Ladies and gentlemen, magandang hapon po sa inyong lahat!

It is a pleasure to be here virtually at the 6th National Research and Development Conference (NDRC) organized by our partners in the Department of Science and Technology (DOST). This year, as you feature programs, projects, and technologies that contribute to the 4Ks, namely: Kalusugan, Kabuhayan, Kaayusan, at Kinabukasan, allow me to thank Sec. Fortunato de la Peña for giving us the privilege of discussing the government’s ongoing efforts to sustain the livelihood of our countrymen and ensure the recovery of our industries amid the challenges of the pandemic.

Through the concerted efforts of the government and the private sector, we have made significant improvements in the recovery of our economy and can now look into how we can further rise above the challenges of the pandemic.

For our part, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has been implementing policies and initiatives since last year that would help our nation get back on its feet. We have continuously proposed reopening of economic sectors even at high quarantine levels, so that we can bring back more jobs, livelihood, and income opportunities. Even at high alert levels, we have pushed for the 100% operating capacity for major sectors like electronics and IT-BPM, and have encouraged alternative working arrangements such as work- from-home set up which may be a continuing part of the new normal.

These policies and initiatives aim to not only sustain our economic recovery, but also empower the private sector to adjust and recover, so that they can seize opportunities from the changing domestic and global demands.

To sustain this momentum, DTI’s recovery efforts are hinged on two strategies. First is RECHARGE PH, the national recovery program for a balanced and whole-of-society approach to restart and revitalize the economy amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

As the lead of the Task Group to oversee Economic Recovery, DTI has also been implementing the REBUILD PH Strategy—or “Revitalizing Businesses, Investments, Livelihoods, and Domestic Demand”—to alleviate the economic impact of the pandemic, while ensuring that businesses do not merely survive but remain to be competitive in the global market. Our broad strategies under REBUILD include revitalizing the demand of households and businesses, boosted by government spending; and empowering local industries to capture that demand. Anchored on a whole-of-society approach, this, in turn, will create a virtuous cycle of sustained and growing economic activity with strong domestic linkages.

To ensure that local industries keep operating as well as improve their competitiveness, the DTI continues to pursue the implementation of key economic policies and reforms.

We now have the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (or CREATE) Act that basically lowered the Corporate Income Tax Rates from 30% to 25%, and further down to 20% for SMEs. This makes our tax rates competitive in the Asian region. CREATE Act has also enhanced the investment incentives giving longer period of incentives like tax holidays for high technology and R&D oriented activities. For example, we provide incentives to priority industries for the improvement of physical and digital infrastructure; technology-based agriculture, manufacturing, and energy projects; and encourage innovation and commercialization of new technologies and locally generated intellectual properties.

We likewise advocated for a stronger local preference mechanism in government procurement through the inclusion of a provision in Bayanihan 2 and for the passage of the Pandemic Protection Act so we can support our domestic industries and suppliers. With the government buying Filipino-made goods, we are able to create more jobs in the country and invest in the collective advancement of our kababayans.

DTI continues its efforts to strengthen the country’s linkages at the multilateral, regional, and bilateral levels. Through free trade agreements (FTAs), we are able to expand the market of our industries as well as their supply or value chain base. Just last month, we announced the substantive conclusion of negotiations of the Philippines-Korea FTA. We are also working on securing the concurrence of the Senate for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Agreement. Being part of an FTA not only improves market access but a big attraction as well for foreign investors to locate in our country.

Our initiative together with DOST and DOH to build the capability of the local industry to produce vaccines to address current and future health emergencies and pandemics is currently in negotiations. In fact, if conditions permit, vaccine manufacturing operations may start as early as the second or third quarter of 2022.

With the rollout of the government’s vaccination program this will provide more mobility, confidence, and relief to our businesses and consumers alike. Complemented by the shift of more provinces and cities to the Alert Levels System, this further intensifies our move towards a more unified calibrated and safe reopening of the economy, thus bringing back more consumption and economic activities.

With higher vaccinated rate and new pharmaceutical treatments, we can expect a more sustained pace towards economic recovery.

While the Philippines is already displaying signs of recovery, there is still much to be done. Until we are able to temper COVID-19 from a pandemic into an epidemic and go full blast on our economic recovery efforts, we continue to take a proactive approach to manage the risks, not just avoid them. That’s why—even as we sustain our momentum— President Rodrigo Roa Duterte has already directed us to boost our all-out support for the business sector to help in its rehabilitation so that you can become stronger and more resilient in the post-pandemic future. We remain confident that through a whole-of-society approach, we will soon be able to build back a better Philippines where all our people can achieve a more comfortable and greater quality of life.

In line with the theme of this year’s conference, “Pananaliksik at Pagpapaunlad: Daan Tungo sa Pagbangon,” allow me again to recognize our host agency, DOST, as well as our partner agencies— Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Commission on Higher Education (CHED), Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), Department of Health (DOH), Department of National Defense (DND), Department of Transportation (DOTr), and Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH)—for the opportunity to coordinate and collaborate and push forward initiatives for research and development and innovation.

Maraming salamat po at mabuhay tayong lahat! ♦

Date of Release: 11 November 2021