6-M KILOS OF 'EXPIRED' IMPORTED PORK SMUGGLED TO PH, SAYS S.I.N.A.G.     

PHOTO: Bureau of Customs. —The Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (SINAG) disclosed Tuesday that nearly six million kilos of expired imported meat that did not undergo required quarantine tests and food safety examinations may have been smuggled into the Philippines. In a statement, SINAG said data obtained from Bureau of Customs (BOC) sources showed that 121.6 million kilos of imported pork meat were released by the agency from January to June this year. However, official data from the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) reveals that only 116 million kilos passed through quarantine inspection which means 5.6 million kilos are unaccounted for.

“We’re calling on Agriculture Secretary Proseso Alcala and BOC Commissioner John Philip Sevilla to immediately investigate this matter. Bakit nakakalabas sa BOC ng walang quarantine clearance at bakit walang quarantine officer to check on the imported meat (Why did this pass through BOC without quarantine clearance and without a quarantine officer checking on the imported meat)?” asked Rosendo So, SINAG Chair. “To protect consumer welfare, the BAI Director and all meat importers should also come forward and disclose the amount of meat they imported this year; when these arrived; their quarantine inspection certificates; where the meat were delivered; and the names of the companies or restaurant chains that received said imports,” said Vicente Mercado, Chair of the National Federation of Hog Farmers Inc. (NFHFI). Mercado said SINAG’s expose comes at a critical period following claims by a group of meat importers that it’s alright to eat expired meat as long as these are frozen. “No country allows the resale of frozen meat as chilled and no country should ever allow thawed frozen meat to be passed off and sold as fresh meat,” he said. “These meat importers have no business in the food industry as they pose the greatest threat to our public health security. Kung gusto nila, sila na lang ang kumain at ‘wag na idamay ang pamilya at mga anak natin (If they want, they can eat them but don’t include our families and our children),” So stressed. * CONTINUE READING...

ALSO: Bohol tourism industry rising from the rubble, thanks to USAID, WTO 

PHOTO: A PUMPBOAT makes its way up the Loboc River. Nine months after a 7.2
magnitude earthquake rocked Bohol in Central Visayas, the island province is attempting to put behind it what its governor considers to be a “temporary setback.” Part of the efforts is the ongoing tourism rebranding campaign to lure back tourists to the province. Governor Edgar Chatto admits that the province’s tourism industry suffered greatly because of the earthquake. He says that tourism is the lifeblood of most of the towns in the province, contributing about 20 percent to the local economy. GOVERNOR Edgar Chatto. says that when tourism became an industry in the province, the local government started collecting “as much as P50 million, with only P2 million coming from the public market.” This illustrates how important tourism is in generating revenues.

Bohol prides itself with historical churches and beaches. The earthquake destroyed many of the centuries-old churches; some are beyond repair while others are closed for rehabilitation with their completion dates still uncertain. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is assisting the province together with the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the Department of Tourism (DOT), and the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) through the Bohol Tourism Recovery Plan (BRTP), which is under USAID’s Advancing Philippine Competitiveness Project (USAID-COMPETE). “Bohol has always been one of the top tourism destinations, and we in USAID believe that by helping Bohol’s tourism industry recover from the aftermath of the earthquake and Typhoon Yolanda, we help the whole country toward achieving economic growth,” says Reed Aeschliman, acting mission director of USAID, in earlier reports. BTRP is a product of five months of assessment and research efforts conducted by different agencies. “The recovery efforts of Bohol definitely have to be aligned with the vision we have set up before the earthquake,” Chatto says. “We want to make sure that it is not derailed even with the temporary setback.” * CONTINUE READING...

ALSO: ‘Once enough for Noy,’ says Bloomberg analyst; “Contemplating an imperial presidency is far more troubling,” 

President Aquino’s pursuit of a second term through an amendment of the provisions in the Constitution that limits a president to a single term of six years is getting flaks even from abroad as a Bloomberg commentator said that “Once is Enough for Philippines President.” William Pesek, a Bloomberg View columnist based in Tokyo and writes on economics, markets and politics throughout Asia-Pacific, said in a column that “recent hints from Philippines President Benigno Aquino about running for a second term are clearly a political trial balloon” and “need to be popped, fast.” He noted that Aquino’s predecessor, Gloria Arroyo, also angled for another six years in office, “something Philippine leaders are constitutionally barred from serving.”

“Aquino’s first act when he took office in 2010 was to arrest Arroyo on corruption charges. Why, then, would a man so passionate about cleaning up government and strengthening the rule of law even consider giving in to such a temptation — one that his late mother, former President Corazon Aquino, railed against?,” Pesek said.
“Aquino may believe that extending his reign would be a boon for Asia’s 13th-biggest economy. But at what cost to Philippine democracy? It’s troubling enough that the president is reconsidering his position on charter amendments to restrain the Philippines judiciary,” Pesek said. He added that although Aquino “used to oppose such executive power grabs, a few run-ins with the courts, one decision voided parts of his stimulus program on July 1, appear to have changed his mind”.

“Contemplating an imperial presidency is far more troubling,” he added. The Palace, meanwhile, maintained that Aquino’s true intent on the Constitutional term limits can only be placed on the context of the entire interview he gave to TV5. In the interview aired last Wednesday evening, Aquino said cha-cha can pave the way for amending the provision limiting the president to a single, six-year term but which he said he would listen to his “bosses”, who supposedly are the Filipino people, regarding the proposal. “Let us place in context the President’s statements. I recommend that we listen to the entire interview which will supposedly be aired tonight (last night at 10 pm). Let us watch it to know in its entirety the views of the President,” he said. * CONTINUE READING...

ALSO: Growth of PH exports stronger than anywhere else in Asia, stats show  

Recovering global demand boosted the country’s exports in June to its fastest rate so far this year, supported by the electronics sector, which was in the black for the first time in 2014. Growth of Philippine exports was faster than in any other major Asian economy in June, a development that bodes well for the country’s economic prospects in coming months, officials reported on Tuesday. “Export gains are broad-based, as reflected by increased overseas demand for our manufactures, mineral products, total agro-based, and forest product,” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said in a statement.
The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported that exports rose by 21.3 percent in June—so far the best showing for any month this year. In May, exports grew by 6.9 percent. The value of exports shipped reached $5.4 billion, with close to half going to major trading partners’ Japan, China, and the United States.

June’s increase meant the country’s exporters outperformed counterparts in Vietnam, China, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Hong Kong, South Korea, Taiwan, and Japan. Among the country’s neighbors, Vietnam performed the best with a growth of 12.7 percent, while Japan was the worst, with its shipments contracting 6.5 percent. “This is the highest level since the economy started posting a continuous positive growth in the same period last year,” Balisacan said. Semiconductors, which comprised more than half of the country’s total electronics exports during the period, posted its first positive growth rate in 2014. These chips are used in computers that are shipped around the world. Electronics exports were up by a tenth, driven by the 14.5-percent expansion in semiconductors. Balisacan, who heads the National Economic Development Authority, said the Semiconductors and Electronics Industries in the Philippines Inc. was likely to hike its forecast for shipments this year. THIS IS THE FULL REPORT...

ALSO: Phl needs more FDIs to boost growth Research group 

Despite the turnaround of foreign direct investments to a net inflow in May, the research arm of Metropolitan Bank & Trust Co. said attracting more remains a growth constraint for the Philippines. “Robust foreign investment has been supporting the growth in other Asian economies – generating much-needed employment, raising incomes, increasing economic activity, and deepening technologies,” Pauline Revillas, research analyst at Metrobank, said in a report. “The support from FDIs should not be underscored as the robust economic expansion last year was underpinned by the solid performance of investment spending,” she said. “The lack of infrastructure and the failure to attract FDIs have long been seen as a critical growth constraint to the domestic economy, but the government has been firm in its commitment to improve and develop the country’s infrastructure system,” Revillas further said. The country’s FDIs reached $473 million in May, a turnaround from a net outflow of $62 million in the same month last year. This brought the five-month net FDI inflow total to $2.923 billion, up 34 percent from $2.182 billion in the same period in 2013. * READ MORE...

(ALSO Manila Times column) World Bank:  Fix your China ties  

Without categorically saying so, the World Bank’s most recent (August 2014) economic update on the Philippines pointed out that China has such a crucial role in Philippine economic development that we should develop a healthy relationship with that superpower. That can be the only explanation why the World Bank update, for the first time in all its many analysis of the country since the 1970s, devoted several pages to the role of another country in our development. This was in its section entitled, “Special Focus: China’s slowdown and rebalancing — How the Philippines can still benefit.” Careful not to be seen meddling in our foreign affairs, the World Bank’s ostensible reason for discussing Philippine-China economic links was that after an unprecedented pace over the last three decades, “China’s economic growth has begun to slow down,” which would affect many countries including ours.

Only the obtuse or terribly uninformed, though, would not realize that the more important “slowdown” in the relations between China and the Philippines has been the result of our territorial dispute over the Spratly Islands and Scarborough Shoal, especially President Benigno Aquino’s move to file a case against China’s claims in an international court—the first such suit filed against it. The World Bank’s analysis is the first I’ve read by an international agency on how important China’s economy is for the Philippines. The study pointed out:
Accounting for just 1.3 percent of our exports between 1978 and 2000, China since 2002 has risen to become among our top five export markets, absorbing P6 billion or 12 percent of our total exports in 2013.
Our exports have shifted from low-value mineral fuels in 1995 to high-value electronic products, and now account for 50 percent of our total exports to China. * CONTINUE READING...

ALSO: Palace happy with business group survey despite low ratings 

Despite falling 22 places among government institutions ranked by local businessmen, Malacañang on Tuesday said it was still satisfied with the results.
“Sa kabuuan ay ikinagagalak namin ang resulta nitong survey na ito (As a whole, we are happy with the results of this survey),” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma told Palace reporters. He said the Makati Business Club (MBC) survey showed that business leaders still trusted institutions such as the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, which ranked first among the government agencies and institutions. “Ibig sabihin mataas ang kumpyansa nila sa kakayahan ng Bangko Sentral sa pagmamaneho ng macroeconomic fundamentals ng ating bansa, lalong-lalo na ‘yung sa monetary stability,” he explained. (That means they have a confidence in the ability of the Central Bank to steer the macroeconomic fundamentals of our country, especially when it comes to monetary stability.) Also cited by Coloma as receiving relatively high ratings in the survey were the Department of Tourism, Philippine Economic Zone Authority, Pagasa (Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, Astronomical Services Administration) and Securities and Exchange Commission. * READ MORE...

(ALSO) Nancy to PNoy: Listen to 'real voice' of your bosses 

Senator Nancy Binay urged President Aquino to listen to the “real” voice of the people and not those who may have personal interests in the 2016 elections. Binay pointed out that Aquino’s mother, Cory, refused proposals for her to run for another term during her time. “Panawagan ko, pagdasal natin ang ating presidente na talagang maliwanagan siya at makinig siya talaga doon sa tunay na boses. Makinig siya sa tunay na boses ng mga boss niya,” she said. She said Aquino may be hearing the voices of those with vested interests. “Kasi ang nakakatakot, parang paulit-ulit na sinasabi na may boses. E baka ‘yung boses na naririnig niya ‘yung mga boses na may mga personal na interes for 2016. ‘Yun yung nakakatakot e,” she said. Aquino said on Wednesday he was considering constitutional changes, including adjustment of term limits for officials that might allow him to serve a second six-year term. * READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS:

6-M kilos of ‘expired’ imported pork smuggled to PH, says SINAG


Bureau of Customs. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, AUGUST 18, 2014 (INQUIRER) The Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (SINAG) disclosed Tuesday that nearly six million kilos of expired imported meat that did not undergo required quarantine tests and food safety examinations may have been smuggled into the Philippines.

In a statement, SINAG said data obtained from Bureau of Customs (BOC) sources showed that 121.6 million kilos of imported pork meat were released by the agency from January to June this year. However, official data from the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) reveals that only 116 million kilos passed through quarantine inspection which means 5.6 million kilos are unaccounted for.

“We’re calling on Agriculture Secretary Proseso Alcala and BOC Commissioner John Philip Sevilla to immediately investigate this matter. Bakit nakakalabas sa BOC ng walang quarantine clearance at bakit walang quarantine officer to check on the imported meat (Why did this pass through BOC without quarantine clearance and without a quarantine officer checking on the imported meat)?” asked Rosendo So, SINAG Chair.

“To protect consumer welfare, the BAI Director and all meat importers should also come forward and disclose the amount of meat they imported this year; when these arrived; their quarantine inspection certificates; where the meat were delivered; and the names of the companies or restaurant chains that received said imports,” said Vicente Mercado, Chair of the National Federation of Hog Farmers Inc. (NFHFI).

Mercado said SINAG’s expose comes at a critical period following claims by a group of meat importers that it’s alright to eat expired meat as long as these are frozen. “No country allows the resale of frozen meat as chilled and no country should ever allow thawed frozen meat to be passed off and sold as fresh meat,” he said.

“These meat importers have no business in the food industry as they pose the greatest threat to our public health security. Kung gusto nila, sila na lang ang kumain at ‘wag na idamay ang pamilya at mga anak natin (If they want, they can eat them but don’t include our families and our children),” So stressed.

* He said the meat importers’ misplaced mindset is alarming, especially in view of the recent expired meat scandal in China where Shanghai Husi Company – a major supplier to fast-food chains like McDonalds, KFC, Starbucks, Pizza Hut, Dicos in China – were found to be supplying expired meat,” continued So.

For the safety of Filipino consumers and their children, SINAG and NHFI said they should patronize freshly slaughtered meat from domestic hog growers. “There’s enough local production to meet the country’s pork demands,” the group said.

“Hindi po natin dapat tangkilikin at kainin ang basura ng ibang bansa. Ang expired na karne ay ibinabasura na sa ibang bansa ngunit ito’y binibili sa murang halaga ng mga mapagsamantalang importers at ipapasa sa mga Filipino na kunwari ay sariwa pa,” added So.

(We should not buy and eat what other countries discard as waste. But some unscrupulous importers still buy the expired meat at a low price and pass this on to Filipinos as if it’s fresh.)

Bohol tourism industry rising from the rubble By Marlet D. Salazar |Philippine Daily Inquirer12:05 am | Sunday, August 10th, 2014


A PUMPBOAT makes its way up the Loboc River. JOSEPH AGCAOILI

Nine months after a 7.2 magnitude earthquake rocked Bohol in Central Visayas, the island province is attempting to put behind it what its governor considers to be a “temporary setback.”

Part of the efforts is the ongoing tourism rebranding campaign to lure back tourists to the province.

Governor Edgar Chatto admits that the province’s tourism industry suffered greatly because of the earthquake.

He says that tourism is the lifeblood of most of the towns in the province, contributing about 20 percent to the local economy.


GOVERNOR Edgar Chatto. PHOTO BY MARLET D. SALAZAR

Chatto says that when tourism became an industry in the province, the local government started collecting “as much as P50 million, with only P2 million coming from the public market.” This illustrates how important tourism is in generating revenues.

Bohol prides itself with historical churches and beaches. The earthquake destroyed many of the centuries-old churches; some are beyond repair while others are closed for rehabilitation with their completion dates still uncertain.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is assisting the province together with the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the Department of Tourism (DOT), and the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) through the Bohol Tourism Recovery Plan (BRTP), which is under USAID’s Advancing Philippine Competitiveness Project (USAID-COMPETE).

“Bohol has always been one of the top tourism destinations, and we in USAID believe that by helping Bohol’s tourism industry recover from the aftermath of the earthquake and Typhoon Yolanda, we help the whole country toward achieving economic growth,” says Reed Aeschliman, acting mission director of USAID, in earlier reports.
BTRP is a product of five months of assessment and research efforts conducted by different agencies.

“The recovery efforts of Bohol definitely have to be aligned with the vision we have set up before the earthquake,” Chatto says. “We want to make sure that it is not derailed even with the temporary setback.”

* Bohol’s tourism framework is called “HEAT IT Bohol,” which means health, education, agriculture, tourism, and information technology.

“Job creation is a thrust, which can be captured by the three main engines for growth and livelihood opportunities,” Chatto says.

He adds that the province wants to take a more optimistic route.

“As we rebuild the churches and the watchtowers, we hope to develop expertise along that line in the province,” Chatto says. “We want to attach it with Bohol Island State University (by offering) degree courses on preservation.”

The province is now working with Tesda (Technical Education and Skills Development Authority) and Escuella Taller, a school in Intramuros (Manila) that teaches conservation and restoration skills to underprivileged youth, Chatto says.

It was established through a grant from the Agencia Espanola de Cooperacion Internacional Para el Desarrollo.

The governor, who used to be a congressman and chair of the House tourism committee, says that they want to use the “lull” in tourist arrivals to strengthen the areas “where we have gaps.”

“We are now evaluating the overall strategies of marketing, product development, pricing, promotions, strategies, training of frontline people, capacity development, and capacity of the schools, training institutions, and the quality of graduates,” he says.


REPAIRS on Baclayon Church continue. MARIANNE BERMUDEZ

The province’s tourism council is also looking at retraining industry workers, particularly those in the front lines such as drivers and tour guides.

At present, Bohol’s main air portal is the Tagbilaran airport.

Investors and entrepreneurs in Bohol are looking forward at the opening of Panglao airport. However, construction is yet to start as the bidding process began only last month.

Telecommunications company Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT) poured in P700 million to set in place a fiber optic network in the province. The governor hopes that this will attract business processing outsourcing companies to the province.

Chatto identifies the province’s engines of growth as eco-cultural tourism, agri-industrial tourism and information technology. It is important to note that before the PLDT investment, Bohol used to lag behind neighboring provinces in terms of IT infrastructure.

“Our goal in Bohol is not only to help the Boholanos, but to contribute to the overall development of the region and the province,” Chatto says.

FROM THE TRIBUNE

‘Once enough for Noy,’ says Bloomberg analyst Written by Tribune Wires Monday, 18 August 2014 00:00

CONTEMPLATING IMPERIAL PRESIDENCY TROUBLING



President Aquino’s pursuit of a second term through an amendment of the provisions in the Constitution that limits a president to a single term of six years is getting flaks even from abroad as a Bloomberg commentator said that “Once is Enough for Philippines President.”

William Pesek, a Bloomberg View columnist based in Tokyo and writes on economics, markets and politics throughout Asia-Pacific, said in a column that “recent hints from Philippines President Benigno Aquino about running for a second term are clearly a political trial balloon” and “need to be popped, fast.”

He noted that Aquino’s predecessor, Gloria Arroyo, also angled for another six years in office, “something Philippine leaders are constitutionally barred from serving.”

“Aquino’s first act when he took office in 2010 was to arrest Arroyo on corruption charges. Why, then, would a man so passionate about cleaning up government and strengthening the rule of law even consider giving in to such a temptation — one that his late mother, former President Corazon Aquino, railed against?,” Pesek said.

“Aquino may believe that extending his reign would be a boon for Asia’s 13th-biggest economy. But at what cost to Philippine democracy? It’s troubling enough that the president is reconsidering his position on charter amendments to restrain the Philippines judiciary,” Pesek said.

He added that although Aquino “used to oppose such executive power grabs, a few run-ins with the courts, one decision voided parts of his stimulus program on July 1, appear to have changed his mind”.

“Contemplating an imperial presidency is far more troubling,” he added.

The Palace, meanwhile, maintained that Aquino’s true intent on the Constitutional term limits can only be placed on the context of the entire interview he gave to TV5.

In the interview aired last Wednesday evening, Aquino said cha-cha can pave the way for amending the provision limiting the president to a single, six-year term but which he said he would listen to his “bosses”, who supposedly are the Filipino people, regarding the proposal.

“Let us place in context the President’s statements. I recommend that we listen to the entire interview which will supposedly be aired tonight (last night at 10 pm). Let us watch it to know in its entirety the views of the President,” he said.

* What is important there is his desire to know the sentiment of the public on how to continue and finish the process of reform that was started under his administration. That is the primary interest and motivation of the President, Coloma added.

“The commitment of the President is clear. Since he started his term, he expressed confidence and had placed priority on the views of his ‘bosses’ (public),” he said.

Coloma claimed that the reactions on Aquino’s expressed intention for charter change did not resulted in all negative feedbacks.

“There were social media platforms in the official website of the President where it showed that the flow of opinions were balanced. If there were those who disagreed, there were also many who favored (Aquino’s statement). So it is not right to say that all the views were opposed to cha-cha. We should acknowledge different opinions and there were many who expressed their continued confidence on the President and their support for his intention to continue the reform process,” Coloma added.

In the interview, Aquino made a full turn on his earlier aversion to cha-cha saying he is now amenable to amending the Constitution and extending his term supposedly as a counterbalance to the immense power of the Supreme Court, a coequal branch in government.

Aquino claimed the judiciary appeared to be using its power to check the executive and legislative branches without restraint.

“When I took this office, I recall that it was only for one term of six years,” he said. “Now, after having said that, of course, I have to listen to my bosses [the people].”

He said listening to his “bosses” meant asking them how the “reforms” he had started would remain beyond his six-year term.

“Before all of these happened, I admit I had a closed mind. But now I realised that there is judicial (over)reach. Congress and the executive may act but they can be punished anytime,” he said.

The Supreme Court ruled last July 1 that Palace acts that created the Disbursement Acceleration Fund (DAP), a supposed stimulus fund derived from government savings, were unconstitutional.

Last November, the high court also declared the Priority Development Assistance Fund, a pork barrel of lawmakers, unconstitutional.

Aquino riled against both rulings defending the use of lump sum funds for quick government response during times of emergency. Critics, however, said the existence of discretionary funds is an invitation for those in power to misappropriate public money.

Growth of PH exports stronger than anywhere else in Asia, stats show  By Paolo G. Montecillo |Philippine Daily Inquirer4:59 pm | Tuesday, August 12th, 2014

MANILA—Recovering global demand boosted the country’s exports in June to its fastest rate so far this year, supported by the electronics sector, which was in the black for the first time in 2014.

Growth of Philippine exports was faster than in any other major Asian economy in June, a development that bodes well for the country’s economic prospects in coming months, officials reported on Tuesday.

“Export gains are broad-based, as reflected by increased overseas demand for our manufactures, mineral products, total agro-based, and forest product,” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said in a statement.

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported that exports rose by 21.3 percent in June—so far the best showing for any month this year. In May, exports grew by 6.9 percent. The value of exports shipped reached $5.4 billion, with close to half going to major trading partners’ Japan, China, and the United States.

June’s increase meant the country’s exporters outperformed counterparts in Vietnam, China, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Hong Kong, South Korea, Taiwan, and Japan. Among the country’s neighbors, Vietnam performed the best with a growth of 12.7 percent, while Japan was the worst, with its shipments contracting 6.5 percent.

“This is the highest level since the economy started posting a continuous positive growth in the same period last year,” Balisacan said.

Semiconductors, which comprised more than half of the country’s total electronics exports during the period, posted its first positive growth rate in 2014. These chips are used in computers that are shipped around the world. Electronics exports were up by a tenth, driven by the 14.5-percent expansion in semiconductors.

Balisacan, who heads the National Economic Development Authority, said the Semiconductors and Electronics Industries in the Philippines Inc. was likely to hike its forecast for shipments this year.

FROM PHILSTAR

Phl needs more FDIs to boost growth By Kathleen A. Martin (The Philippine Star) | Updated August 17, 2014 - 12:00am 0 1 googleplus0 0

MANILA, Philippines - Despite the turnaround of foreign direct investments to a net inflow in May, the research arm of Metropolitan Bank & Trust Co. said attracting more remains a growth constraint for the Philippines.

“Robust foreign investment has been supporting the growth in other Asian economies – generating much-needed employment, raising incomes, increasing economic activity, and deepening technologies,” Pauline Revillas, research analyst at Metrobank, said in a report.

“The support from FDIs should not be underscored as the robust economic expansion last year was underpinned by the solid performance of investment spending,” she said.

“The lack of infrastructure and the failure to attract FDIs have long been seen as a critical growth constraint to the domestic economy, but the government has been firm in its commitment to improve and develop the country’s infrastructure system,” Revillas further said.

The country’s FDIs reached $473 million in May, a turnaround from a net outflow of $62 million in the same month last year. This brought the five-month net FDI inflow total to $2.923 billion, up 34 percent from $2.182 billion in the same period in 2013.

* The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas attributed the increase in FDI inflows to sustained confidence of foreign investors in the country’s sound macroeconomic fundamentals.

“The sustained increase in FDIs would help ensure a sustainable and inclusive economic growth moving forward,” Revillas said.

The Philippine economy grew by a lower-than-expected 5.7 percent in the first quarter of the year, but government officials kept their 6.5 to 7.5 percent full-year growth expansion target.

Last year, the economy expanded by a stellar 7.2 percent from another faster-than-expected 6.8 percent in 2012.

But Revillas said, the need for higher FDIs cannot be further emphasized especially when we look at the FDI flows of our ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) peers.”

In the first quarter alone, the Philippines recorded a net FDI inflow of $1.852 billion, lower than Indonesia’s $4.527 billion, Thailand’s $2.887 billion, and Vietnam’s $2.45 billion.

“The Philippines continued to lag behind other Asian economies,” she said.

FROM THE MANILA TIMES

World Bank: Fix your China ties  August 12, 2014 11:25 pm by RIGOBERTO D. TIGLAO MANILA TIMES


RIGOBERTO D. TIGLAO

Without categorically saying so, the World Bank’s most recent (August 2014) economic update on the Philippines pointed out that China has such a crucial role in Philippine economic development that we should develop a healthy relationship with that superpower.

That can be the only explanation why the World Bank update, for the first time in all its many analysis of the country since the 1970s, devoted several pages to the role of another country in our development. This was in its section entitled, “Special Focus: China’s slowdown and rebalancing — How the Philippines can still benefit.”

Careful not to be seen meddling in our foreign affairs, the World Bank’s ostensible reason for discussing Philippine-China economic links was that after an unprecedented pace over the last three decades, “China’s economic growth has begun to slow down,” which would affect many countries including ours.

Only the obtuse or terribly uninformed, though, would not realize that the more important “slowdown” in the relations between China and the Philippines has been the result of our territorial dispute over the Spratly Islands and Scarborough Shoal, especially President Benigno Aquino’s move to file a case against China’s claims in an international court—the first such suit filed against it.

The World Bank’s analysis is the first I’ve read by an international agency on how important China’s economy is for the Philippines.


Two charts in the World Bank study emphasizing China-Philippine economic links

The study pointed out:

Accounting for just 1.3 percent of our exports between 1978 and 2000, China since 2002 has risen to become among our top five export markets, absorbing P6 billion or 12 percent of our total exports in 2013.

Our exports have shifted from low-value mineral fuels in 1995 to high-value electronic products, and now account for 50 percent of our total exports to China.

* Our imports have similarly increased, by an average of 20 percent between 2001 and 2010, and in 2012 China became our second largest import market next to the US. The share of mineral fuels to total imports had reached a high of 91 percent between 1977 and 1978, but declined in recent years that last year, such imports accounted for just 10 percent. Our imports from China are mainly manufactured goods, machinery and transport equipment.

“China is fast becoming a major source of foreign tourists for the Philippines,” the World Bank study pointed out. “Tourist arrivals from China increased exponentially from 14,724 in 2000 to 243,137 in 2011. Beginning 2006, it has been one of the top tourism markets for the Philippines, along with Korea, the US, Japan and Australia.

The study’s only reference to our territorial dispute with China is in its discussion of the tourism industry:

“The latest data [May 2013] show that tourist arrivals from China accelerated by 108 percent, despite prevailing territorial disputes. This marked improvement was due to the expansion of flights between China and the Philippines, as well as increased cruise ship calls to the Philippines. The estimated amount of revenues from Chinese tourist arrivals is around $218 million in 2013.”

The only aspect of our relationship with China that is unimportant is its foreign direct investments (FDI), as well as OFW remittances from that country, which are both miniscule.

But we are missing out on the flow of Chinese capital abroad. The low level of Chinese FDI to the Philippines, the study emphasized, is “in contrast to other Asean countries, which have been receiving significant FDI from China.” The highest FDI from China was recorded at $216 million way back in 1998.

‘Between 2009 and 2012”, the study pointed out, “net FDI from China turned negative.” That is, Chinese capital left the country mostly under Aquino’s watch.

The study pointed out opportunities for the country in China in the coming years:

“As China rebalances toward consumption-led growth, the Philippines could expand its export portfolio to China from capital goods and parts to consumer goods. At present, Philippine exports to China are heavily concentrated on capital goods, and electronic parts and components.

To take advantage of this opportunity, Philippine exports need to diversify into the production of final goods that will cater to China’s rising consumption requirements,” the World Bank study pointed out.

The World Bank, which seems to have typecast us as a labor-exporting country, even cited opportunities for Overseas Filipino Workers. “Likewise, in the medium term, China’s aging population could provide opportunities for professional and skilled Filipino workers,” it pointed out. “Both jobs in China and outsourced jobs in healthcare, education, information technology, financial services, can be highly demanded.”

What does the World Bank prescribe for us to take advantage of the Chinese market? “The Philippines needs to improve its competitiveness,” it says, and rattles off its usual prescription of lowering costs of business and power, lifting restrictions on foreign ownership etc, etc.

That is its diplomatic way of telling us: Guys, you better fix your ties with China. You just can’t ignore China, it’s a major trading partner.

I’m risking a cyber-mob going after me, since the current administration has successfully stoked the hate flames against China. The level of public discourse on the China issue has gone down to gutter language and racist taunting that modern societies do not undertake anymore.

I was surprised that a well-educated classmate of mine from Ateneo has even started calling the Chinese the pejorative “intsik.” On the other side, in China’s much, much bigger social media, Filipinos are becoming hated villains.

Rational voices that try to call for open communications and negotiations with China are shouted down as “traitors” or “anti-Filipino.” I have never seen our level of diplomacy sink so low as it has in the past four years.

Nearly a fourth, or 25 million of Filipinos are poor, and living the most miserable lives. Their number will be growing every year since we do not have a population-control program. We need all the help we can extract from such an economic superpower as China.

Can we can just let, as Deng Xiao Ping suggested to Marcos in the 1970s, future generations settle our territorial dispute, maybe when our country has become rich so that we can really buy state-of-the-art naval power to defend our claims, instead of begging the US and even Korea for hand-me-downs?

I don’t know how in a few short years, China has suddenly emerged as our enemy in the East when it was one of our strongest partners since its emergence from its communist past. In the past, we have enjoyed a healthy relationship with China even as we asserted our rights over our land and territories.

The richest Filipino, Henry Sy, now has billions of pesos in investments in three malls in China, and will soon be in the housing market there. Twenty-fifth richest Filipino (going by the Forbes’ listing) Carlos Chan’s Oishi snack foods are becoming ubiquitous in China’s main cities.

A senator had told me, providing data to prove his point, that somebody very influential in Aquino’s Cabinet has been deliberately aggravating our dispute with China over the Spratly islands in order to favor, in a convoluted way, the interests of an Indonesian-controlled firm.

The senator was so certain over his allegation that he even said that this Cabinet official has committed treason. “He should be shot by a firing squad,” he said passionately.

I really don’t know what to make of that claim.

There’s also that other, broader conspiracy theory: the Cabinet official is deliberately driving China away from us and toward Indonesia, home country of a conglomerate he had shepherded into our country.

FROM THE INQUIRER

Palace happy with business group survey despite low ratings  By Kristine Angeli Sabillo |INQUIRER.net1:55 am | Wednesday, August 13th, 2014



MANILA, Philippines — Despite falling 22 places among government institutions ranked by local businessmen, Malacañang on Tuesday said it was still satisfied with the results.

“Sa kabuuan ay ikinagagalak namin ang resulta nitong survey na ito (As a whole, we are happy with the results of this survey),” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma told Palace reporters.

He said the Makati Business Club (MBC) survey showed that business leaders still trusted institutions such as the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, which ranked first among the government agencies and institutions.

“Ibig sabihin mataas ang kumpyansa nila sa kakayahan ng Bangko Sentral sa pagmamaneho ng macroeconomic fundamentals ng ating bansa, lalong-lalo na ‘yung sa monetary stability,” he explained.
(That means they have a confidence in the ability of the Central Bank to steer the macroeconomic fundamentals of our country, especially when it comes to monetary stability.)

Also cited by Coloma as receiving relatively high ratings in the survey were the Department of Tourism, Philippine Economic Zone Authority, Pagasa (Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, Astronomical Services Administration) and Securities and Exchange Commission.

* Coloma said another proof of the continued belief of the business sector in the government was MBC president Ramon del Rosario who expressed confidence in President Benigno Aquino III during the Daylight Dialogue forum in Malacanang last July 15.

“Mataas ang pagturing nila sa ginawa ng ating administrasyon hinggil sa matuwid na daan,” the Secretary said.
(Business men hold the administration’s good governance campaign in high regard.)
He said there was also a large gap between those satisfied and not satisfied.

According to the MBC Executive Outlook Survey, the Office of the President fell from 14th place in July 2012 to 36th place in July 2014.

Below is the summary of the said survey:


FROM ABS=CBN

Nancy to PNoy: Listen to 'real voice' of your bosses by Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News Posted at 08/14/2014 4:00 PM | Updated as of 08/14/2014 11:37 PM
 


NANCY

MANILA - Senator Nancy Binay urged President Aquino to listen to the “real” voice of the people and not those who may have personal interests in the 2016 elections.

Binay pointed out that Aquino’s mother, Cory, refused proposals for her to run for another term during her time.

“Panawagan ko, pagdasal natin ang ating presidente na talagang maliwanagan siya at makinig siya talaga doon sa tunay na boses. Makinig siya sa tunay na boses ng mga boss niya,” she said.

She said Aquino may be hearing the voices of those with vested interests.

“Kasi ang nakakatakot, parang paulit-ulit na sinasabi na may boses. E baka ‘yung boses na naririnig niya ‘yung mga boses na may mga personal na interes for 2016. ‘Yun yung nakakatakot e,” she said.

Aquino said on Wednesday he was considering constitutional changes, including adjustment of term limits for officials that might allow him to serve a second six-year term.

* country's experience of martial law under the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos, who ruled for more than two decades.

Aquino, speaking in an interview with a local television network, was asked whether charter changes would allow him to seek a second term in 2016.

"When I got into this, I remembered it is for one term of six years," he replied.

"Now after having said that, of course I have to listen to my bosses," he added, using his usual reference to the Filipino people. "But that doesn't mean...that I will automatically chase after another term, right?" – with reports from Reuters


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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