23rd Declaration of APEC Leaders

“Building Inclusive Economies, Building a Better World: A Vision for an Asia-Pacific Community”
Manila, Philippines | Nov. 19, 2015

WE, the Leaders of APEC, met in Manila under the theme of ‘Building Inclusive Economies, Building a Better World,’ determined to take action to fully realize the vision laid down by our predecessors of a stable, integrated, and prosperous community in the Asia-Pacific, in which all our people can enjoy the benefits of economic growth and technological progress. Our enduring commitment will underwrite the peace, stability, development, and common prosperity of the Asia-Pacific.
Under the shadow cast by the terrorist attacks in Paris, Beirut, and against Russian aircraft over the Sinai, and elsewhere, we strongly condemn all acts, methods, and practices of terrorism in all their forms and manifestations. We will not allow terrorism to threaten the fundamental values that underpin our free and open economies. Economic growth, prosperity, and opportunity are among the most powerful tools to address the root causes of terrorism and radicalization. We stress the urgent need for increased international cooperation and solidarity in the fight against terrorism.
We met at a time when global growth is uneven and continues to fall short of expectation. Risks and uncertainties remain in the global economy, including inadequate demand growth, financial volatility, and structural problems weighing on actual and potential growth. While APEC economies have remained resilient, they face challenges in boosting growth prospects.
Weakening external demand growth highlights the importance of promoting domestic demand. The rapidly changing structures and competitiveness of our economies necessitate that we develop new drivers of growth, such as productivity-enhancing structural reform, services and trade in services, investment liberalization and facilitation, infrastructure investment, science, technology and innovation, that lead to more balanced and sustainable outcomes.
We are mindful that despite the unprecedented economic growth that has lifted millions of people out of poverty, it continues to be a reality for millions of others in our region. We call for more intensive efforts for its reduction and eradication. We also acknowledge that inequality acts as a brake on economic growth and that reducing it is essential to spurring development and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific.
We recognize the significance of enabling the full participation of all sectors and segments of our society, especially women, youth, people with disabilities, indigenous peoples, low-income groups, and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), to achieving inclusive growth. We underscore the importance of empowering them with the ability to contribute to and benefit from future growth.
We remain united and steadfast in supporting an open, predictable, rules-based, and transparent environment for trade and investment that enables meaningful access to economic opportunities. This provides the best means to deliver sustained and inclusive growth, quality job creation, and financial market stability. We reaffirm the commitment to jointly build an open economy in the Asia-Pacific that is based on innovative development, interconnected growth, and shared interests.
We reaffirm the value, centrality, and primacy of the multilateral trading system under the auspices of the World Trade Organization (WTO). We are committed to strengthening the rules-based, transparent, non-discriminatory, open, and inclusive multilateral trading system. To further reinforce our commitment on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the WTO, we have decided to issue a separate statement supporting the multilateral trading system and the 10th Ministerial Conference of the WTO.
We reaffirm previous commitments on monetary and exchange rate policies. We will refrain from competitive devaluation and resist all forms of protectionism.
We reiterate our commitment to achieve the Bogor Goals of free and open trade and investment by 2020 and to the eventual realization of the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP). We appreciate the work by our officials to ensure that regional trade agreements complement and strengthen the multilateral trading system. We welcome the progress made by many APEC members in completing their respective processes to submit the instruments of acceptance to the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement, which will reduce the cost of trading across borders.
While achieving ongoing economic transformation will not be easy, we are confident that we will continue to drive regional and global economic prosperity through quality economic growth.
To this end, we collectively commit:

Building Inclusive Economies
1. To support comprehensive and ambitious structural reforms; achieve positive economic, social, and environmental outcomes; and promote good governance.
We reiterate our commitment to ensure that future growth is strong, balanced, sustainable, inclusive, driven by innovation, and secure against natural disasters and other threats. It should be supportive of gender equality. We remain alert to the risks of the “middle income trap.”
We adopt the APEC Strategy for Strengthening Quality Growth that will prioritize institution building, social cohesion, and environmental impact to give further focus to our efforts to pursue quality growth, building upon the commitments in the 2010 APEC Growth Strategy, and bearing in mind the commitments in the 2014 APEC Accord on Innovative Development, Economic Reform and Growth. We instruct officials to report, for our review, on APEC’s progress in promoting the APEC Strategy for Strengthening Quality Growth.
We welcome the assessment of the 2010 APEC Growth Strategy, especially the finding that more than 300 million people were lifted out of poverty in the APEC region, mainly due to rapid growth in developing economies. We support further efforts in narrowing the development gap in order to end poverty.
We commend the work done under the APEC New Strategy for Structural Reform and welcome the Renewed APEC Agenda for Structural Reform (RAASR). Promoting structural reform is critical to improving economic efficiency and increasing productivity. We recognize that much more remains to be done to ensure that growth is experienced at all levels of our communities. We therefore support economies in their efforts to explore new growth areas, including reforms aimed at further strengthening the services sector by fostering creativity and innovation through an enhanced regulatory environment.
We welcome the progress made on the Ease of Doing Business (EoDB) initiative and affirm the EoDB Action Plan (2016-2018) with a new aspirational target of a 10-percent improvement by 2018 in the existing five priority areas on starting a business, dealing with construction permits, trading across borders, getting credit, and enforcing contracts. We welcome the development of an Implementation Plan to guide our efforts to reach this target.
We reaffirm our commitment to implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (“2030 Agenda”), which sets a comprehensive, universal, and ambitious framework for global development efforts for the next 15 years, and to ensuring that no one is left behind in our efforts to eradicate poverty and build an inclusive and sustainable future for all. We also reaffirm our commitment to implementing the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, which provides a comprehensive roadmap to help economies implement policies to attract and mobilize diverse sources of financing critical for the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals.
We encourage further progress and practical initiatives to carry out the 2013 mandate of exploring trade in products that contribute to sustainable and inclusive growth through rural development and poverty alleviation.
We recognize that corruption impedes economic sustainability and development and agree to combat the harmful effects of the illegal economy and to promote cultures of integrity across borders, markets, and supply chains. We reaffirm our commitment to open and accountable governance and to promoting international cooperation in the areas of repatriation or extradition of corrupt officials, asset recovery, criminalization, and prevention of corruption among APEC member-economies. We support the APEC Network of Anti-Corruption Authorities and Law Enforcement Agencies in advancing pragmatic anti-corruption cooperation and welcome the Cebu Manifesto for the Protection of Anti-Corruption Officials.
We welcome the efforts and activities that APEC members have undertaken to counter terrorism, including capacity-building initiatives to combat terrorist financing, and to prevent foreign terrorist fighter travel through advance passenger risk analysis and other measures. We further encourage economies to implement fully the APEC Consolidated Counter-Terrorism and Secure Trade Strategy and to continue taking collective and individual actions and sharing best practices to secure infrastructure, travel, supply chains, and financial systems from terrorist activities.

2. To deepen our financial markets and mitigate risks.
We recognize that in spite of the progress we have made, millions of our citizens do not have access to reliable financial services, leaving them with insufficient access to capital to invest in their futures. We highlight the importance of financial inclusion and literacy to poverty alleviation, ensuring that our people can fully benefit from the access to cheaper capital and financing that comes with it.
We recognize that financial integration through moving towards more liberalized financial services and capital accounts, while maintaining adequate safeguards as well as increased access to finance for MSMEs and businesses in the supply chain, will foster greater trade and investment in the region.
We welcome the Cebu Action Plan (CAP) and commend our Finance Ministers for their collaborative efforts in crafting a multi-year roadmap of deliverables and initiatives to build an Asia-Pacific community that is more financially integrated, transparent, resilient, and connected. We emphasize the importance of macroeconomic cooperation including the sharing of experiences in macro-prudential policy frameworks to minimize systemic risks and promote financial stability in the APEC region.
Fostering Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises’ Participation in Regional and Global Markets

3. To foster an enabling trading environment that is responsive to new ways in which goods and services are produced and delivered and that promotes inclusiveness, especially for MSMEs.
We live in a connected world in which many goods and services are no longer produced in one location but are the result of firms cooperating within and across our borders. This benefits consumers, creates jobs, and fosters development. We need all our businesses, regardless of size, to connect to where opportunities exist. We need to develop policies that take full advantage of global value chains (GVC) and encourage greater participation and added value. We will promote competition, entrepreneurship, and innovation through effective and comprehensive measures, including balanced intellectual property (IP) systems and capacity-building.
We underscore the significance of the participation of MSMEs in global commerce to inclusive growth and will take action to facilitate such participation. We recognize that internationally-oriented MSMEs can make substantial contributions to poverty reduction through employment creation, productivity improvements, and economies of scale. However, because the costs of doing business impact disproportionately on our MSMEs, especially in terms of cumbersome rules and regulations, we need to address the barriers to their internationalization and integration into GVCs. Towards this end, we adopt the Boracay Action Agenda to Globalize MSMEs and instruct Ministers to implement actions laid out in the Agenda and report their progress to us by 2020.
We welcome the APEC Iloilo Initiative: Growing Global MSMEs for Inclusive Development, and support the creation of the APEC MSME Marketplace to provide opportunities for business and strengthen collaboration with public and private organizations to support MSME development. We also welcome progress in collaborative efforts to enhance GVC resilience in this region.
We recognize the importance of MSMEs’ access to finance as a key enabler of MSME expansion, internationalization, and productivity improvement. We welcome the commitment made by the private sector and international finance organizations to collaborate with the public sector through the recently launched Financial Infrastructure Development Network under the CAP. We emphasize the importance of promoting MSMEs’ resilience against disasters, financial crises, and other unexpected events. In addressing these challenges, we recognize the important role of public finance such as credit guarantee systems designed for MSME operational continuity and the importance of enhancing closer collaboration with relevant public and private sector institutions.
We emphasize opportunities that the internet and digital economy offers to achieve innovative, sustainable, inclusive, and secure growth, with a view to improving connectivity. The internet and digital economy will allow businesses, especially MSMEs, to participate in GVCs and reach a wider consumer base through new business models, creating a truly global market place for the exchange of goods, services, capital, and ideas. With regard to MSME development, we commit to continue to promote cross-border privacy, and to protect consumer interests. We instruct our officials to advance the work to facilitate the internet and digital economy. We also instruct officials to implement the Work Plan for Facilitating Digital Trade for Inclusive Growth as a Potential Next Generation Trade and Investment Issue.

Building Sustainable and Resilient Communities
4. To build sustainable and disaster-resilient economies.
We recognize that our region, located in the Pacific Ring of Fire, is particularly vulnerable and exposed to disasters. We face typhoons, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, rising sea levels, and pandemics, the impacts of which are magnified by our densely populated cities. It has become a “new normal” for us to face natural disasters of increasing frequency, magnitude and scope, and their resulting disruption of the increasingly integrated and interlinked production and supply chains.
We welcome and adopt the APEC Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) Framework to facilitate collective work in building adaptive and disaster-resilient economies supporting inclusive and sustainable development in the face of the “new normal.” Through the APEC DRR Framework, we will minimize the losses we endure and ensure that our communities have the support to overcome adversity and to build back better. We instruct Ministers to craft an action plan in 2016 to operationalize the APEC DRR Framework and renew existing efforts such as business continuity planning, strengthening early warning systems, search and rescue, post-disaster recovery, promoting appropriate donations, and enhancing capacity building. We welcome the APEC Principles for the Movement of Humanitarian Goods and Equipment during Emergencies to better protect lives and livelihoods. We also note the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030.
We welcome Finance Ministers’ efforts to build financial resilience through the CAP, noting that this also entails developing innovative disaster risk financing and insurance mechanisms, in light of the heavy fiscal burden experienced by some economies due to the increasing damage of natural disasters.
We request the Chief Science Advisors and Equivalents to explore further the provision of coordinated scientific advice surrounding and during emergencies, in coordination with other relevant APEC fora.
We recognize that disaster resilience includes the ability to collaborate in detecting and preventing the spread of communicable disease. We welcome the development of the Healthy Asia-Pacific 2020 Roadmap. We welcome APEC’s working partnership with other relevant global initiatives for strengthening infectious disease control, and the training network established to ensure the safety of our region’s blood supply.
In line with our goal to promote sustainable communities, we are firmly committed to achieving a fair, balanced, ambitious, durable, and dynamic agreement on climate change at the Paris Climate Conference (COP21) in December. We therefore reaffirm our aspirational goals to reduce aggregate energy intensity by 45 percent by 2035 and double renewable energy in the regional energy mix by 2030 to achieve sustainable and resilient energy development within the Asia-Pacific.
We reaffirm our commitment to rationalize and phase out over the medium term inefficient fossil fuel subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption while recognizing the importance of providing those in need with essential energy services. We welcome progress made to date while recognizing the need for further ambitious efforts to meet our goal. We express our appreciation to those economies who have volunteered to undergo a voluntary inefficient fossil fuel subsidy peer review. We welcome ongoing initiatives to share best practices and facilitate capacity building to further progress toward this goal.
We affirm the importance of energy resiliency in promoting energy security and sustainable development and in providing energy access. We commend the initiative of creating a Task Force on Energy Resiliency, the initiative for enhancing the quality of electric power infrastructure in the Asia-Pacific region, and the establishment of the APEC Sustainable Energy Center. In transitioning to low-carbon economy, we will explore the contribution of biofuels, civil nuclear power as a base load power source, advanced coal technologies, liquefied natural gas, solar, wind, and marine energy technologies. We appreciate efforts towards a diversified, flexible, and integrated natural gas market in the APEC region.
We emphasize the need for improved sustainable agriculture, food security, food safety, and nutrition to build resilient communities across the region. We therefore instruct Ministers to implement the APEC High-Level Policy Dialogue on Food Security and Blue Economy Plan of Action in the areas of resilient oceans and coastal resources, fish loss reduction, and agri-business development. We support the APEC Food Safety Co-operation Forum and its Partnership Training Institute Network. We encourage progress on the APEC Food Security Roadmap toward 2020, to contribute to the achievement of APEC’s food security goal.
We recognize the important role of forests in supporting our communities, conserving biodiversity, and mitigating and adapting to climate change. We reaffirm our commitment to the aspirational goal in the Sydney Declaration of increasing forest cover in the region by at least 20 million hectares of all types of forests by 2020 and to promote sustainable forest management, conservation and rehabilitation, and combat illegal logging and associated trade. We welcome the report of assessment of progress towards the aspirational goal on forests in the Sydney Declaration.
Building on our commitments in previous years, we will take actions to combat wildlife trafficking and related corruption through further reducing illegal supply, transit, and demand; strengthening domestic and global enforcement, enhancing legislative frameworks, and other criminal justice tools; enhancing efforts in each of our economies to treat wildlife trafficking crime seriously; and increasing cross-border law enforcement cooperation and other interaction among wildlife enforcement networks as appropriate.

5. To make urbanization work for growth.
Our cities are potential centers of creativity and innovation, providing jobs and livelihoods for billions of people. We emphasize the importance of proper planning and adequate infrastructure for sustainable city development. We therefore welcome the work of our officials to discuss the challenges of rapid urbanization in APEC, including innovative ways of addressing waste management and water-related challenges.
We remain committed to a new type of urbanization featuring green, energy-efficient, low-carbon, and people-oriented development. We commend the efforts of member economies in implementing the APEC Cooperation Initiative for Jointly Establishing an Asia-Pacific Urbanization Partnership. In this regard, we welcome China’s initiative to host an APEC high-level forum on urbanization in 2016. We encourage ongoing efforts in this direction toward energy efficient and low-carbon development in urban settings, including the implementation of the APEC Low-Carbon Model Town Project, use of green codes and standards for buildings, and the Energy Smart Communities Initiative.
We recognize that the region’s shifting demography, including ageing populations and urbanization, has profound implications for the region’s food system. We will enhance efforts to improve security and safety of the region’s food supply, sustainable agricultural and water management, and seek to increase citizens’ access to food including through better connectivity between urban, rural, and remote areas; facilitation of investment and infrastructure development; and reduction of food loss and waste along the food value chain.
At the same time, we acknowledge that our rural communities should not be left behind in the economic and social development of the region. In this regard, we are determined to make efforts to strengthen rural communities through sharing experiences of rural development, with a view to forging comprehensive strategies to eradicate poverty and enhance the welfare of rural communities in the region.
We commend efforts to develop safe, secure, resilient, efficient, and sustainable transportation systems, and to promote innovations in the transportation sector as we move towards achieving inclusive mobility and global supply chain resilience. We instruct our officials to continue to enhance their work on connectivity of transportation networks.

Investing in Human Capital Development
6. To redouble our efforts to empower our people with the tools to benefit from and participate in economic growth.
In 1996, we endorsed a framework for economic and technical cooperation to ensure that all APEC members can fully participate in and benefit from an open trading environment. We are pleased with the joint efforts and progress made in improving the delivery of capacity building and cross-fora collaboration among working groups and fora. We underscore the need to avoid the emergence of a divided community in the region – those connected to global markets benefiting from integration and those left behind being unable to realize their potential.
We emphasize the importance of investment in human capital through the development of skills that industry needs to effectively contribute to the next phase of our region’s economic growth. In the current environment characterized by the rapid and ubiquitous use of technology, our people, in particular women and youth, need to be equipped not only with technical skills in science, technology, and innovation but must also be adaptable and resilient. We therefore instruct our officials to work closely with businesses, education and training providers, employment services, and civil society to understand the skills needed by the industry and to develop education and training programs that will equip people with the skills and competencies to join the workforce and fulfill their potential.
We underscore the synergy between our ambition to improve human capital development and our goals to improve people-to-people connectivity and to continue the promotion of cross-border cooperation in education. We welcome the early realization of our 2020 student mobility target of 1 million intra-APEC university-level students per year. We also recognize the close correlation between human capital development and progress in ICT and its benefits.
We remain committed to advancing women’s full participation in the economy in concrete, actionable, and measurable ways, including through enhancement of women’s representation in leadership. We therefore call for strengthened efforts to support the mainstreaming of gender equality and women’s empowerment across APEC’s work streams, including the Women and the Economy Dashboard as a tool for identifying priorities for policy action.
We welcome the progress of APEC cooperation to enhance economic empowerment of persons with disabilities and encourage further collaboration among member economies in promoting inclusive development.
We recognize the importance of our health systems in promoting the development of human capital and inclusive growth and look forward to further work in 2016 to address the fiscal and economic impacts of ill-health.

Enhancing the Regional Economic Integration Agenda
7. To achieve our vision for an integrated community in a comprehensive and systematic manner.
We reaffirm our commitment to advance the process in a comprehensive and systematic manner towards the eventual realization of the FTAAP as a major instrument to further APEC’s regional economic integration agenda. We commend the progress made by our officials on the work on the implementation of the Beijing Roadmap for APEC’s Contribution to the Realization of the FTAAP, which includes the Collective Strategic Study on Issues Related to the Realization of the FTAAP, the Information Sharing Mechanism, and the 2nd Capacity Building Needs Initiative (CBNI). We instruct Ministers and officials to continue this work and, in particular, we look forward to receiving the findings and accompanying recommendations of the Collective Strategic Study when we meet again next year in Peru.
We reiterate our belief that the FTAAP should be pursued as a comprehensive free trade agreement by building on ongoing regional undertakings. We also reaffirm our vision contained in the Pathways to FTAAP that it should be high-quality and incorporate and address next generation trade and investment issues. In this connection, we note the recent development on the free trade agreements in the region and the progress of the possible Pathways to the FTAAP, including the finalization of Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations, and we encourage the early completion of negotiations for Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).
We reaffirm the commitment we made in 2012 to reduce our applied tariffs on the APEC List of Environmental Goods to five per cent or less by the end of this year. We congratulate those economies that are on track to fulfill this ground-breaking commitment and strongly urge those that have yet to fully implement this commitment to redouble efforts to meet the end of the year deadline.
We welcome the progress that has been made under the work streams of the APEC Strategic Blueprint for Promoting Global Value Chain Development and Cooperation and instruct officials to further develop this work.
We reaffirm our commitment to achieve a seamlessly and comprehensively integrated, innovative, and interconnected Asia-Pacific. We welcome progress implementing the APEC Connectivity Blueprint for 2015-2025 under the pillars of physical, institutional and people-to-people connectivity. We will take further action to ensure continued implementation of this Blueprint and to promote regional and sub-regional connectivity in the Asia-Pacific region.
We appreciate progress in implementation of initiatives which will greatly improve connectivity and infrastructure in the Asia-Pacific region, and progress of the initiatives which help resolve the bottleneck of financing in this field. We encourage further collaboration among these initiatives in order to promote regional economic integration and the common development of the Asia-Pacific.
We emphasize the importance of investment in quality infrastructure and connectivity to realize our vision for an Asia-Pacific community. We welcome the initiatives set out by the CAP to maximize the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) modality for infrastructure delivery, to tap long-term investments for infrastructure through capital market development, and to continue efforts in inclusive infrastructure, in urban development, and in regional connectivity.
8. To develop the services sector as an enabler of economic growth and inclusion.
We acknowledge that international trade in services facilitates cross-border business activity, reduces costs, spurs innovation, boosts competition and productivity, raises the standard of domestic services suppliers, and widens the range of choice for consumers. We also acknowledge that trade in services has an enormous potential for creating jobs, and for increasing competitiveness in the global market, providing whole-of-economy benefits. Inclusive growth cannot be achieved without addressing services-related issues, as many MSMEs operate in this sector.
For these reasons, we endorse the APEC Services Cooperation Framework to ensure that all our citizens can benefit from and contribute to high quality growth. We instruct our officials to develop a strategic and long-term Services Competitiveness Roadmap in 2016 with the adoption of a concerted set of actions and mutually agreed targets to be achieved by 2025. We appreciate services-related initiatives such as manufacturing-related services.
Strengthening Collaboration
9. To work with stakeholders to address common challenges.
Given our diversity, our achievements thus far in APEC provide a benchmark for how, through cooperation, we can advance regional economic integration and achieve shared prosperity. Building on our achievements, we commit to engage in an enhanced degree of cooperation within and across our economies with a broad range of stakeholders. We reaffirm the need to have a well-coordinated and whole-of-government approach to rulemaking in our economies. This should rely on open and inclusive public consultation processes involving the full range of domestic and international stakeholders.
We therefore welcome our increased collaboration with the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC), the Pacific Economic Cooperation Council (PECC), international and regional organizations, the private sector, local government executives, civil society, academia, MSMEs, women, youth, persons with disabilities, and industry experts, engaging in constructive dialogues that allow us to find solutions to the challenges we face and build a better, more inclusive world.
10. To strongly support the work of our Ministers, the APEC Process, and all its Committees and Fora.
We therefore endorse the 2015 APEC Joint Ministerial Statement and commend the work of our Ministers and officials as reflected in the results of the Sectoral Ministerial Meetings, High-Level Policy Dialogues, the Finance Ministers’ Process, the Committees and Working Groups of the Senior Officials’ Meeting, and all related mechanisms.
We instruct our Ministers and officials to continue their work, including implementation of the recommendations, work programs, and action plans of the outcome documents for 2015 sectoral ministerial meetings and high-level policy dialogues, bearing in mind the vision contained in this Declaration, as well as our previous meetings.
We express our appreciation for the contributions by relevant members to the APEC Fund, the establishment of Sub-Funds on the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific and Global Value Chains, Innovative Development, Economic Reform and Growth, and Connectivity, and Mining, and the voluntary provision of training opportunities to developing economy members. We look forward to future work to better align our resources with our priorities.
Through economic integration driven by technological progress, urbanization, trade and investment liberalization and facilitation, and improved connectivity, our lives have become increasingly intertwined. It is incumbent upon all of us to work together to ensure our common destiny. In spite of the challenges we face, the future of our region will be bright as we stand true to our pledge to shape the future through Asia-Pacific partnership, with a view to fulfilling our goals of common development, prosperity, and progress, by harnessing our people’s collective abilities in the spirit of mutual respect and trust, inclusiveness, and win-win cooperation.
Recognizing that APEC work is a continuing process and that continuity of agenda is key to APEC’s relevance, we thank the Philippines for its leadership this year as it has built on the vision and work of the previous APEC hosts.
We look forward to meeting again in Peru in 2016 and will work closely with the future hosts from 2017 to 2022, namely Viet Nam, Papua New Guinea, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, and Thailand. We welcome the offer of the Republic of Korea to host APEC in 2025.

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Posted by on November 19, 2015 in Uncategorized


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GMA Iloilo staff get ‘AlDub’ first, guillotine second

“No matter what you’re going through, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel and it may seem hard to get to it but you can do it and just keep working towards it and you’ll find the positive side of things.” Demi Lovato

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY — Just like death row inmates, employees of GMA television network in Iloilo were given food and entertainment before being herded to the gallows.
Less than two weeks after sending Alden Richards of the AlDub fame in Iloilo City, the GMA television network sent some 20 Iloilo employees packing.
The recent round of retrenchment dissolved the “Ratsada 24 Oras” and trimmed down the effervescent media outlet into a satellite sales office.
Like in the previous “belt-tightening” measures in April this year where 37 employees in the entire Visayas were zapped, most of those affected, including production staff, cameramen and field reporters, were caught flat-footed.


In his Facebook account, lawyer Jobert Penaflorida, co-host of “Ratsada 24 Oras” confirmed the splitsville, but emphasizing that “the best is yet to come.”
“Last Friday, November 13, three days after my one-year contract with GMA ended, Ratsada 24 Oras aired its last newscast.
“I feel for the hardworking men and women who have spent their best years to build a strong and solid news program.
“But I feel blessed and privileged to have been part of the longest-running news program in Iloilo. 16 years is no mean feat.
“I take this opportunity to thank everyone in GMA Network for this kind opportunity and for warmly accepting me as one of their own.
“I was already happy with my ‘early’ retirement from media in 2013 when GMA surprisingly invited me to join its team.
“Short but sweet. I cherish my experience in Ratsada 24 Oras. Pleasant. Enriching. Heartwarming.”


He added: “I thank my bosses and everyone I worked with, especially Rexcel John Billones Sorza and Gerthrode Charlotte Tan-Mabilog for all the kindness and the help. The news and engineering people, with special mention to my director and my cameraman.
“I ask the Lord why the need for a one-year ‘detour’ in my own personal journey. The answer is clear: the opportunity to meet these kind, genuine and generous human beings.
“Our respective journey continues. Our roads will certainly intertwine in more ways than one. As my own experience has shown me, there are no goodbyes. The best is yet to come! Salamat gid, mga Kapuso! I am proud I am one.”


Co-host, Gerthrode Charlotte Tan-Mabilog, also bade goodbye in her Facebook account, saying she was “deeply grateful. The Lord is truly good!”:
“Doing the newscast for the past 13 years has been one of my greatest joys in life. GMA opened doors for me to meet and build relationships with people, visit places I never deemed possible in one lifetime, and collect meaningful learnings I will carry with me everywhere I go. For all of these, I am deeply grateful. The Lord is truly good!
“Today (Nov. 16), I bid you farewell. Thank you for supporting me and Ratsada for so many years. Thank you for making me a part of your homes for over a decade. It has been such a pleasure doing this service for Western Visayas.
“Thank you to my bosses Jo Tadeo Marcelo Cel Atega Rosales Amores Lee Escudero, Jonathan Cabillon, Marissa Flores, and Jet Orbida for this priceless opportunity. This is Gerthrode Charlotte Tan, signing off.”
Rexcel John Billones Sorza, a production boss, thanked their supporters: “Thank you everyone. Your comforting words kept us strong as we embraced a painful reality. See you around.”

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Posted by on November 17, 2015 in MEDIA


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She is human, after all

“Being defeated is often a temporary condition. Giving up is what makes it permanent.” Marilyn vos Savant

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY — We can’t stay on top forever.
Even powerful historical figures have collapsed violently after lording over their domains with absolute authority and almost sphinx-like mythological dominance.
Judas. Ben-Hur. Atahualpa. Hector. Achilles. Philip of Macedon. Caesar. Cleopatra. Nero. Magellan. King Louis XVI. Marie Antoinette.
The Romanovs. Rasputin. Mussolini. Hitler. Amin. Suharto. Marcos. Noriega. Ceaușescu. Saddam. Bin Laden. Gaddafi. To name only a few.
In many combats and competitions, there are always upsets and shockers.
Some neck and neck races end up as nail-biting and photo-finish clinchers.
This coming elections, many political dynasties could fold up in shame, shattering their myths of invincibility now that we have an automated poll.
Some political lords could suffer humiliating defeats as their decrepit guns, goons and golds will have no match against the netizens, the emerging intelligent force to reckon with in the age of social media and dizzying technology.


NOTHING is permanent in this world except change, pre-Socratic Greek philosopher Heraclitus once declared.
Even champions go down in style.
The brutal fall of Ronda Rousey after being knocked out cold by Holly Holm in a dramatic upset Saturday (Nov. 14) night in the main event of UFC 193 at Etihad Stadium in Melbourne, Australia, should serve as inspiration to all underdogs.
Who doesn’t know Ronda Jean “Rowdy” Rousey?
Only 28 and standing five feet and seven inches, the American mixed martial artists, judoka, and actress from Riverside, California was known as the Mike Tyson of Ultimate Fighting Championship of UFC.
She was unbeaten in 12 fights (nine submissions and three KOs) as bantamweight champion before fellow American Holm, 34, starched her out in probably the biggest upset in UFC history.


Holm’s disposal win against the most feared woman in the planet made newspaper headlines in sports even if media were swamped with the Paris terror attack over the weekend.
For many UFC fans, Rousey’s defeat was unexpected and a hail-Mary shocker in combat sport.
Those who followed her career were suspecting that Rousey could be a superhuman, or someone possessed with an extra-ordinary talent not bequeathed on just anyone in fight business because of the way she dispatched opponents in the quadrangle.
Last Saturday Down Under, Rousey proved to us that she was human, after all–far from the way Sylvestre “Rocky Balboa” Stallone and Arnold “The Terminator” Schwarzenegger immortalized the good-looking lady.
The most destructive 130-pounder of the distaff side could get a rematch, we are 99 percent sure about that, but her reputation as “the arm collector” (because of the way she strangles opponents and wrecks their arms) and the “baddest woman on the planet” (because of her intimidating eyes) has suffered a dent.

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Posted by on November 16, 2015 in ELECTION, SPORTS


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Don’t aim a gun if you won’t pull the trigger

.”Yes, people pull the trigger – but guns are the instrument of death. Gun control is necessary, and delay means more death and horror.” Eliot Spitzer

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY — The basic unwritten rule for gun owners is never aim your gun at anybody unless you are determined to pull its trigger in any circumstance.
Any licensed gun owner, whose life is under threat, is aware that once he pulls the deadly hardware from holster, it’s either he will shoot the enemy first or he gets killed if the enemy beats him to the draw.
A gun can not harm a fly or threaten a human life if not mishandled and misdirected.
There are guns for sports and guns for actual combat.
A person can own a gun as a hobby to shoot the birds even if he is a non-combatant.
Ownership of a gun is not a license to aim it at any Tom, Dick and Harry if provoked; it is not a licensed to kill–unless for self defense.


That’s why, all applicants for license to carry and own a gun are being required to undergo a neuro test to determine if they are qualified to carry and keep the deadly weapon in and outside their residences.
A psychotic shouldn’t be allowed to carry a gun, much less own one.
A character with depressive mood is also a potential trigger-happy maniac.
To protect the public, only those with stable mental and emotional conditions are given licenses by authorities to own and carry a gun.
But personally, I am against the carrying of gun or any deadly weapon for that matter.
A gun control means there are still guns, but we need to control or regulate them.
I advocate a gunless society.


IT was not immediately established if slain Dumangas, Iloilo Comelec officer, Raymund Valera, 52, really aimed his gun first at the taxi driver who shot him at an intersection in Molo district in Iloilo City December 8 evening.
According to suspect, Rodney de los Santos, 37, he killed Valera in self defense.
The taxi driver alleged that Valera pointed a gun at him when his taxi caught up with Valera’s Isuzu Crosswind at Brgy. Fundidor, Molo.
He gave chase to Valera after the victim allegedly blocked his taxi when it tried to overtake his Crosswind along Brgy. Dulonan, Arevalo district.
Valera is no longer around to dispute De Los Santos’ allegations, but the incident certainly was a clear case of road rage, a traffic altercation that ended in murder.


We have seen and heard so many similar cases anywhere in the world.
A balikbayan brother of a former presidential candidate killed on the spot by an irate motorist, a female senior vice president of a multinational corporation shot at close range in the stop light, among other senseless murders related to traffic dispute.
Other cases became sensational because the culprits were either celebrities or influential people.
Or the victims were either professionals and executives or defenseless ordinary citizens peppered with bullets right inside their vehicles like animals.
As to the claim of De Los Reyes that Valera “provoked” him and aimed a gun at him first, it’s up for the court to believe or not.
Murder could have been prevented if both Valera and De Los Reyes were not carrying guns.
Road rage, as well as deadly weapons, has no place in a civilized society.

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Posted by on November 16, 2015 in CRIME, PSYCHOLOGY


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We can learn from US election

“The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything.” Joseph Stalin

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY — Six months after the Philippines will hold a presidential election on May 9, 2016, the United States will also hold their own presidential election on November 8, 2016.
The US election has always been our model since time immemorial.
It’s not difficult to admire the electoral system of the United States when we are used to witnessing the decrepit system in the Philippines, where the results are usually known after more than a week or even two weeks after the election.
In the United States, the losers deliver concession speeches gracefully the night of election day, and winners deliver their victory speeches magnanimously thereafter.
When Americans wake up the next morning, they already have inkling about their newly elected officials even before they eat breakfast.


In the Philippines, concession and victory speeches come only if winners are not accused by their losing rivals of committing electoral fraud.
When losing bets cry “we wuz robbed” it will take months or even years before the winners are declared officially by the Commission on Elections (Comelec).
In many cases, the winners get to occupy their elected seats only days before the next election; sometimes they never have a chance to take their oath of office as they are embroiled in a protracted legal skirmish.
Filipino politicians lose because either they are “victims of fraud” or they suffer from “shortage of campaign funds.”
Whether there is semblance of truth in the aforementioned allegations, losers in the Philippine elections almost always have alibis to offer; they never ran out of excuses.


In the US presidential race, results are determined by the number of electoral votes from the Electoral College. Since the Electoral College is consist of 538 electors, a majority of 270 electoral votes is required to elect the president.
Under the system, a candidate who wins the popular votes can not clinch the presidency.
If the presidential standard bearer in one political party wins, his vice president also wins automatically.
Because of the two-party system (Democrat and Republican), results are fast and accurate.
In the Philippines, five or more political parties can field their candidates from president down to the local level as long as they are accredited by the Comelec.
The logjam illustrates how chaotic is the tasks and responsibilities of the poll body in terms of regulating these political parties and disqualifying the so-called nuisance candidates who run as independents.


The multi-party system is being viewed as an aberration in the Philippine electoral system where winners are picked based on popularity votes or the number of votes they can garner from different polling precincts nationwide.
Some of these well-oiled political parties can also delay the proclamation of certain winners by filing annoying election protests meant to derail if not sabotage the assumption into office of winners.
In some cases, winners are assassinated to prevent them from occupying their seats.
Beset by tribal and ideological differences, elections in the countryside in most cases are attended by violence and massive irregularities such as vote-buying, coercion, threats, intimidation giving credence to the infamous “guns, goons, and golds” terror tactic employed by influential and moneyed bets.
The electoral process in the United States can be considered as role model for other democratic countries that select their leaders through election worldwide.
By afternoon of the day after the November 6, 2012 election, reelected President Barack Obama was already back in White House to assume his second mandate.
And life goes on for all Americans.

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Posted by on November 16, 2015 in EDUCATION, ELECTION


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Ganzon, Malabor turncoats with questionable loyalty

“My whole thing is loyalty. Loyalty over royalty; word is bond.” Fetty Wap

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY — We can’t blame some Liberal Party (LP) mainstays in Iloilo City if they are not comfortable with the presence of former city councilors Jeffrey Ganzon and Mandrie Malabor in the administration bandwagon.
The two balimbings (turncoats) are running for the city council in the 2016 polls under the LP ticket of reelectionists Rep. Jerry P. Trenas, Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog, and Vice Mayor Jose Espinosa III.
Strange bedfellows, indeed.
In the 2013 elections, Ganzon lost to Espinosa for vice mayor, while Malabor lost for councilor when they ran under the opposition United Nationalist Alliance (UNA).
All the UNA local candidates from congressman, mayor, vice mayor and councilors were, in fact, massacred in an unprecedented 15-0 blitzkrieg.


One of the UNA casualties for councilor was Dr. Gold Gonzalez, daughter of the late Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez Sr., who is now running for mayor against Mabilog.
Members of the opposition party shared one vision and mission and vowed to stay together and go down together against titanic odds.
But when Gonzalez and her team filed their certificates of candidacy (COCs) in the Comelec last month, Ganzon and Malabor were no longer with the group.
They filed their COCs under the LP.
Like opportunists, they abandoned the opposition and embraced the administration to save their own necks.
They probably thought their chances of winning in 2016 were nil if they did not jump ship and join the “enemy.”


Were they demoralized after their 2013 defeat?
Are they desperate to win and have underestimated the capacity of the party they jettisoned?
What happened to the principles and cause they loudly espoused in the 2013 elections?
In 2013, their group accused the Mabilog and P-Noy administrations of graft and corruption and election fraud (owing to the 15-0 result in the local and national elections).
Some of them and their subalterns even filed a case against the mayor in the Ombudsman.
Can we blame Mabilog and other LP stalwarts if they will distrust these deserters and suspect them to be Trojans?
By joining Mabilog’s group, Ganzon and Malabor are expected to “behave” once they are back in power–or they will be ribbed as “ingrates.”

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Posted by on November 16, 2015 in ELECTION, POLITICS


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Hypocrites casting a stone at city tourism chief

“The only vice that cannot be forgiven is hypocrisy. The repentance of a hypocrite is itself hypocrisy.” William Hazlitt

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY — If they think they don’t live in glass houses, detractors of Iloilo City tourism officer Junel Divinagracia should not telegraph their punches and hide in anonymity.
These detractors wanted to raise some “sensitive concerns” now that the city council is set to confirm her appointment after being appointed to the position by Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog on October 19.
She replaced Ben Jimena, who has retired but is still part of Mabilog’s cabinet as consultant.
Some city councilors, who hate to be accused as field reporters of Boy Abunda and Inday Badiday, have alerted Divinagracia, who was in Manila for APEC Leaders’ Meeting from Nov. 16 to 19.
The city councilors are also aware that they are not saints, thus they can’t just easily jump the gun on Divinagracia without due process.


Other public officials (both in the executive and legislative branches) are also being bedeviled by the so-called “sensitive” private matters like Divinagracia, but they weren’t placed under hot seats because they are males.
By zeroing in on Divinagracia, the shades of bitterness, bias, prejudice and double standard are very much evident on the motives of these hypocrites.
Is it possible that the snakes are just around the corridors of power sibilating?
Let us remind them of Matthew 7:3 that says, “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?”
And also John 8:7 that says, “And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, ‘Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.'”


BY giving the municipal mayors liberty to select their own bet for Iloilo vice governor, Gov. Arthur “Art” Defensor Sr. was short in saying that “I am caught between the devil and the deep blue sea.”
As an astute politician, Defensor will never take side, at least not yet, while everyone in the poker table is still in the guessing game.
Vice gubernatorial aspirants Neil “Junjun” Tupas Jr. and Christine Garin, both with political parties affiliated with the Liberal Party (LP), are hoping like anxious suitors to get King Arthur’s blessing.
The governor has vowed earlier to campaign only for the party’s official candidate.


Garin, mayor of Guimbal, Iloilo, is with the National Unity Party (NUP), an LP affiliate.
She is the sister of Iloilo first district Rep. Oscar “Richard” Garin Jr. and the sister-in-law of Health Secretary Janette L. Garin, Richard’s wife.
Her family has questioned Tupas’ certificate of nomination and acceptance (Cona) as “official” LP bet for vice governor.
Defensor has long reconciled with the two powerful political clans in the province, and they have been working together under the umbrella of President Aquino’s ruling party.
Political observers think Defensor has already in mind who to pick when push comes to shove, but is only keeping the aces in his sleeves.
Who will the fountain bless?
The answer to that question is another question: Which clan is the lesser evil?

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Posted by on November 16, 2015 in POLITICS, TOURISM


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