Friday, November 21, 2008

[kgma] PGMA's Speech during the Inauguration of UP-Ayala Land Techno Hub

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's Speech During the Inauguration of
U.P.-Ayala Land Techno Hub
Commonwealth Ave., Diliman, Quezon City
November 21, 2008
11212008A

Thank you, Secretary Alabastro for your introduction. And thank you
for helping me so much make Science and Technology the foundation of
Philippine Economic Development.

Fernando Zobel de Ayala, Jimmy Ayala and the other officials of the
Ayala Land; Dr. Roman, CHED Chair Angeles and the other members of the
Board of Regents and the whole U.P. family; Mayor Belmonte; our
Congresspersons from Quezon City: Nanette Daza and Annie Susano;
Vice-Mayor Herbert Bautista and everybody from Quezon City, to all of
you, congratulations!

The U.P.–Ayala Land Techno Hub is one giant step to bring our country
closer to the goal we declared in 2001 of making technology the
foundation of our economic development. This is an important step
together with the three billion pesos that the government is
investing, has been investing in R&D manpower development, and the one
billion pesos that was mentioned by President Roman that we put in the
national budget for U.P. to build its own Science and Technology Complex.

And now here we are, we have the S&T Park of the U.P., with the Techno
Hub as indeed its hub. And as Jim Ayala said, we can now create our
own version of Stanford University's Silicon Valley and MIT's Route
128, the birthplace of so much research that has changed lives and
lifestyles. The numerous applications of the research from these two
cradles of modern technology today define the way people all over the
world do business, work and spend their leisure. And we hope this U.P.
-Ayala Techno Park will do the same. With this Science and Technology
Park, of which this hub is a central portion, we hope that U.P., the
country's premier academic institution, will ignite a new
technological revolution that will upgrade our total science and
technology capability and bring our country to the threshold of the
first-world in 20 years.

This Park will serve as our country's foremost IT laboratory, training
ground and incubator of new and high value-adding products and
services. Together with the Science and Technology Complex and the
Science and Technology Park, it will provide the nurturing environment
for new IT-based businesses that transform new technologies into
useful and commercially viable services.

We must make sure that it has the physical infrastructure to support
the academic, scientific and technological pursuits of noted
U.P.-based specialists. And as Jim said earlier, this community-like
environment, campus-like environment will strengthen the synergy
between the academics in R&D and the technology-based entrepreneurs.
The closeness to U.P. will offer the academics a better appreciation
of the needs and risks of businesses, and the entrepreneurs located so
close to U.P. here in the hub and in the entire Science and Technology
Park will give the entrepreneurs valuable information about R&D.

As the pioneer academically-based IT Park, U.P.- Ayala Land Techno Hub
plays a central role in the future of the bigger U.P. Science and
Technology Park.

Techno Hub will set the standard against which future S&T Parks and
locators will be measured. And that is the same for the country as a
whole. Even in the face of new challenges brought about by the
financial asset meltdown and the deepening recession abroad, our
priority projects such as technology and R&D development will continue.

We all know, that there is a global economic crisis that has been
responsible for driving up the prices of food, fuel and rice in the
Philippines and around the world. In the country, we are not in
crisis, thank God. But, we are facing strong challenges like all other
countries. During these troubled times, it is the role of the
government to help insulate the Filipino people from these price
shocks and economic pressure. That is why the government is doing
everything in its power to put food on the table, and protect the
paycheck from high prices and inflation. And one way by which we are
protecting the U.P.'s paycheck is to increase the paycheck. That is
why we have exempted you from salary standardization and we've also
given (applause) the power to the Board of Regents to increase your
salaries. We are also continuing to invest not only in education like
U.P. but in the nation's system of healthcare and social services.

Were it not for the painful reforms of the past seven years -- and we
thank our Congresspersons for helping much make those fiscal reforms
-- the impact on our country of the global meltdown would be much
worst as it is in many other developing countries. Instead, the credit
rating agency Standard & Poor says that, "the Philippine economy-- in
a very stormy sea of economic global uncertainty, the Philippine
economy is an island of relative calm." (Applause) But this relative
strength and resilience of our people and our economy is still no
consolation to the average Filipino who is paying higher prices for
basic commodities. We are very aware of the pressures the average
Filipino faces from high prices and high rates of inflation. We know
the average Filipino is concerned about job security and the buying
power of his wages. We are also concerned. That is why we are working
hard to keep the prices of rice, food and fuel down and to continue to
increase the number of jobs and the investments that will continue to
generate employment opportunities for more of our countrymen.

What we are inaugurating today is one of those investments. We are
dealing with the effects of the worldwide financial crisis through a
comprehensive program that creates emergency jobs through pump priming
measures, ensures food on every table, delivers targeted relief to the
most vulnerable sectors, and encourages investments like this in
industries with high resistance to the economic crisis.

Right now, the ICT sector is one of the areas where growth is robust,
employment generation is on the rise, and investors are excited and
placing money to back up that excitement.

Yesterday, we were very alarmed to read the news that one of the call
centers supposedly laid off 700 workers. So we checked with that
center, ACS, and they totally denied it. In fact, they are looking for
more workers. And they were even telling us the story that when other
call centers like Teletech and others read the news, they called up
ACS and said, where are the workers you're laying off, we want to
absorb them right away. But ACS says we're not laying off anyone.
We're looking for more.

And so because of this robustness of ICT, I have instructed the
Commission on ICT to make a technical study on the resources needed to
transform not just Sonny Belmonte's hub but also every province in the
country not necessarily a hub like this but to be an ICT-enabler.

After completing the technical studies, the national government
through the CICT, shall guide the LGUs concerned on how to pursue the
technology programs with these twin objectives:

1. Develop a technology hub -- a small one, not one like this – in
each of the country's provinces with the hub capable of hosting, at
the very least, contact center operations; and

2. Expand the capabilities of provinces that are already currently
ICT-enablers so that they can increase their absorptive capacities and
expand into hardcore ICT operations.

The national government will merely provide guidance and advice on a
menu of pathways and strategies towards these objectives. It will be
the LGU leaders who will decide on the level of technology and
development they want; each to its own need. And Sonny has decided
that this city will have the highest level of ICT; each to his own
need. And this is what we can do, given that we have not been able to
put together a national broadband. This is a good second best.

In the ICT jargon, we need to "wire" the entire country to attract
more BPO and hardcore technology companies and help train young
Filipinos into world-class workers in programming, embedded
technologies and network engineering.

There is a wealth of technical and created talent from where to draw
this world-class pool of technology workers and there is the U.P.
Science and Technology Complex to develop their potentials.

Let us direct the talent of the young away from hacking and other
disruptive undertakings into productive ones. The CICT can utilize the
National Computer Center and seek the support of state colleges and
universities specializing on courses in ICT, like the U.P. We cannot
let this window of opportunity close.

Technology has also helped the government make sure that we now have a
solid supply of rice for the foreseeable future. Furthermore, we are
happy that distribution of rice is working. The people are getting the
rice they need.

Our farmers are getting the investments they need. Instead of buying
only 30,000 metric tons of rice from our farmers as before, this
harvest season government is buying one million metric tons. This
should encourage rice production to go up. With this, inflation has
started to come down. The price of rice together with fuel has come
down. And we expect the earning power of U.P. employees and others'
paychecks to increase. We want to harness the wonders of technology to
produce more food, create more jobs -- as what will be created here --
and improve our productivity. The U.P.-Ayala Techno Hub and the whole
S&T Park and the U.P. S&T Complex will help achieve all these objectives.

So, I thank Ayala Land. I thank the early locators, who are already
here, sounds like a nice place to spend an afternoon having coffee and
spaghetti here. I thank you all for your continuing faith in the
nation's ability to stand up to any challenge.

Our people are as optimistic as you, and as eager to work harder to
get our country back on the growth track.

This afternoon, we leave for the APEC Leaders Meeting in Peru. We are
optimistic as we leave about our future and the hope, optimism and
resilience of the Filipino people, because we are revitalized by what
we see here.

We will express to the other leaders of APEC the hope of our people
that in seeking common ground on ways to coordinate assistance to our
economies, we must do so in a way that puts the interests of the poor
and the dispossessed ahead of the rich and the powerful.

As we inaugurate a symbol of a new age of technology in the
Philippines, let us continue to be hopeful that the global storm will
soon subside.

Let us wish the whole world the best. And here within our country, let
us resolve to work even harder to keep our economy resilient.

To Ayala Land and U.P. for your contribution to these important goals,
congratulations and thank you. (Applause)

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Visit the Website of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo - http://www.kgma.org/gma

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