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Monday, February 23, 2015
Why PH needs to improve investment freedom
Posted at 02/20/2015 10:55 AM
MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines is among the very best performers in terms of improving economic freedom or promoting equal economic equal economic opportunity and prosperity, but it still needs improvement.

The publishers of the 2015 Index of Economic Freedom say while the Philippines has had an 11 percent improvement in economic freedom over the last five years, it must do more in terms of freedom of investment.

"The Philippines' score is 60, no change over the past year. It's not bad, slightly above the world average. But in terms of the countries you are actually competing for investments with, it is not a particularly strong area. Other countries would have scores in the 80 to 90 range," Terry Miller, executive director of The Heritage Foundation, said.

"So this is an area where there are still substantial regulatory burdens in the economy, a number of restrictions that guard selected areas. I am told that perhaps that this is even an area tht some sort of Constitutional change might have to be envisioned to make reforms in this area," he added.

Miller is referring to Charter change to allow more foreign ownership in the country that of course is a very touchy topic, as many still fear lawmakers could use it to abuse their power.

But the Aquino government has done well even without Charter change.

Last year, it grew foreign direct investments to nearly $6 billion, despite averaging just $3.5 billion in the two years before.

But even then, the Philippines still ranked lowest among ASEAN nations.

"You may feel, 'Oh, there is a disconnection, we have this much economic freedom but where is our FDI?' But as we know it will take some time, but in the case of the Philippines, it's not that far away. Already you've been implementing good policies over the past five years, not just a year or two over the past five years," Anthony Kim, senior policy analyst, The Heritage Foundation, said.

Such policies include the opening up of the banking sector to foreign companies, which has so far drawn interest from Japanese banks and other regional players. - ANC
JICA backs study on North-South commuter rail project

by Rainier Allan Ronda, The Philippine Star
Posted at 02/22/2015 11:33 AM
TOKYO – The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) will provide technical assistance for the conduct of a feasibility study on the North-South Commuter Rail project proposed by the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC).

The North-South Commuter Rail is envisioned to have a route length of 91 kilometers and will be an elevated railway with modern, high-capacity trains running from Malolos, Bulacan to Calamba, Laguna.

The feasibility study is for the Malolos to Tutuban, Manila stretch only.

Transportation and Communications Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya earlier said the Tutuban to Calamba stretch would be offered to prospective investors via the Aquino government’s public-private partnership (PPP) scheme.

Jin Wakabaayshi, director of JICA’s Southeast Asia Division 5, told The STAR the agency already expressed its commitment to support the conduct of the feasibility study to Philippine government officials.

Wakabaayshi also said the North-South Commuter Rail and a subway along EDSA were in the list of big-ticket projects recommended in the Roadmap for Transport Infrastructure Development for Metro Manila and its Surrounding Areas, which was submitted to the National Economic and Development Authority in June 2014.

According to the roadmap, the EDSA subway is envisioned to serve as the second north-south mass transit, running from San Jose del Monte, Bulacan to Dasmariñas, Cavite.

If pursued, the two railway projects are expected to strengthen connectivity between Metro Manila and adjoining municipalities in Central Luzon and Calabarzon, thereby decongesting the metropolis.
SC asked to halt LRT1 Cavite extension project
The P64.9B mass rail transit project is the ‘most disadvantageous government contract of all time,’ a lawyer ​says in his petition before the High Court
Published 6:30 PM, Feb 20, 2015
Updated 6:30 PM, Feb 20, 2015
MANILA, Philippines – A lawyer is asking the Supreme Court (SC) to stop the implementation of the P64.9-billion ($1.47-billion) Light Rail Transit 1 (LRT1) Cavite extension project for being “the most disadvantageous government contract of all time.​”

The tandem Metro Pacific Investments Corporation (MPIC) and Ayala Corporation has signed with the government the 32-year concession agreement for the project in October last year.

The LRT extension project will lengthen Line 1 from 20.7 kilometers to 32.4 km, with a new south endpoint in Niog, Bacoor, Cavite. Approximately 10.5 km of the Cavite Extension System will be elevated and 1.2 km will be at grade level.

The consortium of the groups, Light Rail Manila, was the lone bidder for the public-private partnership (PPP) project. The consortium is led by MPIC, with a 55% stake, and Ayala, with 35%. Macquarie Infrastructure Holdings (Philippines) Pte Ltd holds the remaining 10%.

Under the agreement, LRMC will construct the planned extension of rail services to Cavite in exchange for, among others, the takeover of the existing LRT 1 facilities and the right to its daily income of around P7 million ($158,227.87) per day.

In his 21-page petition for injunction​, lawyer Salvador Belaro Jr, said ​that if ​the project is not enjoined, it will result in public debt of unfathomable magnitude, plus violations of the Constitutio​n and the Build-Operate Transfer (BOT) Law.

Belaro said the project is overpriced by at least 300% versus the recently finished North extension project.

The 5.71-kilometer North extension project from Monumento to North EDSA costs only P6.3 billion ($142.37 million), Belaro said.

The Cavite extension project, ​which double that distance, costs P64.9-billion ($1.47-billion), ​P39 billion ($881.29 million) of which is for civil and electrical works.

Belaro said that upon the execution of the concession agreement, LRMC already earned P18 billion ($406.73 million) – the alleged overpric​ing in the project.

​Because of such “income” upon contract signing, the 10% down payment ​made by the concessionaire ​– equivalent to P935,010,390 ($21.13 million) – ​did not ​become a burden to LRMC.

Upon signing, the concessionaire already started to earn approximately P2.53 billion ($57.19 million) yearly from LRT1, Belaro ​said.

On the ​4th year, when quarterly payment on the balance of the total concession price starts, the estimated P2.53 billion ($57.19 million) can already be used by LRMC to pay such quarterly payments.

But despite such, there would still be a balance on such yearly net income of LRT1 of more or less P2.23 billion ($50.41 million) for the concessionaire “to enjoy yearly for the entire duration of 32 years of the concession,” which is also can be extended up to 50 years.

The P2.23 billion ($50.41 million), when aggregated, would earn the concessionaire approximately P80 billion ($1.81 billion) from LRT1 alone, not including the income from the Cavite extension project, as well as income from non-rail services of both LRT1 and the extension project, Belaro said.

Also, if the concessionaire would be spending up to P20 billion ($452.08 million) for the Cavite extension project, the latter would still derive a profit (from LRT1 rail services alone) of at least P60 billion ($1.36 billion or P2.23 billion [$50.41 million] multiplied by 32 years) for the entire concession period or P1.6 billion (36.18 million) yearly, Belaro pointed out.

The P1.6 billion (​$​36.18 million) yearly net income for the concessionaire is said to balloon to a yearly net income of P3 billion ($67.84 million) because of the numerous provisions in the concession agreement.

“In effect, the government stands to shoulder all the burden just to make the project a reality, making it the most one-sided contract of all time,” Belaro said.
Constitutional violation

Belaro also ​said​ the LRT1 Cavite extension project should not have been awarded by the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) and Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) ​because both ​agencies do not have ​the power to ​do so.

It is only the Congress which can grant such a franchise​. He said the “closed door” negotiations on the project ​also violated the people’s constitutional right to information.

Belaro’s filing of the injunction follows several other cases filed in court questioning the increase in fares of LRT and Metro Rail Transit (MRT). SC asked DOTC to explain its basis for the fare hike.

“Under the concession agreement executed between DOTC and LRTA, and LRMC, the government bound itself to make fare increases,” Belaro said.

LRMC targets to complete the extension project by 2019.

The consortium is committed to deliver a safe, reliable, and world-class rail system comparable to commuter railway hubs in the region, MPIC chairman Manuel Pangilinan previously said. –
Right-of-way woes cancel NIA project

By Ferdie G. Domingo | Feb. 23, 2015 at 12:01am
DINGALAN, Aurora –  A P10-million communal irrigation project in this mountain resort town has been scrapped over recurring road right of way problems, the National Irrigation administration said.

Angelito Miguel, manager of the NIA’s Bulacan-Aurora-Nueva Ecija  division based in San Rafael, Bulacan, said that the prject’s budget  has been realigned to the Umiray CIP although the  original projecthas already been awarded to a contractor.

Bane is one of three divisions under the NIA Region 3 office under regional manager Josephine Salazar. The others are the Tarlac-Zambales (Tarzam) and Pampanga-Bataan (Pambat) divisions.

“The project has not been started although the contract has already been awarded so we resolved to just terminate the contract,” Miguel said.

The project encountered a setback after the owner of the land where the Umiray CIP is set to be constructed, lawyer Romeo Roxas, put up a makeshift checkpoint in the barangay, preventing NIA officials and fieldmen from bringing in construction materials to proceed with the project.

Miguel said the project would have made an impact on the community since it could irrigate 100 hectares and benefit at least 50 farmers. He said the funding had to be diverted because it has already been earmarked under the Fund 101 of the General Appropriations Act.
Rizal wind farm may open in May

By Alena Mae S. Flores | Feb. 22, 2015 at 10:05pm
Alternergy Wind One Corp., a company led by former Energy Secretary Vince Perez, is expected to complete the 67.5-megawatt wind farm project in Barangay Halayhayin, Pililia, Rizal in May.

The $177.9-million project is due for completion in July 2015, Energy Department records showed, but a source said the project might be completed as early as May.

Energy Department director Mylene Capongcol said several wind turbines were now installed in the area.

The Energy Regulatory Commission approved last year the application of Alternergy to develop, own and operate dedicated point-to-point limited facilities for wind farm projects and connect to the distribution network of Manila Electric Co.

The Pililla wind project received confirmation of commerciality from the Energy Department last year.  Once completed, the project is expected to yield around 154 gigawatt-hours annually.

Alternergy Wind One earlier secured a $130-million loan from a syndicate of banks to fund the 67.5-MW Pililla wind farm project.

Alternergy is putting up another wind power facility in Pililla, Rizal, called the Sembrano wind farm, with a capacity of 72 MW and costing $236 million.

The company said power produced from the two wind projects should be connected to the distribution network of Meralco, which owns the franchise to operate in Rizal.

It said connecting to Meralco’s system was the most feasible and least costly means of dispatching power and would put into beneficial use the generated capacity of the two plants.

Alternergy proposed that the Pililla wind farm be interconnected with the distribution system of Meralco through a 10-kilometer, 115-kilovolt sub-transmission line.

The Pililla wind project will be connected to Meralco’s 115- kV Malaya-Teresa transmission line. The project is expected to be commissioned in June this year.

The company also proposed that the Sembrano wind farm utilize another 15-km 115-kV line from the wind farm to the switching station and then be connected to the Malaya-Teresa transmission line.

ERC said it approved Alternergy’s application but the company should undertake measures “to ensure that its proposed interconnection shall not result in the degradation of Meralco’s distribution system.

Alternergy Wind One is a joint venture between Alternergy Viento Partners Corp., Korea East West Power, a unit of Korea Electric Power Co. and Meralco PowerGen Corp., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Meralco.

The 67.5-MW Pililla wind farm is the first renewable power project that has secured full project financing under the feed-in tariff regime.

FIT is a cost-based compensation mechanism assuring certainty of price and designed to encourage renewable-energy producers to invest in the country.  The rate is normally higher than the cost of other power projects.

Alternergy plans to develop renewable power projects with at least 200 MW in generating capacity within three years.

New tourist attraction to open in Intramuros

By Jennifer Ambanta | Feb. 22, 2015 at 10:45pm
Manila now has a new tourist attraction, after the Bureau of the Treasury agreed to open the restored Ayuntamiento Building in Intramuros to foreign and local tourists and the public in general.

Treasurer Roberto Tan said the agency was still finalizing the details on how it could open the historical building to the public, without disrupting the day-to-day operation of the Treasury, which is in charge of raising funds for the government.

“We will coordinate first with the Intramuros Council and see how it can be integrated in the Manila tour,” Tan said.

The BTr spent P1.3 billion for the rehabilitation and restoration of Ayuntamiento de Manila.  Tan said “with the cost of restoration, we are happy with how it turned out considering how much we spent.”

“It is not cheap to restore a historical building, there are many limitations,” Tan said.

The treasurer said the agency was not allowed to tear any walls or any part of the original building and was also prohibited to change the design of both interiors and exteriors.

Budget Secretary Florencio Abad agreed that such “restoration is expensive.”

Ayuntamiento de Manila, located at the corner of Andrés Soriano Avenue (formerly Calle Aduana) and Cabildo Street beside Manila Cathedral, was rebuilt three times over the past four centuries, after being damaged by earthquakes and war.

It served as the office of the American military governor in 1903 and hosted the First Philippine Assembly.  It was destroyed during the Battle of Manila in 1945, with only the outer walls of the first floor standing. The Bureau of Treasurer funded its reconstruction, based on the 19th Century design.  It was completed in 2013.
Belle sees revenue growth from City of Dreams Manila

By Zinnia Dela Peña, The Philippine Star
Posted at 02/21/2015 10:11 AM
MANILA, Philippines - Leisure estate and gaming firm Belle Corp. expects revenues to grow bigger in the near to medium term especially due to the lease and operating agreements with Macau casino giant Melco Crowne Ltd.

Belle CFO Manuel Gana said in the nine months ending September last year, the company booked P1.2 billion in revenue from the lease to Melco of the 6.2 hectare property where the City of Dreams Manila stands. In 2013, Belle realized revenues of P1.3 billion from the lease.

These figures, Gana said, are seen to rise further as City of Dreams is beginning to attract high-rollers and consumers and generate foot traffic.

For this year, lease revenues from the City of Dreams property is expected to hit P1.4 billion.

Apart from the lease revenues, Belle will also be realizing a share in earnings from City of Dreams’ gaming operations through its 78.7 percent subsidiary Premium Leisure Corp., which has an operating agreement with Melco.

City of Dreams Manila soft-opened on Dec. 14, 2014 and had a grand launch last Feb. 2. It covers about two hectares of gaming space, more than 900 hotel rooms operated under three hotel brands (namely Crown, Hyatt and Nobu), the DreamPlay indoor amusement park, and approximately two hectares of restaurant and retail space.

Belle also owns significant real estate assets in and around Tagaytay City, encompassing about 800 hectares of land available for future development.

The Sy family consolidated its gaming assets including its stake in City of Dreams Manila under PLC, formerly Sinophil Corp.

City of Dreams Manila is one of the four integrated resort and casinos licensed to operate in Entertainment City, which is expected to become a prime new leisure destination in the country.

Solaire Resorts & Casino of port mogul Enrique Razon is the first to open among the four licensees. The two others are Travellers International Hotel Group Inc, a venture between Genting Hong Kong Ltd and Philippine conglomerate Alliance Global Group Inc , and Universal Entertainment Corp of Japanese billionaire Kazuo Okada.
Ayala to triple shopping spaces

By Jenniffer B. Austria | Feb. 22, 2015 at 11:10pm
Ayala Land Inc., a major property developer, plans to triple the size of shopping malls, office space and hotel and resorts businesses over the next seven years to achieve its P40-billon net income target by 2020.

Ayala Land said in a presentation during a recent investors’ briefing it expected the gross leasable area of its shopping malls to reach 3.6 million square meters by 2020 from 1.3 million sq. m. as of end 2013.

The company plans to increase the GLA of office development to 1.8 million sq. m. by 2020 from 600,000 sq. m. as of end 2013.

The hotels and resorts business is projected to reach 6,000 room keys by 2020 from 2,000 room keys as of end 2013.

Ayala Land this year plans to add 147,000 sq. m. of leasable space for shopping centers that will open in Tagaytay, Nuvali, Makati and UP Town Center in Quezon City.

Ayala Land will also add 106,000 sq. m. of office leasable space with the completion of several projects in Bonifaco Global City and Alabang, and open 153 hotel rooms this year with the addition of Seda Iloilo.

The property company plans to be aggressive with the expansion of the retail and hospital business.

The group ended 2014 with 87 FamilyMart convenience stores in operations. It plans to increase the outlets to 500 over the next few years.

Ayala Land as of end 2014 has two QualiMed clinics and one hospital in operations. It aimsw to operate 10 clinics and 10 hospitals in Ayala Land township projects over the next five years.
Megaworld founder recognized for 'live-work-play' concept
Posted at 02/22/2015 5:58 PM | Updated as of 02/22/2015 6:12 PM
MANILA - The Philippine Retailers Association (PRA) will fete Megaworld Corp. founder Andrew Tan for his contribution to the growth of the retail industry.

Board members of the PRA unanimously decided to bestow upon Tan the title “Pillar of Mixed-Use Developments” for his role in promoting businesses in the country.

“Dr. Tan gave retailers premium sites for expansion with ready markets coming from the residential and office components of his integrated developments. His invaluable contribution to the Philippine retail industry truly deserves PRA’s highest recognition,” PRA president and Duty Free chief operating officer Lorenzo "Enchong" C. Formoso said.

Tan is being recognized for his signature “live-work-play” concept in the development of fully integrated locations like Eastwood City in Libis, Quezon City and McKinley Hill in Taguig.

Tan will receive the PRA President’s Award during the 18th Outstanding Filipino Retailers and Shopping Centers of the Year Awards at the Crowne Plaza Manila Galleria on February 25.

Previous recipients of the President’s Award include
Henry Sy (Father of Philippine Retailing),
Fernando Zobel de Ayala (Pillar of Philippine Retail Development),
Jorge Araneta (Pioneer of Philippine Retail Entertainment),
Samie Lim (Pioneering Pillar of Franchising),
Socorro Ramos (Matriarch of Philippine Retailing),
John Gokongwei Jr. (Champion of Retail Entrepreneurship),
Amb. Bienvenido Tantoco Sr. (Father of Luxury Retailing),
Mariano Que (Father of Health and Wellness Retailing), and
Teresita Sy-Coson (Philippine Retailing’s Woman Visionary Leader.)

“Retailers have become more aware of the stringent criteria for evaluating and judging the candidates and they know that when a company is awarded, they are truly world-class. This is why in the many years that we have been presenting the awards, the number of nominees, including self-nominations, has consistently increased,” PRA secretary general Evelyn Balmeo Salire said.
The mysterious sinkhole of GenSan
If the hole keeps growing bigger, it could affect more than 1,000 families living in the area

Edwin G. Espejo
Published 5:46 PM, Feb 20, 2015
Updated 10:12 AM, Feb 22, 2015
See pictures here:

GENERAL SANTOS CITY, Philippines – Residents here who have resisted relocation for more than 30 years now are left with no other choice but to leave the shores where many of them practically lived all their lives.

43-year-old Reynante Desidorio said he was born in Purok Tinago, a community of informal settlers in Barangay South Dadiangas, and has not known any other work but to supervise the loading and unloading of copra and other agricultural products from Balut Island in a makeshift wooden jetty near his house.

But even that quay will soon disappear if the underwater hole continues to eat into the shores and gobble their homes.

Disaster officials are still puzzled why a deep hole – or a suspected sinkhole as the local TV stations here are reporting – has suddenly appeared.

Desidorio said a payaw (FAD or fish aggregating device) deployed some 50 meters away from the shore disappeared on Wednesday at the same time white bubbles emerged from the bottom.

He said a pumpboat operator tried to measure the depth of the hole. After dropping its anchor, only 20 dipa (fathoms) were left of the 350 fathoms of rope.

He fears their homes could collapse as the stilt posts of their houses now appear to be already on the rim of the hole.

From an aerial photograph taken Friday, the hole appears to be a collapsed wall that extended more than 100 meters to the sea. It is now deep blue from above and is distinctively different from the adjoining shores whose bed of sand and silt is unmistakenly black.

The city disaster risk reduction and management council (CDRRMC) said it cannot yet determine what caused the hole.

CDRRMC head Dr Agraprino Dacera said the Mines and Geosciences Bureau will not conduct ground penetrating radar and sounding survey until next week.
Emergency evacuation

Disaster officials have already ordered families living in the area to seek temporary shelter in nearby Ireneo Santigao High School.

On Friday, February 20, General Santos City Mayor Ronnel Rivera met with some 100 families of Tinago and offered immediate relocation for 47 of them whose houses are in imminent danger of collapsing.

“We have set aside 3 hectares of land in Mabuhay for those who are already ordered out of the area. You will each be given 75 square meters,” he told the affected residents.

He assured them that the city will no longer allow any structure to be built in their former homes which will soon be demolished.

“The main priority here is to protect them from danger kasi nasa danger zone na talaga sila,” Rivera said.

If the hole keeps growing bigger, it could affect more than 1,000 families living in the area that stretches more than a kilometer east across the public market. –
STI to foreclose Benitez family’s Davao property
This is the third planned foreclosure in an escalating conflict between STI and the Benitez family over the Philippine Women's University
Published 4:57 PM, Feb 21, 2015
Updated 4:57 PM, Feb 21, 2015
MANILA, Philippines – STI Education Holdings Incorporated of businessman Eusebio Tanco is set to foreclose another property owned by the Benitez family in Davao.

This is the third property of the Benitiez family that STI wants to foreclose in an escalating dispute with the family over the Philippine Women’s University (PWU).

The dispute began when the Benitez family, owners of PWU, and its sister company UNLAD, failed to settle its obligation worth around P1 billion.

“The Davao Petition is the last petition initiated by STI Holdings, on its own or together with AHC, for the satisfaction of UNLAD’s obligations to STI Holdings and AHC in the aggregate amount of P294,073,466.68 ($ 6,645,836.85), and PWU’s obligations to STI Holdings in the aggregate amount of P702,446,308.08 ($15,874,752.70),” STI said.

STI said it filed a petition with the Office of the Clerk of Court and Ex-Officio Sheriff of the Regional Trial Court of Davao City, for the extra-judicial foreclosure of a parcel of land under the name of Unlad Resources Development Corporation, owned by the Benitez group, located in Davao City, and all improvements located therein.

According to STI, the said properties were mortgaged in favor of STI Holdings and Attenborough Holdings Corporation to serve as security under the Omnibus Agreement dated June 8, 2012, executed noting Unlad, as debtor, and STI Holdings and AHC, as creditors.

STI earlier filed a petition with the Manila Regional Trial Court to foreclose Unlad’s property, the site of PWU, located along Taft Avenue in Manila.

It also made similar filing with the Quezon City RTC to foreclose Unlad’s property in Quezon City.

In December 2014, STI issued notices of default to PWU and Unlad after the Benitez Group failed to meet all its obligations, demanding a combined total of P996 million ($22.5 million) covering interest, penalties, lawyers' fees, and value added taxes within 7 days.

The Benitez group, countering with its own figures, argued that STI’s demand – for the family to pay P923 million ($20.83 million) for obligations of P448 million ($10.11 million) – is exorbitant.

The Benitezes will honor its commitment to Eusebio Tanco and STI but stressed that it would only be under “fair and just terms,” PWU media director Lydia Benitez-Brown said previously.

STI bailed out PWU in 2011. It bought the debt paper from BDO Unibank and provided additional funds to pay for salaries and wages, utilities, repair leaks, retirement pay, upgrade of laboratory facilities and learning, and other operational expenses. –
TIMELINE: DECA Homes through the years

( | Updated February 20, 2015 - 9:00am
MANILA, Philippines – DECA Homes started from the vision of three friends who want to offer affordable and good-quality homes to Filipinos through mass housing. Initially, it focused on building residential properties in provinces, particularly in Cagayan de Oro with its first project, Villa Candida.
Through the years, DECA Homes has expanded its borders, constructing more houses in Cebu, Davao, Iloilo, Cavite and now, developing an urban home in the metro.
The public listing of its mother company, 8990 Holdings Inc., marks another milestone to its journey.

CCGA Valuation & Advisory
Real Estate News
Real Estate / Economy / Infrastructure / Environment / Energy / Design
Wednesday, March 25, 2015
PH prospects ‘positive’ come ASEAN integration

Most investors have higher than ‘excellent’ expectations about the country’s economic performance – which overall, is still positive

Chris Schnabel
Published 8:16 PM, Mar 24, 2015
Updated 8:17 PM, Mar 24, 2015
MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines is in such an enviable situation that, in a worst case scenario, it would still do well in an integrated Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

On Tuesday, March 24, the Asian Development Bank's flagship annual economic publication, Asian Development Outlook 2015 (ADO), forecasted the Philippine Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to grow by 6.4% in 2015, and 6.3% in 2016.

Factors like expanding government expenditure, along with robust private consumption and continued strong investments are expected to continuously fuel growth in 2015, the ADB said.

In the Euromoney Investment Forum session on ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) held also Tuesday, BDO Unibank President and Director Nestor V. Tan said that the country’s biggest enemy at the moment is the non-alignment of investors’ expectations with the actual state of the Philippine economy.

Most investors have expectations that are higher than excellent, Tan said.

Echoing Tan’s sentiment, fellow panelist Suraj Moraje, managing partner of Mckinsey and Company in the Philippines said his experience in the country since he arrived in 2013 has, so far, been positive.

The level of talent present in the country struck him the most, he added.

“The quality of the managers is quite good – the best talent compared with the whole region. I’m surprised the Philippines hasn’t had a more global presence,” Moraje said.
Growth areas

The level of talent present protects the country from competition from other ASEAN countries as there is enough talent to build niches in the international economy, Moraje said.

“Everyone looks at automotive manufacturing but there are other sectors in the country that are [also] interesting,” Moraje said.

Specifically, the country already has a wealth of talent in the areas of seafaring, health care, and consumer goods, and local companies in these areas still have more room to grow.

A strong India and China also bodes well for ASEAN economies as they raised the total volume of trade within the region.

“Everyone thinks of these markets as trade with ‘China or India’ but I think it should be both of them. Both giants will contribute to pulling the rest of the region through trade,” Moraje said.
‘Single ASEAN capital market’

Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima agreed with his fellow panelist, and said that ASEAN will eventually become a hub of Asian trade.

But Purisima is not seeing yet the possibility of a unified ASEAN currency.

“I don’t think that a single currency is needed, in hindsight even the European Union is now finding out that it’s not as easy as they thought it would be,” Purisima said.

He instead eyes a “single ASEAN capital market” to develop an ASEAN class of financial products.

Such will allow our industries and corporations to access the best possible financial products at the cheapest possible price because individually, the markets are not deep enough, Purisima explained.

In his speech at the Euromoney Investment Forum, President Benigno S. Aquino III said the country's compliance rate in the AEC scorecard is now at around 86%.

"I have already signed crucial laws that will help us meet our financial integration commitments, including an 'Act Strengthening the Insurance Industry and the Act Allowing the Full Entry of Foreign Banks in the Philippines,'" he said.
DAR eases land conversions for power projects
Posted at 03/24/2015 10:01 AM | Updated as of 03/24/2015 10:06 AM
MANILA, Philippines - The government takes a step that will make it easier to build power plants in the future.

The Department of Agrarian Reform says it will process a land conversion, usually from rural to industrial, even if documents aren't complete, if the Department of Energy certifies it as urgent.

Confirming a BusinessWorld report, DAR Secretary Gil delos Reyes said the processing can proceeds as the applicant works on his requirements, though all documents have to be submitted before a final decision is made.

"We can process, but we still wait for all documents before resolving application for conversion," he said.

Regulatory and environmental issues have held up several power plant projects, contributing to power shortages and blackouts.
Vista Residences turns Manila into one of top investment cities in the world

by Jeahan Virda B. de Barras - March 24, 2015
WITH Manila now touted as one of five key investment cities in the world alongside Tokyo, Shanghai, Jakarta and Sydney, it is clear that the Philippine government and the private sector are pulling their weight in creating a perfect economic environment for stimulating and sustaining investments, locally and internationally.

The rooms being operated by the leasing group are well taken care of and maintained regularly.The rooms being operated by the leasing group are well taken care of and maintained regularly.

While 2015 is looking good for the local real-estate industry, the impending Asean integration that will result in the birth of the Asean Economic Community will boost growth of the country’s real-estate businesses.

In the midst of the positive outlook, Vista Residences (VRI), Vista Land’s subsidiary on top of the group’s condominium developments and the only real-estate in the country that offers a broad selection of leasing options, is set to strengthen the country’s investment possibilities by providing a number of leasing options for those who have, or intend to, invest in a Vista Residences property.    The company’s newly created Leasing Group offers a selection of four proactive solutions for unit owners looking to lease out their units.

The Vista Residences Leasing Group’s mission is to enhance the values and marketability of Vista Residences’s developments, both for its end-users and investors, so as to turn their purchases into working investments.

Vista Land is known largely for its horizontal developments.  As such, investment clients for the group’s condominium properties account for about 40 percent of purchases. The majority are still end-users.  The country’s average for investment purchases is 60 percent to 70 percent.  While not one to follow industry trends, Vista Residences is determined to increase its investment purchases, as the group is currently targeting that particular market.  Among its “weapons,” so to speak, are its four leasing services.  With approximately 30-percent to 40-percent buyers “absentee owners”—accounting for both foreign and local owners—the company expects its Leasing Group will be quite busy.
Enjoy the view of the city at night from this room in Avant Serviced Suites.Enjoy the view of the city at night from this room in Avant Serviced Suites.

A key advantage of the group’s leasing services is hinged on the fact that Vista Residences is an industry pioneer in full-service, property-leasing management.

On the roster of Vista Residences’s leasing services are Asset Management Service (AMS), Leasing Services Only (LSO), Serviced Suites and the Condormitels, specifically created for the “University Series” condominiums.

AMS—This service offers basic housekeeping, which is ideal for fully furnished units with tenants looking for short-term rentals of not more than a year—ideal for owners who are away for long periods of time. Vista Residences currently has 11 towers offering this service, namely, Avant, Mosaic, Symphony, Trevi, Salcedo Square, Wil Tower, Currency, Pine Crest, Madison, Presidio, Pacific Residences and North Point.

LSO—LSO involves the usual leasing or rental of bare units to tenants for long-term rentals.  Usually, this means a stay of over a year.  It is available in the same condominiums that offer AMS.

Serviced Suites—These involve choice units that are operated by the Leasing Group as “serviced apartments” with full-hotel services, including a staff with concierge functions.  The units are preselected, furnished, serviced by the Leasing Group and equipped with hotel amenities—for short-staying guests and for daily or weekly use.  Currently, Vista Residences’s Serviced Suites are available in Avant, Bellini, Salcedo Square, Wil Tower and Currency—all very premier condominiums within the Metro Manila’s business and leisure hubs.

Condormitel—Condominiums, located close to educational institutions and what Vista Residences has dubbed its “University Series,” will offer a number of units called “dormitory-hotels.” With the turnover of five new projects, services and features centered around the needs of the students are in the offing. The condormitel units will be set up like dormitories, with options for two, three or four occupants. The “dormers” will be charged either on a monthly or annual basis.  Curfew hours and house rules will be implemented, as well as whatever other rules the unit owners wish.

The Condormitels will also provide services  such as housekeeping, laundry, water utilities, Internet and cable services, and the like, apart from the e-library, study pod, gym and roof deck with solar panels, which can be used for charging mobile phones and other gadgets. The students will be closer to their schools and will be watched over in a secure environment.

Designed to simplify the lives of customers who intend to invest in Vista Residences’s units, the VRI Leasing Group will be involved in sourcing possible tenants; marketing the service; managing enrollees’ accounts; administering to contracts; payment collection; negotiating renewals, requests for extensions and contract termination; unit housekeeping and maintenance; and assisting tenants with moving in or out.

Beyond all these, investing in a condominium unit for the specific purpose of eventually leasing it out actually offers a safer and better yield than putting one’s money in a bank, mutual funds or stocks.

Interestingly, properties that have a leasing component have been proven to result in a higher rental yield than those without.  Thus, in the industry, there is a heightened awareness of the need to offer a leasing component and, while several property developers have already done so, none have done it to the extent that Vista Residences has.

Vista Residences has assumed responsibility for the portfolio of condominium projects previously held by other Vista Land subsidiaries. Vista Residences carries with it Vista Land’s nearly four decades of experience in building homes, developing properties and creating master-planned communities—integrating into every project an unparalleled expertise in space planning, and flair for finding accessible locations. The company is committed to assuming a chief role in the condominium sector, creating greater awareness of their capabilities, as well as enhancing efficiencies in their resource distribution.

Please visit to learn about our company and how we can serve you.

SM Cares breaks ground for housing project in Ormoc

by Felix N. Codilla, III
March 24, 2015 (updated)
Ormoc City – SM Prime Holdings, Inc. (SMPH) broke ground for a housing project on a two-hectare land donated by Mayor Edward C. Codilla in Sitio Catmon, Brgy. Concepcion here. Marissa Fernan, SVP of SMPH, led the groundbreaking ceremony last March 18.

The project is undertaken by SM Cares, the corporate social responsibility arm of SMPH.

To be constructed are 200 units costing P250,000 each, the most expensive housing project for typhoon Yolanda victims. This is because the concrete houses will be disaster-resilient to withstand 250-km. winds and a magnitude 7 earthquake.

Mayor Edward Codilla lowers the time capsule to mark the groundbreaking of the SM Cares Village in Ormoc. From left: Mayor’s wife Engr. Violeta Codilla, SM Prime Holdings SVP Marissa Fernan, Atty. Christina Frasco, Duty Free Philippines Cares Chairperson Debbie Ongcip, Fr. Isagani Petillos, Councilor Pedro Godiardo Ebcas and ANCOP Operations Manager Elmer Cadiz.

Mayor Edward Codilla lowers the time capsule to mark the groundbreaking of the SM Cares Village in Ormoc. From left: Mayor’s wife Engr. Violeta Codilla, SM Prime Holdings SVP Marissa Fernan, Atty. Christina Frasco, Duty Free Philippines Cares Chairperson Debbie Ongcip, Fr. Isagani Petillos, Councilor Pedro Godiardo Ebcas and ANCOP Operations Manager Elmer Cadiz.

SM Cares will spend P50 million for the construction of the houses alone. Each single-story house has a size of 20 sqm including a three-sqm open area at the back which will also serve as a kitchen. Its high floor-ceiling ratio makes it loft-ready. Duty Free Philippines Cares contributed P6.6 million, good enough to build 12 units.

Total cost of the project is P300 million to include site development that will feature a half-hectare football field, community center, main road and secondary roads measuring six and five meters wide, respectively, to be funded by donations from employees, contractors and tenants of SMPH.

The mayor’s wife, Engr. Violeta Codilla, thanked SM Cares for the project.

“I would like to extend my profound gratitude to the SM Foundation and to the family of Mr. Hans Sy. This is a great contribution to our city,” she said. She also asked her husband to concretize the road leading to the site.

In response, Mayor Codilla addressed City Engineer Ranulfo Oliveros and told him not to forget the road project.

The idea of the project started when Ms. Fernan narrated SMPH’s housing projects in Cebu and Tacloban to Atty. Christina Frasco, the mayor’s niece, when they shared a plane ride.

Atty. Frasco became interested in putting a similar project in Ormoc and hooked up SM Cares with her uncle who is known for his philanthropy. Early this year, Mayor Codilla allowed the use of another 50-hectare land owned by his family for a housing project for 2,000 families.

Priority beneficiaries of SM Cares Village will be families who are forced to live in danger zones because of typhoon Yolanda. They will be required to demolish their old structures to ensure they won’t return and will be made to take part of a livelihood project of “Answering the Cry of the Poor,” a Catholic non-profit organization.

Considering that the units will be equipped with modern amenities like flushing toilets and aluminum sliding windows, the residents will be trained on how to take care of their new homes.

Ms. Fernan hopes they can also get scholars from among the beneficiaries’ children. SM Cares has over 1,000 scholars, 120 of them from Tacloban City.

Ms. Fernan also stressed that the residents will not own the homes; rather, they will just be allowed to occupy the units for 25 years subject for renewal to prevent them from selling their rights or renting out the homes. The project is targeted to be finished in September.
Ayala Land’s ‘Cloverleaf’ aims to become new landmark in Quezon City

by Betheena Kae Unite
March 23, 2015
Balintawak, the gateway to the north, is where Ayala Land Inc., the company behind the Makati Central Business District, Bonifacio Global Taguig, and Nuvali, expands with another premier development project.

Ayala Land has named the project “Cloverleaf” and it is designed to be another addition to its list of products.  It will bear features of exclusivity, convenience, strategic location, and diversity of lifestyle options anchored on a well-thought out blueprint for growth.

Ayala Land broke ground for Cloverleaf March 16, at the 11-hectare mixed-used development site in Balintawak, Quezon City.

“Our vision is to create a pocket urban development. Cloverleaf will give people access to refreshing retail, business, lifestyle and residential possibilities, elements that create an ideal urban lifestyle,” said Meean Dy, Ayala Land SVP.

Cloverleaf, the newest Ayala Land signature project, is a P25-billion development which will be completed within 10 years. It will house a 40, 000 sqm mall, a hospital, two residential towers, and a landscaped pedestrian promenade.

A highlight of the development is the 500-meter long landscaped open area that will connect EDSA to A. Bonifacio and will allow residents, shoppers, and workers to have a safe walking experience.

The 34 percent of the area will be assigned for residential purposes. Avida Tower and Alveo Tower will occupy a 1.4-hectare area.   Avida Tower will have about 2, 000 units and Alveo Tower will house 600 units. Avida and Alveo towers will be completed by 2019 and 2020 respectively.

For the commercial area, 62 percent of Cloverleaf is envisioned to house retail and business developments that will be anchored on the 40, 000 sqm Ayala mall.

The mall, which is set to be opened by 2017, is positioned to be a melting pot for Asian culture offering a diverse array of dining concepts for residents of Balintawak, Caloocan, Malabon, Novaliches, and Valenzuela.

Across the mall will be the Qualimed Hospital that has 250 beds with state-of-the art medical equipment which will be completed by fourth quarter of 2017.

“We always make it a point to locate where our products and services are easily accessible to more people,” said Dy.

Cloverleaf will rise along EDSA and A. Bonifacio, flanked by Metro Manila’s major cities, including Caloocan and Quezon City, with the community being accessible to the LRT1.

Dy said that phase 1 of the project, that includes the mall, hospital, Alveo, and Avida towers will be finished in five years. After that is completed, phase two will start the construction of the retail stores, residential area, and offices, with a target completion date set within five years.
SC issues TRO vs cutting of trees in SM Baguio

by Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News
Posted at 03/24/2015 5:33 PM | Updated as of 03/24/2015 6:08 PM
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE) – The Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order to halt the cutting and balling of trees on Luneta Hill, where SM Baguio is located.

The order stems from a petition filed by a group called Cordillera Global Network, opposing the uprooting of trees.

The court also ordered Environment Secretary Ramon Paje and other respondents to comment on the petition within 10 days.

SC spokesman Theodore Te said the TRO is effective immediately and until further orders from the Court.

SM Baguio has been under fire from residents and netizens for uprooting 60 trees in Luneta Hill last January.

The trees were uprooted to pave the way for the 7-storey Sky Park project, which SM claims to be environment-friendly.

Back in 2012, an environmental group foiled SM's plan to earthball and cut 182 trees in Session Road's remaining green zone.

A temporary environmental protection order was later issued, but the Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court's ruling, effectively lifting it.

SM Prime Holdings Inc., meanwhile, said it has yet to receive a copy of SC order, but noting that it will comply with the court order.

“SM Prime Holdings Inc. has yet to receive a copy of the Order from the Supreme Court as reported in the news. Rest assured that SM will comply with the directive of the Supreme Court,” the firm said in a statement.
ZipMatch raises $2.5M to expand PHL and Southeast Asia operations

Danessa O. Rivera/GMA News
March 24, 2015 6:28pm
Real estate marketplace ZipMatch has raised $2.5 billion from selling shares to a Singapore-based venture capital firm and existing investors to expand further in the Philippines and in Southeast Asia.
In an e-mailed statement, ZipMatch said it closed a $2.5 million Series A round with Singaporean Monk’s Hill Ventures and existing investor 500 Startups.
This is one of Monk's Hill's first investments as a firm, and the first in the Philippines.
Kuo-Yi Lim of Monk’s Hill Ventures will join the ZipMatch board following the investment.
ZipMatch said it will use the proceeds to recruit more talent and experts in real estate, computer programming, content creation, product development, and customer service.
The company's business revolves around a process that leads prospective homebuyers into making confident decisions when buying their homes.
Among the growth areas is Philippine real estate, given its growing economy.
Last year, the Philippine gross domestic product grew by 6.1 percent, maintaining its position as the second fastest growing economy in Asia next to China.
“Having updated, reliable data in an online real estate marketplace is a big challenge, and I think we have made strides by putting out a product that is unique,” ZipMatch chief revenue officer and co-founder Chow Paredes said.
Unlike other platforms that focus mainly on classifieds, ZipMatch claimed it presents an array of services that eliminates most of the online research and physical work done when searching for a property.
The startup collects and curates pertinent information about a property, which is accessible by homebuyers in a single, interactive page.
ZipMatch is led by Paredes and co-founders John Dang as CEO and Kyle Wiltshire as chief technology officer.
So far, the team has raised more than $3.5 million, with investments also from Hatchd Digital, Ideaspace Foundation, and IMJ Investment Partners.
Why real-estate development should be about ‘giving back to the land’

by Amor Maclang - March 24, 2015
SUSTAINABILITY, in the context of real-estate development, requires a design that considers and gives back to the land.

As I have always said in the past, the impact of design calculates the iconicity of a development. When a structure presents a thoughtfully designed façade, for example, it immediately becomes a recognizable building—a landmark that stands tall in its location, an enormous signage that pins down directions. Hence, if you are building to establish an image, know that you need to show you are ridiculously good at it. On the other hand, if you are building to preserve your reputation, know very well that you should first have a clear understanding of where your identity as a company is rooted.

The challenge, however, remains huge for developers eyeing to build a reputation through design. Remember that an iconic architecture or design can never be a substitute for trust. Clearly, you will need more than just an innovative design or a highfaluting architecture; you need to earn the confidence of the market you can, indeed, get the job done. The real-estate market has grown wise enough over the years; their needs and wants in choosing a place to work or live in are determined by convenience, safety, and even how the place affects their respective lifestyles. They have learned from the mistakes of the past and are now consciously looking beyond the aesthetics.
Strengthening your core

One institution that has particularly fared well in strengthening their identity is Arthaland. Through Arya Residences, the company’s flagship residential condominium in Bonifacio Global City, Arthaland has solidified its position with the benchmark development of the Philippine Green Building Council’s BERDE (Building for Ecologically Responsive Design Excellence) Program, and is recognized by global organizations for quality and sustainability.

“United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has recently called 2015 the year of action on global challenges and the year of sustainability. Additionally, the pope called on us to make our contribution in showing concern for the environment,” Arthaland President and CEO Angie de Villa Lacson said in a recent interview. “What these tell us is that the right thing to do is to be responsible citizens of the earth in whatever small way we can. What we want to do is to enable our customers to practice an ecologically conscious lifestyle—using energy efficiently, consuming water efficiently, using nontoxic materials, among a lot of other options. These may be small and easy steps that we have embedded in the design and construction of our properties but we know that these practices will help alleviate the effects of climate change and resource depletion in the long run.”

What I’d like to share by taking Arthaland as an example is the idea of designing your brand like you were choosing your wardrobe—attractive but unique to you and your company. Strengthening your identity as an institution that champions sustainability is built on communications, visuals, and customer experience, but mostly it’s built on what other people say about you.
Community engagement as the new battleground

In an era when communities of people demand a higher degree of sincerity, marketing has become more about creating greater value for the land and upholding sustainability for your community from all fronts.

This is exactly the reason I have always spoken about stakeholder mapping as the new marketing. While the media remains important, obviously, it’s what everyone says about you—from your employees to your sales force, to your customers, to your brokers, to your competitors, to the government, and industry experts—that ultimately decides your reputation. If only one channel of communications is managed, the others can easily become problematic and may end up countering any good publicity that you get.

How do we ensure that we create programs that improve the greatest number of lives? You need to care about what people say about you. Engagement through marketing calls for the sincere and genuine engagements with members of various communities.

This is one of the many reasons when we do tourism planning for our partners from the local government sector, we just don’t stop with creating a catchy advertisement slogan. It’s about engaging the entire population, the youth, the farmers, the indigenous communities, and the tourism industry to be able to communicate the same way. It’s about ensuring that we promote the interests of all concerned groups without sacrificing those that are of lesser priority.

At the end of the day, our sworn mission as real-estate developers should always rest on making sure that we give the land the development that it truly deserves.

Good morning!
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Friday to Sunday, March 20-22, 2015
DPWH to award Cavite-Laguna expressway project July 7
Interested parties like San Miguel Corporation are told to submit all the required documents again to bid for the P35.4-billion PPP project
Published 6:43 PM, Mar 20, 2015
Updated 6:43 PM, Mar 20, 2015
MANILA, Philippines – Submit all required documents again and old submissions should not be resubmitted or risk being disqualified, Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Secretary Rogelio L. Singson told interested parties in the rebid for the controversial Cavite-Laguna expressway (CALAX) project.

In a pre-bid conference Friday, March 20, Singson stressed that the P35.4 billion ($7.87 million) public-private partnership (PPP) will be running on a very tight schedule as it is set to issue notice of award on July 7, 2015.

The following are the dates leading to DPWH’s issuance of the notice of award:
    Bid submission and opening of qualification documents – May 19
    Opening of technical proposal – June 2
    Opening of financial proposal – June 15
The draft concession agreement for the CALAX project will be made available on Monday, March 23, DPWH said.

Interested parties were also told to submit new bid security as the agency is set to issue guidelines via a bulletin.

Metro Pacific Tollways Corporation (MPTC) and San Miguel Corporation (SMC) attended the pre-bid conference. Reyes Tacandong & Company representing an undisclosed, interested party, also attended the pre-bid conference.

Singson told the attendees that the agency will make sure that all concerns raised by those who bought the bid documents will be addressed.

SMC has formally expressed interest to rebid for CALAX via a letter of intent.

The CALAX rebid was approved February 16 by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) board chaired by President Benigno Aquino III.

The NEDA board also approved the new floor price of P20.105 billion ($447.12 million), the same as the submitted bid of SMC’s Optimal Infrastructure Development Incorporated. The SMC subsidiary was disqualified in 2014 due to a non-compliant bid security.

The SMC said its unit was fully compliant with the bid requirements for CALAX. The diversified conglomerate brought the case to the Office of the President, which later ruled in favor of SMC and offered a rebidding.

Team Orion, the 50-50 joint venture between Ayala’s AC Infrastructure Holdings Incorporated and Aboitiz Equity Ventures, was the highest bidder at P11.66 billion ($259.22 million). Team Orion said it is no longer participating in the rebidding after it expressed disappointment over Malacañang’s decision.

CALAX is a 47-kilometer expressway project which connects Bacoor and Kawit in Cavite and the South Luzon Expressway areas. –
Tutuban Center may become Manila's busiest transfer station
Posted at 03/20/2015 11:14 PM
MANILA – Prime Orion is pursuing plans to expand leasable space in Tutuban Center as competition gets tighter in Manila's famous shopping district of Divisoria.

Yuen Po Seng, president and chief executive of Prime Orion, said around 40,000 square meters (sqm) of leasable space will be added to the complex in the next two to three years.

“With new development coming in, we will probably be having another 40,000 sqm leasable area in the next two to three years. This short term vision would maybe even double revenues we have in Tutuban itself...Right now, we have about 60,000 sqm leasable space,” Seng told ANC on Friday.

Seng said the expansion will allow the company to take advantage of the growing population in the area, which is the site for the proposed common station of the North-South commuter rail and the Light Rail Transit-Line 2 (LRT-2).

Tutuban gets about 1 million visitors every month, but the new railway line is expected to bring an additional 400,000 people per day.

"The DOTC has made some recent announcements that it is establishing the North-South commuter rail. What's exciting is that it will intersect with LRT-2 on Recto. And they are intersecting right where Tutuban is, so right where we are is going to be a major transfer station, the likes of Hong Kong and Japan where you have massive people criss-crossing. The consultants were saying that there could be as much as 400,000 people on a daily basis," Seng said.

He noted that 2014 may have been the “worst year” for Tutuban Center due to the rise of competitors such as the 168 Mall, 999 Mall and Lucky Chinatown Mall.

“We welcome all these new names, really, because it made the area much bigger. Although the pie has been much bigger, our share of it has shrunk a little bit. We think that maybe 2014 could be our worst year,” he said.

However, he is confident that Tutuban’s sales will bounce back this year and grow 10 percent, driven by the country’s economic growth that results to higher spending power.

“Looking forward, and looking at the numbers we have right now, we are coming back up again. Partly because the economy is doing much better, there's more spending power now for the people. So I’m really positive that we will see a much better year in 2015,” he said.

Aside from Tutuban Center, Prime Orion is also the listed firm behind Lepanto Ceramics, FLT Prime Insurance Corp, Orion Maxis, and Orion IT Solutions. -- Report from Michelle Ong, ANC
DILG relocates 135 families from Pasay City waterway

March 20, 2015 6:42pm
The Department of the Interior and Local Government has helped 135 informal settler families in Barangay 201 in Pasay City move to government housing in Cavite.
According to a DILG press statement, the families were moved form Cutcut Creek, which has been identified as a dangerous waterway, to National Housing Authority homes in Trece Martires, Cavite.
Personnel from the Pasay City government and the Philippine National Police helped the families move.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development will give the families P18,000 each to help them adjust to the move.

The relocation is part of a government plan to move informal settler families away from flood-prone waterways while also clearing the canals and streams for flood control projects. — JDS, GMA News
'2015 is the year of townships'
Posted at 03/21/2015 12:55 PM | Updated as of 03/22/2015 2:34 AM
MANILA – Township projects will continue to be a real estate trend across the country this year, with several projects being established even outside Metro Manila.

Michael McCullough, managing director at real estate services provider KMC MAG Group, said major developers such as Megaworld, SM and Ayala are continuing to focus on township projects.

Megaworld Corp. has invested more than P100 billion for its high-end project McKinley West and Uptown Bonifacio in Taguig.
Uptown Bonifacio in Taguig. Photo from Megaworld Facebook page

The Andrew Tan-led firm is also investing P35 billion over the next 10 years to build two townships in Negros Occidental.

It also has townships in Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Cebu, Iloilo and Davao. Two more townships in Luzon and one in Mindanao are expected to be launched within the year.

Megaworld, Filinvest, and Ayala also have township projects in Cebu.

SM Development Corporation, meanwhile, is looking into reclaiming more land and expanding the Mall of Asia complex in Pasay while Ayala Land is developing the Arca South in Taguig, Makati Circuit in Makati, and Vertis North in Quezon City.
Ayala Land's Arca South development. Photo from Ayala Land Facebook page

Federal Land has also started to build townships in Pasay and Taguig. Vista Land is also spending about P50 billion for the Vista City project that covers Las Piñas, Muntinlupa, Cavite, and Laguna.

“The live-work-play lifestyle encapsulated in these townships have resulted into a lot of success for some of the major developers, so it’s no surprise that new players are working to capitalize on this and bring the concept to new areas,” said McCullough.

He also said the big developers are also spending record amounts as capital expenditure programs are now expected to breach the P300 billion mark this year.

The funds will be used for land acquisitions, ongoing projects, and launches.

“The township concept also provides a way for developers to be part of the solution to the congestion in Metro Manila…With developers taking the critical first step and building in other areas within and outside of the Metro, they’re creating new microdistricts and encouraging more Filipinos to live, work, and play closer to home. We hope that this will help reduce congestion and make Metro Manila more liveable,” McCullough said.

McCullough, however, noted that the challenge for government now is in building infrastructure to connect these districts.

“We hope eventually that the Rapid Bus System, which is very easy to put in place, will help connect these cities,” he said.
Manila’s building boom triggers glut concern

By Bloomberg | Mar. 20, 2015 at 05:45pm
By Siegfrid Alegado and Ian Sayson
The capital Manila is in the grip of a building boom, led by developers such as Megaworld Corp. and Ayala Land Inc., that will add a record number of apartments over the next two years. It also threatens to lead to a glut that will weigh on returns for investors.

An estimated 55,000 residential units will come onto the market in Metro Manila this year, slowing growth in lease rates, according to broker CBRE Group Inc. Spending by property companies will rise 18 percent to more than 300 billion pesos ($6.8 billion) in 2015 from last year, according to broker Savills Plc.

Philippine developers have been on a building spree as the nation’s biggest economic boom since the 1950s and rising remittances from Filipinos working abroad spur home purchases. The market may need more time to absorb the expected record supply of new units, according to Macquarie Group Ltd.

 “Some developers may have to slow down in starting new projects because there is a risk of overbuilding,” said RJ Aguirre, an analyst at Macquarie in Manila. “If developers don’t slow down and sales won’t move, we will see a build-up in inventory and receivables that will hurt earnings.”

As inventories increase, investors may find themselves holding assets that are yielding less, said Romeo Arahan, a Manila-based analyst with broker Colliers International UK Plc.

Rental yields will be 3 percent to 4 percent in 2015, said Antton Nordberg, research manager with KMC MAG Group Inc., the local associate of Savills. Yields have averaged more than 5 percent since 2011, he said.
Spending Frenzy

Construction will begin this year on 130,000 condominiums across the Philippine capital, KMC MAG said.

The capital region includes 17 cities and municipalities spread across about 640 square kilometers (247 square miles) sandwiched between Manila Bay to the west, and Laguna Lake and the San Mateo Mountains to the east.

Prices of Metro Manila residential condominiums rose 5 percent to 110,000 pesos to 180,000 pesos per square meter last year from a year earlier, according to Colliers. They may rise as much as 6 percent this year, the broker estimates.

Ayala Land, which developed the Philippines’ main business district of Makati, will spend a record 100 billion pesos this year. Robinsons Land Inc. is boosting capital spending by 20 percent in the current fiscal year to 17 billion pesos, while SM Prime Holdings Inc.’s 2015 budget is 70 billion pesos, 17 percent higher than last year.
Overseas Remittances

The number of residential units already on the market is equivalent to about two years of sales, said Aguirre at Macquarie. He maintains an overweight rating on developers because he said they can delay new projects to rein in the supply. Aguirre prefers residential builders that are cutting or have cut inventory, and those with a relatively higher share of income from office and retail rents.

Megaworld, which is spending 230 billion pesos in the next four years to build townships across the country, hasn’t seen a demand slowdown, said Senior Vice President Jericho Go.

“At least 70 percent of our projects are sold within the first year of pre-selling and that’s still the norm for us; there hasn’t been a change,” Go said.

The 10 million Filipinos working overseas, many of whom can now afford more expensive homes, are underpinning demand, Go said. More than half of the money they send home goes to real estate-related spending, he said.

The Manila metropolitan region is home to 22 million people and the population is forecast to rise to 30 million by 2025, making it the world’s largest urban area after Tokyo and Jakarta, according to forecasts by Belleville, Illinois-based Demographia.

“Developers are spreading outside Metro Manila where they see a growing potential,” Colliers’s Arahan said.
Property Measures

Policy makers last year introduced measures to curb parts of the property market amid concerns prices were rising too fast. They ordered banks to cap the collateral value of real estate mortgages at 60 percent. Lenders were tested to determine if they have enough buffers against an asset price crash.

The central bank has held its benchmark interest rate at 4 percent since raising it by 25 basis points each in September and July last year. Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas said Thursday its current monetary policy stance is “appropriate.”
Megaworld to launch Makati condos in 2015

By Manila Standard Today | Mar. 20, 2015 at 05:55pm
Property developer Megaworld recently announced that it sold 2,346 residential units from its six residential projects in the Makati Central Business District (CBD) over the past six months, namely, One Central, Two Central, Paseo Heights and SalcedoSkySuites in Salcedo Village; and Greenbelt Hamilton 1 and Greenbelt Madison in Legaspi Village.

It plans to launch three more residential projects until 2016. The new residential towers will be part of the company’s efforts to increase the portfolio of property developments in the country’s premier financial hub to more than 30 towers by 2016.

“The official reports the good economic condition since last year is largely felt in Makati CBD,” said Eugene Em Lozano, Megaworld’s vice president for sales and marketing. “The office spaces are getting filled up and the retail industry is on its all-time high. That is why our residential condominiums, all located in premium addresses, are also on high demand,” said Lozano.

Megaworld has around 27 office and residential towers in its portfolio in the country’s financial center.

This year, the company is completing Two Central, a 29-storey residential tower along Valero Street in Salcedo Village, with a total of 408 residential units.

To date, construction of the 30-storey Paseo Heights fronting the Salcedo Park and the 50-storey Three Central along Valero Street, which will house its own podium mall, is on full-swing. Both towers are expected for completion by 2017 with a total of 992 units.

The first tower of Greenbelt Hamilton, which is near Legazpi Park, is also under construction, and is scheduled for completion next year. The second tower, which is now almost sold out, is up for completion in 2019. Both towers will have a total of 601 units.

The 32-storey SalcedoSkySuites is scheduled for completion by 2018 with a total of 241 units.

“As Makati continues to establish itself as the top location for real estate investment, we are poised to expand its residential condominium portfolio in this premiere city,” said Lozano.
Avida targets SMEs with new BGC project

By Manila Standard Today | Mar. 20, 2015 at 05:50pm
Avida Land is drawing small and medium enterprises to Bonifacio Global City (BGC) with its second office development, the 26-storey Capital House. The project is valued at P4 billion, and was designed for professional firms, small agencies, and entrepreneurs seeking a BGC address.

Avida, a subsidiary of Ayala Land, Inc., is launching Capital House as a sequel to the One Park Drive office project also in BGC. One Park Drive, at 20 stories high, is also geared for SMEs, and sold out at a P2.5 billion value on its first year of selling alone.

“We see a good market for businesses seeking a sought-after address like BGC, as evidenced by the success of One Park Drive,” said JoJo Fabricante, Avida’s innovation and design group head. “Capital House positions movers into an area where offices are usually tailored for large-scale operations such as BPOs and multinational conglomerates. Units are not smaller than 100 sqm. with modal offices at around 250 sqm.”

Capital House has 222 units with sizes ranging from 62 sqm to 159 sqm., with special whole floor units at 1,400 sqm. The project sells for P9.9 M to P25.6 M.

“Right now, our buyers are a mix of investors and end-users,” said Herbert Herrero, Avida project development manager. “As the Philippines becomes a booming real estate market, more and more investors are inclined to buy a mix of residential and office developments.”

The property is located in BGC’s “Active North” district, along 34th St. corner 9th Ave., near attractions such as the Turf BGC all-weather football field and Flying Trapeze Philippines. Soon to rise in the area are the BGC Sports Complex and Kidzania, a family “edutainment” center.

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