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Thursday, March 12, 2015
DOTC sets bidding for 6 airport PPPs

ABS-CBNnews.com
Posted at 03/11/2015 10:56 PM
http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/business/03/11/15/dotc-sets-bidding-6-airport-ppps
 
MANILA – The timetable for the bidding process for six provincial airport projects has been set, the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) said.

The deadline for the submission of qualification documents is scheduled on May 18 while the deadline for the submission of bids has yet to be finalized. The Notice of Award is expected to be issued by March 2016.

Government has decided to split the bidding for the operation and maintenance of the six provincial airports worth P128 billion into two packages to ensure that all the projects are awarded to competent players.

The P10.3 billion Puerto Princesa airport project, however, was removed from the two packages.

Transportation Undersecretary Jose Perpetuo Lotilla said the inclusion of the Puerto Princesa project in the bidding process has been put on hold until further notice.

"Please be advised that the inclusion of the Puerto Princesa airport in the bidding process is being held in abeyance until further notice," he said.

Package A includes the Iloilo, and Bacolod-Silay airports while Package B comprises of the Davao, Laguindingan, and New Bohol airports worth P66.9 billion.

The DOTC said the 30-year concession contract will be awarded through a bidding following the rules and procedures prescribed under Republic Act 6957 as amended by RA 7718 otherwise known as the Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) Law.

The DOTC, through the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, will enter into concession agreements on the operation and maintenance, and possible expansion of the airports to private operators.
Gov't rolls out Metro Manila air monitoring portal
By March 16, at least 12 cities in the capital region will be sending hourly updates on air pollution levels to a website the public can access

Pia Ranada
Published 3:34 PM, Mar 12, 2015
Updated 3:34 PM, Mar 12, 2015
http://www.rappler.com/science-nature/environment/86629-metro-manila-air-pollution-monitoring-portal
 
MANILA, Philippines – Starting next week, Metro Manila residents will be able to monitor their city's air quality level at an hourly or weekly basis.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) will roll out on Monday, March 16, its hourly air quality monitoring feeds on a website accessible to the public.

Anyone may access the data by visiting the air quality monitoring portal of the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB). The portal, when launched, should show the air quality levels as measured by the 17 air quality monitoring stations spread out over Metro Manila.

The launch of the portal was delayed due to the difficulty of finding appropriate locations for the stations in some cities, said EMB Director Jonas Leones during a press briefing on Thursday, March 12. All stations were supposed to have been ready last December.

All 16 cities and one town in Metro Manila now have air quality monitoring stations, equipment that resemble a small, metal house that measure air quality using 3 different units of measurement.

Of these, 12 are "automatic" or capable of sending hourly data to the EMB central office in Quezon City via the Internet.

Five are still manual, meaning the data is still transferred by physical documents to the EMB and only at the end of the week.

EMB's engineer Tess Peralta said these 5 will be upgraded with automatic monitoring equipment by April.
Caloocan: North Caloocan City Hall, Zapote Street, Barangay 177, Caloocan City
Las Piñas: Rohm and Hass Property, Las Piñas City
Makati: Makati Park, Dr Jose P. Rizal Extension, East Rembo, Makati City
Malabon: Polytechnic Institute, Malabon City
Marikina: Parking Area of Marikina Justice Hall, Marikina City
Mandaluyong: Hardin ng Pagasa, Mandaluyong City Hall, Plainview, Mandaluyong City
Navotas: Navotas City Hall M. Naval St, Navotas City
Parañaque: Don Bosco Barangay Hall, Better Living Subdivision, Parañaque City
Pasay: NAIA Terminal 2, Pasay City
Pasig: Country Lodge, Oranbo, Pasig City
Muntinlupa: Bureau of Corrections, New Bilibid Prison Reservation, Muntinlupa City
Pateros: Pateros Elementary School, Pateros City
San Juan: Pinaglabanan Shrine, San Juan City
Taguig: Technological University of the Philippines, Taguig Campus, Taguig City (on-going installation)
Manila: De La Salle University, Taft, Manila
Valenzuela: Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Valenzuela, Valenzuela City
Quezon City: Department of Public Works and Highway, EDSA, Quezon City

The monitoring stations measure air quality using 3 indicators: Particulate Matter (PM) 2.5, PM10, and Total Suspended Particulates (TSP).

PM2.5, said Peralta, measures the most dangerous type of air-polluting particles – particles small enough to enter the bronchial tubes of the lungs and cause severe respiratory diseases.

PM10 measures particles which are small enough to enter the nasopharynx in the upper portion of the esophagus.

TSP, meanwhile, measures particles bigger than PM10 – the dirt that usually settles in your nostrils.

The DENR plans to add more monitoring stations in different parts of the country. This year, it is purchasing 37 more stations – 7 for the National Capital Region and the rest to be distributed to other regions.
 
'Easy access'

To make it easy for the public to understand, an air quality index will be used. Air quality levels will be graded accordingly:
    Good
    Fair
    Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups
    Very Unhealthy
    Acutely Unhealthy
    Emergency
The stations are located in areas which give the most "accurate" idea of what the city's air pollution levels are, said Leones.

Thus, they are not located near busy streets since air pollution levels tend to spike during rush hour and dip on holidays or Sundays. These extreme fluctuations will make the recorded air quality level "unnatural and unrealistic," said Leones.

The stations, each costing P3 million ($68,000), are able to measure air pollution within 2 kilometers of its location.

The DENR is in talks with media outlets to include the air quality measurements in weather reports of news programs to increase public awareness on air pollution.

Leones said air pollution is one of the major environmental programs of the Aquino administration.

"This is one of the department's promises to the President. By 2016, Metro Manila must meet international standards on air quality," he said.

From January to July 2014, Metro Manila's air pollution level in terms of TSP was 136 micrograms per normal cubic meter (ug/Ncm). The international standard for safe air is 90 ug/Ncm.

The latest PM10 measurements shows that, in terms of PM10, slightly more than half of 13 stations (7 out of 13) measured "fair" air quality. This means air quality within the range of 55 to 154 ug/Ncm.

The international standard for PM10 is 60 ug/Ncm. For PM2.5, the international standard is 35 ug/Ncm.
 
Pressure for LGUs

Equipping all Metro Manila local government units (LGUs) with air monitoring stations is an effort to connect pollution with governance, said Leones.

The program was completed in time for the 2016 elections.

"LGUs will see, this is how high their air pollution is. This is already an appreciation and recognition of the problem. By means of informing the public, they will be clamoring for action. This is pressure for the LGUs to act," he said.

Dirty air may turn off Investors, entrepreneurs, and potential residents from making business or putting up their homes in that city.

To reinforce this, the EMB aims to send letters twice a month to LGU officials with worrisome air pollution levels.

This will hopefully mobilize them into action. But he also called on citizens to be proactive in demanding clean air from their mayors and councilors.

Air pollution has been found to cause cancer and increase the likelihood of respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, especially in young children.

Around 80% of dirty air in Metro Manila comes from motor vehicles, said Leones. The remaining 20% comes from stationary sources, like construction sites and industries.

DENR only has jurisdiction over stationary sources, making it difficult for them to fulfill their promise of safe air for the metro. – Rappler.com
Transpo hub for Clark airport passengers to be established

ABS-CBNnews.com
Posted at 03/12/2015 4:55 PM
http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/business/03/12/15/transpo-hub-clark-airport-passengers-be-established
 
MANILA, Philippines - A new transportation hub catering to passengers using Clark International Airport will be established at the Robinsons mall in Pampanga.

Clark International Airport Corp. (CIAC) president and CEO Emigdio Tanjuatco signed the memorandum of understanding with Robinsons Malls general manager Arlene Magtibay and Genesis Transport Service marketing head Loren Zubia.

Under the partnership, a transport hub with a ticketing lounge will be located at the Bus Terminal of Robinsons Starmills Pampanga.

Tanjuatco said the new hub would cater to passengers and travelers using the Clark International Airport, which hosts Asiana Airlines, Qatar Airways, Cebu Pacific, Seair, Tiger Air, Jin Air, Dragonair, Air Asia Berhad and Tiger Air Singapore.

"We all aim to give our customers the best service possible and one of the concerns of the passengers right now is the mobility of the passengers from terminal to destinations, and we are thankful that we have partners such as Robinsons and Genesis to address that concern," he said.

Magtibay estimated there are around 500 buses from various points of Luzon that are ferrying passengers to and from Robinsons Starmills Pampanga.

"Now it will be much easier for passengers to go to Clark Airport by using the Robinsons Transport Hub," she said.

The volume of passengers using the Clark airport is seen to jump 150 percent to three million over the next two years from the current level of about 1.2 million passengers a year.
Filinvest Land 2014 profits jump 16 pct

ABS-CBNnews.com
Posted at 03/12/2015 12:41 PM
http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/business/03/12/15/filinvest-land-2014-profits-jump-16-pct
 
MANILA, Philippines - Developer Filinvest Land Inc. reported its consolidated net income rose 16 percent in 2014 to P4.6 billion.

The Gotianun-led company said consolidated revenues jumped 22 percent to a record P16.90 billion, driven by strong growth of its residential businesses and expansion of its office leasing operations.

FLI said it posted P13.2 billion in revenues in 2014 from its residential projects, up 26 percent.

Revenues from rental assets also increased 11 percent to P2.26 billion, as it booked revenues from new office buildings Filinvest One and Plaz@ E at Northgate Cyberzone in Alabang.

In 2014, FLI launched P12.5 billion worth of residential projects, including 100 West in Makati City, and horizontal developments in Tarlac, Rizal, Laguna, Batangas and Palawan.

FLI is looking to launch P16 billion worth of new projects this year.

FLI CEO and President Josephine Gotianun Yap said that the firm is on track with its plans to triple its recurring income portfolio by 2019 to about 970,000 square meters.

"We are targeting to increase our gross leasable area to three times our current office and retail space inventory within the next five years. For 2015, we are adding around 67,506 square meters of office space and 85,034 square meters of retail space to our portfolio," she said in a statement.

"The outstanding performance of FLI in 2014 was brought about by the company’s ability to address the needs of homebuyers as reflected in the consistent growth of residential sales and its ability to execute its plans to increase office as well as retail spaces in key locations nationwide," she added.
 
Alveo Land eyes P7.5-B in sales from QC condo project

by Jon Carlos Rodriguez, ABS-CBNnews.com
Posted at 03/12/2015 5:11 PM
http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/business/03/12/15/alveo-land-eyes-p75-b-sales-qc-condo-project
 
MANILA – Alveo Land, the high-end property unit of Ayala Land, is expecting to generate about P7.5 billion in revenues from the second tower of High Park at Vertis North, Quezon City.

High Park Tower Two is a 49-storey mixed-use condominium that has 803 units with a selling price of P140,000 per square meters.

Read more here: http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/business/03/12/15/alveo-land-eyes-p75-b-sales-qc-condo-project
DMCI Homes introduces innovations in condo living

March 11, 2015
http://www.mb.com.ph/dmci-homes-introduces-innovations-in-condo-living/
 
DMCI Homes, a pioneer in resort-themed mid-rise residential condominium communities in Metro Manila, continues its successful urban living innovation this time by venturing into high-rise development.

The developer’s newly completed Flair Towers and upcoming Sheridan Towers, Lumiere Residences and Brio Tower are testaments to its product diversification and evolution into a premier developer the past 16 years. They also represent the company’s competitiveness in the growing residential condo market and the continuous appeal of its resort-style residences to homebuyers.

DMCI Homes became synonymous with spacious units, generous amenities, strategic location, affordability and a unique building design called Lumiventt.

The design facilitates natural ventilation and lighting of the building and units through balconies, single loaded corridors, atriums and breezeways.

Read more here: http://www.mb.com.ph/dmci-homes-introduces-innovations-in-condo-living/
Suburban living thrives amidst nature in Laguna
Greenfield City

March 11, 2015
http://www.mb.com.ph/suburban-living-thrives-amidst-nature-in-laguna/
 
It could well be the most complete and holistic community in Laguna. With residential parks, outlet malls, business districts, and economic zones, Greenfield City plays out the suburban lifestyle in a cradle of greens and open spaces.

The 400-hectare masterplanned community by Greenfield Development Corporation is a self-contained community that is a haven for those who opt to have everything – living, shopping, dining, commerce, leisure and play – all at their fingertips.

Greenfield veers away from the norm by setting its community amidst sprawling nature.

“This community is patterned after a park-living concept where much of the space is devoted to lush greens, open spaces, parks and playgrounds. It is a city built within a park,” explained Atty. Duane AX Santos, EVP and GM of Greenfield. “We want those who work and reside here to experience suburban bliss while having modern and upscale conveniences.”
 
RETAIL HUB

Driving along Sta. Rosa is a leisure hub not to be missed – the Paseo. A retail landmark situated amidst Greenfield City’s vast development, it has become a favorite shopping and dining destination of southerners.

Establishing a firm hold on bargain shoppers, it is dubbed the “country’s largest outlet mall” carrying top brands on sale every day. With pedestrian-friendly atmosphere and an open-air concept, Paseo is a lush alternative to congested malls.

Read more here: http://www.mb.com.ph/suburban-living-thrives-amidst-nature-in-laguna/
Water features enhance life at Radiance Manila Bay

March 11, 2015
http://www.mb.com.ph/water-features-enhance-life-at-radiance-manila-bay/


There is something about water that attracts us in a way that enhances our well-being. Understanding the regenerative effects of water in an urban setting, Robinsons Land Corp. (RLC) is building a twin-tower residential condominium that’s a stone’s throw from Manila Bay.

With its North Tower coming in 2018, The Radiance Manila Bay will offer residents an unparalleled lifestyle and experience. The condos not only maximize the view of the famous sunset but also provide water features that soothe the senses.  Moreover, its location in Roxas Boulevard is at the cultural heartland of Manila.

Read more here: http://www.mb.com.ph/water-features-enhance-life-at-radiance-manila-bay/
PH must push for new global agreement on disaster risk reduction

The framework must inspire participation of disaster-affected communities in every stage of the process – from understanding risks and their impacts to effective governance and accountability

Alison Kent
Published 5:19 PM, Mar 12, 2015
Updated 5:28 PM, Mar 12, 2015
Read article here: http://www.rappler.com/move-ph/issues/disasters/preparedness/86641-philippines-gain-new-global-framework-disaster-risk-reduction
Tsunami 101: What you need to know about tsunamis

The Philippines is an archipelago located along the Pacific Ocean's Ring of Fire, making it vulnerable to earthquakes that may cause tsunamis
Gwen de la Cruz

Published 9:00 AM, Mar 12, 2015
Updated 11:49 AM, Mar 12, 2015
Read article here: http://www.rappler.com/move-ph/issues/disasters/knowledge-base/86509-tsunami-101-need-know-tsunamis
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Thursday, July 16, 2015
DBS retains Philippine growth forecast

By Lawrence Agcaoili, The Philippine Star
Posted at 07/15/2015 8:37 AM
http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/business/07/15/15/dbs-retains-philippine-growth-forecast
 
MANILA - Singapore-based DBS retained its 2015 growth forecast for the Philippines at six percent amid the sharp 17.4-percent decline in merchandise exports last May.

“Overall GDP growth may still come in around six percent this year,” DBS said.

“While a moderation in export growth is widely anticipated this year, the May figure still came as a huge disappointment,” DBS said.

It said export growth could be barely in the positive this year after expanding by an average of 8.7 percent over the last three years.

“High base effects certainly played a part, but the current state of global demand also means it is getting harder to sustain high export growth year after year,” the investment bank said.

The country’s merchandise exports fell the most in three years after contracting by 17.4 percent to $4.9 billion in May from $5.9 billion in the same month last year amid the global economic slowdown.

This translated to a five-percent decline in merchandise exports to $24.77 billion in the first five months of the year from $23.54 billion in the same period last year.

DBS pointed out sustained strength in the overall manufacturing sector would help ease some burden off from services and construction sectors.

“More importantly, note that contribution from net exports to overall GDP growth has been fairly small in recent years Private consumption and investment growth have been pretty much the drivers of the 6.6-percent average growth in 2012-14,” it said.

Last May, DBS slashed the country’s GDP growth forecast to six percent instead of 6.3 percent after the lower-than-expected economic expansion in the first quarter of the year.

The country’s GDP growth slowed down to 5.2 percent in the first quarter of the year from 5.6 percent in the same quarter last year amid weak government spending.

The government expects the economy to grow between seven-and eight-percent this year.

The Singapore-based investment bank sees the country’s inflation falling within the two-to four-percent target set by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP).

Inflation eased to a 20-year low of 1.2 percent in June from 1.6 percent in May.

DBS said the BSP’s Monetary Board would likely keep key policy rates steady over the near term.

“No monetary policy response is likely in the near-term. It is interesting to see, however, if the central bank will spend more time discussing the relative strength of the peso,” the bank said.

The overnight borrowing rate is currently pegged at four percent while the overnight lending rate is at six percent.
PH badly needs key economic reforms

By Ray S. Eñano | Jul. 15, 2015 at 11:20pm
http://manilastandardtoday.com/2015/07/15/ph-badly-needs-key-economic-reforms/
 
The Philippines may not realize it immediately, but it cannot compete under a free regional trade regime, or in a single market called the Asean economic community.

Philippine lawmakers and President Benigno Aquino III have ignored economic reforms that can make it at par with the advanced economies of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. The local business community believes reforms must be done ASAP to prepare the Philippines for the AEC.

Economist Gerardo Sicat, a former director-general of the National Economic and Development Authority and ex-World Bank senior executive in-charge of its Public Economics Group, said the Philippines could be one of the least prepared for the regional free trade.

“Those countries with the freest and most flexible policy mechanisms will gain the most, while those burdened with domestic restrictions will be slowed down by those restrictions since they could prevent or cause investments from happening,” said Sicat in one of his papers.

The former top economist said the Philippines has not acted on “the most difficult reforms” it needs to capitalize on the free trade regime that will usher under the AEC.

“From personal observation, the most difficult reforms to undertake are often the last to be adopted,” Sicat said in an opinion essay. “I see that the main reforms we have to deal with [for instance, revisions of Constitutional economic provisions, labor market reforms, and investments in critical infrastructure] are stuck in Congress, in our own resistance, within the impasse of bureaucratic processes, and in the politics of wait—and—see.”

The Philippines, for instance, has lagged way behind its Asean neighbors—Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia—in the race for foreign direct investments, and is even having much difficulty keeping up with erstwhile tail-ender Vietnam.

The Philippine Business Group-Joint Foreign Chambers, whose members include 18 of the biggest and most active local and foreign business organizations in the country, has long urged the government to enact economic reforms to advance the Philippine economy.
 
SONA imperatives

In a May 15 letter to President Aquino ahead of his final State of the Nation Address, the PBG-JFC listed eight proposals that require prompt executive action and seven more needing swift congressional approval to cash in on the “unprecedented improvements in competitiveness, attractiveness to investment, and overall boost in the Philippine image in the eyes of the international community.”

PBG-JFC’s proposals for Palace action, including the formation of a public-private energy council to solve the power crisis, reducing the Foreign Investment Negative List of industries where foreign participation is limited, and speeding up the implementation of critical infrastructure projects, are designed to ensure massive job generation, facilitate trade and boost competitiveness.

The business grouping highlighted the importance of Resolution of Both Houses No. 1, or RBH 1, authored by Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., whose congressional approval “will encourage greater foreign investment as well as prepare the country for high-level plurilateral agreements, such trade as the Trans-Pacific Partnership.”

TPP is the centerpiece of the US trade agenda of the Obama administration.

“The Philippines possesses immense untapped potential that will be unleashed with the proper environment and policies in place,” said PBG-JFC in its latest letter to President Aquino. “It is our common position that the enactment and implementation of the above measures will accelerate the country toward the progressive nation we all aspire to become.”

Belmonte’s RBH 1 seeks to lift the 60-40 rule—the constitutional proviso requiring Filipinos to own at least 60 percent of local businesses and for their foreign partners to own a maximum of 40 percent—in the 1987 Charter.

The House failed to pass RBH 1 before Congress adjourned in June 12, but there is enough time for lawmakers to clear it in the third and final regular session. They have seven working months to pass the crucial bill from the time both chambers open in July until they close in February 2016 in time for the national elections campaign period.

With the fast-approaching deadline for the creation of the AEC by end-2015, Philippines Inc. president Antonio Lopa called on the Aquino administration to support the calls to amend the economic provision of the 1987 Constitution.

 “By relaxing the limitations on foreign ownership, the Philippines will not only be able to participate in the TPP, but it will also be able to maximize its benefit from the Asean integration, and create much needed jobs for the Filipino people,” Lopa said.

“To realize inclusive growth, the country needs to further accelerate the velocity of growth by instituting a more open policy regime that nurtures a globally competitive investment climate that must be sustained beyond political timelines,” he said.
DOTC rolls out most expensive PPP yet

ABS-CBNnews.com
Posted at 07/15/2015 10:58 AM | Updated as of 07/15/2015 1:10 PM
http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/business/07/15/15/dotc-rolls-out-most-expensive-ppp-yet
 
MANILA – Government's most expensive public-private partnership (PPP) project so far is now up for bidding, the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) said Wednesday.

The DOTC has published an invitation to bidders for the P170.7-Billion South Line of the North-South Railway Project (NSRP), which involves the designing, constructing, financing, operating, and maintaining of a 653-kilometer rail system.

“This is our biggest project yet: the revival of the oldest rail system in Southeast Asia, beginning with the Manila-Legazpi section plus additional branch lines totaling 653 kilometers,” Transportation Sec. Jun Abaya said.

“Rail systems are a driver for inclusive socio-economic growth. They encourage trade and business activity, and provide access to employment and educational opportunities. The PNR, once a symbol of the country’s economic progress, should be modernized into a safe, convenient, and efficient system by 2020,” he added.

The winning bidder will be awarded the contact to design, construct, finance, operate, and maintain the following services:

• The 56-kilometer Commuter Rail service, for daily riders on the Tutuban, Manila to Calamba, Laguna route

• The 478-kilometer Long-Haul Rail service, for travelers on the Tutuban, Manila to Legazpi, Albay route

The Long-Haul service may also have the following extensions:

• 58 kilometers from Calamba, Laguna to Batangas City, Batangas

• 117 kilometers from Legazpi, Albay to Matnog, Sorsogon

The entire railway is expected to be operational in 2020, with 10 daily trips with seven train sets passing through 66 stations.

“This project will impact directly on a grassroots level. Those who have less in life, especially farmers and fisherfolk, will be given efficient means to expand their livelihood. This is our biggest project yet, and this is for those who need it most,” Abaya said.

The system is expected to yield a demand of 316,000 passengers per day on its opening year, and aims to entice around 44,000 public and private vehicle users to shift their commutes to the modernized railway.

DOTC is inviting both local and international companies to participate in the auction. A two-stage bidding process will be adopted, with the pre-qualification date targeted within the fourth quarter of 2015.

The bid opening is expected to be held in January 2016, and awarding is set in March 2016.
Palace: PH adheres to law on sea

By Sandy Araneta, Vito Barcelo | Jul. 16, 2015 at 12:01am
http://manilastandardtoday.com/2015/07/16/palace-ph-adheres-to-law-on-sea/
 
MALACANANG on Wednesday stressed its adherence to international law and a rules-based resolution to the disputes in the South China Sea in spite of China’s call to drop its arbitration case against it.

“The Philippines affirms its adherence to international law and preference for rules-based resolution of maritime entitlement issues,” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma said in a text message to reporters.

“The Philippines has presented its position before the UN’s Permanent Commission on Arbitrations [that] we consider to be the proper forum for the resolution of disputes.”

Coloma made his statement even as China on Wednesday said it will not accept any decision of a United Nations arbitration panel where the Philippines has filed a case to solve the dispute in the South China Sea, describing the proceedings as one-sided and involved “a third party.”

“We are the victim in the maritime dispute and China will oppose any move by the Philippines to initiate and push forward the arbitral proceeding,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying said in an official statement posted online.

But Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose said arbitration was an internationally recognized dispute settlement mechanism, and that it was also provided in UNCLOS.

“The arbitration would have been a good opportunity for china to explain the basis of its nine-dash line claim,” Jose said.

China on Tuesday urged the Philippines to drop its arbitration case over the South China Sea dispute to bring back the good relations between  both countries.

“China urges the Philippines to come back to the right track of resolving disputes through negotiation and consultation,” Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hua Chunying said in a statement.

The Philippines has asked the United Nations tribunal in The Hague to declare China’s claims to virtually all of the South China Sea invalid, saying Beijing’s actions had trampled on other nations’ rights.

However, China maintained that it “will never accept the unilateral attempts to turn to a third party to solve the disputes.”

China contends the tribunal doesn’t have jurisdiction and has refused to participate in its proceedings.

China offered again to open bilateral negotiations to settle the maritime dispute, which the Philippines rejected.

Hua Chunying said Manila should return to negotiations and consultation with Beijing, which he described as the ‘’right approach’’ of resolving the matter.

Hua said Beijing still opposed Manila’s move to bring the issue to a United Nations-backed tribunal.

“On issues of territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests, China will never accept any imposed solution or unilaterally resorting to a third-party settlement,” Hua said.

Hua said China was in fact the “victim” in the sea dispute, accusing the Philippines of illegally occupying some of the reefs in the South China Sea that Beijing treats as its territory.

“The origin and crux of the disputes between China and the Philippines in the South China Sea lie in the territorial sovereignty disputes caused by the Philippines’ illegal occupation of some islands and reefs of China’s Nansha Islands since the 1970s, and the disputes concerning maritime rights and interests that arose thereafter,” Hua said.

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San Miguel, Megawide group qualify to bid for reg'l prison PPP
 
The new facility will accommodate 26,880 inmates and will include staff housing, administrative buildings, and areas for rehabilitation

Chrisee Dela Paz
Published 6:45 PM, July 15, 2015
Updated 6:45 PM, July 15, 2015
http://www.rappler.com/business/industries/208-infrastructure/99452-san-miguel-megawide-regional-prison
 
MANILA, Philippines – San Miguel Holdings Corporation and a group led by Megawide Construction Corporation have qualified to bid for the P50.18-billion ($1.11 billion) contract to build and maintain a new prison in Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Wednesday, July 15, announced the two qualifying bidders among the 3 groups that submitted pre-qualification documents for the Regional Prison Facilities through a public-private partenership (PPP).

The two qualified groups are San Miguel Holdings and Mega Structure Consortium composed of Megawide, Citicore Megawide Consortium Incorporated, and GMR Infrastructure Singapore Private Limited.

The parent firm of construction giant DM Consunji Incorporated (DMCI), however, was disqualified.

“DMCI was disqualified for failure to submit complete required pre-qualification documents,” Rosario Elena Laborte-Cuevas, legal officer of DOJ's Pre-qualification, Bids and Awards Committee, said in a mobile phone reply.

The tentative schedule for the submission of bids by qualified bidders is on August 14, while the signing of the concession agreement is in September.

The tender for the P50.18-billion ($1.11 billion) deal involving the construction and development of a new prison facility, was launched in February.
 
Modernize prison facilities

Under this project, a new prison facility will be built to “provide adequate living space, facilities, and address the basic needs of inmates incarcerated in existing penal facilities such as the New Bilibid Prison and the Correctional Institution for Women.”

About 21,106 convicts at the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City and 2,016 inmates at the Correctional Institution for Women in Mandaluyong City will be transferred to the Nueva Ecija facility once construction is completed some time in 2019, according to the project brief.

According to the project information memorandum, the target date of the issuance of Notice of Award is on September 3. The target date of the contract signing for the winning bidder is on September 30, and of the issuance of Notice to Proceed, March 2016.

The winning concessionaire will be responsible for the financing, detailed design and construction, and maintenance of the prison facility for 23 years, inclusive of a 3-year construction period.

The new facility will accommodate 26,880 inmates, and include staff housing, administrative buildings, and areas for rehabilitation (sports, work and religious activities).

The Aquino administration has already awarded 10 PPP projects since 2010 with a total indicative cost of P189 billion ($4.19 billion). – Rappler.com
Trees in the city make you healthier – study

By Ed Biado | Jul. 15, 2015 at 07:30pm
http://manilastandardtoday.com/2015/07/15/trees-in-the-city-make-you-healthier-study/

It’s common knowledge that trees make the air and their general vicinity fresher, more beautiful. But in highly urbanized densely populated areas, there’s not a lot of them and we’ve always “paved paradise and put up a parking lot,” which results in the shrinkage and disappearance of green spaces. And if you need additional reasons to believe that we need more trees in the city, you should know that they may actually have a direct impact on your health and well-being.

Published in Nature.com’s Scientific Reports, new research from the University of Chicago, Indiana University, the University of Adelaide, the University of Toronto, the Institute of Clinical Evaluative Sciences and the David Suzuki Foundation found that people who live on city blocks with more trees are likely to be healthier than those who reside in neighborhoods with less trees.

The study took place in Toronto, Canada covering 530,000 individual trees planted on public areas and over 31,000 city residents.
Katipunan_Avenue in Quezon City

“We find that having 10 more trees in a city block, on average, improves health perception in ways comparable to an increase in annual personal income of $10,000 and moving to a neighborhood with $10,000 higher median income or being seven years younger,” the researchers wrote.

Meanwhile, an 11-tree difference “decreases cardio-metabolic conditions in ways comparable to an increase in annual personal income of $20,000 and moving to a neighborhood with $20,000 higher median income or being 1.4 years younger.”

Results “suggest that people who live in neighborhoods with a higher density of trees on their streets report significantly higher health perception and significantly less cardio-metabolic conditions.” To experience these benefits, increasing the street tree density by as little as four percent is hypothesized to be significant enough.

The paper acknowledges the “known” positive effects of trees in urban centers, such as improving air quality, reducing energy use for cooling and heating, and making the environments “aesthetically more preferable.” It also cites previous research on the physiological and psychological restorative effects of exposure to green spaces.

It seems that planting more trees is a cost-effective way to improve public health. Based on the findings, “improving health perception and decreasing cardio-metabolic conditions by planting 10 more trees per city block is equivalent to increasing the income of every household in that city block by more than $10,000, which is more costly than planting the additional 10 trees.”

Tree-lined streets and green spaces are common among Metro Manila’s gated communities, including Dasmariñas Village, Ayala Alabang Village and Forbes Park. But outside the subdivision walls, urban oases are hard to come by and the ones that remain are at risk of being completely annihilated. These include the Ayala Triangle Gardens, which tree population is set to be reduced once the northern part of the park gets turned into a mixed-use vertical development.
D.M. Wenceslao plans $250-M IPO

Reuters
Posted at 07/15/2015 12:46 PM
http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/business/07/15/15/dm-wenceslao-plans-250-m-ipo
 
MANILA - Philippine property firm D.M. Wenceslao and Associates Inc is considering raising up to $250 million from an initial public offering late this year or early in 2016, Thomson Reuters publication IFR reported.

Company director Delfin Wenceslao confirmed the IPO plan but declined to provide additional details.

"We have capital raising plans, which may include an IPO," Wenceslao told Reuters in a mobile text message on Wednesday.

From its beginnings in the 1960s as a general construction firm, D.M. Wenceslao has expanded into land banking, real estate development, land development and mass housing.

Its 204-hectare (504.09-acre) Aseana City project is beside Entertainment City, the Philippines' smaller version of the Las Vegas gaming strip.
Oceanway Residences Luxurious beachside living in Boracay

July 15, 2015
http://www.mb.com.ph/oceanway-residences-luxurious-beachside-living-in-boracay/

The lifestyle of living beside the world-famous beaches of Miami Beach and Santorini is the inspiration for Oceanway Residences, the first residential condominium cluster inside the 150-hectare Boracay Newcoast township in Boracay Island.

Oceanway Residences is being developed by Global-Estate Resorts, Inc. (GERI), a subsidiary of Megaworld. Oceanway Residences promises to offer amazing views of the Sibuyan Sea, the vast greenery of Fairways & Bluewater Golf Course and Mt. Luho, Boracay Island’s highest peak.

Oceanway Residences is divided into two phases. Once completed, this residential project will boast a total of seven towers with six stories each. It will offer units ranging from studios (up to 40.4 sqm), one-bedroom (up to 41.8 sqm), two-bedroom (up to 63.4 sqm) and three-bedroom (up to 126.8 sqm).

Located along Newcoast Drive, Oceanway Residences also offers first-class community beachside amenities as it is located at the heart of an integrated urban township inspired by the world’s best beach neighborhoods. Each cluster has a viewing deck, outdoor lounge deck and swimming pool.

Soon, residents and guests can also traverse the inclined stone streets in a colorful environment of numerous shops, cafes, bars, restaurants, an entertainment center and mid-rise residences.

Further up the estate are the exclusive residential properties that will give owners the privilege to see the island on a higher and distinct panoramic perspective.

A jetty port where yachts could be exclusively docked will be the start-off point for many of the estate’s guests and stakeholders. Also on both sides of the estate will soon thrive international brand hotels, an exclusive 18-hole golf course and other leisure centers.

With 60 percent of the development for open spaces and greenery, Boracay Newcoast will be the benchmark of environmentally-conscious urban planning with its pedestrian-friendly layout, as well as seamless arrangement of road networks, own sewage treatment plant, siltation tanks, and underground electrical lines.
A Place in the Sun

By Ana Warren González | Jul. 15, 2015 at 07:50pm
http://manilastandardtoday.com/2015/07/15/a-place-in-the-sun/

For a developing country that’s still trying to surmount economic challenges, this is a rather ironic reality: We have the highest electricity rate in Asia and we are charged exorbitant fees for a basic necessity we apparently can ill afford. Good thing then that the government has placed its support behind renewable energy initiatives, positioning the Philippines as a world leader in the technology with 30 percent of its power generation supported by the renewable energy sector. Looks like there’s hope on the horizon: the day will come when we spend more on ourselves than on our electricity bills.
 
The Blacks in the sun

Impossibly tall siblings Alex and Sara Black have begun Yes! Solar Cleantech – the local dealership for US-based renewable energy firm Yes! Solar Solutions. During his apprenticeship at non-profit Californian firm GRID Solutions, Alex discovered first-hand how transformative solar power is. “(Filipinos) have gotten so used to the traditional way of implicitly accepting a system where we never had a choice as to where our electricity would come from. We would walk into a home and plug in all our appliances and equipment only knowing that electricity came from somewhere, somehow.”

Dissatisfied with the status quo and recognizing that there were solutions readily available, Alex turned to his sister with a proposal: Change the way that future generations consume electricity. Sara, recognized as one of the country’s most amazing professional photographers, exclaims, “I immediately loved all the possibilities I saw for the product in the Philippines, given how abundant sunlight is here. I immediately told Alex, YES! I am in.”
 
Value-driven

The backbone of Yes! relies on the values that support the siblings, and their shared vision for the future of the nation. Alex’s vision is massive and worldwide. He quotes Pope Francis’ latest encyclical, Laudato Si, in which His Holiness addresses climate change: “(The encyclical) stressed that developing nations such as the Philippines stand to be the most affected by climate change because of our large dependency on our natural reserves and ecosystemic services such as agriculture, fishing, and forestry.” It’s a fact: renewable energy will help address climate change. The Philippines is so battered and bruised by mutable weather conditions – climate change is something we all need to think about.

Sara’s values are more close to home. “Participating in solar energy helps each one of us to positively impact the environment by lessening our carbon footprint. Our vision is to create a community of people who live consciously, waste less, and gain more.” In fact, Sara connects the technology of Yes! to the recent movement of sustainable lifestyles. “I’ve been on this journey of wanting to live more consciously, starting with the way I consume food, how I nourish and exercise my body, how I have been developing my spiritual awareness. This technology just gives me another avenue to be more mindful about how I consume and waste, what my individual participation is in the world.”
 
Money out, benefits in

This renewable energy stuff is a bit of a Catch-22. Lots of people are wary to invest in it because of the steep initial investment. The developing world needs renewable energy more than ever to reduce carbon emissions and to cease the reliance on diminishing fossil fuels – yet by the nature of our economic situation, we’re hard-pressed to afford it. The siblings point out however that solar technology is the most affordable way to address renewable energy – and the easiest way for each individual to participate in the initiative to save Mother Earth.

To participate individually in the change that impacts a nation – this is indeed a worthwhile cause – and empowering indeed. Put it this way: We invest in our appearance, our businesses, in people we care about. We spend money on self-beautification, on commerce, on our loved ones. We might as well spend money on the planet as well.

As their website proclaims, Yes! is all about clean air – clear conscience. It’s been said so many times that it has become cliché, but it still rings true: We really all have a part to play in saving Mother Earth. It’s not enough to expect your neighbor or your government to do something about it; the change starts from within. As with all positive change, it rebounds back to you as well with tangible benefits.
No, Earth is not heading toward a ‘mini ice age’

By Chelsea Harvey July 14
http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2015/07/14/no-earth-is-not-heading-toward-a-mini-ice-age/
 
This week, warnings of an impending “mini ice age,” set to hit in the 2030s, have been circulating in the media. It’s a story that has caused shivers among the public, but there’s one problem: Climate scientists aren’t buying it.

The ice age idea got rolling last week when researcher Valentina Zharkova, a professor of mathematics at Northumbria University in England, presented some of her recent research into solar variations at the Royal Astronomical Society’s National Astronomy Meeting in Wales. The presentation was based on a study she had published last year in the Astrophysical Journal, which presented a technique for understanding variations in solar radiation and made some predictions about how this radiation will change in the near future. Most notably, the research predicts that between 2030 and 2040, solar activity should drop significantly, leading to a condition known as a “solar minimum.”

According to the research, solar activity at this time should resemble conditions last seen in the mid-1700s during a period known of low solar radiation known as the “Maunder Minimum.” The interesting thing about this period was that it coincided with a “little ice age” in Europe and North America — a time marked by unusually cold temperatures and bitter winters. Now that Zharkova and her colleagues are predicting another solar minimum coming up, media coverage has jumped on the idea that a modern “mini ice age” is in store.

It’s a dramatic idea, but it isn’t being embraced by many climate scientists, who argue that anthropogenic global warming — brought on by a human outpouring of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere — will far outweigh any climate effects that might be caused by the sun. As far as the solar variations go, “The effect is a drop in the bucket, a barely detectable blip, on the overall warming trajectory we can expect over the next several decades from greenhouse warming,” said Michael Mann, distinguished professor of meteorology at Pennsylvania State University, in an e-mail to The Washington Post.

However, the issue isn’t so simple for Zharkova, who is openly skeptical about the strength of anthropogenic greenhouse gases when compared to the influence of the sun.

On the one hand, Zharkova maintains that her research was not intended to make assumptions about the effects of solar variation on climate — only to lay out predictions about the solar activity itself. “What will happen in the modern Maunder Minimum we do not know yet and can only speculate,” she says. On the other hand, she adds, her gut assumption is that temperatures will drop as they did 370 years ago.

The reason, she says, is her belief that the sun is a bigger influence on earthly climate than the effects of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. “I am not convinced with the arguments of the group promoting global warming of an anthropogenic nature,” Zharkova says, adding that she would need to examine more research before she could take a clear stance on anthropogenic climate change. Given the right evidence, she says she might accept that human-caused climate change is a bigger factor — but her belief for the time being is that changes in solar radiation are likely to have a bigger influence on temperature changes on Earth, not just during times of solar minimum, but throughout history.

However, this belief is in direct contrast with much literature on the topic. Georg Feulner, deputy chair of the Earth system analysis research domain at the Potsdam Institute on Climate Change Research, co-authored a paper in 2011 specifically examining the effect a solar minimum might have on Earth’s climate. His paper, and subsequent related research has concluded that any solar-related temperature drops would be far outweighed by human-caused global warming. In the case of a solar minimum, such as the one predicted by Zharkova and colleagues, “The expected decrease in global temperature would be 0.1°C at most, compared to about 1.3°C warming since pre-industrial times by the year 2030,” Feulner wrote in an e-mail to the Post.

Complicating the matter further is the idea that the 17th century’s “little ice age” wasn’t even really the result of the solar minimum going on at the time. Feulner also authored another 2011 paper that concluded that volcanic activity was the major cause of a cooler climate during this time, rather than solar variations. The takeaway is that changes in solar radiation are unlikely to hold a candle to the climatic effects being brought about by human-related greenhouse gas emissions.

While Zharkova is one of a small minority of scientists who do not fully accept human activities as the greatest drivers of current climate change, she says she’s surprised at the media response her study has garnered. “I didn’t realize there would be such a strong response from the climate people,” she says, adding that she would need to repeat the calculations of mainstream climate scientists and examine the evidence herself to decide if she can accept their point that anthropogenic influences outweigh those of the sun.

So there may well be a solar minimum in store for the near future — but it’s still probably safe to put your scarves and mittens back in storage for now. Research in the area suggests that greenhouse gas-related warming, not solar variations, will be the dominant climate factor for many years to come.

Still, Zharkova cautions, there’s not much time left until her predicted solar minimum hits. “We have only 15 years to wait, so we’ll learn soon enough,” she says.

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Thursday, June 25, 2015
PHL among top FDI recipients in East Asia; still below peers

Posted on June 25, 2015 03:29:00 AM
http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=TopStory&title=phl-among-top-fdi-recipients-in-e.-asia-still-below-peers&id=110301

THE PHILIPPINES has emerged anew among top foreign direct investment (FDI) destinations in East Asia, beating global and regional growth rates besides, but value of inflows still paled against those of comparable Southeast Asian peers, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) said in its World Investment Report 2015 released yesterday.

In a statement accompanying the report, UNCTAD said the Philippines climbed to 9th spot among the top 10 FDI recipients in East Asia (composed of Northeast and Southeast Asia) with $6.201-billion inflows from 10th place in 2013 with just $3.737 billion.

Global FDI inflows fell 16% annually to $1.23 trillion in 2014, dragged by the “fragility of the global economy, policy uncertainty for investors and elevated geopolitical risks.”

Philippine inflows, as tracked by the central bank, grew 65.9% to an all-time high last year, compared to East Asia’s 10% increment and Southeast Asia’s 5%.

The latest ranking, which used data from the Financial Times and UNCTAD’S FDI and Multinational Enterprises Database, showed China at the top of the heap with $128.5 billion last year from $123.9 billion in 2013.

UNCTAD’s report cited among contributors to Philippine FDI inflows last year Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC Pte Ltd’s acquisition of an 11% stake in Emperador, Inc. -- a producer of brandy and other alcoholic beverages -- for $390 million, as well as the takeover by Angat Hydropower Corp. -- a subsidiary of Korea Water Resources Corp. -- of a hydroelectric plant in Bulacan for about $440 million.

As a fraction of Southeast Asian inflows, the Philippines grew to 4.7% of the region’s $132.867 billion last year from 3.00% of $126.087 billion in 2013.

In terms of value, however, Philippine inflows were still dwarfed by those of its comparable Southeast Asian peers:

• Singapore added 4% to $67.523 billion last year from $64.793 billion in 2013;

• Indonesia grew 20% to $22.580 bilion from $18.817 billion;

• Thailand lost 10% to $12.566 billion from $14.016 billion;

• Malaysia gave up 11% to $10.799 billion from $12.115 billion; while

• Vietnam gained 3% to $9.2 billion from $8.9 billion.

Latest available central bank data show the Philippines’ inbound FDI flows dropped by half to $851 million last quarter from $1.715 billion in 2014’s comparable three months.

“The common complaint of foreign investors is the state of infrastructure,” said Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) President Gilberto M. Llanto during the report’s launch yesterday in Makati City.

“They are also mostly concerned on the tax regime, policy uncertainty, and regulatory framework,” he added.

“What the government can do is continue the reforms.”

In the same briefing, PIDS Senior Research Fellow Erlinda M. Medalla cited the need to “relax foreign equity restrictions” in various industries. “Imagine if you are a foreign investor and you invest in a country where you have no control of your investments, why would you do that?”

Mr. Llanto added that while the country’s incentives “generally compare well” with others, one problem with the Philippines is that it has seven incentive-giving bodies. “In other countries, investors talk to only one. There is a harmonized investment regime so the rules are very efficient,” he noted.

The report, which is the 25th in the series, noted that countries’ investment policy measures last year continued “to be geared predominantly towards investment liberalization, promotion and facilitation,” with more than 80% aimed at improving “entry conditions and reduce restrictions.”

“A number of countries introduced or amended their investment laws or guidelines to grant new investment incentives or to facilitate investment procedures,” it added. “Several countries relaxed restrictions on foreign ownership limitations or opened up new business activities to foreign investment.
PSEi slips below 7,600 on foreign selling

By: Doris Dumlao-Abadilla
@inquirerdotnet
http://business.inquirer.net/193998/psei-slips-below-7600-on-foreign-selling
 
THE LOCAL stock barometer slipped below 7,600 on Tuesday as foreign investors continued to pare down their position and dump large-cap stocks.

The Philippine Stock Exchange index lost 57.58 points or 0.76 percent to close at 7,551.56. Elsewhere in the region, stock markets were mostly higher on optimism that Greece will strike a deal with creditors to avoid a debt default.

At the local market, the decline was led by the industrial counter, which fell by 1.47 percent. This counter was weighed down by URC, which slid by 5 percent and was the most actively traded stock for the day.

The holding firms, services, mining/oil and property counters also ended lower while the financial sub-index was modestly down.

Some dealers said foreign investors were pocketing gains from local stocks in line with the rotation of funds to North Asia. There was P798 million in net foreign selling in the market for the day.

Value turnover amounted to P6 billion. There were 70 advancers which were edged out by 92 decliners while 50 stocks were unchanged.

Aside from URC, the PSEi was dragged down by selling on Bloomberry (-4.15 percent) and URC’s parent conglomerate JG Summit (-3.62 percent). AGI also faltered by 2.39 percent)

ALI, SMIC, EDC, BPI, SM Prime and Jollibee also slipped.

Outside of PSEi stocks, among the notable decliners were consumer stocks RRHI and Puregold which both slumped by over 2 percent.

Among those that bucked the downturn were utility Meralco and infrastructure    holding firm MPIC which both gained over 1 percent.

PLDT, Metrobank, BDO, GTCAP, AC and Megaworld also gained ground.
Philippines' biggest waste-to-fuel facility opens

ABS-CBNnews.com
Posted at 06/24/2015 5:16 PM
http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/business/06/24/15/philippines-biggest-waste-fuel-facility-opens

MANILA – The country's largest refuse derived fuel (RDF) facility dedicated to producing fuel from waste was launched Wednesday in Pasig City.

Private construction firm IPM Construction and Development Corp. led the launch together with the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and Pasig City government.

"We're excited to launch this project and officially start its operation as we celebrate World Environment Day and as the Philippines observes Environment Month this June," Pasig City Mayor Maribel Eusebio said.

The RDF facility, which aims to address concerns on increasing municipal solid waste and disposal, can process 600 tons of trash per day to produce alternative fuel for cement plants.

The co-processing of RDF from municipal solid wastes for cement plants is an environment-friendly technology used in other countries.

The facility is majority-owned by Basic Environmental Systems & Technologies, Inc. (BEST), a subsidiary of listed Minerales Industrias Corp. (MIC), and France-based Lafarge Industrial Ecology International.

IPM will operate and manage the facility. -- With a report from Doris Bigornia, ABS-CBN News
Isko asked to explain zoning policy that favored ‘Torre de Manila’

by Charissa Luci
June 25, 2015
http://www.mb.com.ph/isko-asked-to-explain-zoning-policy-that-favored-torre-de-manila/

Manila City Vice Mayor Isko Moreno (Franscisco Domagoso in real life) will have a lot of explaining to do in connection with the controversial 49-story Torre de Manila condominium project of the DMCI Holdings, Inc., former Manila City Mayor now Buhay Hayaang Yumabong (Buhay) party-list Rep. Lito Atienza said yesterday.

Aside from incumbent Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada and former mayor Alfredo Lim, Atienza said the House Committee on Metro Manila Development, chaired by Quezon City Rep. Winston Castelo should also invite Moreno to explain his alleged involvement in the supposed revision of the original zoning policy in the granting of building permit that prodded Estrada and Lim to approve the DMCI project.

“Dapat ang tanungin diyan si Vice Mayor Moreno kung bakit binago ng city council na pinamumunuan niya ang zoning policy sa pagbibigay ng building permit (Moreno should be asked why the city council headed by Moreno changed the zoning policy in granting a building permit),” Atienza said.

Atienza also questioned the implementation of new rules that require contractors and developers to secure clearance from the city council before proceeding with their projects.

“He (Moreno) should be made to answer why there is a need to require developers and construction companies to get clearance from the city council,” he said, noting that such policy is “subject of many complaints.”

“What is the legal basis for that (permit from city council)? There is too much red tape here,” he said.

The DMCI was granted a building permit for its Torre de Manila project after submitting all requirements,

including an approval from the city planning office in the form of a zoning permit and after being cleared of any violations under the national building code and other laws.

Last year, the Manila City Council decided to suspend the building permit of the DMCI for Torre de Manila after the developer supposedly violated local zoning rules and after concerned citizens and heritage conservationist opposed the project.

But, the Manila Zoning Board of Adjustments and Appeals (MBZAA) granted DMCI’s appeal for exemption from local zoning laws.

Lawmakers earlier pressed on the DMCI to voluntary remove the Torre de Manila that is ruining the Rizal monument. But DMCI still proceeded with construction even if the National Commission on Culture and the Arts (NCCA) ordered the suspension of Torre de Manila construction since January 13, 2014 through a Cease and Desist Order (CDO).

Last week, the Supreme Court issued a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) on the DMCI construction.
Ombudsman upholds IBC-13 property deal

Philippine Daily Inquirer
06:45 AM June 25th, 2015
http://business.inquirer.net/194084/ombudsman-upholds-ibc-13-property-deal
 
The Office of the Ombudsman has upheld the joint venture agreement entered into by state-owned broadcast network IBC-13 with a property developer as it dismissed the graft case filed against those who signed the contract in 2010.

In a 29-page resolution, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales said the JVA entered into by former officials of IBC-13 for the development of its idle property in Quezon City was advantageous since the payment to the government helped alleviate the financial condition of the corporation, especially all its employees.

“The JVA, far from being grossly and manifestly disadvantageous to the government, proved to be in fact advantageous with its intention of alleviating the financial distress of IBC-13 employees, both supervisory and rank and file, through the payment of their long delayed employment wages and benefits,” the resolution said.
 
The case stemmed from a graft case filed on March 24, 2010 against former IBC officials and Primestate Ventures Inc., the winning bidder.

The Ombudsman stated “thus for all intents and purposes, the transaction between IBC-13 and R-11 Builders Inc./Primestate Ventures Inc. is a valid and legal JVA”.

Upholding the deal, the Ombudsman dismissed the graft case filed against former IBC officials, Jose B. Javier, President and CEO; Joselito G. Yabut, Chairman of the Board; and Conrado A. Limcaoco, Supervising Secretary ; and property developer Nathaniel L. Romero, President and Managing Partner of RII Builders/Primestate Ventures Inc. for lack of evidence. It also ruled that the JVA they entered into for the development of the IBC compound in Capitol Hills, Quezon City was advantageous to the government.

The move was taken to address the decades-long labor problem of IBC-13 brought about by the failure of previous government administrations to pay the long overdue salaries and benefits to its employees due to its financial condition.

However, the Ombudsman said IBC-13 before entering into the JVA, had sought the legal opinion of the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel, which said the JVA was in furtherance of its primary purpose.

The OGCC stated in its opinion to IBC-13 that “entering into a JV agreement to develop its mostly idle property in order to secure its existence as a broadcasting corporation, support its operations, and continue to provide salaries to its workers, is thus in furtherance of IBC’s primary purpose. After all, if it does not devise creative ways, such as this proposed JV agreement, to raise funds in order to keep it alive, it will not be able to serve its primary purpose at all.”

The Ombudsman noted that even the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) and Office of Government Corporate Counsel (OGCC) also declared that there was no legal impediment that prevents the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) from giving its consent to the IBC-13 into entering into the JVA which is clearly beneficial to IBC-13.

The PCGG through a resolution interposed no objection in principle to the proposed JVA upon its signing on March 24, 2010.
Developers getting constructive in payment scheme offers

June 24, 2015
http://www.mb.com.ph/developers-getting-constructive-in-payment-scheme-offers/

Property developers in the country are now offering flexible payment schemes at friendlier price points to push their developments.

Families and buyers are now given more flexible payment schemes that work within their budgets. One such example is Rockwell Primaries that is offering more families the opportunity to find the right home.

“Finding the perfect home for your family is a challenge nowadays, most especially when it comes to the terms of payment. This is why we at Rockwell Primaries are offering an easier way for our homeowners to gain access to the home that they deserve,” said Malou Pineda, senior vice president at Rockwell Primaries Development Corporation.

For its 53 Benitez development in Quezon City, a two-bedroom unit, which already includes a parking slot and a drying cage, is offered at roughly P6.8 million and given at a discounted rate of P6.5 million for cash transactions. Payment terms are made lighter with a minimal reservation fee and a 5-percent down payment on the first month and 15-percent spread out over the next 12 months.

For the 15-percent amortization, owners can opt to choose whether they would like to amortize the whole 15% across 12 months or divide it between a 7.5% amortization for 12 months, and the other 7.5% paid in lump sum on the third, sixth, ninth and 12th months. The balance is to be paid through cash or bank financing upon turnover of the units, which is set in July 2016.

Located within minutes of New Manila, 53 Benitez is very accessible via main roads and is in perfect proximity to the metro’s top schools, hospitals, and commercial and business districts.

Aside from the basic comforts of each unit, thoughtful inclusions such as a maid’s room, an extra bathroom, storage areas, drying cages, and balconies are also offered. The property’s floating corridors and private bridgeways also give homeowners a sense of space and privacy.
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Friday, June 19, 2015
Super Mega Manila and urban renewal
 
The emergence of Super Mega Manila, or GCR, requires inward-looking redevelopment, or urban renewal, programs to complement the outward migration of its people and development

Philip M. Lustre Jr.
Published 8:00 AM, Jun 18, 2015
Updated 8:00 AM, Jun 18, 2015
http://www.rappler.com/thought-leaders/96617-super-mega-manila-urbanization
 
The concept of Greater Manila surfaced in the 1960s to refer to old Manila and the adjacent cities of Kalookan, Pasay and Quezon. By a mere stroke of the pen, dictator Ferdinand Marcos expanded it to become Metro Manila in 1975 and include Greater Manila and 12 other cities and a town.

The same 17 political constituencies composed the modern-day Metro Manila. In 1989, Congress enacted the law creating the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) as an administrative superbody to provide them with basic services traffic management, garbage collection, and urban planning, among others.

In late 1990s, the Mega Manila concept had emerged to refer to expanded Metro Manila. It was largely used by corporate planners as a conceptual guide to cover areas within the 50-kilometer radius with old Manila as center. In broadcast industry, Mega Manila became a selling point as it referred to areas, which radio signals could reach.

The Mega Manila concept did not take off as a political concept but policymakers, urban visionaries, and corporate planners had nevertheless used it in their works to refer to expanded Metro Manila.

In the late 2000s, the concept of Super Mega Manila emerged to refer to an expanded Mega Manila, which referred to areas that go beyond the 50-kilometer radius.

Since rapid urbanization continues its frenetic pace outside Mega Manila, the Super Mega Manila concept has been lately refined and redefined to become the Greater Capital Region (GCR). It covers areas in the 100-kilometer radius with old Manila as center.

Lately, the creation of the GCR Special Administrative Region (GCR-SAR) by 2030 has been proposed to become a special political body to provide the region with full autonomy.

Even the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the coordinating agency of Japan’s official development assistance to developing countries, has used this concept as reference in its planning works.

As conceived in the 1990s, the Mega Manila concept originally included parts of Pampanga and Bulacan in Central Luzon, and Rizal, Laguna, Cavite and Batangas in Southern Tagalog.

Mega Manila extended to Tagaytay City in the south, Malolos City in the north and the towns of Tanay in Rizal and Angat, and Norzagaray in Bulacan in the east.

The Super Mega Manila concept, or the refined Greater Capital Region, seeks to include Mega Manila and the areas extending to entire Pampanga and Bulacan, parts of Tarlac, Nueva Ecija, Zambales, and Bataan in Central Luzon, and entire Cavite and Rizal, and parts of Batangas, Quezon, and Aurora in the Southern Tagalog region.
 
Coherent whole

Studies of urban planners, including JICA, said the GCR concept and the 2030 creation of the GCR-SAR address the rapid urbanization of Metro Manila, Central Luzon and Southern Tagalog.

Its development into a coherent geographical whole is being sought to improve the delivery of the following services: garbage disposal, waste and sanitation, traffic management, flood control, urban renewal and environmental planning, and disaster management.

The proposed GCR-SAR creation has become necessary as development projects keep on sprouting in every nook and cranny of the GCR area.

Several housing projects have mushroomed to shelter the growing population. Industrial enclaves and factories have been relocating there, too.

Also, the government has been building several big-ticket infrastructure projects there.

In fact, development centers have come out in the north, south and east of Mega Manila, or outside of the 50-kilometer radius.

Every development center has specific characteristics to make it distinct and unique.
 
Super metropolis

The imperative is to connect these development centers into a single, integrated, cohesive, and functional whole to maximize economic growth and development.

Hence, Super Mega Manila, or GCR, is an emerging super metropolis.

It is the perceived result of the integration of at least three development centers outside Mega Manila: the Olongapo-Angeles corridor, the Lipa-Batangas City corridor and the Calabarzon integrated industrial center, which is spread in San Pedro, Canlubang, Cabuyao, Biñan, Sta. Rosa City and Calamba City in Laguna, and Gen. Mariano Alvarez, Rosario, Dasmariñas City, and Silang in Cavite.

The JICA concept paper on GCR-SAR justified its creation because Regions 3 and 4 have to mitigate the increasing growth pressures on Metro Manila.

It has identified interventions on key areas: integrated transport for urban and rural mobility; disaster preparedness and resilience; environment and high quality public space; affordable housing and delivery; and land use management and development control.

The JICA concept paper spoke of a plan to build urban roads and expressways, and urban railways for integration into a coherent public transport system, pursue housing programs to include informal settlers and construct gateway ports and airports, and install traffic management systems.

The overall investment cost could reach P3 trillion, or $58 billion, until 2030.

These are not all. Urban planners have failed to consider that as outward urbanization continues, inward redevelopment emerges as an issue too.
 
Stop Manila's decay

Hence, the outward trend would have to be complemented by an inward move to stop decay at the aging cities, particularly the very center of growth – old Manila.

Urban planners have to pursue with vigor and dynamism the redevelopment of old Manila to bring back its old glory and stop its decay at its core.

The nation needs symbols. Manila, with all its splendor and glory reminiscent of its past, has to continue to embody its gentle soul and tranquil nature that goes back to the old colonial and postcolonial days.

While growth and development are unstoppable, urban planners have to look at maintaining and strengthening the old symbols of nationhood. Their destruction is criminal.

But the redevelopment of old Manila should not be limited to Manila alone. It has to include Quezon City, the country’s largest city in population.

While the move to make it the nation’s information and communications center is laudable, its planners have to move to make it a showcase of urban redevelopment, primarily to improve the quality of life of its almost two million inhabitants.

In short, the emergence of Super Mega Manila, or GCR, requires inward-looking redevelopment, or urban renewal, programs to complement outward migration of its people and development.

Urban decay has to be stopped too. Hence, redevelopment is a must. – Rappler.com
Construction materials prices slightly higher in May in Metro Manila

June 19, 2015 12:21am
http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/506586/economy/business/construction-materials-prices-slightly-higher-in-may-in-metro-manila
 
Construction materials were sold at higher prices in the National Capital Region last month, data released by the Philippine Statistics Authority on Wednesday show.
 
The construction materials retail price index rose to 179.6 points in May from over 179.4 points in April, mainly driven by the slight increase in the prices of electrical and painting materials.
 
Prices of electrical materials, including wires and some wiring devices, generally increased 0.6 percent while painting materials and related products were priced 0.5 percent higher. The price index for masonry materials also increased 0.1 percent in May.
 
Plumbing and tinsmithry materials, meanwhile, were 0.1 percent and 1.2 percent more costly while prices for carpentry materials and miscellaneous construction materials remained the same.
 
Construction materials, however, were priced higher in the region during the same month in 2014. The latest index was 0.2 percent lower, on the back of a 2.3 percent and 5.9 percent decline in prices of electrical and miscellaneous construction materials.
 
The index for plumbing and tinsmithry materials were also slightly lower by 0.1 percent and 0.2 percent, respectively. The price increase in carpentry materials slowed down to 2.3 percent.
 
Painting materials and related compounds were 2.5 percent more expensive while prices for masonry materials were 1.6 percent higher in May 2014.  — Keith Richard D. Mariano/ELR, GMA News
New P3-B port rising in Bataan

By Lawrence Agcaoili, The Philippine Star
Posted at 06/18/2015 7:21 AM
http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/business/06/17/15/new-p3-b-port-rising-bataan
 
MANILA, Philippines - The tandem of Filipino-owned Seasia Logistic Philippines Inc. and London-based Nectar Group Ltd. expects to complete the first phase of a P3-billion development port project in Bataan.

Seasia president Rafael Cosme said in an interview with The STAR that phase 1 of the port development project of Seasia Nectar Port Services Inc. (SNPSI) worth P1.2 billion, covering 5.9 hectares would be completed within the year.

Cosme said the port facility could accommodate two supramax vessels about 120 meters long and would be equipped with a 247-meter quay that could handle a capacity of at least three million tons per year.

Phase 1 would have an operational area of 3.2 hectares as well as truck holding area of 2.7 hectares.

SNPSI is 60 percent owned by Seasia Logistics and 40 percent by the Nectar Group.

The planned dry bulk terminal is designed to handle shipment of coal, clinker, silica sand and other cement raw materials, steel, fertilizer and other dry bulk cargo.

Cosme said SNPSI would be pouring another P600 million for phase 2 that would cover another 1.1 hectares and extending the berth by another 100-meter quay, allowing the facility to handle one supramax or panamax vessels.

Cosme also said that phase 3 is expected to cost around P1.2 billion, covering 4.4 hectares and another 200 meters of quay.

“It will be market driven,” Cosme said referring to the start of the construction of phases 2 and 3.

With the completion of phase 1, he said the company would start handling the clinker as well as coal shipments of Holcim Philippines.

“Right now they are using a handymax vessels carrying between 30,000 and 40,000 metric tons per shipment. We will also handle their coal shipments which comes in by barges,” he said.

For the second phase, Cosme said SNPSI would be looking at steel shipments and even containerized shipments of locators inside the freeport area of Bataan.

Services to be offered by SNPSI include berth management, guaranteed discharge rate as per agreement, proper storage and loading of cargo onto trucks, efficient system of discharging and stacking, truck tires and chassis washing, weighing in and out of trucks, among others.

SNPSI chairman Ramon Atayde said the dry bulk terminal in Mariveles, Bataan would help resolve congestion at the ports of Manila.

Atayde said ports operating in Manila include the Manila International Container Terminal (MICT) of International Container Terminal Services Inc. (ICTSI), the South Harbor of Asian Terminals Inc. (ATI), the North Harbor of Manila North Harbour Port Inc., and a private-owned Harbour Center.

He pointed out that Bataan is nearer by sea to Manila compared to the Subic Bay Freeport economic zone.

Deogracias Custodio, chairman of the Authority of the Freeport Area of Bataan (AFAB), said the proposed facility would allow the zone to attract new locators.

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