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NEW DELHI, India — Since my appointment as Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship, I try to attend the presidential state visits as a member of the official delegation of President Rodrigo Duterte. But I always take my own flight as the adviser to the president, as I do not want the government to spend for me since all my work is pro bono.
I joined President Duterte, his economic team, and the business delegates during the state visit in India for the ASEAN-India Special Commemorative Summit and India’s Republic Day. I was glad to be part of the delegation as we strengthened our partnership with India.
We just finished the round-table meeting with President Duterte, Indian businessmen and our trade team led by DTI Sec. Ramon Lopez and Usec. Nora Terrado, who both did an amazing job in this engagement. This is the first time in 10 years that a Philippine president has visited India.
Joining the delegation are Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce Philippines president Rex Daryanani and ASEAN-India Business Council head Johnny Chotrani. Rex is a dynamic leader who has harnessed the Indian Chamber well, which resulted in a partnership signing with the Indian Chamber of Commerce.
In his speech, President Duterte encouraged the Indian business community to invest in the Philippines. Many members of the business sector are already doing business in our country. Most of them are, in fact, in the BPO industry. Indians are also in the pharmaceutical industry and supply most of the generic drugs in the Philippines. The president was so engaged in the discussion that his team had to remind him that his plane was ready to take off. You could really sense his passion as a leader, just like India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Prime Minister Modi graced the second day of our ASEAN Business and Investment Summit last Nov. 13, 2017, where he talked about the impressive programs of India for MSME development. Indian Ambassador to the Philippines Jaideep Mazumdar was instrumental in his participation.
I was also surprised to receive the Padma Shri award, India’s fourth highest civilian award, during the state visit. The award was conferred to commemorate the silver anniversary of India-ASEAN partnership. I was not informed about this prior to the trip, so it came as a big surprise. One individual from each ASEAN country received the recognition and I am honored to be the representative of the Philippines.