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

POSITIVE INVESTOR SENTIMENT POST SONA: RATE DROPS ON 7-YEAR
T-BONDS

[RELATED Duterte style: ”New normal” - by Roberto Romulo)


JULY 26 -Positive investor sentiment from President Duterte’s first State of the Nation Address (SONA) helped push down rates on seven-year Treasury bonds. AP Photo/Bullit Marquez
Positive investor sentiment from President Duterte’s first State of the Nation Address (SONA) helped push down rates on seven-year Treasury bonds. The re-issued paper, which has a remaining life of six years and nine months, fetched a rate of 3.016 percent at yesterday’s auction, down 44.5 basis points from the previous auction. A total of P44.73 billion in tenders were received, nearly double the P25-billion offered. The government awarded as planned. “This is, of course, a very good turnout especially with the SONA just happening yesterday,” National Treasurer Roberto Tan told reporters after the auction. “The market is very much pleased with the policy pronouncements of the President which would be, of course, business friendly and market-oriented policy friendly for the country,” he added. During his 98-minute speech opening the 17th Congress, Duterte asked legislators to pass reforms on income taxes, grant him emergency powers to tackle Metro Manila’s traffic and extend passport’s validity to 10 years, among others. READ MORE...RELATED,
Duterte style: ”New normal”...

ALSO NEVER ON MY WATCH: SEC. LOPEZ ON TAMPAKAN MINING
[RELATED: Lopez closes 2 Palawan mines]
[RELATED(2): Visit mining communities, DENR chief urged; THE POOR LIVE OUTSIDE THEIR JURISDICTION]


JULY 28 -Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) secretary, Regina Lopez said that the $5.9 billion Tampakan mining project in Mindanao will never push through under her watch because it is on agricultural lands and will displace people living in the area.
“I really don’t like Tampakan at all, It plans open pit mining on an area equivalent to 700 football fields on agricultural lands affecting four provinces and six rivers. Why do we even consider it at all? Many poor people living there are farmers, is it right to put their lives at risk? (I’ll) shut it down even before it started. No Tampakan operations under my term,” she told reporters during a briefing in Quezon City. Lopez added that allowing Tampakan to operate would be “ immoral and socially unjust” since it will affect the lives of farmers and indigenous people. She added, however that she will still observe due process. “All permits given will be under review. I have to follow the law, but even under review, as DENR chief, we have to follow the rule of the common good… There must be something in the law that must protect the common good, that’s my major criteria,” she said. Leo Jasareno, Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) managing director, on the other hand said that investors can freely appeal the recent pronouncements of the government. “Any private investor who thinks that the government is not doing it right can file a complaint. They can ask for reconsideration from the government,” MGB director, Jasareno said during the same event. READ MORE...RELATED, Lopez closes 2 Palawan mines...RELATED(2), Visit mining communities, DENR chief urged: GROUP SAYS THE POOR LIVE OUTSIDE THEIR JURISDICTION...

ALSO: NO MONEY FOR RICE SUFFICIENCY PROGRAM


JULY 28 -The Department of Agriculture (DA) yesterday reported it has pushed back it goal to attain rice self-sufficiency by two years to 2019 due to lack of money.
Government budget is all tied up and cannot be tweaked. This is the second time that a Duterte plan had to be shelved because of lack of funding. The first is the promised doubling of salaries of police personnel. “There is no available money as of the moment… (Budget) secretary (Benjamin) Diokno said while there are still funds left, it cannot be realigned and be assigned to other projects because we might be sued just like what happened with the DAP (Disbursement Acceleration Program),” Agriculture secretary Emmanuel Piñol told reporters at the agency’s headquarters in Quezon City. Last month, Piñol asked for a P30 billion budget to provide irrigation, seeds, fertilizers and other farm inputs to farmers for use until year end to jump start the plan for self-sufficiency. Piñol also cautioned that the plan’s success will depend on lawmakers’ approval of higher DA budget next year or P71 billion, 54 percent higher than the earlier proposed P46 billion. “We need P31 billion more for the 2017 budget for rice program alone, but it will go down to P18 or P19 billion by the third year”, he said. The DA said the three-year rice self-sufficiency program is projected to require a total budget of P64 billion. If the budget is granted, the DA expects palay production to reach 18.517 million metric tons (MT) or roughly 89.62 percent of the expected consumption of 20.661 million MT. Production for 2018 is expected to grow to 20.342 million MT,which is 96.1 percent of the projected demand of 21.168 million MT. READ MORE...

ALSO: Strong demand from corporate, retail borrowers bank lending grows 17% to P5.4 T in June


JULY 30 -BSP Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. said outstanding loans of commercial banks grew 17.6 percent to hit P5.41 trillion in end-June from P4.6 trillion in the same period last year. STAR/File photo
The growth of loans extended by banks remained steady in June due to strong demand from corporate and retail borrowers on the back of the country’s sustained economic growth, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) reported yesterday.
BSP Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. said outstanding loans of commercial banks grew 17.6 percent to hit P5.41 trillion in end-June from P4.6 trillion in the same period last year. Tetangco said loans for production activities increased 17.7 percent to P4.83 trillion from P4.1 trillion and accounted for 89.4 percent of the bank’s total loan portfolio in end-June. Loans to real estate activities went up 20.7 percent to P947.69 billion, while lending to the manufacturing sector increased 9.3 percent to P775.36 billion. Loans to the wholesale and retail trade as well as repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles rose 15.3 percent to P758.26 billion for a 14 percent share while lending to electricity, gas, steam and airconditioning supply jumped 30 percent to P619.36 billion for an 11.5 percent share. Tetangco also reported loans for household consumption expanded 18.8 percent to P423.96 billion in end-June this year from P356.92 billion in the same period last year. Statistics showed motor vehicle loans soared 36.9 percent to P179.21 billion from P130.95 billion, while credit card loans went up eight percent to P178.58 billion from P165.78 billion. READ MORE...

ALSO: MVP group set to revive Manila-Laguna railway
[RELATED: MRAIL, ICTSI to invest P10B in cargo rail line]


JULY 28 -PANGILINAN
The group of businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan is embarking on an ambitious plan to link Luzon’s seaports via dedicated cargo railway lines—a move that it said was good for trade and would help cut road congestion in traffic-strangled Metro Manila.
MRail, a subsidiary of Pangilinan-led Manila Electric Co., would revive a 57-kilometer cargo railway line linking Manila International Container Terminal, controlled by Enrique Razon Jr.’s International Container Terminal Services Inc. (ICTSI), to ICTSI’s inland container terminal facility in Laguna. MRail president Ferdinand Inacay told reporters in a briefing Wednesday the P10-billion project would be a venture between MRail and ICTSI. A “well-known” Asian freight operator would also be tapped as technical partner, he said. The Manila-Laguna cargo railway was initially operated by ICTSI between 1998 and 2003. It was discontinued mainly because of viability issues. Inacay said the firm was also studying cargo railway projects linking Manila to the Clark Freeport Zone. The line would eventually be extended to Subic in the north and to Batangas Port in the south. He said MRail was also keen on participating in the government’s call for a Mindanao Rail Network. “Once you have an Asean integration … we will be competing within Asean. If you cannot bring your goods, or send your goods out efficiently, you will be eaten alive,” Inacay said. “So the way we enable ourselves to compete with them is to have a good logistics and transport system. This is not a cure-all but one of those that can help us compete.” The Manila-Laguna railway project will be using the existing tracks of the Philippine National Railways. The project is expected to be done by end-2018. FULL REPORT. RELATED, MRAIL, ICTSI to invest P10B in cargo rail line...

ALSO By Rey Gamboa:  With Rody - ’Ako ang boss ninyo’
[Without going into sloganeering such as Daang Matuwid, President Rody is saying he will not condone corruption of any form or at any level of government. Clearly, to the enchantment of many Filipinos, he barks, “I am the boss.”]
[ALSO: By Gerardo Sicat: SONA - analysis, vision, expectations, and reality]


JULY 28 -By Rey Gamboa
If we had “Ikaw ang boss ko” with P-Noy, it’s definitely “Ako ang boss ninyo” with President Rody. In his inaugural State of the Nation Address (SONA), the president was very much the captain of the ship, albeit a seemingly reluctant one during some instances. Nonetheless, President Rody clearly showed the charisma most Filipinos expected from the top leader of the country during a time when economic growth has shown its demands for radical changes in a still antiquated bureaucratic system. All of the issues he had picked on, including his pet peeve drug trafficking, are within the list of responsibilities that an effective government should be focusing on, and that Filipinos have been clamoring to be solved. And while the proverbial honeymoon period is still in effect and the nation waits for promises to be fulfilled, the optimism for promised changed has very much charged the current atmosphere with exuberant hope for a better tomorrow. President Rody has taken the war on drugs to a level far more than any other president of this country has, and while this is not an a priority issue for majority of Filipinos, the manner by which the president chooses to tackle the problem is what enamors his citizens. The president, however, is also articulate about the many other problems his countrymen personally confront: red tape in government offices (passports, business permits, driver’s license, vehicle registration, OFW processing), traffic, food for the poorest, even WiFi in public places like hospitals. The compassion he displays for the miseries that Filipinos suffer, including of family members of those killed in the many wars waged in conflict zones involving Muslims, communists, minorities, and the government’s armed forces, is a precious (even rare) emotion that has won Filipinos’ trust. That, and his seeming honesty. Without going into sloganeering such as Daang Matuwid, President Rody is saying he will not condone corruption of any form or at any level of government. Clearly, to the enchantment of many Filipinos, he barks, “I am the boss.” READ MORE...ALSO, By Gerardo Sicat: SONA - analysis, vision, expectations, and reality...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

Positive investor sentiment after SONA: Rate drops on 7-year T-bonds


Positive investor sentiment from President Duterte’s first State of the Nation Address (SONA) helped push down rates on seven-year Treasury bonds. AP Photo/Bullit Marquez

MANILA, AUGUST 1, 2016 (PHILSTAR) By Prinz Magtulis Updated July 27, 2016 - 12:00am -

MANILA, Philippines – Positive investor sentiment from President Duterte’s first State of the Nation Address (SONA) helped push down rates on seven-year Treasury bonds.

The re-issued paper, which has a remaining life of six years and nine months, fetched a rate of 3.016 percent at yesterday’s auction, down 44.5 basis points from the previous auction.

A total of P44.73 billion in tenders were received, nearly double the P25-billion offered. The government awarded as planned.

“This is, of course, a very good turnout especially with the SONA just happening yesterday,” National Treasurer Roberto Tan told reporters after the auction.

“The market is very much pleased with the policy pronouncements of the President which would be, of course, business friendly and market-oriented policy friendly for the country,” he added.

During his 98-minute speech opening the 17th Congress, Duterte asked legislators to pass reforms on income taxes, grant him emergency powers to tackle Metro Manila’s traffic and extend passport’s validity to 10 years, among others.

READ MORE...

He also reiterated his anti-crime and anti-drug stance, while vowing to continue and “make even better” current macroeconomic policies in place.

Tan said the economy – which grew 6.9 percent in the first quarter – continued to be strong, helping lower interest rates on financing requirements.

With the US Federal Reserve delaying rate hikes and slower growth in Europe and other developed markets, Tan expects rates to remain low “at least probably until the later part of the year.”

“Domestically the macro-economic fundamentals are very sound, the liquidity of the market is still quite deep and these are all helping on the sentiment for investors to be very aggressive,” he said.

A bond trader at a local bank agreed with Tan when sought for comment yesterday.

“The results of the auction is in line with expectations and the high peso liquidity as well as end-user requirements,” she said in a phone interview.

“That said, Philippine fundamentals remain solid in terms of domestic inflation and growth prospects,” she added.

For the next six months, Tan said the Bureau of the Treasury is preparing recommendations to the Department of Finance on how to proceed with its borrowings.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez earlier said he would keep this year’s borrowing program, which totaled P674.80 billion in borrowings, according to the 2016 budget.

Broken down, P104.58 billion would be sourced externally, while P570.23 billion will come from the local market. It was not clear how much of that had already been issued.

This, even as higher borrowings are expected next year given plans to widen the budget deficit to three percent of economic output from 0.9 percent last year.

Tan earlier said there will be no pre-funding of borrowing requirements for 2017 this year.

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

RELATED FROM PHILSTAR (COMMENTARY)

Duterte style: ”New normal” FILIPINO WORLDVIEW By Roberto R. Romulo (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 29, 2016 - 12:00am 4 151 googleplus0 2


By Roberto R. Romulo

Our traditional concept of a Head of State has been turned upside down by our newly elected President.

The establishment elite are aghast at his sartorial style: checkered shirts with undershirt showing and corduroy pants. Jeans are standard for normal business days. At the SONA, he wore a barong with sleeves rolled up. I suspect he knows what it is to be “Presidential” but he has eschewed them to be true to his persona. But for those of us who are used to the conventional, it takes time to get used to it.

His performance at the SONA belied the impression one gets from his rambling interviews. His remarks were well-delivered, articulate and straight to the point. But his “off the cuff” remarks in Tagalog added levity to serious issues and served to punctuate his commitment to address them.

Yes, it was not structured and far too long but it left us, the audience, stunned, appreciative and wishing him well. He may not be our conventional idea of a Leader, maybe even downright quirky, but he got us hooked on his message.

Isn’t that what Leadership is all about?

And isn’t it ironic that a man who comes to sophisticated Manila bringing with him his small town bonhomie and probinsyano manner, coupled with colorful language, comes across as more sincere and credible in improving our lives and solving our basic concerns of crime, traffic and the plight of the poor. This is in sharp contrast to the conventional politician who trots out mindless statistics to impress and motherhood statements. Welcome to the “NEW NORMAL.”

Performance Tracking

As I draft this column, I am fully aware that other columns will comment, criticize and praise the President’s remarks. I question my ability to provide new or innovative points. Therefore, I will refrain from making further comment except thanking and commending the President for not going down to the level of “finger pointing” on the sins of the past.

The President’s credible delivery provided an upsurge of approval from all but all expect attainment sooner rather than later.

I recommend that every member of his Cabinet must now draw up specific targets which can be measured, preferably with chronological milestones. These targets should be presented to the Cabinet for comment and finally the President’s approval.

Digital dashboard

In turn, the Presidential Management Staff with the assistance of the Department of Information Communications Technology should develop a digital dashboard which will provide the President with a real time snapshot of the performance of every department on key performance indicators, and a status of their ongoing projects. In the spirit of transparency, the dashboards should be made available to the public via the internet.

Notice to friends and the public

More often than I would like, my friends complain that my columns are too long. It would seem our editors share the same sentiment about me and others.

Starting next week, we have been notified that our column should not exceed 900 words. In the spirit of cooperation, I’m starting as early as today with this column having less than 600 words. In the future, I will do my best but will only protest if my message requires further clarification.


MALAYA BUSINESS INSIGHT

NEVER ON MY WATCH: LOPEZ ON TAMPAKAN By Jed Macapagal July 28, 2016

Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) secretary, Regina Lopez said that the $5.9 billion Tampakan mining project in Mindanao will never push through under her watch because it is on agricultural lands and will displace people living in the area.

“I really don’t like Tampakan at all, It plans open pit mining on an area equivalent to 700 football fields on agricultural lands affecting four provinces and six rivers. Why do we even consider it at all? Many poor people living there are farmers, is it right to put their lives at risk? (I’ll) shut it down even before it started. No Tampakan operations under my term,” she told reporters during a briefing in Quezon City.

Lopez added that allowing Tampakan to operate would be “ immoral and socially unjust” since it will affect the lives of farmers and indigenous people. She added, however that she will still observe due process.

“All permits given will be under review. I have to follow the law, but even under review, as DENR chief, we have to follow the rule of the common good… There must be something in the law that must protect the common good, that’s my major criteria,” she said.

Leo Jasareno, Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) managing director, on the other hand said that investors can freely appeal the recent pronouncements of the government.

“Any private investor who thinks that the government is not doing it right can file a complaint. They can ask for reconsideration from the government,” MGB director, Jasareno said during the same event.

READ MORE...

MGB earlier reported that operators of the Tampakan prospect is already processing to consolidate the three different areas covered under financial and technical assistance agreement (FTAA) into one.

FTAA is the agreement that may be entered into between a contractor and the government for the development of large-scale exploration, development and utilization of gold, copper, nickel, chromite, lead, zinc and other minerals.

Tampakan’s FTAA covers around 27,000 hectares but only 9,000 hectares will be mined and the rest allocated for power plant and some for waste disposal system.

The Tampakan project is said to be one of the largest undeveloped copper and gold deposits in the Southeast Asia with estimated reserves of 15 million tons of contained copper and nearly 18 million ounces of gold. Total taxes and royalties that the Philippine government can gain from it over the 20 year life of the project is said to be at around P346 billion.

Swiss firm, Glencore Plc quit the said project last year and is now currently operated by Sagittarius Mines, Inc. together with the Alsons group’s Indophil Resources.

Lopez also vowed to shut more operations causing environmental destruction.

A staunch environmentalist, Lopez said the government has suspended operations of seven domestic mines for failure to meet environmental regulations.


LOPEZ

Lopez began an audit of all Philippine mines on July 8 as the new government led by President Rodrigo Duterte vowed to shut operations causing environmental harm.

“I do suspect that we’ll probably close more mines given the number of complaints. I have the support of the police and military to run after those violating environmental laws,” Lopez said.

Lopez is particularly against the use of open pits to extract minerals, earlier describing it as “madness” even to consider the method in the resource-rich Philippines because of the environmental impact.

Many mineral producers in the Philippines use open-pit mines, which are allowed under the country’s mining laws.

The Philippines is the biggest supplier of nickel ore to China, where the metal is used to manufacture stainless steel.

The suspension of some Philippine nickel mines has pushed global nickel prices CMNI3 to an 11-month high of $10,900 a tonne on July 21.

Discovered in the early 1990s, Tampakan has yet to go into commercial operation and only secured an environmental clearance in 2013.

Sagittarius Mines this year was hoping to obtain other necessary approvals, including land access, to enable the project to proceed to construction, according to the company’s website. – with Reuters

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

RELATED FROM THE MANILA STANDARD

Lopez closes 2 Palawan mines posted July 28, 2016 at 11:59 pm by Anna Leah E. Gonzales

The government suspended two more mining operations in Palawan province because of environmental violations, Environment Secretary Regina Lopez said Thursday.

Lopez said the government stopped the mining operations of Berong Nickel Corp. in Quezon town and of Citinickel Mines and Development Corp. in Sofronio Española and Narra towns.

“So far we have suspended six mining operations. The first four are all located in Zambales,” Lopez said.

Lopez said her department would also start the audit of mining operations in Surigao provinces this week.


Environment Secretary Regina Lopez

“We’re gonna assess the operations of six mining companies in Surigao this week and then next week we will finish all the mine sites in Mindanao,” Lopez said.

“The audit is not just physical and technical, it’s also social and environmental. It also involves the community. It’s a total impact evaluation of the operations of the mine,” she said.

Mines and Geosciences Bureau director Leo Jasareno said the audit started in Mindanao, following the request of Lumad residents.

“The Lumads complain about the Surigao mines, so initially, there will be four mines that will be visited by the auditing team. Then, we will try to finish the rest within the week,” Jasareno said.

Jasareno said members of the audit team would come not only from the Environment Department, but would also include the Agriculture Department for the effects on farmlands, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources for the impact on waters, representatives from the Social Action Center for the effects on communities and Health Department for the outcome on health.

“The audit team has a set of criteria that embodies the principles of the secretary of DENR. A mining operation must help in the improvement of the life of the people,” Jasareno said.

Jasareno said the government would deploy 14 audit teams, with each team given a month to submit the report to the Environment secretary.

“Even I will not see the report because the instruction to them was to prepare the report in the region and then submit it directly to the secretary,” Jasareno said.

Jasareno said 40 percent of all operating mines were currently facing complaints.

“The secretary believes that if you have an industry that is clean and stable, they will attract investments. The industry has to be populated by responsible miners in its truest sense and that will give confidence to the investors because they know that the industry will last,” Jasareno said.

Lopez earlier said she would not allow the $5.9-billion Tampakan mine project to operate under her term.

Sagittarius Mines Inc., which is controlled by Indophil Resources NL, is developing the Tampakan project, which could be one of the world’s largest undeveloped copper-gold deposits. The Alcantara Group bought Glencore Plc. out of SMI last year.

“I don’t like Tampakan at all. That open-pit mining will be on top of rice fields, agricultural lands and will affect four provinces and six rivers. Why do we even consider it at all?” Lopez said.

Lopez said the Tampakan project was as large as 700 football fields. “I will not consider it at all. There are many poor farmers there. I have to be honest, I will have to live by my principle. There is no way I would ever, ever allow a 700 football field open-pit mine on top of agricultural land,” Lopez said.

Early estimates showed the Tampakan project had a resource of 2.94 billion tons, containing 15 million tons of copper and 17.9 million ounces of gold at a 0.2 percent copper cut-off grade. The copper and gold mine straddles the town of Tampakan in South Cotabato and Kiblawan in Davao del Sur.

Mines and Geosciences Bureau director Leo Jasareno said the mining project was facing several issues. The project is also being opposed by the provincial government of South Cotabato, because of the SMI’s plan to undertake open-pit mining.

MGB said mineral production value fell 12 percent in the first quarter to P22.09 billion from P24.98 billion in the same period last year on lower metal prices. MGB said total gold production value amounted to P10.68 billion in the three-month period.

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

RELATED(2) FROM THE INQUIRER

Visit mining communities, DENR chief urged
GROUP SAYS POOR LIVE OUTSIDE THEIR JURISDICTION

SHARES: 457 VIEW COMMENTS
By: Ronnel W. Domingo
@inquirerdotnet
Philippine Daily Inquirer
12:55 AM July 30th, 2016

Filipinos in mining communities are living above the poverty threshold and satisfied with their lives and Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Regina Lopez should pay them a visit to see for herself, according to the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP).

The COMP said this as Lopez accused the group of “twisting the truth” about poverty statistics.

“In mining communities which are within the area of jurisdiction of the mining operations, households are provided with free housing, water, education, health and other services and these noncash benefits make the households’ disposable income enough to enjoy a quality of life that is not available to farmers, fisherman, factory workers and other wage earners,” COMP executive vice president Nelia C. Halcon told the Inquirer.

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The industry group and the head of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources have engaged in a word war, using data from the Philippine Statistical Authority’s 2015 Family Income and Expenditure Survey—among other data sets—to support their arguments.

Lopez—a staunch antimining advocate —had reiterated that there was poverty wherever there are mining activities. Halcon said PSA data disproved such statement.

“She (Lopez) should visit mining communities and talk to mining households to see for herself that people living inside the mining companies’ jurisdiction are contented with their way of life and are not suffering as she has been insinuating repeatedly,” Halcon said.

“She may be talking about unemployed people who are living outside the host mining community, people hoping to get employed in the mine as most mining operations become a magnet for migrants in their quest for a good life,” Halcon added.

Halcon maintained that mining activities helped reduce poverty in host communities since mining firms complemented the government’s social services.

Even then, the COMP official said it was the local government units (LGUs) who had the responsibility of implementing antipoverty policies “since they are the ones who can identify the many faces of poverty at the local levels, not the mining companies.”

“Mining operations only complement LGU programs in easing poverty at the periphery of the host communities,” she said.

Earlier this month, COMP—comprising the biggest and smaller mining companies in the country—said none of the 10 poorest provinces in the country, as listed by the PSA, hosted an operating mine, contrary to Lopez’s claim the poorest places in the Philippines were mining areas.

However, Lopez argued that one just had to go to Caraga, Eastern Visayas or Compostela Valley “to see that mining has not only failed to help lift poor Filipinos from poverty but has added to their socioeconomic difficulties.”

She said Eastern Visayas and Caraga had the second- and fourth-highest rates of poverty incidence in the country and were host to some of the biggest mining operations.

Citing data from PSA’s 2015 Family Income and Expenditures Survey, Lopez said in Eastern Visayas, “where there are mining operations in Leyte and Eastern Samar,” 47 percent of the population was poor. “The poverty incidence is 46.7 percent in Leyte and 50 percent in Eastern Samar, nearly twice the national average of 26.3 percent,” she said. “In Caraga, where there is mining in all provinces, 43.9 percent of the people wallow in poverty,” she said.

In June, Lopez had told the Inquirer that there was no such thing as responsible mining, especially with the open-pit method.

“If there is responsible mining, why is it that wherever there is mining, there is poverty,” she had said.

On Thursday, Lopez said people from areas hosting mining operations came to the DENR “every day in droves, bewailing their suffering, and you tell me mining does not cause suffering?”


MALAYA BUSINESS INSIGHT

NO MONEY FOR RICE SUFFICIENCY PROGRAM By Jed Macapagal July 29, 2016

The Department of Agriculture (DA) yesterday reported it has pushed back it goal to attain rice self-sufficiency by two years to 2019 due to lack of money.

Government budget is all tied up and cannot be tweaked. This is the second time that a Duterte plan had to be shelved because of lack of funding. The first is the promised doubling of salaries of police personnel.

“There is no available money as of the moment… (Budget) secretary (Benjamin) Diokno said while there are still funds left, it cannot be realigned and be assigned to other projects because we might be sued just like what happened with the DAP (Disbursement Acceleration Program),” Agriculture secretary Emmanuel Piñol told reporters at the agency’s headquarters in Quezon City.

Last month, Piñol asked for a P30 billion budget to provide irrigation, seeds, fertilizers and other farm inputs to farmers for use until year end to jump start the plan for self-sufficiency.

Piñol also cautioned that the plan’s success will depend on lawmakers’ approval of higher DA budget next year or P71 billion, 54 percent higher than the earlier proposed P46 billion.

“We need P31 billion more for the 2017 budget for rice program alone, but it will go down to P18 or P19 billion by the third year”, he said.

The DA said the three-year rice self-sufficiency program is projected to require a total budget of P64 billion.

If the budget is granted, the DA expects palay production to reach 18.517 million metric tons (MT) or roughly 89.62 percent of the expected consumption of 20.661 million MT. Production for 2018 is expected to grow to 20.342 million MT,which is 96.1 percent of the projected demand of 21.168 million MT.

READ MORE...

If the rice program target is achieved, Piñol said by 2019palay production can reach 21.626 million MT, enough to supply the projected rice consumption of 21.625 million MT.

Piñol notedfor rice self-sufficiency to be possible, palay yield should also increase at an average of 1 MT per hectare in the next three years to reach 3.98 MT per hectare in 2017 and about 4.64 MT per hectare by 2019.

He also said before that aside from providing tools for farmers, DA regional directors will be assigned rice production targets.

“Any director who will not be able to meet the target will be booted out of service. They will be asked to resign because I believe there should be results for every assistance we give. My flow of thought is that if all regions are rice sufficient, ergo the whole country is rice sufficient,” Piñol had said.

As for regions already self-sufficient in rice, they must further raise production as they will also be given added support. The DA said among the regions that are now rice self-sufficient and net exporters are Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Mindoro, Soccsksargen, Davao and Western Visayas.

In 2015, the previous administration said the country’s rice self-sufficiency level was at 96 percent. However, Piñol claimed his predecessors at the DAalso included banana and cassava as rice substitutesresulting to a high rice self-sufficiency level.

Piñoldid not mention the present rice sufficiency level of the country but said from now on, it will only count rice crops and will not include other rice substitutes in tallying the staple food’s sufficiency level.


PHILSTAR

Strong demand from corporate, retail borrowers bank lending grows 17% to P5.4 T in June By Lawrence Agcaoili (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 30, 2016 - 12:00am 1 0 googleplus0 0


BSP Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. said outstanding loans of commercial banks grew 17.6 percent to hit P5.41 trillion in end-June from P4.6 trillion in the same period last year. STAR/File photo

MANILA, Philippines - The growth of loans extended by banks remained steady in June due to strong demand from corporate and retail borrowers on the back of the country’s sustained economic growth, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) reported yesterday.

BSP Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. said outstanding loans of commercial banks grew 17.6 percent to hit P5.41 trillion in end-June from P4.6 trillion in the same period last year.

Tetangco said loans for production activities increased 17.7 percent to P4.83 trillion from P4.1 trillion and accounted for 89.4 percent of the bank’s total loan portfolio in end-June.

Loans to real estate activities went up 20.7 percent to P947.69 billion, while lending to the manufacturing sector increased 9.3 percent to P775.36 billion.

Loans to the wholesale and retail trade as well as repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles rose 15.3 percent to P758.26 billion for a 14 percent share while lending to electricity, gas, steam and airconditioning supply jumped 30 percent to P619.36 billion for an 11.5 percent share.

Tetangco also reported loans for household consumption expanded 18.8 percent to P423.96 billion in end-June this year from P356.92 billion in the same period last year.

Statistics showed motor vehicle loans soared 36.9 percent to P179.21 billion from P130.95 billion, while credit card loans went up eight percent to P178.58 billion from P165.78 billion.

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Salary-based general consumption loans jumped 40.6 percent to P50.66 billion from P34.98 billion.

“Going forward, the BSP will continue to ensure that domestic credit and liquidity conditions will keep pace with overall economic growth while remaining consistent with its price and financial stability objectives,” Tetangco said.

The country’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth accelerated to 6.9 percent in the first quarter from the revised 6.5 percent in the fourth quarter of last year amid robust spending and strong investments.

The Duterte administration has penciled a lower GDP growth of six to seven percent instead of between 6.8 and 7.8 percent this year as it intends to spend more for infrastructure.

President Duterte has raised its budget deficit ceiling to three percent of GDP instead of two percent of GDP under the administration of former President Benigno Aquino III.


INQUIRER

MVP group set to revive Manila-Laguna railway SHARES: 1 VIEW COMMENTS By: Miguel R. Camus @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer 12:30 AM July 28th, 2016


PANGILINAN

The group of businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan is embarking on an ambitious plan to link Luzon’s seaports via dedicated cargo railway lines—a move that it said was good for trade and would help cut road congestion in traffic-strangled Metro Manila.

MRail, a subsidiary of Pangilinan-led Manila Electric Co., would revive a 57-kilometer cargo railway line linking Manila International Container Terminal, controlled by Enrique Razon Jr.’s International Container Terminal Services Inc. (ICTSI), to ICTSI’s inland container terminal facility in Laguna.

MRail president Ferdinand Inacay told reporters in a briefing Wednesday the P10-billion project would be a venture between MRail and ICTSI. A “well-known” Asian freight operator would also be tapped as technical partner, he said.

The Manila-Laguna cargo railway was initially operated by ICTSI between 1998 and 2003. It was discontinued mainly because of viability issues.

Inacay said the firm was also studying cargo railway projects linking Manila to the Clark Freeport Zone. The line would eventually be extended to Subic in the north and to Batangas Port in the south.

He said MRail was also keen on participating in the government’s call for a Mindanao Rail Network.

“Once you have an Asean integration … we will be competing within Asean. If you cannot bring your goods, or send your goods out efficiently, you will be eaten alive,” Inacay said. “So the way we enable ourselves to compete with them is to have a good logistics and transport system. This is not a cure-all but one of those that can help us compete.”

The Manila-Laguna railway project will be using the existing tracks of the Philippine National Railways. The project is expected to be done by end-2018.

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RELATED FROM BUSINESS WORLD ONLINE

MRAIL, ICTSI to invest P10B in cargo rail line 60 4 Google +3 1 Posted on July 28, 2016


THE ICTSI facilities at the south port in Manila -- BW FILE PHOTO

MRAIL, Inc. is partnering with International Container Terminal Services, Inc. (ICTSI) for a P10-billion railway cargo project that would revive the network operations between the ports of Manila and an inland container terminal facility in Laguna.

“In our discussions, we should be able to run the first service 24 months from the time we have the formal signing,” MRAIL President and Chief Executive Officer Ferdinand G. Inacay told reporters in a media briefing held yesterday.

The multibillion-peso project is a revival of ICTSI’s similar operations that carried freight from and to the ports of Manila International Container Terminal (MICT) and ICTSI-owned Laguna Gateway Inland Container Terminal (LGICT), which started in 1998 until operations were suspended in 2003.

As was the case with ICTSI before it closed operations of the railway, the project will be using track controlled by Philippine National Railways (PNR).

The company will also be rolling out two more phases that would eventually consolidate three ports in Luzon.

“[The first phase is] to connect Manila Port to Calamba. The next phase is Manila Port to Clark... And then the third phase is really to connect Clark to Subic and Calamba to Batangas,” he said, adding that the right to way of the Clark to Subic link is still under evaluation. There are no specific timelines for the second and third phases.

But for now, the railway subsidiary of Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) will focus on its planned freight transport operations from Manila to Laguna. Out of the P10-billion cost of the project, Mr. Inacay said that the company alloted P2.70 billion for capital outlay, involving 8 locomotives and 120 wagons.

Mr. Inacay said that the board of PNR approved the project in January this year. However, in the same month, the formal signing of the freight train track usage agreement between MRAIL and PNR was postponed, delaying a deal that would otherwise allow the company to rent the tracks to haul freight for 25 years.


Ferdinand Inacay President and CEO at MRAIL INCORPORATED FROM LINKEDiN

Explaining the delay, Mr. Inacay said that the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel (OGCC) approved the transaction on April 28, a few days away from the May 9 election, which got the project caught up in the election ban; the transition to the new government was also a factor.

However, Mr. Inacay is “optimistic” that the signing will go through under the current administration, because of pronouncements by President Rodrigo R. Duterte and Transportation Chief Arthur P. Tugade in favor of rehabilitating national railways to decongest the capital and nearby regions.

“[With support from] the new administration... we’re just sorting out a few items which they want to include in the project... we have indications that in the first 100 days, [all of these will be addressed] and then we can have a signing,” he said.

Explaining the items recommended by the government, which included the rehabilitation of rail tracks, he said: “These are not show-stoppers. In fact, this is expanding what we intend to do.”

Moreover, Mr. Inacay said that there are environmental benefits from the project, aside from road decongestion.

“In a study conducted by the Ministry of Transport of Japan... a truck [generates] 150 grams of carbon emission per ton kilometer, whereas for rail it’s only 20. Actually 21 grams. Meaning to say that you reduce carbon emission in the city using the train system.”

“When this is operational, the number of trucks [hauling 40-foot containers] that you see on the road today, will be reduced by a minimum of 200 trucks per day to as many as 600 trucks per day... That’s going to provide a very significant benefit to our road system,” he said.

Meralco closed at P325.20, gaining P3.60 pesos or 1.12%. ICTSI rose 0.69% to P65.95. -- Roy Stephen C. Canivel


PHILSTAR

’Ako ang boss ninyo’ BIZLINKS By Rey Gamboa (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 28, 2016 - 12:00am 0 2 googleplus0 0


By Rey Gamboa

If we had “Ikaw ang boss ko” with P-Noy, it’s definitely “Ako ang boss ninyo” with President Rody. In his inaugural State of the Nation Address (SONA), the president was very much the captain of the ship, albeit a seemingly reluctant one during some instances.

Nonetheless, President Rody clearly showed the charisma most Filipinos expected from the top leader of the country during a time when economic growth has shown its demands for radical changes in a still antiquated bureaucratic system.

All of the issues he had picked on, including his pet peeve drug trafficking, are within the list of responsibilities that an effective government should be focusing on, and that Filipinos have been clamoring to be solved.

And while the proverbial honeymoon period is still in effect and the nation waits for promises to be fulfilled, the optimism for promised changed has very much charged the current atmosphere with exuberant hope for a better tomorrow.

President Rody has taken the war on drugs to a level far more than any other president of this country has, and while this is not an a priority issue for majority of Filipinos, the manner by which the president chooses to tackle the problem is what enamors his citizens.

The president, however, is also articulate about the many other problems his countrymen personally confront: red tape in government offices (passports, business permits, driver’s license, vehicle registration, OFW processing), traffic, food for the poorest, even WiFi in public places like hospitals.

The compassion he displays for the miseries that Filipinos suffer, including of family members of those killed in the many wars waged in conflict zones involving Muslims, communists, minorities, and the government’s armed forces, is a precious (even rare) emotion that has won Filipinos’ trust.

That, and his seeming honesty. Without going into sloganeering such as Daang Matuwid, President Rody is saying he will not condone corruption of any form or at any level of government. Clearly, to the enchantment of many Filipinos, he barks, “I am the boss.”

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Vision for the country

Going beyond the complaints of the ordinary citizen, somewhere in the realm for economists and planners, is the “plan” for the country – which President Rody himself expressed during his first SONA as best left to his trusted lieutenants.

This doesn’t mean, though, that the Duterte imprint will not be apparent in this side of governance. Indeed, he has pledged to continue to support the current macroeconomic policies, “and even do better.”

He elucidates: “We will achieve this through prudent fiscal and monetary policies that can help translate high growth into more and better job creation and poverty reduction. By the end of my term, I hope – I hope and pray – to hand over an economy that is much stronger, characterized by solid growth, low and stable inflation, dollar reserves, and robust fiscal position.”

Delivered during the SONA, the above paragraph (and many others that dealt with macroeconomic policies) did not contain the personal aplomb of his other statements (and which usually did not receive the same enthusiastic applause).

Just how closely will he oversee the development of the national economic development plan is something that time will tell. In the meantime, the ball will clearly be on the side of his trusted and appointed Finance Secretary Carlos “Sonny” Dominguez.

Pursuing tax reforms Tax reforms have so far been the most popular pledge of the Duterte regime on the economic side. This has been translated to having a simpler, “more equitable, and more efficient” tax system that would foster more investments in the country, and consequently, more jobs.

While well received by businessmen and salaried workers, these reforms are premised on several conditions, all of which operate under the principle that there should not be any losses in state revenue collections. In essence, if you want lower income taxes, then there should better be tax collections from somewhere to replace what will be lost.

In fact, the tax reform program the Duterte government has vowed to adopt is so patterned after what former Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima had presented to Dominguez during their turnover sessions. The sweetener was a promised P164.5 billion to P351 billion in revenues for the first year of implementation.

This, however, comes with a bitter pill. The value-added tax has to be raised to 14 percent from the current 12 percent, and excise taxes on gasoline, diesel, and other oil products needs to be indexed to inflation.

Furthermore, the Bank Secrecy Law needs to be eased so that the Bureau of Internal Revenue can go after tax evaders. The whole package of fiscal incentives needs to be reviewed and rationalized, too, something that has been in the works for a long time but has not gained traction because of the complexity of the matter.

If these predicates are not carried out, the government may lose as much as P222 billion in revenues a year alone, if personal income taxes are reduced to 25 percent from the current 32 percent. Expect more revenue losses if corporate income taxes, which is the highest in the ASEAN region, is reduced.

Manufacturing, agriculture, and tourism Other initiatives on the economic side include encouraging investments in the manufacturing, tourism, and agriculture sectors to generate new jobs. In manufacturing, the intention is to reinvigorate manufacturing in the automobile, machinery, food, garments, and electronics industries.

On the agriculture side, the vision is to transform and upgrade the Philippines to become an agribusiness hub in ASEAN, focusing on high value crops such as rubber, coconut, mangoes, coffee, cacao, banana, palm oil and other emerging agricultural products.

Tourism has also been mentioned as essential to the new administration’s economic program. This would entail full support for infrastructure projects that would transform the Philippines into a desirable destination by tourists seeking adventures during their holidays.

How specifically President Rody and his trusted Cabinet members will be able to execute the economic programs to benefit the country should become clearer in the days to come.

As the various stakeholders of this nation come together, we shall know if the Duterte demeanor can be likened to Singapore’s iconic Lee Kuan Yew. Otherwise, President Rody will just be another president that will have been forced to contend with the many varied and conflicting interests in this nation that has slowed down the country’s full takeoff in the past.

In that case, we will have to pray for a succession of a few more similar future leaders so the change that Filipinos have been wishing for will indeed come true.

Facebook and Twitter We are actively using two social networking websites to reach out more often and even interact with and engage our readers, friends and colleagues in the various areas of interest that I tackle in my column. Please like us at www.facebook.com and follow us at www.twitter.com/ReyGamboa .


PHILSTAR

SONA: analysis, vision, expectations, and reality CROSSROADS (Toward Philippine Economic and Social Progress) By Gerardo P. Sicat (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 27, 2016 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0


By Gerardo P. Sicat

The State of the Nation Address (SONA) is a major occasion when the president has the eyes and ears of the nation all to himself.

As in a ballgame, the SONA is the grand moment when the president has the ball and directs it in order to score the goal. Since he directs the ball, the president could also lose control of it through mishandling or mistake.

In this first SONA, however, President Duterte does not lose control of the ball. He meandered, sometimes even whimsically by going off-text, but he did not lose control.

“An elaborated brief address is long.”

The prepared text was tested to be only 38 minutes for oral delivery. However, the delivered speech turned out almost three times as long.

The new president irrepressibly went out of text to convey his direct and innermost thoughts on some of the subjects he touched.

The result was a SONA that provided us a colorful and a deeper measure of the intimate and salient thoughts in the presidential mind.

My preference is for a briefer text with clear and informative messaging. But how do we know that the speaker, especially a new president delivering his first SONA, believes, owns and controls the message in what he reads?

The SONA is a document of analysis and a program of action, however generally stated. It is not simply a piece of paper to be read and then forgotten.

When we meet a new leader for the first time in his first SONA, it is more reassuring if we had fuller certainty about the extent of his commitment to his words.

We already had indications of the seriousness of his war on drugs and criminality even before he had delivered the SONA. He hit the ground running on the job. For the war on drugs and criminality moved at high seriousness in the early days of his presidency.

“Analysis.”

In my own view, a SONA should be able to provide a proper analysis of the state of affairs of the nation. This is prelude to the discussion of the program of actions and policies of government.

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Surprisingly, he throws away preliminary and settles on the task at hand. He said he would focus action on the present and not be bothered by being pulled back by the problems of the past.

He would aim his sights on accountability of those who had sinned against the public. He therefore departs from the usual practice of putting blame on the past administrations. He puts on notice those in the government to do their duty to be true to their work as public officers.

At all times of course, the ills of any nation are a legacy from the past. He chooses not to look for blame but to steer those in government to remain clean. That is his solemn promise for his government.

In his inaugural speech he said:

(T)he problems that bedevil our country today ... are corruption, both in the high and low echelons of government, criminality in the streets, and the rampant sale of illegal drugs in all strata of Philippine society and the breakdown of law and order....

For I see these ills as mere symptoms of a virulent social disease that creeps and cuts into the moral fiber of Philippine society. I sense a problem deeper and more serious than any of those mentioned or all of them put together.

Erosion of faith and trust in government – that is the real problem that confronts us. Resulting therefrom, I see the erosion of the people’s trust in our country’s leaders; the erosion of faith in our judicial system; the erosion of confidence in the capacity of our public servants to make the people’s lives better, safer and healthier.

“Vision.”

From hearing the delivery of the SONA, there is no explicit statement of the vision that he foresees for the nation.

In the inaugural speech, he proposes reforms that will move the nation forward. In the SONA, he puts forward some details in these reforms. Judging their nature and in contrast with many other SONAs by other presidents, these reforms constitute true and meaningful change if he succeeds to put them in place.

“Vision” must necessarily come from change. It does not need to be plainly and explicitly spoken even though that is desirable.

Many reforms as suggested in this SONA if and when adopted will help to push the nation’s living standards forward. Meaningful change produces rising welfare for those affected.

Meaningful change induces measurable improvements in economic terms, such as rise in per capita output, improved incomes and consumption, even productivity.

But there are moreover political, social, and other measures of well-being also to be thought of. In fact, many of the changes contemplated are in the non-economic areas. They seep into the economic impact, if they are accomplished.

Further elaboration would mean rising health standards, lengthening life expectancy, rising educational levels for the work force, increasing freedom of choice, widening consumption ability and growing human capital improvements.

These specifics would be easy enough to measure. But they would follow only if the reforms proposed are achieved.

“Expectations, or programs of government initiated during his administration.”

The programs of government of President Duterte in this SONA are many.

In particular, the SONA touched on big, transformational issues, in which President Duterte went off-text to make further elaborations:

(1) the war on drugs and criminality;

(2) human rights cannot be used as a shield by criminals in the drug war;

(3) corruption in the government and reduction of red tape and delays in dealing with the public;

(4) maternal health, family and church and state relations;

(5) unilateral ceasefire with the communist rebels (CPP-NPA-NDF) designed to negotiate the long time rebellion;

(6) the Bangsa Moro solution, within the constitutional framework and including the MILF and MNLF;

(7) constitutional reform toward federalism;

(8) mining standards and the protection of the environment; and

(9) the South China Sea decision in favor of the Philippines and how to proceed forward with peace in mind.

The economic issues are not any less important, but they take second-billing to many of the big ticket issues cited above.

 Even then, the measures are substantial and also “big-time,” especially the (1) promise of tax reform in income taxes and in taxation generally; (2) correcting the traffic gridlock in Manila and emergency powers for the president; (3) railway transport and airport expansion for Manila, the Visayas and Mindanao; (4) power development, coal, and the environment.

(To be continued: issues in implementation of programs) – to be continued.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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