The Philippines is the home of People Power, but what real chance do ordinary people have to improve their lives?
There has to be inclusive growth. We are trying to foster renewed vigor in agriculture. And outsourcing has overtaken India in several categories.
Could somebody working in a call center in the provinces one day be President?
They probably will. There are so many leaders coming up.
Economic growth was down in the first three quarters of 2011. What are the prospects for this year?
We've gotten very good credit ratings from Moody's and Standard & Poor's. This in a period when there are so many sovereign-debt downgrades of previously unassailable economies.
One of your 2010 campaign slogans was "If there is no corruption, there is no poverty." Both persist. What are you doing about it?
We have filed at least 16 [major] corruption cases. A trial is getting under way regarding electoral sabotage.
Former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is being held on charges of electoral fraud. Is this part of your campaign?
It's a step toward solving that problem. There seemed to be a sense of impunity in the previous administration: they could do anything and nobody would be accountable.
What's your strategy to manage your relationship with China over territorial disputes in the South China Sea?
Nobody is really interested in going to a violent conflict to try to resolve this. I hope they understand that I am duty-bound to protect the interests of my country, just as they are protecting theirs.
How do you see the U.S.'s renewed engagement with Asia?
We welcome them. They have been one of our staunchest allies. They have capabilities that enhance our capabilities. They have excess military equipment that no longer meets their needs but presents a quantum leap for us.
How optimistic are you about peace talks with local insurgent groups?
The bulk are ready to get to an agreement by addressing the injustices that led them to the mountains. Trust building will be accelerated. We will be addressing what my father taught me when I was very young: that the first freedom is freedom from hunger. When they have a stake in society, as opposed to being dispossessed, they will become adherents to the peace process.
Every year thousands of women in the Philippines are hurt, or even die, during childbirth. Many don't have access to sex education or contraception. You said you would support a reproductive-health bill. What are you doing to see it through?
Number one, there has to be education. Secondly, afford them all the choices that are available, excluding abortion our laws are specific about [banning] abortion.
What do you want your legacy to be?
I asked a class of 80 university students, "How many of you will stay in the country when you graduate?" Only two raised their hands. I think that number will be different.