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

HOSTING APEC 2015 COMMENTS:

PHILEQUITY COMMENTARY: SHINING STAR IN A CLOUDY SKY


NOVEMBER 23 -By Valentino Sy The APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting was held last week in Manila. The successful hosting of APEC, despite all the security threats caused by recent terror attacks around the globe, not only brings relief but also a sense of pride to us. Once again, our country was able to host an important meeting of world leaders. Building inclusive economies, building a better world The theme of this year’s APEC meeting was “Building inclusive economies, building a better world.” The main things discussed were how to address persistent inequality and how to ensure that economic growth trickles down to all members of the society. For his part, President Noynoy Aquino outlined the Philippine government’s initiatives to promote inclusive growth. These include the conditional cash transfer program, employment training scholarships and universal health care. Don’t forget about growth Initiatives to make economies more inclusive would indeed be beneficial for an emerging country such as ours. These would allow us to harness the potential of our young population to further solidify our growth trajectory. But in order to make an economy more inclusive, robust economic growth has to be triggered and maintained. Below are some of the bottlenecks that should be addressed in order to sustain our country’s structural growth story. READ MORE...

ALSO APEC 2015 by Boo Chanco: Lessons learned
[The big mistake of this unfeeling administration is merely foisting everything, from airline flight cancellations to road closures and non working holidays, less than a month before the event. We are not China where factories can be shut down for a month or so to enable Beijing to have blue skies on the days of the event. China can also close down a metro area as big as Beijing without seeking public consent because it is China and it doesn’t matter what people think. We are the Philippines and our democracy is our pride and joy.]


NOVEMBER 21 -PAYNOR: First of all, a word of congratulations to Ambassador Marciano Paynor and his tireless team that made APEC 2015 as flawlessly executed as it was. Picking Amba Paynor out of retirement was an act of genius on the part of Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, who was tasked to head the organizing committee. Amba Paynor’s wealth of experience, in organizing and running international conferences, was key in the successful implementation of APEC 2015. His knowledge of diplomatic protocol was essential in handling almost two dozen heads of states and economies without a single faux pas. The security arrangement, tough as it was given the threat of terrorism, surely boosted the public’s confidence in new PNP Chief Ricardo Marquez. The coordination with other security agencies as well as the security people of the visiting dignitaries is no small job. Also impressive is how we showcased Philippine culture specially the MOA Arena dinner venue. It was totally impressive, thanks to the design genius of Kenneth Cobonpue. If Mar Roxas allowed Cobonpue to fix NAIA 1 in 2012, we would have a better looking terminal now. Credit also is due to Intramuros Administrator Marco Sardillo for completing enough improvements to make the Old City impressive to our guests. For someone who had been involved in organizing similar events in my past life, I can appreciate everything that was done. I know how it feels to worry about Murphy’s Law taking over. It seems Murphy stayed far away from APEC 2015. But and this is a very big BUT… puede ba next time government embarks on something that will require a metro area of 20 million to practically shut down, to please not forget they have to inform people way in advance… Hindi puedeng bahala na unless we want a repeat of last week’s public woes. We are not China where factories can be shut down for a month or so to enable Beijing to have blue skies on the days of the event. China can also close down a metro area as big as Beijing without seeking public consent because it is China and it doesn’t matter what people think. We are the Philippines and our democracy is our pride and joy. We have to win over the people and get their consent for something as disturbing to their patterns of life as a weeklong holiday for an event. READ MORE...RELATED, Back Story: The APEC session of Aisa Mijeno with Barack Obama, Jack Ma.....

ALSO Dick Gordon: Gov’t missed ‘golden opportunity’


NOVEMBER 15 -GORDON
FOR FORMER Sen. Richard Gordon, the government missed a “golden opportunity” in terms of possible big-ticket investments in the country when it decided to host the recently concluded Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit in Manila. Gordon on Friday said that had the government chosen Subic or Clark free port to be this year’s Apec summit venue, it could have shown to potential investors and economic leaders not only the region’s opportunities for growth but also of how it was able to rise from the devastation brought about by the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in 1991. He pointed out that the problem in hosting Apec in the capital is that “we could not show [to investors and economic leaders] what has been done,” especially in terms of infrastructure, unlike in Subic and Clark which are former military bases that have become two of the country’s growth areas. “That was a golden opportunity that should not have been missed,” Gordon told the Inquirer on Friday at the sidelines of the inauguration of the Philippine Red Cross’ logistic and multipurpose center in Mandaluyong City. Subic was the site of the Philippines’ first hosting of the Apec summit in 1996. At that time, Gordon was the chair and administrator of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority. FULL REPORT.

ALSO by Andrew James Masigan: The true cost of APEC


NOVEMBER 25 -by Andrew James Masigan
As I write this, the final touches of the P4.6-billion APEC extravaganza is being put in place. The meeting venues are ready, security is cocked, logistics are all set and everyone involved are going through their last run-throughs of simulations. We are ready. All we have to do now is wait for the delegates to arrive. For President Aquino, APEC will be a going out party like no other. By hosting the event in Manila, he can show the world, in concrete terms, what 6.3 percent growth over five years looks like – what with Metro Manila’s impressive skyline, newly renovated Roxas Boulevard, and yes, traffic free roads. It sets the stage for a cacophony of congratulatory greetings, not to mention approving pats-on-the-back by twenty world leaders and more than a dozen Fortune 500 CEOs. It will be President Aquino’s time under the global spotlight, which, to be fair, he’s earned. He has , after all, been the proponent of our economic revival. He is our chief executive and so the praise and accolades he receives will be ours too. Fine. As a major global event, the eyes of the world will be affixed upon us for a whole week. It will be our chance to show how far we’ve come, economically and otherwise. For the last and most definitive time, we can dispel the derisive misnomer that we are Asia’s sick man but rather a healthy, thriving athlete they better watch out for. With luck, the event will give us more gravitas in international diplomacy whilst strengthening our position as a viable destination for foreign investments. I am supposed to be feeling happy, even excited about the APEC Summit. Why then am I feeling a sense of contempt towards it? While I know that hosting APEC is a good thing for the nation, in my gut, I know that doing it in Metro Manila is huge a mistake. Let me explain exactly how huge. THE TRUE COST Metro Manila accounts for 36% of the national economy. By declaring a two day holiday over the APEC week, factory productivity will screech to a halt, supply chains will be disrupted and financial markets will be shut down. As it stands, exports have already shrank at its steepest pace in four years, contracting by 24.7% in September! READ MORE...

ALSO By: APEC Summit in Manila cost us between P18- to P30-billion in GDP loss!
[By crippling Manila, the rest of Luzon is through direct land and air transport connections. Visayas accounts for 12.4 percent of the nation’s GDP, and Mindanao, 14.4 percent. A “high” combination of reduction of productive activity is: minus 50 percent for Manila; with corresponding minus 20 percent for the rest of Luzon and 10 percent for both Visayas and Mindanao.]


NOVEMBER 24 -By Gerardo P. Sicat The APEC Summit was successful, but at a very high cost to the nation. In sponsoring the meeting, we had options to make it less costly. The government threw away that opportunity by the unwise decision to hold it in Manila where the country incurred big losses in output as a consequence. Losses in GDP during four days. Four days of extra holidays during the week when production work is at peak for Christmas cost the nation between P18.4 billion to 29.8 billion! These numbers represent my “middle” and “low” estimates of the costs (explained further, below). By sponsoring the meeting in Manila, the government literally reduced the metropolis we know as the National Capital Region (NCR) in order to improve the security and ease the movement of the participants. Thus, the region’s industrial, commercial, transportation, financial and services industries came to a grinding halt. The nation’s output and disruptive holidays. Below, I use GDP (gross domestic product), the measure of output, to illustrate the economic losses. (In doing so, I use a range of educated assumptions based on economic knowledge. This is one way to explain the cost to the nation in a manner that is simple and easy to understand.) In 2014, the economy’s total output or GDP in our economy of 100.5 million people was P12.6 trillion. (I remind the reader these numbers are very large. The amount of P1 trillion is equal to P1,000 billion, even as P1 billion is equal to P1,000 million.) Since there are 365 days in the year, the GDP of P12.6 trillion amounts to P34.6 billion per day worth of GDP. The per day GDP is critical in drawing the losses. Assumption of per day GDP is on ‘low’ side. Three reasons make the estimates of GDP loss on the conservative side. We use “average” GDP per day. First, by averaging the GDP per day, each day of the year is equivalent in productive contribution. The working days, Mondays to Fridays, are more productive than weekend days. (On Saturdays fewer establishments are open and on Sundays, the nation is on holiday. So weekend days are when production is quite low.) Second, productive activity varies in each month due to seasonal factors. The month of November – when the APEC was held – is a seasonal high month when production builds up as we move toward Christmas. Third, the estimates are anchored mainly on the level of the GDP of 2014 without introducing any growth factor for the year 2015. Our calculations of economic loss are based on these measures of daily GDP are therefore on the conservative side. Output distribution of GDP by regions. The country’s GDP, as estimated by our national income statisticians, is also disaggregated by region. Thus, GDP can be disaggregated into four regions: the NCR (National Capital Region, which we call “Manila”); the rest of Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. Manila is the economic pulse of the nation. It is a compact geography and accounts for 36.8 percent of total GDP. The rest of Luzon contributes almost the same amount of output, 36.3 percent. So, together, the island of Luzon including Manila accounts for 73.1 percent of the nation’s GDP. READ MORE...

ALSO: PNoy defends Philippines' APEC hosting
[Aquino also said a lot of other people cooperated to showcase the best in the Philippines without much cost for the government, like the furniture created by world-renowned designer Kenneth Cobonpue, which were rented. The President said there were those who would criticize but the overwhelming majority delivered beyond limitations.]


NOVEMBER 24 -KUALA LUMPUR – President Aquino defended the country’s hosting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit last week, saying that the Filipinos involved in the event’s preparation did the best they could, even if there had been hitches along the way.
Speaking to reporters after attending the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit here Sunday night, the President said it was not easy to host 21 heads of economies. He said the presence of superpowers in the country was tempting for those who would want to sow trouble. “In their respective areas, maybe all the hardening of sites had been carried out. They might say, oh the Philippines, we might have a reputation that we are not as rigid as Germany or Japan, for example, but we were able to show that we can really run it very professionally,” Aquino said. While security forces were criticized for supposed “overkill” in the implementation of measures and lockdowns that caused people to get stuck in traffic for hours, Aquino gave them credit for their efforts to ensure the safety of everyone. “I am very proud of all the people involved: the police, those who sewed the (barongs) for the leaders, the performers who gave their all, those who created the visuals, isn’t it that the timing of the performers’ actions and visuals were (perfect?) – no one was ahead and neither was anyone behind, those who cooked the food,” Aquino said. READ MORE...

ALSO Unblogged: APEC 2015 - Change Is in the Air [While the APEC ended with a vow to combat terrorism, the Summit refused to be distracted from its true goal – economic development. In the coming years, all critical players in the Asia Pacific – the United States, China and the Association of Southeast Nations – must compromise if they truly want to invest in peaceful cooperation and economic development in the region. Due to the extraordinary high economic and strategic stakes in the region, these policies now have global repercussions. Consequently, a failure is no longer an option. Dr. Dan Steinbock -leading international economic think tank]


NOVEMBER 24 -Despite diplomatic missteps, APEC 2015 could pave way to regional peace and development. The triangular perspectives of Washington, Beijing and Manila tell the story. -Dan Steinbock  Washington’s exclusive policies
In Washington’s view, President Obama’s presence in the Asia Pacific Cooperation (APEC) Summit was vital to underscore America’s sustained commitment to the region. With its recovery, the U.S. has some wind in its sails. It also enjoys the success of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, although the devil is in the details. While all 12 participating countries are likely to ratify the agreement in the first half of 2016, the most significant risk involves passage through the U.S. Congress amid election year. Moreover, the TPP excludes the economic engines of the 21st century: China, India and Indonesia. Although the Philippines President Benigno S. Aquino III had assured China’s foreign minister Wang Yi that the contested maritime issues would not be raised at the summit, Obama did just that by urging China to halt its construction on reclaimed islands in the South China Sea. Standing in front of the BRP Gregorio del Pilar, a former U.S. Coast Guard ship that is now the flagship of the Philippine Navy, he Obama pledged $250 million in military contributions to several Asian nations. However, these nations may not be willing to use military capacity to the White House’s preferred purpose – against China. Obama spoke in the name of “freedom of navigation,” which sounds increasingly like a metaphor for containment in Beijing. Moreover, not all Filipinos feel entirely comfortable with their current policy stance. In the APEC, Obama sought to highlight U.S. willingness to respect international norms and principles as a foundation to the region’s development. The Aquino administration has sought to use the UN Convention of the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) to make its case against Beijing in an effort to “internationalize, legalize and balance China.” Ironically, the U.S. recognizes the UNCLOS as a codification of customary international law, but has not ratified the law, which Washington’s conservative opposition sees as detrimental to U.S. national interests – but which the U.S. insists China should abide by. China’s quest for inclusion Prior to the Summit, President Aquino promised to be the “perfect host” to all leaders attending the regional summit. However, President Xi Jinping was left alone to walk the long and lonely red carpet, which created an impression of a purposeful staging. Nevertheless, Xi confirmed substantial support among APEC nations for China’s vital regional initiatives, including the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the New (BRICS) Development Bank, the Silk Road fund, and the One Belt, One Road initiative. In the coming years, these massive projects have potential to accelerate industrialization and urbanization from Asia to the Middle East. In Asia, there is a rising awareness that these initiatives are critical to the region as the advanced economies will be mired in stagnation for years to come; in other words, Asia’s traditional export-led growth is no longer a viable option. President Xi also promoted talks of alternative regional trade agreements. For all practical purposes, the TPP has left Asia with good, bad and ugly scenarios. In the bad “dead on arrival” scenario, the U.S. Congress torpedoes the deal in the short term. In the ugly “Iron Curtain” scenario, the TPP contributes to the militarization of the Asia-Pacific, while economic benefits decrease. Unsurprisingly, Asia is open to one or more reasonable free trade alternatives. In the “inclusive free trade” scenario, China and the U.S. conclude their bilateral investment treaty (BIT), while growth accelerates and economic relations deepen across South, East and Southeast Asia. It is this scenario for which China is advocating. It would have room for both China and the US, and 21st Century currency arrangements in Asia Pacific. In this view, the TPP is only one and ultimately a transitional foundation of truly free trade in the region. The latter requires the broader and more inclusive Free Trade Agreement for Asia Pacific (FTAAP), whose acceleration Xi supported in Manila, along with the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which is the preferred alternative of emerging and developing nations in the short-term. The Philippines shift In the Philippines, the APEC Summit was the climax of a year-long hosting of APEC meetings in Manila. The first time the country played host was in 1996, when Fidel Ramos was still president and the economy thrived. After Ramos, Asia’s 1997 financial crisis and two lost presidencies (Joseph Estrada, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo), the Philippine economy tanked while the rest of Asia boomed. READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

Shining star in a cloudy sky


By Valentino Sy

MANILA, NOVEMBER 30, 2015 (PHILSTAR) PHILEQUITY CORNER By Valentino Sy November 23, 2015 - 12:00am - The APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting was held last week in Manila. The successful hosting of APEC, despite all the security threats caused by recent terror attacks around the globe, not only brings relief but also a sense of pride to us. Once again, our country was able to host an important meeting of world leaders.

Building inclusive economies, building a better world The theme of this year’s APEC meeting was “Building inclusive economies, building a better world.” The main things discussed were how to address persistent inequality and how to ensure that economic growth trickles down to all members of the society.

For his part, President Noynoy Aquino outlined the Philippine government’s initiatives to promote inclusive growth. These include the conditional cash transfer program, employment training scholarships and universal health care.

Don’t forget about growth Initiatives to make economies more inclusive would indeed be beneficial for an emerging country such as ours. These would allow us to harness the potential of our young population to further solidify our growth trajectory.

But in order to make an economy more inclusive, robust economic growth has to be triggered and maintained.

Below are some of the bottlenecks that should be addressed in order to sustain our country’s structural growth story.

READ MORE...

• Investment in adequate infrastructure

• Improvement in business competitiveness

• Encouragement of more foreign direct investments (FDIs)

• Amendment of certain economic provisions in our Constitution

• Comprehensive tax reform

The Philippines in 1996 APEC and 2015 APEC The last time APEC was held in the country was in November 24-25, 1996. The country was so much different nineteen years ago. Below, we show a quick comparison and cite some statistics to illustrate how the Philippines was then (1996) and now (2015).

1) GDP. In 1996, our GDP was at $91.8b or P2.4t. Current growth estimates peg our 2015E GDP at $297.3b or P13.5t.

2) GDP growth. Since 1996 (from 1997 to 2015E), our country has delivered an average GDP growth rate of 4.7 percent. From 1997 up to 2009, our average GDP growth rate was 4.0 percent. From 2010 up to 2015E, our average GDP growth rate has accelerated to 6.1 percent.

3) Population. In 1996, our country had a population of 71.2m. This is estimated to grow to 101.6m by end-2015.

4) GDP per capita. Based on our computation, GDP per capita in 1996 amounted to $1,289. This is estimated to reach $2,926 for 2015E. We are about to cross the $3,000 threshold as GDP per capita has grown 1.3x since 1996.

5) OFW remittances. According to BSP figures, OFW remittances amounted to $4.3b in 1996. The BSP expects OFW remittances to breach the $25.0b level this year.

6) BPO revenues. The BPO sector, another important driver of our country’s domestic consumption, was practically non-existent in 1996. The industry was in its fledging stages in the late 1990s and only started to gain traction in the early 2000s. 2015E BPO revenues are expected to reach $21.2b, equivalent to 7 percent of 2015E GDP.

7) Philippine peso. The Philippine peso closed at 26.26 vs. the US dollar on Nov. 25, 1996. The Asian financial crisis, various political crises and a serious fiscal crisis caused the peso to depreciate and reach a bottom of 56.50 in 2004 (see Chapter 6 of the book – Calling the Bottom of the Peso). After going through a strengthening cycle on the back of the implementation of important structural reforms, the peso topped-out at 40.45 in 2013 (see Chapter 7 of the book – Peso Tops Out). Recently, US dollar strength and EM currency weakness has pushed the peso to close at 47.02 last Friday.

1) Gross international reserves. In 1996, our gross international reserves (GIR) amounted to $11.7b. The BSP has made a conscious effort to build up our GIR since then. Our country’s GIR stood at $81.1b as of end-October 2015.

2) PSE Index. The PSE Index closed at 3,104 on Nov. 25, 1996. It eventually reached a bottom of 1,075 in 1998 as the country dealt with the Asian financial crisis. Last Friday, the PSE Index closed at 6,933.

3) Philequity Fund NAVPS. Back in 1996, Philequity was still a relatively small fund and was just two years old. On November 25, 1996, Philequity ended with a NAVPS of 2.0405. Last Friday, Philequity Fund’s NAVPS closed at 33.7914.

Structural reforms and changes As we discussed in Chapter 5 of the book (Fiscal Reform in the Philippines), we went through a series of important structural reforms and changes that transformed our country. We enumerate some of these below.

1) Deregulation and privatization of key sectors. Even before 1996, moves to deregulate and privatize key sectors such as telecom, oil and power have already started. These lessened the fiscal burden on the government and paved the way for the modernization of these sectors thru private sector investments.

2) Fiscal reform. In 2004, the government implemented the expanded value-added tax (eVAT) to generate much-needed revenues and save our country from fiscal collapse. These efforts started a trend of fiscal consolidation which has supported our country’s economic growth. Recently, the government has raised sin taxes. We hope that this fiscal strengthening trend will be sustained even as the government tackles the issue of comprehensive tax reform.

3) Central bank and banking sector reform. After going through the pains of the Asian financial crisis, our central bank and the banking sector went through a reform phase to strengthen the local banking system. At present, the BSP is widely recognized as one of the best central banks in the world while the Philippine banking sector is viewed as one of the strongest globally.

4) Rise of the middle class. The emergence of the OFW and BPO sectors gave rise to a strong middle class which has fueled our country’s domestic consumption story. Since our growth is driven by domestic consumption, our economy has been able to continue growing despite the various headwinds that the globe is facing.

5) Trust in the government and good governance. Our government now enjoys the trust and confidence of Filipinos, allowing it to continue its reform agenda. Moreover, the administration’s thrust on good governance has driven the international community to recognize the benefits of the various structural reforms that have been implemented over the years.

A bright star in a dim sky


Philippine economy still 'bright star' in Asia – HSBC | Business, News, The Philippine Star | philstar.com

Indeed, our country has come a long way since the last APEC meeting was held here in 1996. From being previously called the “sick man of Asia”, the Philippines was branded as “Asia’s next economic tiger” in 1996.

Though our country encountered a series of stumbling blocks after that, we continued our long-term transformation and we have started to reap the more tangible benefits lately.

As such, our country has been called a variety of names by major institutions. We enumerate some of these below.1)

1) Breakout nation by Morgan Stanley’s Ruchir Sharma

2) Asia’s bright spot by Moody’s

3) Bright star in a dim sky by HSBC

As described by these institutions, the Philippines is indeed a shining star in a cloudy sky.

In fact, two years ago, we wrote an article entitled “The Best House in a Bad Neighborhood” (Sept. 2, 2013). We believe that this monicker is still appropriate today.

Our country continues to grow above-trend and our structural growth story remains intact even as the globe and our neighbors are grappling with various risks and headwinds.

APEC hosting shows Philippines is ready

Amidst the terror attacks in different parts of the world, the global economic slowdown and the imminent Fed lift-off, the Philippines was able to successfully host this year’s APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting.

This highlights that the country is ready to take on difficult and daunting challenges, especially if we Filipinos unite behind these common causes. This also reinforces our belief that the Philippines, for all its imperfections, has the right fundamentals to sustain its growth and engineer an economic lift-off of its own.

We have favorable demographics. Our people are adaptable and resilient. And our economy has benefited from a long-term structural transformation. The groundwork for our country has been laid out and the next steps would be to address bottlenecks to growth and inclusion. Implemented correctly, these initiatives will be the crucial underpinnings of the next leg of our secular bull market.

For further stock market research and to view our previous articles, please visit our online trading platform at www.wealthsec.com  or call 634-5038. Our archived articles can also be viewed at www.philequity.net .


PHILSTAR

Lessons learned DEMAND AND SUPPLY By Boo Chanco (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 23, 2015 - 12:00am 6 62 googleplus0 3


First of all, a word of congratulations to Ambassador Marciano Paynor and his tireless team that made APEC 2015 as flawlessly executed as it was.

Picking Amba Paynor out of retirement was an act of genius on the part of Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, who was tasked to head the organizing committee.

Amba Paynor’s wealth of experience, in organizing and running international conferences, was key in the successful implementation of APEC 2015. His knowledge of diplomatic protocol was essential in handling almost two dozen heads of states and economies without a single faux pas.

The security arrangement, tough as it was given the threat of terrorism, surely boosted the public’s confidence in new PNP Chief Ricardo Marquez. The coordination with other security agencies as well as the security people of the visiting dignitaries is no small job.

Also impressive is how we showcased Philippine culture specially the MOA Arena dinner venue. It was totally impressive, thanks to the design genius of Kenneth Cobonpue. If Mar Roxas allowed Cobonpue to fix NAIA 1 in 2012, we would have a better looking terminal now.

Credit also is due to Intramuros Administrator Marco Sardillo for completing enough improvements to make the Old City impressive to our guests.

For someone who had been involved in organizing similar events in my past life, I can appreciate everything that was done. I know how it feels to worry about Murphy’s Law taking over. It seems Murphy stayed far away from APEC 2015.

But and this is a very big BUT… puede ba next time government embarks on something that will require a metro area of 20 million to practically shut down, to please not forget they have to inform people way in advance… Hindi puedeng bahala na unless we want a repeat of last week’s public woes.

We are not China where factories can be shut down for a month or so to enable Beijing to have blue skies on the days of the event. China can also close down a metro area as big as Beijing without seeking public consent because it is China and it doesn’t matter what people think.

We are the Philippines and our democracy is our pride and joy. We have to win over the people and get their consent for something as disturbing to their patterns of life as a weeklong holiday for an event.

READ MORE...

The big mistake of this unfeeling administration is merely foisting everything, from airline flight cancellations to road closures and non working holidays, less than a month before the event. I have managed smaller undertakings in the course of my career but have taken greater effort to win the consent of affected people.


APEC 2015 / NOVEMBER 16, 2015 In preparation for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) in Manila, Roxas Boulevard has been closed to traffic until November 20. INQUIRER PHOTO / LEO M. SABANGAN II.

It is not possible to get everyone to agree but at least give people enough time to adjust their lives and their minds to the inevitable. Seeing all those people walk so many kilometers in the blazing sun due to blocked roads is no different from the daily MRT lines... sufferings government forces them to endure. Only a heartless government can make people suffer that way. It is not good to constantly abuse the people’s patience.

Next time, the effort to inform and win over the support of the people for a project or event should be on square one. This is not just PR but courtesy so essential in a democracy. I realize the hacienderos of the Liberal Party cannot understand this need but Jojo Ochoa should have.


PNoy and Ochoa

One cannot be a prophet in his or her own household so I am not surprised Jojo failed to tap his sister Marlene to help in this project. I have known Marlene for over 30 years when she was working for Napocor and I was at PNOC. Marlene is fantastic in helping win over communities for a big project. Indeed, when I was involved in the rehabilitation of NLEX which included a significant rise in toll rates, we saw the need for a very serious community outreach effort from the start. We did the usual surveys and when the time to implement a program came, we tapped Marlene to run it.

It helped that we had a very professional head of the project in Ping de Jesus. In addition, Ping also had a good feel of the public pulse. He knew we needed to explain the unpalatable… a toll hike. People will appreciate the world class improvement of NLEX but will refuse to understand the toll hike.

The ground work for winning public understanding and consent was done by Marlene. Ping gave a lot of his time talking to everybody who wants to listen. And we listened to anyone who wanted to talk. By the time the project was operational, Ping and Marlene have covered all the towns in Bulacan and Pampanga affected by NLEX.

There were still some complaints about the increase in toll rates but in general, there was a good degree of public acceptance. The public is never really unreasonable. We gave them a world class tollway and eventually they understood we spent money to get it that way.

The principal lesson is to never take the public for granted. We are a democracy and this fact rings truer now in the age of social media. With APEC, there would have been a better acceptance of the sacrifices needed if they cued in the public way in advance. People need time to accept the idea and make alternative plans.

Still, one very positive result of our successful APEC hosting is, as Rajah Tours’ Aileen Clemente pointed out, the exposure our tourism and hospitality people got in managing a world class event. At the very least, it gave us confidence that we can do it.

Inclusion is a key word. It is unfortunate that this administration keeps on talking about inclusion but does not seem to understand the word. Inclusion is even the heart of the APEC theme.

Inclusion is needed to make people happy… impressive GDP growth or investment grade credit rating mean nothing unless the people are included in sharing the benefits. And include the people too when planning for events and not take their comfort and lives for granted.


People stranded in EDSA corner Roxas Boulevard, morning of November 16, 2015. (MB Photo by Ali Vicoy)

Oh well… what can we expect from an administration devoid of empathy?

The good news is that this administration has only seven months to go. And as the President said during APEC, a vote for Mar is a referendum on how well he and his Daang Matuwid have done. So the bad news is not inevitable… it is all up to us to use our vote to send our message.

One last thing… we have 20 years to modernize our public transport system until the next APEC. If we had a decent MRT last week, the oppressiveness of the metro lockdown wouldn’t have been as pronounced.

Si Obama pala


WHITE HOUSE STAFF DISCOVERED 'SALt' DURING ONLINE SEARCH: Obama Plays Matchmaker for Philippine Startup Using Salt in Lamp. U.S. President Barack Obama (center), poses for a photograph with Alibaba billionaire Jack Ma and Aisa Mijeno, an engineer and social worker, at the APEC CEO Summit in Manila on Nov. 18, 2015. Photographer: Seong Joon Cho/Bloomberg

I was surprised it was the White House who invited Filipina scientist Aisa Mijeno to the APEC CEO Summit last week. Interviewed by Alvin Elchico of ABS-CBN News, Aisa said “White House po ang nag-invite sa akin. I was surprised. Akala ko prank call ang na-receive ko nung Monday!” (PHNO: see Related story below this column)

Mijeno said she had to be escorted by the US Secret Service to be able to enter the venue of the forum because she had no APEC ID.

Apparently, President Obama really wanted her to be in his panel to make a point about innovation and the need to match young innovators with angel investors. Obama practically asked Jack Ma of Alibaba to help Aisa move her innovative SALt lamp, a lamp that runs on saltwater reacting on a metal annode to produce light.

Aisa told ABS-CBNNews Jack Ma promised he will be getting in touch. “Expectation ko po is somebody locally, we will get support... though the government is trying to reach us now,” she added.

Mijeno said on dzMM they are now working on mass producing the SALt lamp, which they aim to sell for less than P1,000 per unit. The DOST has also contacted her after that proud moment at APEC with President Obama and Jack Ma.

All along I thought it was our government or maybe the local private business sector organizers who brought Aisa to APEC. Si Obama pala.

I wonder how many more Aisas are waiting for help from government or from our Forbes top ten listers? We need a good incubator system to nurture start-ups like Aisa’s. Between the Ayala and Henry Sy families, we shouldn’t need Jack Ma to jumpstart this project. Nakakahiya naman.

Our business elite must go out there and be angel investors to local start-ups with promising technology. Our DOST must do the same rather than do expensive experiments that end up as white elephants like that monorail thingy in UP.

Let’s not wait for Obama or Jack Ma to do our job for us.

Boo Chanco’s e-mail address is bchanco@gmail.com . Follow him on Twitter @boochanco.

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RELATED FROM GMA NEWS ONLINE

Back Story: The APEC session of Aisa Mijeno with Barack Obama, Jack Ma Published November 20, 2015 12:20am

Who invited Aisa Mijeno to the APEC panel session with Obama and Jack Ma?


WHITE HOUSE STAFF DISCOVERED 'SALt' DURING ONLINE SEARCH: Obama Plays Matchmaker for Philippine Startup Using Salt in Lamp. U.S. President Barack Obama (center), poses for a photograph with Alibaba billionaire Jack Ma and Aisa Mijeno, an engineer and social worker, at the APEC CEO Summit in Manila on Nov. 18, 2015. Photographer: Seong Joon Cho/Bloomberg

Filipina engineer and entrepreneur Aisa Mijeno, CEO of environmental tech-start up Sustainable Alternative Lighting (SAlt), revealed on Thursday that it was The White House that invited her to a session moderated by no less than President Barack Obama at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) CEO Summit.

In an interview with Howie Severino on GMA News TV's News To Go, Mijeno said that her team got an "unexpected" call on Monday.

"Noong Lunes, nakatanggap po kami ng tawag. Akala nga po namin na prank call ito dahil ang tawag po ay galing sa White House mismo. In-inform po kami na kailangan daw po ng isang female entrepreneur na makasama si President Obama sa stage para malaman o maihayag kung ano po ang pwedeng suportahan na gawin nila sa startup community dito sa Pilipinas," she said.

The session happened last Wednesday.

Mijeno said The White House learned about Sustainable Alternative Lighting (SAlt) online.

"Nag-search po sila ng articles sa internet. Sabi po nila na nakita raw po nila ako sa Google kasi medyo marami na rin po ang aming publications online," she said.

Mijeno said that she felt really nervous before going up on stage. But Obama made her feel at ease.

During the dialogue, Mijeno said her SAlt device needs more support for it to take off. Obama joked that she should get help from Chinese e-commerce businessman Jack Ma.

In an interview with Raffy Tima on GMA News TV's Balitanghali also on Thursday, the entrepreneur revealed that Ma offered to help them but she did not give any more details.

"Nag-offer po siya na i-mentor kami para maging successful po ang aming pagde-deploy para makapunta po kami ng maayos sa mass production stage," she said.

During the interview, Mijeno said that after the dialogue with Obama and Ma, her company has received tons of email inquiries about the salt lamp. — Trisha Macas/ELR, GMA News


INQUIRER

Dick Gordon: Gov’t missed ‘golden opportunity’ By: Jovic Yee
@inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer 04:29 AM November 21st, 2015


GORDON

FOR FORMER Sen. Richard Gordon, the government missed a “golden opportunity” in terms of possible big-ticket investments in the country when it decided to host the recently concluded Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit in Manila.

Gordon on Friday said that had the government chosen Subic or Clark free port to be this year’s Apec summit venue, it could have shown to potential investors and economic leaders not only the region’s opportunities for growth but also of how it was able to rise from the devastation brought about by the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in 1991.

He pointed out that the problem in hosting Apec in the capital is that “we could not show [to investors and economic leaders] what has been done,” especially in terms of infrastructure, unlike in Subic and Clark which are former military bases that have become two of the country’s growth areas.

“That was a golden opportunity that should not have been missed,” Gordon told the

Inquirer on Friday at the sidelines of the inauguration of the Philippine Red Cross’ logistic and multipurpose center in Mandaluyong City.

Subic was the site of the Philippines’ first hosting of the Apec summit in 1996. At that time, Gordon was the chair and administrator of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority.

4 Comments
Dan Ferrer · EAC Manila

But what happened in 1996 when the Philippines hosted the APEC Summit in the Subic free port for the first time? Was it not touted as a golden opportunity for the government to flaunt the potential of the former US bases. To think that Mr Gordon was then then the chair and administrator of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority. Obviously, that was a missed opportunity because 16 years after, he again wanted another opportunity to have been given to Subic. How easily Dick Gordon forgets to find the courage to say that the government under PNoy missed a golden opportunity when it chose Manila, instead of Subic, as the venue for this years`s APEC Summit!
Like · Reply · 1 · Nov 20, 2015 6:58pm

Mining Diamondz · Works at Model
Dick Gordon has shown his executive ability when he was tourism secretary by transfroming Intramuros Walled city in Manila into a tourist attraction site which his successors have abandoned and neglected it. It is now in a pitiul condition.
Like · Reply · Nov 21, 2015 7:50am

Govinda Santos
baka pader sa tondo cnasabi mo bugok.....lol..
Like · Reply · Nov 21, 2015 8:08am

Bienvenido Sampan
YOU HAVE GOOD INTENTION SEN. DICK but LIPAS na kasikatan ng GORDON, di mo kasi HINAMON NG SUNTUKAN SI ERAP. IT COMES OUT NADUWAG KA KAY ERAP. PINOY never ATRAS SA LABAN if you have PRINCIPLES IN LIFE
Like · Reply · Nov 20, 2015 3:14pm

Emmanuel Villaroman · New York, New York
DICK ITS OVER NA!- KAMPNYA NA PARA KUMITA- SANA WALANG MAHALALA NA MGA NGO-NGOL NA TAO S SENADO NGAYONG ELEKSIYON- IYONG FIRST FIVE NG ISANG PARTIDO SAANG PLANETA KINUHA IYON? AT KUNG MANOLO ANO ANG GAGAWIN?- SIGURADO FLOWER VASE LANG IYAN- HUMUNIN MO NG -DEBATE- SILA -SILA LANG- DAIG PA ANG KALYE-SERYE NG IT-BALUGA.- PAKYAW VS- ALMA-- KIRAM VS REY LANGIT KAYO ANG HUMATOL PGKATAPOS- SIGURO PATOK IYAN SA -TV-- MAY SIDE SHOW PA ANG SENADO- PIG-TAPOS KAYO PO ANG HUMATOL BAYAN--.
Like · Reply · 1 · Nov 20, 2015 1:02pm

Cesar Nery · Univesity of the east
Gusto mo ENTERTAINMENT just like me ,here are my first 5 senators
Alma Moreno
Isko Moreno
Manny Pacquiao
Rey Langit
Kiram
More CLOWNS in the senate the MERRIER
Like · Reply · 3 · Nov 20, 2015 3:00pm · Edited

Emmanuel Villaroman · New York, New York
Cesar Nery SAR--MOHO KA! PINASAKIT MO NG TIYAN KO SA KATATAWA PREO PALA TAYO NG INIISIP- DIYOS NI BRAHAM PAG IYAN ANG MGA NO. 1 SA SENADOR SA ELEKSIYON -- ANG SYA NG PILPINAS- WALANG LINGKOT-WALANG GUTOM- WALA NG LAHAT---- SAR PAG-UWI KO MAGLALASING TAYONG DAWANGA-- SA IYO ALAK- KO KAPE- PERO SA TOTOO LANG WE WILL HAVE ONE FOR THE ROAD. AABANGAN MO NA LANG AKO SA NAIA( WALANG LAGLAG BALA) DOON NA LNG TAYO MAGAABUTAN. I WL KEEP UR NAME SA LOG BOOK KO. SEGE REAGARD SAPAMILYA KUNG MAY PAMILYA- KUNG WALA SA NANAY AT TATAY- WAG SA KAPIT BAHAY.
Like · Reply · 1 · Nov 20, 2015 3:13pm

Maria Milagros Hanke · Laguna Institute
E. V.!!!!! hahaha napanood ko nga yong interview ni Karen Davila kay Alma, tawa ako nang tawa. Grabe talaga ang mga tumatakbong senador ngayon.
Like · Reply · 2 · Nov 20, 2015 3:23pm


MANILA BULLETIN

The true cost of APEC by Andrew James Masigan November 15, 2015 Share1K Tweet18 Share3 Email0 Share1.2K


by Andrew James Masigan

As I write this, the final touches of the P4.6-billion APEC extravaganza is being put in place. The meeting venues are ready, security is cocked, logistics are all set and everyone involved are going through their last run-throughs of simulations. We are ready. All we have to do now is wait for the delegates to arrive.

For President Aquino, APEC will be a going out party like no other. By hosting the event in Manila, he can show the world, in concrete terms, what 6.3 percent growth over five years looks like – what with Metro Manila’s impressive skyline, newly renovated Roxas Boulevard, and yes, traffic free roads.

It sets the stage for a cacophony of congratulatory greetings, not to mention approving pats-on-the-back by twenty world leaders and more than a dozen Fortune 500 CEOs. It will be President Aquino’s time under the global spotlight, which, to be fair, he’s earned. He has , after all, been the proponent of our economic revival. He is our chief executive and so the praise and accolades he receives will be ours too. Fine.

As a major global event, the eyes of the world will be affixed upon us for a whole week. It will be our chance to show how far we’ve come, economically and otherwise. For the last and most definitive time, we can dispel the derisive misnomer that we are Asia’s sick man but rather a healthy, thriving athlete they better watch out for. With luck, the event will give us more gravitas in international diplomacy whilst strengthening our position as a viable destination for foreign investments.

I am supposed to be feeling happy, even excited about the APEC Summit. Why then am I feeling a sense of contempt towards it?

While I know that hosting APEC is a good thing for the nation, in my gut, I know that doing it in Metro Manila is huge a mistake. Let me explain exactly how huge.

THE TRUE COST

Metro Manila accounts for 36% of the national economy. By declaring a two day holiday over the APEC week, factory productivity will screech to a halt, supply chains will be disrupted and financial markets will be shut down.

As it stands, exports have already shrank at its steepest pace in four years, contracting by 24.7% in September!

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Rough calculations show thatAPEC will cost the economy R11 billion in foregone productivity on top of its actual cost of R4.6 billion.

This will translate to a drag of nearly one percent in our fourth quarter GDP numbers. Considering, too, that GDP growth for the first semester has already been underwhelming at just 5.2%, another one percent reduction will be a painful blow.

Retailers who have been looking forward to the strong November season will now have to write it off as a slack month. Owing to the holidays and private cars banned in certain areas of the city, shops and restaurants face the specter low to zero sales.

But keeping our skies clear will cost us the most. As of this writing, more than 1,200 flights have been cancelled to ensure aviation security and mask our embarrassing situation of airport congestion.

Again, supply chains will be disrupted as a result of cargo immobility, small hotels, and resorts in the provinces, who rely on foreigners and visitors from Manila, will face a dry spell. Business opportunities will be foregone while personal dislocation will be experienced by the public.


People walk to Baclaran from NAIA road, morning of November 16, 2015 (MB Photo by Ali Vicoy) MANILA DAILY BULLETIN

For our children, the suspension of classes only exacerbates their mounting lost learning hours due to Malacañang’s fondness for declaring holidays.

But the most severely hit, sadly, will be our workers who get paid by the day and those who live on a hand to mouth basis. For them, two days without wages could mean no food on the table or inability to make rent.

IT COULD HAVE BEEN CLARK

I remember talking to a Cabinet Secretary a few months ago who told me that Manila was chosen as the host city because it was the “only” place with enough parking slots in its airports for the fleet of private jets due to arrive. It also had world class hotels and meeting venues already in place. In short, it was logistically easier and more convenient.

In the early days of planning, I sat among the panel of observers as Iloilo, Cebu, Davao, Clark, Subic, Albay, Boracay, etc. pitched their cities as venues for the economic leaders meet. I know for a fact that Clark could have been a viable choice given its airport, numerous remote hangars and impeccable road network. Sure, meeting venues and hotel capacities need to be built, but as in the case of all global events, these structures would serve an economic purpose beyond the event whilst spurring economic development in the area.

 

Unfortunately, logistical convenience weighed heavier than the “trouble” of mounting the event in Clark. This is why we find ourselves in this precarious position today.

All things considered, APEC in Manila may come down in history as the most expensive meeting in APEC’s 26 year history. What makes it even more lamentable is the fact that we will be left with no new infrastructure to show for it, save for the facelift of Roxas Boulevard.

No other host government has imposed such financial blowback, displacement and inconvenience to its citizenry all for its 15 minutes of fame. This is why I am feeling contempt.

Andrew is an economist, political analyst and businessman. He is a 20-year veteran in the hospitality and tourism industry. For comments and reactions, e-mail andrew_rs6@yahoo.com. More of his business updates are available via his Facebook page (Andrew J. Masigan). Follow Andrew on Twitter @aj_masigan.


PHILSTAR

APEC Summit in Manila cost us between P18- to P30-billion in GDP loss! CROSSROADS (Toward Philippine Economic and Social Progress) By Gerardo P. Sicat (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 25, 2015 - 12:00am 4 107 googleplus0 1


By Gerardo P. Sicat

The APEC Summit was successful, but at a very high cost to the nation. In sponsoring the meeting, we had options to make it less costly.

The government threw away that opportunity by the unwise decision to hold it in Manila where the country incurred big losses in output as a consequence.

Losses in GDP during four days. Four days of extra holidays during the week when production work is at peak for Christmas cost the nation between P18.4 billion to 29.8 billion! These numbers represent my “middle” and “low” estimates of the costs (explained further, below).

By sponsoring the meeting in Manila, the government literally reduced the metropolis we know as the National Capital Region (NCR) in order to improve the security and ease the movement of the participants. Thus, the region’s industrial, commercial, transportation, financial and services industries came to a grinding halt.


FROM INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS TIMES, Cheryl Gagalac/Reuters -Human rights and pro-labour groups have been protesting against the APEC Summit, saying it works to benefit only multinationals and rich countries at the expense of developing economies. APEC, which accounts for 60 percent of global output and nearly half of world trade, is aiming for a larger free-trade area for its 21 economies by 2025, but a re-emergence in some states of protectionism as growth stutters could be a hindrance. IBT NOVEMBER 19, 2015 -APEC Summit benefits the rich and causes poverty and inequality: Manila protesters David Sim By David Sim November 19, 2015 10:37 GMT 31 IBT.

The nation’s output and disruptive holidays. Below, I use GDP (gross domestic product), the measure of output, to illustrate the economic losses.

(In doing so, I use a range of educated assumptions based on economic knowledge. This is one way to explain the cost to the nation in a manner that is simple and easy to understand.)

In 2014, the economy’s total output or GDP in our economy of 100.5 million people was P12.6 trillion. (I remind the reader these numbers are very large. The amount of P1 trillion is equal to P1,000 billion, even as P1 billion is equal to P1,000 million.)

Since there are 365 days in the year, the GDP of P12.6 trillion amounts to P34.6 billion per day worth of GDP. The per day GDP is critical in drawing the losses.

Assumption of per day GDP is on ‘low’ side. Three reasons make the estimates of GDP loss on the conservative side. We use “average” GDP per day.

First, by averaging the GDP per day, each day of the year is equivalent in productive contribution. The working days, Mondays to Fridays, are more productive than weekend days. (On Saturdays fewer establishments are open and on Sundays, the nation is on holiday. So weekend days are when production is quite low.)

Second, productive activity varies in each month due to seasonal factors. The month of November – when the APEC was held – is a seasonal high month when production builds up as we move toward Christmas.

Third, the estimates are anchored mainly on the level of the GDP of 2014 without introducing any growth factor for the year 2015.

Our calculations of economic loss are based on these measures of daily GDP are therefore on the conservative side.

Output distribution of GDP by regions. The country’s GDP, as estimated by our national income statisticians, is also disaggregated by region. Thus, GDP can be disaggregated into four regions: the NCR (National Capital Region, which we call “Manila”); the rest of Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.

Manila is the economic pulse of the nation. It is a compact geography and accounts for 36.8 percent of total GDP. The rest of Luzon contributes almost the same amount of output, 36.3 percent. So, together, the island of Luzon including Manila accounts for 73.1 percent of the nation’s GDP.

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By crippling Manila, the rest of Luzon is through direct land and air transport connections. Visayas accounts for 12.4 percent of the nation’s GDP, and Mindanao, 14.4 percent.

The nation’s central logistics is in Manila. Manila’s airports were closed to private traffic for those days so that several airlines (international and domestic) had to cancel numerous scheduled flights, spreading the bad effects nationwide.


The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, or APEC, summit ended on Thursday after reaffirming global cooperation against terrorism. To those who endured hellish traffic during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit, please be informed that President Noynoy Aquino is 'grateful for your agony'. FROM TVNEWsroom FACEBOOK

Though the government tried to distinguish between non-working holidays and government closure days, it was essentially a four day disturbance. The APEC holidays were much more disruptive than simply the declaration of “non-working holidays” in that they also disturbed the logistics of transport operations.

Economic disruptions by regions: Manila, rest of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. The greatest negative impact on production is in Manila. The impact on Luzon is milder, although it was significantly much more important than on either Visayas or Mindanao.

Thus, a combination of negative impact on the productive impact on the regions could be assessed. Three ranges of calculations are used to assess the economic damage.

A “high” combination of reduction of productive activity is: minus 50 percent for Manila; with corresponding minus 20 percent for the rest of Luzon and 10 percent for both Visayas and Mindanao.

A “middle” negative impact is the following: minus 40 percent for Manila; rest-of-Luzon, minus 15 percent; and for Visayas and Mindanao, five percent.

Finally, a “low” estimate of negative impact has the following: minus 30 percent for Manila; minus five percent for rest of Luzon; and minus 1.5 percent for Visayas and Mindanao.

The summary below gives a presentation for the “middle” and “low” level assumptions. To get the total losses incurred during the four days, we simply multiply these numbers by four.

Summary.

The amount of daily damage to GDP using “middle” estimates is P7.45 billion, of which P5.1 billion was the reduction of GDP in Manila. The brunt of reduction falls on Manila. It accounted for 72 percent of the total reduction in GDP.

Using the “low” estimates, the drop in GDP in the country is P4.6 billion, where the loss of P3.8 billion was in Manila. This represented 81 percent of the total drop in GDP.

In terms of the four-day forced holiday on the nation, the middle estimates amounted to a loss of P29.8 billion and, in the case of the “low” estimates, around P18.4 billion.

Low-cost and more effective option for the meeting venue. Many commentators have suggested that Clark would have been the safer and more practical venue for the APEC meeting, especially because of the large and relatively less used airport runway.

I agree. There would have been no reduction in the nation’s productivity in doing so.

Another reason is that the government’s budgeted spending for that occasion could have been put to better use by building facilities in that area to enhance it further for future investment promotion.

My email is: gpsicat@gmail.com. Visit this site for more information, feedback and commentary: http://econ.upd.edu.ph/gpsicat/


PHILSTAR

PNoy defends Philippines' APEC hosting By Aurea Calica (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 24, 2015 - 12:00am 0 5 googleplus1 2

KUALA LUMPUR – President Aquino defended the country’s hosting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit last week, saying that the Filipinos involved in the event’s preparation did the best they could, even if there had been hitches along the way.

Speaking to reporters after attending the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit here Sunday night, the President said it was not easy to host 21 heads of economies.

He said the presence of superpowers in the country was tempting for those who would want to sow trouble.

“In their respective areas, maybe all the hardening of sites had been carried out. They might say, oh the Philippines, we might have a reputation that we are not as rigid as Germany or Japan, for example, but we were able to show that we can really run it very professionally,” Aquino said.

While security forces were criticized for supposed “overkill” in the implementation of measures and lockdowns that caused people to get stuck in traffic for hours, Aquino gave them credit for their efforts to ensure the safety of everyone.

“I am very proud of all the people involved: the police, those who sewed the (barongs) for the leaders, the performers who gave their all, those who created the visuals, isn’t it that the timing of the performers’ actions and visuals were (perfect?) – no one was ahead and neither was anyone behind, those who cooked the food,” Aquino said.

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The President said when he first saw the Mall of Asia Arena where the welcome dinner for the APEC leaders was held, it was covered by black cloth and he joked that maybe a funeral parlor would come out of it.

Aquino also said a lot of other people cooperated to showcase the best in the Philippines without much cost for the government, like the furniture created by world-renowned designer Kenneth Cobonpue, which were rented.

The President said there were those who would criticize but the overwhelming majority delivered beyond limitations.

He said Filipinos were able to showcase the best in the Philippines and fulfilled their duties for the country in hosting APEC.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) spent about P784.9 million for 40 events related to the APEC since December last year, including the leaders’ summit last week in Metro Manila.

PNP chief Director General Ricardo Marquez said the expenses were huge due to the number of people that were moved from their assignments in the provinces to Metro Manila.

Marquez expressed confidence that the PNP will be able to account, up to the last centavo, for the expenses used for the APEC events, including the logistics for 22,000 policemen deployed to ensure peaceful and orderly conduct of the summit.

“The PNP will submit disbursement to the COA (Commission on Audit) for proper accounting. In all the agencies, PNP will lead for being able to submit all the reports,” he said. – With Cecille Suerte Felipe


ECONOMONITOR.COM

APEC 2015: Change Is in the Air By Dan Steinbock on November 24, 2015

Despite diplomatic missteps, APEC 2015 could pave way to regional peace and development. The triangular perspectives of Washington, Beijing and Manila tell the story.

By Dan Steinbock -Dan Steinbock (born 1954 in Helsinki, Finland) is Research Director of International Business at the India, China & America Institute (United States), and Fellow at Shanghai Institutes for International Studies (China), a leading think-tank, where he focuses on China, ASEAN, G20 and the new global political economy. Since 2005, he has focused on the global crisis impact on the G-7 and the BRICs economies, including the U.S.-Chinese relations. WIKIPEDIA

Washington’s exclusive policies

In Washington’s view, President Obama’s presence in the Asia Pacific Cooperation (APEC) Summit was vital to underscore America’s sustained commitment to the region. With its recovery, the U.S. has some wind in its sails. It also enjoys the success of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, although the devil is in the details.

While all 12 participating countries are likely to ratify the agreement in the first half of 2016, the most significant risk involves passage through the U.S. Congress amid election year. Moreover, the TPP excludes the economic engines of the 21st century: China, India and Indonesia.

Although the Philippines President Benigno S. Aquino III had assured China’s foreign minister Wang Yi that the contested maritime issues would not be raised at the summit, Obama did just that by urging China to halt its construction on reclaimed islands in the South China Sea. Standing in front of the BRP Gregorio del Pilar, a former U.S. Coast Guard ship that is now the flagship of the Philippine Navy, he Obama pledged $250 million in military contributions to several Asian nations. However, these nations may not be willing to use military capacity to the White House’s preferred purpose – against China.


US President Barack Obama, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Philippine President Benigno Aquino III PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER PHOTOS

Obama spoke in the name of “freedom of navigation,” which sounds increasingly like a metaphor for containment in Beijing. Moreover, not all Filipinos feel entirely comfortable with their current policy stance.

In the APEC, Obama sought to highlight U.S. willingness to respect international norms and principles as a foundation to the region’s development. The Aquino administration has sought to use the UN Convention of the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) to make its case against Beijing in an effort to “internationalize, legalize and balance China.”

Ironically, the U.S. recognizes the UNCLOS as a codification of customary international law, but has not ratified the law, which Washington’s conservative opposition sees as detrimental to U.S. national interests – but which the U.S. insists China should abide by.

China’s quest for inclusion

Prior to the Summit, President Aquino promised to be the “perfect host” to all leaders attending the regional summit. However, President Xi Jinping was left alone to walk the long and lonely red carpet, which created an impression of a purposeful staging.

Nevertheless, Xi confirmed substantial support among APEC nations for China’s vital regional initiatives, including the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the New (BRICS) Development Bank, the Silk Road fund, and the One Belt, One Road initiative. In the coming years, these massive projects have potential to accelerate industrialization and urbanization from Asia to the Middle East.

In Asia, there is a rising awareness that these initiatives are critical to the region as the advanced economies will be mired in stagnation for years to come; in other words, Asia’s traditional export-led growth is no longer a viable option.

President Xi also promoted talks of alternative regional trade agreements. For all practical purposes, the TPP has left Asia with good, bad and ugly scenarios. In the bad “dead on arrival” scenario, the U.S. Congress torpedoes the deal in the short term. In the ugly “Iron Curtain” scenario, the TPP contributes to the militarization of the Asia-Pacific, while economic benefits decrease. Unsurprisingly, Asia is open to one or more reasonable free trade alternatives.

In the “inclusive free trade” scenario, China and the U.S. conclude their bilateral investment treaty (BIT), while growth accelerates and economic relations deepen across South, East and Southeast Asia. It is this scenario for which China is advocating. It would have room for both China and the US, and 21st Century currency arrangements in Asia Pacific.

In this view, the TPP is only one and ultimately a transitional foundation of truly free trade in the region. The latter requires the broader and more inclusive Free Trade Agreement for Asia Pacific (FTAAP), whose acceleration Xi supported in Manila, along with the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which is the preferred alternative of emerging and developing nations in the short-term.

The Philippines shift

In the Philippines, the APEC Summit was the climax of a year-long hosting of APEC meetings in Manila.


FIDEL RAMOS PRESIDENCY: U.S. President Bill Clinton with Philippine President Fidel V. Ramos and Philippine Senator Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. JOSEPH 'Erap' ESTRADA WAS VICE PRESIDENT. WIKIPEDIA PHOTO

The first time the country played host was in 1996, when Fidel Ramos was still president and the economy thrived. After Ramos, Asia’s 1997 financial crisis and two lost presidencies (Joseph Estrada, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo), the Philippine economy tanked while the rest of Asia boomed.

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After Aquino won the 2010 election on anti-corruption platform, he initiated institutional rejuvenation, which resulted in faster growth but has failed to create enough jobs and lift millions from poverty.

After four fast years of rapid expansion, growth remains at around 6.3 percent—a remarkable performance, but behind the country’s true potential.

In addition to unfavorable weather patterns and natural disasters in the storm-prone nation, downside risks include not just China’s growth deceleration but bilateral friction which hurts exports and keeps Chinese capital in distance.

Behind the facade, the Philippines is simmering, as evidenced by several incidents during the summit. While controversial detentions and relocations were deployed to clean Metro Manila’s streets from the homeless and the poor, some demonstrations escalated against “US imperialism” and the enhanced Philippines-U.S. visiting forces agreements (VFA-EDCA). Still others opposed China’s South China Sea policies. Indigenous refugees from the conflict-plagued island of Mindanao protested the Army’s alleged human rights abuse.

As the 2016 presidential campaigns are in full swing in the Philippines, a handful of candidates – including Vice President Jejomar Binay, independent Senator Grace Poe and Aquino’s own pick Manuel Roxas II – have emerged as major contenders, but amid allegations of foul play. This time the Philippines’ economic cooperation and maritime dispute with China may also play a role in the election polls.

Aquino’s critics, whom include both business interests and left-wing opposition, argue that, unlike its regional neighbors, the Aquino administration has not managed to deepen economic cooperation and high-level bilateral diplomatic relations with China, while pursuing claims on the South China Sea.

Vice-President Binay has pledged he would take a “more moderate” position on China. He wants a joint venture between Manila and Beijing to develop resources in the region and improved trade relations. Another contender, the tough-talking veteran Senator Miriam Santigo would like to terminate the U.S.-Philippines visiting forces agreement as unconstitutional.

Stability for development

The need for a more nuanced China stance is now widely recognized not just in Manila but across Southeast Asia.

However, U.S. presidential elections in 2016 will reshape regional geopolitics. The Democratic and Republican views of China, Asia and South China Sea are not identical.

China’s international role is also about to accelerate dramatically as it will take over as the host of the G20 nations, and the IMF staff has already supported the renminbi’s inclusion as the fifth international reserve currency.

While the APEC ended with a vow to combat terrorism, the Summit refused to be distracted from its true goal – economic development.

In the coming years, all critical players in the Asia Pacific – the United States, China and the Association of Southeast Nations – must compromise if they truly want to invest in peaceful cooperation and economic development in the region.

Due to the extraordinary high economic and strategic stakes in the region, these policies now have global repercussions. Consequently, a failure is no longer an option.

The original commentary was published by China-US Focus on November 24, 2015

Dan Steinbock
APEC 2015: Change Is in the Air added by Dan Steinbock on November 24, 2015
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