Monday, June 29, 2015

Swimming at the Airport? First Resort Airport in the World Kicks off in Cebu Philippines

Null Mactan-Cebu touted to be first of several world-class airports

PH breaks ground for world’s first resort airport

The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) marks another milestone as it breaks ground for the world’s first resort airport – and the Aquino Administration’s first airport public-private partnership (PPP) project – on June 29.

“The kick-off ceremony for the construction of the new international terminal for the country’s second-biggest gateway, the Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA), is touted to be the start of Philippine airports matching the best in the world,” said DOTC Secretary Joseph Emilio Aguinaldo Abaya.

“It will not only cement our place on the global map as a major tourist and business destination, it will boost the local economy and is projected to generate jobs especially in Cebu,” he added.

The project, which is envisioned by concessionaire GMR-Megawide Cebu Airport Corporation (GMCAC) to be regarded as the first resort airport in the world, covers the construction of a new world-class international passenger terminal building (PTB), as well as the renovation of the existing PTB and its conversion into an exclusively-domestic facility.

Construction of the new terminal will be completed in three (3) years, or by 2018, while the renovation of the existing terminal is slated to be completed in 2019. The airport’s passenger capacity will surge from 4.5 million to 12.5 million per year.

GMCAC won the auction for the 25-year PPP contract last year, after offering the government a premium bid of P 14.4 billion. Operations and maintenance (O&M) of the airport was turned over to the consortium in November 2015.

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‘Soft Improvements’ implemented since last year

Immediately upon assuming O&M responsibility, GMCAC began implementing ‘soft improvements’ to the existing terminal, or those improvements which did not require major civil works, to enhance passenger experience at the gateway.

For instance, a centralized security check (CSC) system was opened earlier this month to speed up the processing time for departing guests. It features four (4) X-ray machines that can be used interchangeably, which then doubles the capacity of the final check-in counters.

To further reduce passenger queues, GMCAC also opened additional immigration counters and self-service kiosks wherein passengers can pre-check-in.

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Other ‘soft improvements’ included the installation of LED bulbs for brighter lighting; the optimized use of floor space, which included transferring certain offices in exchange for more check-in counters and waiting areas; redesigning seating patterns to increase usage by passengers; and now, offering self-service check-in kiosks for faster processing.

“It is clear to us that GMCAC brings international expertise into running an airport, immediately it has already made substantial improvements without making structural works yet. What it will do now that we are breaking ground is exciting for us, and especially for travelers to and from Cebu,” Abaya remarked. - dotc.gov.ph

Thursday, June 25, 2015

2 of 12 FA-50 Fighter jets delivered - now flying with Philippine Air Force

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Philippines Receives Two F-50s From Korea

Two of the 12 FA-50 fighters of the ₱18.9 billion Php contract signed by President Benigno C. Aquino III in South Korea on March 28, 2014 has been received by the Philippine Air Force (PAF) ahead of schedule in December 2015. "FA-50PH's maiden flight took place on 19 June after the Philippines has signed a contract

Two of the 12 FA-50 fighters of the ₱18.9 Php billion contract signed by President Benigno C. Aquino III in South Korea on March 28, 2014 has been received by the Philippine Air Force (PAF) ahead of schedule in December 2015.

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"FA-50PH's maiden flight took place on 19 June after the Philippines has signed a contract for 12 KAI FA-50 fighter aircraft in March last year," South Korea's Korean Aerospace Industry said

The FA-50 is an armed variant of the T-50 advanced jet trainer, which KAI jointly developed with Lockheed Martin. Other variants include the TA-50, a lightly armed variant of the original aircraft, and the T-50B, which is optimized as a performance aircraft. The T-50B is operational with South Korea's display team, the Black Eagles

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High timer PAF pilots were selected to train using the FA-50 fighters in South Korea. These pilots will then become the instructor pilots to train the other pilots in army. The new FA-50s have a more advanced weaponry system than what the country has in present, which are 'ancient' planes like Nomad which can do only 8-9 hour round trips, as Pres. Aquino told reporters in Busan, South Korea. It could load up to 4.5 tons of weapons and has a wide-range of mobilization system. FA-50 has also, 20 mm three-barrel gun that can fire at extremely high rate internally installed. FA-50 can be fitted with AIM-9 Sidewinder, a short-range air-to-air missile; AGM-65, an air-to-surface missile designed for close-air support missions; cluster bombs and rocket launchers. KAI assured that by 2017 the procurement will be complete. - Manila Channel and Flight Global

 

 

Philippines confirmed joining the 40% world trade through Trans-Pacific Partnership

Trans-Pacific Partnership Map- image: humanosphere.org

Confirmed: Philippines Wants to Join TPP

The Philippines is committed to joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the country’s trade chief confirmed Wednesday morning in the clearest declaration made to date on the issue.

“I want to state clearly and irrevocably that we want to join TPP,” Philippine trade secretary Gregory Domingo told a conference at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank.

Domingo’s statements come after what some perceived as ambiguity in recent months about the Philippine position regarding the U.S.-led agreement, whose members currently represent more than half of global output and over 40 percent of world trade. Reports in late March had suggested that Manila would not take part in TPP negotiations under the current government due to legal and constitutional complications which imposed significant time constraints. Some had interpreted this to mean a general unwillingness of the Philippines to commit to the pact at all.

But with the confirmation in his remarks Tuesday – the clearest yet by a Philippine official – Domingo sought to assuage any doubts in Washington that he said may have been caused by a “mistranslation” of comments by Philippine officials. Domingo also reiterated that Philippine officials – including President Benigno Aquino III himself – had on several previous occasions over the past few years expressed interest in joining the TPP.

Domingo acknowledged that Manila’s willingness to join the TPP did not make confronting existing challenges to doing so any easier. As is the case for several current and potential TPP negotiating parties, there are concerns on a number of sensitive issues for the Philippines, including state-owned enterprises. Philippine officials including Domingo had previously requested “flexibility” on these matters.

Joining the TPP may also require the Philippines to amend its constitution, which currently has restrictions on foreign ownership in certain sectors. Yet Domingo acknowledged that there were not enough votes right now in the Philippine legislature to do so, even if there was a possibility that it might get to try later this year ahead of presidential elections in 2016 and the end of Aquino’s five-year term in office.

“When it comes to constitutional amendments, it is very difficult to make a prediction,” he admitted.

Nonetheless, Domingo said that it was critical for the Philippines to negotiate some kind of bilateral economic agreement with its ally the United States, which has traditionally been among Manila’s top trading partners and its largest investor. The TPP would provide an avenue for this to occur, he said.

“It behooves the Philippines to have an agreement with the United States one way or another,” he said.

Though the Philippines’ only bilateral agreement of this kind is currently with Japan, Domingo said Manila is currently pursuing a free trade agreement with the countries of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) — Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland. He added that the Philippines had also been approached by six other countries for bilateral agreements as well.

Meanwhile, as The Diplomat previously reported, the TPP has inched forward on Capitol Hill in recent days after a period of stalling, even though there is still a long way to go. The Senate got the necessary votes to move to a standalone vote on Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) earlier this week, days after the House had passed a similar vote on its side. TPA or “fast-track” is viewed as critical to passing TPP since it ensures Congress can only have an up-or-down vote on the pact, rather than opening up and amending specific provisions, which could delay or kill the deal.

Once the TPP is finalized among the existing 12 members, U.S. officials have stressed that the agreement remains “open” to other countries once they meet the standards, including China.

The TPP currently groups the United States, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam. - Diplomat

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Philippine President Slams Beijing for Acting like Nazis in the South China Sea

Philippine President Benigno Aquino delivers a speech in the Japanese parliament during his visit to Tokyo on June 3, 2015. - Kazuhiro Nogi — AFP/Getty Images

This isn't the first time he’s compared the Chinese leadership to the Third Reich

Philippine President Benigno Aquino refused to pull his punches in Tokyo on Wednesday when he compared Beijing’s actions in the South China Sea to Nazi Germany’s demands for Czech territory in the 1930s.

During a speech to business leaders in the Japanese capital, Aquino blasted the Chinese Communist Party’s ongoing claim to a majority of the potentially resource-rich waters of the South China Sea.

“I’m an amateur student of history and I’m reminded of… how Germany was testing the waters and what the response was by various other European powers,” said Aquino, in an apparent reference to the Nazis’ territorial conquests in Europe during the run up to World War II, according to Agence France-Presse.

Aquino’s remarks echo similar sentiments made during an interview with the New York Times last year when he also made comparisons between Beijing’s maritime maneuvers now with Nazi Germany’s actions in the late 1930s.

At the time, Chinese state media outlets lambasted the comparison and said the president was an “amateurish politician who was ignorant both of history and reality.”  - TIME

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