BUSINESS HEADLINES THIS PAST WEEK...


PHILSTAR COLUMNIST TO ADDRESS 2015 ASEAN CONFERENCE  


Philippine Star columnist, real estate entrepreneur and college teacher Wilson Lee Flores has been invited as guest speaker at the Asean Young Entrepreneurs Conference on Jan. 10 (Saturday) at 1 p.m. at Crossroad 77 in No. 77 Mother Ignacia Avenue, near Timog Avenue, Quezon City before over 1,000 delegates. He shall speak on the essential traits of top self-made entrepreneurs of the Philippines and Asia which he has observed based on his many interviews for his columns.  READ MORE...

ALSO: Gov’t debt up to P5.72T as of Nov


MANILA, Philippines - The government’s outstanding debt rose to P5.72 trillion as of November last year due to rising domestic obligations. The latest figure was up by P41 billion or 0.7 percent compared with the same period in 2013 with debt from domestic sources rising 1.2 percent to P3.79 trillion. Of the total outstanding debt, 66 percent was accounted for by peso-denominated liabilities while the balance of 34 percent comprised debts denominated in foreign currencies. Debt from foreign lenders amounted to P1.926 trillion, down 0.2 percent from P1.93 trillion. The decline was due to the appreciation of the local currency against the dollar. READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO: At least 25 wrong arrests mar Philippines anti-terror work


More than a decade ago, the military declared they had killed an Abu Sayyaf kidnapping suspect named Abdulmukim Idris. Yet a man authorities accuse of being Idris continues to languish in a maximum-security jail where the Philippines holds some of its most notorious terror suspects. In the country’s dogged pursuit of terror suspects, it also has nabbed two “Black Tungkangs,” two “Abdasil Dimas,” two “Hussien Kasims.” Those are just a few of the signs that Philippine law enforcers have made a slew of mistaken arrests in going after Abu Sayyaf and other Islamic militant groups long active in this Southeast Asian nation’s south. READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO: Manila joins ranks of top 30 cities of the world -- JLL’s Global 300 study


Photo: Leechiu Leechiu   ---Manila was recently named one of the top 30 cities in the world and expected to be the focus of global commercial real estate activity in the next decade, according to a study by global real estate services firm JLL that assesses city competitiveness and the role of real estate. JLL’s Global300 study periodically identifies 300 cities in the world that are the bedrock of global commercial real estate activity out of a total of over 1,600 major cities worldwide. These 300 cities are selected based on an Index of Commercial Attraction which measures an urban center’s economic and real estate power and status. Out of JLL’s Global300, the top 30 cities where real estate commercial activity is concentrated are further identified.

ALSO: 2015 budget challenged anew; Petitioners cite P673.1-B lump-sum appropriations, P47-B insertions


A new petition challenging the P2.6-trillion national budget for 2015 has been filed with the Supreme Court (SC). Former Biliran Rep. Glenn Chiong, taxpayer Manuelito Luna, college student Aristarchus Lamarck Luna, and members of the Samahang Magbabasura, Inc. told the SC in their petition that the 2015 national budget is unconstitutional because of the inclusion of lump sum and discretionary funds “amounting to more than half of the total budget.” They also asked the SC to issue a temporary restraining order (TRO). The first petition was filed by former Iloilo Rep. Augusto Syjuco Jr., who said that the national budget is unconstitutional as Republic Act 10651, the 2015 General Appropriations Act (GAA), which contained the questioned budget redefined savings contrary to the meaning specified in the Constitution. READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO: 120,000 homes for Yolanda victims to be finished this year - VP Binay

 
MANILA, Philippines - The government is targeting to finish this year the construction of 120,000 housing units for the families displaced by Super Typhoon Yolanda in the Visayas, Vice President Jejomar Binay said yesterday. Binay is the chair of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) and head of the Yolanda Resettlement Cluster. He said as of December last year, a total of P13.4 billion has been released for the construction of 46,129 housing units. Of these, 37,500 have been bidded out and awarded “By the end of 2015, we plan to provide disaster-resilient housing in safer communities to families living in high-risk and hazardous areas,” Binay said in a statement. READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO MANILA TIMES EDITORIAL: Our now desynchronized world economic order


ROFESSOR BEN DIOKNO ASKS: Is President Aquino III Prepared for an Economic Slowdown? CARTOON COURTESY OF MANILASPEAKS .COM ---WE have a new year. Times readers, let alone Filipino policy makers, must keep abreast of what has happened to our world.
One of the major characteristics of our world in 2015, which actually became a solid fact of life in 2014, is that we now have a desynchronized world economic order. This is a result of many factors. READ FULL EDITORIAL....


READ FULL REPORTS HERE:

Star columnist to address Asean conference


A multi-awarded journalist, Wilson Lee Flores has bagged numerous awards such as records of winning 11 times in the prestigious Catholic Mass Media Awards (CMMA) of the Philippines for his news column on The Philippine Daily Inquirer and 3 times winning in the Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature among many others. Aside from being a renowned journalist, he is also a college professor, a real estate entrepreneur, a public speaker and has a money lending business. He is also being often being interviewed by International (New York Times, International Herald Tribune, Financial Times, South China Morning Post, Time magazine, Far Eastern Economic Review, Corriere della Sera of Italy, the Globe & Mail of Canada, Phoenix TV of Hong Kong) and local media, asking for his opinion on matters concerning economy, business, politics and even pop culture issues.

MANILA, IANUARY 12, 2015 (PHILSTAR) Philippine Star columnist, real estate entrepreneur and college teacher Wilson Lee Flores has been invited as guest speaker at the Asean Young Entrepreneurs Conference on Jan. 10 (Saturday) at 1 p.m. at Crossroad 77 in No. 77 Mother Ignacia Avenue, near Timog Avenue, Quezon City before over 1,000 delegates.

He shall speak on the essential traits of top self-made entrepreneurs of the Philippines and Asia which he has observed based on his many interviews for his columns.

The Rotary Club of Quezon City has also invited Wilson Lee Flores as guest speaker on Jan. 12 (Monday) at 6:30 p.m. at Club Filipino in Greenhills, San Juan City.

He shall speak on why he acquired Quezon City’s iconic 75-year-old artisanal & pugon-baking Kamuning Bakery, how he is reviving it and now restoring its old-style cafe.

Apart from the real estate business, Flores has also acquired and revived the once floundering Caltex gas station of Iba-Malhacan Road, Meycauayan Exit, Bulacan.

Flores has won a record 12 Catholic Mass Media awards (CMMA), including the CMMA Hall of Fame Award for “Best Business Column”.


FROM PHILSTAR

Gov’t debt up to P5.72T as of Nov By Zinnia B. Dela Peña (The Philippine Star) | Updated January 10, 2015 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0

MANILA, Philippines - The government’s outstanding debt rose to P5.72 trillion as of November last year due to rising domestic obligations.

The latest figure was up by P41 billion or 0.7 percent compared with the same period in 2013 with debt from domestic sources rising 1.2 percent to P3.79 trillion.

Of the total outstanding debt, 66 percent was accounted for by peso-denominated liabilities while the balance of 34 percent comprised debts denominated in foreign currencies.

Debt from foreign lenders amounted to P1.926 trillion, down 0.2 percent from P1.93 trillion. The decline was due to the appreciation of the local currency against the dollar.

If the estimated 94 million Filipinos would be made to equally share the burden of paying the government’s outstanding debt, each would have to shell out P60,851.

On a month-on-month basis, the outstanding debt of the country went up by P3 billion.

Total guaranteed debt, meanwhile, stood at P432 billion, 8.3 percent or P39 billion lower than the previous year.

Currency adjustments brought down the value of external guarantees while domestic guaranteed debt was reduced by the redemption of outstanding agri-agra bonds.

For the past two years, the government has relied heavily on external borrowings to help ward off speculative flows and curb the peso’s appreciation.

The country recently raised $2 billion from the sale of dollar-denominated bonds, marking its return to the international debt market.


FROM INTELASIA.NET

At least 25 wrong arrests mar Philippines anti-terror work 09-Jan-2015 Intellasia | AP | 6:00 AM Print This Post


FILE - In this Dec. 3, 2014 file photo, Filipino Muslims display placards as they join a rally by activists in front of the Justice Department in Manila, Philippines, to protest the continuing detention of their relatives whom they claimed were wrongfully arrested. In the country's dogged pursuit of terror suspects, Philippine law enforcers have made a slew of mistaken arrests in going after Abu Sayyaf and other Islamic militant groups long active in this Southeast Asian nation's south. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez, FILE)

More than a decade ago, the military declared they had killed an Abu Sayyaf kidnapping suspect named Abdulmukim Idris. Yet a man authorities accuse of being Idris continues to languish in a maximum-security jail where the Philippines holds some of its most notorious terror suspects.

In the country’s dogged pursuit of terror suspects, it also has nabbed two “Black Tungkangs,” two “Abdasil Dimas,” two “Hussien Kasims.” Those are just a few of the signs that Philippine law enforcers have made a slew of mistaken arrests in going after Abu Sayyaf and other Islamic militant groups long active in this Southeast Asian nation’s south.

Complaints of false arrests prompted low-key but unprecedented reinvestigations of some of the country’s high-profile terrorism cases by state prosecutors. They have led to the release of more than two dozen people who were either mistaken for Abu Sayyaf fighters or brought to trial without evidence, according to official findings.

In their latest review, issued in August, state prosecutors said such faulty arrests of villagers, some of whom could not be identified even by a single witness, are “abhorred in civilised societies like ours.”

An Associated Press investigation that included interviews with prosecutors, key witnesses and a freed detainee shows that dozens more people remain behind bars despite a lack of evidence against them. For instance, of the two detainees accused of being the Abu Sayyaf militant who used the nom de guerre Black Tungkang, one remains in custody, even though a former hostage has sworn that neither was the right man.

“I really wanted to retaliate if I have the chance – against the right people,” the former hostage, Amily Mantec, told The AP in an interview. She was among six Jehovah’s Witnesses abducted by Abu Sayyaf gunmen in 2002. Two of the captives, including her husband, were beheaded.

The real culprits “committed horrible crimes, but they’re free because other people are suffering under their names,” said Mantec, who now lives under a government witness-protection programme.

The case involving Mantec had the most releases of mistakenly arrested detainees among the three high-profile kidnappings involving the Abu Sayyaf that prosecutors have re-examined in the last two years. Twenty-two suspects, arrested between 2004 to 2012, were freed in 2013 after Mantec and another former hostage failed to identify them and for lack of evidence. Just three others were returned to trial.

Two detainees were released after prosecutors re-examined the 2000 kidnappings of 52 students, teachers and a Roman Catholic priest on the southern island province of Basilan, an attack that left three abductees dead. Prosecutors discovered that not a single witness stood against the two suspects as they sat in jail for more than a decade.

In a third case – 21 Western tourists and Asian workers kidnapped from a Malaysian diving resort and released in the Philippines’ Sulu province – the review lead to the release of one suspect.

Across the three cases, 120 indictments were sustained.

Senior state prosecutor Peter Ong said he and other prosecutors also want the remaining “Black Tungkang” detainee released, but the court has refused because the arresting officer insists he’s the right suspect. Ong said the suspect says he was coerced into giving a false confession. The arresting officer could not be reached for comment.

Ong said he suspects some law enforcers may have forced civilian informants to point to the wrong people to pocket anti-terror bounties. He said he has asked government officials to introduce more safeguards to prevent government anti-terror bounties from being corrupted.

Mantec told the AP that an arresting officer once pressured her to falsely identify a man as an Abu Sayyaf militant who had a bounty on his head, but she resisted.

More than 140 million pesos ($3.2 million) in rewards have been handed to informants for the “neutralisation” of 115 Abu Sayyaf militants from 2001 to 2013, according to the military.

As recently as 2012, the government was offering a bounty for the capture of Abu Sayyaf militant Pedong Palam, even though a man said to be that suspect had been in jail since the early 2000s. Ong said that detainee was finally released last year after prosecutors found no evidence against him during a review of his kidnapping case.

Hundreds of Abu Sayyaf militants have been killed or captured since the country’s south became a battleground in the US-led war on terror following the September 11, 2001, attacks. While Manila’s constitution restricts America’s involvement to noncombat support, the countries’ cooperation in the decline of the Abu Sayyaf, dreaded for its bombings, ransom kidnappings and beheadings, has been regarded as a counterterrorism success story.


FROM THE MANILA DAILY BULLETIN (REAL ESTATE)

Manila joins ranks of top 30 cities of the world JLL’s Global 300 study January 9, 2015 Share this:


Leechiu Leechiu

Manila was recently named one of the top 30 cities in the world and expected to be the focus of global commercial real estate activity in the next decade, according to a study by global real estate services firm JLL that assesses city competitiveness and the role of real estate.

JLL’s Global300 study periodically identifies 300 cities in the world that are the bedrock of global commercial real estate activity out of a total of over 1,600 major cities worldwide.

These 300 cities are selected based on an Index of Commercial Attraction which measures an urban center’s economic and real estate power and status. Out of JLL’s Global300, the top 30 cities where real estate commercial activity is concentrated are further identified.

In 2014, the Global Top30 accounted for over 50 percent of total commercial real estate investment among the Global300 and included Manila for the first time.

“The cities comprising the Global Top30 have remained broadly consistent since 2012 – Manila is a new entrant to the Top30, while Madrid has fallen out, which is symptomatic of the steady shift in the balance of real estate activity towards the Asia Pacific region,” said the 2014 update of the JLL Global300 study.

David Leechiu, JLL Philippines country head, noted: “Rapid urbanization is pushing Manila into becoming one of the largest cities in the world. As responsible individuals and corporate citizens, we need to understand what this means.

In a nutshell, it is more people needing more real estate: But let me stress it is not just real estate by itself, but real estate that is adequately supported by infrastructure, and a thought-provoking, credible, sustainable, enforceable master plan.

“This unprecedented real estate boom we are in has been going on for about 10 years, and in all likelihood will go on for the medium term.

It demonstrates dramatic but real fundamentals supporting this economic growth: real and new jobs are being created, real and new wealth as well.”

The JLL Global300 study further noted that “globalization is propelling four cities into the realm of ‘Super City’ status – Tokyo, New York, London and Paris – an elite group that possesses a powerful combination of economic scale and influence, deep corporate bases, highly liquid real estate investment markets and large, diverse and high-quality commercial real estate.”

Tokyo, New York, Seoul, Los Angeles and London were identified as the world’s largest city-economies in the Global300 study.

Unsurprisingly, four of these cities excluding Los Angeles were also home to most corporate international headquarters. Four of the top five largest city-economies excluding Seoul were consequently also among the top five real estate investment markets.

The study explained that competition between cities for capital, corporations and talent has never been stronger.

“There are now in excess of 1,600 major cities across the world… all jostling for global attention and looking for a winning edge.”

The JLL Global300 study was established to allow investors “to make sense of the massive opportunities that rapid urbanization is offering the real estate industry.”

The Global Top30 list divided cities into super cities of which there were four; mature cities including US capitals like Chicago, Washington DC, San Francisco; and emerging cities led by Seoul, Shanghai, Beijing and lastly, Manila.

The JLL Global300 are derived from a weighted list of variables covering population, GDP, corporate presence, air connectivity, commercial real estate stock and real estate investment volumes.


FROM THE MANILA BULLETIN

2015 budget challenged anew Petitioners cite P673.1-B lump-sum appropriations, P47-B insertions by Rey G. Panaligan January 8, 2015 (updated) Share this:

A new petition challenging the P2.6-trillion national budget for 2015 has been filed with the Supreme Court (SC).

Former Biliran Rep. Glenn Chiong, taxpayer Manuelito Luna, college student Aristarchus Lamarck Luna, and members of the Samahang Magbabasura, Inc. told the SC in their petition that the 2015 national budget is unconstitutional because of the inclusion of lump sum and discretionary funds “amounting to more than half of the total budget.” They also asked the SC to issue a temporary restraining order (TRO).

The first petition was filed by former Iloilo Rep. Augusto Syjuco Jr., who said that the national budget is unconstitutional as Republic Act 10651, the 2015 General Appropriations Act (GAA), which contained the questioned budget redefined savings contrary to the meaning specified in the Constitution.

Under the Constitution, “savings are surplus in the budget after the completion or payment of a particular line item budget included in the GAA.”

But the Office of the President (OP) had defended the constitutionality of the 2015 national budget, with Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Herminio Coloma saying that it has undergone all the legal processes.

“Sa paghahanda ng National Expenditure Program na naging batayan ng panukalang budget ng Ehekutibo sa Kongreso, isinaalang-alang ang mga probisyon ng Konstitusyon at ang mga umiiral na batas (In preparing the National Expenditure Program that was the basis for the proposed national budget of the Executive branch to Congress, the Executive branch took into consideration all the provisions under the Constitution as well as prevailing laws),” Coloma said.

Lump sum appropriations

In the new petition, the lump sum appropriations challenged are: the P2-billion contingent fund; P1 billion for rehabilitation and reconstruction program; P31.1 billion for local government units; P7.4 billion for international commitment funds; P118.1 billion for miscellaneous personnel benefits funds; P140.6 billion for pension and gratuity funds; and P372.9 billion for debt service funds.

“Due to the innumerable and significant lump sums in the 2015 GAA, a considerable number of which are automatically appropriated, Congress’ vaunted spending power has had become illusory…,” and that Congress itself had become a surplusage,” the new petition stated.

The petition also pointed out that the “restructuring of the definitions of savings and augmentation and the provisions on utilization of savings,” and “the restructuring for the utilization of Unprogrammed Appropriations,” that had been declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court have been revived in the 2015 national budget.

P47-B insertions

The new petitioners also said that the P47-billion “legislative insertions” in the budget are forms of pork barrel funds for the members of Congress.

“Perhaps, the most infirmed part of RA 10651 is the legislators’ insertions in the budgetary requirements of the Department of Public Works and Highways and four other national government agencies. These insertions are nothing but pork barrel funds,” it added.


FROM PHILSTAR

120,000 homes for Yolanda victims to be finished this year By Helen Flores (The Philippine Star) | Updated January 12, 2015 - 12:00am 4 25 googleplus0 2

MANILA, Philippines - The government is targeting to finish this year the construction of 120,000 housing units for the families displaced by Super Typhoon Yolanda in the Visayas, Vice President Jejomar Binay said yesterday.

Binay is the chair of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) and head of the Yolanda Resettlement Cluster.

He said as of December last year, a total of P13.4 billion has been released for the construction of 46,129 housing units. Of these, 37,500 have been bidded out and awarded.

“By the end of 2015, we plan to provide disaster-resilient housing in safer communities to families living in high-risk and hazardous areas,” Binay said in a statement.

The Vice President said an additional P1.3 billion has also been approved for release and another P7.99 billion approved supplemental budget will generate an additional 31,752 housing units.

“These projects have been bid out and ready for award but could not be awarded yet pending release of funds to the National Housing Authority,” he said.

According to Binay, a total of 205,128 houses are needed for Yolanda victims in 116 cities and municipalities.

He said key shelter agencies have completed a total of 2,100 housing units by the end of 2014.

Yolanda slammed Eastern Visayas on Nov. 8, 2013, leaving more than 6,000 people dead.

Binay admitted that the government housing agencies are facing several issues, which hamper the implementation of the Yolanda housing project, such as difficulty in identifying land suitable for housing with appropriate environmental clearances.

He said Administrative Order 44 was issued on Oct. 28 which is expected to fast-track the release of clearances and permits.

However, Binay said some concerned agencies are still crafting their respective implementing rules and regulations while others have just recently started operationalizing their processes.

“Another problem is that municipalities like Camotes Island are still classified as reserved land,” Binay said.

“In the case of these areas, we are still waiting for a presidential proclamation that will carve out areas that can be used for housing,” he added.

Meanwhile, Binay called for the operationalization of Local Inter-agency Committees (LIACs) as the central planning, implementation and monitoring committee for permanent housing projects.

“Regional resettlement clusters have been established and regional shelter fora with mayors have been conducted to facilitate the process,” Binay said.


MANILA TIMES EDITORIAL

Our now desynchronized world economic order January 10, 2015 9:33 pm


PROFESSOR BEN DIOKNO ASKS: Is President Aquino III Prepared for an Economic Slowdown? CARTOON COURTESY OF MANILASPEAKS .COM

WE have a new year. Times readers, let alone Filipino policy makers, must keep abreast of what has happened to our world.

One of the major characteristics of our world in 2015, which actually became a solid fact of life in 2014, is that we now have a desynchronized world economic order.

This is a result of many factors.

An initial driver of this change is the earlier upheaval that broke up the unipolar global order–in which the lone pole of power, influence and economic clout was the United States– into a multi-polar global order, with the United States losing its exclusive superiority (in some cases because the USA willed to share its power, influence and responsibility with other players). Other powers emerged such as China, the European Union, Germany, Russia, etc. as co-holders of world power.

The world’s stable economic system was also led to desynchronize by the 2008 financial global economic crisis.

That crisis actually revealed that the old stability of the international economic order no longer rested on the solid foundations presumed to be provided by the great banks and financial institutions of America, Europe and Japan.

Because of the 2008 global economic crisis, Europe until now, six years later, is still floundering. Some countries of Europe are in recession. The EU is not expected to contribute much to global growth in 2015.

Germany, the richest and most stable of the European Union states, is now willing to allow the EU to shrink — by kicking Greece out and any other member that lacks Germanic discipline over their finances and their economies. Germany has been forced to take this hard stand because it risks being weakened by its role as savior of the EU’s economically and fiscally laggard members.

While the USA has fully recovered from the 2008 crisis and is in fact regaining its former fiscal and economic strength, the American people and its banks and financial institutions are not yet very eager to take global risks that might arrest their recovery. US growth is now in the old good 5 percent level.

China, which used to be the shining star in global growth, has declined. It has to attend to long-festering internal problems before it can once again attain the economic muscle that it had when it replaced Japan as the world’s second biggest economy after the United States.

The astute global-intelligence analyst, the head of STRATFOR, George Friedman, writes the following about “The Desynchronization of the Global Economy” as the third most important event in 2014:


TIMES, JANUARY 5, 2015

“That the major economic centers of the world are completely out of synch with each other, not only statistically but also structurally, indicates that a major shift in how the world works may be underway.”

“The dire predictions for the US economy that were floated in the wake of the 2008 crisis have not materialized. There has been neither hyperinflation nor deflation. The economy did not collapse. Rather, it has slowly but systematically climbed out of its hole in terms of both growth and unemployment. The forecast that China would shortly overtake the United States as the world’s leading economy has been delayed at least.

The forecast that Europe would demonstrate that the “Anglo-Saxon” economic model is inferior to Europe’s more statist and socially sensitive approach has been disproven. And the assumption that Japan’s dysfunction would lead to massive defaults also has not happened.”

“The desynchronization of the international system raises questions about what globalization means, and whether it has any meaning at all.”

What should we Filipinos do?

the Aquino administration making the right decisions to equip our country to succeed in a desynchronized global economic order?


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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