PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE: Since 1997 © Copyright (PHNO) http://newsflash.org



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

VILLAGE RICE FARMERS SHIFT TO CALAMANSI TO BEAT CHANGING CLIMATE


MARCH 2 -VICTOR Santos, manager of Concepcion Calamansi Growers and Rice Producers Cooperative in Concepcion, Tarlac, supervises the bottling of natural ‘calamasi’ juice in the cooperative’s production facility. Text and photos by Gabriel Cardinoza, Inquirer Northern Luzon
Rice farmers of an agricultural village here have shifted to planting calamansi to beat the changing weather pattern. Nemencio Calara, chair of the Concepcion Calamansi Growers and Rice Producers Cooperative (CCGRPC), said the erratic rainfall in the last decade had made it difficult for farmers to plant rice twice a year. “It’s no longer like before, when you can have two cropping seasons, because there was enough irrigation water,” he said.Rice farming usually begins at the onset of the rainy season between May and June, while the second cropping season starts in December in irrigated areas. “We had to adapt to the climate that we have now. We looked for a plant that did not need so much water but could bring us profit. So we thought of calamansi,” he said. But the decision to shift to calamansi did not come fast and easy. Calara first visited calamansi farms in neighboring Nueva Ecija province. Farmers there assured him calamansi was a good investment. calamansi-2“I did not hear anything negative about calamansi. The farmers I have talked to started out as land tenants. Now, they own their farms and they kept expanding,” Calara said. The farmers did not have to plant every year because calamansi, once planted, lasts up to 15 years. It takes three years before it bears marketable-size fruits. “After harvest, it keeps producing. It is the only plant that assures us that in the next season, there will be bigger harvest because the plant keeps on growing,” Calara said. READ MORE...

ALSO: Bicam OKs bill on exact change for customers


MARCH 13 -The conference body is co-presided over by Las Rep. Piñas Rep. Mark Villar, chairman of the House committee on trade and industry, and Sen. Paolo Benigno Aquino IV, chairman of the Senate committee on trade, commerce and entrepreneurship. Philstar.com/File 
The bicameral conference committee on the proposed Exact Change bill recently approved the measure that makes it unlawful for business establishments to shortchange a consumer, even if such change is only a small amount. The conference body is co-presided over by Las Rep. Piñas Rep. Mark Villar, chairman of the House committee on trade and industry, and Sen. Paolo Benigno Aquino IV, chairman of the Senate committee on trade, commerce and entrepreneurship. The bicameral panel consolidated House Bill 4730 and Senate Bill 1618 authored by Aquino, Villar and Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, among others. Villar said the proposed law seeks to protect consumers from unfair trade practices. He said the bill directs business establishments to use price tags indicating the exact retail price per unit or service, which includes the taxes applicable to the goods or services being offered. The measure was filed in response to numerous complaints from consumers about the practice of business establishments of not giving the exact change or of giving the change in kind such as candies. READ MORE...

ALSO: Investors await next President’s moves on economy


MARCH 10 -Manila is the capital of a country blessed by an economic resurgence -- and yet afflicted still by misery. Photograph: Virgile Simon Bertrand/Bloomberg Markets Investors are curious to see if the next administration will further open up the economy to attract more foreign capital, especially in infrastructure, DBS Bank Ltd. said Wednesday. “Whoever wins the presidential election in May will have plenty to prove. One to watch closely is what the next government will do to step up investment growth,” Southeast Asia’s largest bank said in a research note. DBS noted that revenue collections had been growing at a “strong” average annual rate of 12 percent during the first five years of the Aquino administration, such that there was room for an “infrastructure overhaul” via the centerpiece public-private partnership or PPP program. “Total investment growth contributed about a third of the economic growth seen during Aquino’s term. And investment is the key that could sustain robust consumption growth and potentially bring overall GDP [gross domestic product] growth to 7-8 percent trend,” DBS said. The economy grew a dismal 5.8 percent last year, while economic managers had slightly cut to 6.8-7.8 percent the GDP expansion target for this year as government expenditures on public goods and services have remained below program despite loads of cash just waiting to be spent. READ MORE...

ALSO: Exports fall for 10th straight month


MARCH 11 -Philippine exports have been on the decline since April 2015. File photo
Merchandise exports fell 3.9 percent in January, extending its decline for the 10th consecutive month on lower earnings across major commodity groups, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported yesterday.
Philippine exports have been on the decline since April 2015. The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said the export sector is in for a bumpy ride this year due to sluggish growth in the global economy. Earnings from outbound shipments fell 3.9 percent year-on-year in January to $4.2 billion from $4.4 billion in the same period in 2014. The contraction was mainly caused by decreases in five major commodities out of the top 10 export commodities for the month. These include apparel and clothing accessories, chemicals, machinery and transport equipment, metal components and other manufactures. Exports of electronic products, the country’s top export with total receipts of $2.142 billion and making up 51.1 percent of the total export revenues for the month, rose five percent year-on-year in January. Semiconductors had the largest share of revenues among electronic exports. “The year 2016 is expected to be a challenging one for the export sector as the global economy faces sluggish economic recovery and uneven growth. We see global trade growth remaining at a low level as the world copes with soft demand and lower commodity prices,” said Economic Planning Secretary and NEDA director general Emmanuel Esguerra. READ MORE...

ALSO: RP investors highly indebted — Manulife survey


MARCH 9 -The latest Manulife Investor Sentiment Index (MISI) survey revealed that despite strong day to day financial discipline, Filipino investors have relatively high levels of personal debt (excluding mortgages) which could jeopardize their long term financial security. In addition, while Filipinos are prudent savers with more than 80 percent regret some investment decisions, suggesting they are unable to effectively invest their savings for the long term. Manulife’s survey is designed to track investor attitudes towards financial planning across eight markets in the region, in order to better understand investors’ needs and identify areas for increased financial literacy.  Encouragingly, the survey found that Filipino investors are among the best in Asia in terms of their savings and expense tracking behaviors. Almost all investors surveyed (99 percent) track their expenses regularly and manage to save part of their income each month — both of which are key indicators of good financial discipline. The survey also found that Filipinos are effective savers, with 46 percent of investors setting a target saving amount starting to save early, before the age of 30. This may explain why an overwhelming majority of investors (91 percent) claim they will have sufficient savings to meet their financial needs in five years time. In addition, of those who have set a target saving amount, an overwhelming 74 percent expect to meet their goal in one to four years, which could indicate that Filipino investors are setting short term targets. However, despite this strong record in financial management, the survey revealed relatively high levels of personal debt. Four in 10 (41 percent) Filipino investors carry debt — the second highest proportion in the region after Malaysia. READ MORE...RELATED Manulife: Malaysians the most indebted in Asia...

ALSO: By Babe Romualdez - Presidential race now level playing field/PAL and ALPHLAND


MARCH 10 -By Babe G. Romualdez
Like in golf, the Supreme Court ruling to overturn the Comelec decision to cancel the certificate of candidacy of Senator Grace Poe brings down her high handicap in her bid for the presidency. Our in-house pollster tells us the presidential race is expected to be a tight one. All candidates have an even handicap except perhaps for Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago who has a big handicap about her illness.
Judging from the results of the most recent surveys, it will definitely be a very tight race with Senator Grace at 26 percent, Mayor Rodrigo Duterte at 24 percent, and Vice President Jejomar Binay at 23 percent, respectively, in The Standard-Laylo survey – making the three statistically tied at first place with the margin of error at ± 1.8 percent. Mar Roxas is not too far behind, hitting double digits at 22 percent. Admittedly, this latest development could affect the figures in the next surveys with the numbers of Grace Poe anticipated to spike up. However, in politics, 60 days is a long time and anything can happen with all the candidates virtually within striking distance – no one is a sure winner. When all is said and done, strategic messaging will be a key factor in giving the candidate the winning edge. PAL, Alphaland strike a partnership deal The country’s flag carrier Philippine Airlines is commemorating its 75th Founding Anniversary next Tuesday, which coincides with the launch of direct flights from Cebu to Los Angeles. PAL is celebrating this milestone year in its history by entering landmark partnerships aimed at providing more benefits and perks to its passengers. Just recently, PAL announced the launch of its joint program partnership with property developer Alphaland Corp. that would enable PAL Mabuhay Miles’ Million Milers and Premier Elite Members to redeem their miles and enjoy the ultimate frequent flyer reward – a stay in the exclusive Balesin Island Club. READ MORE...RELATED...RELATED, High impact SC decisions...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

Village rice farms shift to calamansi to beat changing climate


VICTOR Santos, manager of Concepcion Calamansi Growers and Rice Producers Cooperative in Concepcion, Tarlac, supervises the bottling of natural ‘calamasi’ juice in the cooperative’s production facility.
Text and photos by Gabriel Cardinoza, Inquirer Northern Luzon

CONCEPCION, TARLAC, MARCH 14, 2016
(INQUIRER)
By Gabriel Cardiñoza Inquirer Northern Luzon 03-02 -16 - Rice farmers of an agricultural village here have shifted to planting calamansi to beat the changing weather pattern.

Nemencio Calara, chair of the Concepcion Calamansi Growers and Rice Producers Cooperative (CCGRPC), said the erratic rainfall in the last decade had made it difficult for farmers to plant rice twice a year.

“It’s no longer like before, when you can have two cropping seasons, because there was enough irrigation water,” he said.
Rice farming usually begins at the onset of the rainy season between May and June, while the second cropping season starts in December in irrigated areas.

“We had to adapt to the climate that we have now. We looked for a plant that did not need so much water but could bring us profit. So we thought of calamansi,” he said.

But the decision to shift to calamansi did not come fast and easy.

Calara first visited calamansi farms in neighboring Nueva Ecija province. Farmers there assured him calamansi was a good investment.


The calamansi juice plant is housed in a rented building in Barangay Talimundoc San Miguel, and is now producing 300 250-milliliter bottles of natural calamansi juice daily, said Victor Santos, CCGRPC manager.

I did not hear anything negative about calamansi. The farmers I have talked to started out as land tenants. Now, they own their farms and they kept expanding,” Calara said.

The farmers did not have to plant every year because calamansi, once planted, lasts up to 15 years. It takes three years before it bears marketable-size fruits.

“After harvest, it keeps producing. It is the only plant that assures us that in the next season, there will be bigger harvest because the plant keeps on growing,” Calara said.

READ MORE...

Calamansi is also not a seasonal crop, he said. It bears fruit all year round and technology has been developed to generate off-season harvests.

“You can also plant lemon grass, eggplants, pepper in between the trees. So, you can have inter-cropping,” he said.

Convinced it would give them financial windfall, Calara and a small group of farmers in Barangay Talimundoc San Miguel began planting calamansi in their farms three years ago. On Sept. 11, 2013, he organized the CCGRPC, with 34 farmers as initial members.

Today, they are reaping the fruits of their labor.

A half hectare of calamansi farm with 400 calamansi trees yields about 30 sacks of calamansi fruits. Each sack is sold for P1,000 to the cooperative.

Buying the cooperative members’ produce in a way protects them from sudden drop in prices in the market when there is a calamansi glut, Calara said.

“That’s why we are not worried now. If we can’t sell our calamansi fruit at a good price, we can always process it into bottled juice,” he said.

On Dec. 9 last year, the cooperative acquired its calamansi processing facility through a grant from the Department of Trade and Industry.

The facility came after its members went through a product development training conducted by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and Pampanga State Agricultural University two months earlier.

The calamansi juice plant is housed in a rented building in Barangay Talimundoc San Miguel, and is now producing 300 250-milliliter bottles of natural calamansi juice daily, said Victor Santos, CCGRPC manager.

Each bottle is sold at a wholesale price of P10 under the trademark “Limunada de Concepcion.”

“At the moment, we sell these to schools in Concepcion, especially now that cola drinks are no longer allowed to be sold in school canteens. This is the right time to sell our product, which is a healthy food, to children,” Santos said.

So far, he said, it is only the cooperative that is engaged in calamansi juice production business in Tarlac. “If we become bigger, we will penetrate the market in Tarlac City,” he said.

He said the facility’s limitation so far was that it did not have a machine to fill the plastic bottles. “We are just starting. Soon, we will be able to acquire the machines we need,” he said.


PHILSTAR

Bicam OKs bill on exact change for customers By Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 13, 2016 - 12:00am 0 2 googleplus0 0


The conference body is co-presided over by Las Rep. Piñas Rep. Mark Villar, chairman of the House committee on trade and industry, and Sen. Paolo Benigno Aquino IV, chairman of the Senate committee on trade, commerce and entrepreneurship. Philstar.com/File

MANILA, Philippines – The bicameral conference committee on the proposed Exact Change bill recently approved the measure that makes it unlawful for business establishments to shortchange a consumer, even if such change is only a small amount.

The conference body is co-presided over by Las Rep. Piñas Rep. Mark Villar, chairman of the House committee on trade and industry, and Sen. Paolo Benigno Aquino IV, chairman of the Senate committee on trade, commerce and entrepreneurship.

The bicameral panel consolidated House Bill 4730 and Senate Bill 1618 authored by Aquino, Villar and Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, among others.


SENATOR BAM AQUINO

Villar said the proposed law seeks to protect consumers from unfair trade practices.

He said the bill directs business establishments to use price tags indicating the exact retail price per unit or service, which includes the taxes applicable to the goods or services being offered.


REP MARK VILLAR

The measure was filed in response to numerous complaints from consumers about the practice of business establishments of not giving the exact change or of giving the change in kind such as candies.

READ MORE...

Businesses attributed the practice to coin shortage or the difficulty of sourcing coins from banks.

The bill imposes a fine ranging from P500 to P25,000 or three percent to 10 percent of the gross sales of the business establishment, whichever is higher; and suspension or, at most, revocation of license to operate for repeated offenses.

Bigger CDA budget sought

Meanwhile, daang matuwid coalition senatorial bet Coop-Natcco partylist Rep. Cris Paez supports the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA) in its efforts to improve services to micro and small cooperatives.

Paez lauded the CDA for its advocacy to develop micro and small cooperatives.

The CDA was created through Republic Act 6938 or the Cooperative Code of the Philippines on March 10, 1990.

Paez said the government should allot bigger budget for the CDA to provide assistance to micro and small cooperatives.

He said the CDA’s current budget of around P300 million is not enough to implement its regulatory functions.

Paez said the passage of Credit Surety Fund Cooperative Act of 2016 (Republic Act 10477) gives more power to the CDA to effectively serve micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

But the agency needs additional funds to fulfill its mandate to create a CSF Cooperative office within the CDA.

The CSF Cooperative Act, which took effect last February, mandates the CDA to facilitate the formation of cooperatives around the country.

Under RA 10477, which is principally authored by Paez, MSMEs can enjoy collateral-free loans from banks.

Based on CDA data, around 13 million Filipinos are members of cooperatives. The CDA has over 25,000 member cooperatives nationwide.


INQUIRER

Investors await next President’s moves on economy SHARES: 8 VIEW COMMENTS By: Ben O. de Vera @BenArnolddeVera Philippine Daily Inquirer 12:24 AM March 10th, 2016


Manila is the capital of a country blessed by an economic resurgence -- and yet afflicted still by misery. Photograph: Virgile Simon Bertrand/Bloomberg Markets

Investors are curious to see if the next administration will further open up the economy to attract more foreign capital, especially in infrastructure, DBS Bank Ltd. said Wednesday.

“Whoever wins the presidential election in May will have plenty to prove. One to watch closely is what the next government will do to step up investment growth,” Southeast Asia’s largest bank said in a research note.

DBS noted that revenue collections had been growing at a “strong” average annual rate of 12 percent during the first five years of the Aquino administration, such that there was room for an “infrastructure overhaul” via the centerpiece public-private partnership or PPP program.

“Total investment growth contributed about a third of the economic growth seen during Aquino’s term. And investment is the key that could sustain robust consumption growth and potentially bring overall GDP [gross domestic product] growth to 7-8 percent trend,” DBS said.

The economy grew a dismal 5.8 percent last year, while economic managers had slightly cut to 6.8-7.8 percent the GDP expansion target for this year as government expenditures on public goods and services have remained below program despite loads of cash just waiting to be spent.

READ MORE...

According to DBS, “it is also important to watch if the next government supports the easing of foreign ownership limits.”

President Aquino was firm that the 1987 Constitution—put in place by his mother, former President Corazon—will never be amended during his watch, even as business groups had been seeking further liberalization of its economic provisions.

DBS noted that foreign direct investment (FDI) “continues to be dwarfed by foreign worker remittances, growth of which has been sustained every year in the past decade.”

The latest Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) data showed that as of end-November last year, total FDI declined 3.4 percent year-on-year to $5.452 billion.

The BSP had set targets of $6 billion and $6.3 billion in FDI for last year and this year, respectively. The end-2015 FDI data will be released today.

Cash sent home by Filipinos abroad, meanwhile, hit a record $2.47 billion last December—the biggest monthly amount to date—to bring the 2015 total to $25.767 billion, also the highest annual figure.

End-2015 cash remittances grew 4.6 percent year-on-year, exceeding the 4-percent growth target.

For 2016, the increase in remittances was projected at a similar 4 percent.

But while “strong remittance flows are definitely a positive for the macro risk profile,” DBS cautioned that such also “triggers questions about the dynamism of the local economy, especially since foreign worker remittances make up almost 10 percent of the economy.”


PHILSTAR

Exports fall for 10th straight month By Czeriza Valencia (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 11, 2016 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0


Philippine exports have been on the decline since April 2015. File photo

MANILA, Philippines - Merchandise exports fell 3.9 percent in January, extending its decline for the 10th consecutive month on lower earnings across major commodity groups, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported yesterday.

Philippine exports have been on the decline since April 2015.

The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said the export sector is in for a bumpy ride this year due to sluggish growth in the global economy.

Earnings from outbound shipments fell 3.9 percent year-on-year in January to $4.2 billion from $4.4 billion in the same period in 2014.

The contraction was mainly caused by decreases in five major commodities out of the top 10 export commodities for the month. These include apparel and clothing accessories, chemicals, machinery and transport equipment, metal components and other manufactures.

Exports of electronic products, the country’s top export with total receipts of $2.142 billion and making up 51.1 percent of the total export revenues for the month, rose five percent year-on-year in January. Semiconductors had the largest share of revenues among electronic exports.

“The year 2016 is expected to be a challenging one for the export sector as the global economy faces sluggish economic recovery and uneven growth. We see global trade growth remaining at a low level as the world copes with soft demand and lower commodity prices,” said Economic Planning Secretary and NEDA director general Emmanuel Esguerra.

READ MORE...

Export of manufactured goods fell 2.2 percent in January for a total value of $3.67 billion.

“The fall in exports of manufactured products mirrors the general weakness of the global manufacturing sector. However, worth noting is the five percent increase in the exports of electronic products that registered its eight consecutive month of positive growth in January,” said Esguerra.

Exports of agriculture-based products fell 7.6 percent year-on-year in January to $289.1 million because of lower revenues from coconut and fish products.

“We attribute this to the continued tightness in supply due to persistent dry weather. Also, lower export revenues for fish products can be partly traced to the lower supply of fish in Region XII,” said Esguerra.

Revenues from outbound shipments of mineral products also fell by 27.8 percent to $145.3 million, while exports value of petroleum products declined 17.8 percent to $10 million due to the prevailing low oil price environment.

Esguerra said the government and private sector should take advantage of the trade opportunities offered by economic groupings, trade agreements and the structural transformation of other economies.

“We should engage more actively in information gathering and dissemination, market intelligence, and capacity building of our exporters,” said Esguerra.


TRIBUNE

RP investors highly indebted — Manulife Written by Ed Velasco Wednesday, 09 March 2016 00:00



The latest Manulife Investor Sentiment Index (MISI) survey revealed that despite strong day to day financial discipline, Filipino investors have relatively high levels of personal debt (excluding mortgages) which could jeopardize their long term financial security.

In addition, while Filipinos are prudent savers with more than 80 percent regret some investment decisions, suggesting they are unable to effectively invest their savings for the long term.

Manulife’s survey is designed to track investor attitudes towards financial planning across eight markets in the region, in order to better understand investors’ needs and identify areas for increased financial literacy.

Encouragingly, the survey found that Filipino investors are among the best in Asia in terms of their savings and expense tracking behaviors. Almost all investors surveyed (99 percent) track their expenses regularly and manage to save part of their income each month — both of which are key indicators of good financial discipline.

The survey also found that Filipinos are effective savers, with 46 percent of investors setting a target saving amount starting to save early, before the age of 30.

This may explain why an overwhelming majority of investors (91 percent) claim they will have sufficient savings to meet their financial needs in five years time.

In addition, of those who have set a target saving amount, an overwhelming 74 percent expect to meet their goal in one to four years, which could indicate that Filipino investors are setting short term targets.

However, despite this strong record in financial management, the survey revealed relatively high levels of personal debt.
Four in 10 (41 percent) Filipino investors carry debt — the second highest proportion in the region after Malaysia.

READ MORE...

While most (41 percent) have relatively small amounts of debt ranging from P5,000 to P24,999, seven percent have debts of P500,000 or more.

A third of respondents cited daily living expenses as the main factor contributing to their debt, which could indicate that investors’ ability to save regularly may rely on the use of credit to pay for day to day living expenses.

While the survey suggests that Filipino investors have good financial management, 80 percent of investors wish they had done better investment planning.

In particular, a third of investors wish they had done more research on their investments, while a quarter regretted holding too much cash instead of investing and another quarter regretted not speaking to a financial planner.

This could indicate that despite good financial discipline and regular savings habits, investors are failing to effectively invest their savings to generate returns. This is supported by the fact that Filipino investors park 26 percent of their savings in deposits or in investments with no specific purpose, indicating an opportunity to set a clear long term plan to make the best use of their savings.

“While it’s positive that Filipinos demonstrate good financial discipline, effective financial management is about much more than just tracking your expenses and saving regularly.

Investors also need to ensure they are managing their day-to-day spending to avoid falling into debt, and that they have clear plans to get the most out of their savings in the long run,” said Ryan Charland, Manulife Philippines president and chief executive officer.

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

RELATED FROM FREEMALAYSIATODAY.COM

Manulife: M’sians most indebted in Asia March 3, 2016


Survey shows 68 per cent of Malaysians have debt, highest amongst eight countries in Asia.

DebtKUALA LUMPUR: A recent survey by Manulife shows that 68 per cent of Malaysians currently have debt, the highest proportion of all eight markets surveyed in Asia, and more than double the regional average of 33 per cent.

The survey, the Manulife Investor Sentiment Index, was based on 500 interviews in Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines and Indonesia.

In a statement, Manulife said the average debt for Malaysians was RM56,000, nearly 10 times the average monthly personal income, mostly due to daily living expenses (60 per cent), with rental payments (44 per cent) and children’s education (37 per cent). “Worryingly, much of the debt is long-term, with a quarter of those in debt not expecting to be able to pay it off for three years or more.

“The high debt levels reflect poor financial management, with investors failing to effectively manage their cash flow,” it said.

While 89 per cent of the surveyed Malaysian respondents track their expenses regularly, 44 per cent of investors spend 70 per cent or more of their monthly income every month, suggesting they are not acting on their tracking by curbing expenses.

Manulife Holdings Bhd Group Chief Executive Officer Mark O’ Dell said investors need to better manage their finances and track expenses to prevent them from incurring too much debt, especially considering the backdrop of more volatile financial markets and slowing economic growth.

“Without effective debt management, Malaysians are less likely to achieve their long term savings goals, which could jeopardise their future financial security,” he added. – BERNAMA


PHILSTAR

Presidential race now level playing field SPY BITS By Babe G. Romualdez (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 10, 2016 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0


By Babe G. Romualdez

Like in golf, the Supreme Court ruling to overturn the Comelec decision to cancel the certificate of candidacy of Senator Grace Poe brings down her high handicap in her bid for the presidency. Our in-house pollster tells us the presidential race is expected to be a tight one. All candidates have an even handicap except perhaps for Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago who has a big handicap about her illness.

Judging from the results of the most recent surveys, it will definitely be a very tight race with Senator Grace at 26 percent, Mayor Rodrigo Duterte at 24 percent, and Vice President Jejomar Binay at 23 percent, respectively, in The Standard-Laylo survey – making the three statistically tied at first place with the margin of error at ± 1.8 percent. Mar Roxas is not too far behind, hitting double digits at 22 percent.

Admittedly, this latest development could affect the figures in the next surveys with the numbers of Grace Poe anticipated to spike up. However, in politics, 60 days is a long time and anything can happen with all the candidates virtually within striking distance – no one is a sure winner. When all is said and done, strategic messaging will be a key factor in giving the candidate the winning edge.

PAL, Alphaland strike a partnership deal

The country’s flag carrier Philippine Airlines is commemorating its 75th Founding Anniversary next Tuesday, which coincides with the launch of direct flights from Cebu to Los Angeles. PAL is celebrating this milestone year in its history by entering landmark partnerships aimed at providing more benefits and perks to its passengers.

Just recently, PAL announced the launch of its joint program partnership with property developer Alphaland Corp. that would enable PAL Mabuhay Miles’ Million Milers and Premier Elite Members to redeem their miles and enjoy the ultimate frequent flyer reward – a stay in the exclusive Balesin Island Club.

READ MORE...

The 500-hectare Balesin is the flagship project of Alphaland, described by guests as paradise on earth. The club has seven self-contained villages based on the most fascinating destinations in the world, namely Bali, Mykonos, St. Tropez, Phuket, Costa del Sol, Toscana and, of course, Balesin for the Philippines.

Each of these themed villages feature authentic designs from the architecture and interiors down to landscaping and cuisine reflective of the destination represented. Aside from the themed villages, which are practically a resort by themselves, there is also the Balesin Royal Villa which is fast becoming a venue of choice for special occasions such as weddings and other large social gatherings, with over 300 luxurious villas and suites.

PAL is expected to soar even higher this year following its recent order for six A350-900 Airbus jets with plans to buy another six as it bolsters its fleet to make the country’s flag carrier even more competitive, with more nonstop flights between Manila and the US West Coast and New York also in the offing.

NASA’s supersonic X-plane

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration or NASA has just awarded a $20 million contract to Lockheed Martin to develop the initial blueprint for a supersonic jet dubbed as the “X-plane” that could fly faster than the speed of sound – without the annoying rattling sound or sonic boom.

According to sources, the Obama administration is willing to set aside a $790 million budget that would go into aeronautics research to fine tune what is being heralded as Quiet Supersonic Technology, or QueSST, that would eliminate the irritating noise that was also the reason why the Concorde – a turbo-powered supersonic passenger jet – was eventually banned from flying over populated areas.

NASA is confident it will be able to develop a supersonic “low boom” jet whose noise will be reduced to a soft thump, something like a “heartbeat” according to officials. NASA is counting on these more quiet “X-planes” to open opportunities for the return of commercial supersonic flights that will make it possible for trans-Atlantic travel that will only take just a few hours.

JOYA gallery holds second exhibit

The second exhibit at the Julian Ongpin Young Artists (JOYA) Gallery owned by Julian Ongpin is opening today at the second floor of Alphaland Makati Place’s mall and will run until April 10.

Entitled “At The Heart of It,” the exhibit features the works of three Filipino mixed media artists – Arnel Agawin, Brisa Amir and Michael Declarin. Agawin is a pioneer mixed media artist from the UP College of Fine Arts and is currently based in Hong Kong, while Brisa Amir, also from UP, is known for using collage and mono print techniques for her body of work. Declarin on the other hand is a former animator who is also a popular muralist and street artist.

“These artists are of different backgrounds and styles, but with the same emotional depth and insight in applying their art and narratives. That’s what really brings this show home,” Julian explained.

JOYA opened last October with a debut exhibit titled “Frontiers” that featured the works of Australian artist Henry Curchod and Filipino photographer Artu Nepomuceno.

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

RELATED FROM PHILSTAR

High impact SC decisions BABE’S EYE VIEW By Babe Romualdez (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 13, 2016 - 12:00am 2 2 googleplus2 0


By Babe G. Romualdez

As expected, there are varying degrees of disagreements on decisions recently made by the Supreme Court. The highly anticipated ruling on the Grace Poe case and its reversal of the Comelec decision to disqualify the Senator from running in the May elections continues to drive all kinds of speculation, rumors and innuendos.

But as I have previously said, the rulings made by the highest court of the land can make a great impact on the social, political and economic destiny of this country.

According to an international legal expert, the case of Senator Poe and the status of foundlings have become clearer as far as the citizenship issue is concerned.

Admittedly, there have been times in history when the magistrates would also become so evenly divided over a case that only one vote would determine the outcome or the verdict.

In the case of Grace Poe however, it is a clear-cut majority with a 9-6 vote out of the 15 magistrates – who are deemed to be among the best and the brightest legal minds we have today.

The majority believes that the senator has satisfied the qualifications for presidential candidates. Sadly, in the Philippines, nobody accepts defeat “with grace” (no pun intended).

What is really important is that the ruling has leveled the playing field – which means that the race will become even tighter now with all the major candidates having a shot at the presidency because their numbers are pretty close to each other except for Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago – who unfortunately has a big handicap – with most people believing she is ill.

But anything can still happen in the next six weeks.

A well respected political strategist told us the key element in the coming days will be the messaging that would resonate among voters and convince majority of Filipinos on why he or she should be elected into office as the next president of this country.

CANDIDATES' ISSUES

Vice President Jejomar Binay is facing corruption allegations, but his supporters say none of these allegations has been proven, and that the vice president would be vindicated by the people when they vote him into office.

The same argument is also pointed out by followers of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte who is also facing accusations of being a human rights violator.

Even Mar Roxas is grappling with an election baggage in the form of the MRT, traffic and other DOTC-related incompetence issues especially because he was the one who handpicked Jun Abaya to replace him as Transportation chief.

As so often pointed out by our in-house pollster, a win by Mar Roxas would mean that Filipinos want the programs of the Aquino administration to continue since the Liberal Party standard bearer’s platform stands on the “daang matuwid” mantra of the government.

The funny thing is that there seem to be similarities in the US political scene. Texas Senator Ted Cruz has been questioned about his citizenship – having been born in Calgary, Canada. His mother is a US citizen while his father is a Cuban who obtained Canadian citizenship three years after Cruz was born, and only became a naturalized American in 2005.

Ted Cruz is now believed to be within striking distance of the Republican nomination after winning in Idaho and coming close on the heels of Donald Trump in Mississippi, Hawaii and Michigan.

The Texas senator however received a breather on the “birther” issue after the Illinois Board of Elections ruled that Cruz satisfied the citizenship requirement for a presidential candidate, saying he is a “natural born citizen by virtue of being born in Canada to his mother who was a US citizen at the time of his birth,” and thus “did not have to take any steps or go through a naturalization process at some point after birth.”

At least we know that it’s not only the Philippines but also the United States that has complicated issues regarding the elections. And while surveys are strong indicators regarding the winnability (or not) of a particular candidate, the final survey would and should only be the outcome of the elections – presumably reflecting the will of the Filipino people.

Credible elections is the key to all of these issues.

DISTURBING DEVELOPMENTS

This is probably the reason why the Supreme Court has ordered the Comelec to issue voters’ receipts for the May elections.

The Chief Justice issued an ultimatum to the poll body to seriously take the deadline imposed by the SC in answering the petition filed by senatorial candidate Dick Gordon.

The SC has ruled that the Comelec must enable the feature that would provide a “voter verification paper audit trail” to give voters the opportunity to review their votes and check if the votes have been counted.

Comelec chairman Andy Bautista however said the SC ruling could result in failure of elections because there is very little time left to activate the voting receipt feature of the machines.

This was echoed by Smartmatic that said installing the feature would require four additional steps in the voting process as well as upgrades on the printers and cutters, not to mention the fact that election personnel would need to be reacquainted with the additional feature, and a substantial period of testing will be needed to make sure the printers will efficiently work.

These are very disturbing developments that should be seriously addressed.

One thing is clear: People will not accept anything that will hinder them from making their voice and their choice clearly made on May 9.

A postponement can only create a major disaster for this country.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

© Copyright, 2016 by PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE
All rights reserved


PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE [PHNO] WEBSITE