BUSINESS HEADLINES THIS PAST WEEK...
(Mini Reads followed by Full Reports below)

TO BECOME ONE OF ASEAN’S LARGEST CONSUMER MARKETS, Per capita GDP has to double - Asian economist
[Meanwhile overseas worker remittances were cited as key driver of GDP growth in the Philippines, as they provide support consumer expenditure and also residential housing construction Over the short-term, IHS projects that the Philippine economy will expand by 6.4 percent in 2015 and 5.6 percent in 2016. The said figures however are below the government’s 7 to 8 percent target for this year and next].


 The Philippine economy is projected to double its gross domestic product per person by 2024 and become a trillion dollar economy by 2029, a US-based think tank said. According to IHS Asia Pacific Chief Economist Rajiv Biswas, the Philippines economy has the capacity for robust long-term economic growth to average around 5.5 percent per year in the next five years. IHS forecasts that total GDP per person in the Philippines will rise from around $3,000 in 2015 to around $6,000 by 2024. “This has considerable implications for the size of the Philippines consumer economy. These significant increases in per capita GDP will create one of ASEAN’s largest consumer markets of the future, as the middle class rapidly expands over time,” Biswas said. “This will help to attract foreign direct investment by multinationals into the Philippines manufacturing and services industry,” he added. READ MORE...

ALSO: PAL POSTS BIGGEST IMPROVEMENT; 4 of 7 profitable SE Asian airlines from PH


Despite challenging market conditions, four out of seven airlines in Southeast Asia that reported improved profits in 2014 are from the Philippines. Data from Center for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA) said out of 18 publicly -traded airlines in Southeast Asia, only seven were profitable on an operating basis in 2014 including the four airlines from the Philippines such as Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific and its subsidiary Tigerair Philippines and Air Asia Philippines. But flag carrier Philippine Airlines by far had the biggest improvement in the Philippine market and Southeast Asia overall, CAPA said. PAL posted an operating profit of $7 million for 2014, a turnaround from an operating loss of $283 million in 2013. PAL’s operating revenue jumped to P100.9 billion as passenger carriage soared and yields improved, leading to an operating profit of P2.37 billion – reversing the operating loss of P5.51 billion in 2013. READ MORE....

ALSO: Phl economy seen to average 5.5% growth in next 5 yrs


File photo 
The economy may grow by an average of 5.5 percent next year until 2020, analytics firm IHS said yesterday. “The Philippine economy has the capacity for robust long-term economic growth to average around 5.5 percent per year over the 2016 to 2020 time horizon,” Rajiv Biswas, chief economist for Asia-Pacific at IHS, said. “IHS forecasts that total GDP (gross domestic product) per person in the Philippines will rise from around $3,000 in 2015 to around $6,000 by 2024,” Biswas said. The estimated increase in the per capita GDP should make the country one of the largest consumer markets in Southeast Asia, the economist said. Such a scenario, he added, would attract more foreign investments to the country especially to its manufacturing and services industries. Philippine economic growth slowed to 6.1 percent last year from 7.2 percent in 2013. The government hopes to grow the economy by seven to eight percent this year until the next. Biswas said the economy’s key growth drivers would continue to be the IT-business process outsourcing sector and the robust inflows of remittances from overseas Filipino workers. READ MORE...

ALSO in Bohol (Panglao) & Albay (Daraga): Two new RP interational airports set for inauguration in June


THE NEW BOHOL AIRPORT (PANGLAO) Two more airports are set to be inaugurated by the Department of Transportation and Communications (DoTC) before the end of the second quarter. The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) identified the two new airports as the Panglao international airport in Bohol and Daraga airport in Albay.The two new airports are actually replacements for two existing ones, the Tagbilaran and Legaspi airports, can no longer accommodate the growing airlines and passengers. Deputy director general Rodante Joya said it’s up to the DoTC whether the Tagbilaran and Legaspi airports will be closed. Both the Panglao and Daraga airports are already on their finishing touches and set to be fully inaugurated on or before June 30, 2015.
Earlier, Joya said the new airports aim to attract more tourists to the provinces. Both Bohol and Albay are top tourist drawers. READ MORE...

ALSO BANK ENDORSEMENT: EastWest works hard like me, says People’s Champ Pacquiao


In the midst of preparing for his long-awaited fight with Floyd Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao signed a new endorsement deal with EastWest Bank, a subsidiary of Gotianun-led Filinvest Development Corporation and one of the country’s fastest-growing banks. Pacquiao said of his new endorsement, “I am proud to represent EastWest, a young bank that dreams big and works really hard to reach its goals, just like me.” Like Pacquiao, EastWest Bank’s climb to success has been more than phenomenal. The universal bank started humbly with just a small network of branches, but aggressively expanded and grew to 405 branches. EastWest CEO Antonio C. Moncupa Jr. said that the bank could not have chosen a better brand endorser than the world-renowned boxing champ. “Pacquiao is a hero who embodies the excellent qualities of the Filipino spirit. Starting as an underdog, he has fought with bigger opponents and emerged as one of the greatest boxing champions the world has ever had. “He has always been focused, disciplined and determined to win; and one who humbly dedicates his victory to God and country,” Moncupa said during the bank’s contract signing with the premier athlete. By offering excellent products and services and investing in technology and training, EastWest has demonstrated as well the bank’s drive to excel. Like Pacquiao, EastWest’s spot-on strategies will allow the bank to leverage its momentum to be, pound-for-pound, one of the country’s best banks. CONTINUE READING TRIBUNE REPORT.....

ALSO: Customs chief caves in to political pressures, quits; Bert Lina takes the helm


OUT OF THE PIT Customs Commissioner John Phillip Sevilla heads for the exit after his news conference where he announced his resignation. PHOTO BY RENE DILAN
Political pressures, including one allegedly from the influential Iglesia ni Cristo (Church of Christ or INC), has forced Customs Commissioner John Phillip Sevilla to resign his post on Thursday. Sevilla announced his resignation in a news conference. He said his resignation would become effective as soon as Malacañang names his successor. Sevilla disclosed that he personally met with President Benigno Aquino 3rd on Wednesday during which he handed over his resignation. “My resignation will be effective as soon as there will be a replacement,” he said, declining to identify his successor. A few hours after Sevilla’s news conference, Malacañang released a facsimile of a letter signed by Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. accepting Sevilla’s resignation. The Palace also released a copy of the appointment letter of Alberto David Lina as the new Customs commissioner. Both documents were dated April 23. Lina was Customs chief during the Arroyo administration, but he was replaced when he joined the “Hyatt 10” or the group of Cabinet members who resigned their posts to join the call for President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s resignation at the height of the “Hello Garci” scandal in 2004. Lina, brother of former senator Jose “Joey” Lina, was president of the Aircargo Forwarders of the Philippines Inc., an industry association of airfreight forwarders, and was president of Air21, a cargo forwarding company. The resigned Customs chief admitted encountering difficulties in implementing reforms at the waterfront’s premier revenue-generating agency. “Kapag gawin mo ang tama sa Customs, may risk kang kahaharapin [There’s always a risk when you do something right at Customs],” he said. READ MORE...PLUS 6 READERS' COMMENTS

ALSO MALAYA COLUMN OF THE DAY: Direct foreign investments
[While the economy needs foreign investments, slow flow does not affect growth. Which translates into realizing the long-awaited dream of attaining internal strength. It is in this sense that while we need direct foreign investments to grow even faster the economy survives even if the flows were smaller in recent periods.]


By Amado P. Macasaet
Recent reports say direct foreign investment flows have been negative. This could not mean anything else except the reality that the flows were smaller compared to a similar period in the past. This sounds oxymoronic to me. Or the negative flows are clear suggestions that while the economy needs foreign capital it can survive on its own. Proofs are everywhere. Shares offered by big companies particularly those listed in the Philippine Stock Exchange are invariably oversubscribed. But it must be pointed out the right to acquire them belong exclusively to the present stockholders. In other words some of the capital offerings are rights of pre-emption. They are not options. Almost every day newspapers (Business Insight highlights them) report this and that company have set aside billions of pesos for capital expenditures.

Even the Ayala Group, probably the most conservative but most successful among the conglomerates, is known to have decided to borrow not less than P15 billion this year for its capital expenditures. The economy does not seem to be hurt by persistent decline in the value and volume of merchandise exports. This could have hurt the economy severely if it relied almost solely on export receipts for foreign exchange. The country has around $80 billion of gross international reserves remitted by around 10 million Filipinos working abroad. The economy does not rely on exports for dollars. Direct foreign investments help increase the reserves, nominally considering that the Philippines is not as yet the favorite host to foreign investors. The benefits from direct foreign investments are not in counting the money in dollars and cents. It is the product foreign money produces, the number of people it hires and the taxes it pays. READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

TO BECOME ONE OF ASEAN’S LARGEST CONSUMER MARKETS; Per capita GDP to double

MANILA, APRIL 27, 2015 (MALAYA) By ANGELA CELIS on April 22, 2015 - The Philippine economy is projected to double its gross domestic product per person by 2024 and become a trillion dollar economy by 2029, a US-based think tank said.

According to IHS Asia Pacific Chief Economist Rajiv Biswas, the Philippines economy has the capacity for robust long-term economic growth to average around 5.5 percent per year in the next five years.

IHS forecasts that total GDP per person in the Philippines will rise from around $3,000 in 2015 to around $6,000 by 2024.

“This has considerable implications for the size of the Philippines consumer economy. These significant increases in per capita GDP will create one of ASEAN’s largest consumer markets of the future, as the middle class rapidly expands over time,” Biswas said.

“This will help to attract foreign direct investment by multinationals into the Philippines manufacturing and services industry,” he added.

READ MORE...
IHS also projects that total GDP of the Philippines will rise from $310 billion in 2015 to $500 billion by 2020.

It added that the Philippines will become a trillion dollar economy by 2029 with GDP reaching $1.05 trillion.

Over the short-term, IHS projects that the Philippine economy will expand by 6.4 percent in 2015 and 5.6 percent in 2016.

The said figures however are below the government’s 7 to 8 percent target for this year and next.

The think tank said that real consumer spending growth is forecast to remain strong, growing at 5.2 percent per year in 2015 and 2016.

Biswas said that two key growth drivers for the Philippines economy are the rapidly growing IT-BPO sector and the strong flow of remittances from Filipino workers abroad.

He said that the rapid growth of the IT-BPO industry is driving economic development in a number of cities across the Philippines, with Manila and Cebu ranked among the world’s leading IT-BPO hubs.

Meanwhile overseas worker remittances were cited as key driver of GDP growth in the Philippines, as they provide support consumer expenditure and also residential housing construction.

“While the current growth drivers of the Philippines are the IT-BPO industry and the strong and stable remittances of the overseas Filipino workers, the long-term outlook for the future development of the Philippines will be heavily dependent on the ability to make the manufacturing sector more competitive and to mobilize both foreign and domestic investment flows into the manufacturing sector. This will require considerable improvement of the business climate, with the Philippines still ranked very low globally on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business rankings,” Biswas said.

The IHS said that a key priority for the Philippines must be to attract greater FDI into the manufacturing sector, in order to boost employment growth and make the Philippines a competitive ASEAN manufacturing export hub.

“This will help to reduce poverty rates by boosting jobs growth and household incomes,” the think tank said.

Another key challenge for the Philippines is to boost infrastructure investment, the IHS said, in order to create high quality transport infrastructure for roads, ports and airports, as well as for power generation and transmission, which are essential for boosting growth in manufacturing and services.

Tackling urban crime must also be another key priority, in order to make the Philippines a more attractive environment for foreign investment and tourism, the IHS said.

Poverty and unemployment were also cited as bottlenecks that need to be addressed.

“Therefore creating a diversified economy with key growth industries that can generate rapid jobs growth will be a key strategic imperative for the government,” the IHS said.


MALAYA

PAL POSTS BIGGEST IMPROVEMENT; 4 of 7 profitable SE Asian airlines from PH By Myla Iglesias on April 22, 2015

Despite challenging market conditions, four out of seven airlines in Southeast Asia that reported improved profits in 2014 are from the Philippines.

Data from Center for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA) said out of 18 publicly -traded airlines in Southeast Asia, only seven were profitable on an operating basis in 2014 including the four airlines from the Philippines such as Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific and its subsidiary Tigerair Philippines and Air Asia Philippines.

But flag carrier Philippine Airlines by far had the biggest improvement in the Philippine market and Southeast Asia overall, CAPA said.

PAL posted an operating profit of $7 million for 2014, a turnaround from an operating loss of $283 million in 2013.

PAL’s operating revenue jumped to P100.9 billion as passenger carriage soared and yields improved, leading to an operating profit of P2.37 billion – reversing the operating loss of P5.51 billion in 2013.

READ MORE...
There were more than 40 full-service passenger carriers operating in Southeast Asia in 2014, including regional operators. CAPA estimated that fewer than 10 of these carriers were profitable in 2014, including Bangkok Airways, PAL, Singapore Airlines and SilkAir.

“The Philippine market benefited from consolidation and capacity reductions while overcapacity plagued all the other major markets in Southeast Asia.” He said .

In 2014, Cebu Pacific acquired Tigerair Philippines for $15 million.

CEB was able to quickly turn around Tigerair Philippines with a net loss narrowing to $4 million between March 20, 014, the date the acquisition closed, and Dec. 31, 2014 from a $54 million loss in 2013 and a loss of about $15 million in the first 80 days of 2014.

Philippines AirAsia acquired Zest in 2013 and the two carriers are now in the process of merging. The AirAsia Group is confident its Philippine operation can turn the corner in 2015 after narrowing losses in 2014.

For its 2015 outlook, CAPA said , “More capacity adjustments and consolidation may be needed for the Southeast Asian airline sector to return to the profit levels of a couple years ago. 2014 was an extremely challenging year. The sector has passed through the eye of the storm but some turbulence remains.”

“As most airlines emerge from more expensive fuel hedges, the impact of substantially lower fuel costs will feed through and should deliver a much needed boost to the bottom lines of many airlines. The only caveat here is whether the positive revenue impact will be offset by discounting and a new round of capacity expansion” CAPA added.


PHILSTAR

Phl economy seen to average 5.5% growth in next 5 yrs By Kathleen A. Martin (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 22, 2015 - 12:00am


File photo

MANILA, Philippines - The economy may grow by an average of 5.5 percent next year until 2020, analytics firm IHS said yesterday.

“The Philippine economy has the capacity for robust long-term economic growth to average around 5.5 percent per year over the 2016 to 2020 time horizon,” Rajiv Biswas, chief economist for Asia-Pacific at IHS, said.

“IHS forecasts that total GDP (gross domestic product) per person in the Philippines will rise from around $3,000 in 2015 to around $6,000 by 2024,” Biswas said.

The estimated increase in the per capita GDP should make the country one of the largest consumer markets in Southeast Asia, the economist said. Such a scenario, he added, would attract more foreign investments to the country especially to its manufacturing and services industries.

Philippine economic growth slowed to 6.1 percent last year from 7.2 percent in 2013. The government hopes to grow the economy by seven to eight percent this year until the next.

Biswas said the economy’s key growth drivers would continue to be the IT-business process outsourcing sector and the robust inflows of remittances from overseas Filipino workers.

READ MORE...
“The competitiveness the Philippines in this industry has been particularly helped by the large pool of university-educated workers as well as the strong English-language skills of the workforce,” Biswas said.

According to Biswis, export revenues from the IT-BPO sector has more than doubled to $18 billion in 2014 from 2008, while the number of employees in the sector surpassed one million.

“By 2016, the Philippines IT-BPO industry is projected to have 1.3 million employees. The rapid growth of this industry is also driving economic development in a number of cities across the Philippines, with Manila and Cebu now ranked among the world’s leading IT-BPO hubs,” Biswas said.

“The rapid growth of the IT-BPO industry is also creating positive transmission effects for the rest of the economy, including for the commercial property sector, with rapid growth in demand for commercial floor space, underpinning the development of existing and new office parks in urban centers,” he said.

At the same time, remittances from Filipinos working and living abroad climbed to a record high of $26.9 billion last year.

“Overseas worker remittances are a key driver of GDP growth in the Philippines, as they provide support consumer expenditure and also residential housing construction,” Biswas said.

The analyst said there is an estimated 35 percent of the total annual remittances finding its way into residential property purchases, supporting the expansion in the residential construction sector in major cities in the country.

“While the current growth drivers of the Philippines are the IT-BPO industry and the strong and stable remittances of the overseas Filipino workers, the long-term outlook for the future development of the Philippines will be heavily dependent on the ability to make the manufacturing sector more competitive and to mobilize both foreign and domestic investment flows into the manufacturing sector,” Biswas said.

He said a key challenge for the country remains to be improving the business climate in order to rake in more foreign investments.

“While the Aquino government has made efforts to improve this ranking, there is still a great deal of work to do to improve the overall competitiveness of the Philippines to attract large inflows of foreign direct investment,” Biswas said.


TRIBUNE

Two new RP airports set for inauguration Written by Ed Velasco Thursday, 23 April 2015 00:00


THE NEW BOHOL AIRPORT (PANGLAO)

Two more airports are set to be inaugurated by the Department of Transportation and Communications (DoTC) before the end of the second quarter.

The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) identified the two new airports as the Panglao international airport in Bohol and Daraga airport in Albay.

The two new airports are actually replacements for two existing ones, the Tagbilaran and Legaspi airports, can no longer accommodate the growing airlines and passengers.

Deputy director general Rodante Joya said it’s up to the DoTC whether the Tagbilaran and Legaspi airports will be closed.

Both the Panglao and Daraga airports are already on their finishing touches and set to be fully inaugurated on or before June 30, 2015.


DARAGA, ALBAY AIRPORT

Earlier, Joya said the new airports aim to attract more tourists to the provinces. Both Bohol and Albay are top tourist drawers.

READ MORE...
Bohol is banking on its famed chocolate hills, the world famous tarsiers and centuries-old churches while Albay is best known for Mayon Volcano.

Tourists eyeing to visit the paradise-like Caramoan islands at the nearby Camarines Sur can also visit the place via Daraga airport.

The islands of Caramoan were noticed after the French edition of Survivor series chose the place instead of other islands in the northern Philippines in filming the reality show.

The two latest airports will be the 83rd and 84th under CAAP supervision.

Joya didn’t comment when asked if the two new airports will make money like the seven airports under CAAP jurisdiction.

“Those are DoTC projects. They are in a better position to answer,” Joya, 68, told The Daily Tribune.

Of the 84 airports, only those in Kalibo, Caticlan, Davao, Iloilo, Tagbilaran, Dumaguete and General Santos are earning.

Davao was the biggest earning airport in 2014 followed by Kalibo, according to news reports.
Despite the huge losses experienced by most airports, Joya said CAAP cannot sell or turn them over to respective local government units.


TRIBUNE

ENDORSEMENT: EastWest works hard like me, says People’s Champ Pacquiao Written by Ed Velasco Thursday, 23 April 2015 00:00


Pambansang Kamao’ Manny Pacquiao is EastWest Bank’s latest celebrity endorser. In photo during the signing ceremony are (left to right): Solar Entertainment CEO Wilson Y. Tieng, People’s Champ Manny Pacquiao, EastWest CEO Antonio C. Moncupa, Jr. and EastWest Consumer Lending Head Jacqueline S. Fernandez.

Newsbit: Manny Pacquiao signs endorsement deal with EastWest Bank

In the midst of preparing for his long-awaited fight with Floyd Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao signed a new endorsement deal with EastWest Bank, a subsidiary of Gotianun-led Filinvest Development Corporation and one of the country’s fastest-growing banks.

Pacquiao said of his new endorsement, “I am proud to represent EastWest, a young bank that dreams big and works really hard to reach its goals, just like me.” Like Pacquiao, EastWest Bank’s climb to success has been more than phenomenal.

The universal bank started humbly with just a small network of branches, but aggressively expanded and grew to 405 branches. EastWest CEO Antonio C. Moncupa Jr. said that the bank could not have chosen a better brand endorser than the world-renowned boxing champ.

“Pacquiao is a hero who embodies the excellent qualities of the Filipino spirit. Starting as an underdog, he has fought with bigger opponents and emerged as one of the greatest boxing champions the world has ever had. “He has always been focused, disciplined and determined to win; and one who humbly dedicates his victory to God and country,” Moncupa said during the bank’s contract signing with the premier athlete. By offering excellent products and services and investing in technology and training, EastWest has demonstrated as well the bank’s drive to excel. Like Pacquiao, EastWest’s spot-on strategies will allow the bank to leverage its momentum to be, pound-for-pound, one of the country’s best banks.

The TRIBUNE REPORT

EastWest works hard like me, says People’s Champ Pacquiao Written by Ed Velasco Thursday, 23 April 2015 00:00


REP MANNY PACQUIAO

EastWest Bank has become the first unibank to be endorsed by Manny Pacquiao, the people’s champ.

While it seems like a bold and unorthodox move, EastWest Bank president Antonio Moncupa Jr. said it was actually a logical decision because Pacquiao’s character and abilities embody the best qualities of a Filipino — courageous and passionate.

“We could not have chosen a better endorser than the world-renowned boxing champ,” Moncupa said.

“Manny is a hero who embodies the excellent qualities of the Filipino spirit. Starting as an underdog, he has fought with bigger opponents and emerged as one of the greatest boxing champions the world has ever had,” the banker added.

EastWest, the banking arm of Filinvest Land of Andrew Gotianun, started with a single branch in 1994 but it now has the fifth largest branch network in the industry, making it the country’s fastest growing universal bank.

Its strategic branch expansion saw it exceeding its target and bringing its network to 405 branch stores.

From being 17th in the industry during its pre-IPO (initial public offering) days in 2011, EastWest now ranks fifth in terms of credit cards and car loans.

“Manny has always been focused, disciplined and determined to win; and one who humbly dedicates his victory to God and country,” Moncupa said.

The bank endorsement deal is also a first for Pacquiao.

“It is an honor for me to be chosen as EastWest’s newest endorser. It is a bank that has worked hard to be where it is now in the same way that I worked hard to be where I am now.
I admire the passion in their work and the focus they have in making their customers’ dreams a reality. I also value the role that banks play in helping me and other Filipinos reach financial success,”

Pacquiao, described by Bob Arum as the greatest boxer who ever lived, said.

In an article at the Reader’s Digest in 2012, it was said Pacquiao used to fight with only P800 prize money when he was 14 to 17 years old in General Santos and nearby cities.

After every bout, Pacquiao urinates blood due to severe beatings from older and more experienced opponents.

After completing its strategic expansion program, EastWest is now at the threshold of the next phase of its journey — taking advantage of the country’s strong economy to further increase the bank’s market share.


MANNY WITH BOB ARUM

BOXING promoter Bob Arum is 81 and reportedly worth more than $200 million - but he is showing no signs of slowing down.

"I am just an 81-year-old guy enjoying what I do," the Harvard Law alum said.

"Why retire? Why stop if you are good at a job and having fun?"

Born Robert Morris Arum, he is chief executive of Top Rank, a Nevada-based boxing promotion company that has handled some of the greatest fighters of all time.

Bob was born into an Orthodox Jewish family in Brooklyn, but despite the plethora of great Jewish fighters practising at the time Arum had no interest in the sweet science.

In fact, by the time he reached his 30s, he had yet to watch a bout.

"Baseball was what I loved most as a kid," he said from Las Vegas. "I used to go to Ebbets Field and watch the Brooklyn Dodgers.

"It only cost me 10 cents. Those were the good days."

He was an ambitious young man and landed a job in the justice department while John F Kennedy was president. It was this post that inadvertently started his love affair with boxing.

"I worked in the tax division and specialised in criminal investigations," he said.

"One of my cases was the Floyd Patterson and Sonny Liston fight in 1962.

"I was investigating the conduct of a promoter named Ray Cohn and that is how I became interested in boxing.

"Until then I had never seen a fight."

With a razor-sharp penchant for detail, Arum recalled how his healthy interest in the sport manifested itself into a glorious career.

Three-times married Bob - whose son John died in a mountain climbing accident in 2010 - says he is asked every day if he will ever retire.

"I have learned to delegate. I am not the only person running the company", he said.

"I still want to put on great fights, bring new fighters into the sport and create the next Pacquiao, the next superstar. I still have a zest for life.

"Being around younger people all the times makes you feel younger. All I want to do is have fun and I am really having fun."


MANILA TIMES

Customs chief caves in to political pressures, quits; Bert Lina takes the helm April 24, 2015 2:00 am by WILLIAM B. DEPASUPIL, REPORTER


OUT OF THE PIT Customs Commissioner John Phillip Sevilla heads for the exit after his news conference where he announced his resignation. PHOTO BY RENE DILAN

Political pressures, including one allegedly from the influential Iglesia ni Cristo (Church of Christ or INC), has forced Customs Commissioner John Phillip Sevilla to resign his post on Thursday.

Sevilla announced his resignation in a news conference. He said his resignation would become effective as soon as Malacañang names his successor.

Sevilla disclosed that he personally met with President Benigno Aquino 3rd on Wednesday during which he handed over his resignation.

“My resignation will be effective as soon as there will be a replacement,” he said, declining to identify his successor.

A few hours after Sevilla’s news conference, Malacañang released a facsimile of a letter signed by Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. accepting Sevilla’s resignation.

The Palace also released a copy of the appointment letter of Alberto David Lina as the new Customs commissioner. Both documents were dated April 23.


BERT LINA

Lina was Customs chief during the Arroyo administration, but he was replaced when he joined the “Hyatt 10” or the group of Cabinet members who resigned their posts to join the call for President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s resignation at the height of the “Hello Garci” scandal in 2004.

Lina, brother of former senator Jose “Joey” Lina, was president of the Aircargo Forwarders of the Philippines Inc., an industry association of airfreight forwarders, and was president of Air21, a cargo forwarding company.

The resigned Customs chief admitted encountering difficulties in implementing reforms at the waterfront’s premier revenue-generating agency.

“Kapag gawin mo ang tama sa Customs, may risk kang kahaharapin [There’s always a risk when you do something right at Customs],” he said.

READ MORE....
According to Sevilla, his less than two-year stint at the waterfront has introduced him to a lot of “rude awakening,” saying that things considered immoral and unimaginable in the outside world were normal in the Bureau of Customs.

A Department of Finance undersecretary, he was appointed by President Benigno Aquino 3rd as officer-in-charge of the BOC in December 2013, after then-Customs Commissioner Rozzano Rufino “Ruffy” Biazon resigned.

Biazon, a former Muntinlupa City (Metro Manila) representative in Congress, was forced to resign after the Department of Justice filed charges against him and 33 other incumbent and former congressmen in connection with the alleged pork barrel scam.

But despite his bad experiences, Sevilla said he has no regrets because it is an honor working for the government and for the people.

“My only regret is not [being] able to finish what I have started,” he added.

Sevilla, however, clarified that his decision to step down was voluntary and was made primarily because of the political presssures.

“I did my best. I fervently hope that my successor can run the bureau much better and smoother than it is today. He or she needs to do a better job than me because I believe that the straight path here in Customs is in grave danger,” he said in Filipino.

Whoever would be appointed Customs commissioner, according to Sevilla, should ensure the success of the tuwid na daan (straight path), referring to the President’s battlecry against graft and corruption in the government.

He said he felt and sensed telltale signs of the ugly face of politics creeping back into the system, one of the reasons why the BOC has been branded as among the most corrupt agencies of the government.

“In the past weeks, I’ve spoken to friends at the BOC and we all agreed that the atmosphere in the agency is politically charged… there are political factors moving in the background,” Sevilla added, also in Filipino.

“When I started working here, I did everything to insulate the BOC from politicking but in the past months, it’s becoming very difficult and it might be impossible to hold on to the reforms in the coming months.”

He disclosed that there are people who have been dropping the name of the INC in forcing him to appoint Teodoro Raval, the incumbent chief of the BOC’s Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) division, as head of the Enforcement and Security Services (ESS). The ESS chief has direct supervision and control over the 400-strong BOC security force.

“Walang ibang dahilan na binibigay para sa appontment ni Attorney Raval. Malakas ang tulak na ma-promote sa matataas na posisyon sa Customs [There are no other reasons given for Attorney Raval’s appointment. There’s a strong push to have him promoted to a top position at Customs],” he said.

“This is all second- hand information. Nobody has approached me from Iglesia ni Cristo but its name is being used [in Customs]. In fact I doubt if it is really the INC, but in all my conversations about this, the name of Iglesia ni Cristo is always used.

But just the same, even if it is the INC or whoever it is, I don’t believe in the political basis of appointment in Customs,” Sevilla added.

“I have nothing against any religious group. I’m not sure, I don’t believe that it is really the Iglesia Ni Cristo but it is the only name that is always mentioned,” he said.

Customs sources have told The Manila Times that Raval’s appointment as ESS chief was approved and endorsed by Malacanang last December but Sevilla opposed it.

Sevilla neither confirmed nor denied reports that Raval’s appointment has been approved.

“I don’t talk about my conversations with the President. I met with the President, I submitted my resignation,” the Customs chief said.

But aside from the Raval case, Sevilla also admitted that there were other political incidents that led to his resignation but declined to elaborate.

“I don’t want to compromise ongoing investigation, but there are other signs.”

“It is my principle that politics and principle peddling should have no place in Customs. If you give way to one, how will you know that it would be the last?” he said.

“I am only being consistent. Its either you accede [to influence peddlers], in which case you say goodbye to reform, or you won’t accede, zero. What is important is you are consistent,” Sevilla pointed out.

A Malacanang spokesman conceded that corruption still persists in the BOC because the agency’s problem is “institutional” and many of the agency’s processes are still susceptible to “personal influence.”

Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said Sevilla’s revelations about the corruption, bribery and intimidation he faced at the bureau only showed that the agency needs to undergo “systemic reforms.”

“What is needed here is the institutional strengthening of the Bureau of Customs,” he told reporters.

Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said Sevilla should go all out and name the political personalities who have forced him to vacate his post. He urged the Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate Sevilla’s revelations.

“I think an investigation is in order and he should identify those political personalities pressuring him. What is the motive of these personalities?” the senator added.

Sen. Paolo Benigno Aquino 4th said Sevilla’s resignation is unfortunate because it was during his stint at the BOC when fruits of reforms he had instituted were realized, especially battling smuggling and improving revenue collection.

“The government lost an outstanding public servant with the resignation of Bureau of Customs Commissioner John Phillip P. Sevilla,” he noted. WITH JOEL M. SY EGCO AND JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA

6 Responses to Customs chief caves in, quits

Jose says:

April 24, 2015 at 10:03 am

Bureau of Customs is one of the most corrupt departments of BS Aquino’s administration. The Philippine government loses billions of dollars worth of revenues due to the unbridled smuggling at the ports.

Instead of keeping John Sevilla who seems to be reforming the Bureau of Customs, Sevilla resigned due to pressures from politicians and allegedly from INC. There is a rumor too that Malacanang wants to make the Customs a cash cow for the 2016 elections. This government is utterly corrupt. Shameless!

Reply

hector says:

April 24, 2015 at 8:29 am

This reflects the reality of the Pnoy Aquino administration across the board. Corruption, and patronage politics continues unabated, and Pnoy Aquino is to weak to even stop his KKK pillaging the coffers. Good on Sevilla for standing by his principles. Shame on the others for being both corrupt and incompetence. A fish rots from the head, and there is a stink being emitted from Malacanang.

Reply

Venerando Desales says:

April 24, 2015 at 7:10 am

If the problem in the agency is institutional, then overhaul it! There are times that even if the head is efficient and effective; yet, he is still overwhelmed by the corrupt system and the culture in the agency. This means that the subordinates have become so powerful and influential than the head. Then the saying, ‘If you can’t beat them, join them!’, becomes the norm.These subordinates should be rotated, just like the old practice, to other agencies to prevent building up clientele and too much familiarization with key players. The principle of conflict of interests should be given more teeth! The question of whether or not the job applicant represents conflicting interest should be made clear in the job application form so that if he falsifies it, he can be charged of perjury. This will also deter the applicant from committing wrongdoing and encourage informers to report conflicting interests.

Reply

apolonio reyes says:

April 24, 2015 at 7:10 am

Sa simula ng Pnoy administration sa panungkulan ni Comm. Alvarez, 2000- 40 footer Container Vans ang nawala na parang bula, na hangang sa sulat na ito, ay hindi pa mahanap, Bakit sa lalaki nitong 2000-40 footer container vans o mahigit sa 3/4 hectare ay hindi makita maski na pahanap o hindi pinahanap sa NBI? Sunod nagsi Resign si Biazon at Sevilla sa dahilan sa KURRUPTION SA BOC. Ito ba ang daan matuwid ni Pnoy? Ito BOC ay maliit na MAMASAPANO na ang TAO NA APPOINT ay iniwan sa gitna ng laban ng MALACANANG gaya ng 44 SAF FALLEN HEROES, Di ba SirP?

Reply

sea eagle says:

April 24, 2015 at 4:05 am

Mabuhay ka Commissioner John Phillip Sevilla you did your best you just didnt get the right support.Hopefully the next President will be a strong leader not like the coward we have now and will take you back as the head BOC again so you will be able to complete the reform you started.

Reply

sea eagle says:

April 24, 2015 at 3:58 am

This is the problem when the President dont have the iron hand to support his people who wants to do the right they are abandoned and betrayed.


MALAYA COLUMN OF THE DAY

Direct foreign investments By Amado P. Macasaet on April 22, 2015


By Amado P. Macasaet

Recent reports say direct foreign investment flows have been negative. This could not mean anything else except the reality that the flows were smaller compared to a similar period in the past.

This sounds oxymoronic to me. Or the negative flows are clear suggestions that while the economy needs foreign capital it can survive on its own. Proofs are everywhere. Shares offered by big companies particularly those listed in the Philippine Stock Exchange are invariably oversubscribed. But it must be pointed out the right to acquire them belong exclusively to the present stockholders. In other words some of the capital offerings are rights of pre-emption. They are not options.

Almost every day newspapers (Business Insight highlights them) report this and that company have set aside billions of pesos for capital expenditures. Even the Ayala Group, probably the most conservative but most successful among the conglomerates, is known to have decided to borrow not less than P15 billion this year for its capital expenditures.

The economy does not seem to be hurt by persistent decline in the value and volume of merchandise exports. This could have hurt the economy severely if it relied almost solely on export receipts for foreign exchange.

The country has around $80 billion of gross international reserves remitted by around 10 million Filipinos working abroad. The economy does not rely on exports for dollars. Direct foreign investments help increase the reserves, nominally considering that the Philippines is not as yet the favorite host to foreign investors.

The benefits from direct foreign investments are not in counting the money in dollars and cents. It is the product foreign money produces, the number of people it hires and the taxes it pays.

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Otherwise direct foreign investments do not help the economy if they come in the form of hot money invested mostly in listed shares of stock. Hot money is transient money. It takes advantage of the volatility of emerging markets.

The simple fact is the economy is largely helped by foreign investments — direct or otherwise.

The economy grows at a faster clip. The future looks rosy as seen by foreign rating agencies and multilateral institutions notably the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank among many.

While the economy needs foreign investments, slow flow does not affect growth. Which translates into realizing the long-awaited dream of attaining internal strength.

It is in this sense that while we need direct foreign investments to grow even faster the economy survives even if the flows were smaller in recent periods.

My opinion of why these things happen is that we have opened up the economy to just about anybody who wants to come in. The regime of strident nationalism is behind us. Otherwise, there will be loud, in fact nearly violent objections to the opening of the banking system to foreigners.

Earlier, Supreme Court lifted restrictions on mining by allowing foreign investors to fully own a mining operation for as long as they enter into a technical and financial agreement with the government. The downside of the SC ruling is the stubbornness of the President.

He might have been brainwashed by self-proclaimed guardians of the environment such that in his watch he has not given a single permit to a new mining proposal. Most unfortunate is missing — so tar anyway —the $5.9 billion committed by foreign investors to develop the rich copper-gold deposits in Tampakan. South Cotabato

The investors have not exactly thrown in the towel. They simply slowed down on spending on community development.

Setting aside the stubbornness of the President, he should be credited for leaving business alone. He seems to have full appreciation of the fact that the best government for business is less government.

Thus, he hardly talks or defines which path the economy should take. He leaves that decision to the businessmen, to the risk takers. They know best. What they believe to be good for them is better for the economy.

Lifting restrictions imposed by the Constitution encourages direct foreign investments. Whether the President knows it or not, his government appears to have a full grasp of the market driven economic system although there are “quirks” like imposing price controls on consumer products although no law can control the costs of producing goods and services.

In a way price controls or suggested retail prices may have the effect of discouraging foreign investors who may want to take risks in producing consumer products. It is in that sense that smaller inward flows of direct foreign investments have a serious impact on the economy.

Regulators do not seem to have learned any lesson from the reality that producers of goods and services will always “soak” the consumers with prices that leave them a profit which in turn is presumed to be used for expansion or new projects.

The sense of it all is producers know the consumer is king. He rules the market. If prices of goods and services get to be beyond his capability to pay, he will stop buying or reduce purchases. That will force the producers to accept the reality of making smaller profits. The other option is to pack up and go home.

Theoretically, a shortage immediately ensues. Practically, prices will go up even higher. The regulators do not have the means, not the political power, to dictate to the producers for what they claim is for the benefit of the consumers. ‘The truth is politics mercilessly punishes instead of helping them.

It is not exactly correct to say that producers soak the consumers with higher prices because they are possessed with greed for more money. Little is known about the fact that it is legitimate greed that keeps the economy going.

How much money can the Ayalas spend in their lifetime? They have enough to last ten or more lifetimes. But they long for more. For their personal benefit? Far from it! It is the consumers and the government that benefit from morally defensible greed.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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