MANILA – The second day of the official visit of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. in the United States on Tuesday (Wednesday Philippine time) has been very productive after getting commitments from American global firms during eight back-to-back meetings in just half a day.
As part of his official trip to the US, these meetings were held at the Blair House in Washington D.C. where Marcos sat down and talked with various business leaders in a bid to entice more investments to the Philippines.
Marcos, accompanied by the official Philippine delegation, started his business meeting around 1:45 p.m. with the group of prominent Filipino and American businessmen, the United States-Philippines Society, co-chaired by former US Ambassador John D. Negroponte, which made the commitment of greater cooperation and partnership in the development of the Philippine economy.
“(The) President’s visit… sets the table for our work, of US-Philippine Society (USPS) in the months and years ahead, thank you for that,” Negroponte told President Marcos.
Also known as The Society, the USPS is a non-profit, bi-national organization of prominent civic and business leaders of the US and the Philippines.
Negroponte co-chairs The Society with prominent Filipino businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan.
The Society was organized in May 2012 with the aim of enhancing and raising awareness of the profile of the Philippines in the United States in the areas of security, trade, investments, tourism, the environment, history, education and culture.
The group is a strong partner of the Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C. in organizing events that highlight the robust relations between the Philippines and the United States in promoting security, economic, cultural and social interests.
The President also met with John Padget, president and CEO of Carnival Corp., who told the chief executive that his group of companies will hire around 75,000 Filipino seafarers in the next three to four years.
Padget, who also represents Carnival Cruise Line, Holland American Airlines and Seaborn, praised Filipino workers for their hospitality and competitiveness in the global workforce.
“It doesn’t matter whether it’s the marine, deck, hospitality, restaurant…everything is based on the happiness, the smile, and the greatness of the Filipino employees,” he said.
In the meeting, Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) Secretary Susan Ople presented to the US firms “the interest of 200,000 Filipinos” who “adhere to fair and ethical standards and principles.”
The President also met with the officials of Moderna, a global shared service facility that tests adverse effects of medications/vaccines, at around 3 p.m.
Moderna executives told President Marcos that they are planning to set up a shared service facility in the Philippines that would cater to the Asia-Pacific region.
Moderna Chief Commercial Officer Arpa Garay and Senior Vice President and General Manager Patrick Bergstedt said they are set to establish a “Shared Service Facility for Pharmacovigilance” to provide more employment opportunities to health professionals in the country.
Garay underscored the successful public-private partnership between the Philippine government and Moderna that they wanted to explore further.
After meeting with Moderna, Marcos proceeded to talk with officials of the Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation, a US-based global leader and vertical integrator of nuclear technologies and services.
Francesco Venneri, CEO of Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation, expressed interest in bringing clean and reliable nuclear energy to the Philippines, describing the move as "probably a very important way for us to enter the market.”
USNC said it is seriously considering the Philippines for its first nuclear energy facility in Southeast Asia and vowed to help address the series of blackouts that hit several areas of the country.
"We also note that there’s a great deal of discussion about Mindoro having blackouts and that might be an excellent….a good science [solution],” said Venneri, referring to the weeks of power outages in Occidental Mindoro.
The President proceeded to meet with business process outsourcing (BPO) company Atento, which plans to put up its first call center in the Philippines at the Iloilo Business Park in Mandurriao district, Iloilo City.
The Philippine leader told Atento president Fili Ledezma Soto and chief delivery officer Josh Ashby that they made the right decision in choosing the Philippines as their location as “Filipinos speak and write the best English.”
“I know it will be successful because it has been successful in the past. It has been a go-to industry for the Philippine government for quite a long time now,” the chief executive noted.
At around 5 p.m., officials of the Solar firm Maxeon, a global leader in solar technology and innovation, met with President Marcos and told him they are eyeing to invest some USD900 million in solar energy in the Philippines, in a move to expand its operations in the country.
Bill Mulligan, CEO of Maxeon which operates the SunPower brand in all global markets including the Maxeon brand in the United States, Canada and Japan, said the investment will provide more than 3,000 jobs in the next few years.
After meeting with Maxeon, Marcos also met with an official of Analog Devices Inc., a global semiconductor leader using Intelligent Edge, to further strengthen and expand their operations in the Philippines via the universities and the academe.
To date, the company has a ADI University Program, implemented by Analog Devices General Trias Inc. (ADGTI) in the Philippines, consisting of many different activities that provide engineering students with the opportunity to further develop the theory and application of analog circuit design.
ADI combines analog, digital, and software technologies into solutions that help drive advancements in digitized factories, mobility, and digital healthcare, combat climate change, and reliably connect humans and the world.
As of 2022, Analog Devices General Trias Inc. (ADGTI), a counterpart of ADI, has a total of 5,252 employees, with around USD394 million worth of exports.
The President capped his business meetings with officials of American healthcare services provider Optum, which will invest some PHP800 million in medical business process outsourcing (BPO) in the Philippines.
John Prince, president and COO of Optum, said the firm is committed to the Philippines and lauded the "strategic partnership that we have for a very long time."
"I’m a really big believer that great things happen to great teams and we have a great team in the Philippines,” said Prince, adding that the investment is part of the company’s efforts to broaden its operations.
Optum’s medical BPO investment stands to employ some 1,500 Filipinos.
Among the members of the official delegation of the Philippines during the business meetings were former president and now Senior Deputy Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Speaker Martin Romualdez, Trade and Industry Secretary Alfredo Pascual and Presidential Communications Office (PCO) Secretary Atty. Cheloy Garafil.
Special Assistant to the President Secretary Antonio Ernesto Lagdameo Jr., Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Manuel Romualdez and DTI Undersecretary Ceferino Rodolfo were also present during the meetings. (PND)