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Cablegate: Visit to Provincial Capital Showcases U.S. Role in A

VZCZCXRO0903
OO RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #2559/01 3190924
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 140924Z NOV 08
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2421
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS
RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 002559

SIPDIS

PLEASE PASS TO PEACE CORPS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV KISL KPAO EAID RP
SUBJECT: VISIT TO PROVINCIAL CAPITAL SHOWCASES U.S. ROLE IN A
RAPIDLY-DEVELOPING PHILIPPINES

1. SUMMARY. Ambassador Kenney's November 7 visit to Bacolod, the
provincial capital of Negros Occidental, showcased the continuing
U.S. commitment to the economic and social development of the
Philippines. The Ambassador presided at the swearing-in ceremony of
65 new Peace Corps Volunteers, visited two large U.S. businesses
operating in the area, and toured a power plant that was moved from
the U.S. and reconstructed in the Philippines with the assistance of
U.S. Embassy Manila. The Ambassador also spoke with national and
local media about U.S. interests in the region and American
democracy in the wake of the recent presidential election. END
SUMMARY.

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BACKGROUND: BACOLOD AND NEGROS OCCIDENTAL
-----------------------------------------

2. Bacolod City is located on the northwestern coast of the Province
of Negros Occidental. It is the capital and largest highly
urbanized city in the province. Bacolod is also the most populous
city in the Western Visayas Region, with 499,497 inhabitants as of
the 2007 census. The local government has been aggressively
promoting Bacolod as an outsourcing venue and is one of the
Philippine government's certified next-wave cities for Business
Process Outsourcing (BPO) investments. It is now the BPO hub of the
Western Visayas Region, with Convergys, Teleperformance, and
TeleTech already operating in the city. According to the Philippine
Cities Competitiveness Ranking Project 2005 of the Asian Institute
of Management (AIM), Bacolod tops the list in terms of
infrastructure and quality of life, ahead of other mid-size cities
in the Philippines.

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65 VOLUNTEERS READY TO 'MAKE THAT DIFFERENCE'
---------------------------------------------

3. The Governor of Negros Occidental hosted the Swearing-In of 65
new Peace Corps Volunteers at the Provincial Capitol Building, which
was also attended by the Secretary of Education, the Undersecretary
of Social Welfare and Development, and the Mayor of Bacolod. The
Ambassador administered the oath of duty to the volunteers and
charged them to make that difference. The Philippines has had the
most Peace Corps volunteers serve of any other Peace Corps country.
These 65 new volunteers will join 66 already in country in various
educational, environmental, and youth-related programs across the
country. Several volunteers gave speeches in local languages (to the
delight of the audience), expressing their commitment to service and
to assist in the development of the Philippines.

--------------------------------------------- ----------
SERVING U.S. CUSTOMERS, STRENGTHENING THE LOCAL ECONOMY
--------------------------------------------- ----------

4. The Ambassador's visit to two large U.S. companies operating in
Bacolod, highlighted the positive economic and social impact they
are making in the Philippines. She toured Convergys' newest contact
center, which opened in October 2008 and created over 1,000
desirable, well-paying, and upwardly mobile jobs. The Bacolod
site's clients include two large U.S. cable companies. Convergys
executives told the Ambassador that the Philippines offers an
attractive investment climate because of its large pool of skilled
English-speaking labor. They added that the company is in the
process of completing several more sites in the Philippines to add
to the 13 already established in the country. Company executives
also shared stories about their corporate social responsibility
programs, including The Oral Communications in English program.
This program was organized in 2005 to provide public school teachers
with training they need to teach children proficiency in the English
language. Convergys provides program funding, the curriculum
module, and the company volunteers lead the training sessions. Over
the past three years, more than 500 teachers have participated in
the program free of charge in regions nationwide.

5. Ambassador Kenney's visit to the local Coca-Cola bottling plant
showcased the U.S. company's importance to the region's economy.
The plant serves the Western Visayas Region and bottles several
hundred thousand units of Coca-Cola products in returnable glass
containers every month. The company's Visayas Region Operating
Manager also briefed the Ambassador on the company's extensive
corporate social responsibility programs, including the Little Red
Schoolhouse program which provides rural communities with public
school buildings, classroom equipment, and ongoing training for
educators. To celebrate Coca-Cola's 80th anniversary in the
Philippines, the company just turned over the 80th Little Red
Schoolhouse, four of which are in the immediate Bacolod area.

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SWEET ENERGY EFFICIENCY
-----------------------


MANILA 00002559 002 OF 002


6. The Ambassador also toured a local sugarcane cooperative to view
its newly rebuilt power plant that uses sugarcane byproducts to
produce energy for local businesses and residents. The cooperative
bought the plant in Kauai, Hawaii, and U.S. Embassy Manila granted
visas to a team of Philippine workers who traveled to Kauai to
dismantle and ship the plant's machinery back to the Philippines.
The cooperative's innovative plan to re-use a once defunct plant is
a creative cost-effective solution that increases its energy
efficiency and provides a much-needed source of power on an island
with growing electricity needs.

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REGIONAL MEDIA, INTERNATIONAL PERSPECTIVES
------------------------------------------

7. In a host of regional television, radio, and print interviews
conducted during the trip, the Ambassador underscored the continuing
U.S. commitment to Philippine economic and social development,
underlined the importance of the Peace Corps program, and explained
the role of U.S. businesses as responsible economic partners. The
station manager for a local radio station noted that the Ambassador
was the first U.S. official of note to directly address an audience
in the Western Visayas region. In the wake of the recent U.S.
election, the Ambassador explained the importance in U.S. democracy
of open, transparent elections; gracious speeches by both the winner
and the loser and their example of putting the nation's interests
ahead of their own; and the importance of the U.S. system that
provides for a smooth and peaceful transfer of power and transition
to a new administration. In all interaction with the media, she
underscored that the close ties and excellent relations between the
U.S. and the Philippines will remain that way with the new
Administration.

KENNEY

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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