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30 April 2016

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Esteemed members of the government, private sector, and the academe gathered at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) for a symposium entitled “Philippines 2016: Governance, Growth, Development and Security” on 28 April 2016.

Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose L. Cuisia, in his keynote address, described the Philippines’ path towards good governance, growth, and development as challenging, fulfilling, and dynamic, crediting the country’s economic transformation to the good governance program of the Aquino Administration and economic policies centered on inclusive growth.

Ambassador Cuisia also cited the deepening Philippines-US relations along the defense and security, people-to-people and economic tracks as an avenue of continued cooperation for the next administration.

“The Philippines is committed to be a proactive, reliable and responsible ally of the US, but more importantly, a strong Philippines is critical to the stability of South East Asia, and I do look forward to the Philippines continuing along its current path,” Ambassador Cuisia said.

During the 1st panel on Governance, Growth and Development, Motoo Konishi, former World Bank Country Director for the Philippines emphasized the importance of addressing corruption and improving governance, protecting the population from climate change and environmental disasters and having peace in eliminating extreme poverty. The Aquino Administration has actively pursued these three objectives, according to Konishi.

“Fighting poverty and eliminating poverty means that you have to know each poor, who they are and where they live, and your investments need to be targeted to those people. Fast growth doesn’t eliminate poverty, you have to choose your policies carefully,” Konishi said.

“The Aquino Administration focused on pro-poor policies,” Konishi further added, stating that the Philippine experience will be a highlight of the World Bank’s flagship World Development Report this year.

“The Filipino people are looking forward to more changes and to the continuation of reforms that the Aquino Administration started,” USAID’s Gloria Steele stressed, highlighting the accomplishments of the Aquino Administration in competitiveness, transparency, corruption, tourism, infrastructure, education, and health.

“Growth needs to be geographically dispersed throughout the country,” Steele noted on what more needs to be done, citing improvements in airport infrastructure and quality energy regulations as the two components of growth that the next administration can improve and focus on.

Matthew Bohn of the Millennium Challenge Corporation lauded the first compact with the Philippines, which supported poverty reduction, inclusive growth, and elimination of corruption, as being one of MCC’s best compacts. He also expressed confidence that despite the challenges ahead, the Philippines will be able to sustain its growth and development largely because of the ground work that the Aquino administration has set in place. “The Aquino Administration has successfully put down deep and important roots for creating the conditions for (sustained) economic growth,” Bohn said.

The second panel discussion on Security and Peace focused mainly on internal and external security challenges.

Professor Zachary Abuza of the National War College described the modernization of the Philippine air force, military and marine forces, the deepening defense relations with the United States through the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), and Balikatan exercises as some of the major accomplishments of the Aquino Administration.

However, peace and security challenges remain in Mindanao, one of which is the coercive capacities of political dynasties and political families through the use of private armies.

“For any lasting peace to happen in Mindanao, you have to eliminate the private armies,” Professor Patricio Abinales of the University of Hawaii at Manoa said.

Professor Abinales also linked the private armies with the pervasive presence of the illicit sector, stating that the presence of illicit trade in Mindanao cannot be weakened without first eliminating the private armies.

“Unilateral naming doesn’t change the status of a territory, sea or land,” Professor Ruth Wedgwood of Johns Hopkins SAIS said, switching the discussion from internal to external security challenges.

Referring to the impending decision of the Arbitral Tribunal, Professor Wedgwood further stated that “China will be put in a very difficult position to defy it” considering the interest of ASEAN member countries in the case.

The last part of the symposium was a keynote address delivered by Senator Richard Lugar, speaking on the hallmarks of the Aquino Administration and the strong ties between the Philippines and the United States. ###

30 April 2016

Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. delivers his welcome address at the symposium entitled “Philippines 2016: Governance, Growth, Development and Security,” held at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) on 28 April 2016.

30 April 2016

(L-R) Matthew Bohn of the Millennium Challenge Corporation, Gloria Steele of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and Motoo Konishi of the World Bank are the speakers of the 1st panel on Governance, Growth and Development.

30 April 2016

(L-R) Professor Ruth Wedgwood of Johns Hopkins University SAIS, Professor Patricio Abinales of the University of Hawaii at Manoa, and Professor Zachary Abuza of the National War College are the speakers of the 2nd panel on Peace and Security.