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

MANDURRIAO, ILOILO CITY: WE'RE READY FOR APEC 2015


SEPTEMBER 15 -The Philippines is ready to host the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders’ summit, President Aquino said. Louis Bacani / philstar.com
He made the announcement as he thanked Megaworld Corp.’s chairman and president Andrew Tan for donating a piece of land for the Iloilo Convention Center (ICC), one of the venues for the annual APEC gathering. Architect William Coscolluela designed the structure for free. Ilonggos have a lot to celebrate, Aquino said at the ICC’s inauguration in Mandurriao, Iloilo City. He also led the ceremonial launch of the Iloilo Business Park (IBP) and the inauguration of Richmonde Hotel along with the ICC, all on Megaworld Boulevard. The ICC will be the launching pad of Iloilo as a center for Western Visayas’ further growth in commerce and tourism, Aquino said. The ICC is proof of good governance, along with the transformation and development of Iloilo, he added. Its world-class quality is admirable, along with its design inspired by Iloilo’s Dinagyang and Paraw festival, Aquino said. “Architect Coscolluela, I learned, donated his services for the design of this structure… The performances of (singer) Jose Mari Chan earlier were also free,” he said. “The only problem was that somebody filed a case (involving the project), the case and the insults are also free.” Former provincial administrator Manuel Mejorada Jr. has alleged that the ICC was overpriced and implicated Senate President Franklin Drilon, an Ilonggo, in the controversy. W.V. Coscoluella and Associates, which designed the building, was awarded a contract without public bidding and construction was overpriced by P488 million, Mejorada said. He accused Drilon of conspiring to rig the bidding of the project. Drilon was charged with graft before the Office of the Ombudsman in October 2014. However, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales dismissed the charges against Drilon for lack of merit. Aquino said the project was one of many that had been completed in Iloilo, including the Iloilo River Esplanade. READ MORE...RELATED (2) ...

ALSO: ILOILO CITY --The New Philippine boomtown
[Iloilo City's Redevelopment Plan for APEC 2015:In October 15, 2014, Iloilo City wins the "Livable Cities Design Challenge PH" besting Cebu and Albay's Legazpi City]


OCTOBER 25, 2014 -The Livable Cities Design Challenge conceptualized by the National Competitiveness Council (NCC) in March 2014 together with the following institutions:  Asia Society Philippines, Alliance for Safe and Sustainable Reconstruction (ASSURE), APEC 2015 National Organizing Council (APEC 2015  – NOC), Microsoft Philippines, Urban Land Institute Philippines and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) with funding support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
The recognition is another manifestation of the city’s growing reputation as resilient, vibrant and livable metropolis, stressed Iloilo Mayor Mabilog. The planning and design competition aims at having city planners across the Philippines better plan their respective cities for a climate-defined future by being more aware and better prepared for disaster-risk reduction. City planners are encouraged to design livable cities that offer safety, convenience, livelihood, lifestyle, and sustainability that attract people to live, work, and play so their cities can be competitive. The contest is organized by the National Competitiveness Council (NCC), APEC 2015 National Organizing Council (NOC), World Wildlife Fund, and Alliance for Safe and Sustainable Reconstruction (ASSURE) with Asia Society and Urban Land Institute. NCC cited Iloilo as one of the top efficient and competitive cities. “We hope to start a movement for better urban planning across the country to make our cities fun, vibrant, and safe places to live, work, invest in, and visit. In order to build a competitive country, we need to build competitive cities,” said Guillermo M. Luz, private sector co-chairman of NCC and member of APEC NOC. The cities came up with a “Strategic Vision and Plan for a Resilient and Livable City.” The endeavor is sponsored by USAID, which has been supporting the Cities Development Initiative programs like Project INVEST in Iloilo, Batangas and Cagayan de Oro. Other cities and municipalities that joined were Angeles, Bacolod, Baybay (Leyte), Butuan, San Fernando (La Union), Marikina,Olongapo, Ormoc (Leyte), Roxas (Capiz), Surigao, Tacloban, Valenzuela and Zamboanga City. Iloilo City PIO --------READ FULL DEVELOPMENT PLAN REPORT AND RELATED...

ALSO: DTI Secretary Domingo agrees to stay on until APEC summit


SEPTEMBER 18 -“The President told me that some of in the Cabinet think that I should stay on until APEC and I told him we can adjust (the) date,” Domingo told The STAR in a text message yesterday. APEC photo/Released
MANILA, Philippines - Trade and Industry Secretary Gregory Domingo has agreed to stay on in the Cabinet, at least until after the country’s hosting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders’ Summit in November.
“The President told me that some of in the Cabinet think that I should stay on until APEC and I told him we can adjust (the) date,” Domingo told The STAR in a text message yesterday. Domingo’s resignation was reported to be effective in October. “I will meet with the President soon to discuss the exact date,” Domingo said. Domingo also debunked speculations on the reasons behind his resignation with less than a year left of the Aquino administration. Rumors about his sudden departure from the Aquino Cabinet included his supposed policy differences with Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima. Others claimed Domingo resigned in order to join the presidential campaign of former interior secretary Mar Roxas ll. READ MORE...RELATED...Trade chief optimistic on higher Philippine growth...

ALSO: What investors look for in presidential bets


SEPTEMBER 18 -Sen. Grace Poe, former Interior Sec. Mar Roxas and Vice President Jejomar Binay. INQUIRER PHOTOS AS THE 2016 presidential race heats up, foreign investors look forward to Filipinos electing a president with “integrity and a clear-cut economic agenda,” the country chief of European banking giant ING said.
“We would want to have a leader with integrity. I think that kind of covers a lot of things that you would want to see in a leader,” ING country manager Consuelo Garcia said in a recent briefing, when asked about a wish list for the next president. Integrity is something that Garcia said anyone would want to look for not just in the president but in any leader.In the last five years, the good governance agenda of President Aquino has helped rekindle investor confidence in the Philippines. In every country holding national elections, Garcia said there would always be a period of uncertainty and “pause” for investors. “But at the end of the day, what they (investors) look for is a front-runner and if that front-runner has clear economic policies, then the uncertainty is reduced.” READ MORE...

ALSO by Boo Chanco: Interest and tax rates


SEPTEMBER 18 -By Boo Chanco
We are supposed to be a democracy, but our officials in the three branches of government like to keep things mysteriously opaque for us. There is little to no transparency in how they make decisions that impact our lives. P-Noy promised us freedom of information as a candidate, but refused to give that to us once he was elected. He talks about “alternative truth,” ignoring the fact the truth can only be the truth, no ifs, buts or alternative versions. Supreme Court Justices don’t want to be criticized, not even by one of them, as if they enjoy Papal infallibility. Now there is that Supreme Court decision on the Piatco NAIA 3 case that boggles our minds. We, the government and the Filipino people, won that case twice in arbitration in Washington and once in Singapore. But we lost the case at our own Supreme Court. Indeed, even during the past administration, those familiar with the case told me they wondered why our government officials tried so hard to lose a case they were winning. P-Noy’s Daang Matuwid administration is no different. I heard one of his trusted officials wanted the Solicitor General to get rid of the foreign counsel even if their experience and expertise were helping us win the case. Don’t pay them, the Palace official was said to have advised the Sol-Gen, and they will go away. Now the SC decision couldn’t be more adverse to the interest of the Filipino taxpayers. The SC computed just compensation to Piatco for the cost of the NAIA-3 project at $326,932,221.26 less the government’s advance payment in 2006 of $59,438,604 plus an interest rate of 12 percent per annum from Sept. 11, 2006 until June 30, 2013 and six percent per annum from July 1, 2013 thereafter. READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

We’re ready for APEC


The Philippines is ready to host the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders’ summit, President Aquino said. Louis Bacani / philstar.com

MANILA, SEPTEMBER 21, 2015 (PHILSTAR)   By Aurea Calica, Jennifer Rendon - The Philippines is ready to host the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders’ summit, President Aquino said yesterday.

He made the announcement as he thanked Megaworld Corp.’s chairman and president Andrew Tan for donating a piece of land for the Iloilo Convention Center (ICC), one of the venues for the annual APEC gathering.

Architect William Coscolluela designed the structure for free.

Ilonggos have a lot to celebrate, Aquino said at the ICC’s inauguration in Mandurriao, Iloilo City.

He also led the ceremonial launch of the Iloilo Business Park (IBP) and the inauguration of Richmonde Hotel along with the ICC, all on Megaworld Boulevard.

The ICC will be the launching pad of Iloilo as a center for Western Visayas’ further growth in commerce and tourism, Aquino said.

The ICC is proof of good governance, along with the transformation and development of Iloilo, he added.

Its world-class quality is admirable, along with its design inspired by Iloilo’s Dinagyang and Paraw festival, Aquino said.

“Architect Coscolluela, I learned, donated his services for the design of this structure… The performances of (singer) Jose Mari Chan earlier were also free,” he said.

“The only problem was that somebody filed a case (involving the project), the case and the insults are also free.”

Former provincial administrator Manuel Mejorada Jr. has alleged that the ICC was overpriced and implicated Senate President Franklin Drilon, an Ilonggo, in the controversy.

W.V. Coscoluella and Associates, which designed the building, was awarded a contract without public bidding and construction was overpriced by P488 million, Mejorada said.

He accused Drilon of conspiring to rig the bidding of the project.

Drilon was charged with graft before the Office of the Ombudsman in October 2014.

However, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales dismissed the charges against Drilon for lack of merit.

Aquino said the project was one of many that had been completed in Iloilo, including the Iloilo River Esplanade.

READ MORE...

He also led the groundbreaking of Jalaur River Multi-Purpose Project Phase II, along with the roads, bridges, relocation of informal settlers and other infrastructure projects in the province.

“In the legacy that (Drilon) will leave in Iloilo, we can see the difference between the straight path and the crooked path,” Aquino said.

The ICC, worth P713.31 million, was concrete proof and would be used for APEC meetings until October, Aquino said.

The APEC senior disaster management officials’ forum is set on Sept. 22 and 23.

The ministerial meeting on small and medium enterprises is from Sept. 21 to 25 and the ministerial meeting on food security and blue economy is from Sept. 28 to Oct. 6.

“I heard there were already confirmed bookings and inquiries for the next few months until next year,” Aquino said.


MEGAWORLD BOULEVARD: ILOILO CITY BUSINESS PARK

With better roads and world-class structures under the administration’s comprehensive strategy on infrastructure, more tourists would be enticed to visit the country, Aquino said.

He said tourism could create livelihood for people, who in turn could contribute to the economy’s growth.

“This is a cycle to empower a nation, a community and our bosses, the people,” he said.

It will present wide-ranging opportunities not only for the people of Iloilo but of Panay Island as well, Aquino said.

“We can clearly see the big transformation of Iloilo: from a sleepy province, it has progressed and is ready to compete with other provinces like Cebu,” he said.

The P713.31-million ICC is located inside the 72-hectare Megaworld IBP.


Iloilo City's Redevelopment Plan for APEC 2015

ILOILO CITY: The new Philippine boomtown.


AT DUSK: A highly urbanized city, Iloilo City is also the capital city of the province of Iloilo. PHOTO FROM Iloilo City Government

About Iloilo city: The City of Iloilo (Filipino: Lungsod ng Iloilo, Hiligaynon: Syudad sg Iloilo or Dakbanwa sg Iloilo) is a highly urbanized city in the Philippines and the capital city of the province of Iloilo.

It is the regional center of the Western Visayas as well as the center of the Iloilo-Guimaras Metropolitan Area.

In the 2007 census, Iloilo City had a population of 418,710 with a 1.8% population annual growth rate. It is bordered by the towns of Oton in the west, Pavia in the north, Leganes in the northeast and the Iloilo Strait in its eastern and southern coastline.

The city was a conglomeration of former towns, which are now the geographical districts, composing of: Jaro (an independent city-before), Molo, La Paz, Mandurriao, Villa Arevalo, and Iloilo City Proper.

The district of Lapuz, a former part of La Paz, was declared a separate district in 2008. --------------------------------------------------------

In October 15, 2014, Iloilo City wins Livable Cities Design Challenge PH besting Cebu and Albay's Legazpi City


Iloilo Business Park: In line with Megaworld’s efforts to extend its reach to provincial centers, the company also launched a major project in Western Visayas particularly in Iloilo City, the region’s business and commercial center. The project is dubbed the Iloilo Business Park, a sprawling 72-hectare mixed-use development project in Mandurriao, Iloilo City. On a piece of prime property that used to be a major airport, Megaworld intends to put up first-class hotels, a commercial area, a modern lifestyle mall, BPO office buildings, and a convention center a can accommodate thousands of people. Megaworld, the country’s leading real estate developer and pioneer of townships.

Iloilo bested Cebu and Legazpi, Albay in the design challenge. The city is set to host two APEC meetings in October 2015.

The recognition is another manifestation of the city’s growing reputation as resilient, vibrant and livable metropolis, stressed Iloilo City Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog.

The planning and design competition aims at having city planners across the Philippines better plan their respective cities for a climate-defined future by being more aware and better prepared for disaster-risk reduction.

City planners are encouraged to design livable cities that offer safety, convenience, livelihood, lifestyle, and sustainability that attract people to live, work, and play so their cities can be competitive.

The contest is organized by the:

National Competitiveness Council (NCC),

APEC 2015 National Organizing Council (NOC),

World Wildlife Fund, and

Alliance for Safe and Sustainable Reconstruction (ASSURE) with Asia Society and Urban Land Institute.  

NCC cited Iloilo as one of the top efficient and competitive cities.

“We hope to start a movement for better urban planning across the country to make our cities fun, vibrant, and safe places to live, work, invest in, and visit. In order to build a competitive country, we need to build competitive cities,” said Guillermo M. Luz, private sector co-chairman of NCC and member of APEC NOC.

The cities came up with a “Strategic Vision and Plan for a Resilient and Livable City.” The endeavor is sponsored by USAID, which has been supporting the Cities Development Initiative programs like Project INVEST in Iloilo, Batangas and Cagayan de Oro.

Other cities and municipalities that joined were:

Angeles,
Bacolod,
Baybay (Leyte),
Butuan,
San Fernando (La Union),
Marikina,
Olongapo,
Ormoc (Leyte),
Roxas (Capiz),
Surigao,
Tacloban,
Valenzuela and
Zamboanga City. -------------------------------

THE ILOILO CONVENTION CENTER

A Grand Destination Changing the Iloilo Landscape


THE ICC

The Iloilo Convention Center is set to transform the Western Visayas Region into a world-class business tourism, convention and events destination. This grand new setting located at the Iloilo Business Park in Mandurriao affirms the vibrancy and vitality of Iloilo, the South’s new city of tomorrow.

CULTURAL INSPIRATIONS

Designed by Ilonggo Arch. Willy V. Coscolluela With 15 exterior fins that evoke the beauty of Iloilo’s colorful Paraw sail Glass walls feature abstract designs of the Dinagyang Festival Use of indigenous stones for the façade and interiors

EXCEPTIONAL FEATURES

Can accommodate over 3,700 guests Main convention hall at the ground level 8 function rooms at the second level State-of-the-art audio and video equipment Kitchen designed to international standards Museum / souvenir shop

STRATEGIC LOCATION

Part of the 54-hectare Iloilo Business Park, and near the community’s hotels BPO offices and retail and leisure attractions Near the Iloilo international airport

1st Livable Cities Design Challenge.

Iloilo City recently made headlines when it was declared as among the winners of the 1st Livable Cities Design Challenge.

The said competition seeks to encourage cities to plan and design their cities for resilience and livability.

The objectives of the competition is to get city planners to better plan their respective cities for a climate-defined future.

At the same time, city planners will be encouraged to design livable cities that offer safety, convenience, livelihood, lifestyle, and sustainability, thus attracting people to live, work and play, further enhancing the overall competitiveness of their cities.


The Livable Cities Design Challenge conceptualized by the National Competitiveness Council (NCC) in March 2014 together with the following institutions: Asia Society Philippines, Alliance for Safe and Sustainable Reconstruction (ASSURE), APEC 2015 National Organizing Council (APEC 2015 – NOC), Microsoft Philippines, Urban Land Institute Philippines and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) with funding support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

The competition has two entry categories:

“Government Center” - a complex of government buildings which are designed to be disaster-resistant (e.g., able to withstand designated limits of wind velocity, floods, and earthquakes, etc.) coupled with an awareness and education program to make people better prepared for disasters.

“APEC Meeting Venue” - a plan covering a meeting site for one of the APEC meetings which the Philippines will host in 2015. The site need not cover an entire city but must at least cover an area surrounding an APEC meeting venue plus access and routes to other events and functions and to the airport.

All competition entries were judged based on the following criteria:

Aesthetic and Form (adherence to architectural design principles)

Substantive Elements (adherence and appropriate integration of relevant concepts and principles on: Economic and Social Linkaging and Integration; Ecological Balance; Physical/Land resource use efficiency, Infrastructure and Utilization optimization and Disaster resiliency)

Feasibility ( adherence to the principles of sound and acceptable financial viability)


Mayor Jed Mabilog (right) shakes the hand of DILG Sec. Jesse Robredo at his oath-taking as Chairman of the Regional Peace and Order Council. And this is the man Rommel "Mafioso" Ynion calls corrupt? PHOTO FROM ADOBOILONGGO BLOG, JULY 10, 2011

Eventually, Iloilo City topped the APEC Meeting Venue category while Cagayan de Oro won the Government Center category.

Other cities which took part in the competition are Angeles, Bacolod, Cebu and Legazpi for the APEC Meeting Venue while Baybay, Marikina Olongapo, Ormoc, San Fernando (La Union), Tacloban, Valenzuela, Roxas, and Zamboanga for the Government Center

Here are some portions of Iloilo City's entry in the 1st Livable Cities Design Challenge

1. The revitalization of the Old CBD which includes pedestrianization of Calle Real and the renovation of the Iloilo Central Market. It would also bring back the Sunburst Park (topmost photo) which was part of the original Aduana Complex.


The Iloilo Customs House or Aduana with the Sunburst Park Photo from Old Iloilo Facebook Page

2. With the "rebirth" of the Sunburst Park, the Iloilo Freedom Grandstand will be demolished and a new and more modern grandstand will be built just a few meters from the original location which is the old Panay Railways station lot.





3. The old slaughterhouse near the Carpenter Bridge in Molo will be demolished to pave the way for the construction a Rivercraft Pavilion which will complement the developments along the Iloilo River. It will greatly boost the tourism potential of the area brought about by the Iloilo River Esplanade.

4. The non-existent Fort San Pedro is being planned to be recreated for tourism and historical purposes.

An old photo of Fort San Pedro that used to guard the mouth of the Iloilo River. (Photo by John Tewell) There are other points in the said presentation and this blogpost will be updated as soon as information is at hand.

With these developments at hand, Iloilo City's Old CBD revitalization and other projects will have a great impact on the City of Love - even after APEC 2015!


PHILSTAR

Domingo agrees to stay on until APEC summit By Marichu Villanueva (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 15, 2015 - 12:00am 2 5 googleplus0 0


“The President told me that some of in the Cabinet think that I should stay on until APEC and I told him we can adjust (the) date,” Domingo told The STAR in a text message yesterday. APEC photo/Released

MANILA, Philippines - Trade and Industry Secretary Gregory Domingo has agreed to stay on in the Cabinet, at least until after the country’s hosting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders’ Summit in November.

“The President told me that some of in the Cabinet think that I should stay on until APEC and I told him we can adjust (the) date,” Domingo told The STAR in a text message yesterday.

Domingo’s resignation was reported to be effective in October.

“I will meet with the President soon to discuss the exact date,” Domingo said.

Domingo also debunked speculations on the reasons behind his resignation with less than a year left of the Aquino administration.

Rumors about his sudden departure from the Aquino Cabinet included his supposed policy differences with Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima. Others claimed Domingo resigned in order to join the presidential campaign of former interior secretary Mar Roxas ll.

READ MORE...

“All rumors not true,” Domingo, who served as DTI secretary since the President assumed office in 2010, said.

The President had expressed hope Domingo would stay in his post until after the APEC summit.

Speaking to reporters in Iloilo City, where he attended the ceremonial launch of the Iloilo Business Park and inauguration of Richmonde Hotel and the Iloilo Convention Center, Aquino yesterday said Domingo had long been asking if he could go back to the private sector.

“He submitted his resignation but the date of effectivity was not yet certain. Maybe APEC has to be finished first, maybe until the end of the year,” he said.

“We have not yet agreed on the date. But I expect him not to leave us at this time of great need for his service,” he added.

The President said he also requested Domingo to recommend his replacement.

“We would like to thank Secretary Domingo for all of the work that he has done on behalf of the country,” Aquino said, noting that foreign direct investment grew by 600 percent under his watch.

The President also credited Domingo for the APEC hosting, among other accomplishments.

“It is a great sacrifice to enter public service and I have announced early on that there are those running and there are those who want to go back to the private sector because they are already tired,” Aquino said.

Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. confirmed Domingo’s resignation on Saturday through Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr.

Domingo is said to be feeling burned out.

Meanwhile, the business community lamented his resignation.

In a statement, the Makati Business Club (MBC) said Domingo has been a partner of the private sector in various efforts to make the country a more attractive investment option.

The group said Domingo has “tirelessly led trade and investment missions to other countries and welcomed business missions from abroad.”

“It is unfortunate that Secretary Domingo will resign at this critical juncture when the country is about to host the APEC Leaders’ Meeting and as the current administration serves its final year as our country’s steward of good governance and inclusive growth,” the MBC said.

“We will respect the Secretary’s reasons for stepping down, as well as the Palace’s final decision, with the hope that a person of integrity and competence be appointed to the Department of Trade and Industry urgently,” the business group added. – With Aurea Calica, Richmond Mercurio

------------------------------------------------

RELATED FROM PHILSTAR

Trade chief optimistic on higher Philippine growth By Richmond S. Mercurio (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 18, 2015 - 12:00am 3 17 googleplus1 0


Trade Secretary Gregory L. Domingo. STAR/File photo

MANILA, Philippines - Trade Secretary Gregory L. Domingo has expressed optimism that Philippine economic growth in the coming years would continue to outpace progress seen in the last five years.

“Over the last five years, the Philippines has grown an average of 6.5 percent in terms of gross domestic product (GDP), one of the highest in the region. But our average for the next decade should even exceed that,” Domingo said in an interview yesterday.

“Going forward, the momentum is such and the demographics are such that we should expect to see continued high growth for the Philippines for years, if not for decades to come,” he added.

For this year, the outgoing Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) chief said GDP growth in the next two quarters should be higher than that recorded in the first half of 2015.

First semester GDP growth was at 5.3 percent and will need to accelerate in the second half to hit the government’s seven- to eight-percent growth target for the year.

“The stars seemed to be aligned for the Philippines in the next few decades. Of course what the government needs to do is just make sure that the young people, when they move into the working age over the next few decades, are properly educated and well trained,” said Domingo, who noted that 50 percent of the country’s population are 23 years old and below.

Aside from the country’s upcoming hosting of the APEC summit this November, Domingo reported yesterday that the Philippines has also been chosen among 160 countries to be one of the three vice chairman of the 10th World Trade Organization ministerial meeting in Kenya this December.

“The Philippines has been made one of the three vice chairman of that meeting because of our push for the micro, small and medium enterprises agenda,” he said, adding details of the country’s role will be discussed next month.

Domingo, who already tendered his resignation as DTI chief and is likely to stay in his post until the year ends, said he is leaving the agency in the hands of competent undersecretaries who can continue what he started.

He remained mum on the reason for his resignation, but stressed none of the rumored reasons circulating at present are true.

----------------------------------------------------------

RELATED FROM THE INQUIRER

Aquino cites women’s role in economy By: Nikko Dizon
@inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer 06:12 AM September 18th, 2015

With more “strong willed and capable” women than men, “is it any surprise that the common Filipino male never questions the authority of Filipinas?”

President Aquino made this remark in jest in his speech before the delegates and guests from 21 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) member-economies representing the private sector, academia and civil society.

The 55-year-old bachelor President was the keynote speaker at the Apec Women and the Economy 2015: Public Private Dialogue on Women and the Economy on Thursday.

Mr. Aquino hailed the Filipino women, especially their contribution in improving the country’s economy with their business sense, hard work and strong will.

“I believe it is intrinsic to our society: We see women as superior in many aspects, including prudent budgeting and focusing on the advancement of the family as a whole… That is precisely why we are here: to express our collective belief that harnessing the talents and potential of all women can bring about inclusive progress sooner rather than later,” the President said.

Citing figures from the Department of Trade and Industry, he said that women own 54 percent of all registered trade names.

Taking note of an Asian Institute of Management survey, the President added that some 63 percent of managers and owners of businesses are women.

READ MORE...

Filipino women are particularly involved in micro, small and medium enterprises, he said. They account for 63.7 percent of the country’s total employment.

“Seeing these numbers, one has to wonder, myself included, if perhaps in 10 years time, gender equality in the Philippines will be about men’s emancipation, and no longer women’s emancipation. Actually some of our married brethren are telling me it will not happen in 10 years, but it’s actually a goal that should be reached now,” the President said, drawing laughter from his audience.

Aside from women entrepreneurs, Mr. Aquino also noted how strong women are also helping run the government, naming, among others, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman, Health Secretary Janette Garin, Philippine Economic Zone Authority Director General Lilia de Lima and Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares.


WOMEN IN CABINET. Clockwise from top left: DOLE Sec. Rosalinda Baldoz, DOJ Sec. Leila de Lima, CHED chairperson Patricia Licuanan, and DSWD Sec. Corazon Soliman. PHOTO FROM RAPPLER.COM

“Over the last five years, these women have bullishly pursued necessary reforms and have refused to back down, even in the face of those with great power and influence, and deeply entrenched interests. They are pillars of our administration’s reform agenda and they are living proof to young people who wish to enter public service that they will not be defined by their gender, but rather, by their integrity, their work ethic and their willingness to serve,” the President said.

Despite the great strides taken by the Filipino women, President Aquino vowed to continue providing opportunities for them, taking note that the issue of gender equality still “calls for continuous reflection and corresponding action.”

“For this reason, we must always approach our jobs, and even our smallest interactions with people, with the empathy, consideration and respect necessary to create a truly inclusive society. Rest assured, the Philippines will remain your partner in expanding opportunities for women, and I am hopeful that your discussions today will continue to move us closer to a world where no one is left behind,” the President said.


INQUIRER

What investors look for in presidential bets By: Doris Dumlao-Abadilla  @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer 01:38 AM September 18th, 2015


Sen. Grace Poe, former Interior Sec. Mar Roxas and Vice President Jejomar Binay. INQUIRER PHOTOS


AS THE 2016 presidential race heats up, foreign investors look forward to Filipinos electing a president with “integrity and a clear-cut economic agenda,” the country chief of European banking giant ING said.

“We would want to have a leader with integrity. I think that kind of covers a lot of things that you would want to see in a leader,” ING country manager Consuelo Garcia said in a recent briefing, when asked about a wish list for the next president.

Integrity is something that Garcia said anyone would want to look for not just in the president but in any leader.

In the last five years, the good governance agenda of President Aquino has helped rekindle investor confidence in the Philippines.

In every country holding national elections, Garcia said there would always be a period of uncertainty and “pause” for investors. “But at the end of the day, what they (investors) look for is a front-runner and if that front-runner has clear economic policies, then the uncertainty is reduced.”

READ MORE...

“The market or the investors just don’t want to be surprised,” she said.

ING, which has been operating in the Philippines for 25 years, has arranged a number of merger and acquisition and corporate financing deals in the country, including big-ticket deals that brought in foreign investors.

“If you look at the ones that may be running, they seem to be saying the same things,” Garcia said.

“The market wants to see a front-runner. If it’s a close fight, uncertainty comes in,” she said.

Three aspirants have so far officially announced their bid for the presidency in the 2016 elections: President Aquino’s anointed one, Mar Roxas; popular neophyte Sen. Grace Poe and Vice President Jejomar Binay.

Binay, a long-time mayor of Makati before beating Roxas for the vice presidential race in the 2010 elections, is now facing graft and corruption charges but remains a popular candidate. Roxas and Binay have yet to pick their running mates while Poe has announced her choice, Sen. Chiz Escudero.

“As long as there are no negative surprises and there’s a clear direction, investor confidence will be there,” said ING global head of commercial banking Willian Connelly said.

Garcia said it had been easy to sell the Philippines to foreign investors. But as to why the country has been getting a much smaller share of foreign direct investments (FDI), she said this could partly be attributed to restrictions in certain sectors.

“There are still a number of industries where foreign ownership is limited compared to other countries that are a lot more open to foreigners,” she said.

ING, however, expects the privatization thrust in the Philippines to attract more foreign investors. “It will happen but it’ll just be a little bit slower,” she said.

Asked whether she would wish the next president to amend the Constitution to liberalize the economy, Garcia said investors were generally fine with taking “measured” steps.

“Changing the Constitution may be a big step but there are a number of economic provisions that they feel could be done with executive decrees. Those will be good enough for a lot more foreign investors or technical investors to come in,” she said.

Among the sectors where foreign ownership is restricted are: land holding, mass media and advertising, educational institutions, utilities and natural resources.


PHILSTAR BUSINESS COLUMN

Interest and tax rates DEMAND AND SUPPLY By Boo Chanco (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 18, 2015 - 12:00am 4 65 googleplus0 2


By Boo Chanco

We are supposed to be a democracy, but our officials in the three branches of government like to keep things mysteriously opaque for us.

There is little to no transparency in how they make decisions that impact our lives.

P-Noy promised us freedom of information as a candidate, but refused to give that to us once he was elected. He talks about “alternative truth,” ignoring the fact the truth can only be the truth, no ifs, buts or alternative versions.

Supreme Court Justices don’t want to be criticized, not even by one of them, as if they enjoy Papal infallibility.

Now there is that Supreme Court decision on the Piatco NAIA 3 case that boggles our minds. We, the government and the Filipino people, won that case twice in arbitration in Washington and once in Singapore. But we lost the case at our own Supreme Court.

Indeed, even during the past administration, those familiar with the case told me they wondered why our government officials tried so hard to lose a case they were winning.


Senate: On Monday, March 10, 2014, the Senate passed the FOI bill on third and final reading, with 22 affirmative votes, no abstention, and no negative votes.. House of Representatives: LATEST -- On March 4, 2015, the bill passed the Committee on Appropriations; as of this date, it is awaiting 2nd reading. PHOTO FROM THE MANILA BULLETIN,  JANUARY 21, 2014.

P-Noy’s Daang Matuwid administration is no different.

I heard one of his trusted officials wanted the Solicitor General to get rid of the foreign counsel even if their experience and expertise were helping us win the case. Don’t pay them, the Palace official was said to have advised the Sol-Gen, and they will go away.


STAR PHOTO: SC orders gov’t to pay Piatco $510-M compensation Philippine Star Thu, Sep 10, 2015. / Gov’t studying options on Piatco Philippine Daily Inquirer September 11th, 2015

Now the SC decision couldn’t be more adverse to the interest of the Filipino taxpayers.

The SC computed just compensation to Piatco for the cost of the NAIA-3 project at $326,932,221.26 less the government’s advance payment in 2006 of $59,438,604 plus an interest rate of 12 percent per annum from Sept. 11, 2006 until June 30, 2013 and six percent per annum from July 1, 2013 thereafter.

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Question: why did the SC compute interest at 12 and six percent when interest rates have been a lot lower during those years?

The average rate for all maturities of Philippine Treasury Bills (a good indicator of interest rate used by both government and private sector) was just at 3.689 percent.

And if we are talking US Dollars, it had been one to two percent or even less than one percent for the period.

Any retiree dependent on interest income knows how pitifully low interest rates have been for both the peso and the dollar.

Have the SC justices been hibernating in some isolated cave or desert island in the middle of nowhere oblivious to world financial developments?

The Supreme Court Justice who wrote the decision should have sought the advice of the Bangko Sentral on the proper interest rate to use in this case. It is embarrassing for the Supreme Court to be so out of whack on interest rate movements, hopefully not intentionally.

By computing the interest rate government must pay at six percent or worse at 12 percent, PIATCO gets a windfall profit.

I agree PIATCO should be given just compensation. But PIATCO should not be making an outrageous profit out of that unfortunate project. That morally amounts to plunder as it unjustly raids the National Treasury on a wrong and excessive assumption of the interest rate.

I am hoping SC Justices listen to their conscience and do the right thing here. Otherwise, we will have the right to speculate what gives.

The law may be what the Supreme Court says it is, but the right interest rate to use for a past period involves historical numbers. Supreme Court justices cannot just pick numbers out of thin air and say that’s it.

Government officials should protect the public the way MWSS regulatory officials did when they reviewed rate increases sought by Maynilad and Manila Water. Both concessionaires justified increases by citing interest rates higher than what should be. MWSS regulators, a bunch of young, idealistic and technically savvy people, objected and saved all of us water consumers a lot of money. But MWSS is an exception.

P-Noy must be another hermit who thinks the peso’s buying power almost two decades ago is the same as it is now. That’s how it looks with P-Noy’s refusal to consider income tax reform.

For someone with a degree in economics, it is embarrassing for P-Noy to not know the P500,000 top tax bracket when the current tax brackets were designed in 1997 is not the same P500,000 today. The peso then is only worth 43 centavos now.

Because the tax rate and brackets remained the same, the working class is unjustly squeezed resulting in non-inclusive growth. I know...it is again former President Arroyo’s fault… she was P-Noy’s economics teacher.

I agree with Sen Sonny Angara and Rep Miro Quimbo that our current tax system is “outdated” and “inequitable”. A supervisor for one of our larger corporations earning about P500,000 a year or a little over P40,000 a month is paying income tax at the same rate as Henry Sy, Lucio Tan or Jaime Zobel de Ayala.

We have to take inflation into account in our income tax rates and brackets. Otherwise, government is stealing from its taxpayers… a legal hold-up… an abuse of state power. A sense of fairness in the tax system will go far in encouraging better tax compliance.


Aquino hinted that reforming the tax system may not be a good idea for it may have ill effects to the economy MANILA BULLETIN  headline: 30,000 Public school teachers prod Aquino on tax reform bill.

It seems P-Noy bought the position of Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima that tax reform will endanger the country’s investment grade rating, this administration’s crowning glory, largely meaningless to an ordinary Pinoy. I get it that P-Noy does not want to lose that. So, to hell with being fair and equitable to his bosses!

But Angara and Quimbo don’t think our fiscal position will be endangered by income tax reform. Indeed, we should not worry too much about an initial decline in tax collection, estimated by the BIR at P30 billion. Increased spending capacity of our people will boost economic activity thereby enlarging the potential tax collection base.

As Sen. Ralph Recto pointed out, the P30 billion estimated tax collection loss is easily covered by deleting the proposed P30 billion “budgetary support” next year for the Land Bank and Development Bank of the Philippines. Both Recto and Angara believe, and I think they are correct, there is no urgent need to give the government banks a P30 billion windfall.

Recto also pointed out the DOF’s proposed budget contained another P30 billion for risk management fund. That’s the same fund DOTC’s Sec Jun Abaya is looking at to finance penalties arising from their failure to live up to commitments in their PPP contracts.

Removing both these allocations already produce P60 billion or twice the amount BIR claims would be lost by doing income tax reform. As Angara and Recto observed, for sure, 5 million people could benefit from the reduction of income taxes…”

Additionally, as political analyst Malou Tiquia observed on the subject: “There is no correlation between investment rating and high tax rates in an era of underspending (five years and counting)... Give the cuts as money in pocket of Juan and you expand the economy...”

I suspect P-Noy’s intransigence on tax reform also explains why Trade Secretary Greg Domingo resigned abruptly, but was only prevailed upon to leave after the APEC conference.

Days before he resigned, Greg called for tax reforms to attract investors. I suppose he got fed up with Sec Purisima who refuses to see what foreign investors have been saying about our tax laws.

It must be frustrating for Greg to see our Foreign Direct Investments or FDI remain pitifully low compared to Asean peers, notably Vietnam, a former war torn country. The once reclusive Myanmar is also threatening to overtake us. FDI is Greg’s responsibility and he wants to see the fruits of his hard work or what’s the use of staying?

The foreign chambers issued a joint statement last Tuesday supporting Greg’s position on tax reform. “There clearly is a pattern to reduce corporate and individual income tax rates in competing Asean economies to make their countries more competitive,” the Joint Foreign Chambers said, “The Philippines should not fall behind the regional trend.”

The foreign chambers also noted “the Philippines imposes the second highest personal income tax and the highest corporate income tax among the Asean-6 countries. The personal income tax in the Philippines is 32 percent, while Thailand is 35 percent (reduced from 37 percent in 2010), Vietnam is 35 percent, Indonesia is 30 percent, Malaysia is 26 percent (to be reduced to 25 percent in 2016), and Singapore is 20 percent.

“The Philippine corporate income tax is 30 percent, while Indonesia and Malaysia are 25 percent, Vietnam is 22 percent (reduced from 35 percent in 2010), Thailand is 20 percent (reduced from 35 percent in 2010), and Singapore is 17 percent.”

It is all about being fair and competitive. That’s how to make being “investment grade” meaningful to our people. It is also about being truthful on the real value of money.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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