Good News thread
Good News thread
May 31 2011, 08:26 AM
Joined: 10-April 11
Philippines arrests 122 Vietnamese fishermen
Philippine police and military arrested 122 Vietnamese for illegal fishing on Monday in the biggest haul of foreign fishermen in recent memory, a police commander said.
The Vietnamese were arrested aboard seven fishing boats off the western Philippine island of Palawan, where many foreigners have been apprehended for illegal fishing over the years, said Chief Superintendent Artemio Hicban.
"This is the largest number of Vietnamese who have ever been caught. As far as I can remember, we have never caught these many (foreign) fishermen and fishing vessels," Hicban, the regional police commander, told AFP.
Vietnamese embassy personnel said they had no information about the arrests and were checking on the report.
Hicban said the fishermen would probably face charges of illegal entry and illegal fishing.
Police at the scene have not yet said if any endangered species were found on their boats which could result in more serious accusations, he said.
Hicban stressed that the Vietnamese were caught off the coast of Palawan and were not in disputed waters of the South China Sea that are subject to conflicting claims by the Philippines, Vietnam, China and other countries.
"They were caught well within our territorial waters, far from the Spratlys," he said, referring to a disputed island chain in the South China Sea.
In recent years, many Vietnamese and Chinese fishermen have been caught poaching in the waters off Palawan, in some cases with endangered species such as sea turtles.
Earlier this month, a Vietnamese police chief reported that two Vietnamese fishermen were shot and wounded by men wearing Philippine uniforms in the Spratlys. However Philippine authorities denied any knowledge of the incident.
U.N. decade on biodiversity launched in Philippines
MANILA (Xinhua) – President Benigno Aquino III said Monday that now is the time to act on threats to the sustainable maintenance of balance in the region's biodiversity, as he led the Southeast Asia launch of the United Nations Decade on Biodiversity and International Year of Forests.
In his speech at the Palace Rizal Hall, Aquino declared 2011 to 2020 as the National Decade on Biodiversity in the Philippines, in support of the United Nations.
The President said the Philippines is ranked fifth in having the most number of plant species in the world, 7,500 of which are endemic to the country, aside from rare species of reef fishes, birds, and corals.
He said that recent events showing the destruction of marine resources for personal gain in the Philippines further underscored the need to step up biodiversity conservation in the region.
He cited the recent "environmental plunder" of a coral reef complex in the Southern Philippines almost twice the size of Manila and that the loot included 21,000 pieces of sea fan black corals, 161 endangered turtles, and 196 kg of sea whip black corals as well.
"Sadly, this single act of environmental pillage is only symptomatic of a larger problem. Our region is on the brink of losing a significant number of endangered species due to multiple cases of deforestation, wildlife hunting, climate change, pollution, and population growth. If it was not clear before, then it is as clear as day now: We need to act. We need to act now," the President said.
Aquino said his administration has embarked on programs to preserve vulnerable species and habitats like the Department of Environment and Natural Resources project "to expand the terrestrial protected areas in the country, beginning with nine key biodiversity areas."
In his remarks, Rodrigo Fuentes, executive director of the Asean Center for Biodiversity, said, "biodiversity conservation is not just a one year thing; it should be a lifetime in fact and the decade-long celebration is actually a recognition that biodiversity is something should be protected and served and sustainably."
good job in catching those viets
Jun 6 2011, 03:51 AM
Joined: 19-February 07
From: Pampanga, Manila
World Bank: Philippines best performer in services export
By Jun Pasaylo Home Updated June 06, 2011 03:36 PM
MANILA, Philippines – With its human capital and good telecommunication infrastructures, the Philippine has become one of the best performers in services exporters particularly in the business process outsourcing.
In a conference on the global trade in services held in Makati City today, the World Bank noted the Philippine’s superb performance in services exports that could provide more channels to sustain economic growth and reduce poverty incidence.
“Service sector performance critically depends on human capital, the quality of the telecommunications network, and the quality of institutions,” said Sebasti?n S?ez, World Bank senior trade economist.
“The experience of exporting outsourced business services in the Philippines shows that by creating an enabling environment where the private sector can deploy its creativity, developing countries can reap the benefits that services exports opportunities are opening,” he added.
Services exports increased from nine percent in 1999 to 21 percent in 2009 in the Philippines.
Its services exports rose by 3.6 percent on average per year during the period, higher than that of Asia as a group which averaged 1.5 percent per year.
Unlike many developing countries, the Philippines has been a net exporter of services since 2006.
The Philippines is currently the third largest player in business process outsourcing (BPO) in the world, accounting for 15 percent of the global BPO market, after India (37 percent) and Canada (27 percent).
“That’s a tremendous achievement in just over a decade,” said World Bank Country Bert Hofman.
This post has been edited by juansuing: Jun 6 2011, 03:52 AM
Jun 7 2011, 02:32 AM
Joined: 19-February 07
From: Pampanga, Manila
StanChart ups Phl growth forecast to 5.7%
By Lawrence Agcaoili (The Philippine Star) Updated June 07, 2011 12:00 AM
MANILA, Philippines - British-owned Standard Chartered Bank revised upwards its 2011 economic growth forecast for the Philippines to 5.7 percent from the original 5.4 percent.
In a research note, Standard Chartered economist Vincent Tsui said the investment bank raised the country’s GDP growth forecast to 5.7 percent instead of 5.4 percent this year due to the projected strong investment inflows in the second half.
“In anticipation of more broad-based and sustainable growth dynamics ahead, we raise our 2011 GDP forecast to 5.7 percent from 5.4 percent previously. We expect growth momentum to pick up in the second half,” he stressed.
Tsui said the investment bank raised its GDP growth forecast for the third quarter of the year to 6.4 percent instead of six percent but lowered its growth forecast in the fourth quarter to 6.8 percent instead of seven percent.
“We expect the strong investment pipeline to remain a key growth driver in the coming quarters. While we expect headline GDP growth to slow further in the second quarter due to the high base effect and temporary disruptions to electronics manufacturing from the Japan earthquake, the underlying fundamentals of the economy remain solid. We believe headline GDP growth is set for a strong rebound in second half,” Tsui added.
He pointed out that the growth in the second half would be fuelled by investments instead of consumer spending.
“Near-term weakness aside, we believe the shift from consumer spending to business investment as the Philippines’ key growth driver deserves more market attention,” Tsui added.
The National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) reported late last month that the country’s GDP growth slowed down to 4.9 percent in the first quarter of the year from the revised 8.4 percent in the same period last year due to weaker government spending and slow global trade. The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) was expecting a growth of between 4.8 percent and 5.8 percent for the first quarter.
“Even so, we believe the weaker headline numbers mask underlying strength in an economy that is now driven by more sustainable and balanced growth dynamics,” the economist said.
The sharp drop in government spending in the first quarter of the year helped the Aquino administration post a budget surplus of P61 billion in the first four months of the year, a complete reversal of the P131.6 billion budget deficit booked in the first four months of last year.
“This is in line with our expectation that this year’s budget deficit will narrow to P256 billion due to fiscal prudence and stronger tax collection on the back of buoyant domestic demand,” Tsui said.
The Aquino administration hopes to trim the budget deficit to P300 billion or 3.2 percent of GDP this year from a record level of P314.5 billion or 3.7 percent of GDP last year. It has committed to trim the deficit to two percent of GDP starting 2013 until the end of the term of President Aquino on 2016.
Standard Chartered reported that inventory restocking particularly of durable equipment resulted to a sharp 37 percent rise in gross capital formation in the first quarter of the year reflecting the booming investment activity in the country.
It added that remittances from overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) remained strong despite the tensions in the Middle East and North African (MENA) states as well as the disaster in Japan while foreign direct investments (FDIs) would pick up later this year in light of the public private partnership (PPP) scheme of the Aquino government.
“The launch of 10 infrastructure projects this year as part of the government’s PPP initiative is also expected to attract $1 billion of FDI inflows and support construction-related sectors,” Tsui explained.
Tsui said the investment bank sees the country’s GDP expanding by six percent in 2012 and 2013.
The Philippines posted its strongest growth in 34 years after its GDP expanded by 7.6 percent last year exceeding the revised growth forecast of five percent to six percent set by economic managers. It was on the verge of a recession when its GDP growth slowed down to 1.1 percent in 2009 from 3.8 percent in 2008 due to the full impact of the global financial crisis.
The Cabinet-level Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC) has set a GDP growth target of between seven percent and eight percent this year and next year.
Bangko Sentral Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. said the country’s GDP would grow slower than expected this year as the economic growth targets were set by the DBCC prior to the tensions in the MENA region and the disasters in Japan.
“We think the economy will continue to grow this year. The government is projecting seven percent to eight percent although that projection was arrived at prior to the events at the MENA region as well as the earthquake, the tsunami and the nuclear disaster in Japan,” Tetangco said earlier.
Philippine forex reserves rise to 68.8B USD in May
(philstar.com) Updated June 07, 2011 03:49 PM
MANILA (Xinhua) – The Philippine gross international reserves (GIR) rose to 68.8 billion U.S. dollars in May on sustained foreign exchange operations and income from investments abroad, the central bank reported Tuesday.
These inflows were offset by payments of the National Government for its maturing foreign exchange obligations and revaluation losses on the central bank's gold holdings.
May's GIR level could cover 10.6 months worth of imports of goods and payments of services and income, and is equivalent to 10. 9 times the country's short-term external debt based on original maturity and 6 times based on residual maturity.
The level of net international reserves (NIR), which includes revaluation of reserve assets and reserve-related liabilities, rose to 68.7 billion U.S. dollars in May, compared with previous month's level of 68.5 billion U.S. dollars.
Philippine BPO revenue to hit over 50B USD by 2020
(philstar.com) Updated June 07, 2011 03:22 PM
MANILA (Xinhua) – The Philippine outsourcing industry can pull in over 50 billion U.S. dollars by 2020 if the national government is able to develop the information technology-business process outsourcing (IT-BPO) services industry, according to a study by World Bank consultant Raja Mitra.
Mitra said in Tuesday's briefing that medium-term export revenues from the sector could reach far more than 9 billion U.S. dollars revenues posted in 2010. He expects the IT-BPO services industry to contribute as much as 11 percent of the country's gross domestic product (GDP) by 2020. In 2010, the industry contributed around 5 percent of GDP.
Mitra said the Philippine potential in the industry has not been met as it lags behind in providing IT-related services and the use of high technology in all its IT-BPO services.
"(It is) important to simultaneously develop the IT, telecom, education and other knowledge economy sectors and to enhance the potential synergies between BPO and other ICT sectors and that so both in terms of extenal and domestic markets. Such a development offers significant promise it can contribute importantly towards achieving sustainable and inclusive economic growth," he said.
Mitra said the outsourcing sector helped in creating more jobs in the country. Direct employment in the sector as a share of the total labor force employment has risen to more than 1 percent from less than 0.1 percent ten years ago. He forecast that Filipinos employed directly and indirectly by the industry will reach 6.8 million by 2020.
Jun 10 2011, 11:40 PM
Joined: 13-October 10
From: Makasaysayang Maynila
PH set to build world’s biggest sports dome
In four year’s time, the Philippines could very well be the site of the world’s biggest domed coliseum, rivaling that of the historic 22,000-seat Araneta Coliseum, once considered the world’s biggest indoor venue in 1960.
If constructed as planned, the project would put the country on the record books again. Located in Bocaue, Bulacan, the project covers some 52 hectares and will serve as a multi-purpose venue designed to host religious, cultural and sports events.
“The project,” according to my source, “aims to establish itself as a wholesome gathering place for people and an entertainment home for the whole family.” In fact, he further explained, the project could also help boost the Philippines’ tourism program.
Bicol Express rolls again after five years
Manila Standard Today
THE Philippine National Railways will resume rail services between Manila and Bicol on June 29 after operations ceased in 2006 due to typhoon damage, presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said Thursday.
The Bicol Express will start from Manila’s Tutuban Station and end in Naga City’s Central Station, Lacierda said.
The restored service will offer tourist-class coaches with reclining seats and in-coach movie and sound systems, as well as a dining car with first-class amenities.
The trains will have two kinds of sleeping cars—one with family suites accommodating groups of four to six people per compartment, and executive class suites with individual compartments.
“The projected journey of less than 10 hours will put the Bicol Express at a competitive advantage with buses—which take a full 10 hours to make the trip—while offering travelers a superior riding experience at attractive fares,” Lacierda said.
He said full service at four round trips a day with a six-coach, 400-passenger capacity was expected in September, in time for the pilgrimage to the Festival of the Virgin of Peñafrancia.
Some 16 extra round trips begin next year, he said.
The previous administration rehabilitated a third of the railway, and the Aquino administration the rest. The PNR earmarked P1.8 billion to rehabilitate the line and P250 million to acquire new trains.
Lacierda said the Japanese government donated 83 air-conditioned sleeper and commuter coaches that were due to arrive this year.
“The rehabilitated line will employ an additional 1,000 workers, including railway police to monitor and patrol the tracks and junctions,” he said.
Two Pinoy children speak before UN chief, dignitaries
Two Filipino children addressed the top official of the United Nations and other dignitaries in Geneva, Switzerland to help make children’s voices heard and what needs to be done to help children stay safe during disasters.
Tricia May Pleños and Andre Brent Bryle Soon, both from Camotes Islands in Cebu, spoke to UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and some 3,000 other luminaries about their personal contributions to disaster risk management and the avoidance of disasters.
“Ang pagpunta namin sa global platform ay isang patunay na ang pagiging bata ay hindi hadlang upang makapagsalita ka sa buong mundo,” Soon said.
Pleño added, “Sana naman, ipagpatuloy ninyo ang aming ginagawa, hindi lang sa pagsasalita kundi sa aksyon din.”
After telling the audience of their experiences working towards disaster risk reduction in their own countries, André, Tricia and Johnson Ngugi Njoki from Kenya launched a new five-point Children’s Charter which they asked participants of the Global Platform to sign and support.
The Charter states, among others, that child protection must be a priority before, during and after a disaster; community infrastructure be safe, and relief and reconstruction help reduce future risk; and disaster risk reduction reach the most vulnerable.
The Charter is based on feedback from more than 600 children in 21 countries who identified education, child protection and access to basic information as the main needs to reduce the devastating impact of disasters and climate change upon their families and communities.
The hometown of Andre and Tricia, Camotes Islands, won the Sasakawa Award for Disaster Risk Reduction also in Geneva.
Children make up more than half the population in countries predicted to be most affected by climate change and are facing increasing impacts from tumultuous events. It is estimated that as many as 175 million children a year will soon be affected by disasters.
Jun 10 2011, 11:43 PM
Joined: 13-October 10
From: Makasaysayang Maynila
Intramuros to rise again, government vows
10-Jun-11, 12:00 PM | Mynardo Macaraig, Agence France-Presse
MANILA, Philippines - After enduring wars, earthquakes, fires and poverty-driven neglect, the walled city of Intramuros that makes up the Philippine capital's historic centre may rise again as a tourist attraction.
Government planners see the UNESCO World Heritage listed but famously dilapidated site becoming one of Manila's biggest drawcards, similar to Singapore's Clarke Quay but with the added colour of centuries of history.
"We're going to make this the 'in' place to be," said Intramuros Administration chief Jose Capistrano.
"It will be a living Intramuros with tabernas and tapas," he said, referring to Spanish-style restaurants and their signature finger snacks.
Eventually, the administration hopes to have fireworks displays and light shows projected on the structure's six-metre (20-foot) high walls at night, Capistrano told reporters.
The ambitious project will involve rehabilitating and reconstructing buildings, as well as developing a riverside area called the Maestranza Park into a mall for upmarket restaurants and shops.
But this endeavour will require tens of millions of dollars in investments which the cash-strapped government cannot afford, so it is hoping the private sector will sign up.
Administration officials have been meeting with some of the country's real estate giants to drum up their interest in investing in the project, and Capistrano said their reactions had been very favourable.
"They are interested in the projects. We feel confident that they will be coming in," he told AFP.
Capistrano said that, although a definitive cost estimate for the renovation had not yet been finalised, the potential investors were not intimidated by the large scope of the project.
"No one said it might cost too much. The reaction when we tell them what these projects are has been very good," he said, adding he hoped to start a bidding process by the end of the year.
The 64-hectare Intramuros area, whose name literally means 'within the walls', served as the heart of Manila's political, religious and cultural life from its founding by Spanish colonial rulers in 1571.
Its 4.2-kilometres of walls surrounded most of the government's offices as well as major churches, schools and trading centres during the three centuries the country was under Spanish rule, which ended in 1898.
It was designed with walls, gates and gun emplacements to protect the Spanish residents from the Filipino masses, as well as guard the mouth of Manila's main river, the Pasig.
Chinatown was also famously placed within cannonball distance of Intramuros so the Spanish could fire down on the Chinese traders whenever they became too troublesome.
But Intramuros started falling into decline after the Spanish left, with most of the damage occuring during World War II when US forces shelled Japanese troops hiding inside the walls.
Many historic buildings, including nine of the 10 churches within Intramuros, were destroyed in the war. Some of these derelict structures are still standing, a reminder of the area's lost grandeur.
Over the centuries, earthquakes and fires have also taken their toll.
And while Intramuros's value is in its history, modern pressures have continued to erode its structures.
Parts of Intramuros today include a busy commercial and government district, containing several government offices, four major universities and a variety of businesses.
All of this results in congestion, noise, frequent traffic jams and a chronic lack of parking space.
The area also houses more than 3,000 families of squatters who often can be seen asking tourists for alms while their shanties and graffiti mar the image of the walled city, according to Capistrano.
He said the administration had limited power to evict the squatters. Many of them are on private property and are protected by laws designed to help the urban poor.
Tourism professionals operating in the area look forward to the upgrade but question whether the government can deliver amid the deterioration, overcrowding and squalor that have become common in parts of Intramuros.
"We need restructuring of the buildings, getting rid of the slumdwellers, beautifying the place. There is so much garbage, there are eyesores," said Jose Mananzan, head of the Intramuros Tourism Council.
Nevertheless, even without private investors, the government has taken the first step, spending 150 million pesos ($3.5 million) to turn the ruined shell of a church into a museum housing religious artifacts, Capistrano said.
Portions of the old historic wall in Maestranza that were torn down in the 1900s have also already been reconstructed through a Japanese grant, he said.
This time, instead of housing gunpowder and cannon balls, the wall's vaulted inner chambers will hopefully house cafes and shops.
More restoration work is underway at the Intramuros's garrison of Fort Santiago, where workers trained under a Spanish government grant are pulling down cement walls and replacing them with more authentic adobe and lime.
Under the Spanish programme, two masons from Mexico taught the Filipinos how to mix lime and shape stone to recreate the original look of the building, which will become the new Intramuros visitors' centre.
"We replaced the old timber that had rotted but we are bringing it back to its original look," said the workers' foreman, Jose de Lara.
Jun 15 2011, 02:22 AM
Joined: 19-February 07
From: Pampanga, Manila
Phl's unemployment rate lower at 7.2% in April
(philstar.com) Updated June 15, 2011 12:43PM
MANILA, Philippines (Xinhua) - Philippine unemployment rate slowed to 7.2 percent in April, according to the Labor Force Survey (LFS) issued Wednesday by the National Statistics Office (NSO).
The NSO said 2.9 million persons were unemployed in April, placing the unemployment rate at 7.2 percent, down from 8.0 percent recorded in April 2010.
Most of the unemployed Filipinos are male, between 15 to 24 years old and only finished high school.
The lower unemployment rate was largely due to the 0.8 percentage point increase in employment to 92.8 percent in April from 92 percent in April last year.
Out of the estimated 61.8 million Filipinos aged 15 years old and above in April 2011, about 39.7 million were in the labor force. This translates to a 64.2 percent labor force participation rate.
The country's underemployment rate remains high. The underemployed are employed persons who express the desire to have additional hours of work in their present job, or to have additional job, or to have a new job with longer working hours are considered underemployed.
In April 2011, the NSO data showed that the country's underemployment rate was at 19.4 percent equivalent to 7.1 million people - or higher than the 17.8 percent posted in April last year.
Most of the underemployed work in the agriculture and services sectors.
Russia hails PHL as vital partner in Asia-Pacific
06/15/2011 | 01:55 PM
Russia recognized the Philippines as one of its “vital and promising" partner in the Asia-Pacific region, as the Philippines marked its 113th Independence Day last weekend.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexei Borodavkin disclosed this as he and Ministry of Culture Counselor Leo Dzugaev graced the event as the embassy’s guests of honor.
“[Borodavkin] called the Philippines Russia’s ‘vital and promising partner in the Asia-Pacific region, whose role in the global system of international relations and world economy is significantly increasing,’" the Department of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.
Last weekend’s event also marked the 35th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Philippines and Russia.
Philippine Ambassador to Russia Victor Garcia III noted that the partnership was founded on friendship and promotion of shared interests for the benefit of the people of the two countries.
Garcia pointed out that even before formal Philippine-Russia ties were established, historical accounts show the existence of earlier contacts between the two countries. A town in Eastern Samar served as sanctuary to some 6,000 “White Russians" from 1949 to 1951.
Since then, bilateral relations have been enhanced, and to date, the two countries have concluded framework agreements to facilitate further cooperation, notably in tourism and air services, defense and security, culture, and education.
Garcia stressed that there is much more in the horizon that the two countries can do together to bring the relations to greater heights.
Borodavkin said the celebration of the 35th year of diplomatic relations presents a good opportunity to evaluate the progress that has been achieved so far and to outline further directions of mutually beneficial partnership.
He expressed satisfaction that Manila and Moscow share the same view on various crucial issues such as the creation of an open and transparent security and cooperation architecture in the Asia-Pacific region.
The similarity of the approaches of the two countries is an excellent advantage that enables the Philippines and Russia to strengthen political dialogue and open up new opportunities for mutual work on other key issues facing the international community.
Dzugaev said cultural cooperation between the Philippines and Russia holds so much promise, particularly with the signing in 2010 of the Protocol on Cooperation between the National Commission for Culture and the Arts and the Russian Ministry of Culture.
A major component of the protocol is the holding of the Days of Russian Culture in the Philippines in 2011 and the Days of Philippine Culture in Russia in 2012. He said that cooperation in this field would only bring the people of the two countries closer.
The embassy also held an art exhibit of Filipino scenes by visiting painter Nemi Miranda, a voice and piano recital by multi-awarded soprano Rachelle Gerodias and pianist Najib Ismail, and an exhibit of Russian Icon paintings by women expatriates of Moscow, including Madam Connie Garcia.
There was also a cultural performance of song and dances led by Madam Garcia, the embassy, and members of the Asia-Pacific Women’s Group.
There was likewise a reception attended by close to 300 guests from the diplomatic community, the Russian government, the business sector, and the Filipino community in Russia.
New level of maturity
The Philippines and Russia forged formal diplomatic ties on June 2, 1976.
“Since then, bilateral ties have reached a new level of maturity manifested through cooperation in such diverse sectors as defense and security, trade and investment, energy, agriculture, education, culture, and tourism. To date, a total of 31 bilateral agreements have been signed," the DFA said.
Official visits by leaders of the executive and parliamentary branches of the two countries have enhanced people-to-people contact.
Three Philippine presidents have already visited Russia — Ferdinand Marcos in 1976, Fidel Ramos in 1997, and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2009. — JE, GMA News
Moody’s Raises Philippine Credit Rating
By Cecilia Yap and Max Estayo - Jun 15, 2011 1:31 PM GMT+0800
The Philippines’ debt rating was raised to the highest level since the start of 2005 by Moody’s Investors Service, after the government took steps to reduce its budget deficit. Stocks and the peso rose.
The country’s foreign and local currency long-term bond ratings were increased to Ba2 from Ba3, Moody’s said in a statement today. The outlook is stable. The move brings the country to two levels below investment grade, placing it above Vietnam and lower than Malaysia and Indonesia.
“The government has done a good job during the last year with a better-than-expected control on its budget deficit,” said Jetro Siekkinen, a fund manager in Helsinki at Aktia Asset Management, which owns both peso and dollar bonds sold by the Philippines among $10 billion of assets under management. “The economy is not highly dependent on China. The central bank is doing a good job keeping inflation in check. Things are definitely going in the right direction.”
President Benigno Aquino has gone after tax evaders and smugglers to convince investors he can boost revenue to narrow a record budget shortfall. Higher debt ratings reduce the cost of borrowing, making it cheaper for the Philippines to sell debt to fund spending on roads, bridges and schools.
The decision was driven by “the progress made in fiscal consolidation by the new Aquino administration; and the sustained nature of macroeconomic stability, coupled with continued strength in the external payments position, against a background of a significant pick-up in the momentum for economic growth,” Moody’s said.
The country’s benchmark stock index rose 1.5 percent today, ending four days of declines. The peso advanced after the Moody’s decision before trading little changed at 43.35 a dollar as of 12:30 p.m.
The cost of protecting the nation’s debt from default fell 3.5 basis points, or 0.035 percentage point, to 130.50, according to 11:50 a.m. prices at Royal Bank of Scotland. That’s the lowest since May 6. The yield on the 8.125 percent peso debt due December 2035 fell five basis points to 7.95 percent.
“This is a confirmation that the Philippines has cleared the path for growth and what it needs now is a vehicle to race through that road,” said Rico Gomez, who helps manage about $1.5 billion at Manila-based Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. “This could help, but the market needs to see a growth driver for the index to reach a record.”
Standard & Poor’s
Standard & Poor’s in November raised its rating on Philippine debt for the first time since 1997, boosting it to BB, the second-highest non-investment grade. Fitch Ratings rates Philippine debt BB, two levels below investment grade.
The Philippines reported a budget surplus of 26.3 billion pesos ($607 million) in April as revenue rose and spending fell. The surplus was 61 million pesos in the first four months, compared with a deficit of 131.80 billion pesos in the same period in 2010.
The government had a record budget shortfall of 314 billion pesos in 2010. The $161 billion economy expanded 7.6 percent last year.
“The improvement in revenue collection has satisfied the ratings agency,” said Banco de Oro Unibank Inc. market strategist, Jonathan Ravelas. “The government should not, however, rest on its laurels since the fiscal data also highlights the under-spending of the government which is needed to boost growth.”
The rating upgrade shows the Philippines “can improve fiscal space without resorting to new revenue measures,” said President Aquino’s spokesman, Ricky Carandang. It will allow the government to borrow at a lower rate, he said.
“While we expect expenditures to increase significantly in the second half of 2011 as the government commences its cornerstone infrastructure investment program, the rise will not likely derail the trend towards fiscal consolidation,” Moody’s said. “By demonstrating firm fiscal restraint, the government has bolstered its policy credibility.”
Still, the government’s “budgetary interest burden and its debt overhang” remain high compared with its peers, the rating company said.
To contact the reporter on this story: Cecilia Yap in Manila at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editors responsible for this story: Stephanie Phang at email@example.com; Rebecca Evans at firstname.lastname@example.org
Jun 19 2011, 04:45 PM
Joined: 13-October 10
From: Makasaysayang Maynila
Phl eyes P40-B military upgrade to protect territory
By Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star) Updated June 20, 2011 12:00 AM Comments (31) View comments
MANILA, Philippines - The Aquino administration is willing to implement an ambitious P40-billion modernization project for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) over the next five years starting in 2012, so that the military could protect the country’s claims on the disputed Spratly Islands in the West Philippine Sea.
Budget Secretary Florencio Abad disclosed that starting next year, the government would be allocating P8 billion for the next five years for the AFP modernization program to protect the maritime resources and territorial integrity of the country.
He said this would help the country defend its territory, including those that are being claimed in the disputed Spratly Islands, and stop the bullying of other claimant-nations in the West Philippine Sea off Palawan.
In an interview in Calamba, Laguna where President Aquino led the 150th birthday celebration of national hero Dr. Jose Rizal, AFP chief of staff Eduardo Oban Jr. said the new modernization fund would help the military improve its capability.
“We will have to face acquisition of equipment. Definitely, the P40 billion is just really for immediate requirements. We’ll be coming up with a list of priority acquisition, and this has to be driven by strategy,” he told reporters.
“It’s the baseline capability that the AFP really needs to improve on,” Oban asserted.
Out of the P330 billion that was earmarked for the 15-year AFP modernization program (1995-2010), only around P33 billion was actually released to the AFP, or 10 percent of the total amount that former President Ramos projected.
This covered the terms of former presidents Fidel Ramos, Joseph Estrada and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo until June 2010.
“It’s really a big budget considering that these are baseline capabilities that we really need to develop. By certain circumstances we have to realign and shift certain focus from territorial defense to internal (defense),” Oban pointed out.
The AFP chief stressed President Aquino is very much aware about the AFP’s handicap, and is thankful that the P8 billion is already in the pipeline.
“He’s very much aware of the capabilities of the AFP and the necessary upgrades that it needs. We’re confident and we’re glad that they also gave us funds initially from the Malampaya funds,” Oban added.
“As I said this (Spratlys issue) has to be driven by strategy and the study dictates that we will have to (make the) transition already to territorial defense,” he explained.
“For now, the focus is still internal security pertaining to the Internal Peace and Security Plan Bayanihan but we can have parallel moves towards that end,”
Palace welcomes Asean 'peace' call
(The Philippine Star) Updated June 20, 2011 12:00 AM Comments (2) View comments
MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine government yesterday lauded the six fellow members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) that called for a peaceful resolution of the disputed Spratly Islands in the West Philippine Sea and adherence to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea in resolving the issue.
“We welcome the multilateral call of the six ASEAN member-nations for a peaceful resolution. We all have a stake in peace and stability in the region,” presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said in reaction to the call for peace of Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Laos and Singapore.
“That (diplomatic, peaceful tack) has been our country’s call and approach to this dispute in the West Philippine Sea,” he said in a statement.
The oil and gas-rich Spratly Islands is being claimed in whole and in part by the Philippines, Brunei, Taiwan China, Vietnam and Malaysia.
ASEAN members Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Laos and Singapore arrived at the consensus during the 21st Meeting of States Parties to the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea from June 13 to 17 at the UN headquarters in New York.
The Philippine Permanent Mission to the UN in New York also voiced during the meeting the country’s rejection of the inclusion of areas within Philippine jurisdiction in the dispute.
The six ASEAN countries stressed the need to maintain peace and security in the region.
ASEAN has 10 members. The three other member-countries are Brunei, Cambodia, and Myanmar (Burma).
“The rule of law is the bedrock of peace, order and fairness in modern societies. The rise of a rules-based international system has been the great equalizer in global affairs,” a statement from the Philippine mission read.
“Respect and adherence to international law have preserved peace and resolved conflicts. International law has given equal voice to nations regardless of political, economic or military stature, banishing the unlawful use of sheer force,” it said.
A statement delivered by Commission on Maritime and Ocean Affairs Secretariat (CMOAS) Secretary-General Henry Bensurto noted that “recent developments at the Recto Bank off Palawan have tended to broaden the concept of disputed areas in the West Philippine Sea to include even those waters and continental shelves that are clearly within the sovereignty and/or jurisdiction of the Philippines.”
“The Philippines firmly rejects any efforts in this regard. Such actions are inconsistent with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS),” Bensurto said.
“We expect nothing less from our international partners. In situations where disputes on maritime claims exist, UNCLOS provides clues as well as answers by which such maritime disputes could be addressed,” he said.
He also urged all parties to the ASEAN-China Declaration of Conduct in the South China Sea to faithfully abide by the provisions in the declaration, particularly on the need to “exercise self-restraint in the conduct of activities that would complicate or escalate disputes and affect peace and stability.”
“The Declaration of Conduct expresses in a concrete way our collective goal for rules-based action by all concerned parties,” he added.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario met last Friday with the nine ambassadors and charges d’affaires of ASEAN member-states and briefed them on Philippine perspectives on recent developments in the West Philippine Sea.
A rules-based multilateral approach to resolving disputes over some areas in the West Philippine Sea and South China Sea should not upset China, considering its own commitment to shun confrontation, Malacañang said Saturday.
“Our policy is to really have a rules-based, multilateral approach to the settlement of the dispute. What we advocate is for us to arrive at a peaceful resolution. We should really exhaust all diplomatic means,” deputy Palace spokesperson Abigail Valte said over state-run radio dzRB.
Valte said international laws like UNCLOS should be the basis for settling the territorial dispute.
“Our statements have always been very clear,” Valte said.
She also welcomed Australia’s call on parties involved in the territorial spat to adhere to international laws like UNCLOS.
Australia voiced its position through its top ministers in a joint statement with Philippine officials in the 3rd Philippine-Australia Ministerial Meeting in Canberra last Thursday.
President Aquino also insisted last week that the country won’t be bullied by China in the territorial spat over the Spratly Islands and that Beijing should stop intruding into Philippine waters.
Aquino also told the Associated Press that a government-backed mission to scout the West Philippine Sea for oil and gas had turned up “very good” prospects, though he declined to elaborate. He said the Philippines reserved the right to explore its waters despite China’s rival claims.
China, which claims the Spratlys and all other islands and reefs in the South China Sea, last week demanded that its southern neighbors stop any oil exploration there without Beijing’s permission.
Chinese Ambassador Liu Jianchao said, however, that China was open to joint exploration with other countries.
“We will not be pushed around because we are a tiny state compared with theirs,” Aquino said.
“We think we have very solid grounds to say ‘do not intrude into our territory’ and that is not a source of dispute or should not be a source of dispute,” the President said.
“We will continue with dialogues, but I think, for our internal affairs, we don’t have to ask anybody else’s permission,” he added.
Meanwhile, Vice President Jejomar Binay expressed optimism that the Spratly Islands dispute would not strain relations between Philippines and China.
“The Spratlys should not be a cause for conflict but we also should not let China’s actions go unchallenged,” Binay said.
The Philippine Navy recently dispatched its biggest battleship to patrol territorial waters around Scarborough Shoal in the West Philippine Sea.
The Navy deployed BRP Rajah Humabon after China sent its largest maritime patrol ship, which is reportedly passing the disputed areas of Paracels and the Spratly Islands.
“I believe we can settle this peacefully before it affects the good relations between the Philippines and China. The governments are talking to each other on the matter,” Binay said.
Vice Chairman Jiang Shusheng of the Standing Committee of the 11th National People’s Congress of the People’s Republic of China expressed support last May for President Aquino’s call to settle the issue diplomatically.
During a courtesy call at the Office of the Vice President, Jiang said the Philippines and China should maintain a “friendly atmosphere” in handling the situation, keeping in mind the relationship between the two countries. With Rainier Allan Ronda, Alexis Romero
Phl cited for efforts vs air pollution
By Michael Punongbayan (The Philippine Star) Updated June 20, 2011 12:00 AM Comments (0) View comments
MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines has gained international high marks for its efforts to control air pollution, but Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Ramon Paje said the agency is not resting on its laurels and in fact plans to further intensify air quality management programs with the help of its partners.
Paje noted during a two-day forum on Clean Air 10 at the DENR Social Hall in Quezon City that even though current efforts have brought positive results, much could still be done.
He said the agency is happy that Yale University gave the Philippines a fairly high grade in the air pollution criterion of its annual Environmental Performance Index (EPI) in 2010.
Paje said the country’s EPI of 71.7 points in the air pollution criterion is higher than the Asia-Pacific regional average of 54.3, outranking 12 other countries in the region while ranking third behind Malaysia and Singapore in Southeast Asia. The country tied Australia in 50th place overall, out of 163 countries ranked.
The EPI ranks countries on 25 performance indicators tracked across ten policy categories, one of which is air pollution’s impact on humans, covering both environmental public health and ecosystem vitality. Higher EPI points mean that a country or region is closer to achieving its established goals in environmental policy.
Paje cited the different programs that contributed to the favorable ranking, such as the enhancement of anti-smoke belching operations in Metro Manila, the adoption of more stringent emission standards for all types of motor vehicles, and stricter monitoring of private emission testing centers and motor vehicle inspection centers with the use of closed-circuit television cameras.
He said there are implications that administrative and regulatory efforts of the government can bring down levels of total suspended particulates (TSP), as evidenced by the decrease in the level of TSP from 166 micrograms per normal cubic meter (mg/ncM) in December 2010 to 121mg/ncM in April 2011.
TSP levels indicate the amount of dust and other pollutants in the air.
More efforts from stakeholders
The environment secretary stressed, however, that government still needs “interventions from its partners” to further bring TSP levels much closer to the annual standard level of 90_g/ncM.
He explained that such interventions could be in the form of technology, such as the use of electric tricycles, which is currently being piloted by the DENR, the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Asian Development Bank in Mandaluyong City.
“We will be popularizing the use of electric tricycles not only in Metro Manila but in other major cities. The ultimate aim is for our country’s five million tricycles, of which 2.8 million are in Metro Manila, to become zero-emission vehicles,” he said.
He added that the Aquino administration is also looking into the possibility of converting current diesel-run jeepneys into electric jeepneys. This would keep the cultural identity of the jeepney as uniquely Filipino, while at the same time lessening its air polluting qualities.
Other interventions mentioned by the DENR secretary was the retrofitting of engines to enable the use of alternative fuels such as compressed natural gas and liquefied petroleum gas in public transportation, and the full cooperation of local government units in the implementation of clean air programs.
Paje also bared his proposal to the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and the different Metro Manila Mayors on the adoption of a “no exposed soil policy” to reduce the amount of dust in the air coming from streets and bare, open land especially during the dry season.
He suggested that part of the policy’s scheme could be to outsource the maintenance of plants in the city’s streets by tapping the services of plant nurseries and seedling banks.
Jun 21 2011, 01:23 AM
Joined: 19-February 07
From: Pampanga, Manila
AFP readies P40-B shopping list
By Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) Updated June 21, 2011 12:00 AM Comments (67)
MANILA, Philippines - The military is preparing its shopping list for a P40-billion equipment upgrading program over the next five years, with the Philippine Navy expected to receive a huge chunk of the funds because of high equipment cost.
Brig. Gen. Roy Deveraturda, chief of the Armed Forces Modernization Program Management Office, said in an interview yesterday that the military has identified priority projects for the next five years, which are awaiting approval. He said that in procuring new equipment, it would be considered that the military’s focus is still internal security operations.
Navy chief Vice Admiral Alexander Pama said they are still discussing the proper allocation of funds for each major service but confirmed that the Navy will get a huge share of the funds,
“We cannot deny that some of our equipment are old. We need them to fulfill our mandate as provided by the constitution,” Pama said in an interview with radio station dzRH.
Out of the 53 patrol ships in the Navy’s inventory, only 26 are operational. These patrol ships are aged at an average of 36.4 years old. The larger vessels— like the Mine Sweeper Frigates and patrol craft escorts— are 66 and 67 years old respectively.
Only three of the seven Navy transport vessels—all 15 years old— are operational. The non-operational vessels are 64 years old.
Only four of the 10 Navy auxiliary ships are operational while only 23 of the 32 small crafts—all of which are 21.3 years old— are operational.
On Sunday, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said the government is prepared to implement a P40-billion military modernization project over the next five years starting in 2012 to secure the country’s territory in the West Philippine Sea.
He said the government plans to allot P8 billion annually for the next five years for the modernization program to protect the country’s territorial integrity. The P8 billion annual funding for 2012 to 2016 is higher than the current modernization outlay of P5 billion.
Deveraturda said the higher modernization budget would fasttrack their capability upgrade program.
“It would be a big help (to our modernization efforts). We can assure you that these funds would be used properly. Our records are open and anyone can participate in the procurement process,” he said.
AFP chief Gen Eduardo Oban said the military’s baseline capability should be improved because of the developments in the West Philippine Sea.
The AFP Modernization Act, which took effect in 1995, has mandated the military to modernize its assets in 15 years with a total fund of P331 billion. 16 years later, the military is still suffering from lack of equipment and ageing assets. Of the P331 billion mandated by the law for expenditure, only about P33 billion have been spent. Earlier, President Aquino said more than P11 billion had been allotted for the purchase of modern equipment for the military this year.
\The funding for these assets would come from the P8 billion proceeds from the Malampaya natural gas project in Palawan while P3 billion would come from the modernization outlay.
The AFP expects the implementation of 13 military capability upgrade projects worth more than P5 billion this year.
‘No need for increased military budget’
Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño, however, opposes the provision of P40 billion additional budget for the military. He said the additional money for the military should better be spent on schools, health, roads, and other vital public services.
“There should be an honest-to-goodness accounting of the previous modernization funds spent by the AFP given the reports about anomalies (in the organization). We need to know exactly now those funds were spent, otherwise, we might be throwing good money after bad,” Casiño said.
Casiño said the military is just using the dispute in the Spratlys to in the moderniza“They are just using the South China Sea dispute as an excuse for AFP fattening and corruption while the country’s poor are wanting and in dire need of resources. Our conflict with China and other claimant countries in the Spratlys can be resolved peacefully,” he said.
AFP chief of staff Gen. Eduardo Oban Jr. has been quoted as saying that the military needs the additional funds to strengthen its “baseline capability.” He said, however, that the military’s focus is still internal security.
The coast watch system the AFP plans to adopt consists of ground radars for detection and monitoring, two naval ships such as the Hamilton Class Cutter to be deployed to Palawan, and long-range patrol aircraft for the Philippine Air Force.
The coast guard is tasked with maritime law enforcement and specifically as security detail for exploration projects in Philippine territory.
Casiño said based on Oban’s statements, “it’s not really baseline security they’re after but just monitoring and watching and without any real upgrade in capability.” “The P40-billion is totally unnecessary and a waste of scarce resources,” he added.
President Aquino has reportedly expressed support for the military’s plan to ask from Congress for P8 billion a year in additional funding.
The President is expected to submit his proposed 2012 national budget to the House of Representatives and the Senate after his second State of the Nation Address on July 25. – With Jess Diaz
Jun 28 2011, 05:23 AM
Joined: 13-October 10
From: Makasaysayang Maynila
Creative industry exports growing 50%
By EDU LOPEZ
June 28, 2011, 12:03am
MANILA, Philippines — Exports of creative industry products and services are expected to increase by 50 percent in the next three to four years from 10 to 15 percent, as most sectors will be aggressive in driving the sector's growth.
Cesar S. Tolentino, competitive intelligence research consultant and industry analyst, said the bigger components of the creative industries were growing by more than 10 percent per year from 1999 to 2008.
These industry produces and services include game development, independent film, music products and television programming.
Tolentino cited the game development industry which is generating an annual growth rate of more than 50 percent. Its revenues were estimated to have reached more than $9 million last year and projected to reach around $14 million by end of 2011.
"Probably it cannot overtake the business process outsourcing (BPO) call centers but definitely beyond five years, it is possible for the video game industry to catch up in terms of revenues and contribution to the economy," he noted.
More than 90 percent of the sector's 2009 estimated revenues were for foreign markets. There is also an increasing share of revenues from the domestic market.
Likewise, the foreign market of the independent film industry is growing, particularly the United States and Canada where the distributors are strong.
Television programs and music products are also slowly becoming successfully distributed abroad. The television programming sector comprises around 60 percent of the creative industries.
"With television programming and music products, the biggest market has always been Asia but they are starting to enter North America and Europe. While animated content and video games are usually sold in North America but then expanding into Asia," said Tolentino.
Industry players were looking at a conservative growth rate of 35 to 45 percent in 2011 in terms of exports volume, but an aggressive growth model indicates a 45 to 55 percent.
"Right now, 10 to 15 percent of the revenues of the creative industries are from the foreign markets. In three to four years, probably half of what is being produced in the Philippines is going to be exported."
Clinton sees sea change under PNoy
MANILA, Philippines - US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday praised President Benigno Aquino III for effecting a "sea change" in the Philippine campaign against human trafficking.
"Look at what the Philippines have done in a change of administration. The Philippines probably export more people of their citizenry than nearly any other country in the world. They go all over the world to work in many different settings. And until the new administration of President Aquino, we didn’t really have the level of commitment we were seeking. We do now, and we see a sea change of difference," she said in an interview on CNN.
The interview came after the US State Department dropped the Philippines and Singapore from a human trafficking watchlist.
The State Department's annual Trafficking in Persons Report has become increasingly sensitive for Southeast Asian governments, which face a cutoff of US assistance if they are found to be unresponsive in fighting trafficking.
The latest report elevated the Philippines, Singapore and Laos off the watchlist to so-called Tier 2, which means that the countries do not fully meet standards on human trafficking but are making efforts to do so.
In Monday's (Tuesday in Manila) report, the State Department praised an "intensified effort" by the Philippines. It said the Philippines convicted 25 trafficking offenders, compared with nine the previous year, including first-ever convictions for forced labor. With Agence France-Presse
Jul 2 2011, 02:00 AM
Joined: 3-March 09
From: Los Indios Bravos' Mu
The Philippines has enough idle funds to finance its flagship projects. It doesn't need the PPP...
Quite improper to this good news thread but it can be...
All it got to do is to show some sovereign testicles and instead of being beholden to the Foreign Financial controlling interests led by the Dark cabals...
RP wasting $30-billion fund
DIE HARD III
Herman Tiu Laurel
What could be more important than writing about a key bit of information that will make the Filipino people realize they don’t need foreign funds in the national economy anymore to enable them to throw the yoke of economic colonialism immediately? All the BS that cause the inferiority complex and mendicancy of Filipinos (BS such as “we need foreign investors”; “we don’t have the funds”; “we can’t run the country without debt”; or “we can’t escape the debt trap”) will simply have to go down the toilet drain.
Several times before, we have written about this idle fund that can free us of foreign dependency right away. We placed the figure at $28 billion or P1.3 trillion and identified that fund as the Special Deposit Account (SDA) with the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), which was pointed out to us by economist Hiro Vaswani of KME (Kilusang Makabansang Ekonomiya). Recently, we got another confirmation of the existence and availability of this “disposable” fund kept idle only because of the treasonous streak of our BSP officials.
In a guest column by Mario Antonio Lopez in one business daily, it was reported that former Neda Chief Romulo Neri was of the opinion that “our dollar reserves of $65 billion (are) substantially above what the IMF (International Monetary Fund) considers adequate for a nation of our size and needs.”
In fact, Neri was said to believe that “we can, if we wish to, use perfectly legal means to liberate half of the fund ($30 billion) to jump-start a number of badly needed initiatives in education, agriculture, and health over and above the money currently available,” stressing that the “P40 billion requested, indeed needed, by the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) is a small amount compared to what can be made available to the three other programs which, in the process of providing the needed services, also means increased employment and livelihood opportunities.”
In other words, we don’t need the PPP (Public-Private Partnership) projects of PeNoy because this $30-billion fund is already larger than all the funding requirements for the 83 “flagship” projects under his entire term.
One report even placed the relatively miniscule “investment” requirement at “P739.78 billion under the Private-Public Partnership, 10 of which with investment requirements of P127 billion have been shortlisted and readied for rollout in 2011.”
Besides this, another reason for tapping the idle SDA is that PPP partners get unconscionable “sweeteners” such as TRO-free operations which, like in past BOT (Build-Operate-Transfer) projects, effectively bar people from resorting to the courts no matter the inimical nature of these projects to public welfare or how financially abusive the project owners become. Of course, this is on top of the fact that “investor-partners” of government also get “sovereign guarantees” for their profits, which only means that they get to secure their loans risk free and their profits at exorbitant rates of return.
One of our fellow columnists in another paper, Romeo Lim, sums up the flawed logic of the PPP program (and the BOT law that preceded it): “Government (does) not have money to fund the huge investment requirements of our infrastructures program. Revenue collection (is) never enough… Government assets for sale (are) not inexhaustible, and there (are) limits to government borrowings.”
Unfortunately, that rationale, despite never being valid nor true, has gotten even the most intelligent and well-informed of our leaders either totally or partially ignorant of the existence of the huge fund that the country can use, perhaps out of a reluctance to exercise a modicum of mental or political independence.
Actually, the BSP and the country’s bankers know that this gargantuan fund is readily available for the nation’s benefit. But why is everybody silent about it? Is it because of certain shenanigans in the BSP, where officials are in cahoots with foreign fund managers to take advantage of it?
A recent news item (“BSP’s outsourced funds reach $9.8B”) reveals that a huge chunk of our reserves continues to yield management commissions or fees to almost a dozen foreign fund managers, stating, “The central bank’s externally-managed portfolios as of the end of last year totaled $9.89 billion, up by $5.94 billion from $3.95 billion third quarter of 2010 due to a shift in portfolios. (The BSP’s treasury department)… said the amount of almost $6 billion were cash infusions from the BSP’s internally-managed portfolios. The move was to shift this much amount from the internally-managed funds to externally-managed portfolios, which are funds outsourced to external managers and invested in longer-dated maturity securities, to preserve the country’s foreign currency capital. The BSP’s external fund management program started in 1997 (FVR’s time), when a portion of the gross international reserves was invested in long-term instruments. The BSP currently has 10 external fund managers including JP Morgan Chase.”
So who are the other “fund managers?” Do BSP officials receive fat commissions for subcontracting this, too?
In addition, it was revealed that “about 42 percent of Philippine funds which are US dollar hedged portfolios — are invested in the US, 33 percent in the Eurozone, 11 percent in Japan and nine percent in the United Kingdom.” BSP insiders tell us that commissions are paid out for such “investments” as well.
The Filipino people should thus wake up to the big scam that is going on with the country’s huge financial reserves. We are not as poor as those opportunistic elements in our ruling elite and financial cabals make us to be.
We, the people, should take charge of our nation’s financial resources through a People’s Bank run by our knowledgeable representatives — not by gofers of the international and local banking cartel.
Nov 19 2011, 09:34 PM
Joined: 13-October 10
From: Makasaysayang Maynila
P710-million 'Food Divisoria' of Luzon opens on Saturday in Bulacan
SAN FERNANDO CITY, Pampanga, Philippines — The highly anticipated P710-million North Food Exchange (NFEx), touted as the Food Divisoria of Luzon, will open Saturday (November 19) in Balagtas, Bulacan, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) here said.
The 130-hectare complex is said to be the strategic, agro-economic, transport, processing, and commercial center envisioned to boost food security, economic bounty, and sustainable agro-industrial development in Luzon.
Accessible through the North Luzon Expressway (NLEx), MacArthur Highway, and soon the Northrail speed train system, NFEx is an agricultural and fishery product - wholesale and retail center - designed to modernize food transport, storage, processing, and distribution.
NEDA said the NFEx is a one of a kind pioneering economic center adding that its modern food depot terminal, commercial shopping center, agri-processing and storage complex, and export product show window are designed to transform the agriculture and fisheries sector into a strong globally competitive entrepreneurial force for the Luzon regions and the country.
“NFEx is a modern, functional, efficient and comprehensive market processing exhibition complex that will bring beneficiaries under one roof. The project will employ the best strategies and techniques from successful food exchange in Europe and Asia. It is under the direction of expert food and agricultural managers in the Philippines. This will provide complete facilities in trading, food processing, storage and related services,” NEDA reported.
NFEx Tiangge will be open every Saturday until December 17, according to Balagtas municipal information officer Rolly Danes.
“It is expected that the NFEx Tiangge will be a venue to show the potentials of the NFEx project that will amplify the level of livelihood of Bulakenyos particular in the sector of agriculture,” said Danes.
Danes said the project was only a dream then but the start of operations proved the realization of the envisioned mega trading center in the country which he tagged as an “expressway to progress.”
“It is the mission of NFEx to increase the income of farmers, fishermen, and small investors; provide and sustain low prices of agricultural products; fortify the agriculture economy; and give a strong position to the masses of the society,” Danes added.
There are talks of replicating the food complex in Visayas and Mindanao.
Asia's largest ethanol plant to rise in Phl
By Donnabelle L. Gatdula
MANILA, Philippines - Netherlands-based North Sea Group plans to put up Asia’s largest ethanol manufacturing plant in the Philippines, a top energy official said.
Energy Undersecretary Jay Layug said North Sea has signified its intention to construct a 400-million-liter ethanol processing plant at a still undisclosed location in the country.
Layug said once built, the facility would not only be the biggest ethanol plant in the Philippines but also in the whole of Asia.
“They are planning to invest in the Philippines. They’re hoping to build the largest ethanol facility in Asia here in the Philippines,” he said.
The company, he said, would be sourcing multi-feedstock for the ethanol plant using cassava, sugar cane and sweet sorghum.
Layug said the company is upbeat on the Philippine ethanol industry particularly with the looming increase in the mandated ethanol blend from five percent to 10 percent in February 2012.
“They can be bullish. We mandated 10 percent given that production is insufficient to meet the government mandate, a lot of these biofuel producers are looking into the Philippines,” he said.
He said the group is currently conducting a study on the proposed project.
Nov 19 2011, 09:36 PM
Joined: 13-October 10
From: Makasaysayang Maynila
BUTI NAMAN AT NAMULAT NA SILA!
80 NPA rebels surrender
MARAMAG, Bukidnon -- At least 80 members of the New People’s Army (NPA), operating in San Fernando, Bukidnon, voluntarily surrendered to the government Tuesday inside the 8th Infantry Battalion’s (IB) camp of the Philippine Army at South Poblacion here.
The 80 rebel returnees were under the command of Benjamin “Ka Nonong” Salusad, former commanding officer of Sangay sa Platon Pampropaganda 3, Guerilla Front 6, North Central Mindanao Regional Committee.
The group, in which 70 of them are males and 10 are females, belong to the Tigwahanon, Matigsalog and Manobo tribes of San Fernando; and are composed of 31 regular rebels and 49 “Militia ng Bayan.”
Most of the regular rebels have reportedly served the organization for 10 years, while others served for five months as Militia ng Bayan.
The 80 rebels joined the NPA allegedly due to deception and exploitations of issues related to ancestral domain. However, they decided to surrender due to disrespect and discriminations of the NPA to the lumads.
Salusad, however, said he joined the NPA due to abuses by the military when some of his relatives were massacred in 1992 and 1995.
“The NPA rode on with the military abuse, which made me decide to join the movement,” he said.
Salusad said he decided to surrender because he perceived that there is still no progress in their battles.
“The only hope for ourselves along with the lumads is the ancestral domains that we wanted,” he said.
The rebels also surrendered 25 high-powered firearms: seven 5.56mm M16A1, five 5.56mm M653 (AR18), one 7.62mm M14, three cal.30 Garand rifles, two cal.30 BAR, six cal.30 carbine and one cal.45 Thompson SMG.
Aside from these, they also surrendered one claymore mine with 20 meters electric wire, 15 M16 magazine assemblies, one M14 magazine assembly, seven clips for Garand rifle, six carbine magazine assemblies, one Thompson magazine assembly and assorted ammunition.
The surrender was done in coordination with the 8th IB, Civil Relations Service, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), 403rd Infantry “Peacemaker” Brigade, Philippine National Police and the local government of Bukidnon, with the efforts of the elders and tribal leaders of San Fernando, Bukidnon headed by its Supreme Datu and Chieftain, Datu Okit Onlas.
Lieutenant General Arthur Tabaquero, commander of the Eastern Mindanao Command, said this is so far the most number of rebels who surrendered to the government.
“This is the first time we have experienced a large group of NPAs who surrendered at a single time,” he said.
Tabaquero said the AFP and the Provincial Government of Bukidnon are sincere in giving assistance to the rebel returnees for them to live peacefully.
The rebel returnees will receive financial and livelihood assistance from the province through its local integration program, while other benefits and privileges will still be determined by the Joint validation and Authentication Committee (JVAC).
Calingasan said almost P1.9 million worth of financial assistance were given to the rebel returnees, excluding Salusad’s group.
“It only means that we are not negligent but sincere in helping the rebel returnees,” Calingasan said.
During the event, Salusad led a symbolic turnover of the firearms and the oath taking of allegiance to the government.
VERY COMMON BUT SELDOM BEING PAID ATTENTION TO
Taiwan official pleads guilty in US case
A Taiwanese official will soon be deported after pleading guilty Friday to mistreating two housekeepers brought from the Philippines to work in her Missouri home, US prosecutors said.
Liu Hsien-hsien, director of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Kansas City, Missouri, was arrested last week for allegedly treating her Filipino housekeepers like slaves.
Liu -- who appeared in court in shackles and prison garb -- had faced up to five years in jail if convicted of the single charge of fraud in foreign labor contracting.
"Under the terms of today's binding plea agreement, the government and Liu jointly recommend a sentence of time served, which will trigger Liu's immediate deportation from the United States upon being sentenced," prosecutors said in a statement.
"Liu remains in federal custody until her sentencing hearing."
The two housekeepers were certified as "victims of a severe form of human trafficking" and will receive government support for a visa which would allow them to legally remain and work in the United States, prosecutors said.
Liu, 64, admitted that she "fraudulently entered into employment contracts with two Filipino housekeepers" and admitted that she paid them "significantly less than the contractual amount and forced them to work excessive hours," prosecutors said.
As part of the plea deal, Liu paid the women $80,044 in restitution for the hours that they worked without pay.
A date has not yet been set for Liu's sentencing, but her lawyer told AFP that he was assured by federal probation officials that they would prepare the necessary pre-sentencing report quickly.
Though such reports can sometimes take three months to prepare, defense attorney James Wirken said he hopes this one will be ready in a couple of weeks.
Liu is permitted to withdraw her guilty plea if the judge does not agree that time served is an appropriate sentence. In that case, she would then prepare for trial or some other resolution.
The case came to light after the second housekeeper sought help from a Filipino man she met at the grocery store.
She told him that Liu had taken away her passport, told her she was not allowed to leave the house without permission, made her work 16 to 18 hour days at a quarter of the agreed wages, monitored her with video surveillance cameras and restricted when she could sleep.
Liu also allegedly told the woman that if she "acted out, she would be deported" because Liu was "friends with local law enforcement and known well in the community," charging papers said.
The previous housekeeper "went into a state of depression and stopped eating" as a result of the physical and verbal abuse, prosecutors said, citing testimony by an unnamed witness who works as a director at the Kansas City office.
The Taipei mission, which has several offices around the United States, serves as a de facto embassy.
Washington switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1979 but has remained a key ally and a leading arms supplier to the island. Beijing considers Taiwan a breakaway province.
Jun 13 2012, 12:57 AM
Joined: 13-October 10
From: Makasaysayang Maynila
Economy grows faster than expected at 6.4% in first quarter
by Cheryl M. Arcibal | The Philippine Star | Thursday | Updated May 31, 2012 11:15 AM
MANILA, Philippines - Stable consumer prices and improvement in the manufacturing sector and services boosted the Philippine economy to grow faster than expected in the year's first three months, the government said Thursday.
"After four quarters of lackluster performance, the Philippine economy is off to a rousing start in the year of the water dragon as GDP (gross domestic product) grew by 6.4 percent in the first quarter of 2012 compared to an upwardly revised growth of 4.9 percent last year," the National Statistical Coordination Board said in a statement.
The government is seeking to boost the country's economy between five and six percent this year.
Meanwhile, owing to strong remittances from overseas Filipinos, the country's gross national product rose 5.8 percent from 3.5 percent in 2011.
Fastest-growing economy in Southeast Asia
Abigail Valte, deputy presidential spokesperson, said the economic growth in the first quarter of the year makes the Philippines' economy the best performer in Southeast Asia.
"It's the highest in ASEAN (Association of the Southeast Asian Nations) and second-highest in China," Valte said at a briefing in Malacañang.
Valte said only China's economy, with an 8.1-percent growth, performed better than the Philippines' economy.
$1-B Shell investment in PHL operations on track
by DVM/ELR | GMA News | Thursday | June 7, 2012 | 12:06am
Executives of global energy firm Royal Dutch Shell and Shell Philippines met with President Benigno Aquino III in London to update him on their $1 billion investment program in the Philippines, Finance Secretary Cesar V. Purisima shared via Twitter.
“Pnoy meeting with Shell regarding their plans to invest over $1 billion in various facilities,” Purisima tweeted in his Twitter account (CPV1960).
Among the Shell officials Aquino met were chief financial officer Simon Henry, whose responsibilities include overseeing Shell operations over most of Asia.
Shell Philippines country chairman Edgar Chua had the opportunity to present to Aquino an overview of the investment program that includes the next phases of exploration in the Malampaya natural gas field in northern Palawan.
Some 40 percent to 50 percent of fuel for Luzon’s gas-fired power plants come from Malampaya natural gas, according to the Shell Philippines website.
“In order to maintain the project’s gas production and reliability, the Service Contract 38 consortium is investing an additional US$1.04 billion for Malampaya Phase 2, which will entail drilling of additional wells by 2014,” Shell Philippines said.
By 2015, Shell expects Phase 3 of its Malampaya operations to get underway. This involves the installation of a new platform.
“These developments are expected to maximize the recovery of gas from the reservoir and to maintain the level of gas production as the reservoir pressure drops and as the gas depletes,” the Shell website also said.
Back in January 2012, Shell turned over to Aquino a check representing $1 billion for the government's share of the earnings of the Malampaya Deepwater Gas-to-Power project, a joint venture between the Philippine government and Shell Philippines Exploration B.V.
From the Malampaya proceeds, the Aquino sourced the funds to finance its Pantawid Pasada program for public utility jeepneys and tricycles, as well as the budget for the acquisition of Philippine Navy patrol ships purchased from the United States Coast Guard.
Shell’s investment commitment is in addition to the $1.030 billion worth of investments pledged earlier when Aquino met the executives of Glencore International Plc and its Philippine partner Philippine Associated Smelting and Refining Corporation (PASAR); Cebu Pacific Air, Rolls-Royce, and Royal Aero, GazAsia Ltd., and its Philippine partner the AsiaGas Corporation.
President Aquino also met executives of Nestlé which said it will expand its current operations in the country. Nestlé Philippines employs 3,400 people in its manufacturing operations and 400 more in its backroom operations, which handle employee and financial services.
At 10 Downing Street, Aquino invited UK Prime Minister David Cameron to visit the Philippines.
Aquino also informed Cameron of the Philippines’ invitation for British investors to venture into the public-private partnership program that his administration is rolling out especially in the fields of infrastructure, energy, tourism, business process outsourcing and information technology.
|Lo-Fi Version||Time is now: 21st May 2013 - 11:37 AM|