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INFLATION HITS HIGHEST IN NEARLY 2 YEARS: 11-MONTH AVERAGE OF 1.7% STILL BELOW TARGET RANGE OF 2-4%
.[RELATED: HANDLING BACKLOGS - DOT seeks transfer of P18-B funds to agencies]


DECEMBER 7 -Inflation—or the rate of increase in prices of basic goods and services—rose 2.5 percent year-on-year in November, the fastest in almost two years. Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) data released yesterday showed that last November’s headline inflation was the highest since December 2014’s 2.7 percent while matching the similar 2.5-percent increase in February 2015. Inflation last month was also faster than the 2.3 percent last October as well as 1.1 percent posted in November last year. In a report, the PSA attributed the increase in the inflation rate in November to “higher annual increments registered in the indices of alcoholic beverages and tobacco; housing, water, electricity, gas, and other fuels, and transport.” The higher inflation could be attributed to the increase in domestic prices of petroleum products, which comprise the bulk of the nonfood commodity basket usually purchased by the average Filipino household, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia explained in a statement. READ MORE... RELATED, HANDLING BACKLOGS - DOT seeks transfer of P18-B funds to agencies...

ALSO: 25 state agencies repeal burdensome rules
[RELATED: State firms improve budget use]


DECEMBER 9 -NCC’s Project Repeal is aimed at reducing the cost of compliance for business as well as generate savings for the citizens by repealing or amending unnecessary, costly, and out-dated rules in government agencies. File photo/Paulo Alcazaren
A little over two dozen government agencies signed yesterday repeal orders for regulations seen as redundant and burdensome within their respective agencies. The National Competitiveness Council (NCC)’s 2nd Repeal Day had a total 25 agencies change unnecessary regulations that have adverse impact on country’s competitiveness.  This covered 1,062 issuances, most of which are department administrative orders, memorandum circulars and office orders. Of this number, 10 will be subject to repeal while 138 will undergo amendments, 18 will be consolidated and merged, and 896 will be delisted from the roster of active issuances. READ MORE...RELATED, State firms improve budget use...

ALSO: ‘Runway Manila’ on track, to open 1st half of 2017 -DPWH Sec [DPWH Chief Villar: SIPAG recognizes outstanding cooperatives]


DECEMBER 9 -Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar (second, right) and Department of Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade (right) confer with Travellers International Hotel Group, Inc., COO Steve Reilly (3rd from left), DPWH Undersecretary Karen Jimeno, Kingson Tan, president and CEO of Travellers, and Kevin Tan Alliance Global, Inc. Executive Director (3rd from right) during an inspection of the Manila runway on December 5, 2016. (Ali Vicoy)
The construction of “Runway Manila,” a pedestrian bridge linking the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3 with Newport City, is on track and will be operational in the first half of 2017. The 220-meter elevated bridge stands 17.8 meters above Andrews Ave. Enclosed and air-conditioned, it features PWD (Person With Disability)-friendly facilities such as moving walkways and elevators and is expected to be an iconic landmark in the Pasay City Skyline. “Runway Manila can accommodate up to 2,000 persons at any time, or up to 216,000 persons per day. The bridge is for the benefit and free use of the public,” announced Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar, who launched the bridge yesterday (December 5, 2016) with Transportation Secretary Art Tugade. READ MORE...RELATED, DPWH Chief Villar: SIPAG recognizes outstanding cooperatives...

ALSO: New US envoy sees expansion of US-PH ties
[RELATED: New American ambassador says mutual respect needed to ensure stable US-PH ties]


DECEMBER 7 -
Newly designated United States (US) Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim said he expects an expansion of bilateral relations between the US and the Philippines as he assumes his post.“Over the weeks, months and years ahead, I look forward to working closely with the Philippines’ government and Filipino people to expand our relationship and to engage in many areas of mutual interest,” Kim told reporters at a press briefing in Malacañan after presenting his credentials to President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday, December 6. Describing his first encounter with President Duterte, Kim said he had a “lengthy and substantive” discussion with the Filipino leader. “I am very pleased to have presented my credentials to President Duterte just now… And I am grateful for the time that President Duterte afforded me today,” he said. READ MORE... RELATED, New American ambassador says mutual respect needed to ensure stable US-PH ties...

ALSO: ‘PH to stand impact of US policies’
But US economic policy expert urges govt to invest in human capital
[RELATED: AIIB entry boosts Phl econ agenda]
{The China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) will help in the fulfillment of President Duterte’s 10-point socio-economic agenda and enable the Philippines to improve infrastructure in the country for rapid and inclusive economic growth, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said.)


DECEMBER 9 -
The Philippine economy has strength to stand the negative impact of the tougher trade policy of new US President-elect Donald Trump, but must invest further in human capital and continue to improve its investment climate to attract more investors, a Columbia University economic policy expert said. Arvid Lukauskas, executive director at the Picker Center for Executive Education and the Program in Economic Policy Management at the School of International and Public Affairs at the Columbia University, said Trump’s trade policy could provoke strong opposition from China, which could also stir tensions among the US’ other trade partners.
The Philippines, he said, should be able to deal with any fallout from that by using its strengths. READ MORE...RELATED, AIIB entry boosts Phl econ agenda...

ALSO: By Alex Cabrera - Why invite the perfect storm?
(The surreptitious burial to please one family was a slap on the entire nation, leaving a welt that speaks volumes of how much importance the President gives to people’s sentiments. It is not the last straw, but it is brewing a storm. If it is true that the burial is the first installment of a scheme to install the dictator’s son to the vice presidency, it will summon a tempest.)


DECEMBER 11 -ALEX CABRERA: There is something calming about being able to engage in stressful work in Makati, and even reassuring to move in its heavy traffic at turtle speed. At least we are able to live normal lives. I say this because in one December about this time (yes, going into Christmas), Makati was converted into the last stronghold by rebel soldiers, who occupied more than 20 buildings in the Makati Central Business District. Foreigners in hotels were trapped, properties destroyed, and soldiers and even some civilians were killed or injured. From their vantage point among tall buildings, rebel snipers could see the movements of government forces on the streets below. Above them, though, flew government and US fighter planes that shot down heavy military artillery under rebel control. If Christmas was coming, it surely sounded then that New Year fireworks went off well ahead of schedule. READ MORE...


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Inflation hits highest in nearly 2 years: 11-month average of 1.7% still below gov’t target range of 2-4%

MANILA, DECEMBER 12, 2016 (INQUIRER)  Ben O. de Vera - @inquirerdotnet December 07, 2016 - Inflation—or the rate of increase in prices of basic goods and services—rose 2.5 percent year-on-year in November, the fastest in almost two years.

Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) data released yesterday showed that last November’s headline inflation was the highest since December 2014’s 2.7 percent while matching the similar 2.5-percent increase in February 2015.

Inflation last month was also faster than the 2.3 percent last October as well as 1.1 percent posted in November last year.

In a report, the PSA attributed the increase in the inflation rate in November to “higher annual increments registered in the indices of alcoholic beverages and tobacco; housing, water, electricity, gas, and other fuels, and transport.”

The higher inflation could be attributed to the increase in domestic prices of petroleum products, which comprise the bulk of the nonfood commodity basket usually purchased by the average Filipino household, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia explained in a statement.

READ MORE...

The National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) said nonfood inflation registered an uptick on the back of higher electricity, housing, gas, transport and water costs.

As for food inflation, Neda said it remained stable as corn prices sustained a four-month downtrend while rice prices declined in November to reverse increases during the five preceding months.


PERNIA

“The decrease in rice prices signals the recovery of the rice sector from the devastation of typhoons ‘Karen’ and ‘Lawin.’ We must foster technological advances in agriculture to decrease the susceptibility of our crops to natural calamities,” Pernia, who is also Neda chief, said.

In a text message to reporters, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Amando M. Tetangco Jr. noted that inflation averaged 1.7 percent during the first 11 months, still below the government’s 2-4 percent target range.

“The trend is consistent with our expectation that for 2017 and 2018, full-year inflation would be within target,” Tetangco said. The inflation targets for the next two years were a similar 2 to 4 percent.

“We continue to watch petitions for transport fare adjustments and global developments that may affect domestic inflation dynamics over the policy horizon,” Tetangco added.

For his part, Pernia said he expected the full-year inflation figure to be “well within the government’s inflation target band of 2 to 4 percent.”

“The overall balance of risks is tilted on the upside, with supply-side factors as the main contributor to price adjustments.” Pernia added.

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RELATED FROM THE MANILA BULLETIN

HANDLING BACKLOGS: Transportation department seeks transfer of P18-B funds to agencies 19 SHARES Share it! Published December 7, 2016, 10:01 PM By Emmie V. Abadilla

It’s legal to transfer last year’s P17.9-billion unspent funds to attached agencies via a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) under existing government audit regulations, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) maintained.

“We are trying to handle backlogs from the past budget as much as we can, but this was a transition phase. We came in six months prior to the reversion of funds,” explained DOTr Undersecretary for Finance Garry De Guzman.

The Duterte administration took over at the end of June, 2016, giving the new DOTr six months to allocate unspent funds from its 2015 budget before the year ends.

Government agencies have two years to allocate its budget before the money reverts back to the National Treasury as “unobligated” funds.

READ MORE...

“As a practical way to ensure that specific projects will continue,” the DOTr entered a MOA with its attached agencies.

In all, the agency’s unused funds totaled P19.2 billion but only managed to spend P1.3 billion and still had P17.9 billion to dispose of by October, 2016.

Hence, DOTr “downloaded” P7.9 billion to its attached agencies and allocated P6.2 billion for procurement until the end of the year. Only the remaining P3.8 billion will be reverted back to the Treasury.

Most of the downloaded funds were meant to bankroll regional airport projects.

Recipients of unspent funds include the Manila International Airports Authority (MIAA), which received P474 million; Clark International Airport Corporation (CIAC), with P800 million; the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), with P3.1 billion and the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA).

While others alleged the move was illegal, downloading funds to attached agencies is allowed under the Commission on Audit (COA) Circular 94-013 dated 13 December 2014, according to transport officials.

The circular states that the source agency, which originally programmed a project and received the appropriation for it, can transfer funds to any state department or office capable of implementing or continuing such initiative.

“Downloading of projects through an MOA is guided by COA, which ensures the transferred fund is properly taken up in the books of both agencies and are used only for the intended purpose,” confirmed DOTr Undersecretary De Guzman. It’s better to download funds than to revert it, DOTr argued because state agencies are supposed to spend funds and not save it.

When government spend the infrastructure funds, it implements the projects previously identified and approved to be beneficial for the citizens.

Furthermore, the DOTr says the budget spent and allocated will be accounted for and properly taken up in the books of all agencies concerned.

Apart from the FOI portal of the government, the major infrastructure agencies – DOTr, DPWH, BCDA and the NEDA will launch a Transparency Portal that will have the project details of all the major infrastructure projects of the Duterte administration.

“Proper accounting and reporting shall be made to ensure the appropriate use of funds,” he concluded.


PHILSTAR

25 state agencies repeal burdensome rules By Richmond Mercurio (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 9, 2016 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0


NCC’s Project Repeal is aimed at reducing the cost of compliance for business as well as generate savings for the citizens by repealing or amending unnecessary, costly, and out-dated rules in government agencies. File photo/Paulo Alcazaren

MANILA, Philippines - A little over two dozen government agencies signed yesterday repeal orders for regulations seen as redundant and burdensome within their respective agencies.

The National Competitiveness Council (NCC)’s 2nd Repeal Day had a total 25 agencies change unnecessary regulations that have adverse impact on country’s competitiveness.

This covered 1,062 issuances, most of which are department administrative orders, memorandum circulars and office orders.

Of this number, 10 will be subject to repeal while 138 will undergo amendments, 18 will be consolidated and merged, and 896 will be delisted from the roster of active issuances.

READ MORE...

The NCC said among the significant regulations that have been amended or repealed include Land Transportation Office Administrative Order 2016-034 which extends the validity of drivers’ and conductors’ licenses to five years and Customs Administrative Order 02-2016 which increases the de minimis value for imported goods.

“Oftentimes we look on the business community to be the backbone of the economy, to invest and create jobs but at the same time we burden them with a lot of red tape. This is something we opt to look at closely,” NCC co-chairman Guillermo Luz said.

“These regulations date from way back. Now we have layer upon layer of rules and regulations and we need to step back, take a look, and ask ourselves if all these are necessary and which among these are detrimental to the economy,” Luz added.

Participating agencies for the 2nd Repeal Day include the Departments of Trade and Industry, Agriculture, Energy, Transportation, Interior and Local Government, and Information and Communication Technology.

Other agencies include the Bureau of Customs, Bureau of Animal Industry, Civil Aeronautics Board, Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, Commission on Audit, Dangerous Drug Board, Games and Amusement Board, Land Transportation Office, Land Transportation Franchise and Regulatory Board, Manila International Airport Authority, National Food Authority, National Meat Inspection Service, Office of Transport Cooperatives, Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, Philippine National Police, Philippine Ports Authority, Sugar Regulatory Administration, and Tourism Infrastructure Economic Zone Authority.

“The signing is a testament of government’s eagerness to eliminate causes of red tape, as well as rules and regulations that complicate the way of doing business in the country,” Trade Undersecretary Teodoro Pascua said.

To date, the NCC reported a total of 33,902 issuances have been submitted by more than 70 agencies to the Project Repeal Technical Working Group for review and possible repeal.

These issuances are undergoing review on a continuing basis, with those passing review scheduled for repeal, amendment, consolidation, or delisting at Repeal Days scheduled twice a year. The 1st Repeal Day was held in June this year.

NCC’s Project Repeal is aimed at reducing the cost of compliance for business as well as generate savings for the citizens by repealing or amending unnecessary, costly, and out-dated rules in government agencies.

The program, which was patterned after similar initiatives in Australia, South Korea, UK and Vietnam, started with only eight participating agencies.

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RELATED FROM PHILSTAR

State firms improve budget use By Prinz Magtulis (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 11, 2016 - 12:00am 0 1 googleplus0 0


A total of P1.06 trillion in obligations had been entered into from January to September, accounting for 64.2 percent of budget allotments, data from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) showed.

MANILA, Philippines - Government agencies improved their capacity to spend the budget as of the third quarter, but nearly P1 trillion remained with them, leaving it at risk of being cancelled by the end of the year.

A total of P1.06 trillion in obligations had been entered into from January to September, accounting for 64.2 percent of budget allotments, data from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) showed.

This was higher than the 59.58 percent cornered in the same period a year ago.

DBM officials did not respond to request for comment, but Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno reiterated last week the agency’s commitment to step up spending.

“We have tweaked our fiscal policy to secure these ambitions...This will allow adequate funding for our expenditure priorities,” Diokno said in a speech during a forum in Makati last Nov. 29.

“But let me assure you that we will exercise fiscal responsibility. The planned deficit is manageable, appropriate, and sustainable,” he added.

The total budget for the year is P3.002 trillion. Obligated funds indicate that the money is scheduled to be paid out based on existing contracts.

That makes funding for such projects safe once a new budget takes effect next year. Funds that were not contracted, meanwhile, will be dropped.

As of the end of September, a total of P808.27 billion was merely allotted to agencies, which could be cancelled should they fail to obligate them by Dec. 31.

The Duterte administration vowed to speed up spending, especially in infrastructure, as it seeks to boost economic growth that hit seven percent for the first nine months.

According to DBM data, the Department of Public Works and Highways, the primary infrastructure agency, improved its absorptive capacity to 66.9 percent from 61 percent a year ago.

The Department of Transportation also increased its budget absorption to 42.4 percent from 33.66 percent.

The figure included the newly-created Department of Information and Communications Technology, whose funding this year was sourced from various agencies under the old portfolio.

“Building infra, as you are aware, has the highest multiplier effect on the economy,” Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez said during another forum held last Friday.


MANILA BULLETIN

‘Runway Manila’ on track, to open first half of 2017 57 SHARES Share it! Published December 7, 2016, 10:00 PM By Emmie V. Abadilla


Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar (second, right) and Department of Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade (right) confer with Travellers International Hotel Group, Inc., COO Steve Reilly (3rd from left), DPWH Undersecretary Karen Jimeno, Kingson Tan, president and CEO of Travellers, and Kevin Tan Alliance Global, Inc. Executive Director (3rd from right) during an inspection of the Manila runway on December 5, 2016. (Ali Vicoy)

The construction of “Runway Manila,” a pedestrian bridge linking the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3 with Newport City, is on track and will be operational in the first half of 2017.

The 220-meter elevated bridge stands 17.8 meters above Andrews Ave. Enclosed and air-conditioned, it features PWD (Person With Disability)-friendly facilities such as moving walkways and elevators and is expected to be an iconic landmark in the Pasay City Skyline.

“Runway Manila can accommodate up to 2,000 persons at any time, or up to 216,000 persons per day. The bridge is for the benefit and free use of the public,” announced Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar, who launched the bridge yesterday (December 5, 2016) with Transportation Secretary Art Tugade.

READ MORE...

The bridge connects NAIA 3, which can handle 13 million international passengers annually, with Newport City, a 25-hectare residential and commercial area situated next to the Villamor golf course.

Newport combines a residential block, hotels – including Marriott and Maxims, a themed entertainment and commercial hub, a cyberpark and an institutional center.

“Once completed, Runway Manila will allow the average person to walk the distance between the airport and Newport City in approximately ten minutes,” he added.

“The Duterte administration is fully committed not only to reduce vehicular traffic congestion but also to ensure mobility and livability of our cities,” according to Tugade.

Now, 80 percent complete, it is being developed in cooperation with Travellers International Hotel Group.

“Runway Manila is part of our commitment to champion Philippine tourism and to contribute in nation building,” noted Travellers International Hotel Group President and CEO Kingson Sian. “It is a privilege to collaborate with the government to enhance the travel experience in our country.”

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RELATED FROM PHILSTAR

Villar SIPAG recognizes outstanding cooperatives (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 10, 2016 - 12:00am 0 29 googleplus0 3


The Villar SIPAG Awards for Poverty Reduction granted over P5 million to outstanding cooperatives nationwide in ceremonies held at Villar SIPAG in Las Piñas yesterday. Posing with the 2016 awardees are Villar SIPAG founding chairman Manny Villar and Sen. Cynthia Villar. Joining them are Paolo Villar, president and CEO of Vista Land; Camille Villar, EVP for marketing, Starmalls Inc. and All Value Holdings Corp.; Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar, his wife DIWA party-list Rep. Emmeline Aglipay and their daughter Emma Therese.

MANILA, Philippines - Cooperatives help government in its goal to reduce poverty among their people, and recognizing the important role played by these organizations is the highlight of the annual Villar SIPAG (Social Institute for Poverty Alleviation and Governance) Awards on Poverty Reduction.

For the 2016 Villar SIPAG Awards, Sen. Cynthia. Villar, former Senate president Manny Villar and Public Works Secretary Mark Villar handpicked 20 cooperatives for their exemplary assistance to their covered communities. They distributed a total of P5 million in cash, or P250,000 to each cooperative, during the awarding ceremonies held yesterday at the Villar SIPAG in Las Piñas.

“We take our hats off to these cooperatives for their jobs well done. We salute them for their untiring, yet unrecognized, efforts to help reduce poverty in our country, especially in the country sides,” the senator said.

“Through this award, we relay our utmost gratitude for their sacrifices and put premium to their accomplishments,” she also said.

For this year, more than 300 cooperatives submitted their applications, out of which the top 20 were selected according to their effectiveness, significance, financial viability, sustainability and adaptability.

Chosen cooperatives were awarded a plaque and P250, 000 each, which they can use to start a new business or expand their existing projects.

Two cooperatives from the National Capital Region were among the top 20 enterprises. These are the Barangka Credit Coop in Marikina and the Holy Cross Savings & Credit Coop in Valenzuela.

Others in Luzon which won the Villar SIPAG Awards were the Taloy Norte Farmers Multipurpose Coop in Baguio City; Claveria Grassroots Multipurpose Coop, Cagayan; Saint Catherine’s Parish Multipurpose Coop, Nueva Viscaya; Ascom Multipurpose Coop, Pampanga; Bagong Barrio Multipurpose Coop, Pandi, Bulacan; St. Martin Tours Credit & Development Coop, Bocaue, Bulacan; Iwahori Multipurpose Coop, Bataan; Olongapo Multipurpose Coop, Olongapo; Most Holy Rosary Multipurpose Coop, Rizal; Quezon Public School Teachers & Employees Credit Coop, Quezon and Gubat St. Anthony Coop, Sorsogon.

Three cooperatives from the Visayas made it. These were the Cebu People’s Multipurpose Coop; Fatima Multipurpose Coop in Leyte and DCCCO Multipurpose Coop in Dumaguete.

The Multipurpose Coop of Salay Hand-made in Misamis Oriental; the Maragusan Growers Multipurpose Coop in Compostela Valley; the Ictus Premier Multipurpose Coop in South Cotabato and the Tago Agro-Industrial Development Coop in Surigao del Sur – all from Mindanao – also made it to the Top 20.

A Special Award of P150,000 was likewise given to the United Workers Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Multipurpose Coop in Isabela City in Basilan for being the Most Promising Community Enterprise in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao.

The Villar SIPAG Awards for Poverty Reduction was launched in August 2013 in recognition of the exemplary achievements of community enterprises in helping local economic development and improvement of lives.


PCOO.GOV.PH

New US envoy sees expansion of US-PH ties



Newly designated United States (US) Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim said he expects an expansion of bilateral relations between the US and the Philippines as he assumes his post.

“Over the weeks, months and years ahead, I look forward to working closely with the Philippines’ government and Filipino people to expand our relationship and to engage in many areas of mutual interest,” Kim told reporters at a press briefing in Malacañan after presenting his credentials to President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday, December 6.

Describing his first encounter with President Duterte, Kim said he had a “lengthy and substantive” discussion with the Filipino leader.

“I am very pleased to have presented my credentials to President Duterte just now… And I am grateful for the time that President Duterte afforded me today,” he said.

READ MORE...

“It is an incredible honor for me to be in the Philippines to have this opportunity to contribute to one of America’s most enduring partnerships,” he added.

STRONG ECONOMIC TIES

In addition to the close friendship and strong alliance between the US and the Philippines, Kim said the two countries have strong economic ties that are long-standing and extensive and these open up a great potential in growing their two-way economic partnership.

“At the heart of that partnership is the deep bond between the peoples of our two countries. There is indeed tremendous ‘kalooban’, the extraordinary spirit, warmth and strength in our relationship,” he further said.

Kim said he is confident that mutual respect combined with close ties and shared history and values of the two countries will ensure stability in relationship over the long term.

He, meanwhile, expressed eagerness to get to know the Filipino people and to visit tourist destinations in the country such as Batanes and Tawi-Tawi.

Kim is familiar with Asia, having served as a career member of the senior Foreign Service, class of Minister-Counselor, a special representative for North Korea policy, and Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of East Asia and Pacific Affairs at the US Department of State.

He also served as US Ambassador to Korea, political officer at the US Embassy in Tokyo, Japan; political officer in Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, vice-consul of US Consulate in Hong Kong, among others.

The US envoy earned a doctorate in law from Loyola University Law School in Los Angeles and a Masters of Law from the London School of Economics.

Born in Korea in 1960, Kim moved to the US when he was 13 years old and became an American citizen in 1980.

Aside from Kim, other ambassadors who presented their credentials to the President were Dato Raszlan Abdul Rashid of Malaysia, Harald Fries of Sweden, Dr. Jozsef Bence of Hungary, John Holmes of Canada, Musaed Saleh Althwaikh of Kuwait, Gordon Kricke of Germany, Hamad Saeed Hamad Obaid Alzaabi of UAE and Johariah Wahab of Brunei.###PND

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RELATED FROM THE INQUIRER

New American ambassador says mutual respect needed to ensure stable US-PH ties By: Leila B. Salaverria - Reporter / @LeilasINQ Philippine Daily Inquirer / 02:39 AM December 07, 2016


GETTING TO KNOW YOU President Duterte meets new US Ambassador Sung Kim, who presents his credentials in Malacañang, as President-elect Donald Trump prepares to take over the White House.
—JOAN BONDOC

US Ambassador Sung Kim on Tuesday said mutual respect would help ensure that the decades-long relationship between the Philippines and the United States would remain stable.

Kim had an hourlong “substantive” discussion with President Duterte after presenting his credentials at Malacañang.

He said he looked forward to expanding the two countries’ relationship and engaging in “many areas of mutual interest.”

Warm welcome

Kim also thanked Mr. Duterte and the Filipino people for the warm welcome accorded him.

Describing US ties with the Philippines as “one of America’s most enduring partnerships,” Kim said he was honored to have the chance to contribute to this relationship.

“This important relationship is, of course, based on mutual respect. I am confident that our mutual respect, combined with the close ties and shared history and values, will ensure stability in our relationship over the long term and the years and decades to come,” he said in a press briefing.

Kim said there was a “deep bond” between the Philippines and the United States, as well as extensive economic ties that have potential for growth.

“There is indeed tremendous ‘kalooban,’ the extraordinary spirit, warmth and strength in our relationship,” he said.

Exploring archipelago

“In addition to our close friendship and, of course, our strong alliance, we have strong economic ties that are longstanding and extensive, and enthusiastic about the potential to grow our two-way economic partnership,” he added.

Kim also said he was looking forward to exploring the Philippines, “from the rolling hills of Batanes to the beaches of Tawi-Tawi and to experience [the] Philippines’ rich culture.”

Kim’s arrival in the Philippines comes as Mr. Duterte softens his rhetoric against the United States.

Mr. Duterte had lashed out at the United States and at President Barack Obama for expressing concern about drug-related killings in the Philippines and for US lawmakers’ threat to withdraw aid.

He had lamented that the United States was treating the Philippines like a dog on a leash that it was taunting with a treat.

But after Republican Donald Trump won the US presidential election last month, Mr. Duterte said he did not want to quarrel with the United States anymore.

Malacañang said there could be a reboot of the relationship between the two countries.


MANILA TIMES

‘PH to stand impact of US policies’ BY MAYVELIN U. CARABALLO, TMT ON DECEMBER 9, 2016 BUSINESS

But US economic policy expert urges govt to invest in human capital

The Philippine economy has strength to stand the negative impact of the tougher trade policy of new US President-elect Donald Trump, but must invest further in human capital and continue to improve its investment climate to attract more investors, a Columbia University economic policy expert said.

Arvid Lukauskas, executive director at the Picker Center for Executive Education and the Program in Economic Policy Management at the School of International and Public Affairs at the Columbia University, said Trump’s trade policy could provoke strong opposition from China, which could also stir tensions among the US’ other trade partners.

The Philippines, he said, should be able to deal with any fallout from that by using its strengths.

READ MORE...

“In his campaign he talked about putting a 45-percent tariff on China. Obviously, according to WTO [World
Trade Organization] rules, that cannot be done easily. We could see this sort of aggressive approach towards what he calls unfair trade deals,” Lukauskas told reporters in a press chat hosted by the Investor Relations Office held at the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) complex on Thursday.

“This will likely set a bit of a trade war because countries like China would not take this sitting down. This scenario is already a bit scary because this could impact international trade and could increase tensions across a wide range of different countries,” he warned.

In the case of the Philippines, Lukauskas said there are a couple of strengths that can serve as a buffer for its economy.

“The Philippines has experienced a period of relatively fast and sustained growth for a number of years. That is why it is seen as a good place to invest in right now. That will definitely help in this process,” he said.

Besides strong growth, the Philippines has good ties with the US, the Columbia University professor said.

“On a political level, I think that helps. The recent comments by your President maybe putting a little bit of tension on that relationship, so that’s a little bit of a concern. But ultimately, I think that relationship is strong enough to weather those comments,” he pointed out.

Improved governance

Lukauskas also mentioned that the Philippines is making progress in terms of governance.

“A lot of investors are focused on that. It’s not just the opportunities in terms of accessing markets, but are there investments going to be governed or regulated in a fair way? And I think there has been some progress here in that regard. Certainly, there could be more progress,” he said.

Nevertheless, the professor said the country still has a lot of work to do to be attractive when it comes to foreign direct investments (FDIs).

Ease of doing business

“Can you do more to make the Philippines a more attractive place? Yes I think. Definitely in the area of ‘ease of doing business,’” he said.

Lukauskas said the Philippines does not rate very well in many of the standard indices in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Report, with the country ranking 99th in the world.

“That is not terribly good and I think working on that would be a very positive thing because it would make the Philippines more attractive,” he said.

“I think if you have a better investment climate in terms of rules and regulation on how long it takes to open a business, I think that would be very positive,” he added.

Human capital

The professor also urged the country to invest further in human capital, which he said is a critical development to attract FDIs.

“Investors are looking for investment destinations where there are high skills, variety of different skills, and flexible labor markets. I think that is a great deal for the Philippines,” he concluded.

Filipino workers have long held an edge over their Asian neighbors in terms of their English-speaking skills, education level and cheap labor, but over recent years have faced stiffer competition from other contenders for foreign investment and employment.

According to the World Economic Forum’s 2015 Human Capital Report, out of 124 countries worldwide, the Philippines ranks 46th, with a score of 71.24 in terms of optimizing its human capital endowment–the skills and capacities that reside in people and that are put to productive use.

The Philippines ranks in the mid-range of the overall Index scores and failed to enter the 80 percent threshold in terms of ability to nurture talent through education, skills development and deployment at all stages of the human life cycle.

The report said the Philippines has best helped reach the maximum potential of its talent pool aged 15 to 24. It ranked 20th in human capital development for the 15 to 24 age group.

Partly due to low primary education enrollment rates, however, the Philippines ranked relatively low at 76th in developing the talent of those aged below 15 years old.

The country ranked 51st, 40th, and 33rd in helping reach the potential of its talent base aged 25 to 54, 55 to 64, as well as 65 and above, respectively.

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

RELATED FROM PHILSTAR

AIIB entry boosts Phl econ agenda By Pia Lee-Brago (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 11, 2016 - 12:00am 1 28 googleplus0 0

The Senate gave its concurrence to the ratification of the Articles of Agreement (AoA) of the AIIB, which allows the Philippines to become a full founding member of the bank, one of 57 other founding member countries. The AIIB is a multilateral development bank and currently has 57 member countries including all ASEAN states, China, Russia, Germany and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

MANILA, Philippines - The China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) will help in the fulfillment of President Duterte’s 10-point socio-economic agenda and enable the Philippines to improve infrastructure in the country for rapid and inclusive economic growth, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said.

The Senate gave its concurrence to the ratification of the Articles of Agreement (AoA) of the AIIB, which allows the Philippines to become a full founding member of the bank, one of 57 other founding member countries.

The AIIB is a multilateral development bank and currently has 57 member countries including all ASEAN states, China, Russia, Germany and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The China-led AIIB aims to foster economic development and regional connectivity in Asia by promoting infrastructure development in developing countries in the region.

AIIB’s mandate allows it to finance infrastructure projects of member countries in Asia in various areas such as urban development, energy and power, transport and telecommunications, and rural infrastructure and agriculture development.

The Philippines’ membership in the AIIB provides a platform and opportunity for the country to enhance regional cooperation, the DFA said.

“More significantly, AIIB will supplement the sources for infrastructure funding such as the Asian Development Bank (ADB), World Bank (WB), and other multilateral financial institutions to help in the fulfilment of the President’s 10-point socio-economic agenda, and enable the Philippines to improve infrastructure in the country for rapid and inclusive economic growth,” the DFA said.


PHILSTAR COMMENTARY

Why invite the perfect storm? AS EASY AS ABC By Atty. Alex B. Cabrera (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 11, 2016 - 12:00am 0 6 googleplus0 0


The Dec 1-7, 1989 RAM AFP-SF Attempted Coup. GOOGLED PHOTO BY LITO GOZUM

There is something calming about being able to engage in stressful work in Makati, and even reassuring to move in its heavy traffic at turtle speed. At least we are able to live normal lives.

I say this because in one December about this time (yes, going into Christmas), Makati was converted into the last stronghold by rebel soldiers, who occupied more than 20 buildings in the Makati Central Business District. Foreigners in hotels were trapped, properties destroyed, and soldiers and even some civilians were killed or injured.

From their vantage point among tall buildings, rebel snipers could see the movements of government forces on the streets below. Above them, though, flew government and US fighter planes that shot down heavy military artillery under rebel control. If Christmas was coming, it surely sounded then that New Year fireworks went off well ahead of schedule.

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“The enemy of my enemy is my friend” was truly in play that day. Soldiers from the Reform the Armed Forces Movement (RAM) teamed up with forces still loyal to the deposed dictator to stage the coup attempt, fueled by funds from the deep coffers of the dictator or his cronies.

The Makati siege that lasted from Dec. 2 to 7 in 1989 brought more miseries than just lost days of work. Tourism tremendously suffered then, while investment confidence after the dictator was booted out quickly converted to capital flight. It was estimated that that short event cost the Philippines valuable $1.5 billion during that time. Most of all, it hurt the Philippine brand. All the positive signs then were almost neutralized, and the country’s claim to fame of a bloodless revolution was one we could no longer really make.

During that military coup, people stayed home. Brave nuns tried to approach the tanks once more but they were shot at. But that was much less sinister than trying to remove from power by force the rightful winner of the snap presidential elections, to thwart the will of the Filipino people yet again. The coup was defeated, and the dictator remained booted out. Since then, the leader of the mutiny became a senator. Members of the dictator’s family were elected back into public office, as they continue to keep ill-gotten wealth, without remorse and punishment.

I have no words for how some people can turn a blind eye to the institutional grand larceny of people’s money, businesses, freedoms and lives during martial rule. The formula was: feed your loyal constituents well. As for the rest of the country, feed them with lies, or threaten them with incarceration and torture.

It was during the Martial Law years that the country’s fortune changed from being the frontrunner in Asia to being at the bottom of the pit. The nation’s unborn children then were already immersed in foreign debt, the country had to make do with an economy that had been going to the dogs, while those in power lived extravagantly, amassing so much fortune that Marcos earned recognition in the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s greatest thief.

MILLENNIALS ON TV

Strangely, some millennials on TV and social media give hair-raising, off comments such as: if you hate Marcos, do not use the roads he constructed, and the hospitals he built, or the Cultural Center of the Philippines. At the risk of dignifying those statements with a comment, I need to say that those roads in the north and trophy structures were all constructed and built with taxpayers’ money, and those projects were also partially how the powers that be made money!

It is the obligation of any president to spend on public works, or else we all should not pay tax at all. Presidents or mayors who had these constructed do not own them simply because they were funded by people’s hard-earned tax money.

Even our current president swears that Martial Law is stupid, and that it has brought nothing but hardship to the Filipinos, even as he allowed Marcos to be buried as a hero. Marcos then tried to label all those who protested against his martial rule as Reds. Now the protesters against the Marcos burial are being labelled as “Yellows.” That means their cries will be ignored. Since the Yellows lost in the elections, their protests will be treated as irrelevant.

The surreptitious burial to please one family was a slap on the entire nation, leaving a welt that speaks volumes of how much importance the President gives to people’s sentiments. It is not the last straw, but it is brewing a storm. If it is true that the burial is the first installment of a scheme to install the dictator’s son to the vice presidency, it will summon a tempest.

The people will not allow their will to be thwarted again. They will take sides against those who have corrupted our culture and unrepentantly ravaged the country’s fortune and future, and against those who will make that happen again.

The military will remember that it is sworn to defend the people. The government today will tough it out and is not expected to be as tolerant. Sadly, the country may now be incapable of bloodless revolutions such as the first EDSA, and military conflict can be worse than the mutiny that happened in the Makati commercial district during that one fateful December.

If that happens, what of the Philippine gains as the new tiger economy of Asia, the creeping but gaining inclusive growth, the trust of the international community, the credit ratings , and its ambition going into 2040?

Was the promised change a change for the worse? What harm will befall countless individuals brave enough to make a distinction between right and wrong?

All will be at risk. But why curse the country with wrong decisions? What is the wisdom behind inviting the perfect storm?

* * *


Alexander B. Cabrera is the chairman and senior partner of Isla Lipana & Co./PwC Philippines. 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.


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