US Philippines Society

  Raising Awareness of Today's Philippines in the US

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President Duterte Reaffirms US-Philippines Strategic Alliance 

The US-Philippines Society held its annual board meeting in Manila highlighted by a courtesy call on President Rodrigo Duterte. Meeting for the third time, President Duterte  welcomed the Society's bi-national board, led by Co-chairs Manuel V. Pangilinan and Ambassador John D. Negroponte, during a lively exchange at MalacaƱan Palace on Tuesday, February 20. The President cited longstanding U.S.-Philippines ties, including a security alliance, conveyed appreciation for American assistance in combatting ISIS-inspired terrorism in Mindanao, and described how his administration's independent foreign policy aims to expand economic ties with China and others, while maintaining a treaty alliance with the United States. He underscored a continuing commitment to combat the drug epidemic and registered concern for Filipino OFWs. The Society conveyed support for the return of the Balangiga Bells to their church in Samar and introduced an initiative harnessing mobile technology to assist overseas workers.  Read more.

L-R: Co-chairs Manuel V. Pangilinan and Ambassador John D. Negroponte, President Duterte and Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, February 20, 2018, Malacanan Palace, Manila
US-Philippines Society Directors, U.S. Ambassador Sung Kim and Philippine Ambassador Jose Manuel Romualdez during the courtesy call.

2018 Legislative Agenda: Energy, Technology and Bangsamoro Basic Law

During meetings with legislators, February 18-19, the Board gained insights into the administration's domestic and foreign policy agenda focusing on renewable and fossil fuel energy, technology-oriented and business-friendly legislative reforms and initiatives to boost foreign direct investment . Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, Chair of Senate Committees on Energy and Economy, discussed the proposed amendment to the Public Services Act that opens public services, including airlines and telecommunications to foreign investors. Representative from Mindanao Maximo B. Rodriguez provided his perspectives on the Bangsamoro Basic Law and proposed transition to a federal system of government

Breakfast Briefing with Legislators, l-r: Executive Director and moderator Hank Hendrickson,Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, and Congressman Maximo Rodriguez of Cagayan de Oro
Senator Gatchalian and Congressman Rodriguez with US-Philippines Directors, February 19, 2018, Makati, Philippines
Welcome Reception hosted by Ambassador Jose Manuel Romualdez. Senator Loren Legarda (center) with US-Philippines Society Directors. L-R: Roberto Panlilio (JP Morgan), Tessie Sy-Coson (SM Investments), Joan Hubbard and Ambassador Thomas C. Hubbard.
Welcome Reception in honor of US-Philippines Society Directors Senator Grace Poe (center) with (l-r) Co-chair Manuel V. Pangilinan, Ambassador Jose Manuel Romualdez, Rene Meily (PDRF)


During the two-day Manila conference, February 19-20, the Board engaged the Administration's top economic managers led by Finance Secretary Dominguez on discussions aimed to promote trade and investment ties building on the November meeting of Presidents Trump and Duterte. 

Philippine economic reports on key monetary and financial indicators support a sustainable and accelerated expansion of the Philippine economy. Factors of productivity - technology, capital, and labor - signal a structural transformation leading to an increasingly industry-led and investment-driven economy. Despite price pressures, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (Central Bank) maintains that inflation remains within a manageable range. The positive growth forecasts of 6.3%-6.8% are shared by the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, Asian Development Bank and private sector analysts. 

In light of the Philippines strong performance and sound macroeconomic fundamentals, the economic team expressed readiness to explore a free trade agreement with the U.S. An FTA would allow greater access to the Philippine market for US meat products, wheat, integrated circuits, and others. The Philippines top export goods include semiconductors, electronics, transport equipment and parts, chemicals and wood products. Investors are expected to explore joint ventures with US firms in the areas of artificial intelligence, robotics, big data analytics and fiber optics. 
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III  
External Sector: A Pillar of Strength

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez cited better than expected new foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows of US$8.7 billion (Jan-Nov 2017), an indication of investor confidence in the Philippine economy.  The country maintains strong macroeconomic fundamentals, adequate foreign exchange reserves, and posts a declining external debt ratio. The sustained inflows of overseas remittances and revenues from Business Process Operations (BPO) sector provide the Philippines with a layer of resilience to external shocks. American companies contribute 70% of BPO industry revenues. The U.S. is the largest source of overseas remittances.
NEDA Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia  
Opportunities for US-Philippines Cooperation

NEDA Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia identified sectors including  food production, agriculture, renewable energy, and knowledge-management services for further exploratory talks between the two countries.  Easing or lifting of restrictions on foreign equity participation in select industries and reform measures to open publicly-funded construction contracts to foreign-owned firms will attract advanced technologies and introduce competition resulting in improved infrastructure facilities, such as roads and bridges.
Department of Budget and Management Secretary Benjamin Diokno  
Key Budget Priorities: Infrastructure and Human Capital Development

The massive infrastructure program Build Build Build will enhance Philippine competitiveness, create jobs, reduce poverty, attract investments and sustain accelerrated economic activity. 

To achieve real economic progress, social programs including universal access to tertiary education, full implementation of the K-12 Program, Conditional Cash Transfer, and the national insurance program will take up a large share of the budget.
Department of Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez
Philippines: U.S. Gateway to ASEAN

The Philippines economic performance is among the best in the ASEAN region. In exploring a possible bilateral free trade agreement, the Philippines presents an ideal geographic hub to ASEAN. 

The Philippines currently continues to enjoy reduced to zero tariffs in select exports to the US through the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), which was recently amended to provide for  renewal every three years. The Secretary stated that meetings are taking place to explore transition from being a GSP beneficiary to FTA partner.

The US-Philippines Society, Philippines-United States Business Council, Makati Business Club and American Chamber of Commerce held a February 20 Joint Business and Trade Forum as a platform to explore and identify opportunities for expanded bilateral trade, including a possible free trade agreement. Presentations on tax reform legislation in the US and the Philippines listed new incentives in the form of competitive and reduced corporate tax rates, business deductions for research and development and capital expenditures. 

US-Philippines Society Co-chair Ambassador John D. Negroponte provided a view of the Trump Administration's foreign policy that is committed to a "free and open Indo-Pacific" and favoring bilateral trade agreements that are fair and reciprocal.  Ambassador Negroponte cited the vital role of U.S. intelligence and reconnaissance during the Marawi siege. He expressed confidence about continued U.S.-Philippine cooperation on regional and transnational challenges, including ISIS-inspired expansion into Southeast Asia. In reference to the Trump administration immigration policy directions that prioritizes immigrants who are English-speaking, educated and high achievers, he cited possible new opportunities for science-degree graduates, engineers and professionals.

From the left: Makati Business Club chairman Edgar Chua; Investment & Capital Corp. of the Philippines founder Guillermo Luchangco; former Philippine Ambassador to U.S. Jose L. Cuisia; Ambassador John F. Maisto; US-Philippines Society co-chair Manuel V. Pangilinan; Department of Budget and Management Secretary Benjamin Diokno; Department of Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez; AmCham executive director Ebb Hinchliffe; Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas assistant governor Francisco Dakila, Jr.; and US-Philippines Society co-chair Ambassador John D. Negroponte

US-Philippines Society Director Leonardo Canseco presented the U.S. "2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act"
SGV Tax Head Luis Jose P. Ferrer discussed tax incentives under the Philippine Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Packages 1 and 2

Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia, Jr., Chairman of the Philippines-US Business Council, moderated a dialogue with Society Co-chair Manuel V. Pangilinan and former Philippine Finance Minister Roberto de Ocampo. The panel discussed lessons learned from previous administrations' tax reform and infrastructure program, and the vital role of the private sector in successfully implementing the projects.

Private Sector Response to US-Philippines Trade Prospects, Infrastructure Program and Tax Reform. Panelists: l-r: Former Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia, Co-chair Manuel V. Pangilinan and Former Finance Minister Roberto de Ocampo

Joint US-Philippines Cyber Security Working Group 

Established in August 2016, JCSWG has 300 members including representatives from the US and Philippine  governments,  and the American and Philippine private sector. Meetings are held regularly  to promote intelligence sharing and policy development through training and technical assistance to law enforcement personnel to enhance cyber security enforcement.  Photo: JCSWG Panel
Security and Recovery Priorities

At the February 19 Marawi Mindanao Forum, Marawi Task Force and HUDCC Undersecretary Falconi Millar presented the Comprehensive Rehabilitation and Recovery Program focusing on reconstruction, peace and order, livelihood opportunities, and land resource management. D isplaced families received PhP5,000 (US$100) financial assistance and secured temporary employment. Sewing machines, carpentry tools and cooking utensils were distributed. Access to capital under easy loan terms have allowed families to regain their livelihood. To address immediate housing needs, makeshift dwellings were erected around evacuation centers. Construction of temporary shelters in relocation sites is ongoing.  

Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation President Rene Meily and Lanao del Sur Public Information Head Jennie Tamano described livelihood priorities and project activities that are annexed to the government plan for private sector resource funding based on a January 17, 2018 Task Force Bangon Marawi - Livelihood Subcommittee Meeting. A Department of Trade report showed funding requirements of US$2 million from private and US$23 million of government funds to assist communities in Marawi City, Butig and Piagapo covering over 6,000 livelihood starter kits and training in production, management and bookkeeping. Plans for construction of permanent open type markets for artisans and traders  each costing $39,000  were also cited.
On February 21, a US-Philippines Society delegation led by Amb John F. Maisto and Henry B. Howard conducted a site visit to Marawi and neighboring towns to assess the humanitarian needs of displaced families and gain insight into relief and recovery efforts by government and non-government organizations.

US-Philippines Society Co-chair Ambassador John D. Negroponte presents a check donation to Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation President Rene Meily. They are joined by Undersecretary Millar and Officer Tamano, February 19, 2018, Makati, Philippines
Signing of a Memorandum of Agreement between PDRF President (left) and US-Philippines Society President Ambassador John F. Maisto (center) and Executive Director Hank Hendrickson, February 23, 2018. Funding provided by donations from Philippine Nurses Association of America, the Philippine Humanitarian Coalition and Society members. 
US-Philippines Society Director Henry B. Howard pledged to Xavier University of Cagayan de Oro ten scholarship grants for deserving Marawi students. A group photo with scholars at a thanksgiving luncheon, Xavier University.
US-Philippines Society member Ambassador Anne Elizabeth Derse with Marawi displaced persons, Lanao del Sur evacuation center, February 21, 2018.

Featured author Peter Eisner delivered his lecture to a diverse audience including Americans who lived in the Philippines at that time and who knew the Spymaster, Chick Parsons.

A Profile in Courage during the Philippine WWII Resistance Movement

Best-selling author and journalist Peter Eisner delivered a lecture based on the life story of Chick Parsons during WWII in Japan-occupied Philippines as told in his latest book titled McArthur's Spies. Parsons was remembered as a figure who embodied personally the close relationship forged between US and the Philippines going as far back as the 1920's and 30's, and especially in the war years that followed. He demonstrated sacrifice and commitment to a common purpose. The lecture was jointly organized by the  US-Philippines Society and the Philippine Embassy on  January 25. 
Filipino Fulbright Scholars with Ambassador John F. Maisto, Assistant Secretary of State Jennifer Galt, Ambassador Jose Manuel Romualdez, Economic Minister Jose Victor Chan-Gonzaga (Fulbright scholar) and Agriculture Attache Josyline Javelosa (Fulbright scholar).

The 70th Anniversary of Fulbright Philippine Program

The Philippine Fulbright program was established in 1948 to promote greater understanding between the US and the Philippines through educational exchanges. In March 22-23, 2018, the US and Philippine embassies honored scholars and hall of fame inductees who have become leaders in business, culture and art. In Washington DC, Ambassador John F. Maisto discussed the vital importance of the program in promoting people-to-people ties over 70 years. Ambassador Jose Manuel Romualdez described the program as a platform that provides opportunities to study, research and teach, and exchange ideas.
Explore Islands PH in WDC
Executive Director Hank Hendrickson introduced the organizing committee led by Jerry Sibal of JS Productions during a preview of Explore Islands Philippines, March 15, 2018, Washington DC  

May 9-12: Explore Islands Philippines Expo in New York City

Explore Islands Philippines  will highlight key new sectors of the Philippine economy for investors, including innovative smart cities and biotechnology. The Expo will feature panel discussions, tourism presentations, a  performance by the Parangal Dance Company, Philippine martial arts, weavers, artisans and fashion  at New York City's iconic Grand Central Station.  The Expo is open to the public free of charge, May 9-12, made possible by  J S Productions Inc., the Philippine Department of Tourism (DOT) and Tourism Promotions Board Philippines (TPB).