Author Topic: CCGA Realty sponsored Real Estate News  (Read 51509 times)

Offline PinoyBroker

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Re: CCGA Realty sponsored Real Estate News
« Reply #30 on: July 23, 2015, 09:04:38 AM »
Aboitiz gets OK to start development of Benguet pla
Posted at 06/18/2015 2:29 PM
MANILA – Aboitiz Power Corp. has received a certificate of registration from the Department of Energy (DOE) as a renewable energy developer.

The permit allows AboitizPower to develop the 45-megawatt Nalatang B hydroelectric power plant project in Kabayan, Benguet.

“With the issuance of the certificate of registration, AboitizPower or its assignee can now start on the pre-development stage of the Nalatang Project, which is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2019,” the company said in a disclosure to the stock exchange on Thursday.

DOE awarded the certificate of registration to AboitizPower following the approval of the assignment of the hydropower service contract of the Nalatang Project from PNOC Renewables Corp., which is the original renewable energy developer.

AboitizPower ended the first quarter with a net income of P3.3 billion, up 4 percent from the P3.2 billion posted in the same period last year.

AboitizPower is the power unit of Aboitiz Equity Ventures (AEV), accounting for 79 percent of total earnings contribution to AEV.
Largest resort in Panglao opens

By MST Entertainment | Jun. 18, 2015 at 05:20pm
The Henann Group of Resorts breaks another record in the hotel and tourism industry with the opening of Henann Resort Alona Beach, the largest resort in Panglao Island, Bohol.

“We consider Henann Resort Alona Beach a milestone in our company’s 17-year history as this is our first property outside Boracay. It has always been my personal goal to expand nationwide and bring the Henann brand of service to the four corners of the Philippines,” said Dr. Henry O. Chusuey, chairman of the Henann Group of Resorts.

Henann Resort Alona Beach is also set to formally unveil this month a three-storey, 2,160 square-meter convention center that can house up to 1,000 guests.

Henann Resort Alona Beach boasts the longest and widest beachfront along Alona Beach, a one and a half kilometre tropical paradise famous for its pristine, white sand and overlooking, rocky cliffs. The 6.5 hectare property will initially operate 100 rooms. Once completed, an additional 300 rooms will be available. It has room types ranging from deluxe, premier and suites to family, premier with pool access, Presidential and beachfront villas.

The rooms feature coastal-inspired modern interiors. Each has a private terrace, wireless internet access, bath tub with separate shower area (for Premier Room only), individually-controlled air conditioning, cable television, direct dial phone, in-room safe, coffee and tea-making facilities and personal refrigerator.

 “We build resorts with our clients first in our minds. We make it worth their stay whether they are with us for short or long-term. We always give our guests the best possible service as the goal is to make them happy from the moment they check in until they leave,” said Chusuey.

 Henann Resort Alona Beach has three massive pools with sunken bar in each. Other amenities include an open air venue for weddings, VIP lounge, fitness and business centers, and a mini shop. Famous Henann brands that will be operational by second quarter of the year are Kai Spa, Sea Breeze Cafe (an all-day buffet restaurant), and Christina’s (Western fine dining).

Bohol is centrally located in the Visayas region and is only an hour away by plane from Manila. Land transfer from provincial capital Tagbilaran City to Henann Resort Alona Beach takes about 30 minutes.

 To attract more travelers both here and abroad, the Bohol Tourism Board launched “Visit Bohol 2015” where they highlight the province’s heritage and culture and eco-adventure activities.

 Apart from the Chocolate Hills and the Philippine Tarsier, Bohol is also famous for landmarks and attractions such as the Dauis Church, Baclayon Church, Blood Compact Shrine, and Loboc River. Popular tourist activities include bird spotting in Rajah Sikatuna National Park, diving in Panglao Island and whale and dolphin watching in Bohol Sea.

The Henann Group of Resorts manages Boracay Regency Beach Resort and Spa (which will be renamed Henann Regency Beach Resort and Spa), Henann Garden Resort, Henann Lagoon Resort and four more newly acquired properties in Station 1 in Boracay. The company will be operating a total of 1,400 rooms in Boracay alone by 2016 and 2017.

 Henann Resort Alona Beach extends its soft opening promo of 40 percent cash discount on room rates until June 30. Travel period is until October. Enjoy first-rate accommodation in the following room types: superior, deluxe, premier, premier with direct pool access, and family room. Bookings are good for four persons for the family room and two persons for other room types. The promo is inclusive of daily buffet breakfast.

 For reservations and inquiries, please call Henann Resort Alona Beach, Bohol at (632) 2303000 to 02, email, or visit
Resorts World operator eyes more hotels, mall with P8-B spending
Posted at 06/18/2015 3:41 PM | Updated as of 06/18/2015 8:00 PM
MANILA (UPDATE) – Travellers International Hotel Group Inc., the owner and operator of Resorts World Manila, has said it is spending P8 billion in capital expenditures this year.

This year’s budget is higher than the P5.9 billion spent by the firm in 2014.

Travellers President and Chief Executive Officer Kingson Sian said the company is still completing the final phase of Resorts World Manila.

The fourth and final phase of the project, which involves the construction of a four-star hotel on top of a shopping mall, is expected to be completed between 2019 and 2020.

Travellers also has ongoing constructions for its new hotels, namely Hilton Manila Hotel, Sheraton Hotel Manila, and Belmont Hotel as it eyes to quadruple its hotel capacity in the next four years.

"In anticipation of more visitors and as part of its long term plan, Travellers will increase its hotel capacity to approximately 4,200 rooms in the next four years from the existing 1,226 rooms," the company said in a disclosure to the stock exchange on Thursday.

The firm is also pursuing the ongoing construction of extensions to the Marriott and Maxims Hotels in Resorts World Manila.

Construction work on Phase 1 of Bayshore City Resorts World at the Entertainment City in Paranaque City is also ongoing.

"Our ongoing improvements and expansion continue, and much remains to be done...we made significant progress and built momentum last year which has put the company in a good position in 2015 and beyond," Travellers president and chief executive Kingson Sian said.

Bayshore City Resorts World is expected to open by 2019.

Sian said the firm's ongoing expansion also complements the growth of Philippine tourism which remains bullish, with around 1.4 million international visitor arrivals for the first quarter of 2015.

Government has set a target of 5.5 million foreign arrivals for the year.

In the first quarter of 2015, Travellers posted profits of P1.7 billion, driven by revenues from the operation of Resort World Manila.

Travellers is a joint venture between Andrew Tan's Alliance Global Group Inc. and Genting Hong Kong.
Amaia launches third project in Batangas

(The Philippine Star) | Updated June 19, 2015 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - After a couple of projects launched last year, Ayala Land’s economic housing arm, Amaia Land Corp., is launching another   community in Lipa City, Batangas as part of its mission to give every Filipino the opportunity to have better homes.

Its newest development, Amaia Scapes Batangas, is the third horizontal development of Amaia in the province.

With the identification of Lipa City as an industrial growth center in the Calabarzon region resulted in the increasing number of business establishments in the city’s central business district as well as numerous industries operating at the province’s industrial parks.

With these facts to consider, it is very ideal to purchase an Amaia Scapes Batangas property since it offers not only a safe and secure community but also a location that will open doors of opportunity for you and your family.

This new Amaia development is very beneficial to its future residents because of its strategic location. It is home to some of major commercial establishments which are essential to day-to-day living. Other establishments such as government offices, hospitals, and restaurants are also near Amaia.

Aside from the good location, Amaia Scapes takes pride of its unique community concepts, innovative house designs, and spacious area.   Each Amaia community is designed with guarded entrance and exits, a perimeter fence, and tree-lined spine road for ensuring the safety of its residents.

Continuing its promise of combining affordability and quality, the project occupies approximately 10 hectares of land with 630 residential units. Buying an Amaia home is made easy with various payment schemes such as cash payment, deferred, Pag-IBIG, bank and in-house financing.

Amaia Scapes Batangas is of top quality since it is backed by Makati Development Corporation BuildPlus and by Ayala Property Management Corp., both trusted for securing a livable community.

For inquiries, visit or like www.facebook/AmaiaLand.
The Beaufort raises the bar in ultra high-end living

(The Philippine Star) | Updated June 19, 2015 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - Nowhere near the size of the mid-income residential condominium segment, the high-rise luxury market is thriving with monthly rentals for a three-bedroom unit, some with full views of the golf course at The Beaufort in Bonifacio Global City (BGC) going for as high as P180,000 per month.

Expatriates, returning residents who have lived abroad and high-income households continue to drive this rental market concentrated in BGC and in Makati, according to Maita Herce Siquijor, a licensed realtor who recently sold units at the project carrying the Filinvest Premier brand. She has a wide client base of multinational firms.

With units ranging from P8 million for a one-bedroom up to P30 million for a three-bedroom at the East Tower, The Beaufort’s units and others in this segment account for an estimated 7,000 units only in Metro Manila. The supply of luxury condominiums is limited for now and new projects that have been completed and ready for occupancy capture greater interest from both lessors and investors compared to other ultra high-end developments still in the pre-selling stage.

Siquijor explains that tenants of luxury units actively seek innovations in residential projects that mean more comfort and conveniences for them. For tenants with housing allowances between P100,000 to P200,000, changing residences is worth the effort of moving if it means they will enjoy benefits like having only three neighbors on a floor, amenities like a mini theatre for private screenings  or plush seating areas at the lobby that have the feel of a hotel. These features offered by the 43-story The Beaufort are departures from the usual offerings of ultra-high end condos.

Compared to other listed developers, Filinvest is relatively new to the luxury segment, says Siquijor, and investors are noticing that its units offer them more value which they in turn can use to attract lessors.  Completed in 2013, units at The Beaufort have already appreciated in the secondary market perhaps because of this perception.

For lessors closely affiliated with the diplomatic corps, who also seek out high-end units to rent,  security is a primary concern. The Filinvest Group addressed this at The Beaufort with a sophisticated building management system that provides real-time monitoring, command and control, automation and report management – all from one platform. Each resident is issued a pre-programmed card that gives him elevator access only from his parking floor to his residential floor, and from the ground floor lobby to the seventh floor where amenities are located.

Offline PinoyBroker

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Re: CCGA Realty sponsored Real Estate News
« Reply #31 on: July 23, 2015, 09:42:41 AM »
Good morning!
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Wednesday to Thursday, July 22 to 23, 2015
Govt set to finalize MRT 3 acquisition next week — Abaya

By Darwin G. Amojelar | Jul. 22, 2015 at 11:45pm

The Transportation and Finance Departments are set to meet next week to finalize the plan to buy out the private sector’s interest in Metro Rail Transit Line 3.

“The meeting is about the apprehension of the DBP  [Development Bank of the Philippines] and LBP [Land Bank of the Philippines] because they might take a hit. They might take a loss in the execution of the buyout,” Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya told reporters Wednesday.

“We have to address their concerns,” he said.

State-run LBP and DBP hold a combined 80-percent economic interest in MRT 3, while the remaining stake is held by creditors of MRTC.

President Aquino issued Executive Order No. 126 in 2013, directing the Transportation and Finance Departments to buy Metro Rail Transit Corp. out of MRT 3, pursuant to the build-lease-transfer agreement.

Abaya said the government was still pursuing the MRT 3 buyout, even after Congress did not approve the P53.9-billion allocation in the 2015 budget for the government’s takeover of MRT.

Metro Pacific Investments Corp. earlier proposed a $524-million expansion of MRT 3, which was lower than the government’s $1.13-billion buyout plan. MPIC’s proposal is still pending before the Transportation Department.

Metro Pacific signed a cooperation agreement in 2011 with various groups holding rights and interests in MRT 3, including MRTC, Metro Rail Transit Holdings Inc., Metro Rail Transit 2 Inc. and Monumento Rail Transit Corp., giving the Pangilinan-led company an option to acquire 48 percent.

Metro Pacific has yet to exercise the option.

MRT 3, which runs along Edsa from North Avenue in Quezon City to Taft Avenue in Pasay City, serves 500,000 passengers a day, beyond its rated capacity of 350,000 passengers.

The line has a fleet of 73 Czech-made air-conditioned rail cars.
State Dept: US not neutral in dispute

By Sandy Araneta | Jul. 23, 2015 at 12:01am

THE United States warned  Tuesday  that it will come down forcefully against any country that violates international laws, particularly in the South China Sea.

US Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Russel also said the US would ensure that all parties adhere to the rules.

“We are not neutral when it comes to adhering to international law. We will come down forcefully when it comes to following the rules,” Russel said during a keynote speech delivered at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Washington’s top diplomat for East Asia said the United States has repeatedly stated that while it takes no position on competing sovereignty claims over disputed areas in the South China Sea, it does want these maritime claims to be advanced in accordance with international law and without the use of coercion.

Russel also reiterated the US position that the South China Sea disputes wasn’t over rocks but about rules for the Asia-Pacific region.

“It’s about the kind of neighborhood we all want to live in,” he added.

In response to a question by a Chinese participant, Russel said the US was neutral only to the extent of competing claims, not the way these disputes were resolved.

He said the US was encouraging the parties involved to creae an atmosphere and conditions needed to manage the disputes peacefully, diplomatically and lawfully, despite the escalating tensions partly caused by China’s reclamation of disputed areas in the South China Sea.

“We’re pushing the parties to revive the spirit of cooperation,” Russel said.

Russel also encouraged all participants, not just China, to cease actions that run contrary to this spirit, including reclaiming land, building facilities and militarizing features.

Russel said that US Secretary of State John Kerry would push for progress on this front at the upcoming ASEAN Regional Forum, which will be held next month in Malaysia, this year’s chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

On the first peaceful path to resolving disputes, which is bilateral negotiations, Russel acknowledged it was challenging to pursue this course under the current atmosphere.

While not directly mentioning China by name, he noted that “absolutist” statements by certain countries that their claims were “indisputable” made going down this path even more challenging.

H also said there were several cases in the region where this had worked, including disputes between Indonesia and the Philippines, Malaysia and Singapore, and Bangladesh and Myanmar.

On the second path, which is arbitration, Russel specifically referred to the Philippines’ ongoing case against China at the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague, Netherlands.

Russel saidthat regardless of the outcome, both Beijing and Manila had to abide by the court’s legally binding decision as they were both signatories to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

Meanwhile, Russel said that the United States would safeguard its own interests in various ways, including honoring its alliances and security commitments and aiding the development of effective regional organizations.

This included investing in maritime domain awareness for coastal states and carrying out freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea.
Semirara stops coal exports

By Alena Mae S. Flores | Jul. 22, 2015 at 11:35pm

Semirara Mining Corp. said Wednesday it suspended coal exports to prioritize local consumers following the suspension of its mining operations in Caluya, Antique.

“Effective today [Wednesday], we are suspending our coal export shipments in response to the directive of the Department of Energy to prioritize the requirements of domestic coal consumers, pending the investigation of the cause of the landslide at North Panian last July 17, 2015,” the company said.

The Energy Department said it welcomed the decision of Semirara Mining to prioritize domestic coal consumption. It said given the potential impact on the power sector of any coal supply disruption, the agency was inclined to issue a directive for SMPC to limit for domestic use its current coal stock to service local power plants.

“We are coordinating with power plants to determine the inventory of existing power plants and cement plants serviced by COC [coal operating conctract] No. 5. data indicates that COC No. 5 supplies 1,593 MW of grid connected power [Luzon and Visayas]” said acting Energy Secretary Zenaida Monsada.

Semirara said it had notified foreign customers that it could not schedule further shipments until the department reached a decision on the suspension of its mining operations.

“The concerned government authorities have our full cooperation, and we will do everything we can to manage our limited coal inventory to avert possible supply disruptions to our local power plant and cement customers,” Semirara said.

So far, eight of the  nine fatalities have been recovered from the North Panian mine.

“Search and retrieval operations at the site have continued 24/7,” it said.

The Energy Department earlier ordered the immediate suspension of the operations of Semirara’s coal operating contract no. 5 due  to the incident.

The department also ordered the formation of an investigation committee to look into the matter.

Monsada, who led an investigation committee that inspected the site of the July 17 incident, said a preliminary report showed the incident was due to a slope failure characterized by the slumping of back fill materials with a height of 61 meters.

The continuous rainfall of two weeks prior may have also played a factor, the committee said.

Semirara received on Wednesday a copy of the Department of Environment and Natural Resource’s cease and desist order dated July 21, 2015 directing the company from undertaking any activity in the Panian mine except for search and rescue and rehabilitation in the area until the company had implemented the approved mitigation measures to prevent future incidents.

“The company shall abide with said order and fully cooperate with the DENR in this regard,” it said.

Semirara earlier said the needs of the families of the victims remained its priority.

“We have sought the assistance of religious nuns and professional counsellors to help the bereaved cope with their loss,” Semirara said.

“We are facilitating the life and accident insurance claims of the victims. On top of the immediate release of additional funds to cover their transportation costs and other incidental expenses, we are providing P1 million to each of the nine grieving families,” it said.

The company also assured it would shoulder all the education expenses all the way to college of the children of the victims.

“If they are already of employment age, we are prepared to provide them with jobs,” Semirara said.
SMC bares Liberty tender offer

By Darwin G. Amojelar | Jul. 22, 2015 at 11:30pm

The telecommunications unit of San Miguel Corp. is making a bid to purchase all the publicly-held stake of Liberty Telecom Holdings Inc. at a price below the market.

San Miguel said in a report to regulators it was earmarking P491 million to purchase 223.15 million, or about 17.25 percent, of the issued and outstanding common stock held by the public.

The purchase price was P2.20 per share, lower than the market price of P2.80 apiece.

The tender offer will begin on July 23 and end at the closing of business hours of August 20.

San Miguel is making the offer in connection with Vega Telecom’s acquisition of 51.01 percent of the total outstanding common and preferred shares in Liberty Telecom from Qtel West Bay Holdings S.P.C., White Dawn Solution Holdings Inc. and wi-tribe Asia Limited.

Qtel West Bay as of end-March owned 29.89 percent of Liberty, while White Dawn Solution and wi-tribe held 18.44 percent and 2.68 percent, respectively.

The shares were valued at an estimated P3.75 billion based on Vega’s tender offer price.

Vega Telecom held a 35.73-percent stake in Liberty Telecom.

Liberty Telecoms expects to break even after exiting corporate rehabilitation a year ahead of schedule.

“The management really wants to have a break even as soon as possible,”  said Liberty Telecoms president and chief executive Bienvenido Bañas said.

The company, a joint venture of San Miguel and Qatar Telecom, reported a total comprehensive loss of P210.16 million in the first quarter of 2015, down 32 percent from a P307.59-million net loss recorded a year ago.

Revenues declined to P42.17 million in the January-to-March period from P78.38 million year-on-year.

Liberty Telecoms also aims to launch mobile phone services as early as January  next year.

San Miguel earlier announced Vega Telecoms bought Express Telecommunications Inc. and Vega’s investment in High Frequency Telecommunications Inc.

Extelcom, owned by the Ongpin Group and UK-based Ashmore Investment Management Ltd., is the country’s first mobile telephone operator

San Miguel will now have four telecommunications companies under its portfolio, namely Eastern Telecommunications Philippines Inc., Bell Telecommunications Philippines Inc. and Liberty Telecoms Holdings Inc.
PH secures 142,160 tons of sugar quota

By Anna Leah E. Gonzales | Jul. 22, 2015 at 11:20pm

The Philippines has secured a deal to export 142,160 metric tons of raw sugar to the United States at a low tariff rate in fiscal year 2016, the US Trade Representative said Wednesday.

The USTR said the sugar quota allocation for the Philippines in fiscal year 2016 was the same as last year’s. The volume translates into more than 136,000 metric tons in commercial weight.

Tariff-rate quotas allow countries to export specified quantities of a product to the United States at a relatively low tariff, but subject all imports of the product above a pre-determined threshold to a higher tariff.

The in-quota quantity for the TRQ on raw cane sugar for the said fiscal year is 1.117 million metric tons raw value, representing the minimum amount the United States committed under the World Trade Organization agreement.

Based on the list, the Dominican Republic got the highest allocation of 185,335 MTRV while Brazil was given an MTRV of 152,691. The Philippines got the third biggest allocation for the fiscal year.

USTR said other countries which received quota allocation were Argentina, Australia, Barbados, Belize, Bolivia, Colombia, Congo, Costa Rica, Cote d’lvoire, Ecuador, El Salvador, Fiji, Gabon, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, India, Jamaica, Madagascar and Malawi.

Other countries with allocations are Mauritius, Mexico, Mozambique,Nicaragua, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, South Africa, St. Kitts & Nevis, Swaziland, Taiwan, Thailand, Trinidad & Tobago, Uruguay and Zimbabwe.

USTR said the allocations were based on each country’s historical shipments to the United States.

The Sugar Regulatory Administration removed last month the allocation for the US sugar quota and further increased the supply in the domestic market for sugar crop year 2014 to 2015.

The directive will cover production in the week ending May 31, 2015 and crop year 2014 to 2015.

The sugar crop year begins in September and ends in August of the following year.

SRA administrator Regina Martin said in a directive the agency slashed the US sugar quota to zero from 5 percent, and raised the domestic allocation to 100 percent from the previous 95 percent.

“The domestic sugar market remains as the priority for the locally produced sugar, and it is to the national interest that a comfortable buffer or carry over volume of domestic sugar during the end of season and for the start of the next crop year for stable supply and prices,” Martin said.

She said the adjustment in sugar allocation was due to the expected drop in production caused by the intense heat that had affected most of the sugar-producing provinces.

“Expected sugar production for the current crop year will be 2.31 million metric tons from the original target of 2.5 million metric tons at the start of the crop year. We have to make sure that we have enough buffer stock for the domestic market which will be good for two months of consumption,” Martin said.

Offline PinoyBroker

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Re: CCGA Realty sponsored Real Estate News
« Reply #32 on: July 23, 2015, 09:43:36 AM »
MetroPac’s gamble and MWSS anomaly

By Ray S. Eñano | Jul. 22, 2015 at 11:25pm

Metro Pacific Investments Corp., the infrastructure arm of the Hong Kong-based First Pacific Group, has expected itself to crunch numbers given the huge cost of constructing the 45.5-kilometer Cavite-Laguna Expressway project, or Calax.

But one obvious factor made it easy for Metro Pacific to bid higher on the biggest Public-Private Partnership project of the government to date. Cavite and Laguna have a big growing population that will support the traffic volume of the new expressway

MPIC president Jose Maria Lim told the media earlier the conglomerate decided to offer a much higher premium after carefully studying several factors, including the volume of traffic and higher population growth of Cavite and Laguna, which have 3 million and 2 million people, respectively.

“So we did expect that because of the delay, the traffic would probably start off at a higher level because of the population growth,” Lim says. “There have also been commercial establishments and developments that helped traffic start off at a higher rate.”

Lower oil and steel prices have also favored the construction of the infrastructure project and prompted Metro Pacific’s unit, MPCALA Holdings Inc., to submit an aggressive offer of P27.3 billion against San Miguel Corp.’s bid of P22.2 billion

Metro Pacific chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan said his company would spend no less than P50 billion to build the tollway from Manila-Cavite Toll Expressway, or Cavitex, to Laguna.

“This will spur growth in NCR [Metro Manila] and Calabarzon [Cavite-Laguna-Batangas-Rizal-Quezon corridor], and create jobs,” said MVP. “It will improve traffic, and property values. Tourism will rise in the area. Overall, we become a better nation.”

Calax, meanwhile, is a logical project for Metro Pacific because of its interests in other toll roads. Metro Pacific through its subsidiaries is operating the North Luzon Expressway, Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway and Cavitex.

It has proposed the construction of a connector road linking NLEx to the South Luzon Expressway and is aiming to bid for other PPP road projects on the auction block, like the Central Luzon Link Expressway that will extend SCTEx eastward to Nueva Ecija province.

MPIC’s Metro Pacific Tollways Corp. is embarking on simultaneous ventures to expand NLEx from Bulacan to Caloocan and Manila’s port area through several Harbor Link sub-projects; a separate one extending NLEx to Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City; and another project integrating NLEx and SCTEx with the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway of San Miguel in the north.

“Once completed, CALAx will integrate with Cavitex and will feature the same modern facilities of MPTC’s existing toll roads,” said MPTC president Ramoncito Fernandez. “This is in line with our vision of eventually linking all our expressways—including the soon to be integrated NLEx-SCTEx, Harbor Link—providing seamless travel experience to motorists.”

“The project [Calax)] is expected to directly generate more than 3,000 new jobs during the construction,” said Fernandez. “This does not include the thousands of new jobs from the expected new investments along the Cavite-Laguna corridor from the improved infrastructure.”

MPCALA Holdings on July 10 handed over to the Public Works P5.46 billion representing the 20 percent upfront payment of the premium offer of P27.3 billion. The balance of the concession fee is payable over nine years from the contract signing, or until July 2024.

Metro Pacific is set to spend a total of P62.7 billion on the project connecting Cavitex to SLEx, which is operated by the consortium of San Miguel with Citra Metro Manila Tollway Corp.
Water mess

In contrast with Calax, the water sector is a case of privatization going awry.

Maynilad Water Services Inc. and Manila Water Co. Inc. are grappling with what appears to be a convoluted policy from the  Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage Authority.

An arbitration panel upheld Maynilad’s position that it would remain a contractor and agent of MWSS be allowed to recover its corporate income taxes.

Manila Water, meanwhile, was classified a public utility, like Manila Electric Co., and barred from including corporate income taxes in the computation of its tariff.

The ruling on Manila Water marked a big change in the rules and regulations in the concession agreement, which both parties agreed upon prior to the bidding in 1997.

“By the very nature of their partnership with the MWSS, both companies were true to their promise—Manila Water and Maynilad have assumed their positions as contractors and agents for the operation and maintenance of water within their respective service areas with MWSS remaining as the public utility,” a lawyer said.

“Such situation not only questions Manila Water’s new accountabilities and obligations, but now questions the new mandate of MWSS as the government agency in charge of the regulation and water source development,” he added.

Maynilad also cannot implement its new tariff because MWSS must exercise regulatory equality between its two providers.

The sudden change of rules in the midst of the concessionaires’ progressive state challenges the credibility of the government’s PPP program and the sanctity of its contracts.
Banana farmers told to use drones for spraying

By Anna Leah E. Gonzales | Jul. 22, 2015 at 11:10pm

Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala on Wednesday advised banana growers to use unmanned aerial technology or drones in their banana plantations.

“I will meet with the members of the Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association to discuss the possible use of drones in their aerial spraying,” Alcala said.

“Even if they say that they are using organic ingredients, the main concern of the lawmakers is the ‘excessive’ amount of chemicals being dumped during overhead spraying, which may allegedly cause respiratory illnesses,” Alcala said.

Alcala said aerial drones could hover as close as two meters from the ground which would lessen the amount of chemicals being dumped.

“Some congressmen expressed their concern because the distance of aerial spraying from the plant to the height of the plane is 10 to 15 meters. The drone technology is readily available and is cheaper. It is just a matter of adopting what is better for our industry,” he said.

Several civil society groups earlier urged Congress to immediately pass a bill which aims to ban the use of aerial spraying.

Under consideration by the House committee on ecology chaired by Rep. Amado Bagatsing is House Bill 3857, entitled ‘An Act prohibiting aerial spraying as a method of applying chemicals and similar substances on agricultural crops.’

The bill is authored by Gabriela Women’s Partylist Reps. Luzviminda Ilagan and Emmi De Jesus; Bayan Muna Reps. Neli Colmenares and Carlos Isagani Zarate; ACT Teachers’ Partylist Rep. Antonio Tinio; Anakpawis Partylist Rep. Fernando Hicap; and Kabataan Partylist Rep. Terry Ridon.

PBGEA, however, said aerial spraying was a generally accepted agricultural practice by the World Trade Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations under certain limitations which the banana industry was strictly adopting, otherwise importers might stop buying from them.

PBGEA said a multi-sectoral monitoring team that focused on banana plantations was overseeing the compliance of these regulations.

The Philippines is the world’s second largest exporter of fresh bananas.

The top major export destinations for fresh Cavendish bananas are Japan, China, Korea, the Middle East and New Zealand with stringent policies on food product.
SMC to build 500-MW dam

By Alena Mae S. Flores | Jul. 22, 2015 at 11:40pm

Strategic Power Development Corp., a wholly-owned subsidiary of San Miguel Corp., will pursue the construction of a 500-megawatt pumped storage hydro power plant in Aurora province.

Strategic Power sought the approval of the Energy Department for the 500-MW Dingalan pumped storage hydro plant in Dingalan, Aurora.

The project is a part of the company’s plan to develop up to 3,000 MW of hydro power projects in the country, a source said.

The Energy Department approved last year the application of Strategic Power  for a 200-MW pumped storage hydro project in Aklan.

The hydro service contract was signed on Jan. 30, 2014.

“It’s now in pre-development stage of the hydro service contract,” the source said earlier.

Strategic Power currently trades the capacity of the  345-MW San Roque multi-purpose hydroelectric power plant in Batangas province.

Strategic Power won the bidding as the independent power producer administrator of San Roque in 2009 with its offer of $450 million.

Meanwhile, San Miguel’s subsidiary SMC Global Power Corp. is eyeing the construction of a total of 2,100 megawatts of coal-fired capacity in Limay, Bataan and Malita, Davao from 2016 to 2020.

San Miguel also plans to put up coal plants in Cebu, Batangas City and Mariveles, Bataan.

The company presently trades the capacities of the Sual coal plant in Pangasinan and the Ilijan natural gas power facility in Batangas.

San Miguel has become one of the largest independent power generation companies in the country.

It also forayed into power distribution by taking over Albay Electric Cooperative.
Rail ticket firm sells 6,000 beep cards

By Darwin G. Amojelar | Jul. 22, 2015 at 11:05pm

AF Payments Inc., the winning bidder for the new fare collection system in Metro Manila’s three overhead rail lines, said it sold more than 6,000 beep cards, indicating a high takeup for the modern ticketing system.

“We sold between Monday and Tuesday over 6,000 beep cards, a very high rate of takeup of stored value cards.  More than 80 percent of tickets sold were beep cards. That’s a very high percentage,” AF Payments chief executive Peter Maher told reporters Wednesday.

The trial of the contactless beep card and the new single journey tickets piloted at the Legarda Station of the LRT Line 2 early this week.

“We’re very pleased that the public has confidence and were willing to purchase the card and use it immediately,” Maher said.

AF Payments said of the 2,586 beep SVCs sold, 1,521 cards or roughly 59 percent were purchased via the new ticket vending machines.

The company said of the 486  SJT  sold, 103 cards or 21 percent were bought from the vending machine. The average load for the stored value cards were at P110, not counting the P20 onetime card fee.

Following the positive outcome of the public trial in Legarda station, AF Payments Inc. is set to implement a similar trial at the Betty Go Belmonte station within the week.

AF Payments, a consortium led by Ayala Corp. and Metro Pacific Investments Corp., won the P1.72-billion contract for the automated fare collection system project.

The new system uses contactless smart card technology to upgrade and integrate the ticketing infrastructure for the country’s major railways, including LRT Line 1 and 2 and Metro Rail Transit Line 3.

Maher said the common ticket system for LRT Line 1 and MRT Line 3 would go live by September.

Under the concession agreement, the ticketing scheme will be fully integrated by September.

AF Payments will install 731 gates, 138 ticket vending machines, 221 point of sales devices and 44 station computers across the three rail lines.

The company’s new smart card ticketing system replaces the existing magnetic stripe system.  The new system or the “beep card” can also serve as an electronic micropayment solution in day-to-day payments, or as identifier for loyalty schemes, facility access and location-based services.

The tap-and-go system, which the winning bidder will operate for 10 years, will also enhance fare collection efficiency by reducing leakage and fraud.

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Friday, October 2, 2015
SSS sees P1.2-B earnings from property sale, leases this year

By Kathleen A. Martin (The Philippine Star)
Updated October 2, 2015 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Social Security System expects to earn P1.2 billion from the lease and sale of its properties this year.

SSS senior vice president May Catherine Ciriaco said SSS has already raked in P274.5 million in the first half from the lease and sale of some of its real estate properties such as residential and commercial lots, condominium units, buildings, and parking lots.

The state-run pension fund expects another P289 million in the second half from the lease of the same assets, she said.

Together with an estimated P696.5 million in earnings from the sale of the fund’s properties scheduled later this year, Ciriaco said SSS stands to earn an additional P1.2 billion for 2015.

“Contrary to recent news reports, SSS assets for the most part have not remained idle (because) about 70 percent of our P17.9-billion investment properties have been on lease and are bringing in regular income for the SSS,” Ciriaco said.

“The rest of SSS assets are either for sale, or are retained as SSS property due to their expected increase in value,” she said.
The fund will be auctioning off more condominium units, parking lots, and acquired lots before the year ends. SSS has also scheduled other properties worth a total of P253.6 million for bidding next year. “Meanwhile, as part of the pension fund’s long-term strategy, the SSS intends to maintain its ownership of select prime properties such as Fort Bonifacio in Taguig City and East Triangle in Quezon City, given the expected appreciation in their real estate value,” Ciriaco said.

The Commission on Audit earlier this month said SSS could have earned at least P198.1 million more if it has rented out idle assets.

“Measures intended to maximize SSS income from its real estate properties are already underway. Even if the SSS has not rented out certain properties, the SSS has already registered gains from their appreciating value,” Ciriaco said.
DOTC starts upgrade of MRT signal system

By Louella D. Desiderio (The Philippine Star)
Updated October 2, 2015 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) is set to start the P53.37 million upgrade of the signalling system of the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3), a move expected to minimize the train system’s glitches.

The seven-month contract awarded to Bombardier Transportation Signal, Ltd. will involve replacement of the existing local control system called MAN 900 with the more contemporary EBI Screen 900, a software with the same functionality as MAN 900, but enables the use of modern personal computers and fiber optic technology.

The signalling system maintains safe distances between trains and controls their speed.

Issues with the signalling system’s components may result in less operating trains and slower travel.

Apart from modernizing the software components, the upgrade will also ensure the availability of spare parts needed for the uninterrupted and efficient operation of the train system.

Within the first month of the contract, Bombardier will provide the required hardware upgrades and software licenses.

The firm will, likewise, install, test, and commission support of the new system; carry out the migration of existing data and functions and train MRT-3 personnel on proper operation and maintenance.

Bombardier holds exclusive proprietary rights to supply new components, as it designed, developed, and implemented the entire MRT-3 signalling system when it was constructed.

“This upgrade of an obsolete signalling system, which should have been done by the private sector owner years ago, is crucial in minimizing operational disruptions. This will improve reliability and efficiency of the rail system for the benefit of our passengers,” DOTC Secretary Joseph Abaya said.

The conditions of the MRT-3 covering North Avenue station in Quezon City until Taft Avenue station in Pasay City, have worsened over the years with the train system breaking down and leaving several commuters stranded in stations.

Aside from the upgrade of the signalling system, other improvements are being undertaken in the MRT-3.

Beginning Saturday, the MRT-3 will use the new beep cards or tap-and-go ticketing system to shorten the queuing time for passengers.

The beep cards are already being used in Lines 1 and 2 of the Light Rail Transit.

The ongoing refurbishment of 12 Schindler-brand escalators of MRT-3 meanwhile,  is expected to be completed before the year ends.

The rehabilitation of MRT-3 toilets is also being carried out and six facilities are already open for public use.

Over 7,000 linear meters’ worth of new rails are also set to be installed within the year to replace worn-out tracks in order to ensure safer and smoother rides.
Japanese bizmen urged to invest in Philippines

By Rosette Adel (
Updated October 1, 2015 - 5:20pm
MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) encouraged the Japanese business community to invest in the Philippines as the country’s economy expands and to establish positive trade relationships.

“Seize opportunities in the Philippines to create, wealth, generate jobs and improve the lives of our peoples,” DTI Undersecretary for Industry Development Adrian Cristobal Jr. said during the Philippine-Japan Business Investment Forum held in Tokyo last week.

“Now is the right time for our Japanese friends and partners to come and do business in the country, and for those all ready operating there, expand your business,” he added.

Cristobal enticed the Japanese business community by describing the country’s economy as “bright spot in the region.”

The DTI undersecretary also elaborated the benefits the Philippines gains from trade preferences from the world’s largest importing countries under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP.)

Late last year, the Philippines became a beneficiary to the European Union’s (EU) GSP-plus granting the country a duty-free access to two-thirds of tariff lines.

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The United States (US) also reauthorized its GSP grant to the country last June since the authorization expired mid-2013. The reauthorization of GSP grant gave Philippines duty-free access to 3,500 US tariff lines.

Cristobal cited that among the Japanese firms which already took advantage of the preferences is Shimano, large Japanese bicycle manufacturer, which invested 3.5 billion yen to access the EU market through the Philippines.

“By setting up manufacturing facilities in the Philippines, Japanese companies may avail of the duty-free market access to the EU and the US, including products which are key export interests of Japan,” Cristobal added.

“We are in fact the only country in ASEAN to enjoy this preferential treatment,” Cristobal said. “In addition to these product categories, exporters in footwear and textile, preserved fruits, pineapple juice, jams and jelly who are targeting the European market may find a wealth of opportunity in the Philippines’ GSP+ status,” he added.

DTI said the government also seeks to uphold the competitiveness of its automotive industry to seize bigger share of the regional automotive manufacturing industry in the near future and to keep up with the growing market.

To enhance the automotive industry, Cristobal met with the car and car parts manufacturers to discuss to them the country’s Manufacturing Resurgence Program (MRP) and the Comprehensive Automotive Resurgence Strategy (CARS) Program.

The CARS program covering motor vehicle production, auto parts manufacturing and shared services and testing facilities currently produces estimated 80,000 to 90,000 units annually. It still aims to increase its production to a competitive scale of 200,000 yearly. .
Metro Pacific seeks majority control of Davao Doctors Hospital for P1.6 B
By Iris C. Gonzales (The Philippine Star)
Updated October 2, 2015 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - Metro Pacific Hospital Holdings Inc. (MPHHI), the healthcare unit of industrial conglomerate Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC), is seeking a majority stake in Davao Doctors Hospital Inc. (DDH).

The Manuel V. Pangilinan-led hospital firm commenced yesterday a general offer to acquire the remaining shares of stock in the Davao-based hospital through law firm SyCip Salazar Hernandez and Gatmaitan Law Offices.

The hospital subsidiary currently owns 313,655 shares or 34.82 percent of the outstanding capital stock of DDH and wants to acquire the remaining 587,154 shares of stock in the medical institution for roughly P1.614 billion.

MPHHI  acquired its stake in DDH for P500 million in 2009 and has since poured in P400 millionin 2009  in investments to improve the facility.

MPHHI is offering a higher price per share if it would be able to acquire a higher number of shares. It laid down three conditions as basis for the offer price.

In its offer, MPHHI said if as a result of the tender, it will acquire less than 136,747 DDH shares, the offer price shall be P2,300 per share.

On the other hand, if as a result of the tender MPHHI acquires at least 136,747 DDH shares but less than 286,881 shares, the offer price shall be P2,600 per share.

Finally, MPHHI said if it acquires at least 286,881 DDH shares, the purchase price shall be P2,750 per share.

The offer period will be until Nov. 19, MPHHI said.

As of  end-June, the Metro Pacific Group has nine hospitals with a total bed count of 2,245: Makati Medical Center, Cardinal Santos Medical Center, Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Asian Hospital & Medical Center and De Los Santos Medical Center in Metro Manila; Central Luzon Doctors’ Hospital in Tarlac; Riverside Medical Center in the Visayas; and Davao Doctors Hospital and WMMC in Mindanao; one mall- based diagnostic and ambulatory care center located in SM Megamall; and two healthcare colleges – Riverside College Inc. in Visayas and Davao Doctors College in Mindanao.

The hospital group’s first half net income this year rose 23 percent to P565 million.
PLDT creates investment arm to connect with Silicon Valley
Chrisee Dela Paz
Published 5:54 PM, October 01, 2015
Updated 5:54 PM, October 01, 2015
MANILA, Philippines ­– Telecommunications giant Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT) has created a new investment arm that will connect its group of companies with leading Silicon Valley startups.

The new investment arm, called PLDT Capital, is investing up to $50 million this year to support its business units, which include Smart, ePLDT, Digital5, and Voyager. This is part of its digital services portfolio expansion in the Philippines, Southeast Asia, and Asia-Pacific, PLDT told the local bourse on September 30.

PLDT Capital will be supported by a team of strategists, engineers, and product managers who will also be identified from the PLDT group.

PLDT Capital has formally started operations in El Segundo, within Los Angeles County, California, and has presence in Silicon Valley.

"The PLDT Group serves more than 70 million mobile and Internet customers in the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) region," Winston Damarillo, managing director of PLDT Capital, said in a statement. (READ: PH telcos, TV networks ride double-edged digital wave)

"In addition to investments, PLDT Capital aims to become the gateway for the most promising startups to expand their opportunities to the fast growing digital consumers in the ASEAN region,” he added.

The PLDT group has made investments through its corporate development initiative, notably in Rocket Internet, among others. PLDT Capital is specifically created to focus on investments that support the PLDT core businesses.

"PLDT Capital serves as an important pillar to sustain our digital pivot," PLDT chairman Manuel Pangilinan said.

"To provide the best possible digital experience to our customers, we must collaborate with world-class companies. We look forward to bridging the best of Silicon Valley talent with our own Filipino innovators to expand the opportunities of PLDT,” Pangilinan added. –
Bank lending expands 14% to P4.67 T
By Lawrence Agcaoili (The Philippine Star)
Updated October 2, 2015 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - The growth in bank lending picked up in August amid the higher loans extended for production activities particularly for construction as well as accommodation and food services.

According to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), the outstanding loans of commercial banks expanded 14.1 percent to P4.67 trillion in August from P4.09 trillion in the same month last year.

The expansion in August was faster compared to the 13.6 percent growth in July.

Together with reverse repurchase placements with the BSP, lending rose 14.3 percent to P4.96 trillion in August from a year-ago level of P4.34 trillion.

The BSP traced the increase in bank lending in August to the rise in loans for production activities which account for more than 80 percent of banks’ aggregate loan portfolio.

Data showed loans for production activities grew 13.8 percent to P4.16 trillion in August from P3.66 trillion in the same month last year.
Loans extended to manufacturing companies grew 5.8 percent to P711.89 billion from P672.7 billion followed by the wholesale and retail trade that grew 15.5 percent to P655.61 billion from P567.49 billion.

Lending for financial and insurance activities expanded 15.3 percent to P411.5 billion from P396.36 billion followed by loans for agriculture, forestry, and fishing that grew 15.5 percent to P149.7 billion from P129.61 billion.

In terms of growth rate, accommodation and food services activities booked the fastest growth with 50.4 percent followed by arts, entertainment and recreation with 45 percent as well as human health and social work activities with 42.5 percent.

On the other hand, loans for real estate activities grew 14.9 percent to P809.4 billion from P704.43 billion. The growth rate was slower compared to the 16.4 percent expansion booked in July.

In the latest Senior Loan Officers Survey of the BSP, the credit standards for loans to households and enterprises by banks were unchanged in the second quarter after a net tightening in the first quarter.

This is the 25th consecutive quarter since the second quarter of 2009 that the majority of banks reported broadly unchanged credit standards.

On the other hand, about 86.4 percent of the respondent banks in the second quarter indicated a net tightening of overall credit standards was noted for commercial real estate loans for the 12th consecutive quarter due to perceived stricter oversight of banks’ real estate exposure along with banks’ reduced tolerance for risk.

The BSP also noted the growth in lending for household consumption including credit card loans, auto loans, and salary also eased to 14 percent in August from 14.3 percent in July. Bank lending for household consumption amounted to P360.6 billion in August from P316.43 billion in the same month last year.
Asia Pacific carriers post lower air freight volume in August
By Louise Maureen Simeon (The Philippine Star)
Updated October 2, 2015 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - AsiaPacific-based airlines continue to experience weakness in air freight volumes in August as China’s manufacturing industry slows down, a report from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said.

Latest data from IATA showed AsiaPacific carriers’ freight ton kilometers (FTKs) fell one percent in August even as capacity expanded 4.9 percent.

Although the contraction was less severe than in July, IATA noted it is hard to say if the decline has bottomed out considering the continued drop in export orders for Chinese manufacturing.

“Some of the key reasons for the earlier weakness – for example, downgraded growth expectations in emerging Asia, and the re-balancing of the Chinese economy toward domestic consumption – are still there,” IATA director general and chief executive officer Tony Tyler said.

Meanwhile, global freight markets have stabilized in August after two months of decline wherein air cargo volumes rose 0.2 percent compared to the same period in 2014, an improvement from the July performance where freight demand contracted 0.6 percent year-on-year.

“After declines in June and July, signs of a stabilization in air cargo are welcome. But all is not well. Total volumes are down two percent compared to the end of 2014. Even though world trade volumes have slightly picked up, the industry will have to work hard to match the strong finish to 2014,” Tyler added.

Furthermore, airlines in the Latin American region reported a large decline in demand of 7.3 percent year-on-year, reflecting the continued economic struggles of Brazil and Argentina, while regional trade activity has not created stronger air freight demand.

North American airlines experienced a decline of 3.3 percent year-on-year and continue to see significant falls in FTK volumes since the boost from modal shift due to sea port congestion earlier in the year.

“Some of the conditions that led to the decline in world trade this year – a combination of weaker than expected global economic growth, particularly in emerging markets, as well as shifts toward the domestic market in China – are persisting. There are some tentative signs that things won’t get worse – export orders have stabilized – but if the current trend were to continue, we would see negative year-on-year comparisons in the coming months,” IATA said.

On the other hand, Middle Eastern carriers saw the strongest growth with demand expanding 10.4 percent and capacity rising 14.3 percent. Although some economies in the region have suffered a slowdown in non-oil growth, overall expansion remains robust enough to sustain solid growth in air freight

European carriers, likewise, reported a rise in demand in August of 0.7 percent compared to a year ago and capacity rose 3.9 percent with the recent improvements in eurozone manufacturing business activity seen to support air freight demand.

African airlines which carry a small part of worldwide FTKs, recorded a 2.3 percent in August with regional trade activity supporting demand for air transport of goods.
Tax reform is about fairness

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DEMAND AND SUPPLY By Boo Chanco (The Philippine Star)
Updated October 2, 2015 - 12:00am
Mar Roxas simply does not get it. That is not surprising because Mr. Roxas is from the traditional moneyed class. He knows nothing about making ends meet, something those of us in the middle class struggle with all the time.

The most Roxas would concede is that he would study the tax reform proposals. We all know what happens when Mr. Roxas studies something. Nothing happens. We saw that movie at DOTC when he was on top of it.

While I was in Singapore over the weekend, an OFW posted this complaint on Facebook which I posted on my wall. It expresses the unfairness of our current income tax system in plain peso terms:

“My tax in Singapore for earning P1 million would only be P6,000 for the whole year. If I stayed in the Philippines earning P20,000/month or P240,000/year, my tax would be P48,000 vs P6,000.

“Working in the Philippines is a scam worse than Emgoldex. You are paying a premium for a very poor quality of service. It’s like paying for a luxury hotel but sleeping in a hammock in a dumpsite.”

We need income tax reform now. Aside from being fair to taxpayers, Citizen Watch points out we also have to be regionally competitive. Because of the “more lenient, reasonable income tax rates elsewhere in the region, some talented Filipinos have chosen to live and work abroad, breaking families apart and contributing to brain drain… an employee who earns P500,000 a year is subjected to a 32-percent income tax. The same income merits 10 percent in Thailand and two percent in Singapore…  With the º looming Asean integration and national borders disintegrating, this becomes a real issue.”
Of course because the exasperated Filipino professional goes abroad and is now exempted from paying Philippine income tax as an OFW, the short sighted greedy government gets nothing. We lose the investment on their education and training, specially for UP graduates. And if they brought their families with them, we get little or nothing by way of remittances.

As educated as Mr. Roxas is, he fails to see tax reform beyond the perspective of the tax collector trying to meet a target set out of thin air. Citizen Watch Philippines puts it in perspective:

“It should also be noted that while lower income tax rates would briefly affect the country’s coffers, it will further strengthen our already booming consumer economy, which would consequently result to higher government revenues, this time through the expanded value added tax (EVAT). The more cash that moves around the market, the livelier the economy becomes in the long term.”

Yet, Mr. Roxas and the folks at DOF insist tax reform will imperil vital expenditures on education, health and welfare, as well as the country’s investment credit rating. That’s sheer bullsh#t.

It is all a matter of setting good priorities. The BIR estimated a tax revenue loss of about P30 billion in a national budget of P3 trillion. Where is the Liberal Party’s sense of proportion here?, a blog, computed a tax savings for a middle income couple earning about a million pesos a year in the vicinity of P230,000 if they were working in Singapore instead of the Philippines. That translates to about P19,000 a month, an amount which is loose change for Mar Roxas.

But lists down what that P19,000 monthly tax savings can buy for a struggling middle class family:

“This could mean, they can now afford to buy a HOUSE with a monthly mortgage of P5,000-P10,000/month, perhaps this could lower the informal settlers around the Philippines. Some middle-income families are also informal settlers, especially those earning P328,000/year with more than five family members.

“This could mean an EDUCATION PLAN that can be used to plan for their child’s education up to college, causing less drop-outs in school… 

“This could mean they can start investing/saving for their RETIREMENT PLAN. According to a SSS survey, out of 100, only two percent of the population can retire comfortably and the remaining 98 percent depends on either: their family, charity or the government.

“Contrary to what the government believes, this could mean MORE TAX COLLECTION for the government. Lower taxes could mean better compliance and greater purchasing power for an ordinary person like me and you. Greater VAT collection for the government. All goods, services and consumption are taxed with 12 percent VAT.

“This could mean more business money that could be put up. Making each of us ENTREPRENEURS, thus creating more jobs for our fellow citizens…

“This could mean more people buying LIFE INSURANCE and HEALTH INSURANCE, thereby, reducing Filipino dependence on corrupt government officials. In cases like a death of a family member or major sickness, people won’t go to a politiko asking money “pampalibing” or “pampagamot” – which could even push these politikos to corrupt practices, justifying their acts as what they get, they are given to people too.”

I am sure Mar Roxas knows we don’t have to sacrifice education, health or even national security by making our tax rules fair. There is a bit of intellectual dishonesty when he asked rhetorically “what projects do we have to stop?”

There is that P30 billion in the proposed budget to increase capitalization of the DBP and the Land Bank. How urgent is that? Indeed, why should government even own a bank, much less two banks? Actually three if we include UCPB.

These government banks should be privatized. They are just piggy banks for corrupt national officials. We all know how the PNB, when it was still government-owned, was abused by a succession of administrations to fund losing projects of their cronies. Our taxes were used to clean its books so it could be privatized and saved from bankruptcy.

Government does not need to own a bank. We may even save a lot of money by asking private banks to bid for services that government requires. GSIS is using private banks. I know about the lofty objectives for having a development bank and for a bank that will serve agrarian reform. But I doubt if the track record of these banks justify their continued existence as government banks.

Being a supposed investment banker trained in Wall Street, it is easy to expect someone like Mar Roxas will have bold new ideas on how to manage our nation’s finances. But then, given his track record in the last five years, it would be silly to expect any innovative idea from Mr Roxas.

I can think of one more source to cover that P30 billion tax revenue loss with tax reform. It had been reported that tax losses due to oil smuggling is P30 billion. There you are… and add the losses from rice and sugar smuggling too and there is more than enough to provide relief to middle class taxpayers.

We need tax reform now because the rates and the brackets have become totally unreasonable. The peso when the tax schedule was drafted 19 years ago is only worth 43 centavos now. Because the tax rate remained the same, the working class is effectively being robbed by its own government.

“Tax brackets should be adjusted to make (these) more sensitive to current salaries of Filipinos. Because at present, a person who makes P50,000 a month -- who is considered middle class -- is already in the top tax bracket and is also paying the same tax rate as the billionaires in our country,” Sen Sonny Angara points out.

Unless these rates and brackets are adjusted to reflect inflation, government is stealing from its own people. That is an untenably immoral situation demanding immediate relief.

The other thing that needs reform is the complexity of filing a tax return. There was a time when I could do my own tax return. Now, it is so complicated I need to get an accountant.

How much can a retired senior citizen writing a column earn these days? Why do I have to file a VAT return every month and an income tax return quarterly? I just choose to do standard optional deduction because it is too complicated otherwise. Yet, I need an accountant to help me navigate the rules and the forms.

Making it easy to pay taxes should help increase tax collection. Making it too complicated not only makes it expensive for taxpayers to comply, it also allows more room for corruption at the ground level.

One more thing… whatever happened to the recommendations of the DOE Task Force to “Review whether or not the government is ‘overtaxing’ the energy sector”?

As Citizen Watch pointed out, “like the high income taxes, overtaxing results in unnecessarily high electric bills and heavily affects all sectors and is a major factor affecting our country’s competitiveness.”

Paying taxes is never painless but do we have to make it the bureaucrat’s equivalent of torture?
CAAP: Only 41 of 82 PH airports operate commercially
Ryan Chua, ABS-CBN News
Posted at 10/01/2015 5:39 PM
Updated as of 10/02/2015 2:29 AM
MANILA - Senators told officials on Thursday not to let certain idle airports in different parts of the country remain unused and instead work to generate economic activity and income from them.

At a hearing on the proposed 2016 budget of the Department of Transportation and Communications, Director-General William Hotchkiss of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) said his agency owns and operates 82 airports all over the country.

However, only about 41 have commercial operations. The rest are either idle or are used as flying schools and for military flights.

"What a waste," Senate finance committee chair Loren Legarda said. "Is this customary…or are we wasting infrastructure which can be upgraded so we can have more domestic flights?"

Hotchkiss told the committee that airport authorities are now on a "catching up" mode, developing some airports for commercial purposes while upgrading others for military use.

However, he said having commercial airlines use some of the airports is beyond CAAP's control.

"Getting commercial flights into an airport is an economic and business decision of the airlines themselves," Hotchkiss said. "We cannot force them to fly to particular airports."

Senate President Franklin Drilon said not every airport in the country was built with commercial viability in mind. Still, he advised CAAP to explore how to do business out of them.

"Maybe you can start looking at converting them into some high-value usage," he said.

Drilon, who hails from Iloilo, cited the example of the city's old airport, which has been turned into a business center by a private developer.

Legarda agreed. "When you keep and maintain the whole 82, there's so much capital outlay or good money that can be used elsewhere," she told airport officials.

Hotchkiss said CAAP is already heading towards that direction, with a plan "geared towards maximizing the full potential of the airports we have."

He said five airports will be upgraded under government's public-private partnership program, while a number have been selected for use by some 45 flying schools all over the country.

"We can maximize our potential as a flying school capital in the ASEAN region," Hotchkiss said.
How NFA is preparing for El Nino 'worst case scenario'
Jamaine Punzalan,
Posted at 10/01/2015 5:30 PM
Updated as of 10/01/2015 5:32 PM
MANILA - The National Food Authority (NFA) on Thursday said it has secured 750,000 metric tons of rice as buffer stock as the country braces for the effects of the El Niño phenomenon.

NFA administrator Renan Dalisay said the agency opted to increase rice importation even before the effects of the El Niño can be felt in order to keep local prices stable.

"Ang ginawa natin, dinagdagan na lang natin ang insurance kasi ang ayaw natin mangyari ay kung kailan huli na saka pa tayo magre-react at wala nang panahon at mataas na ang presyo," Dalisay said.

The first 250,000 tons of rice will arrive in the country by November or December while 750,000 more tons will follow in the first quarter of 2016.

State weather bureau PAGASA earlier said that the effects of the El Niño are expected to last until 2016, and has projected the rise in temperature to be higher than those experienced during the last El Niño season in 1997 to 1998.

Harvest production in the 1997 El Niño dropped by almost 25%, a scenario the NFA has taken precautions against.

Dalisay added that to keep a lid on prevalent rice smuggling, the NFA has also tightened the application process for private companies and cooperatives seeking importation permits.

Aside from an import committee, a pre-qualification team was also formed to inspect the documents, warehouse and office of all companies interested in importing rice.

The NFA has also started imposing electronic submission of requirements to speed up coordination with the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and Bureau of Customs (BOC) which will both ensure that the applicants hold clean records.

The NFA also abandoned the first-come, first-served basis it had employed in processing permit applications.

"Ngayon, pinapasok na muna lahat ng application from August 1 o August 30. Inevaluate po namin ito lahat sabay-sabay at inilabas po namin lahat ng nakapasa ng first week of September para wala pong usapin na nauna ito nabigyan ng mas malaking allocation," Dalisay said.

(All applications were collected from August 1 to 30. These were processed all at once to prevent allegations of favoring one company or granting larger import allocations.)


The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), meanwhile assured assistance to local farmers in the advent of El Niño intensification.

DTI Undersecretary Vic Dimagiba said that should a state of calamity be proclaimed in a province due to drought or dry spell, the agency will offer aid to farmers under the Expanded Government Internship Program (GIP).

The GIP is comparable to the cash-for-work program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

Twenty-eight provinces will most likely experience drought by the end of December 2015.

Likewise, 27 provinces are likely to experience dry spell, while seven others are likely to experience dry condition. -- With a report from Henry Atuelan, radio dzMM
Budget rolls into P15-B surplus in August, trims 8-month deficit to just P3.4 B
By Prinz P. Magtulis (The Philippine Star)
Updated October 2, 2015 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - The Aquino administration’s budget balance rolled back into surplus in August even as expenditures continued to rise following dismal performance in early months.

The government posted a surplus of P15 billion in August, the Bureau of Treasury reported yesterday. A surplus indicates more revenues were earned than spent.

Broken down, revenues amounted to P176.7 billion, while disbursements totaled P161.6 billion. Both indicators recorded growth rates of four percent and 15 percent, respectively.

From January to August, the budget deficit was further trimmed to P3.4 billion, way below the P197.2-billion program for the first eight months. The government has capped deficit at P283.7 billion this year.

“Sound fiscal management burnishes our credentials as one of Asia’s safest and strongest, a boon for our investment and growth prospects,” Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima said.

“We refuse to turn back the clock on our reforms,” he said.
August marked the third time this year that monthly revenues fell in excess of what was disbursed, following similar results in April and May.

This was after state disbursements lagged behind – and sometimes, even contracted – behind program during the early months. It seemed to have turned a corner in July, when it posted its fastest expansion in 13 months.

This was reinforced by Budget Secretary Florencio Abad last Monday, saying double-digit growth in disbursements would likely continue throughout the rest of the year. Spending rose 25 percent in July.

Emilio Neri, Jr., lead economist at the Bank of the Philippine Islands, however have mixed reactions on the latest budget numbers.

“We would have wanted to see a much stronger print for government outlays for August, to help compensate for the El Nino’s drag on over-all output,” Neri said in a note e-mailed to reporters.

“While lower than what we wished for, (expenditures) will still contribute positively to growth in the Philippines in the third quarter,” he added.

Revenues in August came mostly from the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), which collected P138.5 billion, up nine percent year-on-year.

The Bureau of Customs, meanwhile, took in P26.9 billion in August, down seven percent. BIR and Customs missed their monthly targets by 14 percent and 25 percent, respectively.

From January to August, BIR raked in P962.6 billion, while the BOC collected P235.6 billion. Both bureaus account for more than 80 percent of state revenues.

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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.

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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.

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« Reply #37 on: October 26, 2015, 11:51:53 AM »
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

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« Reply #38 on: November 24, 2015, 05:53:11 PM »
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.

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« Reply #39 on: November 24, 2015, 05:53:51 PM »
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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Tuesday, October 27, 2015
Seiko Epson investing $28 M for new factory

By Richmond S. Mercurio (The Philippine Star)
Updated October 27, 2015 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - Japan’s Seiko Epson Corp. is investing $28 million for the construction of a new factory to triple its production capacity of printheads for inkjet printers.

Epson Philippines said the new plant in Japan would commence construction next months and is expected to begin operations next year.

Epson Philippines said the new factory would manufacture and assemble inkjet printheads, the core devices used in Epson’s high-capacity ink tank printers and business inkjet printers.

“We make a significant contribution to the manufacturing capability of the entire Epson Group, sharing with Epson’s overseas manufacturing plants the technical expertise we have gained from manufacturing core devices. By using Epson’s original production equipment and automating and rationalizing production lines, the new plant will further raise our production capability,” said Takashi Mitsui, president of Akita Epson, a group company of Seiko Epson.

In the Philippines, Epson said its ink tank system printers are instrumental in propelling the digital imaging leader to a market leading position.

“Our ink tank printers provide the best value in the market — with a printing cost of only seven centavos per page, unmatched durability and reliability, and unequalled print quality, Epson is the undisputed brand of choice of Filipinos,” Epson Philippines product manager Russer Cabrera said.
Noy: Philippines overflowing with infra projects

By Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star)
Updated October 27, 2015 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - President Aquino took exception to reports on the lack of infrastructure projects in the country, saying these are overflowing under his administration.

He issued the statement amid reports that the Philippines ranked eighth among the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in terms of overall quality of infrastructure.

In his speech during the thanksgiving celebration and national transformation assembly of the First Baptist Church in Tarlac on Sunday, the President said  he couldn’t help asking what more needed to be constructed.

“Tumakbo sa isip ko nang tinanong ako ukol sa kulang na kulang daw ang ating imprastruktura. Natukso ako tuloy itanong sa kanya: Ano pa bang imprastruktura na pwedeng gawin ang hindi pa natin ginagawa?” he said.

He cited Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson’s statement that the government even exceeded the limit in some provinces, such as in Apayao, where there is presently a dearth of cement, steel and even high-skilled workers like carpenters, electricians and plumbers.

“But how can we lack in gravel and sand? That’s how many infrastructure projects going on simultaneously that eventually there was shortfall in supply,” Aquino, quoting Singson, said.

He said at least two governors from Mindanao who used to beg for projects are now saying their problem is providing the counterpart funding.

In Central Luzon, the President directed Singson to coordinate with local government authorities for the immediate repair of the Pura-Guimba Road.

Aquino said he noticed cracks along the 11.44-kilometer provincial road when he visited Nueva Ecija recently to distribute relief goods for the victims of Typhoon Lando.

He said repair of provincial roads is not covered by the budget that Congress has enacted for the DPWH.
MPIC-Ayala consortium mulls bid for LRT-6 PPP

By Louella Desiderio (The Philippine Star)
Updated October 27, 2015 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - Light Rail Manila Corp. (LRMC), the concessionaire for the Light Rail Transit (LRT)  Line 1 Cavite extension project is looking to participate in the bidding for another public private partnership (PPP) deal.

LRMC president and chief executive officer Jesus Francisco said the company is interested in the P65-billion LRT Line 6.

 “Of course we are interested because it will enhance the economics of our line (Line 1), if that line (Line 6) were to be built,” he said.

The LRT Line 6 covers the construction of a proposed 19-kilometer (km) railway from Niyog, Bacoor (the terminus of the LRT 1 Cavite extension) to Dasmariñas City.

The LRT Line 6 project was approved by the National Economic and Development Authority Board last month.

PPP Center executive director Cosette Canilao said the government is looking to issue the invitation to bidders for the project by December.

LRMC, the joint venture company of the Metro Pacific Investments Corp.’s Metro Pacific Light Rail Corp., Ayala Corp.’s AC Infrastructure Holdings Corp., and Macquarie Infrastructure Holdings (Philippines) Pte Ltd., bagged the P65 billion LRT 1 Cavite Extension, Operation and Maintenance PPP project.

The company assumed operations of the LRT 1 which spans Roosevelt station in Quezon City up to Baclaran station in Pasay City, last Sept. 12.

Under the 32-year cooperation agreement for the project, the LRMC will undertake the construction of the 11.7-km extension from the present end point of LRT 1 at Baclaran to the Niyog area in Bacoor, Cavite.

Francisco said the company would start the construction of the extension of the LRT 1 once it takes substantial delivery of right-of-way.
British firm bags deal to build biggest solar project in Southeast Asia

By Richmond S. Mercurio (The Philippine Star)
Updated October 27, 2015 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - The UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) in Manila said British-based solar energy company Proinso has bagged the engineering, procurement and management (EPM) contract for Southeast Asia’s largest solar power project in Subic.

UKTI said Proinso is already one the largest integrators of solar components and solutions globally and its involvement in the project is set to further boost its business.

“The Subic Bay engagement is a complex project demanding a high level of capability support across many disciplines provided via our EPM program. Our EPM model is based on a collaborative approach working with local partners.  This way, Proinso is able to deliver world class renewable assets and also invest in the development of a strong local industry,” said Stuart Macfarlane, regional head for Asia Pacific of Proinso.

The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority last month said it would host a $200-million combined solar and wind farm that would generate a total of 150 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy to be undertaken by Emerging Power Inc.

The project will include a 100 MW solar farm project, eyed to be the largest in Southeast Asia.

UKTI Manila said it extensively supported Proinso’s entry into the Philippine market and British Embassy events have been key to the company securing the Subic Bay contract.

“The UK is committed to action on climate change and Proinso is a great example of our business expertise in renewable energy and low carbon initiatives. A project of this scale will utilize the abundance of solar energy in the Philippines and help the country develop a cleaner energy mix,” British Ambassador to the Philippines Asif Ahmad said.

UKTI Manila said the Subic Bay project would be one of biggest for a UK business in the Philippines this year.
Philippines in spotlight as host of AsPac aviation conference

By Louise Maureen Simeon (The Philippine Star)
Updated October 27, 2015 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The country’s hosting of the 52nd Directors General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) Conference for Asia-Pacific is a manifestation of the renewed trust of the global civil aviation community in the Philippines, local aviation officials said.

“It is opportune that the conference is being held at a time when the Philippine civil aviation has rebounded from the doldrums of sanctions and restrictions since 2008,” Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) director general William Hotchkiss III said during yesterday’s opening ceremony.

For his part, Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya said the Philippine aviation industry has regained its stature as a reliable authority after it surpassed the challenges in the recent years.

The significant safety concerns imposed by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) was lifted in March 2013 and Philippine carriers have been delisted from the European Union (EU) blacklist.

Flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) was removed in July 2013, Cebu Pacific in April 2014 and other local carriers were allowed to fly in EU air space since June this year.

“The Philippine aviation has also regained its Category 1 aviation safety rating in April 2014 after years of being downgraded at Category 2,” Abaya added.

He noted that the aviation industry is experiencing tremendous growth that will help economies thrive.

“Air transportation supports the major growth drivers, namely tourism, agriculture and job generation,” Abaya said.

The International Air Transportation Association (IATA) projected that by 2034, passenger traffic may reach 7.3 billion on a 4.1 percent average annual growth rate. The Asia-Pacific region alone will make up 42 percent of total global passenger traffic and an average annual growth rate of 4.9 percent.

Abaya added a recent study revealed international passenger demand in the country will reach 41.7 million by 2030, hitting an average annual growth rate of 4.9 percent.

The DGCA Conference is an annual engagement where civil aviation officials from 31 countries come together to discuss technical issues in civil aviation safety and security. This year’s conference revolves around the theme “Evolving the New Generation Aviation Professional towards a Harmonized, Safe, Secure and Green Asia Pacific Sky.”

“We shall emphasize the vital importance of compliance to the standards and practices of ICAO, ensure the safety and security of Asia-Pacific and explore mutually beneficial approaches in the different facets of civil aviation,” Hotchkiss said.
After disappointing H1 results: Budget chief sees growth accelerating in Q3

By Prinz P. Magtulis (The Philippine Star)
Updated October 27, 2015 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Despite lingering financial volatility, economic growth could have accelerated in the third quarter from the previous six months on the back of sustained domestic demand, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said.

“I can say with confidence that third quarter growth will be better than first half growth,” Abad told The STAR in a text message yesterday.

Economic growth – as measured by gross domestic product (GDP) – slowed to 5.3 percent in the first semester even after it picked up to 5.6 percent in the second quarter from five percent in the first three months.

Abad, the chairman of the interagency Development Budget Coordinating Committee (DBCC), earlier said the government is sticking to its seven to eight percent growth goal this year even as he admitted reaching it is a “challenge.”

The third-quarter GDP data will be reported next month.

Asked what could have driven the July-September growth, Abad particularly cited stronger government spending during the period. Treasury data showed state expenditures rose nine percent year-on-year in the first half.

This paled in comparison with an average of 20-percent expansion in July and August. The fiscal performance for September has yet to be released.

Private spending could have also contributed, Abad said, pointing to traditional drivers of overseas Filipino remittances and receipts from business process outsourcing (BPO) industry.

From January to August, remittances grew 4.01 percent to P16.21 billion, central bank data showed. Large dollar inflows and BPO earnings give Filipino families more money to spend and invest, helping boost growth.

On the flip side, Abad said exports and imports, which are also “significant drivers” of GDP, likely dragged growth. For the first eight months, exports were down 4.4 percent, while imports inched up 0.1 percent as of July.

 “I’m not too sure how these sub-sectors performed in the context of global slowdown and uncertainties, but with a low inflation regime…, third quarter still should be better than the first half,” the budget chief explained.

Earlier, Abad said economic managers are no longer meeting this year to review macroeconomic targets and would likely wait until full-year growth data is available.

Budget Undersecretary Laura Pascua said yesterday preparations have “not yet” been made for a DBCC meeting. Pascua is the chair of the Executive Technical Board, which recommends targets to DBCC.

When asked what could be ETB’s recommendations, Pascua said in a separate text message: “We have not seen the technical working group recommendations yet.”
Tokyo Logistics Market Vacancies Rates Decline Further in Q3

Commercial News » Tokyo Edition
By Miho Favela
October 26, 2015 8:30 AM ET

According to CBRE, vacancy rates for large multi-tenant logistics facilities (LMTs) in the Greater Tokyo area remained low in Q3, 2015, declining a further 0.1 points q-o-q to 3.5%.

There was just one facility completed during the quarter, which was not fully let on completion. However, a substantial volume of space taken up in new buildings completed in previous quarters contributed to the decline in the vacancy rate.

Vacancy rates in Greater Tokyo displayed considerable variation across different areas. Gaikando reported no vacancies for the second consecutive quarter, while Route 16 vacancies stood at 3.1%. Gaikando was also the only of the four areas that saw an effective rent index increase. Vacancy rates in central Tokyo Bay and the outermost Ken-O-do area rose to 8.4% and 7.4% respectively.

"Asking rents for facilities yet to be completed are rising due to inflation in construction costs," said Maro Kobayashi, senior director of CBRE's Industrial Services group in Japan. "While this is making it more difficult for tenants to justify relocating, there is plentiful supply of properties, implying that the choice for tenants is widening. Ken-O Expressway connecting the Tomei and Tohoku Expressways at the end of October, may induce them to become more active."
In the Greater Osaka area, one facility was completed during the quarter, with around 70% occupancy. Vacant space in other new properties was also taken up, and the vacancy rate fell to 4.5%. More tenants are likely to sign leases towards the end of the year, and it is already hard to find large spaces for rent.

"Although there is some variation in the length of leases, the supply of new facilities is helping to bring tenant demand to the surface," said Kenji Kitamura, senior director of CBRE's Kansai Industrial Services group in Japan.

"Demand in the Greater Osaka Region is strong, with numerous medium to large-scale requirements from tenants across a wide variety of industries looking to expand or consolidate their logistics operations."

In other regional cities, tight markets are showing some signs of activity, as tenants relocating to their own new developments give rise to vacancies in the leasing market, and new development plans are announced. However, there is still a shortage of good quality facilities for rent, and more new supply is needed.

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Property values in Alabang West soar 19% in less than a year

by James Loyola
October 27, 2015 (updated)

Megaworld Corporation reported  yesterday that property values in the 62-hectare Alabang West, a Beverly Hills-inspired township development of subsidiary Global-Estate Resorts, Inc. (GERI), have already soared 19 percent, just 11 months after its launch.

From P47,000 per square meter in October last year, land prices in Alabang West have increased to P56,000 per square meter as of September 30 this year. To date, around 80 percent of the total 788 residential lots  have already been sold out.

Megaworld Global-Estate Resorts, Inc. vice president for sales and marketing Rachelle Peñaflorida said the fast take-up of village lots in the township can be attributed to the township’s strategic location and brighter prospects for fast value appreciation of the property.

“There has been a sharp rise in the demand for residential lots in Alabang West in the past six months. As far as location is concerned, Alabang is not just an option but top-of-the-mind to many property buyers especially those who are looking into the south,” explained Peñaflorida.

Earlier this year, independent research firm Cuervo Far East identified the Southern Manila West Growth Area (WGA), which includes Alabang, to be experiencing a remarkable average annual appreciation of property values by 10 to 15 until 2019 due to new developments by the biggest real estate developers in the Philippines such as Megaworld.

“We have even exceeded the average annual appreciation forecast, which is a good indication of the property market in Alabang, especially for Alabang West. The entry of our township into this booming side of  southern Metro Manila is a perfect timing,” said Penaflorida.

Alabang West integrates a Beverly Hills-themed lifestyle into its commercial, retail and residential developments. Aside from a shopping strip inspired by the famous Rodeo Drive in Hollywood, Alabang West also offers an upscale residential community with lots ranging from 250 to 800 square meters.

Alabang West Village offers first-class amenities that include badminton and basketball courts, function halls, cabanas, game room, café and al fresco dining areas, a fitness center, pocket gardens, open parks and infinity pool, among others.

“In the next five to ten years, we envision Alabang West to be the next big thing in southern Metro Manila,” said Peñaflorida.

Located beside Alabang’s high-end communities and golf course, the township is accessible through major access points in South Luzon Expressway, including Alabang Exit, Filinvest Exit, and the newly opened Daang Hari Exit.
RLC acquires rights over 8.5-ha China property

By Iris C. Gonzales (The Philippine Star)
Updated October 28, 2015 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - Robinsons Land Corp., the property development arm of the Gokongwei  family’s JG Summit Holdings Corp., has acquired the right to use an 8.5-hectare property in Chengdu, China.

In a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE), RLC said its offshore subsidiary Robinsons Land China would convert the property into residential projects with a commercial component.

“This acquisition is in line with the normal course of RLC’s real estate business and its plan to explore opportunities internationally,” the company said.

Robinsons Land China’s business includes providing residential, office and commercial mall destinations in Shanghai, Xiamen, Chengdu, Taicang and soon in other key cities.

Its goal is to become the leader in mixed-use developments in the Chinese market.

Robinsons Land China’s projects include Robinsons Galleria Jiading Mall, a prime mixed used development with 60,000 square meters of commercial mall space.

It features a wide array of dining, entertainment, wellness and shopping choices for shoppers in Shanghai.

For residential projects, Robinsons Residences has the Lakeshore Place in Chengdu, which is a large residential and business community.

Located in the center of Cha Dian Zi in the western City of Guobin region, next to Chengguan road and Huangzhong main street in the South, the development is within the region’s most popular site for real estate.

The property is highly accessible to transportations routes, business facilities, sports, entertainment and dining destinations

Lakeshore has a large-scale water concept situated within a residential area that ensures a relaxing environment.
Mergers between local developers, international hospitality brands fuel real estate boom

By Louise Maureen Simeon (The Philippine Star)
Updated October 28, 2015 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The merging of international hospitality brands and Filipino property developers is contributing to the growth of hotel residences real estate market in the large part of the Southeast Asian (SEA) region.

A new research by Asia-based hospitality consulting group C9 Hotelworks showed SEA hotel residences market has topped the P749 billion level, while the Philippines alone has P158 billion worth of properties for sale.

“The historic pattern of hotel and real estate marriages has moved away from the beach and leisure destinations and is gaining traction in urban city offerings. Traditional lifestyle buyers are being supplanted by end users, with Asian’s representing the largest transaction segment,” C9 Hotelworks managing director Bill Barnett said.

C9 Hotelworks revealed that there are over 28,000 hotel branded residential units for sale across seven SEA nations represented by nearly 120 projects.

In the Philippines, market size is reflected in a supply of over 11,000 residential units with Metro Manila and Boracay as the top two locations. Average price for urban properties is at P196,547 per square meter (sqm) and P189,276 per sqm for resort destinations.

Barnett added that one key catalyst for the rising tide is the increasing number of mixed use projects that contain hotel and real estate components.

“What is clear in looking at the landscape is that rapidly escalating land prices are driving developers to embrace mixed-use projects in increasing numbers, and often add in commercial, sporting and tourism attractions as part of broader lifestyle offerings,” he said.

The report highlighted a refocus by global hotel chains who have realized that in order to spur growth, there is an essential need to partner with property developers in hotel residence offerings.

“Asia and the Philippine property cycles have typically seen these type of investment driven projects at the top of markets in the mid 1990s and again in the mid-millennium, hence history is recreating itself, yet this time out at a considerably higher scale,” Barnett said.

A growing number of new projects coming into the Philippines will include hotel brand alliances such as AppleOne Properties that will sign with global Starwood Group for a new Sheraton in Cebu.
Aside from the hotel component, the mixed-use development has 182 condominium units with one, two and three-bedroom types.

“It’s clear that a significant number of projects now contain both traditional accommodation elements and real estate components. It’s forecast that a large push into resort properties will occur in the next two to three years in the sector,” Barnett noted.
New NAIA to be operational in two decades

The Philippine government is looking at two possible sites for the new NAIA: the reclamation area in Manila Bay and the naval station in Sangley Point in Cavite

Chrisee Dela Paz
Published 7:16 PM, October 27, 2015
Updated 9:40 PM, October 27, 2015
MANILA, Philippines — It will take two decades before passengers coming in and out of the country can experience the planned Manila’s new international airport.

This is what Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said on Tuesday, October 27, when asked for updates on plans to replace Manila’s dilapidated Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

"Based on the latest discussions with JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency), it will take two decades from feasibility study to actual operations of the New NAIA," Balisacan said in a media briefing in Ortigas district.

JICA is being commissioned by the Philippine government to explore possible locations for the New NAIA project.

The chief of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) added that JICA is targeting to come up with the full feasibility study of the new Manila airport "by early next year."

During a forum in Manila last week, Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya said on the sidelines that his department could endorse to the NEDA Board two possible sites for the new NAIA: the reclamation area in Manila Bay and the naval station in Sangley Point in Cavite.

"The difference between the two is that Sangley will cost about $10 billion, while the Manila Bay area is at around $13 billion," Abaya told reporters last week.

For Balisacan, "Cost is one of the major considerations. But what we are really pushing is for Metro Manila to become more livable through projects like this."
A mix of financing options

In a copy of JICA’s discussion paper on its New NAIA proposal obtained by reporters in June last year, the agency said "there will be 3 sources of funds — the public sector, ODA and the private sector" to "arrive at a workable project package."

JICA told the local Transportation department that "the national government should consider availing of official development assistance (ODA) loans" from the Japanese agency.

These loans, according to JICA, would have preferential terms, such as an interest rate of from 0.55% to 1.40% denominated in Japanese yen (inclusive of government guarantees and foreign exchange risk cover), 40-year repayment, and 10-year grace period on the principal repayment.

JICA added in its discussion paper that the applicable interest rate will be 1.4% as there will be no need for an intermediary as the Japanese government will be dealing directly with the Philippine government.
A segment under PPP

The Japanese agency said that another source of financing for the project could be a private sector proponent under the public-private partnership (PPP) scheme.

The private sector partner "should have substantial financial resources at its disposal" due to the huge capital requirements of the project, JICA said.

Another source of project financing, JICA proposed, is through a combination of national government funds in the form of viability gap funding, a special infrastructure allotment, and funds from the implementing agencies and select stakeholders.

Viability gap funding in a PPP project means the government would fund the gap and give the money to the concessionaire.

For beyond 2025, the transportation department said that the government will have two options: to close NAIA once the new international airport is expanded into a four-runway airport or retain the dual-airport system and develop NAIA into a two- to three-runway airport. –
Century Pacific acquires coconut producer

By Iris C. Gonzales (The Philippine Star)
Updated October 28, 2015 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - Century Pacific Food Inc. has acquired a 100 percent interest in Century Pacific Agricultural Ventures Inc., an integrated coconut producer of organic coconut products. for P4.5 billion.

Half or about P2.25 billion of the total investment will be sourced from existing cash and bank borrowings while the remaining P2.25 billion will be made via the issuance of 18.2 million Century Pacific shares at a price of P17.55 each.

“This acquisition is in line with Century Pacific’s priority to cement itself as a leading player in growing food markets. Global food companies have seen an increased appetite to search for acquisition targets in this higher growth, health-conscious, and organic product categories,” said Century Pacific president Christopher Po.

He said the new business will be a great addition to Century Pacific Food’s portfolio and another leg to sustain and drive the company’s future growth.

The P17.55 issue price is equivalent to a 4.41 percent premium from Century Pacific’s 30-day volume weighted average price of P16.81 per share as of Oct. 16 and a 3.85 percent premium from Monday’s closing price of P16.90 per share.

Century Pacific engaged Evercore Asia Ltd. as its financial advisor.

It has also tapped Cayetano Sebastian Ata Dado & Cruz Law Offices to conduct legal due diligence, and BDO Capital & Investment to provide a third party fairness opinion.

Century Pacific is the largest canned food company in the country. Its brands include Century Tuna, Argentina Corned Beef, 555 Sardines, Angel, and Birch Tree, which have established market leading positions locally.

The company also provides private label tuna products for export overseas.

Established in 2012, Century Pacific Agriculture operates an integrated coconut facility, whose primary products are organic-certified, and conventional coconut water, desiccated coconuts, and virgin coconut oil.

The subsidiary’s coconut water and virgin coconut oil are sold to global brands and retailers in their respective categories. Other current products include copra, coco meal, and coco shells, which are sold to the domestic market.

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MNTC takes over SCTEx

By Louella D. Desiderio (The Philippine Star)
Updated October 28, 2015 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Manila North Tollways Corp. (MNTC), a unit of Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC), has assumed operations of the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEx) after receiving the Toll Operation Certificate (TOC) from the government.

In a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange yesterday, MPIC said the MNTC received the TOC covering the operation and maintenance of the SCTEx from the Toll Regulatory Board on Oct. 23.

The MNTC was awarded the contract to manage, operate and maintain the 94-kilometer SCTEx traversing the provinces of Bataan, Pampanga and Tarlac, during a price challenge in January.

The business and operating agreement gives MNTC the right to operate and manage SCTEx for 33 years, while BCDA would be relieved of payment of the P34-billion debt to the Japan International Cooperation Agency for the construction of the tollway.

For the price challenge, MNTC offered an upfront cash payment of P3.5 billion, inclusive of 12 percent value-added tax to the BCDA in addition to the 50-50 sharing of gross revenues.

MNTC, the tollways arm of infrastructure giant MPIC, is the concessionaire of the North Luzon Expressway.

Aside from tollways, MPIC is involved in other businesses such as healthcare, power generation and distribution, and water utility.

“Our team looks forward to implementing world class seamless travel for our NLEx and SCTEx motorists. We remain committed in delivering safe, convenient travel to our motorists,” Ramoncito Fernandez, president of MNTC’s parent firm Metro Paci-fic Tollways Corp. said.

He added that the concession further solidifies Metro Pacific’s leadership in the Philippine toll road industry.
Ph, Japan set to sign loan deal for North-South rail project in November

by Philippine News Agency
October 27, 2015 (updated)
MANILA — The Philippines is set to sign next month an Php89-billion loan agreement with Japanese government to partially finance the North-South commuter rail project (NSCRP) meant to ease traffic congestion in Metro Manila.

“The loan agreement for the project will be signed during Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to the Philippines for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation meet next month,” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said in a press briefing.

Balisacan, also the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) director general, said the Php89 billion, which will be sourced from a concessional loan from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), represented Japan’s biggest official development assistance to the Philippines to date.

The Philippine and Japanese governments held Tuesday the first Ministerial-Level Steering Committee meeting for the “Cooperation Roadmap for Quality Infrastructure Development in the Transport Sector in Metropolitan Manila Area.”

Balisacan said following the loan agreement signing was the detailed engineering design phase for the Php105.31-billion NSCRP project,which will take at least 12 months.

He said bidding would precede project construction.

“The project will be completed in 2021; some couple of years,” he added.

For his part, Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Secretary Rogelio Singson considered the rail or the mass transit as the more important component of the transport roadmap.

Singson said part of this roadmap component were the Mega Manila Subway project and the NSCRP that would connect all the existing Light Rail Transit (LRT) systems.

“So I’m really pushing for an early implementation on the decision on the rail components. As far as the DPWH is concerned, … what we really need at this time for Metro Manila to become more livable is mass transport,” he said in the same event.

The NSCRP project is designed to provide an efficient alternative mode of public transportation for commuters traversing between Bulacan and Manila.
Kennon Road reopens October 28
Kennon Road has been closed since late August after the onslaught of Typhoon Ineng (Goni)
Published 8:27 PM, October 27, 2015
Updated 8:34 PM, October 27, 2015
BAGUIO CITY, Philippines – Kennon Road officially opens again at 8 am Wednesday, October 28, after being closed to traffic for about a month, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Cordillera announced on Tuesday.

"Please take all necessary precautions especially along slide prone area," said Danilo Dequito, DPWH Cordillera head.

Kennon Road had been closed since late August after the onslaught of Typhoon Ineng (Goni). –
PPPs growing in ASEAN, but corruption risks are high

Conflicts of interest and political influence are high-risk areas in public-private partnerships, speakers say in the ongoing ASEAN Responsible Business Forum

Lynda C. Corpuz
Published 4:19 PM, October 27, 2015
Updated 4:19 PM, October 27, 2015
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – Public-private partnerships projects (PPPs) are growing in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), with new laws being approved in countries with lots of potential for PPPs.

"Investor and lender feedback shows they are more likely to draw comfort if a country is committed to a PPP program, rather than a one-off transaction," Asian Development Bank's (ADB) PPP specialist Pratish Halady wrote early this year.

But as these countries open their markets for PPPs, so do opportunities for corrupt practices arise.

PPPs involve a contract between a public sector authority and a private party, in which the latter provides a public service or project, and assumes substantial financial, technical, and operational risk in the project.

"Not many companies are capable [of engaging in PPPs]. So I'm not surprised there's not a lot of companies participating in [such projects]," thus conflicts of interest and political influence arise, said Francesco Checchi, Southeast Asia and the Pacific for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) regional anti-corruption adviser during a consultative workshop on the 2015 ASEAN Responsible Business Forum, Tuesday, October 27.

Generally, it is difficult to regulate services that are both state- and privately-owned, he added.

"Promoting interests that are not aligned with the public interest, that's the problem. Political interference is a special challenge in PPPs. If not addressed in advanced, that [would] be very difficult to [manage]. In a worst case scenario, companies don't develop integrity framework," Checchi said in an interview with Rappler.

According to the PPP Infrastructure Resource Center, "PPPs can be susceptible to corrupt activity if not carefully planned and designed, as with general public procurement. Prevention of corruption requires the integration of anti-corruption approaches during project design."

The UN Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) have requirements for member-states to produce and implement regulations for prevention of corruption in the private sector, including PPPs.
Addressing regulatory gaps

In the Philippines, PPPs have become the thrust of the Aquino administration, particularly to improve infrastructure in public education, public works, mass transportation, and airports.

PPP Center's executive director Cosette Canilao told Rappler in July that the government targets to award 21 projects more before Aquino steps down in 2016.

"ASEAN has a healthy PPP ecosystem in the Philippines. Here, neighboring countries can take a cue from the Philippines, whose large and publicly viewable pipeline signals a clear long-term commitment to its PPP program," Halady wrote.

Jose Cortez, executive director of Integrity Initiative Inc in the Philippines said in an interview Tuesday that the country's decades-old Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) Law is exempt from some of the provisions of Republic Act No. 9184 or the Procurement Reform Act.

"What the BOT Law requires is that the private sector (should be) part of the bidding process, which some point out as clear conflict of interest. In the Procurement Reform Act, third-party observers come from independent groups like civil society organizations," Cortez cited.

Thus, passing the revised BOT Law would really be helpful to improve the PPP activities of the government. "PPPs are here to stay as better options than taking out loans from multilateral organizations that would only put the burden of paying those loans to the taxpayers," Cortez said.

Competing interests of politicians themselves are also another high-risk area in PPPs. "We have anti-corruption laws that are enforced, like the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, Code of Ethics for public officials, and the Constitution itself. But what we're missing at this point is the corporate liability of individuals," Cortez said. He added that a big gap exists in terms of compliance by the private sector with the provisions of UNCAC.

Cortez said that PPP activities in the country are at risk of being jeopardized since "the Philippines has no existing law that defines corporate liability or that would criminallize corruption in the private sector, but some ASEAN countries have laws that prohibit bribery [of] national and foreign officials."

Overall, accountabillity, commitment, trust, integrity, openness or transparency, and network are musts in the fight against corruption, he said.

"Corruption has eroded the integrity of almost all institutions. Now, we're on the trust-building mode where our institutions are trying to win the trust of the public," Cortez said, adding that if transparency is prevalent in the company's culture, then it is easier to detect corrupt practices. –
DOE greenlights Trans-Asia stake in geothermal project

By Danessa O. Rivera (The Philippine Star)
Updated October 28, 2015 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Energy (DOE) has cleared the 25 percent buy-in of Trans-Asia Oil and Energy Development Corp. in the geothermal service contract (GSC) in Mabini, Batangas.

Trans-Asia said it was informed by Basic Energy, the GSC operator, that the farm-in agreement was approved by the DOE.

“Please be informed that Basic Energy Corp., operator of Geothermal Service Contract No. 8 covering a certain area in Mabini, Batangas, notified us that the Department of Energy approved the assignment of 25 percent participating interest in the Mabini GSC from Basic to Trans-Asia,” the company said.

Trans-Asia said the consortium is preparing for the drilling of one exploratory well in the area by the third quarter of 2016.

Both parties signed in December 2013 an agreement for the exploration and development of geothermal service contracts.

Under the deal, Trans-Asia acquired a 10 percent stake in Basic Energy’s Mabini GSC, with the option to boost its stake to up to 40 percent.

Furthermore, it also has the option to acquire up to 60 percent of Basic Energy’s other geothermal service contracts in Mariveles Bataan, East Mankayan in Benguet, West Bulusan in Sorsogon and Mt. Iriga in Camarines Sur.

In February this year, both firms approved the 25 percent participating interest of Trans-Asia in GSC 8.
Maynilad taps US consultant for wastewater design

By Czeriza Valencia (The Philippine Star)
Updated October 28, 2015 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Metro Manila west zone water concessionaire Maynilad Water Services Inc. has hired a US-based company to help improve its wastewater services in its service area.

Engineering firm Black &Veatch has been tapped to draw up a set of guidelines and performance standards for Maynilad’s sewage collection network and treatment systems.

“We are assisting Maynilad in crafting wastewater design standards and guidelines for them to efficiently implement their wastewater roadmap. Having the right standards in place ensures consistency and efficiency to enable Maynilad to progressively expand Metro Manila’s wastewater service coverage as cost effectively as possible,” said Tse Yau Shing, project director at Black  &Veatch.

In crafting wastewater design standards for Maynilad, Black & Veatch will draw upon its experience in designing and building water and wastewater facilities in Singapore, Hong Kong and other densely populated urban centers worldwide.

Yolanda Lucas, head of program management division of Maynilad, said the collaboration with Black & Veatch would enable the company to conform with global standards in water and wastewater system design.

“The work will help us focus first on our near term expansion objectives, without losing sight over the longer term of being able to upgrade the assets to more advanced systems,” she said.

The project would cover the development of specifications for construction, testing and commission, as well as design guidelines and standards.

Maynilad provides water and wastewater services to residents in most of Manila, parts of Quezon and Makati cities, as well as the cities of Caloocan, Pasay, Parañaque, Las Piñas, Valenzuela, Navotas, and Malabon in Metro Manila. Its franchise area also covers the cities of Bacoor and Imus and the municipalities of Kawit, Noveleta and Rosario in Cavite province.

Black & Veatch first delivered water service solutions in the Philippines in the 1960s. Its first major project was a study commissioned by the World Health Organization to produce a masterplan for Metro Manila’s sewerage system.

The company also developed the deep tunnel sewerage system in Singapore and Hong Kong’s entire sewer and drainage system

BSP sees October inflation still below 1%

By Lawrence Agcaoili (The Philippine Star)
Updated October 28, 2015 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) sees inflation still falling below one percent in October amid the minimal impact from the damage caused by Typhoon Lando that battered provinces in northern and central Luzon.

BSP Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. said inflation is likely to remain low and settle within 0.1 percent to 0.9 percent for October as the impact of Lando would be wiped out by lower gasoline prices and cheaper power rates.

“Transitory uptick in food prices in Lando-affected areas, higher LPG and diesel prices could be offset by downward adjustments in power rates and regular gasoline prices,” Tetangco said.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) earlier placed the cost of damage to agriculture and infrastructure caused by Typhoon Lando at more than P9 billion.

“We haven’t really gotten the final report but based on some preliminary numbers that we have heard it doesn’t look like the impact is going to be very significant,” he told reporters.

Inflation eased to a new record low of 0.4 percent in September from 0.6 percent in August on the back of stable food prices and cheaper utility rates. This brought to 1.6 percent the average inflation in the first nine months from 4.4 percent in the same period last year.

The BSP has set an inflation target of between two and four percent for this year.

“Besides we have significant room in our inflation target because we are below the lower bound of the target. I don’t see any concern at this point,” the BSP chief said.

ING Bank Manila senior economist Joey Cuyegkeng said the impact of the damages caused by Typhoon Lando on inflation is minimal but the government should brace for the impact of the severe El Niño weather condition.

“Inflation impact is also limited. The risk to inflation remains with El Niño. The low global commodity prices especially oil prices would offset the impact of the typhoon on food prices,” he said.

He added October or November inflation is likely to capture the higher food prices for Metro Manila, while declaration of state of calamity in the directly affected areas in north Luzon would likely result to mild inflation pressures.

“We expect October inflation to hover around 0.5 percent to 0.6 percent. El Niño implication to prices remains the major concerns for BSP,” Cuyegkeng said.

Meanwhile, Tetangco said the BSP is set to tweak its forecasts for various streams of foreign income particularly trade and investments amid the volatility caused by the global economic slowdown as well as the impending interest rate hike in the US.

“We will look at all components but changes might be at trade and maybe portfolio investments,” he added.

According to him, the revision to the projected $2 billion balance of payments (BOP) surplus is still being finalized.

“We are finalizing the revisions. Trade might be changed because of the actual performance in the first nine months. The overall trend will remain, there will be a current account surplus and the overall BOP position will be positive,” he said.

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nternational hotel consultant nixes new star rating

By Louise Maureen Simeon (The Philippine Star)
Updated October 29, 2015 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The new star rating system for hotels and resorts to be implemented by the Department of Tourism (DOT) is impractical and unnecessary, a global hospitality consulting firm said.

In an interview, Asia-based hospitality consulting group C9 Hotelworks said the sentiments of hotel and resort owners against the star rating system are acceptable.

“It’s an antiquated system. It’s a system that is defunct,” C9 Hotelworks managing director Bill Barnett told The STAR.

Barnett said assets of individual resorts and hotels are being downgraded and should just let the market decide.

The DOT has been firm in its position the star rating system will help the Philippines and the tourism sector move forward. It is in line with the efforts of the department to raise the bar for Philippine hotels and resorts and align them with global standards.

“This is a system by which we are able to come up with a standard that will make us competitive. A set of standards that the international community will understand,” DOT Undersecretary Benito Bengzon said.

The announcement of the new star rating system to more than 700 accredited tourism accommodation providers will push through on the third week of November.

The formal classification comprises of five levels that range from one to five stars, based on a point system focusing on inventory, availability, condition and quality of facilities. The previously used “deluxe,” “first-class,” “standard,” and “economy” classification will soon be dropped.

On the other hand, Barnett does not believe the Samal Island kidnapping case last month is unlikely to affect the local tourism sector. The DOT has earlier expressed confidence there would be no significant changes or decline in tourist arrivals for the remaining months of the year.

“I don’t think you can expect to sustain with such disruptive events. But these are just probably short-term damage,” he added.

Furthermore, Barnett emphasized the target five million tourist arrivals for 2015 is feasible considering the recent economic slowdown in China, but transportation is still an issue.

Latest data from DOT showed inbound visitors for the January to August period totaled 3.6 million, with total revenue amounting to P152.19 billion.

“It seems doable. It is beneficial because the Philippines is becoming a valued destination, but then again, infrastructure here continues to be the problem,” he said.
Lingayen Airport to temporarily halt operations Oct. 31 – Nov. 2

by Philippines News Agency
October 28, 2015
MANILA, Oct. 28 — Passengers travelling to Lingayen, Pangasinan for All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day were advised on Wednesday to start booking flights early as the Lingayen Airport is scheduled to temporarily close this weekend.

The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) said that operations at the Lingayen Airport will be suspended from Oct. 31, 7 a.m. to Nov. 2, 4 p.m.

There will be a temporarily runway closure over concerns that the safety of residents visiting cemeteries near the airport is at risk.

Regular operations, however, will resume immediately on Nov. 4.  (Ed Ciby)
MMDA suspends number coding scheme on Friday

by Philippine News Agency
October 28, 2015 (updated)

MANILA, Oct. 28 (PNA) — The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) announced on Wednesday that the Unified Vehicular Volume Reduction Program (UVV RP) or the number coding scheme will be suspended on Friday, October 30, in time for the observance of All Saints Day on November 1.

MMDA Officer-in-Charge Emerson Carlos decided to lift the number coding scheme for both public and private vehicles to allow people in Metro Manila more mobility as they start an exodus to the provinces.

The UVVRP is a road space rationing program to reduce traffic congestion, particularly during peak hours in Metro Manila, by restricting the types of vehicles that can use major public roads based on the final digit of the vehicle’s license plate.

However, Carlos said the UVVRP implementation would resume on November 2, which falls on a Monday, a regular working day.

Carlos added that provincial buses would be exempted from the number coding scheme on November 2 in anticipation of the large number of people returning to Metro Manila.

Meanwhile, traffic managers of local government units in Metro Manila who were present during MMDA’s Oplan Kaluluwa meeting have presented their respective road re-routing plans for All Saints Day commemoration.

Traffic division heads of Quezon City, Makati City, Mandaluyong City, Pasig City, Pasay City, Valenzuela City, Las Pinas City, Muntinlupa City, and San Juan City have put in place necessary directional signs and personnel in critical areas, particularly on roads leading to cemeteries and memorial parks.

MMDA also advised the motorist to take alternate routes as the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) will undertake road reblocking on Edsa southbound lane between Estrella to Buendia Avenue.

The repairs will begin from October 30, Friday at 11 p.m. up to November 2, Monday at 5 a.m. (PNA)
Road closure, alternate routes for APEC leaders’ meet

by Tessa Distor
October 28, 2015

Motorists were reminded in an official advisory released by the Asia-Pacific Economic Conference (APEC) that certain roads in Metro Manila will be closed for the Economic Leaders Meeting from November 18 to 19, 2015.

From November 16 to 20, only APEC vehicles will be allowed to use the innermost lanes of EDSA, the southbound lane of Roxas Boulevard, and the roads around the Cultural Center of the Philippines Complex Area.

Starting 6 a.m. onwards of November 18,  roads around the Mall of Asia Arena — Diokno corner Seaside Boulevard, Diokno corner Aseana, EDSA corner Macapagal, Macapagal corner Coral Way, Macapagal corner Bradco, Coral Way corner Seaside Boulevard — will be closed.

Alternate routes were suggested for the motorists’ convenience:
See photo in this link:

According to the advisory, the northbound lane of Roxas Boulevard will be made two-way for non-APEC vehicles.
See photo in this link:

Earlier, President Benigno Aquino III declared November 18 and 19 as special non-working days.

The Department of Education (DepEd) also suspended classes on November 17 and 20 for schools in Metro Manila.
PH sees bigger role for gas, renewables in new energy plan
Posted at 10/28/15 12:47 PM

SINGAPORE - The Philippine government is working on a new energy plan it hopes the next administration will adopt to curb the expanding share of coal in its fuel mix for power generation, an official said.

The plan could see the Philippines generating a third of its electricity each from natural gas, coal and renewables between 2016 and 2040, Loreta G. Ayson, undersecretary at the Department of Energy said late on Tuesday.

Ayson said the energy department was finalizing a fuel mix policy that pushed for an increased share of cleaner fuels, hoping the successor of President Benigno Aquino, who will step down next June, will support it.

"Right now, we're heavily dependent on coal for power generation. If we continue (at current rates of coal power expansion), we will be 70-percent dependent on coal by 2040-2050," she told Reuters on the sidelines of the Singapore International Energy Week.

"That means we really have to do something about it in consideration of our concern for climate change."

The Philippines currently generates 42.5 percent of its electricity from coal, with that share likely to increase in the short-term as projects that will boost coal-fired power capacity by more than 25 percent in just three years are already in place.

Investments in power generation from clean fuels such as gas and renewables have lagged coal as the latter is cheaper and quicker to build to meet growing electricity demand in the Philippines.

"There's nothing we can do to stop (projects that have already been approved), so by all means they have to go, they have to proceed," Ayson said.

"When we have the fuel mix policy, we can be more discriminating when approving service contracts after 2020."

About a quarter of Philippines' power comes from natural gas produced at the giant Malampaya field and 26 percent comes from renewable sources geothermal and hydro energy. The country is the second largest geothermal power producer in the world after the United States.

"By 2024, our Malampaya gas will be depleted so we just have to find another gas source or hopefully we will have another gas find in the Philippines," Ayson said.

Still, projects to import liquefied natural gas (LNG) have been delayed.

"There are some committed projects ongoing in various stages, except that somehow they haven't be able to meet the targets they have set," Ayson said.

"Hopefully by 2016, we can have some in operation."

Energy World Corp Ltd has said it does not expect the Philippines' first power plant fired by LNG to be ready for commercial operation until the first half of next year.
PH drops to No. 103 in World Bank Doing Business report
The fall is due to a drop in a number of indicators and the increasing competitiveness of other countries, but the results are disputed by the National Competitiveness Council

Chris Schnabel
Published 5:59 PM, October 28, 2015

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines has slipped to 103rd place among 189 economies in the latest edition of the World Bank-International Finance Corporation (IFC) Doing Business Report released on Wednesday, October 28.

The Philippines was at 95th place in last year's report, but after adjusting for data revisions and the changes in methodology, the World Bank ranked the Philippines 97th in 2015.

The fall in ranking is reflected in a drop in a number of indicators:
See indicator here:

Despite this, the Philippines experienced a slight improvement in the Distance to Frontier (DTF) baseline, which rose to 60.07 from 59.94 last year.

DTF represents the best performance observed in each of the indicators across all economies in the report since 2005. It is graded on a scale of 0-100, with a higher number indicating improvement.

The drop, despite the improvement in the DTF score, indicates the improvement of countries around the Philippines, World Bank officials pointed out.

The Doing Business Report aims to show how easy or difficult it is for a local entrepreneur to open and run small to medium enterprises (SMEs) when complying with relevant regulations.

The report, however, does not measure all aspects of the business environment including macroeconomic stability, proximity to markets and regulations specific to foreign investment or financial markets, stressed Roberto Galang, operations officer at IFC.

World Bank Country Director for the Philippines Motoo Konishi also noted that despite the drop, the Philippines "is increasingly characterized by strong economic growth, low inflation, healthy current account surplus, more than adequate international reserves and a sustainable fiscal position – a combination never before seen in its history."

Drop in ASEAN rankings

The latest survey also shifted the country’s position in ASEAN, dropping it one place to 6th behind Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Brunei, and Vietnam.

Malaysia, Vietnam, and Thailand also experienced a drop in rankings.

Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos all improved, while Brunei experienced the the biggest rise in the region, allowing it to leapfrog the Philippines.

Room for improvement

Galang pointed out that slight improvements can go a long way as it would only take an increase of 7 DTF points to get into the top third of countries.

He said one area that can be improved is tax collection. The country's low score is due to the required 36 payments a year, costing SMEs 193 hours of work, Galang said.

This is because agencies like the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) require monthly payments.

“Without reducing any taxes, we could make life easier for SMEs by simply asking for annual payment for VAT or for Philhealth,” Galang said.

He also pointed out that it takes 16 steps to start a business in the Philippines which is more steps than the ASEAN average, but the number of days it takes to start a business – 29 days – is faster compared to its neighbors.

Cutting down on procedures by combining them would help the Philippines become among the top performers in this indicator, Galang said.
Losing relevance as a diagnostic tool

This was disputed by National Competitiveness (NCC) Council Chairman Guillermo Luz who pointed out that the report failed to accurately reflect some of the on-going changes due to reforms in business regulations announced earlier this year.

He said the report puts it at 16 steps and 29 days – an improvement of 5 days over the 2015 report – yet it does not show any change in the number of steps.

“In order to cut down on the amount of days, you will definitely need to eliminate some steps, yet the World Bank doesn’t recognize a change in that area,” he said.

This was part of Luz’s larger argument that the constant changing of methodology used in the Doing Business Report is comprising its credibility.

“What get’s me about the report is this: Every year they make a change and apply it retroactively,” he said.

Luz continued: “You can’t change the rules later in the game, it doesn’t make sense. You’re losing the reference point that tells you whether you’re getting better or getting worse."

This is why on the NCC website, the numbers shown are the original ones and not those that have been modified with new metrics.

For instance, NCC’s put the country’s ranking at 95 instead of the World Bank’s adjusted ranking of 97.

"We put up the original numbers to accurately reflect the changes on the ground from the previous year," he explained.

Luz compared this to the World Economic Forum (WEF) Global Competitiveness Index which has seen less than 5 changes over 20 years. Every time the WEF makes a change, it also notifies the countries a year in advance to allow for adjustment, he added.

"They’re shooting themselves in the foot because the report loses credibility as a result because the numbers and the rankings keep changing," he said, adding that even countries on the top, such as Malaysia, are complaining.

Luz added that "it’s a serious problem because while they may be just changing measurements, we are in fact instituting reforms in order to improve based on these metric which takes a lot of effort and time."

“We have a lot to fix, and we will continue to do so, but how do we measure what to fix? This tool is starting to become unreliable and maybe we need a different tool,” he said. –

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Phl slams World Bank after slipping in Doing Business survey

By Prinz Magtulis (
Updated October 28, 2015 - 5:03pm

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines slammed the World Bank on Tuesday after its ranking in an annual gauge of business environment slumped to one of the lowest in Southeast Asia, calling the measure an “inappropriate” reflection of the country’s business climate.

Calling the World Bank-International Finance Corp.’s Doing Business (DB) Report “erratic” and “unsound,” Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima expressed dismay on the country’s five-notch slip to 103rd from 97th in the survey.

Singapore topped the annual rankings.

“The Philippines firmly believes that the Doing Business survey methodology of collecting sample data from one or only two cities makes it inappropriate to present the report as reflective of the state of doing business for an entire economy,” Purisima said in a statement.

“Countries, especially developing ones like the Philippines, will have bright spots of promise in some areas and not in others,” he added.

A case in point is the country’s special economic zones, which the finance chief said are not being captured by the survey. These locators, managed by the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA), are granted numerous fiscal incentives in their operations.

The World Bank, for its part, has recognized this as one of the “limits” of the survey, which focuses only on each economy’s “largest business city.” Survey questionnaires were sent to businesses in covered areas.

A total of 14,233 respondents participated in the global survey in the latest report. In the Philippines, the survey was conducted in Quezon City.

“With this methodology, the DB survey should be more aptly titled as ‘Doing Business Across Cities’ to provide a better representation of the results of the report,” Purisima said.

Purisima, who is the country’s governor in the World Bank Group, also criticized the survey’s “erratic methodological changes year after year” which tended to affect even the previous years’ results.

An example is the Philippines’ place last year, which changed to 97th in the current report from 95th when it was first reported. The country ranked 134th in 2011, the first full year of the Aquino administration.

For her part, World Bank country director Motoo Konishi said in a briefing the multilateral agency is working with the government to improve the survey’s coverage.

“We continue using the DB program to identify priority areas for reform. Next year’s DB report on the Philippines will expand to include a second city apart from Quezon City,” Konishi said.

“Moreover, we plan to conduct local studies to see how firms not covered by the DB methodology— such as firms in PEZA zones— are able to register, expand and operate in the Philippines,” she added.

This was not the first time Purisima criticized the DB report. During this month’s World Bank meetings in Lima, Peru, the finance chief already called attention to what he called was the survey’s “poor” data gathering.

In contrast to the DB report, the Philippines has posted sustained improvements in another business climate gauge, the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index. It consistently rose from 75th in 2011, 65th in 2012, 59th in 2013, 52nd last year and 47th this year.

“We will persevere in rolling out more reforms to boost our competitiveness in various indicators,” Purisima said.
Economists looking for ways to cushion El Niño effects

(The Philippine Star)
Updated October 29, 2015 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The country’s economic managers are assessing the possible effects of El Niño on the country and finding ways to cushion its impact on the people, President Aquino said on Tuesday.

“I think the primary discussion has centered on El Niño and the potential effects it will have on the Philippine economy and our people’s lot,” Aquino said during the annual presidential forum of the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines.

He said the government has put in place measures to address this weather phenomenon.

With the flooding caused by Typhoon Lando, the President said it was difficult to imagine the effects of El Niño come December, January and February.

“We want to ensure that there will be sufficient supplies of the staple at reasonable prices,” he said, adding that the government has yet to decide whether it would augment the 500,000 metric tons of rice that it would import to ensure stable rice supply.

Aquino said he would leave it to National Economic and Development Authority director general Arsenio Balisacan to come up with the prospects of the third-quarter gross domestic product.

The President noted that while Lando inundated rice-producing areas in Central Luzon, the typhoon also filled the dams in Luzon that would help farmers cope with the dry spell.

Aquino enumerated the government’s programs to protect the environment and curb climate change during the 2015 Community-Based Forest Management National Greening Program Congress at the World Trade Center in Pasay City yesterday.
P1-B climate fund

The climate change adaptation and mitigation projects that will be funded using the P1-billion People’s Survival Fund (PSF) will not be tainted with corruption, an official of the Climate Change Commission (CCC) said.

CCC assistant secretary Joyceline Goco said the fund, which is available for poor and vulnerable local government units in the country, would only be released following a stringent evaluation of the proposals submitted to the board.

“It will be difficult to taint the process with corruption because it’s transparent,” Goco said during the launch of the PSF in Makati City yesterday.

She said the funds are subject to audit by the Commission on Audit based on documents submitted by the Municipal Development Fund Office (MDFO) of the Department of Finance.

The PSF Board, chaired by Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, tapped the MDFO to facilitate the disbursement of funds for approved proposals and validation of the projects.

Created in 2012 through Republic Act 10174, the PSF provides an annual funding of at least P1 billion to finance climate change adaptation projects that will be implemented by LGUs or community organizations.

“The LGUs will now have the means to realize the plans they have set up to insulate constituents against climate change-induced disasters and exploit the benefits that climate change may bring,” Goco said. – Aurea Calica, Janvic Mateo
Investment banks forecast GDP growth above 6% in H2

By Lawrence Agcaoili (The Philippine Star)
Updated October 29, 2015 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - ING Bank, Standard Chartered Bank, and ANZ Bank see the country’s economic growth picking up and exceeding six percent in the second half on the back of higher government spending.

Joey Cuyegkeng, senior economist at ING Bank Manila, said the gross domestic product (GDP) growth of the Philippines would accelerate to 6.3 percent in the second half from 5.3 percent in the first half.

 “We expect economic activity to remain favorable and we forecast a second half GDP growth of 6.3 percent,” he said.

He pointed out government spending jumped 93 percent in July and rose by 29 percent in August.

“Government infrastructure spending in July and August is quite strong,” Cuyegkeng added.

Weak global demand and lack of government spending pulled down the GDP growth to 5.3 percent in the first half from 6.4 percent in the same period last year.

The economist also explained that strong imports in July also reflect strong domestic demand in the country.

He said higher domestic liquidity and increasing bank lending point to the improving economic growth.

Standard Chartered Bank regional economist for Asia Jeff Ng said the country’s GDP growth is likely to settle at six percent this year from 6.1 percent last year.

“We expect GDP growth at six percent in the second half from 5.3 percent in the first half,” he said.

Ng explained raw material imports jumped 41.2 percent, while consumer good imports rose 19 percent in August despite the slowdown in import growth to 4.1 percent in August from 23 percent in July.

 “We expect the solid raw material imports to translate into some improvement in export growth in the coming months. At the same time, consumer goods imports imply that domestic consumption likely remain resilient. This will remain an anchor for growth,” he said.
UN report sees Asia Pacific as world’s most disaster prone region

October 28, 2015 (updated)
By Lyndal Rowlands

UNITED NATIONS (PNA/Xinhua) — The Asia Pacific is the world’s most disaster prone region and needs regional cooperation to address cross boundary disasters, said a UN expert here Tuesday.

“Asia (has) particularly high vulnerability to multiple hazards not least because of the ring of fire — and the volcanic and earthquake activity along it — but also because of the path of tropical typhoons,” said David O’Connor, chief of the policy and analysis branch of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA), at the launch of Disasters Without Borders the 2015 Asia Pacific Disaster Report.

Ninety percent of the world’s seismic activity originates in the ring of fire, a region in the basin of the Pacific Ocean, said O’Connor.

Other disasters affecting the region include floods, tropical storms and droughts, which O’Connor described as a silent killer.

He said China was also vulnerable to both earthquakes and tropical storms.

“China …has suffered both from tropical storms in recent years but also from earthquakes that have devastated large cities and parts of China,” he said.

Many of the disasters in the Asia Pacifc region are cross boundary in nature and therefore need a regional response, said O’ Connor.

“Regional cooperation will be particularly important in addressing many of the disasters faced by the Asia Pacific region because many of them are in fact trans-boundary in nature,” he said.

“You have major river systems in the region where flooding spills over borders, earthquakes clearly can be trans-boundary in their impacts, as with the earthquake that caused the huge tsunami in Asia about a decade ago,” said O’Connor.

While progress has been made in the area of disaster risk reduction since the Indian Ocean Tsunami in 2004, there is still room for improvement, he said.

“There was a major effort to install early warning systems in the region (including) a number of sea level gauges and tsunameters (equipment used to detect tsunamis),” said O’Connor.

But he said that after Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines in November 2013 it became apparent that more work need to be done to ensure that warning messages make it all the way to people in danger.

“There are critical gaps remaining in getting the information in a timely fashion to the last mile to the people on the ground, to the communities that are most exposed and most effected,” said O’Connor.

The Philippines has increased significantly the number of people it evacuates before tropical storms, with 750,000 people evacuated before a recent storm compared with just 125,000 before Haiyan, said O’Connor.

According to him, disaster risk reduction has been proven to be an effective way to tackle disasters but that addressing climate change is now likely the most important way to reduce the risk of disasters.

“Urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts is likely to be one of the most important disaster risk reduction measures that the international community can take,” he said.

“Disaster risk will be considerably exacerbated in the region and in the world as a whole in coming decades by climate change,” said O’Connor, adding “we’re already seeing that in the mega storms that have hit countries like the Philippines.”
Office tower’s value rises with PEZA accreditation
Century Spire

October 28, 2015
Occupancy is hardly a challenge for well-located office towers these days. Proof of this is the consistently low vacancy rate registered in Metro Manila, particularly in the central business district of Makati at 1.8 percent as of the second quarter of 2015. Developers continue to add to the inventory as projections of an industry-growth remain high.

But with the quantity or a range of options growing in ideal locations, values that greatly benefit the locator are fast becoming in demand. And for many of them, a Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) accreditation just might offer the clincher.

Businesses located in a PEZA-accredited building are entitled to a wide range of perks and advantages beneficial to the company and consequently, to its employees.

Developer Century Properties has taken advantage of this by having its latest office development, Century Spire, PEZA-accredited.

The office tower has a prime location — Century City in Modern Makati, the growing residential and commercial district north of the CBD. It also has groundbreaking architecture — by globally-acclaimed architect Daniel Libeskind.

It also has amenities that range from a retail section, a food hall, a fine dining restaurant, an auditorium with pre-function room, and a grand office lobby designed by Armani/Casa.

Century Properties has opted to add to them with an accreditation that many investors are finding attractive.

“The challenge we gave ourselves this time is to make an already Grade A building even more attractive,” Marco Antonio, Century Properties COO, said.

The PEZA’s aim is to bolster the flow of foreign investments in the Philippines by rewarding them with fiscal and non-fiscal incentives.

Chief of these is an income tax holiday. For a certain number of years, businesses in a PEZA-accredited zone enjoy tax holidays allowing companies to save up on tax fees and operational costs.

The exemption from corporate income tax is at 100 percent for four years for non-pioneer projects, six years for pioneer projects, and three years for expansion project (the income tax holiday applies to incremental sales).

Meanwhile, importations of equipment, capital equipment and parts, machineries, etc. are also tax and duty free in PEZA-accredited companies in a Special Economic Zone.

Other privileges include VAT zero-rating of local purchases of goods and services such as land-based telecommunications, electrical power, water bills, and lease on the building, subject to compliance with Bureau of Internal Revenues and PEZA requirements; exemption from payment of any and all local government imposts, fees, licenses or taxes; and exemption from expanded withholding tax.

Upon the expiry of the Income Tax Holiday, a five percent Special Tax on Gross Income and exemption from all national and local taxes shall be applicable.

“The reduction of levies imposed on businesses can result in anything from a reallocation of funds to equipment or services upgrade or even additional employee incentive programs,” Antonio said.

PEZA-accredited foreign entities in a PEZA-accredited location are also entitled to exemptions through PEZA’s non-fiscal incentives.

Century Spire will be one of Makati’s office towers with Grade AA features.  It is also adhering to sustainability standards targeting a LEED Certification focusing on energy efficiency.
Office buildings need to ‘stand out’

October 28, 2015

The current property development boom has resulted in the growing number of high-rise office structures being built. With this, there is now a growing need for such projects to stand out from among dozens of high-rise buildings in the metropolis.

With urbanization and climate change, there is an emerging need for structures to adapt or risk falling behind. Office buildings no longer simply provide a space to work, but are now about incorporating multiple facets of design and function into creating the ideal space.

The ones to stand out are those that can effectively incorporate these needs into one sleek and sustainable design.

“Office development projects need to stand out by injecting creativity and innovation, simplicity and function, and nature and technology,” said Eric Manuel, VP for Business Development of Daiichi Properties. “Indeed, much is required of buildings today in order for them to excel among a field of thousands.”

Manuel knows what he is talking about. Earlier this year, Daiichi Properties bagged the prestigious Five-Star Best Office Development plum at the Asia Pacific Property Awards, which recognizes the finest in property, architecture, and interior design. The company won for World Plaza, a 27-storey, premium Grade A office building located at the Bonifacio Global City (BGC).

For one thing, World Plaza was designed by the award-winning American design and architecture firm Gensler. Its all-around design allows the building to maximize natural lighting during the day, but will also give it a seamless look against a darker night sky.

Aside from its external design, World Plaza has been designed and tested to stand against natural calamities, an important factor for a country that stands not only along the Pacific Ring of Fire, but also welcomes in a number of typhoons annually.

World Plaza also received above-standard credits in performance-based seismic evaluations, which tested the building’s structural performance and reliability, especially in the case of earthquakes and strong winds.

World Plaza is already the developer’s second office development that won an international property development award. In 2013, another of Daiichi Properties’ projects – One World Place — was also recognized and awarded as the Five-Star Best Office Development by the Asia Pacific Property Awards.