President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. wants more economic activities between the Philippines and the United States under his administration, Ambassador to the US Jose Manuel “Babes” Romualdez said Friday.
“The President told me that he really would like to see more economic activities between the United States and the Philippines,” Romualdez said in a CNN Philippines interview.
“I think we are already going along that path right now. We’ve had quite a number of economic forums in the past, we’re going to have more of that,” he added.
This developed as three other Cabinet officials laid out their plans to help the economy on their first days of office.
Manuel M. Bonoan, who formally assumed his role as Secretary of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) succeeding Roger G. Mercado, vowed to continue all multi-billion projects implemented by the previous administration “without delay.”
“Let us work together, let us continue working as a team,” Bonoan said.
Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia-Frasco echoed the President’s vision, noting two essential building blocks in ensuring sustainable tourism: effective local government planning and implementation, and shared tourism governance by the public and private sectors.
The former mayor of Liloan town in Cebu noted the goal is to improve the overall tourism experience for both domestic and foreign tourists.
New Labor Secretary Bienvenido “Benny” E. Laguesma vowed to make his department a “more responsible and responsive institution that reaches out to needy workers, especially those in rural and far-urban areas.”
“I would like to see DOLE become more conscientious and committed to delivering services, especially to those with limited knowledge and access to DOLE,” the new labor chief said in a ceremony with outgoing Secretary Silvestre Bello III.
Marcos had reappointed Bello to head the Manila Economic and Cultural Office in Taiwan.
Ambassador Romualdez said he also had a discussion with Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno on acquiring more investments from the US.
“(Diokno) would like to continue if not double up on our effort in promoting the economy and getting more foreign investments, particularly in the United States,” he said.
Romualdez described the ties between the Philippines and the US as “very stable and strong” as the Biden administration clearly wants to work with the Marcos presidency.
In his inaugural address on Thursday, Marcos stressed the importance of strengthening and cultivating relationships with the other states, saying the transformation of the world economy and post-pandemic recovery will depend on partnerships with other nations.
Last month, United States Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman met Marcos and discussed how to strengthen the alliance between the Philippines and the US. They also discussed the economy, human rights, and a free Indo-Pacific region.
Meanwhile, Secretary Bonoan’s appointment to the DPWH is a homecoming of sorts.
He has an extensive career as a public servant that started at DPWH as early as 1967, spanning four decades until his retirement in 2010 as Senior Undersecretary.
His practice as a professional civil engineer continued when he joined the private sector and became the top executive of one of the leading companies engaged in the construction, management, and operation of expressway networks. With Rey Requejo and Vito Barcelo
“With all the qualifications and experiences as a professional civil engineer and wisdom that he has earned in his illustrious career in both public and private sectors, Bonoan was picked by President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. to lead the daunting task of completing unfinished flagship projects of the previous administration and push new infrastructure initiatives,” the DPWH said in a statement.
In his inaugural speech, Marcos expressed his optimism for the country’s tourism industry, noting its bright prospects with Frasco at the helm of the DOT.
“The recovery of Philippine tourism, with its emphasis on accessing nature’s beauty, I am sure, will exceed expectations,” Marcos said.
“Following these giant steps, we will continue to build. I will complete on schedule the projects that have been started. I am not interested in taking credit; I want to build on the success that’s already happening.”
“We will be presenting the public with a comprehensive infrastructure plan. Six years could be just about enough time. No part of our country will be neglected. Progress will be made wherever there are Filipinos, so no investment is wasted,” he added.
To that, Frasco added: “Effective planning and implementation on the local government side necessitates focus on zoning and land use regulations that enhance rather than degrade the long term value of tourist attractions.”
This includes “proactive and aggressive infrastructure development that provides quality access to roads, bridges, water systems, providing access to various methods of transportation by land, sea, and air, as well as heritage and environmental protection that ensures sustainable tourism development.”
“It is my hope that by building bridges of collaboration, we can generate boundless opportunities for livelihood, employment, and business that puts the success of every Filipino tourism stakeholder front and center of our agenda,” she said. With Rey Requejo and Vito Barcelo