Philippine Economy

Bam Welcomes PH’s Improvement in WEF Rankings

Sen. Bam Aquino welcomed the country’s climb to 52nd place in the latest WEF Global Competitiveness Report 2014-2015, saying it is a fruit of the administration’s “Tuwid na Daan” advocacy.

“This is a clear proof that the government’s fight against graft and corruption and push for good governance are working and moving the country forward in the right direction,” said Sen. Bam.

According to the report, the Philippines is the most improved country as it climbed 33 places since 2010, the largest over that period among all countries studied.

Sen. Bam said the country has made great strides in terms of the institutions pillar, particularly in the fight against graft and corruption.

“From 125th in 2010, we have climbed to 67th, a remarkable improvement that could be credited to the government’s intensified campaign against corruption,” Sen. Bam said.

Sen. Bam also noted the country’s improvement in terms of ethics and corruption, moving from 135th in 2010 to 81st this year.

This year, the country improved in 10 of the 12 categories of the index, with Macroeconomic Environment (up 14 from 40th to 26th); Business Sophistication (up 3 from 49th to 46th) and Innovation (up 17, from 69th to 52nd) as strongest areas.

“We need to allow more Filipinos to be able to do business easily and discover the next big innovative product and service out there,” said Sen. Bam, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Trade, Commerce and Entrepreneurship.

The country also improved in terms of Higher Education and Training (up 3 from 67th to 64th); Institutions (up 12, from 79th to 67th); and Technological Readiness (up 8, from 77th to 69th).

However, the report recommended that the Philippines work on Labor Market Efficiency, Infrastructure and Health and Primary Education, where it ranked in the low 90s.

“Sa gitna ng mga reporma, kailangan pang paigtingin ang ating mga kilos upang bigyan ng sapat na serbisyo ang mamamayang Pilipino sa edukasyon at kalusugan,” said Sen. Bam.

After recording the largest gain this year, the Philippines is now ranked 5th in ASEAN, behind Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia.

“Investment in infrastructure will move us further and beyond,” added Sen. Bam, who recently spearheaded Senate hearings on the traffic woes in Metro Manila and the slow and expensive Internet connection in the country.

The Global Competitiveness Report is an annual publication that provides a comprehensive picture of the productivity and competitiveness of a country by gathering statistical and survey data on over 100 factors grouped into 12 pillars or categories.

Bam on Foreign Ships Co-Loading Bill (Transcript of Interview)

Senator Bam Aquino (third from left), chairman of the Senate Committee on Trade, Commerce and Entrepreneurship, poses with (from left) Reps. Anthony del Rosario, Mark Villar, Miro Quimbo, Teddy Baguilat Jr., Raneo Abu and Cesar Sarmiento after the Foreign Co-Loading of Cargoes Act hurdled the bicameral conference committee.

“We were able to finish the bicameral conference committee regarding the bill allowing foreign vessels to dock in multiple ports and co-load.

We’re quite happy with this bill. We’re hoping that the objective of this bill, which is to lower the cost of logistics in the Philippines, can be achieved.

This is quite a landmark bill in terms of opening up our shipping industry to foreign players, which hopefully can bring down prices of goods as well, which will be to the benefit of our consumers.

There were some cleaning up of language, harmonization of definition of terms but more or less, it was the same spirit from our committee report.

 Initially, the House version was only for container vans. The Senate version was for all foreign cargoes. We had a larger scope from theirs and we were able to harmonize by accepting the Senate version which is having a larger scope for foreign cargoes.

This is a landmark bill so we’re hoping it would be signed into law as soon as possible.”

Towards fair competition, healthier economy

In a competitive market, businesses gain success by creating quality products, managing expenses, achieving operational efficiency, and effectively communicating and catering to their market.


Nations around the world recognize the need to create a business environment that best reflects this through competition policies that guard against bad business behavior.

Back in 1890, the US enacted the US Sherman Act, the first set of national laws to deal with monopolies and restraints of trade.


Australia followed suit in 1906 with the Australian Industries Preservation Act. After World War II, Japan passed its Monopolies and Restrictive Practices (Inquiry and Control) Act.


More recently, our neighbors in Southeast Asia have also passed their respective competition laws: Indonesia and Thailand in 1999, Singapore in 2004, Vietnam in 2005, and Malaysia in 2012.


Finally, after two decades worth of attempts, the Philippines is on its way to enacting its first comprehensive competition law – a legislation aimed at protecting local businesses and building a vibrant, more competitive economy by putting an end to anti-competitive agreements, cartels, collusions, unfair & abusive practices.


At its core, the competition law is about maintaining opportunities for all to compete so that present market leaders cannot exclude up and coming challengers who might be able to lower prices, improve product quality, offer consumers more choices, or spark the next wave of innovation in the market.


The Fair Competition Act of 2014 has successfully passed through the Senate and the House of Representatives just recently approved the bill on its third reading – a big win for the Philippine economy, for local businesses, and for every Filipino consumer.


Reaping benefits


The benefits of healthy competition in industry, in developing countries in particular, have long been acknowledged. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Global Forum on International Investment (2008) hailed the positive impact of promoting market competition in a number of developing economies, and among them is attracting foreign investments.


The OECD paper, “Competition Policy Enforcement: Experiences from Developing Countries and Implications for Investment,” stated that an effective competition policy will eliminate barriers to entry and exit of new business entities, curb anti-competitive practices, and lead to increased competition and, inevitably, greater investment into the country.


In our recent history, there are actual, observable examples of how increased competition has improved industry, spurred innovation, and resulted in better and cheaper choices for consumers.


In fact, we reap the benefits of healthy competition every time we flip through TV channels, struggle to decide which new restaurant to try, or marvel at the new upgrades on our latest smartphone.

Try and recall the first mobile phones introduced to the market in the early 1990s. Who would have guessed that in just two decades, those bulky analogs would transform into light, touch-screen devices of the future?


In just a few years, cellphones of all shapes and sizes were introduced, each one trying to one-up the other. The antenna became obsolete, screens got bigger and more colorful, batteries got lighter and more compact, and a variety of new features were introduced until the cellphone morphed into an all-in-one life-hacking device with an HD camera, editing tools, a music library, Internet access, Candy Crush, world maps, GPS tracking, Twitter, and a wealth of other helpful applications.


In the Philippines, with more and more companies selling mobile phones, there are a variety of brands and models to choose from. With this power to choose comes the power to demand quality phones at the lowest prices.


In 1997, a Nokia 5110 cost over P10,000. Today, that amount can buy you a Nokia Lumia with features that move well beyond calling, texting, and playing snake. Plus, you can purchase a similar, local brand mobile phone from Cherry Mobile or MyPhone for just a fraction of that price.


While the mobile phone used to be a status symbol for the elite, today you see anyone from students to sari-sari store owners and taxi drivers swiping through their own touch-screen phones.


Competition between mobile phone manufacturers spurred innovation in targeted markets, diversifying products while driving down prices for the benefit of both the industry and the consumers.


We’ve seen the same pattern in the airline industry. In the 1980s, the flights zipping through our archipelago were few, far between, and expensive. Flying to Davao to visit my mother’s family was a calculated, budgeted expense.


But with more airline companies came more flights and more choices for us Filipinos. Companies began getting to know the market better and started targeting specific groups – like budget travelers. Opportunity was found in lower prices and today, the country is in a flurry with ever promo fare announcement.


Power of competition


Now, more Filipinos get to explore the Philippines and the world for cheap. More entrepreneurs can fly across seas quickly and at any time of day to scout for partners and make sound business deals. The local tourism sector also benefitted greatly from the intense competition in the airline industry.


Such is the power of healthy competition in these specific industries, which we hope can be replicated in even more industries in the country. The Fair Competition Act can spearhead this healthy, competitive environment for our local business sector.


The legislation’s priority is to create a fair environment for all businesses – new or old, small or large. It penalizes business behavior that is anti-competition and that hinders our markets from providing the best options and opportunities for our consumers.


Businesses can no longer make moves to create barriers to entry for new players nor can they bully smaller enterprises by selling below cost or restricting market opportunities.


Colluding with other dominant players to fix prices, divide territories, or refuse deals with particular vendors will also be penalized and, in fact, criminalized.


But while this law is vigilant against exercise of market power, it is not against bigness. It respects dominance gained by competing on merits.


The Act seeks to establish a Fair Competition Commission (FCC) to look into the cases filed and objectively determine whether there have been abuses. The FCC is tasked to promote competition, enhance economic efficiency, and prohibit anti-competitive acts and abuse of power.


It will be supported by the existing Office for Competition (OFC) of the Department of Justice (DOJ). It will serve as the prosecutor in criminal cases filed and have exclusive authority over the criminal enforcement of this Act.


The FCC, OFC and other government agencies will work hand in hand to build a better business environment that the consumers desire and deserve.


For too long, the lack of a competition policy has crippled new businesses and left micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) vulnerable to abuse. At the end of the day, it is our consumers that are robbed of better quality, more choices, and lower prices for products and services.


The Fair Competition Act is pro-poor, pro-people, and pro-business. It safeguards the welfare of businesses, large and small, and protects honest, hard-working entrepreneurs against abuse of dominance and other unfair practices that put them and their consumers at risk.


With four years of sustained economic growth, it is now time to work on strengthening our local industries, promoting a culture of competition and innovation, and boosting our potential to serve the global market with outstanding products and services.


While we acknowledge that the Fair Competition Act is not the miracle cure that will sustain our thriving economy, we believe that this is the necessary step, the significant leap towards a culture of healthy competition that promotes efficiency, and inspires ingenuity, creativity, and innovation in the Philippines.

More importantly, this culture of healthy competition is a fundamental building block in our transition to a sustainable and inclusive middle-income country – a dream for many of us Filipinos that now has a chance of becoming a reality.


First published on



23rd WEF Plays Vital Role in PH Economy – Sen. Bam

The 23rd World Economic Forum on East Asia, which will be held in the country from May 21-23, plays a vital role to the Philippine economy with the 2015 ASEAN Integration fast approaching.
“With the spotlight on East Asia, we should take every opportunity to showcase and promote the country’s robust economic growth,” said Senator Bam Aquino, chairman of the Senate Committee on Trade, Commerce and Entrepreneurship.
Earlier, the World Economic Forum (WEF) described the Philippine economy as one of the “greatest economic comeback stories in recent years.”
The WEF also predicted that the country would be the strongest performing Southeast Asian economy this year, with gross domestic product (GDP) growth projected to surpass 6.5 percent.
“The Forum is an ideal stage where we can entice businessmen to pour investments and establish other ventures in the country, aside from promoting our products and services,” added Aquino, whose office is one of the organizers of the Forum.
Aquino believes that the government and private sector should grab every opportunity to promote the country before the launching of the 2015 ASEAN Economic Community 2015.
“When the integration starts, we expect tight competition from other countries for a lion’s share of the ASEAN market composed of 600 million people,” Aquino said, who is part of the prestigious WEF community and will participate in the events the next few days.
In his speech during the 3rd National Symposium Workshop on Empowering People & Organizations in the Workplace for Excellent Results (E-Power), Aquino stressed the important role of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the country’s economy at the start of ASEAN integration.
“As much as there are risks here, there are opportunities there,” Aquino said, emphasizing that enhancing the quality of our products and services will increase the businesses’ chances to perform favorably in the free market.
Photo source: WEF Website

Sen. Bam Kinuha ang Pulso ng Negros Oriental, Siquijor

Nakipagpulong si Sen.Bam Aquino sa mga lokal na lider ng Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental at Siquijor upang kunin ang kanilang pulso at pananaw ukol sa isinusulong niyang mga panukalang batas ukol sa malawakang kaunlaran.

Ginawa ni Sen. Aquino ang pulong kasabay ng pasasalamat sa mga taga-Negros Oriental at Siquijor sa suporta kaya siya nanguna sa bilangan sa mga nasabing lugar noong nakaraang halalan.

Ayon kay Sen. Bam, mahalaga na makonsulta ang lahat ng sektor upang mas maging epektibo at makapagbigayng tamang solusyon ang kanyang mga panukalang batas

“Lubos po ang aming pasasalamat para sa inyong suporta at tiwala. Makakaasa po kayong ipaglalaban natin sa Senado ang mga panukalang magdadala ng mas malawak na oportunidad at kaunlaran sa lahat ng sulok ng Pilipinas,” wika ni Sen. Aquino sa pagtitipon ng mga lider ng iba’t ibang komunidad sa Dumaguete City.

Pinangunahan din ni Sen. Bam ang pagdiriwang ng 41st Araw ng Bayan ng Siquijor, kung saan niyaiginiit ang malaking potensiyal ng lalawigan bilang tourism hotspot.

“Ang hamon po sa atin ngayon: Gawing posible ang dating imposible… Kung dati-rati po, hindi natin lubos maisip na ang Pilipinas ay magiging isang ‘breakout nation’ na pinakamabilis ang pag-angat sa buong Southeast Asia, ngayon po ito ay isa nang realidad,” wika ni Sen. Bam.

“Ang hamon ng panahon ay palawakin pa lalo ang kaunlaran upang umabot sa kasuluk-sulukan ng ating bayan,” dagdag pa ng senador.

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