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

DEC 8: P67B 0F OLD MONEY WILL BE WORTH 'NADA' IN 3 WEEKS
[Those who would be left with the old currencies in their wallets or vaults have one year—from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2016—to convert their old money through
the BSP offices or bank whether one was a depositor or not of that bank.
Exemption for OFWs  Malic said there was no maximum limit to the amount of currency to be exchanged and banks would not collect any fees. old-money-1208By Jan. 1, 2017, all NDS banknotes would just be another piece of paper—with no monetary value.]


December 8 -  IF YOU have P1 million ($21,217) in cash hidden in your closet, or, if you are a billionaire and have P67 billion ($1.4 billion) hidden somewhere, what is the best thing for you to do? Just imagine, P67 billion is half of what Philippine casinos earn in a year. It is also the estimated net worth of former Sen. Manuel Villar’s business empire, good for 13th place on Forbes’ annual listing of Top 50 richest Filipinos. Officials of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) estimate that there are P67 billion worth of old money still in circulation, some of which were introduced 30 years ago to replace the Bagong Lipunan series in 1985. Three weeks left The problem is holders of this so-called “New Design Series” (NDS) currencies have only three weeks to spend or use them before they get demonetized, or lose their legal tender status starting on Jan. 1, 2016. The BSP deputy director for currency issue and integrity, Maja Gratia Malic, said Monday that the P67 billion represented 15 percent of the total Philippine currency in circulation. That means more than one in 10 currencies in circulation need replacement. 422 million pieces Malic said the central bank was still chasing after 422 million pieces of NDS currencies despite embarking on a massive information campaign since it launched the new banknote series in 2010. READ MORE...

ALSO: World travel council cites tourism’s role in Phl’s GDP growth


DECEMBER 13 -World travel council cites tourism’s role in Phl’s GDP growth
Tourism’s contribution to the GDP of the Philippines has increased by more than 50 percent since 2010, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTCC).
In 2014, the United States alone contributed about 723,000 visitors to the Philippines out of 4.8 million international arrivals, making the US the second largest market for international visitors, after South Korea with almost 1.2 million visitors to the country last year. “Tourism thrives in an atmosphere of excitement and encouragement,” Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr. said during a tourism conference at the World Bank headquarters in Washington on Dec. 8. Jimenez spoke on “Pathways to Growth,” which discussed how developing countries could capture their share of global tourism. The panel discussion was part of the World Bank’s tourism conference entitled, “Driving Development Through Tourism.” Jimenez, the brains of the government’s tourism slogan “It’s More Fun in the Philippines,” said the Philippines is a prime destination for international meetings and conferences. “The most successful meetings are those where people can’t tell the difference between business and leisure travel,” he said. Citing the success of the Philippines’ year-long hosting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit, Jimenez noted how some of the most important agreements such as the APEC action agenda to promote the globalization of micro, small and medium enterprises and the plan of action to enhance financial cooperation in the region were reached in the leisure islands of Boracay and Cebu, respectively. READ MORE...

ALSO According to Valenzuela solon: ‘Inclusive growth impossible under Noy’s term’; Noy admin lacks commitment to improve the agric sector


Valenzuela City Rep. Sherwin Gatchalian
Inclusive growth and better lives for the poor remain an impossible dream under the Aquino administration, Valenzuela City Rep. Sherwin Gatchalian said yesterday. Gatchalian, vice chairman of the House committees on Metro Manila development and tourism, said the administration lacks the commitment to improve the agriculture sector that led to a less than one percent growth this year, based on data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA). He said the agriculture sector, which employs the biggest number of employed persons next to the services sector, only moved by 0.4 percent from a 2.6-percent decline posted during the same period last year. Gatchalian added the overall performance of agriculture was dismal as hunting, forestry and fishing only grew 1.1 percent for the period 2012-2013 and 1.6 for 2013-2014. The country’s GDP, meanwhile, grew by 6.8 percent in 2012, 7.2 percent in 2013 and 6.1 percent in 2014. “The dismal growth of the agricultural sector has undoubtedly contributed to the persistent poverty among fisherfolk and farmers who, despite the country’s economic growth, remain to be among the poorest sectors aside from children, with poverty incidence at 39.2 percent and 38.3 percent, respectively, in 2012,” Gatchalian said. “Economic growth that neglects the majority of the population, especially the poor, is obscene. The government exists to make sure everyone, especially the poor, has equal access to resources. Nobody should be left behind,” he said. READ MORE...

ALSO By Babe Romualdez: Metro Manila Christmas traffic ‘the worst ever’


DECEMBER 8 -By Babe G. Romualdez
Several horror stories were reported to Spy Bits about the traffic in Metro Manila which many motorists now describe as “the worst ever.” Last Friday was probably one of the most awful with one motorist telling us it took him eight hours to reach Quezon City from Tagaytay, which on a “normal” day only takes two hours to travel. Another one told me he got stuck in a three-hour jammer on his way from Alabang going also to Quezon City. Still another said his trip from Makati to Manila Hotel took over two hours – and these are only a few of the horrible tales by frustrated motorists and commuters who all agree they have never before experienced this kind of aggravation due to traffic. That doesn’t even include stories about people missing their flights. Airlines now advice people to allocate three hours for commute time going to the airport just so they could be on time for check-in one-and-a-half hour before their flight (for local destinations, two hours for international). Factor in the time for check in and immigration clearance for international travelers (which could take one hour or more depending) and you’d be spending about six hours to prepare for a flight. The 2015 Global Driver Satisfaction Index conducted by the traffic and navigation app Waze named Metro Manila as the worst in the world, giving it a rating of 0.4, even below the scale from 1-10 with one being “miserable,” while 10 is “satisfying.” The same survey that involved 50 million users in 32 countries and 167 metro areas also revealed the Philippines has the longest average commuting time compared with 18 other cities surveyed. Many blame the simultaneous road construction and repair projects – 146 in all – being done all over Metro Manila as one of the reasons why people are experiencing this kind of nightmare. There is a strong suspicion the road constructions were purposely delayed so the administration can have something to claim as “work in progress” before it finally exits in 2016. If true, it looks like this scheme is going to boomerang because the people are angry, stressed and frustrated, with a lot of expletives about traffic being uttered (no longer monopolized by presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte). While the Metro Manila Development Authority has decided to hold all road construction in Metro Manila starting Dec. 14 up to Jan. 3 precisely to ease the holiday traffic, flagship projects such as Skyway Stage 3, the NAIA Expressway, and the Balintawak interceptor project continue – all of which could still affect traffic. Many also doubt if this moratorium would work because the holes created by the diggings will still slow down the flow of vehicles. READ MORE...

ALSO: Manny Pacquiao tries to buy into GMA Network, rejected


DECEMBER 10 -Manny Pacquiao. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO GMA Network Inc.’s owners rejected their latest investment offer— this time from a group that included champion boxer Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao—ahead of next year’s election season that will likely eclipse political ad spending seen in 2010, its top official said.
The failed talks follow similar unsuccessful negotiations with other groups that included Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co., Globe Telecom and businessman Ramon S. Ang, president of San Miguel Corp., over the last decade. GMA chair and CEO Felipe Gozon told reporters late Wednesday that the company earlier received and turned down a buy-in deal led by Pacquiao and former Ilocos Sur Gov. Luis “Chavit” Singson. “It didn’t push through,” said Gozon, who did not elaborate further. READ MORE...

ALSO: Steer clear of online scams


DECEMBER 11 -LARGER VIEW BELOW  -Kaspersky Kaspersky Lab PHOTO As the Christmas rush and Manila’s traffic convince more Filipinos that it is better to shop online than head to the crowded malls, Kaspersky Lab shares eight simple tips to avoid getting suckered by online scams this holiday season. Kaspersky Lab says that it is during this time of heightened shopping activity that cyber criminals step up their game and bring out their inner Grinch. With all the great online deals out there, it is almost impossible to avoid clicking and taking a look around without question. These criminals hope that you’ve let your guard down and won’t be doing your regular due diligence when clicking links or visiting websites. So how can you stay safe shopping online? Here are eight tips from Kaspersky Lab: 1. Ho-ho-hold off ransomware. The best defense against ransomware is to avoid it in the first place. Never open email attachments from unknown shopping sites, and always back-up your files. 23 percent of new malware threats detected by Kaspersky Lab in the first quarter of 2015 were created to steal or extort money. 2. Delete unexpected texts/emails delivering unwanted gifts. Phishing scams can happen anywhere. Avoid clicking on unexpected links sent via email, SMS, or messengers. 3. Passwords are not gifts. Make them tough to open. Create complex passwords to online shopping sites. Combine letters, number and special characters to make them harder to hack. 4. Find safe sites for holiday shopping. Browse reviews of online shopping sites before trusting online shopping sites with your credit card info. Kaspersky Lab’s survey showed 65 percent of users are afraid of fraud when making payments online. 5. Avoid Grinches watching public Wi-Fi. Avoid shopping on public Wi-Fi where cyber criminals love to snoop for your credentials in unsecure wireless networks. Another study conducted by Kaspersky Lab also showed almost half of surveyed mobile users expose their information to unsafe public Wi-Fi every day. READ MORE...

ALSO: AFP shutting down soldiers’ pension fund


DECEMBER 10 -Filipino soldiers parade during the change of command of Armed Forces of the Philippines at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City --To return retirement contribution THE Armed Forces of the Philippines Retirement and Separation Benefits System (AFP-RSBS) is shutting down soon but has assured the country’s military personnel that their respective contributions will be refunded to them over the next three years beginning next year. Norman Legaspi, RSBS president and chief executive officer, told The Manila Times on Wednesday that they have recently submitted their proposed liquidation and deactivation plan to the Governance Commission for Government-Owned and -Controlled Corporations (GCG). GCG acts as the oversight body with authority to formulate, implement and coordinate policies governing government-owned and -controlled corporations (GOCCs), including the rehabilitation or deactivation of non-performing and cash-strapped GOCCs. “Our proposed liquidation plan includes our ultimate objective, which is to return the money of our military personnel starting early next year to 2019,” Legaspi said. The RSBS chief said that its board intends to accelerate the refund process since any unnecessary delay might further deplete their retained earnings.RSBS was created pursuant to Presidential Decree 361 in 1973, and was aimed at providing the AFP personnel their own independent and self-sufficient pension fund. It only had a seed money of P200 million.In December 2006, however, then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo issued Executive Order 590 deactivating the retirement system. Yet, RSBS still continues to operate at present because it has yet to wind up its affairs. RSBS receives an average contribution of P110 million a month, or about 5 percent of every soldier’s monthly salary. The AFP automatically withholds such payments and it, in turn, remits the money to RSBS.The AFP has 116,000 active military personnel. Every year, RSBS pays about P200 million in retirement and separation benefits to some 2,000 to 3,000 retiring soldiers, or an average payment of P200,000 per retiree. Lump sum RSBS is giving such lump sum on top of the pension and retirement benefits being enjoyed by the retiring AFP personnel, the latter being funded under the General Appropriations Act.READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

DEC 8: P67B of old money will be worth ‘nada’ in 3 weeks

MANILA, DECEMBER 14, 2015 (INQUIRER) Gil C. Cabacungan @inquirerdotnet - IF YOU have P1 million ($21,217) in cash hidden in your closet, or, if you are a billionaire and have P67 billion ($1.4 billion) hidden somewhere, what is the best thing for you to do?

Just imagine, P67 billion is half of what Philippine casinos earn in a year. It is also the estimated net worth of former Sen. Manuel Villar’s business empire, good for 13th place on Forbes’ annual listing of Top 50 richest Filipinos.

Officials of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) estimate that there are P67 billion worth of old money still in circulation, some of which were introduced 30 years ago to replace the Bagong Lipunan series in 1985.

Three weeks left

The problem is holders of this so-called “New Design Series” (NDS) currencies have only three weeks to spend or use them before they get demonetized, or lose their legal tender status starting on Jan. 1, 2016.

The BSP deputy director for currency issue and integrity, Maja Gratia Malic, said Monday that the P67 billion represented 15 percent of the total Philippine currency in circulation.

That means more than one in 10 currencies in circulation need replacement.

422 million pieces

Malic said the central bank was still chasing after 422 million pieces of NDS currencies despite embarking on a massive information campaign since it launched the new banknote series in 2010.

READ MORE...

Those who would be left with the old currencies in their wallets or vaults have one year—from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2016—to convert their old money through the BSP offices or bank whether one was a depositor or not of that bank.

Exemption for OFWs

Malic said there was no maximum limit to the amount of currency to be exchanged and banks would not collect any fees.

By Jan. 1, 2017, all NDS banknotes would just be another piece of paper—with no monetary value.

Malic said an exemption had been given to overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), who could exchange their NDS money beyond 2017 as long as they register online with the BSP the amount they have in their possession from October to December 2016.

They have one year from the date of registration to convert their money.

Beating the counterfeiters

For cash held as evidence in pending court cases, Malic said, the BSP would give them exemption as long as these monies were properly registered with the BSP and would be converted after final resolution of the cases.

Malic said there was a need to change the banknote design to keep up with the latest trends in anticounterfeiting technology.

“Counterfeiters have become more high-tech so we have to move several steps ahead,” Malic said. “Central banks around the world change the designs of their currencies that have been in circulation for over 10 years.”

In checking whether a banknote is fake, Malic said, it is not enough to look at it but one should feel the paper (if it is genuine, it should be rough and does not glow under ultraviolet light); examine the watermark on the clear portion of the note; inspect the embedded red and blue security fibers; check the life-like portrait with “sparkling eyes”; and scan the lacework.


PHILSTAR

World travel council cites tourism’s role in Phl’s GDP growth By Pia Lee-Brago (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 13, 2015 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0


World travel council cites tourism’s role in Phl’s GDP growth

MANILA, Philippines - Tourism’s contribution to the GDP of the Philippines has increased by more than 50 percent since 2010, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTCC).

In 2014, the United States alone contributed about 723,000 visitors to the Philippines out of 4.8 million international arrivals, making the US the second largest market for international visitors, after South Korea with almost 1.2 million visitors to the country last year.

“Tourism thrives in an atmosphere of excitement and encouragement,” Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr. said during a tourism conference at the World Bank headquarters in Washington on Dec. 8.

Jimenez spoke on “Pathways to Growth,” which discussed how developing countries could capture their share of global tourism.

The panel discussion was part of the World Bank’s tourism conference entitled, “Driving Development Through Tourism.”

Jimenez, the brains of the government’s tourism slogan “It’s More Fun in the Philippines,” said the Philippines is a prime destination for international meetings and conferences.

“The most successful meetings are those where people can’t tell the difference between business and leisure travel,” he said.

Citing the success of the Philippines’ year-long hosting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit, Jimenez noted how some of the most important agreements such as the APEC action agenda to promote the globalization of micro, small and medium enterprises and the plan of action to enhance financial cooperation in the region were reached in the leisure islands of Boracay and Cebu, respectively.

READ MORE...

He reminded the audience of the role of tourism in assisting communities to recover from the effects of natural disasters such as Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), which hit the country in 2013.

He said the Department of Tourism’s role during the post-Haiyan recovery efforts was to find areas in Eastern Visayas least damaged by the typhoon, so that these areas can be destinations for tourism that can generate a source of income for the affected communities.

Although he acknowledged that the country is still recovering from the effects of the typhoon, Jimenez said the Aquino administration had learned from the experience and is approaching disaster recovery with the mantra “Build Back Better.”

When asked what recommendations he had for the World Bank as it endeavors to promote development through tourism, Jimenez proposed that the international community would be better served by agreeing on a fresh vocabulary to measure the performance and quality of tourism’s contribution to the economy.

The forum gathered government representatives and private sector leaders to discuss opportunities in tourism to promote development and growth while addressing the challenges of the sector in emerging economies.


PHILSTAR

‘Inclusive growth impossible under Noy’s term’ By Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 13, 2015 - 12:07pm 1 38 googleplus0 4


Valenzuela City Rep. Sherwin Gatchalian

MANILA, Philippines - Inclusive growth and better lives for the poor remain an impossible dream under the Aquino administration, Valenzuela City Rep. Sherwin Gatchalian said yesterday.

Gatchalian, vice chairman of the House committees on Metro Manila development and tourism, said the administration lacks the commitment to improve the agriculture sector that led to a less than one percent growth this year, based on data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).

He said the agriculture sector, which employs the biggest number of employed persons next to the services sector, only moved by 0.4 percent from a 2.6-percent decline posted during the same period last year.

Gatchalian added the overall performance of agriculture was dismal as hunting, forestry and fishing only grew 1.1 percent for the period 2012-2013 and 1.6 for 2013-2014.

The country’s GDP, meanwhile, grew by 6.8 percent in 2012, 7.2 percent in 2013 and 6.1 percent in 2014.

“The dismal growth of the agricultural sector has undoubtedly contributed to the persistent poverty among fisherfolk and farmers who, despite the country’s economic growth, remain to be among the poorest sectors aside from children, with poverty incidence at 39.2 percent and 38.3 percent, respectively, in 2012,” Gatchalian said.

“Economic growth that neglects the majority of the population, especially the poor, is obscene. The government exists to make sure everyone, especially the poor, has equal access to resources. Nobody should be left behind,” he said.

READ MORE...

Gatchalian, a senatorial candidate in the slate of independent presidential candidate Sen. Grace Poe, said the next administration should not fail to prioritize the agriculture sector given its potential to mitigate poverty in the country.

He said the government should recognize the importance of agriculture in both economic growth and poverty alleviation.

Gatchalian said under a Grace Poe presidency, “no Filipino will be left behind. ”

“Every Filipino will be afforded the opportunities necessary to partake of the economic gains,” he said.

Gatchalian suggested performance-based incentives in agriculture should be promoted to make our local sector competitive against Southeast Asian neighbors and be prepared for trade liberalization.

He said the government should identify provinces that have the potential to be regionally competitive and provide them with resources so they can keep pace with neighbors in the region.

“Other provinces, meanwhile, should be given adequate support in shifting to alternative cash crops. The government has to focus on identifying comparative advantages. It has to be more strategic in deploying its resources,” Gatchalian said.


PHILSTAR

Metro Manila Christmas traffic ‘the worst ever’ SPYBITS By Babe G. Romualdez (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 8, 2015 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 1


By Babe G. Romualdez

Several horror stories were reported to Spy Bits about the traffic in Metro Manila which many motorists now describe as “the worst ever.” Last Friday was probably one of the most awful with one motorist telling us it took him eight hours to reach Quezon City from Tagaytay, which on a “normal” day only takes two hours to travel.

Another one told me he got stuck in a three-hour jammer on his way from Alabang going also to Quezon City. Still another said his trip from Makati to Manila Hotel took over two hours – and these are only a few of the horrible tales by frustrated motorists and commuters who all agree they have never before experienced this kind of aggravation due to traffic.

That doesn’t even include stories about people missing their flights. Airlines now advice people to allocate three hours for commute time going to the airport just so they could be on time for check-in one-and-a-half hour before their flight (for local destinations, two hours for international). Factor in the time for check in and immigration clearance for international travelers (which could take one hour or more depending) and you’d be spending about six hours to prepare for a flight.

The 2015 Global Driver Satisfaction Index conducted by the traffic and navigation app Waze named Metro Manila as the worst in the world, giving it a rating of 0.4, even below the scale from 1-10 with one being “miserable,” while 10 is “satisfying.”

The same survey that involved 50 million users in 32 countries and 167 metro areas also revealed the Philippines has the longest average commuting time compared with 18 other cities surveyed.

Many blame the simultaneous road construction and repair projects – 146 in all – being done all over Metro Manila as one of the reasons why people are experiencing this kind of nightmare.

There is a strong suspicion the road constructions were purposely delayed so the administration can have something to claim as “work in progress” before it finally exits in 2016. If true, it looks like this scheme is going to boomerang because the people are angry, stressed and frustrated, with a lot of expletives about traffic being uttered (no longer monopolized by presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte).

While the Metro Manila Development Authority has decided to hold all road construction in Metro Manila starting Dec. 14 up to Jan. 3 precisely to ease the holiday traffic, flagship projects such as Skyway Stage 3, the NAIA Expressway, and the Balintawak interceptor project continue – all of which could still affect traffic. Many also doubt if this moratorium would work because the holes created by the diggings will still slow down the flow of vehicles.

READ MORE...

We’re told there’s a plan to temporarily cover up the holes with dirt – a poorly thought out solution because they would be digging the same holes again, which is a waste of time and money.


TWITTER FROM @wheninmanila

The MMDA and the DOTC have cooked up the “Holiday Non-Stop Bus Service” that will run until Jan. 6 in a bid to convince vehicle owners to take the bus and lessen the number of cars plying EDSA, but the feedback we got has not been very encouraging because for one, car owners will have to spend extra for parking at the malls that have been designated as terminals.

Regular commuters also find the fare a bit prohibitive for such a short stretch, plus the fact they will have to walk going to the designated loading area (or take an extra ride) and then walk again to their final destination because the buses only stop at a certain designated point.

This may sound like a joke, but a vehicle owner who took pity on a pedestrian who was walking hurriedly with sweat running down his face offered a ride in his car. The man politely declined, saying, “Thanks, but no thanks, I’m in a hurry,” and continued walking at a brisk pace.

Whichever way you look at it, the traffic situation is causing stress – the killer kind – to everybody. And we’re not just referring to road rage incidents but the implications on people’s health.

According to a doctor, there is such a thing as “holiday stress” with more people suffering from heart attacks during the Christmas season. About 85 percent of air pollution in Metro Manila comes from vehicles – and traffic aggravates this due to toxic fumes that are emitted when vehicles are stalled and their engines are just idling.

On the sidelines of the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris, some 1,000 mayors from major cities all over the world also held their own summit at Paris City Hall to discuss pollution and other climate change issues, saying they don’t want to wait for an agreement from their leaders before they act.

Hopefully, the mayors of Metro Manila will also have the same mindset and initiate ways to fight this traffic and pollution mess at their own levels.

MOPC-MVP golf tourney a success

The MOPC-MVP Cup fully sponsored by the MVP Group of Companies was held at the Manila Golf and Country Club yesterday and it was a resounding success, with the ceremonial tee off attended by US Ambassador Philip Goldberg, Canadian Ambassador Neil Reeder, Indian Ambassador LT Ralte and Thai Ambassador Thanatip Upatising.

The Manila Overseas Press Club board of governors together with Tony Lopez and myself, hosted the events with MVP media bureau head Mike Toledo and Patricia Hizon acting as emcees during the awarding ceremonies.

Members of the diplomatic circle, business execs and media people who joined the golf invitational include Fausto Preysler, Tony Garcia, Arthur Lopez, Mary Ann Reyes, Jun Engracia and Mary Jane Llanes of the SMC Group with Jun Periquet, Ed Alinio and Pepe Rodriguez.

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

RELATED FROM PHILSTAR --THUIS WEEK ON PEOPLEASIA

MVP group sponsors 5th MOPC Golf THIS WEEK ON PEOPLEASIA By Babe Romualdez (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 13, 2014 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0


Pakistani Ambassador Safdar Hayat, MOPC’s Tony Lopez and Japanese Ambassador Toshinao Urabe.

The 5th Manila Overseas Press Club (MOPC) Invitational Golf Tournament was a big success with businessmen, media editors and members of the diplomatic circle getting together for a day of golfing fun at the Sta. Elena Golf Club in Santa Rosa, Laguna.

Our major sponsor this year was the MVP group of Manny V. Pangilinan in cooperation with Philippines Inc. It was good to see everyone vying for the top honors in three classes plus special awards for lowest net and other categories.

Part of the proceeds will go the MOPC’s various projects including a fund for scholars. Once again, our gratitude to the tournament’s major sponsors PLDT, Smart, Meralco, First Pacific, Philex Mining, Maynilad and Metro Pacific Investments Corp. Minor sponsors include Pilipinas Shell Petroleum, PAGCOR’s Casino Filipino, National Grid Corp. of the Philippines, ABS-CBN, Social Security System, CATS Motors Inc., The Bellevue Hotel, PeopleAsia magazine, Weber Shandwick Philippines, BizNews Asia magazine, Solaire Resort and Casino, Unilab Corp., Jollibee Foods Corp. and Federal Land Inc.


INQUIRER

Manny Pacquiao tries to buy into GMA Network, rejected SHARES: 10.6K VIEW COMMENTS By: Miguel R. Camus @inquirerdotnet Inquirer Business 11:50 AM December 10th, 2015


Manny Pacquiao. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

GMA Network Inc.’s owners rejected their latest investment offer— this time from a group that included champion boxer Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao—ahead of next year’s election season that will likely eclipse political ad spending seen in 2010, its top official said.

The failed talks follow similar unsuccessful negotiations with other groups that included Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co., Globe Telecom and businessman Ramon S. Ang, president of San Miguel Corp., over the last decade.

GMA chair and CEO Felipe Gozon told reporters late Wednesday that the company earlier received and turned down a buy-in deal led by Pacquiao and former Ilocos Sur Gov. Luis “Chavit” Singson.

“It didn’t push through,” said Gozon, who did not elaborate further.

READ MORE...

Gozon, one of the television network’s three major shareholders, typically leads negotiations for such offers into GMA, whose publicly traded shares are valued at about P23 billion.

Gozon suggested in the interview that GMA is worth much more, citing the premium placed on transactions when a controlling stake is up for grabs.

The company has been long-perceived to be on the selling block but Gozon said he recently met with GMA’s two other owners, the Duavit and Jimenez families, and a decision emerged to first “increase the value of the company.”

“We want to grow the business,” Gozon said. “This will increase our price.”

GMA mainly competes with close rival ABS-CBN Corp. and in recent months, the company has laid claim to national ratings, citing its popular noontime television segments.

RELATED STORIES

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NUJP blasts ‘heartless’ mass retrenchment of GMA Network workers


INQUIRER

Steer clear of online scams SHARES: 10 VIEW COMMENTS @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer 12:46 AM December 11th, 2015


Kaspersky Kaspersky Lab PHOTO

As the Christmas rush and Manila’s traffic convince more Filipinos that it is better to shop online than head to the crowded malls, Kaspersky Lab shares eight simple tips to avoid getting suckered by online scams this holiday season.

Kaspersky Lab says that it is during this time of heightened shopping activity that cyber criminals step up their game and bring out their inner Grinch.

With all the great online deals out there, it is almost impossible to avoid clicking and taking a look around without question.

These criminals hope that you’ve let your guard down and won’t be doing your regular due diligence when clicking links or visiting websites.

So how can you stay safe shopping online? Here are eight tips from Kaspersky Lab:

1. Ho-ho-hold off ransomware. The best defense against ransomware is to avoid it in the first place.

Never open email attachments from unknown shopping sites, and always back-up your files. 23 percent of new malware threats detected by Kaspersky Lab in the first quarter of 2015 were created to steal or extort money.

2. Delete unexpected texts/emails delivering unwanted gifts. Phishing scams can happen anywhere. Avoid clicking on unexpected links sent via email, SMS, or messengers.

3. Passwords are not gifts. Make them tough to open. Create complex passwords to online shopping sites. Combine letters, number and special characters to make them harder to hack.

4. Find safe sites for holiday shopping. Browse reviews of online shopping sites before trusting online shopping sites with your credit card info.

Kaspersky Lab’s survey showed 65 percent of users are afraid of fraud when making payments online.

5. Avoid Grinches watching public Wi-Fi. Avoid shopping on public Wi-Fi where cyber criminals love to snoop for your credentials in unsecure wireless networks.

Another study conducted by Kaspersky Lab also showed almost half of surveyed mobile users expose their information to unsafe public Wi-Fi every day.

READ MORE...

6. Wrap up your smartphone. Turn off your Bluetooth to avoid cyber snooping and connect via cellular before you use your cellphone to shop online. These simple steps will make your smartphone connection much more secure.

Kaspersky Lab detected 323,374 new mobile malware programs in the third quarter of 2015. That is a 10.8-percent increase from the previous quarter.

7. Deny adware that redecorates your desktop. Downloading freeware for your purchase? Be sure to read the fine print. It might include accepting ’adware’ advertising add-ons to toolbars and browsers.

Another Kaspersky Lab survey also showed 54 percent of Internet users are annoyed by adware.

8. Make a ’purchased list’ and check it twice. Be absolutely sure your shipping confirmation is for legit purchase. It could be a cybercriminal phishing for a quick click.

While these tips can help, it is up to you to make sure that you are going to the right sites.

Remember, if a deal is too good to be true, it probably is.


MANILA TIMES

AFP shutting down soldiers’ pension fund December 10, 2015 9:49 pm by KATRINA MENNEN A. VALDEZ


Filipino soldiers parade during the change of command of Armed Forces of the Philippines at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City

To return retirement contribution

THE Armed Forces of the Philippines Retirement and Separation Benefits System (AFP-RSBS) is shutting down soon but has assured the country’s military personnel that their respective contributions will be refunded to them over the next three years beginning next year.

Norman Legaspi, RSBS president and chief executive officer, told The Manila Times on Wednesday that they have recently submitted their proposed liquidation and deactivation plan to the Governance Commission for Government-Owned and -Controlled Corporations (GCG).

GCG acts as the oversight body with authority to formulate, implement and coordinate policies governing government-owned and -controlled corporations (GOCCs), including the rehabilitation or deactivation of non-performing and cash-strapped GOCCs.

“Our proposed liquidation plan includes our ultimate objective, which is to return the money of our military personnel starting early next year to 2019,” Legaspi said.

The RSBS chief said that its board intends to accelerate the refund process since any unnecessary delay might further deplete their retained earnings.

RSBS was created pursuant to Presidential Decree 361 in 1973, and was aimed at providing the AFP personnel their own independent and self-sufficient pension fund. It only had a seed money of P200 million.

In December 2006, however, then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo issued Executive Order 590 deactivating the retirement system. Yet, RSBS still continues to operate at present because it has yet to wind up its affairs.

ARROYO

RSBS receives an average contribution of P110 million a month, or about 5 percent of every soldier’s monthly salary. The AFP automatically withholds such payments and it, in turn, remits the money to RSBS.

The AFP has 116,000 active military personnel.

Every year, RSBS pays about P200 million in retirement and separation benefits to some 2,000 to 3,000 retiring soldiers, or an average payment of P200,000 per retiree.
Lump sum

RSBS is giving such lump sum on top of the pension and retirement benefits being enjoyed by the retiring AFP personnel, the latter being funded under the General Appropriations Act.

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“We have never defaulted in terms of refunding these contributions to our retiring soldiers. But we have to accelerate the payment not only to the retirees but also to those in the active service so that no one will be left empty-handed. We have the money, we just have to liquidate some assets to reimburse everyone,” Legaspi said.


LEGASPI -AFPRSBS PHOTO FROM RSBS WEBSITE

The RSBS chief said that as early as 2013, its board had already sought the stoppage of the withholding of the monthly contribution from soldiers’ salaries so as to limit the funds that would be paid back to soldiers anyway.

“Right now we are still receiving 5 percent of their [soldiers] salaries. Our mandate includes the return of each soldier’s contribution with 6 percent interest [per year of contribution] upon their retirement,” Legaspi said.

“It is the 6 percent interest per year of contribution that makes us [RSBS] not sustainable,” he added.

He explained that the RSBS cannot attain its objective–to be self-sufficient–without any financial support from the national government.

“Our hands are tied in terms of growing the money. We are only allowed to invest in government-issued securities and money markets. These kinds of investments, although very safe would merely grow the fund by 1.5 percent a year, while we are to return each retiring soldier’s contribution with 6 percent interest [per year of contribution]. This among others will prevent RSBS from attaining its self-sufficient status,” he said.

RSBS’ liabilities, or the amount which shall be returned to the country’s military personnel, stand at P12 billion, while its assets are valued at P15 billion.

“These are mainly real properties as the agency heavily invested on real estate projects and developments during the 1990s. But of the P15 billion, we have P6 billion retained earnings,” he said.

These real estate projects include the 500-hectare Riviera Estates and Golf and Country Club in Silang, Cavite; the three-hectare land of Aseana Property along Macapagal Avenue; and the 172-hectare Green Meadows property in Iloilo. RSBS is also a part-owner of the popular theme park Enchanted Kingdom in Laguna.

Legaspi said that the board has proposed that the RSBS assets be sold through public auctions.

“We are already receiving queries for these properties, and many have expressed their interest to participate in the bidding,” he said.

Legaspi stressed that all military personnel have nothing to worry about.

“We would like to assure all our soldiers that we will refund their contributions in the next three years starting next year. This three-year period is the time we need to liquidate our non-performing assets and wind up our affairs,” Legaspi said.

One Response to AFP shutting down soldiers’ pension fund
Remigio Maranan says:
December 11, 2015 at 3:34 am
What happened to the hundred of hectares of land that RSBS bought in Tanauan City, Batangas on 1996 or 1997 that was intended for military housing but up to now, no improvements whatsoever except for some retired generals who built vacation homes and cock farms?
Reply

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RELATED (FLASHBACK 2011)

Military pension crisis looms in 2016: Abad abs-cbnNEWS.com Posted at 10/10/11 4:53 PM


ABAD

MANILA, Philippines - A crisis in looming in the military pension system, as budget requirements for pensions are projected to overtake those for active personnel by 2016, according to Budget and Management Secretary Florencio B. Abad.

"Pension benefit requirements of the military — under the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO) — would amount to P67 billion by 2016. This will overtake the projected personal services requirements for active staff that amounts to P63.7 billion," Abad said, in a statement.

Based on DBM data, there will be 401,938 retired personnel who will require P68.18 billion in pension by 2016. This is compred to 389,199 retired personnel requiring P45.5 billion in pension in 2013.

Abad said there is an urgent need to resolve the looming pension crisis for AFP and PVAO personnel.

"It is very likely that in the next five years, the government will allocate more funds for the pension requirements of retired military personnel than the salaries of those still active in service," he said.

Abad said the current system, where the government shoulders the benefits for retired military personnel, is unsustainable. He agreed with the statement of Retirement and Separation Benefits System (RSBS) President Emilio Marayag that the indexation of retirement benefits to the salaries of active personnel is a key cause of the problem.

In order to address the problem, the DBM has worked with the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) to conduct an actuarial study and create a system that will "provide safeguards on the contributions of the members, sound financial basis for computing deductions, and ensure the sustainability of the military retirement system."

Pending the release of the actuarial study, Abad made several proposals to address the pension crisis. One, the AFP general headquarters must stop paying pension arrearages since no amount was appropriated for the purpose. Second, the PVAO must set a prescriptive period on the receipt of applications and claims processing of new veterans. Third, review and update list of pensioners to eliminate the so-called "ghost" pensioners.

The overall pension benefit requirements of the military, police and other uniformed personnel is projected to increase by more than 100% by 2016. The total amount of pension requirements is seen at P111 billion for 511,317 uniformed personnel in 2016, compared to the proposed budget level of P52 billion for 2012.

The government presently shoulders multiple pension packages for the military and other uniformed personnel. Unlike other civil servants, military and uniformed personnel do not contribute premiums to a pension fund. Soldiers and policemen retire earlier at the age of 56, while civil servants retire at 65.

The national government has been paying for the miitary and police pensions because they have no separate retirement system. The military used to have a pension fund, AFP-RSBS, but it went bankrupt after financial mismanagement by its board.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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