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Banks further tighten rules on property loans

By Lawrence Agcaoili (The Philippine Star)
Updated October 26, 2015 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Banks continued to tighten the lending standards for commercial real estate loans in the third quarter or a year after the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) introduced stricter rules on bank’s real estate exposure.

Dennis Lapid, deputy director of the BSP’s Department of Economic Research, said results of the third quarter 2015 Senior Bank Loan Officers’ Survey showed a net tightening of overall credit standards for commercial real estate loans for the 13th consecutive quarter.

Lapid explained respondent banks attributed the net tightening of overall credit standards for commercial real estate loans to perceived stricter oversight of real estate exposure of banks by the central bank.

“In particular, respondent banks reported stricter collateral requirements and loan covenants along with wider loan margins, reduced credit line sizes, shorter loan maturities, and increased use of interest rate floors for commercial real estate loans,” he said.

The survey showed about 86.4 percent of respondent banks indicated unchanged overall credit standards for commercial real estate loans using the modal approach.

However, based on the diffusion index approach, a net tightening of overall credit standards was noted for commercial real estate loans in the third quarter.

For the next quarter, Lapid said most of the respondent banks expect to maintain their credit standards for commercial real estate loans.

In the survey, a number of banks indicated increased demand for commercial real estate loans on the back of clients’ improved economic outlook and increased customer investment in plant or equipment.

Although most of the respondent banks anticipate generally steady loan demand, a number of banks expect demand for commercial real estate loans to continue increasing in the fourth quarter.

BSP Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. earlier said there are no macro-prudential risks stemming from the real estate market as the growth in the property sector continued to be demand driven and banks have learned their lessons during the Asian financial crisis in 1997.

The BSP stepped up its watch over the real estate sector as early as 2012 by ordering banks to disclose more comprehensive reports on their exposures to property industry.

The pre-emptive macroprudential policy measure approved by the Monetary Board required stress tests for banks to determine if their capital will be enough to absorb credit risk that may arise from their exposure to the property sector.

The BSP explained that universal, commercial, and thrift banks would need to meet a capital adequacy ratio of 10 percent of their qualifying capital following the stress test results.
Metro Manila as gates of hell

DEMAND AND SUPPLY By Boo Chanco (The Philippine Star)
Updated October 26, 2015 - 12:00am
The other week, P-Noy and Supreme Court Chief Justice Sereno led the groundbreaking ceremonies for a new SC building in the Bonifacio Global City. They must have realized that the justices cannot work in the congestion and chaos of its current Padre Faura address. A recent INC demonstration paralyzed traffic in the area shutting down offices for days.

Moving out of Manila is a good idea but they did not carry it out far enough. BGC will soon be as crowded and chaotic as Padre Faura, if not more so. The afternoon rush hour traffic on 5th Avenue and 32nd street is already unbearable.

What the government needs to do is to have a coherent plan to move out not just from Manila but from Metro Manila. They are going to spend good money, P1.2 billion, on a new building for the SC, might as well build it far away from the metro area, possibly in Clark.

The justices need to have a quiet environment away from the hustle of the metro area. They need a place where they can think as calmly and as dispassionately on the cases they are deciding. Being harassed by traffic jams and noisy demonstrators all the time puts undue pressure on justices.

A Justice Square in Clark where we can have the SC, the Appeals Court and the Court of Tax Appeals among others would be a good start to shifting government offices out of crowded Metro Manila. Indeed, even the Justice Department and the PNP HQ can be moved to Clark.

An observation was made in one of my e-groups that “Metro Manila is concentrated on a narrow neck of land between Manila Bay, the foothills of the Sierra Madre, and Laguna Lake. It looks like a neck being throttled. Evidently, population expansion should lie outside this neck.”

Former Press Secretary Buddy Gomez, now a resident of San Antonio, Texas, recently visited Manila and was appalled at the extremely crowded conditions we now have. “I had to cut short my last visit... being a taxi-rider, I was stranded several times...

“Pasig and then Fort Boni/Bayani....the congestion has worsened to a trauma! Taxi queue for at least one hour for a two-hour ride over a 10 kilometer stretch!!! I simply could not handle the traffic. I never thought I’d miss San Antonio this much. But being a Quiapo-born / Sampaloc-bred Waray-waray, I am also an inveterate masochist…”

Buddy then wrote a blog for where he pointed out the numbers that we and our leaders should see to realize that our Metro Manila is fast becoming unlivable, if it is not already.

“The ‘Distinguished and Ever Loyal City’ of Manila now possesses the startling record of being the No. 1 city in the world with the highest population density! This is on the basis of people per square kilometer. Hooray! Manila is Number One!

“In fact, of the world’s tightest 30 cities, of planet earth’s first thirty cities with the highest population density, 8 are in Metro Manila. They include Pateros and Caloocan being number 2 and number 3, respectively; Malabon and Pasig are number 16 and 17; while Pasay, San Juan and Makati are designated at position numbers 24, 25 and 30. And if this still does not jar your sanity, sense and equanimity, to the world’s 30 tightest, India contributes only 6 cities. Mabuhay! We beat India!”

Buddy goes on to cite more numbers:

“To highlight this demographic anomaly, here is a perspective offering for you to mull over. The national average density for the entire Philippines is 334 persons per square kilometer while Manila’s No. 1 status is bolstered by the presence of, fasten your seatbelts, 42,857 persons!

“Manila’s area is almost 30 sq. km. (My hometown of Calbayog in Samar, with an area of 900 sq. kms.+ has a population density of 181.”

The failure of our officials to do something about “Metro Manila’s sad and presently irretrievable misfortune” should be a big election issue but it won’t be. Sadly, as Buddy pointed out, “the threat of numbers and utter unconcern for genuine people’s dismay were never accorded logical attention much less imbued with a sense of urgency.”

The most that the last MMDA chairman did was to complain when novelist Dan Brown described Metro Manila as the “Gates of Hell.” Laughable indeed! As Buddy observed, “we have been at the ‘gates of hell’ and for so long now, it has been staring us in the face.

“Relevant public policy has been in an immobilized stupor and trance…  Yet, absolutely nothing has been done to address the ultimate cause. All these talk and blabbering, all the walk and strutting go around interminably in circles dwelling on whatever is politically visible, concentrating on the effects: vehicular congestion, flooding, informal settlements, infrastructure enhancement.

“Indeed, all that we have seen are band-aid-brained! Why the fear to publicly address and admit what that principal cause staring us, 24/7, really is? It is the population, stupid!

“What lighting from the gods of nature must first strike our leaders for them to finally wake up and accept that the ultimate solution to Metro Manila is decongestion and population dispersal. Only then when all else will fall into areas and levels of manageability. Without decongestion and population dispersal/redistribution, Metro Manila is beyond salvation.”

Rufo Colayco, a former head of BCDA agrees that we need to decongest Metro Manila. “It’s literally a no-brainer that Metro Manila has become unfixable. The only solution is to decongest it by creating other urban centers.”

But Rufo thinks moving the government center to Clark may prove to be a distraction. He wants to move employment opportunities away from Metro Manila as the more effective way of decongesting it.

“There aren’t employment opportunities elsewhere than Manila. For decades, Metro Manila has sucked the lion’s share of the budget, thus starving the rest of the nation of development funds. That has resulted in a vicious spiral -- as people have crowded into Metro Manila looking for jobs (and becoming squatters), the escalating congestion calls for even more infrastructure spending. . . and the vicious cycle goes on and on.

“Lately, there’s talk of building subways, skyways, an airport in Sangley and massive land reclamation around it. That will easily run up to a trillion pesos, and will only exacerbate the already excessive population density.

“By spending a fraction of that, we could have a new metropolis along the SCTEx corridor. If planned and administered properly, it should provide a venue by which our businesses would be much better able to compete with other economies. It would provide a much better quality of life, especially to the working classes.

“The deep-water port at Subic, coupled by the SCTEx with Clark, would provide an efficient multi-modal logistics hub that is in tune with current international trade movements.

“Region 3 is ripe for this role. It is sufficiently urbanized, such that competent supervisory and professional persons would readily move there if offered a new job there. And come to think of it, that would potentially reduce Metro Manila’s population and make it less of a hell-hole than it has become at present.

“BCDA proposed such a scheme to Gloria Arroyo in 2003, but I guess she was beset with other urgent concerns at the time.

“The key to jump-starting the emergence of a new center is to bring employment generating investments there. In concrete terms, create affordable industrial venues in the Clark sub-zone in partnership with entities who had done it before in China, Singapore, Taiwan, etc.

“Create a major tourism center on the Zambales coastline where it joins the hills of Tarlac and Pangasinan.

“Stop SBMA and CDC from farting around, filling up what ought to be sea and airports to be tourism and what-have-you centers. Get the Subic-Clark intermodal logistics complex going by partnering with the Singapore Port Authority and/or the Dubai entity that has successfully made Dubai into THE hub for Asia-Europe travel.

“I get breathless thinking of the explosive growth development that could result from an intelligent approach driven and coordinated by government.”

Obviously, we cannot accomplish all these things in one presidential term. But the work must be started. Rufo tried it during GMA’s term and got nowhere. I doubt if P-Noy even thought of it.

The thing is, we may just wake up one day to find out it is too late to do anything at all. In the meantime, our quality of life suffers and a serious drag on economic growth arising from these problems happens.

We have enough competent city planners. Indeed they have planned cities abroad. It is time to harness them to develop an alternative to Metro Manila.
Philippine infra 8th of 10 in Asean

By Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star)
Updated October 26, 2015 - 12:00am
SEOUL – While being touted as the second strongest economy in Asia, the Philippines is near the bottom when it comes to quality infrastructure among the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

This was revealed during the 3rd ASEAN Connectivity Forum held here last week, which was attended by Ambassador Raul Hernandez and other ASEAN officials. The Korean government sponsored the event at the FKI Tower.

In a press kit provided to ASEAN journalists, Manila ranked eighth – ahead only of Vietnam and Myanmar – compared with other ASEAN member states in terms of overall quality of infrastructure.

Singapore topped the list, followed by Malaysia, Brunei, Thailand, Laos, Indonesia and Cambodia.

The source of information, according to the Economic Research Institute for Asean and East Asia (Eria), was the World Economic Forum Report in 2013-2014.

As for “regulatory framework” on public-private partnerships in the region, Manila was fortunately lumped with Jakarta and Bangkok in the category where there is “certainty and specific law(s).”

Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Brunei, on the other hand, had “uncertainty” and “unspecific” laws when government infrastructure projects are bidded out.

The Asean Connectivity Forum came about as the 10 member nations, with the help of Korea, wanted to introduce infrastructure projects and policy directions in the fields of transport, energy and information and communications technology.

It is a concept that envisions a well-connected Asean to bring the people, goods, services and capital together. It was adopted at the 17th Asean Summit in 2010.

The forum consisted of two sessions – the Master Plan for Asean Connectivity and secondly, Financial Solutions for Asean Connectivity – participated in by experts from the Asean secretariat, Asian Development Bank, ERIA and Korea Exim Bank.

A press release for the event disclosed that the amount of investment required for Asean infrastructure projects is the second largest in the world next to the Middle East.

Global consulting firm McKinsey projected that US$3.3 trillion in investments will be required in transport, water, energy and ICT areas in the Asean countries in the next 15 years, or until 2030.

“When the Asean Economic Community consisting of 6.4 billion people and a combined total GDP of US$2.4 trillion is established, enormous opportunities for large-scale infrastructure projects will be created,” a portion of the press release read.

“Against this backdrop, the forum will be the only venue in Korea where the latest information related to Asean Connectivity are shared and one-on-one business meetings take place,” it added.

400-year-old watch tower destroyed

By Jun Elias (The Philippine Star)
Updated October 25, 2015 - 12:00am
LUNA, La Union, Philippines – A watch tower here built during the Spanish era and considered a national treasure was damaged by Typhoon Lando.

The Baluarte of Luna in Barangay Victoria Luna was split in half after it was hit by big waves and strong winds spawned by the typhoon, said Mayor Vic Marron.

The National Historical Institute (NHI) earlier approved and considered Baluarte as one of the national treasures.

“We will coordinate whenever the NHI wants it rehabilitated because it’s a national treasure,” Marron said.

The 5.6-meter tall watchtower is among the province’s tourist attractions. The Luna Tourism Council said the Baluarte was a fortress used by the Spaniards to warn its residents against pirates.

There are three other Spanish-era watchtowers here: the Balaoan at Darigayos point, San Juan and Carlatan in San Fernando City.

Marron said there are plans to strengthen the foundation of the Baluarte, but it should be first declared a historical landmark before funds can be allocated for its construction and preservation.

Two years ago, the Luna municipal council passed Resolution 68-2013, requesting the National Historical Commission to declare the watchtower a national historical landmark to enable government agencies to fund the preservation project and Resolution 69-2013, which asked the National Museum to also declare it a national treasure.

The Luna watchtower, which is facing the West Philippine Sea, is also a haven for pebble or stone pickers, a major livelihood of the province. Various colored pebbles, which are often used for decorations, are collected here.
SM honors top partners in gala night

(The Philippine Star)
Updated October 24, 2015 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - In celebration of its 30th anniversary, SM Supermalls held its very first Partners Summit at the SMX Convention Center.

The two-day event “Bricks Click, Creating the New Marketplace” featured a retail forum on the first day and a gala night, where it awarded its top partners, on the second.

The event was SM’s way of thanking those who have been part of the SM Family – some since it opened its first mall in SM City North EDSA, some in later years and some as part of a new generation of corporate leaders.

Fifty-four companies were honored in the Top Partners, Most Innovative Store Design, Green Retail and Best in Marketing categories during the gala night. There were also awards for the Most Popular Brand through an online poll.

“Much has happened since we opened our first mall 30 years ago,” said SM Prime Holdings president Hans Sy in his keynote speech during the forum. “The retail landscape has become more global and competitive, technology has forever changed the way we live and do things, and customer tastes have changed along with the times.”

Challenged by online formats and social media, Sy, who is an engineer, cited the qualities which brick and mortar companies like shopping malls share – strength, durability, value, sustainability and the ability to withstand the test of time. He also noted how companies and relationships are built one brick at a time.

By working closely together, SM and its partners have changed the Filipino lifestyle forever.

“Our malls are indeed called cities, places where families and friends gather together to eat out, have fun, and even do their business transactions, and hear Sunday Mass,” said Sy. “We have become part of the lives of millions of Filipinos.”

Reinforcing the bricks click concept were Francis Kong in his talk on Retail Innovations, the Disney Institute’s Wing-Hoe Tan on Surprising and Delighting Customers, and Samsung’s David Kang on how on-ground and on line can work together.

A panel discussion featuring Google’s Aitor Maguregui, Samsung Philippines’ Heirbert Dimagiba, the Max Group of Companies’ Mark Gamboa and McDonald Philippines’ Margot Torres shared insights on key experiences and best practices in navigating the digital and in-person landscape in the Philippines.
Lafarge shareholders ok name change

By Iris C. Gonzales (The Philippine Star)
Updated October 25, 2015 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines – Shareholders of Lafarge Republic Inc. Friday approved the change in name of the company to Republic Cement and Building Materials Inc.

The company called a special stockholders’ meeting Friday to approve the new name as well as the management agreement between Lafarge Cement Services Philippines which is now Republic Cement Services Inc. and Lafarge Republic.

The change of the name followed the acquisition by AEV CRH Holdings Inc., a joint venture between Aboitiz Equity Ventures and Ireland-headquartered CRH International of Lafarge Republic Inc. for P24 billion.

The concerned parties announced the deal in August.

AEV-CRH said it would delist Lafarge local bourse following the conclusion of a mandatory tender offer last month.

Tanada said the delisting has not been concluded yet as the company is still waiting for the requirements from the local bourse.

Under the rules of the PSE, a public company should have a minimum public float of 10 percent.

The joint venture now has 99 percent control of Lafarge Republic, Inc. following the end of a mandatory tender offer to minority shareholders in September.

It accepted from the public a total of 596.49 million shares representing 10.24 percent of the outstanding shares of Lafarge.

Swiss-company Holcim Ltd. and Lafarge S.A., a French company, have merged and launched a $43.2 billion combined building materials company.

The merger of global companies Lafarge and Holcim provided the opportunity for AEV and CRH to acquire the cement assets of Lafarge as the two global companies had to dispose off their assets to win regulatory approval for the merger.

Lafarge Philippines has a nationwide manufacturing network of four cement plants in Norzagaray, Bulacan; Teresa, Rizal and Taysan, Batangas, one grinding station in Danao, Cebu, and thru a subsidiary, Lafarge Iligan, Inc., a cement plant in Iligan City; and an aggregates quarry in Angono, Rizal, thru a subsidiary Lafarge Republic Aggregates, Inc.

CRH, which has operations in 34 countries, is a manufacturer, supplier, and distributor of building materials with headquarters in Dublin, Ireland. Its shares are listed on the London and Dublin stock exchanges, and its American Depositary Shares are listed in the New York Stock Exchange.

AEV’s entry into the lucrative cement business is seen to complement the conglomerate’s big-ticket infrastructure ventures and enable it to diversify its business currently consisting of power generation, real estate, banking and agribusiness.
DENR Cordillera approves 7,000 land patents
DENR-CAR declares it was able to meet its target number of processed and issued land patents for 2015 under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program

Jessa Mardy Polonio
Published 8:38 AM, October 23, 2015
Updated 10:38 AM, October 23, 2015

BAGUIO CITY, Philippines – The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has processed a total of 7,172 land patents covering over 3,307 hectares of agricultural properties in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR).

With this, the DENR-CAR declared that it was able to meet its target number of processed and issued land patents for 2015 under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program or CARP.

The agency said in its October newsletter that the province of Abra has the most issued patents at 3,030 with an aggregate land area of 1,562 hectares.

Of these, 751 were processed and issued by the Provincial Environment Office of Abra; 1,005 by the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office in Bangued; 412 by the CENRO-Lagangilang; and 862 by the Regional Task Force.

Benguet, which includes Baguio City, has issued 1,400 patents covering 492 hectares. Both CENRO Baguio and Buguias processed and issued 625 patents each, while PENRO Benguet has 150.

Kalinga processed 1,050 patents covering more than 511 hectares. Of these, 150 were processed by PENRO Kalinga, 350 by CENRO Pinukpuk, and 550 by CENRO Tabuk.

Meanwhile, there were 1,000 patents processed and issued in Apayao covering over 569 hectares. Half of the patents were processed by CENRO Calanasan while the other half were processed by CENRO Conner.

Mountain Province had 404 patents covering more than 82 hectares processed. Of the number, 203 were processed by CENRO Paracelis while 201 were by CENRO Sabangan.

Ifugao had the least issuances of patents, with only 288 covering a land area of 89.9 hectares. CENRO Alfonso Lista processed 125 patents of these while the other 163 were processed by CENRO Lamut.

CARP is the redistribution of public and private agricultural lands to farmers and farm workers who are landless, irrespective of tenurial arrangement. Its vision is to have equitable land ownership with empowered beneficiaries who can effectively manage their economic and social development to have a better quality of life.

One of the major programs of CARP is Land Tenure Improvement, which seeks to hasten the distribution of lands to landless farmers, as in the case of Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac.

But the government's agrarian reform program is beset by challenges, chief of which is its current inability to place more land under its distribution program.

The deadline for the Department of Agrarian Reform to cover all distributable land passed more than a year ago, on June 30, 2014.

A bill to extend this deadline is still pending in Congress. More than 41,500 hectares of land await CARP coverage. –
Aquino gov't looking to award 14 PPPs worth $11.2-B
Posted at 10/23/2015 4:55 PM
Updated as of 10/23/2015 7:30 PM

MANILA - With less than a year before President Aquino steps down from office, 14 infrastructure projects worth an estimated $11.2 billion are still up for bidding under government's public-private partnership (PPP) program.

PPP Center executive director Cosette Canilao said 13 out of the 14 projects will likely be awarded before the end of the Aquino administration, excluding the $3.79 billion North-South Railway Project, which she said may require more time because of the cost.

“We’re hoping that we’d be able to award the ones we are currently bidding, and for the new projects, push it as far as pre-qualification so that the new administration will not experience what we experienced, and they can really just hit the ground running,” Canilao told ANC's "Market Edge" on Friday.

“We need these infrastructure projects and it shouldn’t stop just because there is a change in leadership,” she added.

Ten PPP projects have been awarded since so far since 2010, including the Muntinlupa-Cavite Expressway and the Cavite-Laguna Expressway.

Canilao said seven more projects are still up for approval.

"Included in that list is the NAIA operation and maintenance as well as the Batangas-Manila pipeline, road connector, Plaridel toll bypass, and two tourism projects,” she said.

She also noted that the bidding process will continue as PPP projects are not subject to the election ban set to begin early next year.

A recent study showed that most Filipinos are not sold on PPPs, but Canilao said it is because "the public has yet to feel the full impact of the PPP projects."

"If you ask the users of Daang Hari toll road, which was the first PPP project to be completed, and the 500 students who are now benefiting from the classrooms that were constructed using PPPs, the story might be a little different from what has been shown,” she said.
Notice of award to ALI ready for ITS-South Terminal project

By Louella D. Desiderio (The Philippine Star)
Updated October 26, 2015 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) is looking to issue the notice of award to Ayala Land, Inc. (ALI) for the Integrated Transport System (ITS) - South Terminal public private partnership (PPP) project within the month.

DOTC Secretary Joseph Abaya said the government hopes to be able to award the project to ALI “within the month.”

He said the DOTC has to secure necessary documents from the Department of Budget and Management for the purchase of the National Food Authority’s property covered by the project. 

ALI beat Filinvest Land Inc. (FLI) during the August bidding for the project as it offered P277.89 million annual grantor payment (AGP), lower than the latter’s P1 billion bid. AGP refers to the payment to be made by the government to the concessionaire.

When AGP offers are made, the lowest bid wins, subject to evaluation.

The ITS – South Terminal Project covers the construction of a terminal within a 4.7-hectare area in the Food Terminal Inc. (FTI) Compound in Taguig City.

The terminal would connect passengers com- ing from the La- guna or Batan- gas to transport systems such as the future North- South Commuter Railway project, city bus, taxi, and other public util- ity vehicles serv- ing inner Metro Manila.

The project would include passenger terminal buildings, arrival and departure bays, public information systems, ticketing and baggage han- dling facilities, as well as park-ride facilities.
LT Group invests in wind farm

By Danessa O. Rivera (The Philippine Star)
Updated October 26, 2015 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - LT Group Inc., the listed holding firm of the Lucio Tan Group, is teaming up with renewable energy firm led by former Energy Secretary Vince Perez to expand a wind project in Rizal.

LT Group CFO and SVP Nestor Mendones said the company has partnered with Alternergy Wind One Corp. for a possible expansion of its existing wind farm in Pilila, Rizal.

“They have a project there and it just so happens we have an adjacent property so they asked us if we are interested to partner,” he said.

Mendones said the partnership was “approved in principle by LT management.”

The timetable for the implementation and corporate structure is not yet finalized but LT Group would only be a minority partner in the project, he added.

“Alternergy is the lead company, so we are just an investor,” Mendones said.

Alternergy has completed the 67.5-megawatt (MW) Pililla wind power project in Rizal, which has applied to receive incentives under the feed-in tariff (FIT) scheme in the second round for wind.

The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) has approved a FIT rate of P7.40 per kwh for the next batch of wind projects.

Earlier this year, Alternergy said it is putting up another wind power facility in Pililla, Rizal, named Sembrano wind farm, with a capacity of 72 MW and costing $236 million.
LT Group seeks FIT incentives for Batangas project

By Danessa O. Rivera (The Philippine Star)
Updated October 25, 2015 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines – The Lucio Tan Group (LTG) hopes to join the race for feed-in tariff (FIT) incentives with its solar power project in Batangas.

The group, through Absolut Distillers Inc., is working on a FIT certificate of compliance for its two-megawatt  solar plant in Batangas, plant manager Jojo Tan said.

“NGCP (National Grid Corp. of the Philippines) told us build a remote terminal unit to feed to them,” he said.

Tan said they filed for a FIT application as soon as the plant started running and they expect to meet the deadline for the second round of FIT for solar.

The Department of Energy has given solar developers until March 2016 to complete and produce power from their projects to be able to receive the set of incentives under the FIT mechanism.

For solar, eligible developers can get P8.69 per kilowatt hour FIT rate, among other incentives, for an installation target of 500 MW.

Last March, ADI inaugurated its P189-million solar plant in its Batangas facility, the first to operate in the province, which can supply up to 60 percent of the alcohol distillery’s power requirements. It can also sell the entire output to the Luzon grid.

The solar plant’s capacity currently supplies 40 percent of the alcohol distillery’s power requirements.

The solar plant is LTG’s first project under its renewable energy (RE) development plan.

ADI is planning to invest at least P500 million to put up a sugar mill and co-generation plant in its Batangas facility.

Asian Alcohol Corp. another liquor unit of LTG under Tanduay, is also looking at the possibility of putting up a wind project in its facility in Negros Occidental.

Napocor to reauction P314-M worth of contracts

By Danessa Rivera (The Philippine Star)
Updated October 25, 2015 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines – State-owned National Power Corp. (Napocor) is re-auctioning off a total of P314.12-million worth of contracts that will help improve the electricity supply in far-flung areas in the country.

In a bulletin published yesterday, Napocor is soliciting new bids from private suppliers for the supply of 13x600 kilowatt (kw) modular gensets in Small Power Utilities Group (SPUG) areas.

The state-run firm has allocated a budget of P292.25 million for the auction.

A pre-bid conference was set on Nov. 4. Interested bidders have until Nov. 24 to submit their respective proposals.

The winning bidder will supply, install, test and commission the diesel gensets, which have a total capacity of 7.8 megawatts (MW).

Napocor is also re-bidding the contract to construct a 2x150 kw Pandami diesel power plant in Sulu. It has allotted a budget of P20.45 million for the contract.

The winning bidder will have a period of 240 days or roughly eight months to complete the project.

For this undertaking, a pre-bid conference was set on Nov. 10 with the bidding scheduled on Nov. 24.

Lastly, Napocor is looking for a new bidder for the renovation of the Romblon diesel power plant. It has set a budget of P1.42 million for this contract. The pre-bid conference was scheduled on Nov. 4 while the bidding would be held on Nov. 23.

These projects are in line with Napocor’s goal to ensure blackouts will not take place in off-grid areas.
Ayala expects power generation business to shore up profitability

by Myrna Velasco
October 25, 2015

It is a gradual climb when it comes to “significant contribution” to its bottom line, but the energy arm of Ayala Corporation expects its power generation business to already start contributing favorably this year.

“Around two-thirds of our portfolio just started operations. It takes a couple of years before your assets stabilize. But this year, we expect it to be contributing already,” AC Energy Holdings president and chief executive officer Eric Francia has told reporters.

The biggest addition in their operating portfolio this year would be the second phase of their South Luzon Thermal Energy Corporation’s (SLTEC) coal plant in Batangas.

The 135-megawatt power facility is now on commissioning process. This is an expansion of the initial phase that was also at 135MW installed capacity.  This is the conglomerate’s joint venture with the Del Rosario-led Trans-Asia Oil and Energy Development Corporation.

“The second unit of SLTEC is already being commissioned, so any time now, we should be in commercial operations,” Francia said. At this stage, their power business contribution to bottom line is still at single digit level.

But the real significant profit impact that AC Energy Holdings would come around 2019 with the targeted commercial operation of new power projects in Mindanao as well as the expansion of its coal plant in Mariveles, Bataan – both are tie-up ventures with GNPower.

This will then complete the 1,000MW portfolio that the company has set on blueprint. After that, Francia indicated that they would already take a more cautious approach on investment expansions given forecasts also of probable oversupply beyond 2019.

“Once GN Mindanao stabilizes, call it 2018-2019… hopefully sooner, given that we hope to start in 2017, then we’ll be able to see stable earnings by 2019,” the Ayala group’s energy executive

Friday, October 23, 2015
Ayala to open 10 new hotels
Posted at 10/22/2015 7:54 PM
Updated as of 10/22/2015 9:58 PM
MANILA - Ayala Land will open 10 new hotels over the next five years to reach its target of 6,000 rooms.

Nine of the hotels will operate under Ayala's Seda brand while one is the Mandarin Hotel in Makati.

"Right now, we have 2,000 rooms. Under construction is another close to 2,000 rooms and in next five years, we expect to have 6,000 rooms," Ayala Land Hotels and Resorts Corp. chief operating officer Al Legaspi said.

Legaspi added that the company will open a hotel resort under the Seda brand in El Nido, Palawan and serviced apartments in Makati, Cebu and Bonifacio Global City.

A 152-room Seda hotel opened early this month in San Rafael, Mandurriao, Iloilo City, the first Seda hotel in the Visayas.

There are four other Seda hotels at the Bonifacio Global City, Cagayan de Oro, Davao City, and Nuvali, Laguna.

Ayala Land also earlier announced that the 46-year-old Hotel InterContinental Manila will be closing down by year-end.

The closure allows Ayala Land to move forward with its plan "to transform the entrance of Ayala Center Makati into a modern gateway, with a first-of-its-kind intermodal transport facility designed especially for the commuting public."
Robinsons to open 10 new malls in next 2 years
Posted at 10/22/2015 6:01 PM
Updated as of 10/22/2015 6:17 PM

MANILA - Robinsons Land Corp. is planning to open 10 new malls outside Metro Manila in the next two years as it boosts expansion nationwide.

In 2016, the property unit of the Gokongwei group will open five malls in Tagum, Jaro, Iligan City, Cebu and General Trias.

The firm will also expand existing malls in Ilocos Norte and Tacloban City.

"We hope to increase our gross leasable space by 10 to 11 percent. We're about 1 million gross leasable area now," said Robinsons Land vice president of corporate lease department Lourdes Alano.

Five other malls will be opened in 2017 in Ormoc, Tuguegarao, Naga City, Valencia, and Cabancalan.

Alano said Robinsons Land is planning to open three to five malls annually in the coming years.

"We are doing land banking activities not only in Metro Manila but Visayas and Mindanao area. But there is challenge in acquiring big parcels of land in Metro Manila," Alano said.

Robinsons Land earlier said that by 2019, it is looking to double its net income to P9.4 billion from P4.7 billion in 2014.

Currently, Robinsons Land is the country's second largest mall operator with 39 malls with total gross leasable area of 1.08 million square meters.
Henann Group marks milestone with Bohol project

By Iris C. Gonzales (The Philippine Star)
Updated October 23, 2015 - 12:00am

PANGLAO ISLAND, Bohol, Philippines – If one is looking for a luxury resort where one can enjoy the amenities without bumping into a mammoth crowd of tourists, the Henann Group of Resorts offers its latest project here, the Henann Resort Alona Beach, the largest resort in the province.

The resort is never empty since its soft opening in May but the place is big enough — with 400 rooms — to accommodate a swath of local and foreign visitors alike.

Indeed, its architecture and design is well thought of that any visitor does not have to bump into the crowd, with its deluxe, premier and suites to cater to families of all sizes. It has direct access to pools and has presidential and pool villas for private comfort.

It has three different pools with sunken bars. Other amenities include open air venue for weddings, fitness and business centers and a shop. It also offers a buffet of international cuisine in its Coral Café, the Kai Spa, an all day buffet at the Sea Breeze Beach Club, and Western fine dining restaurant Christina’s.

The rooms are well designed that one does not hear the crowd outside or those swimming in the different pools below.

“We consider Henann Resort Alona Beach a milestone in our company’s 17-year history as this is our first property outside Boracay. We had our soft opening in May of this year and we have been getting positive feedback since,” said Henry Chusuey, chairman of the Henann Group of Resorts.

Chusuey said the resort has the longest and widest beachfront along Alona Beach, a one-and-a-half kilometer beachfront.

More than the earnings, Chusuey said the group also takes pride in being able to provide local employment to the community. The resort currently has a staff of 450 people, most of whom are Boholanos.

Furthermore, the group utilized local materials such as laminated shells and coconuts to showcase the natural beauty of the Philippines. The rooms feature coastal-inspire interiors of aqua blue and beige.

As part of the hotel, the group also launched a convention center that can accommodate up to 1,000 people for sit-down events and up to 1,500 for cocktail set-up. It is a three-story convention center located just across the hotel resort.

Karl Chusuey, vice president for marketing of the Henann Group of Resorts, said the convention center also has 13 break-out rooms that can accommodate 30 to 390 persons per room while the meeting rooms can host 30 to 70 persons.

“We are riding on the growing popularity of Bohol as the next, best location for seminars, official business functions and conferences. Panglao Island’s idyllic ambience is perfect for brainstorming, team building and knowledge sharing,” the younger Chusuey said.

Since its soft opening in May, the hotel resort is regularly fully booked.

When asked about the resort’s popularity, the older Chusuey said it also has to do with strategic pricing.

“We offer five star service but our rates are relatively lower. Our end goal is to make our guests happy by letting them experience the Henann brand of service,” he said.

The Henann Group — named aptly as a combination of the names of Henry and his wife, Ann — opened its first hotel in Boracay in 1998.

“From 43 rooms, Boracay Regency now has 302 rooms. We have acquired and build the following properties as well: Henann Garden Resort, Henann Lagoon Resort, plus four more upcoming resorts totalling to 1,289 rooms in Boracay alone by end of 2017,” Chusuey said.

The company will also open four new properties in Boracay.

“We’re currently constructing Henann Prime Beach Resort in Station One. Soon to rise also in Station One is Henann Crystal Sands Resort, which is designed by the architectural firm Palafox Associates. We are also developing Henann Palm Beach Resort in Station Two and on the planning stage is another property along the main road,” he said.

There’s no stopping the Henann Group, indeed, from making its brand accessible to as many local and foreign tourists as possible.
Cirtek plans more acquisitions overseas
Posted at 10/22/2015 6:06 PM
Updated as of 10/22/2015 6:18 PM
MANILA - Semiconductor manufacturer Cirtek Holdings Philippines Corp. is looking to acquire high-value technologies overseas.

“We’re looking at technologies that are outside ASEAN—the high technologies and cutting edge technologies are found in US, Europe and Canada. It makes sense, we can acquire the technology and use the Philippines or ASEAN as manufacturing base,” Anthony Buyawe, chief financial officer at Cirtek, told ANC's "Market Edge" on Thursday.

Buyawe said the company may close an acquisition in the next 12 months as it looks at companies in the communications space as well as satellite technologies.

"It would be in the hotspots of microwave radio, which would be the Bay Area," he said.

Buyawe said Cirtek is banking on "mega trends" such as mobile data and the Internet of Things, which is expected to increase demand for bandwidth.

“That is leading towards greater demand for bandwidth and speed and we have that experience in terms of providing the radios and infrastructure to make that happen,” he said.

He added that the planned acquisitions will be funded by a follow-on offering that is expected to raise up to P2.8 billion.

“We’re looking at acquisitions that make sense to us, acquisitions that give us new markets and new products, and higher value technology,” he said.
DOTC: NAIA runway to be decongested

By Louella D. Desiderio (The Philippine Star)
Updated October 23, 2015 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) is now working to decongest the runway of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) as part of efforts to make further improvements at the country’s main international gateway.

While some improvements have been undertaken at NAIA, DOTC Secretary Joseph Abaya said in a statement yesterday the government is now looking to ease congestion at the runway of the airport.

“Having fully opened Terminal 3 and substantially refurbishing Terminal 1 after decades of neglect, our next focus is decongesting the runway,” he said.

British air traffic management expert NATS Services Ltd. which was tapped by the DOTC for its NAIA Runway Optimization Project, has started gathering data at the airport this week.

Under the 12-month contract, NATS is tasked to increase the hourly air traffic movements to 60 from 40, by determining the optimal configuration for the airport’s intersecting runways.

Over a period of six months, NATS will conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the airport’s current airspace, runway, and terminal capacities; air traffic and surface operations; runway access points; and ATC training.

For the succeeding six months, the Manila International Airport Authority and Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines will implement NAT’s recommended improvement measures.

The latest survey for travel website The Guide to Sleeping in Airports showed the NAIA was no longer in the list of the 10 worst airports in the world given rehabilitation efforts undertaken to decongest and clean up Terminal 1.

While NAIA was not part of the latest 10 worst airports in the world list, it ranked eighth worst airport in Asia.

NAIA was tagged the worst airport in the world from 2011 to 2013.

In a related development, the DOTC has received the pre-feasibility study conducted by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) for the location of the country’s new international airport.

Abaya said the study which considered five locations, has narrowed down the options to two: Sangley Point in Cavite and Central Manila Bay.

The estimated cost for putting up the airport in Sangley Point is $10 billion, while locating in Central Manila Bay would amount to $13 billion.

Abaya said the DOTC expects to get the full feasibility study after the first quarter of next year and present it to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board for approval.

“We’ll merely reiterate what the JICA study says…Whatever the JICA study shows, we’ll present to NEDA Board,” he said.

After NAIA-1 rehab, what's next?
Posted at 10/22/2015 3:32 PM
Updated as of 10/22/2015 3:44 PM
MANILA - After the rehabilitation of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 1 (NAIA-1), what's next for the country's main gateway?

The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) said it will now focus on decongesting the runway, which has been the cause of many flight delays daily.

“While we are pleased to hear that international travelers no longer rate NAIA among the world’s worst, there is obviously still a lot for us to do. Having fully opened Terminal 3 and substantially refurbishing Terminal 1 after decades of neglect, our next focus is decongesting the runway,” Transportation Secretary Jun Abaya.

NAIA is no longer among the world's "worst" airports according to the recent list of online travel site Guide to Sleeping in Airports, citing the airport's rehabilitation efforts and the introduction of a lounge in Terminal 3.

The DOTC has tapped world-renowned air traffic management expert NATS Services Limited for its NAIA Runway Optimization Project, which is aimed at maximizing the use of the runway and increasing hourly air traffic movements from 40 up to 60.

NATS will submit its recommendations on NAIA’s current airspace, runway and terminal capacity, air traffic and surface operations, runway access points, and Air Traffic Controllers’ training within the next six months.

Meanwhile, the DOTC said it is firm on bidding out NAIA to help improve the infrastructure and capacity of the airport.

According to Abaya, proposals to build a third runway and a new terminal at the airport will not really bring much improvement.

"On the third runway, we've seen through a study made by a runway consultant, it wouldn't really improve our efficiency in runways because essentially we need to cross our main runway and that, if you net that out there wouldn't be much improvement," he told ANC's "Business Nightly" in an interview Wednesday night.
International airport in Pangasinan not practical – Roxas

By Cecille Suerte Felipe (The Philippine Star)
Updated October 23, 2015 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Liberal Party standard bearer Manuel Roxas II does not think the proposal of independent presidential candidate Sen. Grace Poe to have an international airport in Pangasinan is practical.

“I think spending should be in the right place. If nobody will ride, no airplane will land so there’s no need. We will just be wasting money,” he said in Filipino.

He was reacting to reports that Poe is pushing for the construction of an international airport in Pangasinan, the home province of the senator’s late father Fernando Poe Jr.

Roxas explained that a big infrastructure project like an international airport has to undergo thorough study and assessment of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), the country’s social and economic development planning and policy coordinating body.

He said NEDA studies all projects to make sure that government money is spent on projects that would benefit the majority of the people.

In a statement, the LP said each candidate coming out to sow intrigue and assail the integrity of their rivals should take a step back and honestly assess if they are ready to walk their own talk.

Roxas had tried to woo Poe to become his runningmate in the 2016 elections. But the latter rejected the offer and instead opted to run for president with Sen. Francis Escudero as her runningmate.

Recently, senatorial candidate Richard Gordon claimed that an LP member approached him to file a disqualification case against Poe.

Roxas then challenged Gordon to name names, vowing to investigate and even expel from LP those who would be found engaged in black propaganda against party rivals.

“How we campaign is an indication of how we will govern,” said Roxas, as he promised that he and runningmate Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo would never engage in personal attacks against their rivals.

“Part of integrity is being ready, willing and able to put yourself up for public and legal scrutiny, whether it is in facing up to corruption charges or in forthrightly answering questions relating to your qualification for office,” said LP in a statement.

The LP issued the statement after Roxas and Robredo received more than their fair share of unfair attacks over the past few weeks.

The LP said everything from photoshopped pictures supposedly showing “epal” tarps along EDSA, to deliberate misquotes attached to memes circulated on social media, to five-year-old news stories rehashed as “current events,” to the filing of a certificate of candidacy for president by a man named Manny “Mar” Roxas, to the unending barrage of unfounded accusations that Roxas is behind everything from Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte’s cancer rumors to Poe’s disqualification case to Vice President Jejomar Binay’s legal problems.
ASEAN integration: PH energy sector OK, sugarcane industry in trouble
The energy sector stands to benefit from the integration, while the sugarcane industry is seen to be adversely affected, a former energy undersecretary and lawyer says

Chris Schnabel
Published 8:31 PM, October 22, 2015
Updated 8:32 PM, October 22, 2015
MANILA, Philippines – The integration in process as part of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) brings both opportunities and challenges, and domestic firms will have to prepare for them.

The energy sector, which has already been opened to outside investors should do fine, but the sugarcane industry is in trouble, said lawyer Jose M. Layug, former energy undersecretary and senior partner at Puno and Puno Law Offices, at a conference on ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) competitiveness on Thursday, October 22.

“The sugarcane industry will definitely be adversely affected. If you compare the cost of producing sugar domestically compared to our ASEAN neighbors, it’s really far. Theirs is much cheaper and if we don’t help the industry and the farmers they’ll be in trouble,” he said.

“Already, there are people importing sugar illegally and at some point that will be legal pursuant our ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) obligations,” Layug said.

ASEAN neighbors like Thailand and Vietnam have provided subsidies for their sugarcane industries which has resulted in them grabbing a much larger share of the global market, while in the Philippines, sugarcane is “probably the only industry that is not receiving any subsidy from the government,” he added.

What the government has done in response is to pass the Sugarcane Development Act which aims to promote competitiveness of the industry and help small sugarcane farmers. Passed in April of this year, it will provide infrastructure support, farm to mill roads, and a block farming scheme.

Still, Layug said, other ASEAN neighbors have been providing this kind of support for years and will continue to boost their sugarcane industry while the Philippines is only starting.

One of the intitiaitives that help, he added, is a co-generation scheme to develop biomass plants that uses sugarcane to produce power to give farmers an additional market to sell to.

Energy sector would be fine

The energy sector on the other hand, he said would not be affected by the integration and in fact stands to benefit from the new cross border opportunities.

Since the passage in 2001 of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act, the sector opened to private investment, and thus have seen an influx of new players, he said.

Although it is dominated by 3 major players namely Aboitiz, Lopez Group, and San Miguel Corporation, there are a lot of smaller players who have come in, particularly in renewable energy, he said.

The challenge is to make the sector more competitive as the integration will no doubt attract more foreign investments.

Renewable energy projects are often too small in terms of output for the "Big 3" to touch, so they tend to focus on more big ticket projects and that is where other players come in. Unfortunately, it takes about 200 signatures to get permission for a new plant so that needs to be improved, Layug said.

The Energy department reported on October 22 that it has already awarded 686 renewable energy contracts, 7 years since the Renewable Energy Act of 2008 was enacted into law. As of end-September 2015, the agency said that these contracts have a potential generation capacity of 13,650.29 megawatts (MW) as against a total installed capacity of 2,937.06 MW.

Also, the 60-40 law limiting foreign ownership is another hindrance as it discourages foreign investment that can provide much needed capital for renewable energy projects.

The Securities and Exchange Commission has approved a measure that allows for foreign investors to provide 80%-90% of the capital, but are only allowed to have 40% of the voting rights to determine the direction of a firm, Layug said.

"It’s a struggle to find a foreign firm that will put up a majority of the capital without having a majority share in the firm’s decisions," he said.

At the same time, regional integration will make it easier for the Big 3 firms, and for financially strong conglomerates like Ayala Corporation that are new to the energy industry, to invest regionally.

Indonesia has a shortage of power and the government has signaled its intention to sell some coal power plants, Layug said, while Myanmar has massive shortage and presents a lots of opportunities.
Regional mergers

Panelists at the conference organized by the Futuristics Center and the Asian Institute of Management also delved into the legal hurdles of corporate mergers, both domestic and regionally with the ongoing integration.

This comes at a time when business leaders foresee many potential regional mergers, as well as domestic consolidation to happen in order to improve a firm’s competitiveness as regional players enter the market.

"We’ve seen many industries begin to consolidate in the past few years in preparation for more competition," said Philippine Chamber of Commence Industry (PCCI) Trade and Services Chairman George Barcelon.

For example, the retail sector and in particular wholesaler, Puregold, has been buying up small markets in order to accrue economies of scale.

Rural banks have also been merging along with a lot of private schools in preparation for the K to 12 reform, along with real estate firms and holding companies, he added.

In the immediate future, Barcelon said that cement and steel industries will see some consolidation due to China’s slowdown and the slowing global demand.

“The integration also provides a great opportunity to attract more foreign investments, and yes, there will be more competition for local firms,” he said, “but it will be healthy competition.” –
Search for a home to call his own ends at Mayfield Park Residences

(The Philippine Star)
Updated October 23, 2015 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - Twenty-nine year old Luther John De La Cruz have lived in the slums for almost three decades before finally achieving his dream – a home that he could finally call his own.

Luther’s story is a testament to how many Filipinos today still looks back to the place they called their home no matter where their journey in life takes them to. For him, home is where the family can stay together even if they have to share a crowded room or change residence many times over.

But like everyone else, Luther also dreamt of a better life. He wanted to live in a house that he, his mother and his father can call their own. “I wanted it to be my gift to my parents. I saw how hard they struggled to make both ends meet for our family and let me finish my studies.”

Luther eventually graduated from college and found a job at a shipping company that transports cattle across the Atlantic Ocean. After working for three years, he was then recruited in the youth activities department onboard the Disney Magic – one of the four ships of the Disney Cruise Line, a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Co. that takes its passengers on a fantasy voyage in different destinations around the world.

But the glamour of the job has not been able to cure him of his homesickness. He just held on to the promise that someday, he will be able to save enough money to buy his dream home which he’d like to give to his parents.

One day, while browsing the Internet, he chanced upon a spacious, resort-type condominium in Pasig that was then being sold at a very affordable rate. This was DMCI Homes’ Mayfield Park Residences which is located along Felix Avenue in Pasig City.

The Zen-inspired condominium complex consists of nine mid-rise buildings and boasts of premium amenities such as a swimming pool, gym and a clubhouse for the entire family. About 60 percent of the total land area is allocated for wide open spaces, gardens and koi ponds that promote wellness and comfort. Moreover, the development is close to schools and shopping hubs like the Araneta Center, Greenhills and Libis Commercial Center.

“It was both an answered prayer and a dream come true,” he says. “Mayfield Park Residences offered a quiet, safe and relaxed environment with lots of nature. It’s really perfect for my ageing parents. I immediately bought a unit online. After that, everything seemed like a breeze and the next thing I knew, I was already dreaming of going back home and looking forward to the new home I could finally call our own.”

For over two years now, Luther and his mother had been enjoying the comforts of their two-bedroom unit. “It has always been my sanctuary where I get peace of mind knowing that this is the promise I have delivered well.”


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