His Excellency Benigno S. Aquino III
President of the Philippines
At the 17th Philippine Quality Awards Conferment Ceremony
[Delivered at Malacañan Palace, Manila, on September 22, 2015]
If you ask any of members of the Cabinet, they will tell you that I am a stickler for detail. During NEDA Board meetings, or Cabinet meeting for that matter, attendees can expect to be served a minimum of two full meals—and questioned about everything, down to the smallest figures. That is because I insist on quality in every undertaking, most especially those that involve significant sums of taxpayer money. Every project we undertake must withstand scrutiny—from the legal aspects, to the execution of the plans, to the actual construction of structures themselves. This is the bare minimum that the Filipino people expect from government; it is the bare minimum that they deserve. There should be no compromise when it comes to the benefits that our people can gain.
That is why I have always considered it a distinct pleasure to confer these Philippine Quality Awards. An institution in itself, these awards are proof of the culture of excellence that has spurred so many institutions in both the private and public sector to keep striving for better management, better performance, and ultimately, better service. I am particularly pleased to see that our awardees this year come from a variety of sectors: from companies involved in the electronics and packaging sectors, to government agencies, and even to educational institutions.
There is the SMC Yamamura Fuso Molds Corporation, which has prioritized its financial performance, as well as leadership and governance outcomes, in creating value for its stakeholders. The improvement in their labor productivity outputs from 2011 to 2013 is likewise indicative of high performance levels, and good trends in their work environment. For companies like this, the goal would eventually be to penetrate the biggest markets in the world, like the United States or Europe. They have succeeded in doing this, and what is perhaps more impressive is that SMC Yamamura has even reached Africa.
The same kind of performance can also be noted in two companies from the electronics industry. ROHM Electronics Philippines, Inc. has gotten its employees fully involved in corporate governance, holding activities that allow the rank and file to participate in improving quality, cost, and delivery. The Philippine Quality Award will only be the latest in a long line of awards received by the company for its excellent practices.
STMicroelectronics, Inc. is another example of an institution that places the highest importance on their workforce—utilizing a learning development system to enhance the skills of their employees, for example. This, in turn, has likewise contributed to other successes: their exceptional performance in handling customer concerns and in the recognition that they have received from their parent company.
Today, we also have two representatives from the sector of education receiving awards: the Colegio de San Juan Letran Manila, and the Lyceum of the Philippines Laguna, Inc. The quality of education provided by Letran can be seen in their passing rates for the Licensure Examination for Teachers: 80 percent, 100 percent, and 100 percent from 2010 to 2012—far above the national passing rates in those same years. This same dedication is displayed by the Lyceum of the Philippines Laguna in a different way: Their perfect compliance to all statutory and regulatory requirements in the past five years, which ensures a fair and just labor environment, and the safety of all students and staff.
We are all familiar with the truism that education does not take place just inside a classroom. There can be no better example than both Letran Manila and Lyceum Laguna, which have actively implemented projects and processes for the development of their key communities. Might I express how pleased I am to see schools among the roster of awardees. Not only does this show that you are efficient, well-run institutions, it also highlights the tradition of excellence and civic responsibility that you are cultivating in each and every one of your students and employees.
In the years that I have presided over these awarding ceremonies, I have been especially proud to note that different regional offices of our Department of Science and Technology have been consistent recipients of this award, with the DOST Region II Office taking its turn today. Your officials have led your entire organization in meeting its responsibilities to the public: from maintaining full accuracy in lab tests, to increasing the number of repeating patrons, scholarship qualifiers, and Starbooks—or computer kiosks containing thousands of digitized educational resources.
Standing here in front of you for the last time, I see no need to invite you to further challenge yourselves and reach greater heights. You are already well-versed in that—and I will not be surprised to hear of even more achievements in the future, including perhaps reaching Level 3 status, or even the highest honor, the Philippine Quality Award for Performance Excellence.
This will always be welcome news. It tells us that we in government have partners in our goal of moving the Philippines higher and higher up the global value chain. After all, we want to move away from a society in which the vast majority has not been capacitated with the necessary skills and knowledge—in which they work menial jobs, live a hand-to-mouth existence, and are easily exploited. We want the Philippines to progress, and for that progress to leave no one behind.
Towards that end, we have been making strategic investments into our most important resource and our strongest competitive advantage, namely, the Filipino people. The Conditional Cash Transfer Program is perhaps the best example of this: from only around 786,000 households in 2010, we have expanded CCT beneficiary households to around 4.4 million. The partnership we have forged with our countrymen is simple: to receive cash assistance, families must focus on the education and health of their children. The CCT Program now also covers families with children up to 18 years of age. A study has shown that high school graduates earn up to 40 percent more when compared to elementary undergraduates. Seeing these numbers, it was only too easy to make the decision to maximize the fruits of the CCT.
Whether or not they come from a CCT household, Filipino children will now benefit from an expanded basic education cycle through the K to 12 reform. This ensures that learning is not crammed. Rather, our youth will have a solid foundation from which they can go on to higher education, technical-vocational courses, or even directly into the working world. There, we will continue to stand by them: guiding them towards sectors with high demand in the current market, or partnering with the private sector to train them in programs that have recorded employment rates of almost a hundred percent.
These are only a few examples of the reforms we have implemented. Whether in social services, health, or education, they are founded on the basic truth that Filipinos have always been creative, talented, and hardworking. Our interventions are designed to empower them to make the most of their skills and of every opportunity available to them. By so doing, we create a thriving nation, in which each and every individual contributes to moving the country up the value chain.
But this is something our awardees already know. All of you have already created a milieu in which you see all your stakeholders as active partners—from investors, to workers, to students, and even to the wider community. Today, we are recognizing more than just financial or operational decisions that have paid off. We are recognizing your pursuit of quality in the most profound sense of the word—because it does not only mean a stronger institution, a larger share in the market, or a higher quality of performance, but an infinitely higher quality of life for more Filipinos.
For all this—for everything you have achieved thus far and for everything that I am certain you will achieve in the future, you have our heartfelt congratulations.
Thank you. Good day.