However, during President Duterte’s visit in October 2016, China and the Philippines agreed on 24 major investments, signed memoranda of agreement (MOA) worth USD 15 billion with Chinese companies and agreeing on a USD 9 billion worth of loans that will increase the volume of Chinese investments in the country. As a result, China was the Philippines’ top source of imports as of January 2018 with USD 1.6 billion in shipments from the previous USD 592 million yielded last year. Additionally, at an event organized by the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industries (PCCI) and the Federation of Filipino Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FFCCCI) following the meeting between the two leaders, seventeen (17) extra trade deals with a combined value of US$ 11.24 billion that were signed. Tourism being a good source of revenue for the country also benefited with 43.3 percent increase in Chinese tourist arrivals from 680,000 in 2016 to 968,000 in 2017. With the current trend, tourism from China to Philippines are expected to increase rapidly with the casino industry is expected to be one of the major beneficiaries. China also has resumed giving permits to Philippine companies exporting tropical fruits to China.
With this recent event, Ambassador Zhao Jianhua was quoted by the local media stating that Beijing is “proud to be the number on trading partner” of Manila and added that he remains hopeful that the economic ties will continue. Trade relations with China remain of great importance to the Philippines. Despite the social, maritime disputes, and other related issues, bilateral relations will continue to improve and will be beneficial to both countries.
3.2 “AMBISYON NATIN 2040”
In October 14, 2016, President Rodrigo Duterte has signed Executive Order (EO) No. 5 officially adopting the “Ambisyon Natin 2040” project as the country’s long term development vision. “Ambisyon Natin 2040” is projected to triple the GDP per capita of the Philippines to US$11,000 and becoming a high income country by 2040 by maintaining GDP growth of at least 6.5 percent per year. There will be four separate development plans to be crafted by the succeeding administrations when his term ends that will implemented until 2040. The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) has set the framework, goals and milestones that each administration should follow in order to align these four successive medium-term development plans and ensure sustainability and consistency of strategies, policies, programs and projects across political administrations. Executive Order (EO) No. 5 further states that all development plans until 2040 will emphasize the centrality of the Filipino people and call their aspirations in the planning, design, and implementation of government intervention for a “Matatag” (strongly rooted), “Maginhawa” (comfortable), and “Panatag na buhay para sa lahat” (secured life for all). “Matatag” stresses the strength and resiliency of Filipino families. “Maginhawa” is living in a stable society, free from hunger and poverty. “Panatag na buhay” is living a secured and prosperous life.
“Ambisyon Natin 2040” is a collective long-term vision and aspirations of the Filipino people for themselves and for the country for the next 25 years. It envisions that by 2040 the Philippines will be a prosperous middle-class society and families can thrive in vibrant, culturally diverse, and resilient communities. “Ambisyon Natin 2040” It is divided into four aspirations; first is to be a prosperous, predominantly middle-class society where no one is poor; second is for the people to live long and healthy lives; third is fore the Filipinos to be smart and innovative; and the fourth is to live in a high-trust society. According to Director General Emmanuel Esguerra of NEDA, this vision reflects the “middle-class aspiration” shared by the majority of Filipinos. It describes the kind of life the Filipino wants, as well as their hopes for how the country will look like by 2040.
With the technical assistance being provided by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), government agencies, representatives of academe and private sector were collectively brought together to brainstorm in order to formulate of the thematic and technical papers of the NEDA framework covering topics such as education, health, environment, governance, infrastructure, and energy. Additionally, public consultations involving 42 focused group discussions and national surveys were conducted from June 2015 to August 2015 covering 10,000 respondents to aid in the formulation of the framework. Thematic studies and high-level roundtable discussion under the guidance of a public-private advisory committee were conducted as well. These activities were participated by different sectors including youth, fisher folk, formal workers, farmers, urban poor, disaster survivors, indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities, families of overseas workers, local migrants, and government workers.
Based on the results of the data gathered, an overwhelming majority of Filipinos (79.2%) aspire for a simple and comfortable life as indicated on Figure 6 below. This means earning just enough (73%), having children graduate from college (73%), having enough money for day-to-day needs (61%), and owning a medium-sized home (61%). Also, all respondents has a common desire to have a secure income from a stable and decent jobs and with (47%) see themselves as owning a farm or business. It was also revealed on the survey that the most important economic goal of the respondents is the eradication of poverty and hunger, and creating adequate jobs for all. To have a clean, efficient, and service-oriented government free of corruption is also desired.