16 October 2019, Hotel Fairmont, Makati City
As delivered


Ladies and Gentlemen, Distinguished Guests,

Magandang umaga po sa inyo lahat!

First of all, thanks again for my dear friend Nonoy Oplas for the invitation. This is indeed a very good opportunity, frankly it’s my first time learn about the IPRI. Well, last month I had an opportunity to speak also in the launching of the Geneva Report upon the invitation of Nonoy. I’ve seen and now I can say it has an index and I found out that it is much broader index this time. As the IPRI is basically cover not only the Intellectual Property rights and the index that we’re looking on, it also includes the physical property rights as well as legal and political environment.

Today, as we will be listening to the IPRI and this will be the first global launch this would surely reflect hopefully our country’s hard work and progress as we were trying to do a lot of reforms. And hopefully that would be reflected in the index that would be reported later. From this reform as we look into the index in the years to come, this will show us really progress towards a better future but I would be preempting the result. Surprised to say that I learned that this is going to be a more favorable result for 2019. There would be a much more detailed presentation of the results on the IPRI.

I consider IPRI as we need because this focus on a single most important asset of humanity, and that is the right to own, the right to control, the right to sell, the right to donate, the right to transfer, and can include physical properties as we shared with us later. It can include any property that we have – a house, a land, vehicles. And the good thing is that it also includes of course the IPR – Intellectual Property Rights, which cover of course the patent and trademarks. These are very important — ownership and right that would have to be protected.

The Philippines has really pushed and is strengthening IPR protection. I should be reporting on that in a while. We are proud to relay that the Philippines would have an improvement in the rank of course in the scores, or what we call the distance to the frontier. And that improvement in the rank will be reflected on the physical property and the IPR. We recognize certain improvement in the last five years but much more are needed.

It is important to remember that the individual liberty is important to the national progress. It promotes an ecosystem of diverse individuals freely contributing ideas or solutions that improves society’s quality of living. Such, the legal private property system is one of the imperative structures in a society that upholds the individual liberties.
In the Philippines we recognize a sound legal and political environment is a major factor in safeguarding private property.

Our government-under President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s promise of “Tapang at Malasakit”- that is basically bravery and courage, and care for others. It is continuously working towards providing protection to private property right holders. One way we’re doing this is by eradicating corruption in every aspect of society especially in every layer of government, especially as corruption erodes the confidence of citizens and foreign investors in the system. In fact, the government has a strong zero-tolerance policy against any form of corruption.

In fact, just yesterday another official, the President of a Government Owned Corporation was asked to resign. Again by doubts on his character and recent deal that he made. Thus, from the President Duterte’s “Zero to 10-Point Socioeconomic Agenda” as well that once promised the investors that there will be no corruption in government. These are really his platforms when he ran for the President two years ago –to solve criminality, to fight against illegal drugs, and of course eliminate corruption.

Criminality is of course related to protection of physical property and of course the campaign against illegal drugs somehow would have connection on criminality and corruption because illegal drugs really goes and preys into the fabric of society. Usually this would lead to other problems and corruption as people lure into drugs. They find ways to raise the funds to get into this bad vice.

Appropriating protection of private rights is also on top of government priorities. That is why we’ve been strongly implementing also the game changing Republic Act 11032, or the Ease of Doing Business and the Efficient Government Service Act of 2018. Spearheaded and it created the Anti Red Tape Authority. The Ease of Doing Business law will not only help us crackdown on corruption, it will also streamline government processes to give our countrymen better and more efficient delivery of services.

But while we’re pushing all these efforts, we also want to make sure that privatizing these properties—both tangible and intangible—do not disturb the rights of others nor override public interest. On intellectual property, this principle is consistently embraced in the substantive study, search, examination, and analysis that the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) carries out. This is done before granting any individual or entity a right over a trademark, invention, utility model, or industrial design.

Creative and innovative people in the Philippines have likewise expressed their appreciation of the IP system as an appropriate mechanism for the protection of their works. The IPOPHIL database intellectual property filings in 2018 rose 15% year-on-year with utility models propelling the growth, soaring 54% from 2017. Patents followed, surging by 28%, even as trademarks followed with 11% and industrial design with 9%. Meanwhile, copyright deposit recordation booked at 29% upward push.

So these are all the efforts of the IPOPHL headed by DG Santiago. As we were just discussing IPO-related matters, I think two years ago, we launched a campaign to popularize the importance of registering trademarks, patents, copyrights, and popularizing, increasing awareness so that people especially brand owners, to make sure that they are able to hold intact to their business, the importance of their rights and having their brands registered. These are all part of the lead campaign that we launched so that many people can appreciate and value the importance of the property rights.

Even we launch a program called a “Juana Make a Mark”. It’s an effort to popularize even among micro SMEs the importance of having a trademark in your business. It is a way of protection in the long term. And we have been providing free trademark registration I think 1,000 a year or 2,000-a-year trademark applications to be able to register many trademarks from the Micro SME sector. Normally, these trademarks are just applied by bigger companies but because of the effort and just we’ve been popularizing it, even Micro SME are now more aware of need to register their brands.

In spearheading the encouragement of creativity and innovativeness, IPOPHL always endeavors to find the delicate balance between the welfare of the public and the interests of businesses. For both, strong government backing is indispensable.

IPOPHL’s mandate to enforce the IP Code also proves the government’s commitment to be involved in the protection of IPR. These enforcement efforts are strengthened with the creation of the inter-agency National Committee on Intellectual Property Rights (NCIPR), which is marking its 10th year of operations.

The NCIPR is composed of government agencies with functions relevant to the national objective of eradicating counterfeit goods in the market and curbing piracy. To attain this goal, they have been bolstering their efforts to come up with new strategies to adopt and adapt. This is crucial given the technological advancements that are making counterfeit trade more complex to deal with.

In January to July of this year, the group seized Php13.7B worth of counterfeit goods, nearly 60% of the value of last year’s haul. Of course, these figures do not absolutely mean the country is more of a haven now for a counterfeit goods as there are many sides to the matter. For one, the different items seized this year as compared to last year may have different values. We are now getting the higher value counterfeit goods. For another, the figure may only show that government is more intense in its seizure operations.

In this regard, IPOPHL is proposing amendments to the current IP Code to strengthen the safeguards of the rights of IP owners. This is actually one of the priority legislative measures of DTI for the 18th Congress. What’s more, the proposed New Intellectual Property Act (NIPA) aims to create a more robust, effective, modern, and forward-looking IP system. This law may also strengthen IPR enforcement in the country, especially as we push to keep up with the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) or Industry 4.0.

With Industry 4.0, technology has equipped counterfeiters, pirates, and infringers with tools to ply their illicit activities. Hence, there is a need to respond to this challenge by adopting measures specifically designed to combat infringement and piracy in the digital environment.

Actually, we’re trying to also to add in the proposed bill to be able to reduce the selling of counterfeit goods including in the liability of mall owners for example, the building owners, the lessors of those selling counterfeit goods. And if you look at the online version, we will also be including the online platform that would be entertaining sellers of counterfeit goods. In this way, we will be able to make them liable and definitely discourage all these platforms or physical mall, lessors, who are allowing counterfeit goods in their areas.

With these realities in mind, IPOPHL’s proposed amendments to the IP Code include the creation of a Sub-Committee under the NCIPR. The Sub-Committee will have the power to issue orders that will restrict, limit, reduce, or disable the capability of platforms, physical location to engaging activities. They could also remove allegedly infringing materials, block access to payment gateways, and permanently shut down websites or online platforms.

While these proposals would penalize e-commerce platforms in selling counterfeit items and protect trademarks and patents in the country, it would also reinforce public trust in the e-commerce industry. This, in turn, would boost our e-commerce industry, which aligns perfectly with a growing local population of 108M to 109M people. Of this total, must be now 120M would be the ownership of mobile phones—many of them will have two or more phones—and more than 70% will be connected but the usage of the internet e-commerce is still at around 10%. So, what we are trying to do is increase the trust on the use of e-commerce, an easier use of e-payment, more connectivity, and of course quality products, which are not counterfeit.

Other salient provisions of the proposed amendments are the substantial increase of penalties, especially with regard to counterfeit or pirated products that pose danger to life and health. We are also seeking to expand the jurisdiction of IPO to the Micro SMEs in seeking administrative remedies, among others.

Pending this legislation, we intend to institutionalize additional enforcement measures. For example, we will ensure zero-use of unlicensed software among local government agencies, and formulate a holistic action plan for implementation next year through 2022, and beyond.

The NCIPR will also go after more infringers and pirates. We want to see more convictions of these criminals causing far-reaching and negative impacts on our economy and our culture. Thus, the different government agencies that make up the NCIPR, this would include even the police force, the military, as the NBI (National Bureau of Investigation), as well other agencies. We are closely working with each other that will engage other government agencies in running this campaign. We will likewise deepen our collaboration with private stakeholders to achieve these goals.

In closing, DTI and IPOPHL are committed to fulfil their mandate to administer and implement state policies on IP while also doing our share in strengthening IPR and also international property rights protection in the country.

As the world industries continue with more innovations and newer production processes under Industry 4.0, the Philippines shall make use of this technology for innovation and securing further private properties protection including IPR.

I like to point out that the EODB Law and ARTA were created only last year and this year, respectively. Hence, the gains derived from these two elements were not yet captured in the IPRI 2019 report. I expect that with the IPRI 2020 and 2021, the impact of this new development in EODB and ARTA would significantly improve our scores and our ranking.

Ultimately, our efforts will redound to the public, especially with the protection of consumers, businesses, and our Micro SMEs. These, in turn, will help us in our goal to generate more inclusive growth and shared prosperity for all.

Thank you and mabuhay po kayong lahat!