Friday, November 18, 2016

Philippine Economy beats forecasts - makes PH 'fastest in Asia'

A bird’s eye view of two buildings under construction in Manila.

7.1% third-quarter GDP growth makes PH ‘fastest in Asia’

Growth in Philippine gross domestic product (GDP) exceeded expectations for the third quarter of 2016, accelerating to 7.1 percent from a revised 6.2 percent a year earlier, making the country the fastest growing Asian emerging economy among those that have released third-quarter data so far, the government said on Thursday.

The third-quarter GDP rate from data released by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) surpassed forecasts of 6 percent to 6.9 percent by economists polled earlier by The Manila Times, as well as the actual growth performance posted by China, Vietnam, Indonesia and Malaysia for the period.

“[Ours is] higher than China’s 6.7 percent, Vietnam’s 6.4 percent, Indonesia’s 5.0 percent, and Malaysia’s 4.3 percent. India has not yet released its data,” said a statement by Socioeconomic Planning Undersecretary Rosemarie Edillon, delivered at a press briefing by National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) Director Reynaldo Cancio.

Philippine economic growth in July-September also gained momentum from the second quarter of this year, when GDP registered a 7 percent expansion.

It was also the fastest growth for the country since GDP swelled 7.5 percent in the second quarter of 2013.

The third-quarter 2016 results bolstered cumulative growth for the nine-month period to 7 percent, the official PSA data showed.

Growth drivers

“From the demand side, investments continued to drive this economic growth, indicating its sustainability,” the statement read out by Cancio said.

Public construction surged by more than 20 percent; private investment in construction rose 16.2 percent; private consumption by 7.3 percent; and exports of goods by 7.8 percent.

Household consumption remained a pillar of strength for the domestic economy, Cancio said, noting upbeat consumer confidence as households put enrolment expenses at the top of their budget priorities.

“The higher private consumption is also supported by low inflation, low interest rates, better labor market conditions and the steady, though slower growth in overseas Filipinos’ personal remittance. Government assistance such as the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, or 4Ps, also provided additional boost to consumer demand,” Cancio said.

From the supply or production side, the NEDA official noted recovery signs in agriculture, which grew by 2.9 percent after a prolonged drought caused by the El Nino phenomenon.

Industries expanded by 8.6 percent, with manufacturing and construction stronger, while utilities registered steady growth. Services eased to 6.9 percent from the previous quarter and from a year earlier.

On track for full-year target

Finance and economic managers said growth expansion in the third quarter means the government is on track toward attaining its growth target for the full year.

The government has set a full-year 2016 growth target of 6 percent to 7 percent. Analysts have forecast GDP would grow between 6.4 percent and 7 percent during the year.

For the first nine months of 2016, the economy grew by 7 percent, gaining traction from 5.7 percent a year earlier.

The central bank sees the GDP results indicating no need to change its monetary policy setting.

The NEDA said for the fourth quarter, the economy only needs to grow by at least 3.4 percent to hit the low-end target of 6 percent. To reach the high end of 7 percent, it would need to grow by 6.9 percent in the fourth quarter, the economic planning body said.

“Together with a low inflation environment, sustained strong growth bodes well for continued poverty reduction this year. The services sector and sustained strong fiscal spending are also likely to continue to drive growth in the fourth quarter. Robust domestic demand will continue to bolster growth in the near term,” Cancio added.

Agriculture and fisheries are also seen likely to continue to grow within the near term if the third-quarter momentum in the crops, livestock and poultry is maintained.

The NEDA official said the manufacturing sector is expected to benefit from the strategic localization of industry roadmaps and robust domestic demand and will also benefit from the projected rise of imports of both advanced economies and emerging market and developing economies beginning 2017.

“Construction also will remain a major contributor to growth due to the strong commitment of the government to implement a massive infrastructure investment program,” he added.

Downside risks

Although optimistic, the NEDA said the government is still on guard against possible downside risks to the economy. Some of the risks mentioned were: agriculture and fisheries remaining vulnerable to the possible occurrence of La Niña; a clouded outlook for exports due to sluggish recovery in Europe and uncertainties on economic policies in the UK and the US; resurgence in the Arab region of the “Saudization” policy, or the replacement of foreign workers with Saudi nationals; and the need to consolidate efforts that will pave the way for lasting peace and development in the countryside.

“Ultimately, what we should be concerned about is how the growth prospects for this year and beyond will translate to poverty reduction and improvements in the quality of life for Filipinos for the next six years,” Cancio said.

“We are hopeful that the trajectory of our country’s growth will remain high in the face of the challenges ahead of us,” he added. – Manila Times

HSBC Raises Philippines Forecasts 3x from 6.3%  6.5%  to 6.8% in Q3 as GDP Swells

HSBC Bank plc  one of the largest banking and financial services organizations in the world. Photo: eia-international.org

HSBC raises 2016 PHL growth forecast to 6.8% as GDP swells

Read: HSBC Upgraded Philippine Economic Growth Forecast 6.3 - 6.5 Percent in October last Month

The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corp. (HSBC) has raised its Philippine growth forecast for the full year 2016 as the country exceeded expectations about the third quarter gross domestic product (GDP) results.

The global banking giant revised its growth forecast for the year to 6.8 percent from 6.5 percent this year, according to a report penned by HSBC economist Joseph Incalcatera.

As measured by the GDP, the economy grew by 7.1 percent in the third quarter of the year, the fastest among major Asian emerging markets, and beating median expectation at 6.8 percent.

Growth story intact

In the next two years, HSBC placed the GDP to grow by 6.5 percent citing the high base of 2016.

"The growth data show that the Philippine growth story remained intact in the third quarter," Incalcatera said.

"The 7.1 percent year-on-year expansion in the third quarter is Asia's strongest Q3 print to-date, and points to the resilience of the Philippine economy in a soft global growth environment," he added.

The HSBC economist noted the government is tracking well within its 6 to 7 percent full-year target as the economy expanded by 7 percent during the first nine months.

Asian Institute of Management economist Emmanuel Leyco is forecasting a higher trajectory for the whole of 2016.

"I think it would be more like 6.9 percent assuming that the last quarter would remain on the high spectrum," Leyco said on Friday.

In the HSBC report, Incalcatera took note the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States introduces some risks to growth due to the likelihood of protectionist policies.

"But we believe risks to the Philippines are manageable and more limited than elsewhere. The biggest risk comes from the BPO (business process outsourcing) sector, which employs approximately 1.2 million Filipinos and earns roughly 70 percent of revenues from the US," he said.

Leyco earlier noted the BPO industry might suffer economic headwinds from a Trump presidency if he starts taking steps to fulfill his campaign pronouncement of imposing taxes on US companies that outsource jobs abroad.

Incalcatera, however, said the risks may be mitigated because there is little direct competition with American workers and President Rodrigo Duterte appears to have struck a more conciliatory tone concerning future cooperation with the US. — VDS, GMA News

Philippines Post Among Strongest Economic Growth in the world at 7.1% - Duterte Govt, Lauded

Philippines Posts Strongest Economic Growth in Asia at 7.1%

The Philippine economy grew at its fastest pace in three years last quarter, underscoring the nation’s resilience to global risks as investment surged and consumers spent more. Stocks gained.

Key Points

Gross domestic product increased 7.1 percent from a year earlier, the Philippine Statistics Authority said in Manila Thursday. The median estimate of 15 economists surveyed by Bloomberg was 6.7 percent

Compared with the previous quarter, GDP rose 1.2 percent, in line with economists’ estimates

Undeterred by risks such as Donald Trump’s protectionist ambitions and President Rodrigo Duterte’s rants against the U.S., the Philippine economy is set to expand more than 6 percent until 2018 to rank among the fastest-growing in the world, according to economists surveyed by Bloomberg. Last quarter’s growth exceeded China’s 6.7 percent and Vietnam’s 6.4 percent in the same period. India, which posted growth of 7.1 percent in the second quarter, is yet to publish GDP data for the three months through September.

Gifted with a young population and backed by $50 billion of revenue from remittances and outsourcing, the Philippines is getting an additional boost from Duterte’s $160 billion-infrastructure plan aimed at creating jobs. Projects include at least $1 billion of contracts to build an airport and a railway to transform a former U.S. military base into a commercial hub.

Markets

Philippine stocks rose a second day, climbing as much as 2.2 percent. They were up 1.1 percent as of 11:01 a.m. in Manila.

The peso was little changed at 49.32 per dollar.

Analyst Takeaways

“Philippines will remain an outperformer in the region,” said Rahul Bajoria, a senior economist at Barclays Plc in Singapore. “It is domestically driven, with consumption holding up quite well and the fiscal spending being planned. The global risks we’re seeing including to trade won’t fundamentally alter its prospects.”

“In the short term at least, we expect the economy will continue growing at a decent pace,” Gareth Leather, senior Asia economist at Capital Economics Ltd. in London, said in a note. “The foundations are in place for growth to remain strong, but recent political events, both in the US and domestically, have made the outlook much less certain.”

“Putting money on infrastructure-related stocks is the smart bet and it’s exactly what I am doing,” said John Padilla, who helps manage about $9.1 billion at Metropolitan Bank & Trust Co., the Philippines third-largest money manager. “This growth poses now more challenge for President Duterte to keep the pace. It supports the view that Philippines needs infrastructure to sustain this growth."

Duterte gov’t lauded; early economic momentum cited

Construction and infrastructure are among the sectors that help the country register a 7.1 percent gross domestic product (GDP) in the July to September period (CDN FILE PHOTO).

Business leaders in Cebu lauded the present administration for the 7.1-percent growth of the Philippine economy during the first three months of President Rodrigo Duterte in office.

However, some said this could also be owed to the momentum gained as early as the start of the year, where the economy expanded by 6.9 percent in the first quarter.

“This is an excellent result for the Philippines and definitely the current administration deserves some credit, although I suspect that most of this growth was pushed by the momentum of the Philippine economy,” Cebu Business Club president Gordon Alan Joseph told Cebu Daily News in a text message.

For Joseph, it takes more than three months for real reform to take place, although he admitted that the country is on the right track given the soundness of President Duterte’s socioeconomic agenda.

According to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) on Thursday, the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth at 7.1 percent during July to September period was faster than the 7-percent expansion in the second quarter this year and the 6.2-percent growth during the third quarter of 2015.

Economic Planning Undersecretary Rosemarie Edillon, in a statement, said this exceeded the consensus forecast of 6.8 percent and was even faster than China’s 6.7 percent, beating other major emerging economies for the same period as well.

This development came at the wake of unease among some foreign investors over his controversial crackdown on drugs and proposed changes in foreign policy.

Edillon cited strong investment growth, particularly in construction and infrastructure, along with upbeat consumer spending, encouraged by low inflation and low interest rates, as among the major drivers of this expansion.

Exports up

Exports finally picked up to grow at 7.8 percent, after seeing a decline in demand within the global market for 17 straight months.

Federico Escalona, executive director of the Philippine Exporters Confederation (Philexport) in Cebu, said exports usually increase toward the end of the year since this is usually when overseas workers and immigrants send remittances back to the country.

Among the gainers in the export sector are electronics, logging a 66-percent growth during the period in review, as well as metals and clothing. Losers, meanwhile, included food crop, transport machinery, and furniture.

Escalona said the 7.1-percent GDP growth is impressive, but Duterte needs to be in office for at least 12 months before the effects of his pronouncements can be felt.

Nowhere to go but up

For Cebuano economist Ferry Fajardo, there’s nowhere the Philippines can go but up at this point.

“It’s really the momentum,” he said, explaining that the country’s economy will grow even more until it reaches a certain point or a “wall” which he said isn’t present at the moment.

He added that many of the economic policies put in place during past administrations are still being implemented by the present administration.

Fajardo said it’s easier for the Philippines to grow at such a fast rate, especially when it started with a low base.

China, for example, grew 8 to 10 percent in the first few years after it opened its economy to the world some 30 years ago.

He said many were worried about the changes in policy especially with the rhetoric of the President, but it was just that — rhetoric.

However, he cautioned that the government should be careful in making statements that will affect the perception of foreign investors as investments are highly dependent on perception.

He said investors need to know that two or three years from now, something good will come out of their investments in the Philippines today.

Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) president Melanie Ng, for her part, said this reinforces the fact that the Philippines is indeed the fastest-growing economy in Asia.

“This latest result further supports the attractiveness of our country as an investment economic destination especially with the investment pledges received from China, Japan and Malaysia recently,” she said.

Ng added that the growth in export will greatly impact the overall economic supply chain in the country and will benefit the micro, small, and medium-scale enterprises (MSMEs) in the supply chain as well.

Glenn Soco, Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry president, agreed this showed that the Philippines is on the right track.

“Our economy would only get better as the present administration’s economic agenda is just starting to kick-off,” he said.

The government targets a conservative 6-7 percent GDP growth in 2016 and will need to expand by 6.9 percent in the last three months of the year to hit the top end of its target.

Other Details

Household spending, which makes up about 70 percent of GDP, rose 7.3 percent from a year earlier

Government spending gained 3.1 percent

Investment surged 20 percent

With reports from : Bloomberg And Cebu Daily News

Former President Marcos Buried at "Libingan ng Mga Bayani" With 21-Gun Salute noon Friday

Former Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos buried at the Libingan ng Mga Bayani. Photo: GMA News Twitter

Marcos buried at Libingan ng mga Bayani

Former President Ferdinand Marcos is finally buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (LNMB) Friday, 27 years after his death.

Marcos' remains were transported early Friday from the Marcos Museum and Mausoleum in Batac, his hometown in Ilocos Norte to the LNMB in Taguig City.

His body arrived at the LNMB before noon, National Capital Region Police Office Chief Oscar Albayalde told CNN Philippines.

Members of the media were not allowed to witness the ceremonies.

[video]

The surprise burial of former president Ferdinand E. Marcos at Libingan ng mga Bayani cemetery.Nov. 18, 2016 12:00 Noon

Albayalde said Marcos was given a 21-gun salute. Several soldiers in green uniform were seen standing in a formation around noontime.

Earlier, Albayalde described it as a "very simple and very fast ceremony."

Marcos was buried at the LNMB on "Black Friday," a name given by Marcos' critics as they hold massive protests against Marcos' burial in several areas in Metro Manila.

Surprise rites

Anti-Marcos burial petitioners denounced the "unexpected" burial.

Former Bayan Party-list representative Satur Ocampo said the petitioners were shocked to know about the burial, because they had just announced that they would file a motion for reconsideration to stop the burial.

Philippine National Police Chief Ronald Dela Rosa earlier told CNN Philippines the he only found out Thursday that the burial will push through the next day. He said President Rodrigo Duterte knew about the planned burial.

Alam niya (Duterte) iyan, wala naman tayong espesyal na instruction. Maniguro lang tayo na peaceful yung paglibing, walang gulo na mangyari," Dela Rosa said.

[Translation: "(Duterte) knows. There are no special instructions. We just have to make sure the burial is peaceful and there nothing untoward happens."]

The long road to LNMB burial

Marcos died in exile in Hawaii in 1989 after a people power revolt ousted him in 1986.

His remains have since been kept in an air-conditioned crypt in the Marcos Museum when the body was brought back to the country in 1993.

A 1992 agreement between then President Fidel Ramos and the Marcos family allowed Marcos to be buried in the Philippines but on conditions that the body would be flown straight to Ilocos Norte and there would be no burial for Marcos at the Heroes' Cemetery.

Marcos' critics opposed the burial at the Libingan because of the alleged human rights abuses, including extrajudicial killings, torture, and enforced disappearances committed during his term.

His family is also accused of amassing ill-gotten wealth   during his years in power.

The Presidential Commission on Good Government said for over 20 years, the Marcoses were able to amass about US$5-10 billion of wealth from the Philippine government.

President Rodrigo Duterte gave Marcos family and supporters a flicker of hope when he ordered Marcos' burial at the Heroes' Cemetery on August 7.

The Philippine Army started with its preparations, amid pending petitions of Martial law victims at the Supreme Court.  

On August 23, the High Court issued a stay order to stop the preparations.

After over two months of hearing oral arguments against the burial, the Supreme Court on November 8 dismissed all the petitions, finally allowing Marcos' burial at the Libingan by a vote of 9-5.  - CNN Philippines' Senior Correspondents Ina Andolong, JC Gotinga, and David Santos contributed to this report.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

OMBUDSMAN: Sen. Villanueva, Son of Religious Brother Eddie Ordered Dismissed for 2008 - ₱10 Million Pork

Senator Joel Villanueva. NESTOR CORRALES/INQUIRER.net FILE

Sen. Villanueva ordered dismissed from public service over 'pork'

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales has ordered the dismissal from public service of Senator Joel Villanueva for his administrative liability over the allegedly anomalous use of P10 million from his pork barrel allocation as a House member.

In a statement on Monday, Morales said the former Cibac representative was found guilty of grave misconduct, serious dishonesty, and conduct prejudicial to the interest of the service.

Villanueva's dismissal stemmed from his indictment for malversation, graft and falsification of public documents over the allegedly anomalous disbursement of his P10 million Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) when he was a party-list congressman.

Morales said she had ordered the filing of two counts of violation of Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (Republic Act No. 3019), one count for malversation of public funds and malversation through falsification of public documents against Villanueva and his co-accused.

Also indicted were former Department of Agriculture (DA) secretary (now Bohol third district representative) Arthur Yap, Villanueva's staff Ronald Samonte, DA employee Delia Ladera, NABCOR representatives Alan Javellana, Romulo Relevo, Ma. Julie Villaralvo-Johnson, Rhodora Mendoza, and Maria Ninez Guanizo; and Aaron Foundation Philippines, Inc. (AFPI) President Alfredo Ronquillo.

Villanueva is the son of Jesus is Lord Church founder Bro. Eddie Villanueva.

Villanueva was appointed Tesda Director General with a Cabinet rank by then-President Aquino. He served as Citizens Battle Against Corruption (Cibac) representative from 2001 to 2010. He won as senator in the 2016 polls.

According to the Ombudsman, the budget department on June 10, 2008, released Villanueva's P10-million PDAF to a bogus NGO to implement agri-based livelihood projects in Region XI.

Two days later, Villanueva requested Yap to release the fund to National Agri-business Corporation (NABCOR) as implementing agency, with the AFPI as NGO-partner.

Yap and Nabcor then entered into a memorandum of agreement on June 19, 2008.

Villanueva's PDAF was supposedly spent for pechay, radish, sitaw, okra, hybrid yellow corn seedlings, liquid fertilizers and threshers from the supplier MJ Rickson Trading Corporation

The items were intended to benefit the residents of the towns of Pantukan, Nabunturan, Tambongon, Bongabong, Napnapan, Mipangi, Anislagan and Magsaysay in the Compostela Valley province.

But the transaction was fraught with irregularities, said the Ombudsman, citing information that the localities were not suitable for farming as vast portions of land were planted to bananas and coconuts.

No name in the supposed list of beneficiaries was a registered voter or a resident of the province, the Ombudsman added.

Local officials also told the Ombudsman that no agri-based livelihood projects were implemented by AFPI.

Documents also showed that the bogus NGO AFPI had no financial capability to implement Villanueva's P10 million livelihood project from his pork barrel because it has a small capital stock contribution of only ₱68,000.

Ombudsman field investigators also discovered that the supplier, MJ Rickson, could not be located at the business address in Martiniko Street, Malabon City.

The supplier was also not licensed by the Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority nor registered with the Department of Trade and Industry.

The Ombudsman accused the respondents of submitting fabricated and undated documents to support the "ghost project" such as Accomplishment Reports, Disbursement Reports, Acceptance Reports, and liquidation documents.

The Ombudsman said it was informed by the Commission on Audit that the latter has disallowed the P10-million transaction in 2014 due to the anomalies.

In his defense, Villanueva alleged that his signatures in the documents were forged.

But Morales said "laws and regulations were disregarded by public respondents when Villanueva directly selected NABCOR and AFPI to implement his livelihood projects and the IA officers accepted and accommodated Villanueva by facilitating the processing and approval of the PDAF releases."

"NABCOR officers did not even bother to conduct a due diligence audit on AFPI as to its technical and financial capability and simply accepted and relied on the representation of Villanueva and AFPI to undertake the projects in contravention of existing procurement laws," Morales added.

Morales cited the Supreme Court decision junking the pork barrel system that lawmakers were responsible for the releases of their PDAF.

"In a Congressional Pork Barrel System, it is the legislator who exercises actual control and custody of the PDAF share," Morales said.

The Ombudsman ordered Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III to implement the dismissal order against Villanueva.

Villanueva is also part of the third batch of pork barrel scam raps involving the bogus foundations of alleged mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles. - Inquirer

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Sweden More Investments to the Philippines: JAS 39 Gripen Fighter Jets Wants to Arm Air Force for $30M Each

Sweden’s JAS 39 Gripen Fighter Jet Photo: defenceindustrydaily.com

§  Sweden’s biggest ever 70 Executives trade delegation Arrived the Philippines

§  The Philippine’s GDP growth accelerated to 7% in the second quarter from 6.8% in the first, making it one of the region’s fastest growing economies

§  USA refused to sell High-Powered-Arms to the Philippine Police

§  Sweden wants to armed the Philippines and other Asian Countries

Sweden eyes ‘great opportunities’ in the Philippines

Sweden trade minister's push comes as US firms flee the country because of President Duterte’s anti-American outbursts

Sweden’s biggest ever trade delegation to the Philippines, led by Minister of Enterprise and Innovation Mikael Damberg, arrives in Manila Monday and coincides with the reopening of the country’s embassy in the capital Manila.

“The Philippines is a very interesting export market,” Damberg said in an emailed response to questions.

“I see great opportunities to deepen our trade relations with the Philippines by promoting Swedish solutions. I believe that a Swedish embassy in Manila will help to open doors for increased Swedish exports and encourage new contacts.”

Damberg and the 70-member business delegation will meet with Philippine Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade and Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez to discuss industry and infrastructure investments.

The Philippine’s GDP growth accelerated to 7% in the second quarter from 6.8% in the first, making it one of the region’s fastest growing economies.

Many companies Swedish Ambassador-designate Harald Fries said he has spoken to since arriving in Manila have expressed a positive outlook for the Philippine economy.

Among those is defense contractor Saab Group which is opening a new office in Manila and is reportedly in pole position to secure a deal to sell its JAS 39 Gripen fighter aircraft to the Philippine Air Force.

[video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sxMYFYDNF_g ]

Sweden’s JAS 39 Gripen Fighter Jet Video: SAAB

The ambassador told local media that Saab, a company providing air, land, naval and civil aerospace products and services, could offer coastal surveillance equipment and even submarines to the Philippines.

Also IKEA has decided to establish stores in the country, the ambassador said.

“They have been here for a long time checking the situation and finally (they feel the time is right),” Fries told the Philippine Star.

Participating companies also include Atlas Copco, Ericsson, Scania, Volvo Bus, SEB and Swedish Match.

The Swedish push comes as other countries have grown increasingly worried about developments in the country due to President Rodrigo Duterte’s anti-American outbursts and controversial war on drugs, in which some 2,000 people have been killed in alleged extra-judicial executions in just a few months.

The head of the American Chamber of Commerce to the Philippines, Ebb Hinchliffe, said several US trade delegations to the country have been canceled and that some American companies have chosen to do business elsewhere. Also the European Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines has raised alarm.

Damberg has expressed concern over the bloody war on drugs, and said that Sweden strongly rejects the executions taking place.

During his visit, Damberg will meet with representatives of a human rights organization, as well as representatives of opposition parties.

“Perhaps it’s even more important to have an embassy in countries where there are challenges. Our increased presence in the region makes it easier for us to support Swedish companies to do right,” Damberg said in an interview – Asia Times

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Chinese Coastguard left Panatag Scarborough Shoal- Filipino Fishermen Returns with Huge Fish Catch

Pinoy fishers return from Panatag Shoal with huge catch of fish

Fishermen from Pangasinan returned home early Saturday with a huge load of big species of fish they caught from Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal, after they were allowed to fish inside the lagoon for first the time in four years.

Some fishermen from Pangasinan arrived with their huge catch early Saturday morning after days of fishing inside the shoal beginning Wednesday night.

They showed their "brimming" boats with the catch of black and orange lapu-lapu fish, bakalaw, tanigue, and damas o bisugong bato, among other species of fish.

The returning fishermen said they were surprised when finally on Wednesday evening no Chinese Coast Guard vessel blocked them upon their approach at the entrance of the shoal.

"Noong Martes, sinubukan naming pumunta sa Scarborough Shoal (called Kalburo in the locality) pero hinarang kami ng Chinese Coast Guard vessels," said Gilbert Rovinna, the skipper of F/B Rovinna fishing boat.

Free to fish again at Scraborough --GMA News

He said they tried again to go near Wednesday evening and they were surprised the Chinese did not stop them until they got inside the lagoon and dropped anchors.

Gilbert and his companions thought that the sudden change in the Chinese Coast Guard's behevior was a result of President Rodrigo Duterte's talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

They said they are happy to be back at the shoal because fish is abundant in the fishing ground, especially in the west side of the lagoon.

Noel Daruca, Gilbert's companion, said that when they came to the shoal on Tuesday, Chinese Coast Guard met them at the opening of the lagoon. He said they told the Chinese that the Philippine President had talked to their President, but the coast guard personnel said "go!go!go!"

Then they tried their luck Wednesday evening. No Chinese blocked them so they proceeded into the lagoon.

Chinese ships circling shoal

Only a small Chinese Coast Guard vessel is left inside the lagoon, the report quoted the fishermen as saying.

A separate report by Bam Alegre on "Balitanghali" said that at least three Chinese Coast Guard vessels were seen circling the perimeter of Panatag Shoal on Saturday morning.

These vessels did not block and allowed at least six Filipino fishing boats to catch fish inside the disputed shoal, the report said.

Quoting fishermen as saying, as recent as October 8 local fishermen are being blocked by the Chinese but in the last five days the first batch from Subic were allowed entry.

On Friday, Malacañang confirmed that Chinese Coast Guard men were no longer chasing Pinoy fishermen away from shoal.

"Also on regarding fishing in Scarborough Shoal, for the past three days it has been observed that there are no longer any Chinese Coast Guard vessels and that Filipino fishing boats are no longer being intercepted and that they are now able to fish in the area without being intercepted," presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said at a news briefing in Malacañang on Friday. —John Ted Cordero/ALG, LBG, GMA News

Monday, October 24, 2016

Four Filipino Seamen Arrested in India for sending Cyclone Update through a Satellite phone

Four citizens of Philippines were arrested by personnel of Arjyapalli marine police station in Ganjam district of Odisha, India on Sunday afternoon on charges of illegally using satellite phone on Indian soil.

Sources said the four Philippine Nationals were using satellite phone in the radius of five km from the coast.

The police seized one satellite phone from their possession. They were arrested from Gopalpur port. The arrested Philippine nationals had reached Gopalpur port in a cargo ship. The ship in which they have travelled to Odisha coast has reached the port to carry export cargo for OSCOM, a unit of Indian Rare Earths Limited (IREL). They had come to Gopalpur Port in a cargo vessel - MV Fortune - last week to take minerals to Japan.

According to Ashok Parida, inspector in-charge of marine police station, on Sunday they had intercepted satellite phone calls from Gopalpur port premises. It was found that the satellite phone was being used illegally.

Immediately a police team tracked down on the users and arrested the four Philippine nationals.

On Saturday evening, they were using a Thuraya satellite communication set on board, to talk to their families about the possible cyclone developing in the sea. Coast Guard officials saw them using the satellite phone and informed the police.

They are identified as Second Officer Nathaniel A. Faza (38), Chief Petty Officer Librado P. Jemina (37), Chief Cook Eduardo S. Gruspe (46), and Seaman Jescel B. Bautista (34).

Several calls were made by arrested Filipinos from the banned satellite phone which has been frequently used by terror groups in Jammu and Kashmir. The phone was used during the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, police sources said.

A Dubai-based satellite communications company, Thuraya has global customers which include industry leaders from a variety of sectors including energy, media, marine, government and NGOs. Islamic terrorists are also detected subscribing Thuraya satellite services for their communication needs reason why it is banned in Indian Territory.

The superior network of the company enables clear communications and uninterrupted coverage across two thirds of the world via satellite and across the globe through our unique GSM roaming capabilities.

The Filipinos had not declared the presence of the set in the Pre-Arrival Notification System (PANS) of the vessel, a mandatory declaration for all boats and ships that intend to enter Indian waters.

Use of Thuraya satellite phones is banned in Indian territorial waters under section 6 of Indian Wireless Act and section 20 of Indian Telegraph Act.

The Sub Divisional Judicial Magistrate (SDJM) court in Odisha’s Chhatrapur today granted bail to four Philippines nationals.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

ICC International Court - Lack of Law knowledge: Cannot go After Philippines' Duterte

President Rodrigo Duterte. (ACE MORANDANTE/PPD)

International court can’t go after Duterte

The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) says any person who encourages or condones President Digong’s war on drugs is liable to be prosecuted before the court.

“Let me be clear: any person in the Philippines who incites or engages in acts of violence including by ordering, requesting, encouraging or contributing in any other manner, to the commission of crimes within the jurisdiction of the ICC is potentially liable to prosecution before the court,” ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said in a statement recently.

The ICC would then be prosecuting 76 percent of Filipinos who encourage the elimination of lowlifes in our society such as people who commit heinous crimes or peddle illicit drugs.

That’s 76 million Filipinos out of the total population of 100 million.

According to the latest survey of the Social Weather Station, 76 percent of the population approve of what President Digong is doing for the country.

The killing of criminals in the government’s war on drugs (drug traffickers, drug pushers and peddlers are considered criminals) is not within the ambit of the ICC.

You see, the Hague-based court’s mandate is to investigate and when warranted, try individuals charged with genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Genocide refers to the mass slaughter of people on account of their race, religion, culture or political belief.

Peddlers of illicit drugs are not being singled out because of race (they’re Filipinos like the rest of us), religion (they’re Christian or Muslim like the rest of us), culture (they have the same culture as the rest of us) and political belief (they’re apolitical and criminal).

The Philippines is not at war with any country; therefore, President Digong is not committing any war crime if he really ordered—granting but not admitting—the killing of drug criminals.

“Humanity” refers to people in general; therefore, Digong cannot be charged with a crime against humanity as he is not a misanthrope or one who hates mankind.

It was unfair and stupid of ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda to accuse Digong of committing genocide, a war crime or crime against humanity in his war on drugs.

Why didn’t the International Criminal Court investigate and try then US President George W. Bush of committing war crimes when he ordered US troops to invade Iraq?

It was only in Bush’s imagination that Iraq was keeping weapons of mass destruction.

Bush was eventually proven wrong when not a single weapon of mass destruction was found in Iraq and only after the US had already invaded that country.

US Ambassador Philip Goldberg says that from 2012 to 2016, “USAID (United States Agency for International Development) contributed more than P3 billion to Mindanao and the ARMM (Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao), with P500 million specifically allocated for health services.”

Because of the souring relations between the Philippines and the United States, Goldberg’s statement sounds like he’s, as we call it in Filipino, “nanunumbat.”

Goldberg is practically telling the Filipino people, “Hey, you are so ungrateful! We give you so much money and yet you bite the hand that feeds you.” – Inquirer.net

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Ruder Finn Signs Partnership Agreement with ENGAGE PR Consultancy in the Philippines

Ruder Finn Founded in 1989, Ruder Finn Asia (www.ruderfinnasia.com) is the Asia-Pacific subsidiary of New York-based Ruder Finn (www.ruderfinn.com), the leading independent global public relations consulting firm. Photo: everything-pr.com

Ruder Finn Asia and ENGAGE, a member company of the EON The Stakeholder Relations Group, have signed a partnership agreement under which ENGAGE will become the Philippine affiliate of Ruder Finn's comprehensive Asia Pacific network. The agreement will enable ENGAGE to tap into the Ruder Finn international network in all markets outside the Philippines.

ENGAGE is a full-fledged PR agency that specializes in public affairs and government relations consultancy and has an extensive list of clients and services that complement Ruder Finn's own portfolio and offerings. ENGAGE and Ruder Finn have been working together for many years for clients across a wide range of industries.

The partnership is expected to expand both firms' presence in the Risk Management sector. ENGAGE will be able to tap into the regional network of Ruder Finn to access new markets while Ruder Finn can leverage on ENGAGE's strong presence in the ASEAN region to expand its own market reach. The two companies will continue to expand their offerings in crisis management, including RF's unique and proprietary Social Media Issues product, SONAR, which will complement ENGAGE's own proprietary listening suite of tools.

Kathy Bloomgarden, CEO of Ruder Finn, said: "We are fortunate to have partnered with a company of ENGAGE's caliber for many years and this union will reinforce our commitment to helping our clients through transitional moments. With the rise of digital, the growth of the services economy, and a renewed focus on transparency and accountability in the Philippines, the need for smart, strategic risk management support has become critical to companies at all levels. Ruder Finn's global insights and vast network, combined with ENGAGE's deep knowledge of the Filipino landscape, will maximize our ability to service clients across the ASEAN region."

Jean-Michel Dumont, Chairman of Ruder Finn Asia, said: "The Philippines is very important in the region for many of our clients, and we also see many Philippines-based companies looking to expand in the region. This partnership will further extend our regional reach and strengthen our network. I have known EON's founder, Junie del Mundo, for more than 20 years and through the years, he and his team's professionalism have always been at the highest level."

EON Group's Chief Executive, Junie del Mundo, said: "The Philippines is one of the most promising economies in the region, but also one that takes experience and expertise to navigate. ENGAGE takes pride in its years of experience handling clients in highly regulated and sensitive industries, and we look forward to sharing our expertise in this area as we also learn from Ruder Finn's extensive risk management knowledge base." – PR Newswire

First Semi-portable 600 Watts Picohydro power plant in Philippines - Commissioned in Visayas

Picohydro power generation model. Photo: renewablesfirst.co.uk

Soleco puts up 1st picohydro power plant in Philippines

Southern Leyte Electric Cooperative Inc. (Soleco) has put up a picohydro power generation system, the first of its kind in the country, state-run National Electrification Administration (NEA) said.

In a statement, NEA said Soleco’s picohydro system, which started operating in Aug. 12, utilizes tail water from the Hanabian Minihydro Power Plant and generates power of up to 600 watts with maximum water flow velocity of 4.6 meter per second.

It has partnered with Helios Altas and DA Green Power Consultancy which also undertook development of project feasibility studies.

Using the mechanism of a waterwheel, the picohydro system has an engineered suspension system for easy mounting, making it one of the most adaptable small-scale renewable energy (RE) technologies to environmental changes.

Picohydro power generation process

Soleco general manager Jonathan Empeño said the system is already synchronized to the grid, allowing the electric coop to sell generated power at a blended generation cost.

He said the approximate cost of picohydro system below five kilowatts (kW) was $8,500/kW, while cost for five kW and above was estimated at $5,500/kW. Cost includes engineering design, construction, equipment installation, and commissioning.

According to DA Green Power Consultancy chief operating officer Regino Galindes, the picohydro power generation system poses minimal modifications to existing water systems as it uses a modular and scalable energy device that can easily harness power from running water in rivers, irrigation canals, and base of dams.

He added it only took two days to install the Soleco picohydro power system and could easily be dismounted if there are warnings of flood or typhoon.

To keep the picohydro facilities in check, a remote monitoring device was likewise installed in the system to prompt data and important alerts to the central control system.

Soleco’s use of RE technology is “consistent with the policy direction of the national government to tap renewables and increase its share in the energy mix,” NEA officer-in-charge Sonia San Diego said.

“As an agency committed to the protection of environment, NEA, together with its partner ECs, is pushing the frontiers in RE project development to help position the Philippines as a world leader in the use of renewables,” she said. - philSTAR

Australia's SomnoMed finds Philippines ideal Manufacturing hub

SomnoMed is seen as an "employer of choice" by the Philippine government. Jessica Hromas

SomnoMed finds Philippines ideal hub for its sleep devices

-by Mark Eggleton

For sleep device manufacturers SomnoMed, the decision to manufacture in the Philippines was based on having a historic connection to the country. The company's Australian-designed non-invasive oral appliances were being manufactured by a third party in the Philippines when in 2009 it took the decision to set up its own operation.

Neil Verdal-Austin, executive vice president for Asia-Pacific, said once the decision was made it took until February 2010 before SomnoMed flicked the switch on its own facility.

"We stayed in the Philippines because we knew the country and its infrastructure from our existing relationship so we set-up a separate business, acquired premises, imported equipment and employed a number of locals," he said.

As to why the company chose the country as its manufacturing hub, Verdal-Austin cites the Philippines location in Asia and reach and access into other markets.

"You're looking at distribution into Asia very quickly as well as good access into the United States and one stop into all the major hubs of Europe," he said.

The Philippines' strong reputation as a business processing hub works well for an advanced manufacturer such as SomnoMed. Mr Verdal-Austin said as the company's SomnoDent product has evolved into an intelligent device that monitors sleep patterns, the Philippines' already strong IT infrastructure has proved a boon.

Suitable workforce

"We also have access to a workforce that's well-educated with proficient English skills and an easy to manage cost base," he said. Moreover, as more companies move some operations into the country, business clusters are developing with SomnoMed's facility now in close proximity to a number of global pharmaceutical companies.

Mr Verdal-Austin said before establishing the manufacturing operation the company was aware of the potential pitfalls through their previous relationship with a third party manufacturer.

"There were a lot of hoops and hurdles to get going and little bit of time-wasting but we're aware of our responsibilities and ensure we're on top of all our regulatory requirements and the renewal periods for permits and licenses. We're seen as an employer of choice by the Philippine government and our employees are well-paid and offered a health plan."

SomnoMed's biggest markets remain Japan and South Korea but the company has a distributor in Singapore looking after the ASEAN nations.

"All of these countries are at different stages on the curve of medical treatment but it's a very exciting region and [as each country becomes more affluent] we know we'll penetrate even further into these markets," Mr Verdal-Austin said.

"For a company like ours it's about educating the medical fraternity to change their prescribing behaviour and getting medical associations to accept and adopt the treatment." - The Australian Financial Review

Immigration Lookout for De Lima, Baraan, Bucayu, Villasanta, Dayan, Sanchez, Adricula and Cristobal issued

Sec. Aguirre says Sen. De Lima pocketed billions. Photo: CNN Philippines

DOJ issues immigration lookout bulletin for De Lima, 8 others

The Department of Justice (DOJ) issued an Immigration Lookout Bulletin Order (ILBO) against Sen. Leila De Lima and five other persons for their alleged involvement in the New Bilibid Prison's (NBP) illegal drug trade. The lookout order prevents them from leaving the country without corresponding travel authority from their heads of offices.

Those covered in the ILBO include De Lima, former DOJ Undersecretary Francisco Baraan III, former Bureau of Corrections Chief Franklin Jesus Bucayu, former Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission Director Reginald Villasanta, and De Lima's former aides, Ronnie Dayan and Joenel Sanchez. On Monday, the NBI added Mark Noemin Adricula, Warren Cristobal, and Jose Adrian Dera to the list.

In a memorandum addressed to the Bureau of Immigration dated October 7, Friday, DOJ Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II instructed immigration officers to "be on the lookout for" and to quickly relay to the DOJ, NBI, and Office of the Security information about the named individuals. Those subject to an ILBO can still leave the country, but require travel authorization from their heads of offices.

"Considering the gravity of the possible commission of any offense, there is a strong possibility that they may attempt to place themselves beyond the reach of the legal processes of this Department by leaving the country," the memorandum said. "We thus deem the issuance of an ILBO against the subject persons prudent in order to at least monitor the itineraries of their flight, travel, and/or whereabouts."

De Lima questioned the basis of the ILBO since no charges were filed against her. However, she added that she has no international engagements and no intentions of leaving the country soon.

"Huwag ho kayong mag-alala dahil wala po akong kabalak-balak na umalis ng Pilipinas para iwasan yung ihahain niyo sa akin na mga kaso," she said on Monday. "Inosente po ako. Ang guilty lang po ang tumatakas."

[Translation: You don't have to worry since I have no plans of leaving the Philippines to avoid the cases. I am innocent. Only the guilty try to escape.] – CNN Philippines

HSBC upgraded Philippine Economic Growth Forecast 6.3 - 6.5 Percent

HSBC hikes anew Philippine growth forecast to 6.5%

The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corp. Ltd. raised anew the country’s economic growth forecast as the Philippines continued to stand out as one of the strongest performers in Asia.

In its latest Asian Economics report for the fourth quarter, HSBC economist Joseph Incalcaterra said the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth projection has been revised upwards to 6.5 percent instead of 6.3 percent this year due to the stronger-than-expected expansion in the first half.

The country’s GDP growth accelerated to seven percent in the second quarter of the year from 6.8 percent in the first quarter amid the strong boost from election related spending.

This brought the GDP expansion in the Philippines to 6.9 percent in the first half from 5.5 percent in the same period last year.

“The Philippines continues to stand out as one of Asia’s strongest performers. Following the strong outturn of growth in the first half of 2016, we recently raised our full-year forecast from 6.3 percent to 6.5 percent,” he said.

The bank sees the country’s GDP growth easing to 6.4 percent in the third quarter and to six percent in the fourth quarter.

“Although growth will moderate in year-on-year terms through the second half as the impact from the elections and budget front-loading wears off, overall domestic demand will nonetheless remain resilient as government spending continues to fuel growth,” Incalcaterra said.

Likewise, HSBC retained the GDP growth forecasts for 2017 and 2018 at 6.3 percent and 6.4 percent, respectively.

“This isn’t to say there aren’t challenges to growth. After all, exports have been contracting rather sharply as of late – while imports of capital equipment surged – and the trend growth of remittances has also moderated to approximately 3.5 percent,” he said.

Latest data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) showed cash remittances contracted 5.4 percent in July, bringing down the growth in the amount of money sent home by Filipinos abroad to three percent in the first seven months of the year.

Authorities believe the growth in receipts from the business process outsourcing (BPO) as well as tourism sectors would cushion the slowdown in the cash remittances.

“While remittances may not provide the same boost to consumption as before, we think that the improvement in domestic employment opportunities, mostly from construction, BPO and tourism, are more than able to offset the effect for now,” he said.

The economist noted long-term issued such as the structural trade deficit as well as the not too bright outlook for manufacturing exports outside of electronics.

He pointed out the Philippines would remain highly vulnerable to weather trends with the onset of La Niña after the bout with El Niño. - philSTAR

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