be met. The strength of any corporation, any institution, any government, lies in the integrity upon which its ideals too are upheld. Passivity means erosion. By expressing their confidence in my country, EPPI has shown that they recognize this—that they believe our principles in governance will have concrete, long-term benefits for our country.

What we’re doing, after all, is about more than the economy, more than Filipinos being able to afford good Christmas dinners for their families—it is also about what Epson itself refers to as “Exceeding Your Vision.” It is about encouraging more excellent companies such as EPPI to invest here, and to be confident in selling products labeled “Made in the Philippines.” It is about reclaiming our national pride; it is about being proud of the country we will bequeath to our children.

So before I end, to those who will be working in this factory: I will never tire of saying how proud I am of the capacity of Filipinos workers to rival their global counterparts in any field. I know that it’s easy to be inspired after grand inaugurations such as this, but I am hopeful that even years from today, even when your gears are in full swing with the day-to-day grind, you continue to find it in yourselves to do the good work you will undoubtedly be doing once this factory begins operations. It was the same with this job of mine. It is easy to envision change, but we can only reach it by putting our heads down and putting in the work needed to achieve that change. I assure you, if we fulfill our respective roles in the collective task of rebuilding this country, we will ensure that this country remains in the broad light of day.

Again, congratulations, and before I end, may I just say again how thankful and grateful we all are for the confidence expressed by Epson Corporation. When the welcome address was delivered entirely in Filipino, it seemed to me the culmination of a true partnership that will undoubtedly lead to positive growth for both of our interests. And again, we thank you. Perhaps, we will show you, and I am sure and confident that we will indeed show you that your decision to trust in us will reap you the corresponding rewards. [The] government is committed to making business or doing business in this country that much easier. The opportunities you afford us—I am told that there is a multiplier effect of seven employees for every direct hire. So with the two thousand—or is it three thousand—that you have expanded today, you’re adding another 24 thousand jobs to the economy. And again, we thank you. We hope to empower you more as you empower us.
Thank you. Good day.