Thursday, August 30, 2012

PAL will Build 2000 HA - Philippines largest Airport Near Manila


Jean-Francois Laval, center, senior vice president for sales Asia of Airbus; Lucio Tan, left, chairman and CEO of Philippine Airlines, and Ramon S. Ang, president and COO of Philippine Airlines hold an Airbus A321 model aircraft in a news conference Tuesday Aug. 28, 2012, in Manila, Philippine Airlines signed a $7 billion deal to buy 54 Airbus jets. PAL on Thursday disclosed plans to build what could be the largest airport in the Philippines. AP PHOTO/BULLIT MARQUEZ

Shortly after signing a multibillion-dollar deal to acquire 54 new Airbus planes—the biggest aircraft order in the country's history—flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) on disclosed plans to build what could be the largest airport in the Philippines.

The planned airport would be able to handle four times as many flights per hour as the congested Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) in Pasay City. Naia, built in the 1950s, has been criticized as obsolete with decrepit facilities. It can handle 36 flights per hour.

PAL president Ramon S. Ang said investments in infrastructure was part of the company's aggressive expansion program, which could include rehiring some of the 2,600 employees PAL retrenched in October of last year.

"We have a plan for our own terminal and runway. We still have to clear this with the government but we are hoping they will support us," Ang told reporters at the sidelines of the firm's annual shareholders' meeting.

He said the new airport would be closer to Manila than the Clark International Airport in Pampanga, which the government is grooming to replace Naia.

Ang, who also serves as president of PAL's controlling shareholder San Miguel Corp., declined to disclose the prospective location for the new facility, but said the company would need at least 2,000 hectares of land for the project.

The new airport, which will be exclusive to PAL and sister firm PAL Express (formerly Air Philippines), would have two parallel runways when it opens, with the option of having two more. Parallel runways mean two planes can take off and land at the same time—now impossible at Naia's perpendicular runways.

Ang said the government's plan to turn Clark into the country's premier gateway might be ill-advised, given the facility's distance from Manila. "If you want to fly [from] Clark, how long will it take you to get to the airport? Two hours if you are coming from Makati. Then you have to wait two more hours for your flight," Ang said.


He said plans to build a new high-speed railway between Metro Manila and Clark—at an estimated cost of $10 billion—would be too heavy a burden for the government to carry.

Ang said the company would shell out about $500 million in equity for the airport project. The rest of the project cost would be financed using loans from foreign or local banks.

Once approved by the government, he said PAL could complete the project in three years. "We plan to pitch this to President Aquino in January or February. Hopefully, this is aligned with the government's plans," he said.

Ang said the new airport, together with other components of PAL's expansion, could lead to a solution to the labor problems that have hounded the airline for more than a decade.


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Philippine Economy Grow 6.1% first half 2012 outperforms Asian neighbors, but not China

Philippines is among the fastest-growing Asian economies for the first half of the year, so far topped only by China and Indonesia, the country's chief state economist claimed Thursday (August 30, 2012).

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said the announced gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 5.9 percent from April to June  2012 showed the Philippines' "continued resurgence in economic activities from a moderate growth of 3.6 percent in the same period in 2011."

With its strong second quarter result, the Philippine economy posted growth of 6.1 percent January to June, outperforming most its neighbors, Balisacan said.

"Within the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), the Philippine economic growth performance was above the preliminary average growth (4.7%) of the region..." he noted.

The Philippine economy grew faster compared to Malaysia, which posted an expansion of 5.4 percent in the first half; Thailand, 4.2 percent; Vietnam, 4.4 percent; and Singapore, 2 percent.

However, its GDP growth was lower than that of China at 7.8 percent and Indonesia at 6.4 percent.

Bulk of the country's economic growth in the second quarter was due to expansion in the services sector, including the continuously growing business process outsourcing industry, official data showed.

The sector grew by 7.6 percent from April to June, and contributed 4.3 percentage points to the 5.9-percent total GDP growth.

The top contributors to growth in this sector were increased economic activities in transportation, storage and communication; real estate and renting; as well as trade and financial services, among others.

Industry, meanwhile, contributed 1.5 percentage points to the total, growing by 4.6 percent.

This was due to a boom in construction; electricity, gas and water supply; as well as manufacturing. These offset a contraction in mining and quarrying.

Agriculture posted the slowest growth of 0.7 percent in the three-month period, contributing only 0.1 percentage points to the GDP growth.

Balisacan noted that the government expects the Philippine economy to continue growing over the next two quarters.

"We are optimistic that the resiliency of our economy, as reflected by the strong real GDP performance in the two quarters of 2012, will not dissipate in the succeeding quarters despite the uncertainties," the Cabinet official said.

He added that the government is maintaining its full-year growth target of 5 to 6 percent.

This, as he noted that external and internal risks continue to pose threats to the local economy.

"Further weakness of a struggling global economic recovery will remain a strong challenge in the near-term, with the slowdown of China reining in on global growth," Balisacan said.

He also cited the potential impact of an intensification of the euro area problem.

"Another downside risk is the El Niño phenomenon, which, according to experts, will commence on the third quarter of the current year until the first quarter of 2013," Balisacan said.

He added, however, that its impact onthe GDP will be weak to moderate.

Recent weather disturbances which hit the country will also have very small impact, which Balisacan estimated at only 0.5 percent of GDP.

Yahoo Philippines

Philippines, USA and ASEAN 5 day Naval WAR Drill kicked off August 29

USS Safeguard (ARS-50) is a Safeguard-class salvage ship, the second United States Navy ship of that name. Safeguard was laid down on 8 November 1982 by Peterson Builders, Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin; launched on 12 November 1983; and commissioned on 17 August 1985. Photo from Wikimedia

Navy units from the Philippines, the United States and five other Southeast Asian countries on Tuesday commenced a fleet training exercise at the Malacca Strait, Sulu Sea and Subic Bay.

Four ships and one islander aircraft from the Philippine Navy will participate in this year's exercise. As in the previous Seacat exercises, several ships from each participating country will join the training with one US Navy ship, USS Safeguard, designated as the COI for the participating Southeast Asian Navies

With the Philippines; Brunei, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand also joined SEACAT 2012 with the United States of the Philippines, which will be held August 29 until September 2, 2012.

The exercises are being held two months after the nuclear-powered US submarine USS Louisville made a port call at Subic.

Louisville is the second US attack submarine that visited the Philippines since Washington bared plans to enhance its presence in the Asia Pacific. The first was USS North Carolina which docked in Subic Bay last May.

Another US vessel, the hospital ship USNS Mercy, also docked in Subic last month to replenish its supplies.

Navy spokesman Col. Omar Tonsay said the five-day training exercise, called the Southeast Asia Cooperation and Training (SEACAT), will involve surface, air and special operations units from the participating countries.

"They [Southeast Asian countries] will participate with the US Navy in a scenario-driven fleet training exercise against terrorism, transnational crimes and other maritime threats which focus on real time information exchange, coordinated surveillance operations, tracking and eventual conduct of Visit, Board, Search and Seizure to the maritime Contact of Interest or the designated target vessel," said Tonsay.

 Tonsay added the U.S. is deploying the USS Safeguard for the exercise, a rescue and salvage ship which will be serving as the Contact of Interest. The Philippine Navy has earmarked 200 personnel, four ships and an aircraft for SEACAT.

"They will participate together with the US Navy in a scenario-driven fleet training exercise against terrorism, transnational crimes and other maritime threats," Tonsay said in a statement.

The exercises focus on real-time information exchange, coordinated surveillance operations, tracking, and visit, board, search and seizure of target vessels.

"This activity will involve surface, air, and special operations units in the conduct of surveillance, tracking, and boarding of the COI (contact of interest) from the different participating navies within their respective maritime territories." Navy chief Vice Adm. Alexander Pama said.

A maritime interdiction operations scenario will be conducted at the Subic Bay and at the Sulu Sea.

Coast Watch stations of the participating countries will also be used to exercise their capabilities in surveillance, tracking, communications, and operations.

"With this training, the Philippine Navy will be able to enhance regional coordination, information sharing, and combined inter-operability capability with participating navies in the region," Tonsay said.

He claimed the activity would also improve the maritime security capability of the military.

Tonsay could not say what personnel and assets the other Southeast Asian countries have committed to SEACAT, but these units will not enter Philippine waters

 Tonsay said maritime interdiction operation scenarios with boarding opportunities will be conducted at Subic Bay and at the Sulu Sea.

 "At the same time, Coast Watch stations in the different participating Naval Forces AORs [areas of responsibility] will be utilized to exercise their capabilities in surveillance, tracking, communications, and operations," he added

 SEACAT is an annual exercise conducted at vital sea lanes in Southeast Asia to secure the area from terrorists, poachers, and transnational lawless elements.

"With this training, the Philippine Navy will be able to enhance regional coordination, information sharing, and combined inter-operability capability with participating navies in the region, test its personnel and naval assets operational readiness and ultimately, improve the maritime security capability of the Armed Forces of the Philippines," he explained.

Singapore will serve as the war games' command and control center.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

54 Jets China Made Airbus of $7 Billion USD Ordered by Philippine Airlines

Philippine Airlines, the country's flag carrier, has ordered 54 jets from Airbus, company president Ramon Ang said on Tuesday.

The airline has ordered 10 long-haul A330-300s, and 44 jets from the 321 family, with delivery starting in 2013, it said in a statement. EADS [EAD.PA  29.80     0.17  (+0.57%)] unit Airbus was expected to have offered hefty discounts as  lobbying adds fuel to an ongoing price war with Boeing.

Mr. Ang did not immediately give the value of the deal.

Some industry sources said Tuesday's anticipated deal may not be the last word on PAL's fleet renewal, with potential demand for longer-range, wider-bodied jets up for grabs.

The airline has not yet decided its needs but Boeing could start with the advantage of an existing presence, whereas Airbus dominates smaller and medium parts of PAL's fleet, they added.

Airbus Eyes Big Order from China

Airbus hopes to win orders to sell up to 100 A320 planes to China when German Chancellor Angela Merkel visits the country this week, industry sources said on Monday.

The order, potentially worth around $9 billion, would be the first significant Airbus deal with China since a row between Beijing and the European Union over emissions trading interrupted earlier deals worth up to $14 billion.

However, such an order would not by itself signal an end to the dispute.

"There is already a framework agreement for utilization of the existing assembly line in the Chinese city of Tianjin which must now be supported with concrete orders," an industry source told Reuters.

Merkel heads to China on Wednesday accompanied by a large business delegation including Tom Enders, CEO of Airbus' parent company EADS .

During the trip she is due to visit the plant at Tianjin with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, a native of the city.

Small Airbus aircraft, partially built in China for the world's fastest growing aviation market, have been spared any fallout from the emissions row since hitting those deliveries would not be in Beijing's interests as domestic travel expands.

China continues to block the purchase of some 35 larger A330 aircraft to protest against the EU's plans to enforce a carbon reduction scheme that opposing nations deem unfair.

China has continued to take delivery of workhorse Airbus A320 short-haul jets, some of which are assembled on its soil, even while the dispute hampers larger jets.

Beijing regularly buys small models like the Airbus A320 family and competing Boeing 737 in three-figure batches coinciding with European or U.S. state visits.

Merkel's visit to China, her second this year, aims to further strengthen booming trade ties between the world's two biggest exporting nations.

Premier Wen, who is due to stand down soon as part of China's transfer of power to a younger generation of leaders, visited the annual trade fair in the German city of Hanover earlier this year.


Sunday, August 26, 2012

SC 44 - Gas2Grid to drill 3 wells in Cebu for 50 million barrels oil

Australian firm Gas2Grid Ltd. is embarking on a three-well exploration drilling program starting September this year, to tap the potential oil and gas resources in Cebu.

 In a regulatory filing, Gas2Grid reported that the new wells, which would be drilled within areas covered by Service Contract 44, would test three prospects namely Jacob-1, Gumamela-1 and Ilang-1 to depths of 1,000 to 1,300 meters.

 "These prospects vary in size and resource potential of several million barrels with Jacob-1 having an un-risked potential of up to 50 million barrels recoverable oil. All wells have been approved by the Philippine Department of Energy, landholders' approvals have been granted and site preparations and road access are almost complete," the company said.

 Gas2Grid plans to complete the three-well drilling program between now and 2014, after it was given an extension by the DoE of up to Jan. 28, 2014. The original deadline was July 28 this year.

 "This extension of time will provide plenty of opportunity for the company to complete its work program, although it is the company's intention to complete these works before the end of 2012," the company said.

 For its planned drilling program in the Philippines, Gas2Grid was able to purchase recently Rig-2 (800 HP, Gardner Denver 500 SCR) with a capacity to drill to a depth of 2,750 meters. The drilling rig arrived in Cebu from Taiwan in mid-June, several months later than the schedule. Rig-1, or the workover rig, has been undergoing extensive maintenance.

 "After the completion of the drilling and workover program, the company will own two good drilling rigs. This will prove extremely beneficial for appraisal and development drilling of oil/gas discoveries using equipment owned and operated by the company.


Philippines Defeated Mighty Americans in Jones Cup – Crowned

Members of Smart Gilas II whoop it up after securing a thrilling come-from-behind victory over the United States, 76-75, to capture the 34th Jones Cup crown in Taiwan yesterday. PHOTO COURTESY OF YU CHIH-SHENG OF APPLE DAILY 

The Smart Gilas Pilipinas National team defeated a taller American squad Sunday to take home the 2012 William Jones Cup title, 76-75, in Taipei, Taiwan.

In Taipei, Taiwan 34th William Jones Cup; Philippine Team Smart Gilas II fought a tall and mighty American team with all its weapons of destruction, from its tallest man to the smallest, and hacked out a 76-75 victory to annex the country's fourth crown in 34 editions of the William Jones Cup last night at the TPEC Gymnasium here.

The national team's tall men, led by naturalized player Marcus Douthit, took turns in containing the fury of the American squad of future NBA players but in the end, it was its smallest player, 5-8 L.A. Tenorio, who delivered the killer blows that gave the Filipinos the scary win before cheering Filipino fans in the capital city.

Tenorio played the game of his life, cutting the Americans down to size with his game-long brilliance as the Filipinos enjoyed their grandest time on the international stage in a long, long while.

Barely three weeks together, the Nationals won the crown – the country's first championship in the Asian level since the Phl Centennial team of coach Tim Cone also reigned supreme here in 1998.

Clinching the championship with a win over the tough US team made Smart Gilas' feat so amazing.

"Before the game, we just said imagine the Philippines playing the US for the gold in a basketball game. I know it's just a Jones Cup, an Asian level, but I don't know if it's going to happen again in our lives. We said we take this opportunity," said Gilas coach Chot Reyes.

As in their games against Japan, Korea and Iran, the Filipinos fought with great resolve, coming from behind to pull the rug from under the athletic and quick Americans.

"This might be the weakest Philippine team, the least prepared, smallest. What it has got is a big heart," said Reyes.

"Heart won it for us versus Japan, Korea, Iran and the US. These guys just don't know the meaning of quit," added Reyes whose wards ruled the tournament with a 7-1 win-loss showing.

Iran, the 2007 and 2009 FIBA Asia champion, placed second at 6-2 with the US coming in at 5-3. Korea (5-2) and Chinese Taipei (4-3) were still playing at press time.

With his 5-foot-8 frame, Tenorio stood tall, making the biggest plays, the biggest shots and even the biggest rebound as the Philippines nailed its fourth Jones Cup championship.

The Northern Cement team beat a Sweden side in ruling the 1981 event and returned to upend the US team in the finals in 1985. The Centennial squad humbled the home team in the gold-medal game in 1998.

Tenorio collected 20 points, including 11 in the fourth quarter mostly on a two-man game with Marcus Douthit.

The Alaska Milk playmaker personally rallied Gilas from a seven-point deficit and himself clinched the victory as he knocked in the go-ahead basket with 20 seconds left then collared the rebound as Mychal Kearse flubbed a jumper 12 seconds later.

Sent to the stripe with 1.9 seconds left, Chan deliberately missed his second free throw after he muffed the first one.

As the ball went out of bounds, the US team was left with .9 second to run one last play – court to court.

As the long inbound landed in Freddie Williams' hands, the final buzzer sounded, sending the Gilas team and cheering Filipino supporters in the venue in wild celebration.

"I thought our guys played with their heart out, doing everything possible to get it. But that's basketball and we have to give the Philippines the credit. They came back when they're down and made the shots down the stretch," said US coach Travis McAvene.

"No. 5 (Tenorio) was the big difference. I think we did a good job on him in the first half but he started getting into the groove in the second half. He penetrated too much, creating plays and hitting shots himself," McAvene said of Tenorio.

Douthit did his job by piling up 17 points and 12 rebounds while Chan was again a solid contributor with five triples and a total of 20 markers.

The scores:

Smart Gilas Pilipinas 76 – Tenorio 20, Chan 18, Douthit 17, Fonacier 9, Norwood 5, David 5, De Ocampo 2, Thoss 0, Mercado 0.

United States 75 –Arnold 17, Justice 17, Marshall 14, Barnes 13, Dearman 10, Vandermeer 2, Reese 0, Williams 0.

Quarterscores: 12-13, 23-34, 51-59, 76-75


Philippines plan to phase out domestic workers (DH) overseas

Filipino domestic workers seeking refuge from abusive employers sit in the basement of their embassy's shelter in Amman, Jordan on October 6, 2008. Photo: Nader Daoud/AP

The Philippines government is developing a plan to stop sending domestic workers overseas in five years, according to a Manila newspaper.

The phase-out program, which officials hope to finalize at the end of this year, aims to provide alternative jobs for household service workers (HSWs), either in their home country or abroad.

Details on about 180 countries which would no longer be sent domestic workers from the Philippines were not available. But critics said reducing the number of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) would hurt families who rely heavily on remittances.

Zero deployment of HSWs was "out of the question", Hans Cacdac, the head of the Philippine overseas employment administration (POEA), told the Philippine Daily Inquirer in Manila at the weekend.

He said there were certain types of domestic work, particularly in some parts of Europe, which were "high-paying and protective", and may be allowed to continue.

If there are work options available to HSWs in their home country, then the POEA could reach out to government agencies to facilitate their employment, Mr. Cacdac said.

"The first step is to identify prospective OFWs' skills, further develop these skills, and then move on to the industries through those government agencies," Mr. Cacdac told the Inquirer.

Maids, nannies, gardeners, private tutors and family drivers are among the jobs that fall under the category of household service workers. Most of them are women.

The Philippines sent about 499,495 Filipinos to work as HSWs worldwide from 2006 to 2011. However, this figure does not include undocumented workers.

The UAE, Kuwait and Qatar together accounted for almost half (46 per cent) of the 96,583 Filipinos who went to work overseas as domestic staff in 2010.

Hong Kong was the top destination, with 28,602, followed by Kuwait with 21,554, and the UAE was third with 13,184. Saudi Arabia was fourth at 11,582, and Qatar was fifth with 9,937.

Abused Filipina Domestic Helper. Photo: NADER DAOUDASSOCIATED PRES

The phase-out program, which is still in the "conceptual framework and development stage", will involve a review of the HSW data: their education and job profile, age, gender and region of origin in the Philippines.

Mr. Cacdac said the Philippine labor secretary Rosalinda Baldoz told him that she wanted the POEA, which monitors overseas employment, to develop a broader program to help provide job options other than domestic work.

Mr. Cacdac, who assumed his post in January, also told the newspaper that there was "nothing shameful about being a maid or a domestic worker". Many are nurses and teachers who would be able to find alternative jobs in the Philippines or abroad, jobs that would pay them well and make them less vulnerable to underpayment and mistreatment.

The POEA is analyzing its statistical data on the profile of overseas foreign workers who are employed as domestic workers. Mr. Cacdac said the sector did not represent a majority, but that their numbers were increasing: in 2011, it reached more than 142,000, compared to an average of 60,000 to 70,000 a year in previous years.

"The government should take a reality check," said Lito Soriano, the chief executive of LBS Recruitment Solutions in Manila.

"There is a decline in the deployment of skilled and professional male workers abroad because many lack work experience. Female college graduates, however, have job recourse. There are unemployed female accountants, nurses and teachers who end up working as domestic workers abroad to support their families."

Mr. Soriano, who is also adviser to the Coalition of Licensed Agencies for Domestic Services, said families rely heavily on remittances from family members overseas. The phase-out program, which seeks to reduce the number of Filipinos seeking domestic work, will lead to a sharp decline in OFW remittances to the Philippines, he said.

"It will not work," he said. "Filipinos will still leave the country and will be among those who are undocumented or did not go through the POEA."

The UAE chapter of Migrant, a migrant right's group, welcomed the government's move, which it said was "long overdue".

But domestic workers should be consulted on the phase-out program, said Karen Tanedo, the group's chairperson.

"The procedures should be laid down properly to the HSWs who will be directly affected," she said. "Plans must be disclosed to answer the real root cause of the program, which is poverty."

She said the government should have a "genuine" solution to provide jobs in the country, instead of sending workers to other countries.

"We haven't been informed about the phase-out program," said Nasser Munder, the labor attaché in Abu Dhabi. "But I believe it will apply to selected countries where abuse is rampant."

The National

EU Cargotec Crane maker seen Growth Business in the Philippines

EUROPEAN crane maker Cargotec, which partnered with local automotive body builder Centro Manufacturing, expects brisk business in the Philippines, with developments in mining, construction, infrastructure and agriculture expected to kick up its sales.

"We have seen the positive economic indicators and we have reason to be optimistic that the Philippines is going to outpace its Asian neighbors in terms of economic growth in the next few years," Jan Vink, Cargotec Business Support manager for the Asia-Pacific region, said in a statement.

Vink said at the rate that the economy is expanding, various industries in the country will be in need of industrial and truck-mounted cranes, tail lifts, hooklifts and even garbage compactors to sustain their growth.

Cargotec, which manufactures Europe's leading crane brand Hiab, entered the market through Centro.

Vink said industries, such as mining, construction, infrastructure and agriculture, will drive the country's sustained economic growth.

"Factor-in increased government spending in infrastructure and an economy growing at a brisk 6.4 percent in the first quarter alone, these are reasons enough for us to invest on developing the Hiab brand aggressively in the Philippines with Centro as our business partner," he said.

Raphael T. Juan, Centro president, said a lot of positive macroeconomic indicators and policy changes, including the issuance of an executive order that clarified mining issues, will lead to increased economic activities in the industries that Centro and Cargotec are serving.

"The government has committed to continue with its heavy investments in infrastructure, driving a 6.6-percent growth in the construction industry. The road map for the Philippine auto industry will soon be issued. The commodities that flowed through the Philippine transport system increased by 4.7 percent last quarter. All these are positive indicators that Cargotec has seen before deciding to enter the Philippine market," he said.

Business Mirror 

Basketball Smart Gilas Pilipinas Conquered Chinese Taipei Hailed

MARCUS Douthit (right) and Sol Mercado will play pivotal roles when Smart Gilas plays the US today. PBA.COM

TAIWAN– Philippine Basketball' Smart Gilas conquered Chinese Taipei in its home floor in a follow-up to its upset of Iran the last night, assuring itself of a tie at the top at the close of the 34th William Jones Cup at the TPEC Gymnasium.

Philippines' Team up against a talented enemy in very hostile territory, Smart Gilas-Pilipinas got an unlikely lift from the smallest man on the floor and moved within another win of ruling the Jones Cup basketball championship.

LA Tenorio, a 5-foot-8 guard who's struggled in this tournament big time, hit all 11 of his points in the fourth quarter and powered the Filipinos to a 76-72 victory over Taipei-A on Saturday before a raucous hometown crowd at the Taipei Physical Education College gym here.

 Tenorio, who has been bullied around in past games by taller, beefier guards, hit three triples in succession in the early part of the fourth period to give the Philippines the buffer it needed to cushion a hard Taiwanese finish.

 The Filipinos, who were together as a team for less than a month, rose to 6-1 with the victory and would need to upset the United States today in order to win the championship without any complications.

 Taipei bowed out of the title hunt after dropping to 4-3.

A firm handshake from a South Korean coach and some glowing words from members of Lebanon and United States squads clearly mirrored the respect earned by Philippine' Smart Gilas II after sending erstwhile unbeaten Iran crashing back to earth in the William Jones Cup Friday (August 24, 2012) in Taipei, Taiwan .

After steering Philippines' Gilas to a 77-75 win over the defending champions, coach Chot Reyes was met by Sang Beom Lee, the Korean coach, in the corridor leading to the media room to shake his hand.

Asian power Iran lost for a second straight night and the US team suffered a second upset as they fell to joint second place with Korea at 5-2, a game behind the Philippines.

Sweet-shooting forward Elie Stephan strung up nine triples and a total of 27 points while Jarrid Famous tossed in 17 markers and grabbed 12 rebounds as Lebanon stunned the US five, 70-67.

Korea, meanwhile, pounced on a weary Iran team for an 82-73 victory.

The Filipinos wrap up the championship without any complication if they beat the Americans in their game.

Iran plays Jordan and Korea takes on Chinese Taipei in the other key matches.

"At least with this win, we have our fate in our hands. We have had a good tournament so far, and we have to make it a great tournament tomorrow (today)," said coach Chot Reyes whose team is a win away from handing the country a first Jones Cup crown in 14 years.

"Obviously, the game against the US is for the championship, for all the marbles. The US team is tall, quick and very athletic. We need to find a way to stay with them," Reyes also said.

The Americans catch up with the Filipinos if they win, and any tie will be resolved by the quotient tiebreak system. Iran and Korea are the other teams that can still tie the Philippines.

Tenorio had his breakout game and emerged Gilas' man of the moment as he fired away three straight treys and scored a total of 11 points in the fourth quarter.

The Taiwanese had seized the momentum in the tight, exciting game, wiping away a seven-point deficit when Tenorio came through with his heroics disappointing the cheering home crowd.

Chan took charge earlier, knocking in four triples and a total of 14 markers as the Nationals sat on a 37-29 cushion at the half.

"I thought Taipei did a good job covering our shooters. But in doing that they gave up something and that's LA (Tenorio)," said Reyes.

The two teams actually engaged in a shootout with the Philippines going 11-of-26 from the three-point area as against Taipei's 10-of-27 clip.

The Taiwanese put up a tough fight with their constant motion offense and crisp shooting.

They had no answer on Tenorio in the end though.

Praises for Smart Gilas Pilipinas

Taiwan Local sportswriters had nothing but good words for the Filipinos. "That's the real Smart Gilas II squad. Very smart and very good," said one scribe.

In a complete turnaround from a team that was beaten, 92-71, by Lebanon the day before, the Nationals played with fire and passion with Marcus Douthit providing the power underneath and Gabe Norwood and Jeff Chan striking from outside.

Lebanese coach Ghassan Sarkis was not surprised with the result.

"I'm happy for your team for beating Iran. I know how good your team, you have a good coach and very smart players," said Sarkis.

While Gilas got raves from almost everybody, Iran was not impressed.

Leading scorer Samad Bahrami criticized the referees for their inconsistent calls, insinuating that the Filipinos got special treatment.

"The winner of this game is not true. We beat Lebanon by a big margin and Lebanon also beat them by a big margin, so there's a big difference," Bahrami said.

Iranian coach Mostafa Hashemi butted in: "We lost to ourselves."

Iran's arrogance did not sit well with some Lebanese officials.

"We also once beat them and they complained a lot. They think they're more superior and unbeatable. Some of their players were arrogant," one Lebanese player said.

The Iranians have gotten the ire of the crowd for their repeated complaints against officiating.

Meantime, Americans Gerard Anderson and Jermaine Dearman expect a close and exciting showdown with the Nationals when they clash today in what could be the championship match for the Gilas – granting it won over Taiwan A last night.

"It's going to be a good game, we played almost the same basketball only that they (Gilas) make a lot of kick outs while we finish it driving," said Anderson, who expressed willingness to play in the PBA someday. "Your team is very impressive."

Gilas is locked in a three-way tie for the lead with Iran and US at 5-1 with still two games left for all three teams.

To win the championship, Gilas must beat Taiwan A and US.

The Scores:

SMART GILAS-PILIPINAS 76 – Chan 14, Douthit 14, Tenorio 11, De Ocampo 11, Norwood 10, Fonacier 5, David 5, Mercado 4, Thoss 2.

TAIPEI-A 72 – Wen 18, Tsung 16, Chai 11, Lei 9, Hsueh 8, Cheng 5, Shih 3, Tai 2, Hsin 0, Chih 0, Yi 0.

Quarters: 16-all, 37-29, 54-56, 76-72

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Philippine Ambassador to China, North Korea & Mongolia suffers stroke

Ambassador Sonya Brady for China, Mongolia and North Korea

Philippine Ambassador to China,  North Korea & Mongolia Sonia Brady suffered a stroke in Beijing this week.

"Ambassador Brady suffered a stroke and is hospitalized where her condition is being monitored closely," Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario confirmed Brady's condition in a text message to VERA Files.

An official statement released by DFA Spokesman Raul Hernandez late (August 24, 2012) Friday evening said:

"Ambassador Sonia Brady was brought to the hospital last Wednesday after she passed out in her residence in Beijing. She is undergoing tests and waiting for the results. Her condition is stable but she is under observation. "

"She is better now than when she was brought to the hospital last Wednesday," Hernandez added in a later text advisory.

Brady, who turned 71 on Wednesday, the day she was brought to the hospital, had just recovered from a mild stroke when she was named ambassador to China last May at the height of the standoff between Philippine and China maritime vessels in Panatag shoal.

Aside from China, North Korea and Mongolia are also currently under Brady's jurisdiction.

She is on her second stint at ambassador to China, having served in the same position from 2006 to 2010. She was ambassador to Thailand and Myanmar before she was named envoy to China.

From 1976 to 1978, Brady served as third secretary and vice consul and was later second secretary and consul of the Philippine embassy in China.

Brady was plucked from retirement after President Benigno Aquino III's first choice, family friend Domingo Lee, was bypassed by the Commission on Appointments several times.

Brady breezed through the CA as the members recognized her experience in China and diplomacy and the urgency of the situation.   She waited only a month to be confirmed.

A career diplomat, Brady studied journalism at the University of Santo Tomas. She earned her Foreign Service degree at the University of the Philippines. She holds a master's degree in international relations from the University of Southern California in 1987.

Brady served as assistant secretary in the Department of Foreign Affairs Office of Policy and Coordination from 1999 to 2002.

(VERA Files is put out by veteran journalists taking a deeper look at current issues. Vera is Latin for "true.")

U.S. Missile Shield Plan in Japan-Philippines Seen Stoking China Fears

The U.S. decision to expand its missile-defense shield in the Asia-Pacific region, ostensibly to defend against North Korea, could feed Chinese fears about containment by the U.S. and encourage Beijing to accelerate its own missile program, analysts say.

The new effort, which includes the deployment of an early-warning radar system, known as X-Band, in Japan—and possibly another in Southeast Asia such as Singapore or the Philippines —reflects America's deepening military and security engagement in the region after a decade focused on the Middle East and Afghanistan.

China's official response has been relatively muted so far. Zhu Feng, a leading Chinese security expert at Beijing University, said the U.S. announcement is "more likely to speed up an arms race."

A senior U.S. official acknowledged that the Pentagon faces a hard sell convincing China's People's Liberation Army that the missile-defense architecture isn't designed to encircle them. "It sure looks like containment," the official said.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the missile defenses aren't directed at containing China.

At a news conference Friday, Japan's defense minister Satoshi Morimoto confirmed that Tokyo and Washington "have had various discussions over missile defenses, including how to deploy the U.S.'s X-Band radar system." He added the government needed "a little more time" before disclosing details.

US Radar system installation in Europe for Iran's Missile System

The news of the U.S. plans, reported in The Wall Street Journal earlier this week, strikes a nerve in a region concerned about the growing assertiveness of China.

Many in Japan feel the nation should beef up its own defense capability and strengthen cooperation with the U.S. in the face of China's military expansion and North Korea's nuclear ambitions. India is alarmed about China expanding its naval presence in the Indian Ocean. Vietnam, meanwhile, is building stronger ties with the U.S. Navy, while the Philippines, too, is reviving its security relationship with Washington amid a series of territorial disputes with China in the West Philippines (South China) Sea.

However, security analysts say the strategy risks further antagonizing Chinese leaders, who are already under pressure from vocal nationalists to defend the country's strategic interests.

"China will make a meal of this politically. To them it underscores their propaganda points about the pivot to Asia revealing America's Cold War mentality, that its purpose is to contain China," said Carl Thayer, an Asian security expert at the Australian Defence Force Academy in Canberra.

China's Ministry of National Defense hasn't commented directly on the antimissile plans, but Thursday sounded a cautious note, saying, "China has always believed that antimissile issues should be handled with great discretion, from the perspective of protecting global strategic stability." China's Foreign Ministry separately echoed the sentiment.

China is developing sophisticated new missiles, including those potentially capable of striking U.S. aircraft carriers operating in the Asia-Pacific. Those efforts are in part aimed at denying regional access to the U.S., which could complicate Washington's efforts to defend Taiwan in the event of a conflict.

Analysts say China may now be tempted to churn full speed ahead with this program in an effort to overwhelm an enhanced missile defense with firepower.

"Attempting to overcome this reality would risk entering the U.S. into a race that it could not afford to wage, let alone win," wrote China security analysts Andrew Erickson and Gabe Collins in a commentary for The Wall Street Journal.

The senior U.S. official said that while the system could be overwhelmed by a large-scale Chinese attack, U.S. missile-interceptors guided by the X-Bands could repulse a more limited strike, protecting U.S. bases and ships. "You don't need to be 100% effective in order to create a situation where the other guy has to change his calculus," the U.S. official said.

Japan has mixed emotions about the nation's defense and its long-standing security alliance with the U.S. Finding a home for the X-Band radar won't be easy because of the growing grass-root opposition to the American military presence in Japan.

Japan already hosts an X-Band radar in the northern prefecture of Aomori. At the time it was installed in 2006, it faced concerns from local residents who feared presence of the radar would make them a target for potential enemy attacks. Others were opposed to the arrival of more U.S. personnel to man the facility.

The Pentagon says North Korea is the immediate threat driving decision-making on missile defense.

South Korea's Foreign Ministry declined to comment on the missile-defense plans, which follow a provocative rocket test launch by Pyongyang in April. The rocket, which the North Koreans said would deploy a satellite into space, crashed minutes after takeoff.

Pyongyang previously launched long-range missiles in 2006 and 2009, both of which also crashed soon after takeoff. U.S. intelligence agencies have long held that North Korea could have a missile capable of reaching the U.S. as early as 2015 or 2016.

Some U.S. defense officials have said a third X-Band radar could be positioned in the Philippines, which would potentially help Washington and its allies more accurately track ballistic missiles launched from North Korea and part of China.

Raul Hernandez, assistant secretary at the Philippines Department of Foreign Affairs, said the Philippines hasn't been approached by the U.S. over basing an early-warning radar station there.

Some analysts warn that the U.S. plan may further destabilize a region that faces volatile territorial disputes, competition for resources and growing nationalism.

It may also force governments in the region to make uncomfortable choices. Sumathy Permal, a senior researcher at the Centre for Maritime Security and Diplomacy at the Maritime Institute of Malaysia, said that Malaysia values close ties with both the U.S. and China. "Malaysia may not want to upset either," she wrote in an email.

Lora Saalman, a Beijing-based researcher at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said that the X-Band radar issue "cuts to the heart of China's overall military modernization and role in Asia."

However, she said a land-based X-Band radar is potentially somewhat less concerning to the Chinese than a sea-based one that could be more difficult for China to evade.

"So this land-based X-Band radar is not entirely a worst-case scenario for China," said Ms. Saalman.

—Adam Entous and Julian E. Barnes in Washington, Kwanwoo Jun in Seoul, P.R. Venkat in Singapore and Celine Fernandez in Kuala Lumpur contributed to this article.

Philippine Investment Grade Credit Rating is on the Air


Finance Secretary Cesar V. Purisima and National Treasurer Roberto B. Tan led the Philippine delegation in meeting with banks and investor groups in Singapore on Aug. 21 and 22, the Investor Relations Office (IRO) said in a statement on Friday.

Also in the team were Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Assistant Governor Cyd Tuaño-Amador and IRO Executive Director Claro P. Fernandez.

"The Philippine government's economic team provided an update on the fiscal and macroeconomic situation of the Philippines, as well as on the milestones of the Aquino administration's governance reform agenda," the statement read.

Among these were the 760.92 billion in government revenues in the first semester, up by more than a tenth from the previous year, as well as the foreign exchange reserves which hit a record high $79.35 billion in July. Remittances from overseas Filipino workers also hit $10.13 billion in the first half, climbing 5.1% against yearago levels.

"The economic team highlighted that the consistent strong performance of the Philippine economy was achieved against the backdrop of continued global economic volatilities," the statement read.

"Despite the debt crisis in Europe, economic slowdown in China, and weak consumption in the US, the Philippines is structurally well positioned to sustain its growth," it continued.

The Philippines' credit rating momentum was another focal point in the meetings, especially as country bagged positive actions from Standard & Poor's (S&P) and Moody's Investors Service.

Just last month, S&P upgraded the Philippines' credit rating to BB+ from BB, taking the country to just one notch below investment grade. This is aligned with the BB+ credit rating granted by Fitch Ratings in June 2011.

In May, Moody's also raised its outlook on the country's Ba2 credit rating to positive from stable, indicating that an upgrade is likely in the next 12 to 18 months. The Moody's credit rating is the Philippines' lowest at two notches below investment grade.

"Given that the cost of protecting Philippine bonds against default for five years is lower than some investment-grade countries such as Russia, and considering that two out of the three major credit rating agencies rate the country one notch below investment grade, Secretary Purisima emphasized that the Philippines can clearly make its case for an investment grade status," the statement read.

"The reception was very positive throughout the investor presentations, with investors recognizing the strong performance of the Philippine economy... " it continued.

The Singapore roadshow followed a tour of the United States last June. This roadshow was supported by global banking giants Citigroup Inc., the Credit Suisse Group AG, Deutsche Bank AG, Goldman Sachs Group Inc., HSBC Holdings Plc, ING Group, JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley and UBS AG.

Business World Online


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