Aquino cites labor gains, opens luxury bag factoryBy Jo Martinez-Clemente
Inquirer Central Luzon
CONCEPCION, Tarlac—President Benigno Aquino III spent Monday, the start of the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona, inaugurating a 10-month-old luxury bag factory and giving his perspective about the economy for which he received a failing grade from a predecessor and former teacher.
While “doing what is right is the fundamental thing to do,” such as exacting accountability from public officials, the President said his administration was able to generate 2.1 million jobs in 2011 despite the global economic slowdown.
Mr. Aquino also highlighted the growing number of tourists coming to the Philippines. He said tourist arrivals, which increased from 3 million to 4 million last year, would jump to 10 million in 2016 when his term ended.
In a paper she released last week, detained former President and now Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo chastised Mr. Aquino, her former student in economics, for the supposedly lackluster performance of the economy.
Taking off from the number of tourist arrivals and jobs created, Mr. Aquino assured D’Luxe Bags Philippines and the Luen Thai Group that they made the right decision by bringing their investments to the country.
The President arrived here with his economic team composed of Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo and Transportation and Communications Secretary Manuel Roxas II.
“Their presence here empowers them to open up opportunities for our people that had been lacking for such a long time,” Mr. Aquino said.
Shifting to Kapampangan, he told Tarlac residents: “I can open doors for you and when I do, it is all up to you if you will keep it open.”
D’Luxe Bag Philippines is one of three investments promised to Mr. Aquino by the Luen Thai Group during his official visit to the United States last year. Employing 1,200 workers, the Tarlac factory produces Coach, a luxury brand.
The first investment of the Luen Thai Group was an Adidas factory, which was inaugurated in Mactan, Cebu province, in August 2011. The third investment is being set up at the Clark Freeport.
William Tan, Luen Thai chief executive officer, said the Tarlac factory’s expansion plan would increase the workforce by 500 this March. By 2014, the factory is expected to employ 5,000 workers.
In its first nine months of operation, the Tarlac factory was able to produce 220,000 bags, which Martyn James, vice president of Coach International, described as unprecedented.