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

AT THE ASEAN: PHILIPPINES, CHINA EXPLORE TRADE, INFRA PROSPECTS[RELATED: Duterte formally accepts PH hosting of Asean summit in 2017]
[RELATED(2) International media coverage on the ASEAN Summit in Laos]


SEPTEMBER 6 -Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua recently paid a courtesy visit to Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez during which the two officials “agreed to explore possible areas of interest” in infrastructure, power, tourism, technology and education, the Department of Finance said yesterday. File photo
Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua recently paid a courtesy visit to Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez during which the two officials “agreed to explore possible areas of interest” in infrastructure, power, tourism, technology and education, the Department of Finance (DOF) said yesterday. Agency-specific projects were also discussed concerning the departments of Public Works and Highways, Transportation and Agriculture. No details were released for the first two agencies. For the Agriculture department, however, export of Chinese-made agricultural equipment as well as “expansion” of Philippine food exports are being considered. Trade cooperation was also tackled, particularly trade data gaps, as well as efforts to curb the entry of illegal drugs into the country. READ MORE...RELATED, Duterte formally accepts PH hosting of Asean summit in 2017... RELATED(2)
International media coverage on the ASEAN Summit in Laos...

ALSO: Philippine President Can’t Afford to Pick a Fight With U.S. - report from  Bloomberg
[RELATED: Duterte outbursts hurt market]

[RELATED(2): COMMENTARY -Business in a time of ‘lawlessness’ ]


SEPTEMBER 8 -Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte attends the ASEAN Summit Retreat in Vientiane, Laos, on Sept. 7. Photographer: Ye Aung Thu/AFP via Getty Images (mb.com.ph) Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte attends the ASEAN Summit Retreat in Vientiane, Laos, on Sept. 7. Photographer: Ye Aung Thu/AFP via Getty Images (mb.com.ph)
From trade dependence to money from workers abroad, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte can hardly afford to pick a fight with the U.S. given his country’s ties to the world’s largest economy. Duterte made headlines this week for all the wrong reasons. In his debut on the international stage and just days before he was due to meet President Barack Obama at a regional summit in Laos, Duterte made offensive comments aimed at the U.S. leader that prompted Washington to cancel the meeting. While Duterte made a swift apology and the two leaders met informally on Wednesday, investors and analysts are left wondering if there’s been any long-term damage to relations between the U.S. and its former colony. Whatever the fallout, it’s clear from the economic data that the U.S. is too important a partner for the Philippines to alienate just as the Southeast Asian nation sheds its reputation as the “ Sick Man of Asia.”  “The link between the two countries is quite sizable,” said Gundy Cahyadi, an economist with DBS Group Holdings Ltd. in Singapore. “It’s an important trading partner, but beyond that, there are multiple business ties of all sorts.”  READ MORE...RELATED,
Duterte outbursts hurt market...RELATED(2) COMMENTARY - Business in a time of ‘lawlessness’...

ALSO:
Investors worried over lawlessness; BSP allays fears
[RELATED: American investors concerned over drug killings]


SEPTEMBER 7 -Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. yesterday allayed investors’ fears on the impact of the bombing in Davao City and the declaration of a state of national emergency. “There has been no negative reaction as far as the foreign exchange market is concerned,” Tetangco told reporters on the sidelines of the Philippine Investment Forum organized by Euromoney.
If the deteriorating peace and order situation and political instability in the Philippines are left unchecked, these could derail the strong economic growth and result in a volatile financial market, investors warned yesterday. ING Bank Manila senior economist Joey Cuyegkeng said investors reacted negatively to President Duterte’s statement against leaders of long-time allies including US President Barrack Obama, the extrajudicial killings and the bombing in Davao City. “Concerns also over extrajudicial killings and statements that may antagonize long-time allies are also making international news, which has elicited growing concerns from investors. The Davao City bomb blast killing 14-15 innocent citizens highlights the possibility of increased terrorist activity,” he said. Duterte’s declaration of a state of national emergency and order to the Philippine National Police and the military to “suppress all forms of lawless violence” was also seen from a risk standpoint that the government needs assistance for the national police to counter a perceived state of lawlessness. READ MORE...RELATED,American investors concerned over drug killings...  

ALSO: Philippines marks gains in internet metrics
[RELATED: P1M fine sought for slow internet providers]


SEPTEMBER 7 -Citing data from internet metrics provider Ookla’s speedtest.net, NTC deputy commissioner Edgardo Cabarios said in a telephone interview yesterday the Philippines has made gains in terms of internet speed as it ranked 11th in terms of average download speed and upload speed globally this year. File photo
MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines has shown improvements in terms of download and upload speeds amid investments being made by telcos to provide better services to customers, the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) said. Citing data from internet metrics provider Ookla’s speedtest.net, NTC deputy commissioner Edgardo Cabarios said in a telephone interview yesterday the Philippines has made gains in terms of internet speed as it ranked 11th in terms of average download speed and upload speed globally this year. This is an improvement as the Philippines has been a laggard when it comes to average internet speed rankings in previous years. Cabarios said the data from Ookla is consistent with the findings of other reports which showed the Philippines is making gains when it comes to internet speed. READ MORE...RELATED,
P1M fine sought for slow internet providers...

ALSO: Business groups welcome Duterte declaration after bombing
[RELATED: Investment pledges double in 7 months]


SEPTEMBER 7 -THE COUNTRY’S biggest business groups are supporting President Duterte’s declaration of a nationwide “state of lawless violence,” as they downplayed fears raised by some quarters that this could lead to the imposition of martial law.
While this was seen as a move to help curb rising incidence of criminality, the groups also called on the administration to set clear parameters for the declaration. Two former Presidents—Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada—as well as Mr. Duterte’s allies in Congress also are supporting the declaration. The reactions were issued before the President signed the proclamation of a “state of national emergency on account of lawless violence.” One of the President’s key allies in the Senate called on Malacañang to put on paper the declaration to ensure consistency in its enforcement within set parameters while it was in effect. “Better to put it in writing so that the terms, the instructions, the directions can be referred to time and again and won’t change, because it is now in writing,” Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III told reporters. “If it is not yet written, my advice, my suggestion is let’s put this in writing,” Pimentel said. Perry Pe, president of the Management Association of the Philippines, said on Monday that the declaration, following the deadly bombing in Davao City on Friday, was meant to allow soldiers to back up the police in setting up checkpoints and increasing patrols. READ MORE...VIDEO ON DUTERTE'S FULL SPEECH AT THE ASEAN MEET IN LAOS...RELATED, Investment pledges double in 7 months...

ALSO: Duterte tells OFWs - ‘Just give me time and I’ll fix the country’ [RELATED: Foreign exchange reserves hit new record]


SEPTEMBER 7 -SELFIES GALORE – President Duterte kisses an infant as he is mobbed by the Filipino community which he met Tuesday at the Feungfar Convention Hall in Ban Phonsinuane, Laos. Duterte is in Laos to attend the ASEAN Summit. (Malacañang Photo / Manila Bulletin)
President Rodrigo Duterte assured overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and the Filipino community abroad to just give him time to fix the country and promised to run a government that is free of corruption.
“I assure you pag uwi ninyo, iba na ang sistema doon, (When you come home, the system should have changed.)” the President told the Filipino community in Laos. Also present were Filipino workers from Thailand, according to a palace statement. He also said that the Philippine government will not give in to terrorists’ whim of keeping him from his job as head of state. “Now despite the bombing in Davao, I had to go here to show that they cannot ask us on bended knees na ipo-postpone ko lang dahil sa kanila,” he said. “Because in the end, in the fullness of God’s time, meron talagang reckoning ‘yan at mayron ‘yang pagbabago.”  READ MORE...RELATED, Foreign exchange reserves hit new record...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

Philippines, China explore trade, infra prospects


Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua recently paid a courtesy visit to Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez during which the two officials “agreed to explore possible areas of interest” in infrastructure, power, tourism, technology and education, the Department of Finance said yesterday. File photo

MANILA, SEPTEMBER 12, 2016 (PHILSTAR)  By Prinz Magtulis September 6, 2016 - Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua recently paid a courtesy visit to Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez during which the two officials “agreed to explore possible areas of interest” in infrastructure, power, tourism, technology and education, the Department of Finance (DOF) said yesterday.

Agency-specific projects were also discussed concerning the departments of Public Works and Highways, Transportation and Agriculture. No details were released for the first two agencies.

For the Agriculture department, however, export of Chinese-made agricultural equipment as well as “expansion” of Philippine food exports are being considered.

Trade cooperation was also tackled, particularly trade data gaps, as well as efforts to curb the entry of illegal drugs into the country.

READ MLORE...

According to government data, China was the country’s biggest source of imports in June, accounting for 18.8 percent or $1.29 billion of total purchases worth $6.85 billion.

China was also the fourth largest destination of Philippine exports in June, cornering 11.3 percent or $536.14 million of the $4.75 billion shipments.


On July 6, Ambassador Kim Jae Shin, paid a courtesy call on Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III

Ambassador Kim Jae Shin, paid a courtesy call on Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III, and discussed strategies to strengthen bilateral relations on the expansion of our corporate, infrastructure construction, development, and labor cooperation, as well as resolving the difficulties faced by Korean nationals arriving in the Philippines.

2. Secretary Dominguez mentioned he has begun revising the foreign investment limit negative list (which is revised every two years) and the Duterte administration is taking a proactive stance in attracting foreign investment. Also, he expected an increase in Korean investments with the lifting of constitutional restrictions on foreign equity ownership in line with the new government’s planned charter changes.

But in terms of official development assistance (ODA), data from the National Economic and Development Authority showed a “concessional loan” and “preferential buyer’s credit loan” as of 2014 both for a period of 20 years.

The amount of assistance was not indicated, although the two financing needs carried two and three percent interest per year, respectively.

According to the DOF, Dominguez and Zhao also discussed “revisiting” China and the Philippines’ foreign currency swap agreements, which allow both nations to source foreign exchange needs in case of liquidity problems.

China has the world’s biggest foreign exchange reserves valued at $3.65 trillion as of July.

The Duterte administration has been open and more welcoming to bilateral talks with China, which the Philippines sued before the Permanent Court for Arbitration over its vast claims in the West Philippine Sea.

The court ruled in the Philippines’ favor, although it has not been forcefully implemented.

Under the DOF’s financing plan for next year, 80 percent or P102.26 billion of the P126.26-billion in gross foreign borrowings will be sourced through project and program loans or ODA.

This marked a change from the previous administration’s focus on commercial borrowings or through bond issuances for its funding needs.

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RELATED FROM THE INQUIRER

Duterte formally accepts PH hosting of Asean summit in 2017
PRESIDENT URGES REGIONAL LEADERS TO BE COUNTRY’S ‘DYNAMIC, VIBRANT PARTNERS’

By: Marlon Ramos
@MRamosINQ
Philippine Daily Inquirer
08:18 PM September 8th, 2016


Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte pose for photo during the ASEAN Plus Three Summit in Vientiane, Laos September 7, 2016.

VIENTIANE—President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday urged his counterparts from the Association of the Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) to be the Philippines’ “dynamic and vibrant partners” as he formally accepted the country’s hosting of the Asean summit next year.

Mr. Duterte spoke at the close of the three-day 28th and 29th Asean meeting here, his first as head of state since he was sworn into office on June 30.

“With great honor and humility, I accept the chairmanship of the Asean from our excellent host, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic. I look forward to seeing you all in the Philippines in 2017,” the President said in his speech at the National Convention Center.

“During the Philippines’ chairmanship, we will highlight Asean as a model of regionalism and a global player, with the interest of the people at its core,” he said.

After his address, a brief video presentation of the Philippines’ sponsorship was played on the giant digital screen.

The country’s hosting of the summit, with the theme “Partnering for Change, Engaging the World,” will coincide with the 50th anniversary of the regional bloc.

According to the President, his attendance at the summit gave him “insights” about the Lao government’s “efforts in community building.”

He then expressed his gratitude to Lao Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith for “deepening integration to move us towards the realization of a rules-based, people oriented, people-centered Asean community.”

Said Mr. Duterte: “We will pursue initiative and enhance cooperation with global partners to ensure that Asean citizens live in peace, stability, security and growth, all the while remaining Asean’s centrality, unity and solidarity.”

“The Philippines is ready and willing to steer and guide the association. But crucial to the realization of our goals is the cooperation and support of all Asean member-states and our dialogue partners,” he said.

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RELATED(2) FROM PHILSTAR

Asean Summit update: International media coverage on the ASEAN Summit in Laos FILIPINO WORLDVIEW By Roberto R. Romulo (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 9, 2016 - 12:00am 1 38 googleplus0 0


By Roberto R. Romulo

International media coverage on the ASEAN Summit in Laos continues today. Ironically, the one story preoccupying both Philippine and foreign media is the state of relations between the US and one of its staunchest ally in the Pacific following the cancellation of the meeting between President Duterte and President Obama.

HILARY CLINTON

The US State Department and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton reportedly stressed the need for ties with the Philippines to be based on mutual respect. But despite the US dismay over President Duterte’s earlier remarks, current and former US officials have played down the impact, saying they did not expect any serious damage to bilateral ties at a time of high tensions over China’s extensive territorial claims in Asia.

This tension has pervaded the summit’s atmosphere. This was invoked by practically all ASEAN heads of state who repeated the theme in various ways about the need to seize the opportunity for a mutually beneficial solution to the South China Sea.

JAPAN

On the other hand, international media reported that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced on Tuesday that Japan plans to provide two large patrol vessels to the Philippines to help strengthen its maritime security capabilities. Meanwhile, the Philippines’ Defense department spokesperson told media on Wednesday that he was “gravely concerned” that Chinese boats were preparing to build structures at a disputed shoal in the South China Sea, belying an appearance of cordiality at the ASEAN Summit in Laos.

ECONOMY

On the economy, observers told media that President Duterte’s so-called “unpredictability” could risk unsettling global leaders and investors. It is reported that losses in Philippine stocks are accelerating as foreigners keep pulling money from Asia’s most expansive market amid speculation the controversial statements of President Duterte are hurting investor sentiment. Global credit rating agency Moody’s also released a statement on Wednesday, warning investors on uncertainty around security or economic policy in the Philippines following recent events.

Ease off on Digong

The recent outburst by President Duterte on the eve of his departure has made our president’s colorful language an international media fare.

For example, CNN came out with his statement cum video every 30 minutes. His penchant for using epithets was gobbled up by the media and, in this particular case, spewed as a personal attack by one head of state to another, which is a diplomatic no-no. To his credit, the president expressed regret over his ill-taken statement. I would suggest the learning curve of our newly elected head of state went on the upswing after his regrettable faux pas. He has come to realize that profanity has no place in the world of diplomacy and statements must be made in a tone of mutual respect. So give the president a break and stop needling him with more criticism.

Too many cooks

But what is so amateurish and more embarrassing is the conduct of his spokespersons. Messrs. Abella, Andanar and even legal adviser Panelo (the president wisely removed from position of spokesman) compounded the problem by giving different interpretations/excuses for the president. Even the Secretary of Labor, who has no business meddling was quoted as saying that Obama was a mere lame duck. I also learned the Philippines distributed a 38-page pamphlet at the regional summit praising the Duterte campaign against illegal drugs in which thousands have died. I find the timing and necessity of such a document questionable. No one in the foreign press took note of it.

As the saying goes “Too many cooks can indeed spoil the broth.”

Our communications officials should understand the president now speaks for the country and the Filipino people, and no longer as a local executive. Every utterance now has an international dimension. What may be good for domestic consumption may not be so for our “international image”. One should not worry about the president’s image locally which is at an all-time high. At the moment, the Philippines’ image abroad is as bad as when Ninoy Aquino was assassinated.

It is a “no-brainer” and basic rule that messaging discipline is sorely needed and that relates to both messages and messengers. No shooting from the hip and comments only from designated spokespeople using approved messages. Even BSP Governor Amando Tetangco has reportedly urged the Duterte administration to “stay on message”.

Wall Street Journal comments

“But human rights are likely to be an acute and persistent irritant in US-Philippine relations under Mr. Duterte. ….The US is watching him warily.

The Philippines is a key part of the US “pivot” to Asia to reassert its status as a Pacific power with core interests in Asia. Then Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton launched the pivot on the deck of an American warship in Manila Bay. American forces, having been kicked out of Subic Bay naval base in 1992, a year after losing nearby Clark Air Force Base to a volcano, are now back in smaller numbers on a rotational basis.

Usefully for Washington, Mr. Duterte has a soft spot for Japan, Japanese businesses have poured investments into Davao. In Laos, Messrs. Abe and Duterte on Wednesday reached a deal for Japan to give the Philippines two patrol ships and lend it up to five surveillance planes. Some analysts see Japan playing a bridging role between Washington and Manila.

China will be watching the Abe-Duterte chemistry with consternation. “For Washington, the best short-term hope may be a middle way between Mr. Abe’s tendencies to rile Beijing and Mr. Duterte’s to appease it.”


MANILA BULLETIN

Philippine President Can’t Afford to Pick a Fight With U.S. by Bloomberg September 8, 2016 (updated) Share1 Tweet0 Share0 Email0 Share32


Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte attends the ASEAN Summit Retreat in Vientiane, Laos, on Sept. 7. Photographer: Ye Aung Thu/AFP via Getty Images (mb.com.ph) Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte attends the ASEAN Summit Retreat in Vientiane, Laos, on Sept. 7. Photographer: Ye Aung Thu/AFP via Getty Images (mb.com.ph)

From trade dependence to money from workers abroad, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte can hardly afford to pick a fight with the U.S. given his country’s ties to the world’s largest economy.

Duterte made headlines this week for all the wrong reasons. In his debut on the international stage and just days before he was due to meet President Barack Obama at a regional summit in Laos, Duterte made offensive comments aimed at the U.S. leader that prompted Washington to cancel the meeting.

While Duterte made a swift apology and the two leaders met informally on Wednesday, investors and analysts are left wondering if there’s been any long-term damage to relations between the U.S. and its former colony. Whatever the fallout, it’s clear from the economic data that the U.S. is too important a partner for the Philippines to alienate just as the Southeast Asian nation sheds its reputation as the “ Sick Man of Asia.”

“The link between the two countries is quite sizable,” said Gundy Cahyadi, an economist with DBS Group Holdings Ltd. in Singapore. “It’s an important trading partner, but beyond that, there are multiple business ties of all sorts.”

READ MORE...

The Philippine economy has expanded more than 6 percent since the third quarter last year, fueled by a young and growing population that’s helped to prop up domestic consumption as global growth wanes. The following charts show how U.S. trade and investment has helped to underpin that growth story.

Remittances and Filipinos Abroad

There were more than 10 million Filipinos living abroad in 2013, according to the most recent official data, and cash that they send home is a major source of foreign-currency earnings for the country.

The U.S. is by far the favored destination, attracting about 35 percent of all Filipinos living overseas.

Remittances amount to about 10 percent of Philippine’s gross domestic product. Filipinos sent $25.8 billion in cash to their home country in 2015, with 31 percent of that coming from those living in the U.S., according to data from the central bank.

Trade Links

The U.S. is the Philippines’s second-largest trade partner after China. Exports and imports between the two countries have increased 23 percent since 2010 to reach $18 billion last year. The Philippines runs a trade surplus with the U.S. and exports mainly electrical machinery and textiles to the country.

Foreign Investment

The U.S. was the fourth-largest foreign investor in the Philippines last year after the Netherlands, Japan and South Korea, according to data from Philippine Statistics Authority. Investment in the Philippines is being held back by restrictions that cap foreign ownership at 40 percent in many industries.

Call Centers

The local business process outsourcing industry — such as call centers — is dominated by U.S. companies, including JPMorgan Chase & Co., American Express Co. and Accenture Plc. With many global businesses looking to set up back-office operations in cheaper locations, the Philippines benefits because of a large supply of college educated and English-language workers.

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RELATED FROM THE MANILA STANDARD

Duterte outbursts hurt market posted September 07, 2016 at 11:55 pm by Bloomberg By Ian Sayson


President Rodrigo Duterte

Losses in Philippine stocks are accelerating as foreigners keep pulling money from Asia’s most expensive market amid speculation the outbursts of President Rodrigo Duterte are hurting investor sentiment.

The Philippine Stock Exchange index dropped for a third day, losing 1.3 percent to 7,619.10 Wednesday, the biggest decline in five weeks. The gauge has fallen 5.9 percent from a 15-month high on July 21, paring its gain this year to 9.6 percent.

Foreign funds have pulled $276 million from local shares in a 10-day run of of outflows through Tuesday. The index is down 2.3 percent this quarter, the only decliner among major Asian markets.

Duterte’s threat to swear at US President Barack Obama if he criticized an anti-drug campaign that’s left around 2,400 dead, and the subsequent cancellation of a meeting between the leaders, “didn’t sit well” with overseas investors, said Rafael Palma Gil, a portfolio manager at Rizal Commercial Banking Group in Manila.

Duterte’s behavior is taking the shine off a market that had been an investor favorite due to one of the highest economic growth rates in Asia.

“The latest incident raises concern that President Duterte’s unpredictable behavior in politics will be disruptive and could eventually spill into economics and business,” said Jonathan Ravelas, chief market strategist at BDO Unibank Inc., the Philippines’ biggest lender. It’s “further weakened a market that’s already been made vulnerable by uncertainty over U.S. interest rates, elevated valuations and overseas fund withdrawals,” he said.

The Philippine index is trading at 18.3 times 12-month estimated earnings. While that’s down from 19.6 in July, it’s still the highest in Asia and at a 31 percent premium to the MSCI Asia Pacific Index. The country’s economy expanded 7 percent last quarter from a year earlier, after 6.8 percent growth in the first three months of 2016.

Investors may be better off holding cash in the near term as the index could test its 7,500 support level, said BDO Unibank’s Ravelas. The gauge could fall as low as 7,330 in the next two months as the budget deficit is set to rise when taxes are cut and spending raised, April Lee-Tan, head of research at COL Financial Group Inc. in Manila, said Monday.

“Smart investors should take advantage of the weakness and accumulate because this is all sentiment-driven,” said Rizal’s Palma Gil. “Other than incendiary statements and killings related to the drug war, investors like Duterte’s economic and fiscal policies or at least what has been communicated so far,” he said, adding that he expected the index would go back up to 8,000.

A deadly Sept. 2 bombing in Davao City, Duterte’s hometown, and the president’s subsequent declaration of a “state of lawlessness” pose only a limited credit impact in the near term, Moody’s Investors Service said in a statement released Wednesday.

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RELATED(2)  FROM PHILSTAR COMMENTARY

Business in a time of ‘lawlessness’ AS EASY AS ABC By Alex B. Cabrera (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 11, 2016 - 12:00am 1 82 googleplus0 0

He must be thinking there is one more thing to be thankful for, as he ends his term as the president of the most powerful country on Earth. He does not have to be stressed dealing with the new crude rhetoric from the Philippines, the likes of which they have not even began to prepare for.

We are more acclimatized here of those types of rhetoric – even of rhetoric involving official pronouncements, such as the declaration of a state of lawlessness. Some personalities in the Senate and Congress asked the president for guidelines. And while people may have fears about this proclamation as a prelude to a militarized rule, there is a more prevalent general level of comfort and ease. Where are these coming from?

There is one important guideline stated in the President’s proclamation of a “state of national emergency on account of lawless violence” in Mindanao and preventing its spread to the rest of the country. Such suppression must be done “with due regard to the fundamental civil and political rights of our citizens.” If there is another reason to feel relaxed about the proclamation, it is this – it is unnecessary as it is redundant.

Why? Because the proclamation commands the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police to suppress lawlessness.

It is something that the president can do even without an official proclamation because the president is the Commander-in-Chief of all armed forces of the Philippines anyway. He can at any time use the Marines if he has to and make use of all military “intel” (intelligence) capabilities, without any special proclamation.

For me, it’s all about the communication approach. I mean, he can do this by merely making internal instructions to the armed forces, and then hold a press conference to tell people to expect more military personnel on the road doing security checks for everyone’s added protection. But it is style. And what was chosen is one with lots of bravado – a presidential proclamation versus the downplayed ways of communicating to the public that there will be more security checks.

If I seem to downplay it and want to allay fears, it is because we do not want the confidence and focus of the Philippine CEOs disturbed.

From a recent PwC CEO survey conducted with the Management Association of the Philippines, confidence about business growth and the support to government are on an upswing – but that confidence is quite vulnerable.

While CEOs list overregulation and corruption on top of their concerns, there is nothing like political instability that can draw business growth plans to a slow down, if not a screeching, halt. Political unease will happen if the state of lawlessness is indeed advanced to the much feared “M” law, even if you label it Philippine-style.

THAILAND

Thailand, for me, is a good point of comparison to the Philippines, and I do not refer to the contest of which has the worse traffic between Bangkok and Metro Manila. While Thailand’s economy remains bigger, the Philippines has had higher growth in recent years. Peso and baht currency values against the US dollar are not far off, the industries that both countries support are almost common, and even the wages companies pay their employees would have about the same ratio of discrepancy as the Philippine peso has with the Thai baht.

When Thailand was placed under Martial Law, peace and order improved amid military rule and warrantless arrests. The blessing is that even the military loved the aging Thai king, and this monarchy brought subtle comfort to the entire episode. They maintained Thailand is business has usual. No matter – the Thai economy enjoyed little or almost no growth during the military rule, foreign investments in Thailand decreased year on year, and tourism was impacted immensely.

That Martial Law recently ended in Thailand and put in place is a transitory (?) leader with emergency powers (he can issue special decrees and still do warrantless arrests) has not helped. It is the same dog with a new collar, and in fact, raised new concerns internationally of a deepening dictatorship. According to the World Bank, Thailand would remain the slowest-growing economy in Southeast Asia at least until 2016.

Here at home, the grounds for “M” law – invasion and rebellion – are non-existent.

The insurgency in Mindanao is still aspiring for resolution but is a contained conflict. Terrorism, on the other hand, is not rebellion. We even have a law that defines terrorism. The Mindanao insurgency and terrorism are therefore too poor to be used as excuses in lifting civil liberties. When cabinet members say that the M law will not be imposed, I actually believe them. Because I have observed that this president, despite his rhetoric, better off not unleashed, is a leader who is very passionate about wanting to succeed.

If our ageless democratic institutions, which include a free legislative and independent judiciary, are set aside, there will be unease or outright unrest. With unease, and with negative perception of the international community, tourism, investments, growth (let alone inclusive growth) will all be kept at bay. It is a lesson from any country, from any era. History favors those who are humble enough to learn from it.

* * *

Alexander B. Cabrera is the chairman and senior partner of Isla Lipana & Co./PwC Philippines. He also chairs the Educated Marginalized Entrepreneurs Resource Generation (EMERGE) program of the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP). Email your comments and questions to aseasyasABC@ph.pwc.com. This content is for general information purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional advisors.


PHILSTAR

Investors worried over lawlessness; BSP allays fears By Lawrence Agcaoili (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 7, 2016 - 12:00am 9 187 googleplus1 1


Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. yesterday allayed investors’ fears on the impact of the bombing in Davao City and the declaration of a state of national emergency. “There has been no negative reaction as far as the foreign exchange market is concerned,” Tetangco told reporters on the sidelines of the Philippine Investment Forum organized by Euromoney.

MANILA, Philippines – If the deteriorating peace and order situation and political instability in the Philippines are left unchecked, these could derail the strong economic growth and result in a volatile financial market, investors warned yesterday.

ING Bank Manila senior economist Joey Cuyegkeng said investors reacted negatively to President Duterte’s statement against leaders of long-time allies including US President Barrack Obama, the extrajudicial killings and the bombing in Davao City.

“Concerns also over extrajudicial killings and statements that may antagonize long-time allies are also making international news, which has elicited growing concerns from investors. The Davao City bomb blast killing 14-15 innocent citizens highlights the possibility of increased terrorist activity,” he said.

Duterte’s declaration of a state of national emergency and order to the Philippine National Police and the military to “suppress all forms of lawless violence” was also seen from a risk standpoint that the government needs assistance for the national police to counter a perceived state of lawlessness.

READ MORE...

For others, lawlessness was also a result of government statements that may have encouraged vigilante killings.

“We believe that such political developments and concerns if unchecked would have more profound impact on markets and the economy,” Cuyegkeng said.

But Cuyegkeng noted that the country’s strong macroeconomic fundamentals would likely cushion the impact of recent developments on economic growth as well as the attractiveness of the Philippines as an investment destination.

He cited the seven percent growth in gross domestic product (GDP) in the second quarter, the record $85.5-billion foreign exchange reserves as of end July and stable financial system.

“For now, the impact is likely to be marginal and is likely to be offset by favorable macro-economic fundamentals – structural inflows, high FX reserves, strong domestic demand and monetary and fiscal leeway,” he said.

However, growing concerns on political stability as well as the impending interest rate hike by the US Federal Reserve would continue to affect the value of the peso against the US dollar.

Gareth Leather, senior Asia economist of think tank Capital Economics, said in its latest Emerging Asia Economic Focus that the main risks to the Philippine economy are political in nature.

Leather noted that the main risks are centered on the uncertain political situation following the election of Duterte as president.

“Although Duterte initially helped to calm investor nerves by promising to continue with the economic policies of his respected predecessor, the situation has worsened in recent weeks,” he said.

He cited threats to shoot suspected drug smugglers without trial and the recent imposition of a state of lawlessness granting the military powers to help in police operations.

“With Duterte in charge, it is hard to rule out a sudden shift in policy or a disruption of the political stability that has characterized the last six years. Either would cause sentiment to sour and growth to weaken,” he said.

BSP chief allays fear But Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. yesterday allayed investors’ fears on the impact of the bombing in Davao City and the declaration of a state of national emergency.

“There has been no negative reaction as far as the foreign exchange market is concerned,” Tetangco told reporters on the sidelines of the Philippine Investment Forum organized by Euromoney.

He explained the peso has stood its ground, strengthening against the US dollar by 10 centavos last Monday and traded within a narrow range yesterday.

In the equities market, the BSP chief said there has been no major pull out of funds from the Philippine Stock Exchange.

“There’s been no sell off or major negative impact. I think what we would need is to explain better what the objectives of the policies of government are,” he added.

According to him, it is important for authorities to inform investors about the objectives of the Duterte administration.

“There are of course very important objectives that the government is trying to pursue. And this has to be communicated well to the public. So we can avoid any possible misunderstanding and basically avoid lack of information that can lead to a different picture of what the government is trying to do,” he added.

Tetangco said monetary authorities are in touch with their counterparts abroad to apprise them about the developments, particularly the peace and order situation in the Philippines.

“We’ve been talking to our counterparts. I think they also want to look at what will happen next which is normal… Markets always try to look forward. And see where the opportunities lie and react accordingly,” he said.

“As I have said so far, it (state of national emergency) hasn’t affected market sentiment. I think the objective is to really improve peace and order and security in the country, which are really good objectives. Thats going to be positive for investment in the longer term,” he added.

The BSP chief also said the Philippines remains an attractive investment destination amid the positive GDP growth for the past 70 consecutive quarters.

“I believe the Philippine economy continues to offer a convincing case for investment and sustained growth. I say this with confidence because the Philippines has a good solid track record,” he said.

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RELATED FROM PHILSTAR

American investors concerned over drug killings By Patricia Lourdes Viray (philstar.com) | Updated September 8, 2016 - 5:17pm 7 196 googleplus0 0


Protesters stage a "die-in" to dramatize the rising number of extra judicial killings related to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's "War on Drugs" Friday, Aug. 26, 2016 in front of the Philippine National Police headquarters in suburban Quezon city northeast of Manila, Philippines. According to police, nearly 2,000 people, mostly suspected drug-dealers and users, have been killed in drug-related incidents since President Duterte took office June 30, 2016 and prompted Philippine senators to open an inquiry into the killings. AP/Bullit Marquez

MANILA, Philippines — American investors expressed concern over the rising number of extrajudicial and vigilante killings amid the new administration's anti-drug campaign.

The American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (AmCham) noted that the drug problem is a serious threat in the country but some investors are questioning whether the drug war reduces the rule of law.

"While the country's economic fundamentals are strong and its potential is high, our members have raised concerns that some American values—which Filipinos have long shared—may be weakening in the current environment," the AmCham said in a statement on Thursday.

The chamber noted that bilateral relations between the US and the Philippines have been strained by recent remarks of President Rodrigo Duterte against US President Barack Obama.

"Although statements of regret soon followed, such words and their international policy also create investor concern," the statement read.

The White House canceled the scheduled meeting between Duterte and Obama following the former's tirade against the American leader which came out as a personal attack.

READ: Obama, Duterte meet after spat

| Duterte's drug war puts strain on US-Philippine ties

Malacanang clarified that both nations have agreed to postpone the meeting to a later date.

The AmCham remains hopeful that the ties between the two nations will become stronger in the future. The American chamber also maintained its commitment to working eith the Philippine government to improve the relations between the two countries.

"AmCham has always been optimistic about the Philippines and committed to strengthen bilateral trade, investment and cultural ties," AmCham said.

RELATED: Foreign investors hesitant amid extrajudicial killings


PHILSTAR

Philippines marks gains in internet metrics By Louella Desiderio (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 7, 2016 - 12:00am 2 19 googleplus0 0


Citing data from internet metrics provider Ookla’s speedtest.net, NTC deputy commissioner Edgardo Cabarios said in a telephone interview yesterday the Philippines has made gains in terms of internet speed as it ranked 11th in terms of average download speed and upload speed globally this year. File photo

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines has shown improvements in terms of download and upload speeds amid investments being made by telcos to provide better services to customers, the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) said.

Citing data from internet metrics provider Ookla’s speedtest.net, NTC deputy commissioner Edgardo Cabarios said in a telephone interview yesterday the Philippines has made gains in terms of internet speed as it ranked 11th in terms of average download speed and upload speed globally this year.

This is an improvement as the Philippines has been a laggard when it comes to average internet speed rankings in previous years.

Cabarios said the data from Ookla is consistent with the findings of other reports which showed the Philippines is making gains when it comes to internet speed.

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The United Nations (UN) E-Government Survey 2016 on E-Government Development Index (EGDI) which provides scores by looking at dimensions of e-government such as scope and quality of online services, status of the development of telecommunication infrastructure and human capital index, showed the Philippines’ ranking improved to 71st from 95th, previously.

The Information Communications Technology (ICT) Index 2015 of UN specialized agency for ICT ITU also showed the Philippines rose to the 98th spot from 105th earlier.

Cabarios said even the measurements conducted by the NTC showed improvements in upload and download speeds.

Based on measurements conducted for the period of Aug.17 to 31 using speed test agents, PLDT Inc. was able to deliver 81 percent of its advertised download speed, while Globe Telecom Inc. delivered 73 percent, Bayantel provided 74 percent and SKY had 72 percent.

“The improvements are indications the infrastructure is improving and costs are going down,” Cabarios said.

He said the investments being made by telcos to expand existing capacity by adding cell sites and fiber are also driving the improvements.

PLDT, which initially allocated P43 billion worth of capital expenditures for this year, has raised the amount to P48 billion for the utilization of new frequencies it gained access to after acquiring half of San Miguel Corp.’s telco assets in May.

Globe which has earmarked $750 million capex this year, may increase the budget by $10 million in the last two quarters of the year, for projects to provide customers a better internet experience.

Cabarios said that while private companies are investing to improve the infrastructure for services, the government would have to make the investments in locations commercial telcos would not be able to reach.

“We are preparing a national broadband plan which will identify where government will invest in,” he said, adding the plan would be released before the end of the year.

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RELATED FROM THE INQUIRER

P1M fine sought for slow internet providers By: Marc Jayson Cayabyab @MJcayabyabINQ 07:19 PM September 7th, 2016

NTC ALSO WANTS OUTDATED PUBLIC SERVICE ACT AMENDED


CARTOON COURTESY OF LINKEDin PULSEnews

National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) chief Gamaliel Cordoba on Wednesday urged lawmakers to impose a million peso fine on telecommunication firms that fail to provide faster internet speed to consumers.

During the appropriations hearing of the proposed P3.503-billion budget of the newly created Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) and its attached agencies, Cordoba said one of the major stumbling blocks to faster internet speed is the stringent requirements from the local government unit to build more cell sites.

READ: Dep’t of Information and Communications Technology created

“One of the reasons we’re having problems is that we’re having problems with some of the local government units, some of the LGUs asked for 32 permits before payagan magtayo ng cell sites, while we only give one,” Cordoba told members of the appropriation committee at the House of Representatives.

The NTC is an attached agency of the DICT.

Cordoba said the Public Service Act, a Commonwealth-era law that regulates public service, impose a measly penalty of P200 per day of violation against public service providers that fail to comply with the terms and conditions or regulations of its service.

“In the Public Service Act, the penalty we can impose is only P200 pesos for violation,” Cordoba said.

Cordoba said based on the computations of the National Economic Development Authority, the P200 penalty in the 1936 law if adjusted to current inflation is now worth P1.76 million.

“Lumalabas po na yung P200 is now P1.76 million a day per violation. Kung yan ang i-impose based on the power you can give us, magagamit natin ang imposable penalty na ito,” Cordoba said.

Because of the measly penalty that would be too ridiculous to impose, the NTC has resorted to a “shame campaign” by publishing the names of errant telcos in newspapers, Cordoba said.

“Ang nangyayari, their stocks which are traded internationally and in the Philippine stock market ay bumabagsak tuwing nilalabas namin yun. Kaya napipilitan silang maglabas ng capital expenditure,” Cordoba said.

Cordoba also lamented that the Philippines has not spent a single centavo on telco infrastructure compared to Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Cambodia, Singapore, Myanmar and Afghanistan.

He said other countries invest heavily on internet infrastructure because every 10 percent increase in internet penetration translates to a 1.23 percent increase in Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

“In the Philippines, if you would ask us how much the government spends on telco infrastructure, the answer is zero. Countries spending so much in telco infrastructure know it will affect bottomline the GDP,” Cordoba said.

DICT Secretary Rodolfo Salalima told the lawmakers of the need for a comprehensive broadband network plan to connect even the most rural areas.

Salalima said he could not believe the reports which state that the Philippines has one of the slowest internet speed in Asia.

READ: PH internet growth slowest in past 2 years—report

He cited the efficient business process outsourcing services that the country provides using an internet connection.

“All these reports, we need validation… I cannot believe [we are] the slowest in internet speed, given that our BPOs is the number one in the world,” Salalima said.

Asked by Kabayan Rep. Harry Roque how the government could avoid another graft-ridden national broadband network project like the anomalous ZTE deal during the Arroyo administration, Salalima said bidding would be subjected to an electronic portal bidding so other countries could post their bids.

For his part, Negros Oriental Rep. Arnulfo Teves urged the DICT to take on the mandate of regulating social media to weed out dummy accounts that only serve to bash people online.

“Sobra na ang paninira ng tao sa social media. Ang request ko lang, sana i-regulate natin, walang pwedeng fake account,” Teves said.

Salalima said the DICT only has mandate over the technical side such as infrastructure but not over the content on social media.

“Na-control nga ng China social media nila, bakit hindi natin magawa?” Teves asked.

“Kung ayaw may dahilan. I think it’s doable if we really want to do that,” he added.


INQUIRER

Business groups welcome Duterte declaration after bombing By: Amy R. Remo, Gil Cabacungan, Tarra Quismundo @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer 01:07 AM September 6th, 2016

THE COUNTRY’S biggest business groups are supporting President Duterte’s declaration of a nationwide “state of lawless violence,” as they downplayed fears raised by some quarters that this could lead to the imposition of martial law.

While this was seen as a move to help curb rising incidence of criminality, the groups also called on the administration to set clear parameters for the declaration.

Two former Presidents—Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada—as well as Mr. Duterte’s allies in Congress also are supporting the declaration.

The reactions were issued before the President signed the proclamation of a “state of national emergency on account of lawless violence.”

One of the President’s key allies in the Senate called on Malacañang to put on paper the declaration to ensure consistency in its enforcement within set parameters while it was in effect.

“Better to put it in writing so that the terms, the instructions, the directions can be referred to time and again and won’t change, because it is now in writing,” Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III told reporters.

“If it is not yet written, my advice, my suggestion is let’s put this in writing,” Pimentel said.

Perry Pe, president of the Management Association of the Philippines, said on Monday that the declaration, following the deadly bombing in Davao City on Friday, was meant to allow soldiers to back up the police in setting up checkpoints and increasing patrols.

READ MORE...

“I think he has information which we don’t have. He campaigned on peace and order and that he will try to solve criminality in six months and he’s exactly doing that,” Pe said.

Formal issuance

However, there should also be a formal issuance, whether in the form of an executive order or a proclamation, to set the scope of the declaration, he said.

Mr. Duterte placed the entire nation under a state of lawless violence hours after the blast, which left 14 dead and 68 wounded. The declaration is allowed under Article VII, Section 18 of the 1987 Constitution as part of the President’s powers as Commander in Chief.

In a text message, John D. Forbes, senior advisor at the American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, said business required security in order to operate.

“Our members have experienced police and military actions in many countries in the fight against global terrorism, including in the Philippines. We do not see civil rights being affected by the state of lawless violence, a constitutional authority of the President to use the Armed Forces. Hopefully, more acts of terrorism will be prevented so as to guarantee security for Filipinos,” Forbes said.

For his part, George T. Barcelon, president of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the declaration was necessary in light of the threats.

“The protection of innocent lives takes priority so the tightening of (security) against a heinous group is a must,” he said.

Right thing to do

Sergio R. Ortiz-Luis Jr., president of Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc. saw no civil rights being curtailed by the declaration, which, he said, was just part of Mr. Duterte’s drive against terrorism and criminality.

Arroyo said the President’s decision to declare a state of lawlessness was the “right thing” to do in the face of threats from drug lords and the Abu Sayyaf, which earlier claimed responsibility for the Davao bombing.

“When I used to have those problems in Mindanao, I would ask [then Davao City] Mayor Duterte to handle them for me. And he handled them very well in his time for me. So I’m sure he’ll handle just as well, if not better, for himself,” she said.

Constitutional powers

Based on her experience, Arroyo said the public need not fear the military and police abusing their powers under the declaration because they never did under her watch. Even if they did, she said the President would handle them better.

She used her constitutional powers to repel a security threat four times during her nine years in power. She declared a state of rebellion in Metro Manila in May 2001 to stop the mob of Estrada supporters from storming Malacañang and in July 2003 in response to the Oakwood mutiny launched by the Magdalo Group led by then Navy officer Antonio Trillanes IV.

She declared a state of emergency in February 2006 to nip in the bud a coup d’etat allegedly hatched by a military-communist-political alliance, and martial law in November and December 2009 to prevent lawlessness in Maguindanao Sultan Kudarat and Cotabato City in the wake of the Ampatuan massacre.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte speaks during a press conference at the airport in Davao City, in southern island of Mindanao prior to his departure for Laos to attend the Asean summit on September 5, 2016.Controversial Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on September 5 vowed he would not let himself be lectured to on human rights by US President Barack Obama when they meet at a coming summit in Lao / AFP PHOTO / MANMAN DEJETO

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte AFP PHOTO / MANMAN DEJETO

In a statement, Estrada called on the Filipinos to unite behind Mr. Duterte in his quest to suppress terrorism and criminality.

Pimentel said the declaration was far from the feared martial law and would not affect civil liberties. “We are not in the extreme yet (the most extreme being martial law). It’s just actually a call or order from the President that the military should help the police in law enforcement,” he said.

High court wisdom

Sen. Francis Escudero said those worried about the President’s declaration may take the legal recourse and seek the Supreme Court’s wisdom for clarity on Mr. Duterte’s move.

There has yet to be jurisprudence on the declaration, including whether or not it could be issued just verbally, or if a presidential proclamation or administrative order would be necessary, Escudero said.

He assuaged concerns over the possibility of a creeping martial law, saying the status invoked by the President in the wake of the Davao City bombing would not suspend civil liberties.

Several senators took to the Senate floor on Monday to condemn the attack as they appealed for sobriety and unity among the public.

Senate blue ribbon

In a privilege speech, Sen. Richard Gordon condemned the “impunity and ignominy” of the Abu Sayyaf bandit group, which is believed to be behind the attack, as he said “we are all pained by the carnage.”

To allay concerns over the declaration of a state of lawless violence, Gordon said the blue ribbon committee, which he chairs, would be open to complaints about abuses that authorities might carry out while the nation is under the expanded law enforcement status.

In a statement, Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said the Abu Sayyaf had already claimed responsibility for the bombing even though one of its officials denied it.

“We are sure that the military will pursue the Abu Sayyaf until this band of murderers is neutralized. We are also confident that the government will continue to pursue the anti-illegal drug and anticrime campaign along with the offensive operations against the Abu Sayyaf, until the bandits are wiped out,” Alvarez said.

 
https://youtu.be/0_vKxJ0yCM0
Duterte's speech at Asean summit in Laos INQUIRER.net INQUIRER.net Subscribe63,309 Add to Share More 25,083 views 263 13 Published on Sep 6, 2016 President Rodrigo Duterte delivers a speech during the Asean summit in Laos on Sept. 6. Video from RTVM Category News & Politics

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RELATED FROM PHILSTAR

Investment pledges double in 7 months By Richmond Mercurio (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 8, 2016 - 12:00am 38 163 googleplus0 0


Trade Secretary and BOI chairman Ramon Lopez said the agency expects approved investment pledges to further grow on the back of the country’s sound economic fundamentals and sustained investor confidence.

MANILA, Philippines – Investment pledges approved by the Board of Investments (BOI) nearly doubled in the first seven months of the year, with the Duterte administration’s push to spread the wealth to the countryside showing progress as regions outside Metro Manila take in bigger portions of the project proposals.

The BOI said investments approved from January to July soared 98 percent to P210.37 billion from the P106.08 billion recorded in the same period last year.

The investment pledges were generated from 192 projects with total estimated job generation of 37,487 expected at full operations.

“While confidence in the economy remains with investments continuing to pour in, the government is pursuing a number of strategic investment policy and promotion initiatives in a bid to further strengthen its efforts in attracting a massive flow of domestic and foreign investments in the country particularly those that would bring in new technology,” Trade Secretary and BOI chairman Ramon Lopez said.

Region 3 received the highest investment pledges worth P44.32 billion, accounting for 21 percent of total.

NCR came in second with committed investments worth P37.05 billion, while significant investments also poured into Region IVA, Region VII, Region XII, Region I, Negros Island Region and CAR.

“Dispersion of investments in the region had changed. NCR usually receives the highest amount of investments but now, investments are dispersed as other regions take the lead in attracting more investments,” said BOI managing head Ceferino Rodolfo, adding the majority of the investment pledges came from sectors that will elevate the country’s competitiveness such as power and infrastructure.

Energy projects accounted for 51 percent of total approvals at P108.06 billion.

This was followed by construction projects at P31.9 billion, real estate activities at P26.76 billion, manufacturing at P18.66 billion, and transportation and storage at P13.32 billion.

Singapore topped the list among the foreign country investors with investments worth P9.83 billion, accounting for 27 percent of total approved foreign investments during the period.

Netherlands followed with investments amounting to P7.12 billion, then South Korea with P6.42 billion, Japan with P5.69 billion and British Virgin Islands with P2.02 billion.

Lopez said the agency expects approved investment pledges to further grow on the back of the country’s sound economic fundamentals and sustained investor confidence.

He earlier said investment commitments approved by the agency this year is seen increasing 10 percent, an upgrade from the BOI’s original target growth of five percent.

To achieve its target this year, Lopez said the government will pursue synchronization of the investment promotion efforts of all the investments promotion agencies as well as modernize the current investment incentives regime by proposing amendments to the 1987 Omnibus Investments Code.

“We will be more focused on promoting strategic investments to position the country as a world class investments destination,” Lopez said.

“In granting incentives, we will focus on creating decent jobs in the Philippines. As such, bias against foreign investors and bias against those serving the domestic market will be removed. Further, if the economic provisions of the Constitution will be amended, greater foreign equity in sectors that are crucial to improving the competitiveness of industries such as infrastructure and utilities like telecommunications, roads, ports, and airports, may be allowed,” he added.


MANILA BULLETIN

Duterte tells OFWs: ‘Just give me time and I’ll fix the country’ September 7, 2016 Share1 Tweet1 Share0 Email0 Share45 By Elena L. Aben and Yas D. Ocampo


SELFIES GALORE – President Duterte kisses an infant as he is mobbed by the Filipino community which he met Tuesday at the Feungfar Convention Hall in Ban Phonsinuane, Laos. Duterte is in Laos to attend the ASEAN Summit. (Malacañang Photo / Manila Bulletin)

President Rodrigo Duterte assured overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and the Filipino community abroad to just give him time to fix the country and promised to run a government that is free of corruption.

“I assure you pag uwi ninyo, iba na ang sistema doon, (When you come home, the system should have changed.)” the President told the Filipino community in Laos. Also present were Filipino workers from Thailand, according to a palace statement.

He also said that the Philippine government will not give in to terrorists’ whim of keeping him from his job as head of state.

“Now despite the bombing in Davao, I had to go here to show that they cannot ask us on bended knees na ipo-postpone ko lang dahil sa kanila,” he said.

“Because in the end, in the fullness of God’s time, meron talagang reckoning ‘yan at mayron ‘yang pagbabago.”

READ MORE...

Duterte said he is doing his best to improve the country’s system of governance and boasts that he leads a team of Cabinet men “who are good in their respective fields and have integrity as persons.”

He also briefed them on the government’s efforts to rid the country of illegal drugs.

Duterte also assured the Filipino community in Laos that there will come a time that they will no longer have to find a job abroad.

“I’m just about two months plus three just give me time. As I have promised you, there will be a clean government and it will be clean,” he said.

“I would like to assure you that as a returning Filipino citizen, you will be accorded with due respect and dignity of a Filipino worker,” he added.

The President informed the Filipinos in Laos that the administration has set up hotline 8888 where they can send information to the President about their condition.

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RELATED FROM THE MANILA STANDARD

Foreign exchange reserves hit new record posted September 07, 2016 at 11:50 pm by Julito G. Rada


FOREX DOLLARS

Gross international reserves climbed to a new record in August, as Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas increased its foreign investments amid the sustained inflows of foreign exchange in the country.

Data from Bangko Sentral showed GIR reached $85.9 billion in August, up from $85.5 billion in July and $80.2 billion in August 2015.

“This was higher by $0.39 billion than the end-July GIR of $85.51 billion due mainly to the national government’s net foreign currency deposits and the BSP’s foreign exchange operations and income from investments abroad,” Bangko Sentral Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. said.

“These were partially offset by payments made by the national government for its maturing foreign exchange obligations and revaluation adjustments on the BSP’s gold holdings resulting from the decrease in the price of gold in the international market,” Tetangco said.

The August reserves also surpassed Bangko Sentral’s year-end target of $82.7 billion.

Data showed that among the components of GIR, Bangko Sentral’s foreign investments, mostly in US Treasury bills, reached $73.9 billion as of end-August, up from $73.3 billion in July and $70.6 billion a year ago.

Gold holdings slightly fell to $8.3 billion in August from $8.5 billion in July, on lower prices of the metal in the world market.

Other GIR components were reserve position in the International Monetary Fund at $448 million; special drawing rights, $1.18 billion; and Bangko Sentral’s foreign exchange exposure, $2 billion.

Foreign reserves exceeded the country’s foreign debt estimated at $77.6 billion as of end-March 2016.

Tetangco said at $85.9 billion, the reserves could cover 10.5 months’ worth of imports of goods and payments of services and income. It was also equivalent to six times the country’s short-term external debt based on original maturity and 4.3 times based on residual maturity.

Short-term debt based on residual maturity refers to outstanding external debt with original maturity of one year or less, plus principal payments on medium- and long-term loans of the public and private sectors falling due within the next 12 months.

Net international reserves, which refer to the difference between Bangko Sentral’s GIR and total short-term liabilities, also increased $390 million to $85.89 billion as of end-August from a month ago.

GIR increases as Bangko Sentral absorbs foreign exchange in the local market and invest it overseas to stabilize the local currency amid sustained balance of payments surplus.

Bangko Sentral said it expected the BoP position to yield a surplus of $2 billion this year, or at the same level in 2015.

Current account, a component of BoP, is expected to post a surplus of $5.8 billion in 2016, equivalent to 1.9 percent of gross domestic product.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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