By GODDES HOPE OLIVEROS LIBIRAN
Every time public officials visit other countries to showcase investment opportunities in the Philippines and solicit support, people are often doubtful and suspicious. But, as I have
witnessed, the recent visit of economic and infrastructure managers in London does not deserve any of it.
In four short days, British investors and businessmen were presented with the Philippines’ stable and robust growth prospects, along with infrastructure projects and big-ticket investment opportunities under the government’s massive “Build, Build, Build” program.
During the Philippine Economic Briefing at the Four Seasons Hotel in Park Lane, Department of Transportation Secretary (DOTr) Arthur Tugade gave a rousing speech before hundreds of
investors and foreign stakeholders. He enumerated the many reasons the Philippines continues to be one of the most resilient economies in the world, and why foreign companies and businessmen should invest in the country now more than ever.
Like his classmate, President Rodrigo Duterte, Secretary Tugade is an excellent communicator and has the innate charm to draw people in. Regardless of how technical or boring a subject is, Secretary Tugade has his unique way of working a crowd.
During the economic briefing, Secretary Tugade mentioned the unprecedented spending in infrastructure and the commitment of the Duterte administration to give the Philippines, already two decades behind in infrastructure, a fighting chance amid the rapid globalization and development of industries.
He stressed anti-corruption efforts of the government led by a strong-willed and incorruptible President who absolutely abhors even an inkling of corruption. Streamlining of
business processes, ease of doing business, and transparency in the bidding and procurement processes were also highlighted.
On behalf of other “Build” agencies Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA), Secretary Tugade took the lead in presenting the accomplishments of infrastructure agencies in the past two years in terms of roads, bridges, expressways, airports, seaports, railways, and smart cities being built and improved.
Throughout the trip, schedule was really tight. The 73-year-old Secretary Tugade would have eight meetings in one day. Among the agenda were intermodal transport, and going for an environment-friendly public transportation, both of which are being addressed with intermodal terminals in Metro Manila and the PUV Modernization Program, respectively.
Toll interoperability and improving the security at transport hubs were also discussed. Secretary Tugade expressed interest in the concept of secured ticketing through a digital application. He urged investors to come to the Philippines but made it clear to them that everything needs to undergo a process as prescribed by the Philippine government.
Secretary Tugade also met with International Maritime Organization (IMO) Secretary General Kitack Lim in London. During the meeting, Sec. Gen. Lim shared his observation that the Philippines is doing a lot of positive developments in the maritime sector. He said the Philippines is a very important member of the IMO with its well-motivated maritime workforce. Sec. Gen. Lim said that he often cites Filipino seafarers as examples to other countries for their industry and discipline. After that, Secretary Tugade paid a courtesy call on Philippine Ambassador to the United Kingdom Antonio Lagdameo, where they discussed possible
transportation-related projects in the UK that may be replicated in the Philippines.
The Cabinet secretaries later made a 40-minute visit to the first-ever Jollibee branch in London.
Filipinos have all the reasons to be happy about that trip to London. The Philippines was once again the bida, and the rest of the world was shown just how much committed this administration is to keeping it that way.