Welcome Remarks by ADB President Takehiko Nakao at the ADB Reception

Welcome Remarks by ADB President Takehiko Nakao at the ADB Reception in Manila, Philippines

(as drafted)

Your Excellency, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen: It is a great honor to welcome His Excellency President Benigno S. Aquino III to ADB. I am also very pleased to welcome the many distinguished guests who have joined us today: ambassadors from ADB member countries, legislators and senior officials of the Philippines government, diplomats, academics, business and civil society leaders, and development partners.

Mabuhay!

This evening's event is a celebration of partnership and community. The Philippines has been a gracious host to ADB since its establishment in 1966. We are proud to call the Philippines our home.

And because this is our home, the most recent tragedy -- Typhoon Yolanda -- remains heavy on our minds. Let me therefore take this opportunity to once again express our sincere empathy for the affected communities. We continue to work with the people who are still struggling to rebuild their lives.

In February, I visited the affected area of Visayas, when we opened ADB's office in Tacloban. The video playing earlier tonight clearly shows the devastation. But I also saw a lot of hope and optimism - in the faces of people back at work, and in the smiles of the children who had returned to school. Clearly, this country is recovering from the tragedy with a spirit as strong as ever.

We at ADB are proud to do our part. To date, we have provided nearly $900 million in assistance for early recovery efforts and long-term reconstruction and rehabilitation. We are working closely with the Government through its strategic Reconstruction Assistance on Yolanda plan.

We are also coordinating with other development partners.

In addition to this assistance from ADB, our staff, Filipino and non-Filipino together, volunteered to make personal contributions to support affected people. The ADB Staff Association, Staff Community Fund, Spouses' Association, Association of Former Employees, and departments and offices have raised millions of pesos through various activities.

Mr. President, under your administration, the Philippines has made tremendous progress.

Your commitment to unleash the great potential of the economy, and to ensure clean government, has lifted the hopes, aspirations and collective energies of the Filipino people.

The Philippines has become one of the fastest growing emerging economies over the past four years. The Philippines has been recognized globally for its good economic management, far-reaching reforms and improvements in governance. This in turn is helping attract interest from both foreign and domestic investors. We at ADB share your pride in the Philippines becoming an investment grade country.

I would also like to commend the major steps taken toward resolving the long standing civil conflict in parts of Mindanao. Peace and stability in the region will surely open even more opportunities for the economy and greatly improve people's lives.

Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen: ADB is proud to partner with the Philippines in many of the Government's flagship projects and programs. Those are its national community driven development program or KALAHI-CIDSS, cleaner public transport project using e-trikes, and various public-private partnership projects. We will continue to help the country tackle new challenges, such as disaster risk management and making the growth more inclusive.

We are currently conducting a mid-term review of our long-term Strategy 2020. The review will provide us with clearer direction on how we can better contribute to development in middle-income countries like the Philippines.

In closing, on behalf of all of us at ADB, I sincerely thank the Government and the people of the Philippines for your continued hospitality.

Together with all our partners who are here tonight, ADB remains firmly committed to the social and economic progress of our host country, and that of the entire Asia and Pacific region.

Thank you very much.

Maraming salamat po!