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SPECIAL REPORT: SHOPPING MALLS BOOST PH ECONOMIC GROWTH[RELATED: Christmas at Iloilo Business Park]


DECEMBER 21 -CORPORATE GAMBIT Customers flock to SM Megamall, which is part of SM Group’s gambit of build-it-and-they-will-come. —PHOTOS BY JILSON SECKLER TIU
On a typical weekend, close to half a million people flock to SM City North Edsa, nearly double the entire population of some South Pacific territories, like Vanuatu or New Caledonia. Built on sprawling grassland in 1985, a year before the Edsa People Power Revolution that toppled dictator Ferdinand Marcos, SM City North Edsa was the country’s first massive shopping mall that opened its doors despite the tumultuous political situation then. This was also said to be where it all began—where the seeds of the malling culture was sowed among Filipinos on an idle piece of land in what was once a quiet part of Quezon City. It was in North Edsa where tycoon Henry Sy Sr., founder of the SM group, became a legend at spotting opportunities. The build-it-and-they-will-come gambit worked and over the following decades, SM group would replicate this strategy in other parts of the metropolis, in the provinces and even in China. READ MORE...RELATED, Christmas at Iloilo Business Park...

ALSO: Business titans vow to support development of Sulu
[RELATED Sulu: No longer solo]


DECEMBER 22 -President Duterte speaks before business leaders and other stakeholders in the Negosyo Para sa Kapayapaan sa Sulu initiative launched during a Christmas townhall meeting at Malacañang on Monday night.
Businesses have vowed to support efforts to promote development in Sulu, a known stronghold of the Abu Sayyaf bandit group and the site of several kidnapping and bombing incidents. Business leaders made the commitment during the Christmas town hall meeting Monday at Malacañang for the Negosyo para sa Kapayapaan sa Sulu (Business for Peace in Sulu), an initiative that aims to involve the private sector in supplementing government efforts to establish peace and development in the province. The group of businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan promised to provide assistance in telecommunications, hospitals and the coconut milling industry. “We plan to rehabilitate, upgrade and expand the current 16 Smart cell sites in Sulu so its people can enjoy the full suite of digital services we’re now rolling out nationwide,” Pangilinan said. READ MORE...RELATED, Sulu: No longer solo ...

ALSO: Duterte signs ‘pro-people’ P3.35-T 2017 budget; the “embodiment of Filipinos’ clamor for change.”
[REALTED By Marichu Villanueva: Twice ‘little’ president]

[RELATED(2): Lacson dares Duterte: Show political will, veto 'pork' in 2017 budget]


DECEMBER 22 -In this Dec. 22, 2016 photo, President Rodrigo Duterte signed into law the P3.35 trillion national budget for 2017. The STAR/Alexis Romero
President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday signed into law the P3.35 trillion national budget for 2017. Duterte signed the 2017 General Appropriations Act or Republic Act 10924 at the Rizal Hall in Malacañan Palace, the first under his administration. In his speech, Duterte said the 2017 national budget is the “embodiment of Filipinos’ clamor for change.” He said it will enhance basic social services. “As the first budget of my administration, we ensure that it will be pro-people, pro-investment, pro-growth and pro-development,” the president said. READ MORE...RELATED, By Marichu Villanueva: Twice ‘little’ president...RELATED(2) Lacson dares Duterte: Show political will, veto 'pork' in 2017 budget...

ALSO: Allocation of 2017 budget is pro-people — Legarda
[RELATED: Duterte won’t allow return of pork in the 2017 national budget – House speaker Alvarez]


DECEMBER 23 -Sen. Loren Legarda. File photo from Office of Sen. Loren Legarda
Senator Loren Legarda on Thursday said that she is proud of the work they have done for the budget for 2017, calling it pro-people as it addresses the “most basic needs of the people while improving the country’s economic growth.” President Duterte on the same day signed the first budget of the new administration, the 2017 General Appropriations Act (GAA) worth P3.350 trillion.
READ: Duterte signs P3.35-T nat’l budget for 2017 She mentioned all of the agencies where the budget will be allocated for as well as their projects and programs. Most funds will be used mainly for revamping programs, increase of help to the poor, site developments, construction and additional facilities. READ MORE...RELATED EARLIER REPORT, Duterte won’t allow return of pork in the 2017 national budget – Alvarez]

ALSO: Universal Entertainment Chair Okada foresees PH gaming industry surpassing Singapore’s
[RELATED: Why Japanese billionaire Okada invested in Philippines]
[RELATED(2) FLASHBACK REPORT -8th 2015 Annual Ranking: The Asian Gaming]


DECEMBER 22 -Kazuo Okada Kazuo Okada
Universal Entertainment Corp. Chairman Kazuo Okada said the Philippine gaming market could soon surpass Singapore’s, as improved ties with China promises more tourists and raise the prospects for his upcoming $2.4-billion casino. The Japanese gaming tycoon said in Manila on Wednesday that Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s move to thaw relations with China as well as his efforts to fight drugs and crime will increase the number of Chinese visitors. At the same time, he sounded a note of caution about jumping into the world’s newest casino market in Japan due to its aging population. “A lot of Chinese are coming into the Philippines, and that will improve more as improving bilateral relations between China and the Philippines increase tourism here,” said Okada in an interview ahead of a public preview of his resort, starting Dec. 21 and lasting till its official opening in the first quarter of 2017. READ MORE...RELATED, Why Japanese billionaire Okada invested in Philippines...RELATED(2), 8th 2015 Annual Ranking: The Asian Gaming...

ALSO: ANALYSIS - Manufacturing industry resurgence – from dream to reality


DECEMBER 22 -By Rey Gamboa
We’re hearing more loudly from the government those lofty words about building the country’s manufacturing capability. This may partly have resulted from what seems to be a seemingly successful attempt at revitalizing the automotive sector. To date, the two participants of the Comprehensive Automotive Resurgence Strategy (CARS) program – Toyota Motor Philippines, Inc. and Mitsubishi Motors Philippines, Inc. – are readying their manufacturing facilities to be able to deliver their pledged production over the next five years. The government, of course, has promised a fairly reasonable set of incentives should the subsidiaries of the two Japanese automobile company deliver on their promise and ensure the success of the program. We could be seeing more Philippine-made Toyotas and Mitsibushis on our crowded streets starting next year, but more importantly, this will strengthen the country’s local capability to manufacture automotive parts –initially to supply the requirements of the CARS program participants, and eventually, to export directly to other vehicle manufacturers in the world. READ MORE...


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Special report: Shopping malls boost PH economic growth


CORPORATE GAMBIT Customers flock to SM Megamall, which is part of SM Group’s gambit of build-it-and-they-will-come. —PHOTOS BY JILSON SECKLER TIU

MANILA, DECEMBER 26, 2016 (INQUIRER) By: Doris Dumlao-Abadilla - December 21, 2016 - On a typical weekend, close to half a million people flock to SM City North Edsa, nearly double the entire population of some South Pacific territories, like Vanuatu or New Caledonia.

Built on sprawling grassland in 1985, a year before the Edsa People Power Revolution that toppled dictator Ferdinand Marcos, SM City North Edsa was the country’s first massive shopping mall that opened its doors despite the tumultuous political situation then.

This was also said to be where it all began—where the seeds of the malling culture was sowed among Filipinos on an idle piece of land in what was once a quiet part of Quezon City.

It was in North Edsa where tycoon Henry Sy Sr., founder of the SM group, became a legend at spotting opportunities. The build-it-and-they-will-come gambit worked and over the following decades, SM group would replicate this strategy in other parts of the metropolis, in the provinces and even in China.

READ MORE...

Over the years, shopping malls got prettier and more diversified in their offerings as competition became tougher. Big property developers like Ayala Land Inc. and Robinsons Land Corp. also expanded their own shopping mall empires in Metro Manila and the provinces.

From big box-type malls, design has evolved to incorporate more sustainability features, greenery, open space and entertainment areas that cater to more discerning consumers. These new malls can compete with their peers in other parts of the world.

Revenue growth

In 2015, SM Prime rental revenue from commercial spaces grew by 12 percent to P40.7 billion, of which 87 percent, or around P35 billion, was contributed by SM malls. As of end-2015, SM Prime had 56 malls in the Philippines with 7.3 million square meters of gross floor area (GFA) and six shopping malls in China with 900,000 sq m of GFA. China contributed less than 5 percent of revenue. Around 51 percent of mall revenues were derived from Metro Manila.

For Ayala Land, revenue from shopping centers reached P13.37 billion in 2015, 18 percent higher year-on-year.

In its fiscal year ending September 2015, Gokongwei-led Robinsons Land Corp. (RLC) rental revenues from commercial centers grew by 13 percent to P9.12 billion, of which P1.87 billion came from affiliated companies, such as Robinsons Retail Holdings Inc. (RRHI). During this fiscal year, RLC operated 40 shopping malls.

The malls make their main impact on the economy in the construction phase. After that, it will be in support services, according to Jose Mari Lacson, ATR Asset Management head of research.

“It’s the retail sector that is a larger portion of the economy and it is the mall segment that enables retailers to achieve critical mass faster,” Lacson said.

Big employers

Malls are among the largest employers in the Philippines. The 44 malls that RLC operates employ 100,000 people, excluding outsourced workers.

About 100,000 also are employed in 45 Ayala malls, including those in “anchor” stores like Landmark and Rustan’s.

Kevin Tan, senior vice president and head of Megaworld Lifestyle Malls, said his company’s malls and commercial centers were employing about 100,000, excluding the workers hired during construction.

SM Prime, the country’s largest mall operator, said its 60 malls around the country employed around 370,000 people this year.

Aside from rental revenue from affiliated malls, revenue generated by three leading mall-based retail groups—SM Retail, RRHI and the Tantoco family’s SSI Group—accounted for roughly 2.4 percent ofthe country’s gross domestic product in 2015, according to Lacson.

To ensure that SM shopping malls continue contributing to the economy, SM Prime chief finance officer John Ong said the group expanded mall features over the years.

The group has incorporated business process outsourcing (BPO) and office towers in estates anchored by shopping malls alongside sky gardens, sky parks and performing arts theaters in some of its regional malls.

Mall of Asia will have a Galleon Museum and its top level will feature a football field. Seaside Cebu and Cabanatuan have playgrounds.

Townships

Megaworld integrates residential and commercial establishments into “townships,” which are “economic clusters” that generate direct employment in businesses such as BPOs, retail outlets, hotels, construction and security, as well as indirect employment like jobs in transportation and food processing.

Tan said Megaworld malls and townships were designed to be tourist destinations. “Tourism is the fastest way to create many jobs, which is ultimately good for the Philippines,” he said.

Arlene Magtibay, RLC general manager for commercial centers division, said each of their shopping malls contributed “very significantly” to the local economy, generating thousands of jobs and high revenues for the host city.

In addition, Magtibay said the communities benefited from RLC malls’ sustainable operations that lessened competition with the localities for vital resources through the use of solar power, recycled wastewater and rainwater.

Myrna Cruz-Fernandez, Ayala Land vice president and head of Ayala Malls, said innovations were geared toward constantly enhancing the mix of stores, events and promotions, and customer service.

Mindful of the social and environmental impact of malls, open spaces, parks and greenery, which help lower energy requirements, have become key features of Ayala Malls. Their landscape also uses native trees and plants, Fernandez said.

P2P bus services

Ayala Malls also promote walkability and transit-connectivity to enhance transportation terminals and make them more comfortable, according to Fernandez.

Ayala Malls have invested or teamed up with bus operators to offer point-to-point (P2P) bus services to and from Glorietta, Trinoma, Alabang Town Center and Ayala Malls South Park.

RLC’s P2P with HM Transport Inc. takes passengers from Fairview to Makati and vice versa. SM Prime has invested in its own bus transport system in Cebu to bring people to SM Seaside City.

SM Prime and ALI derive the bulk of their revenues from Metro Manila but contributions from provincial areas are getting bigger.

Far from saturation point

The market will grow even more as infrastructure and transportation projects are completed, said ALI’s Fernandez.

“Given a young and growing Philippine population, and many new store concepts coming in, we think the market is not yet at its saturation point, even in Metro Manila,” she said.

Considering the mall per capita as well as shopping mall per square kilometer in the metropolis, SM Prime’s Ong agreed that Metro Manila was still “considerably far” from the saturation point.

Ong said that since many malls were not easily accessible to customers and considering heavy traffic, more retail hubs could be built closer to communities.

Young tycoon Edgar Sia II saw that opportunity to build more shopping malls in provincial areas, particularly in the Visayas and Mindanao.

Sia built his fortune on the popular Mang Inasal. He sold his stake to rival Jollibee Foods Corp., made friends with its founder, Tony Tan Caktiong, and they teamed up on a property development venture.

Their DoubleDragon Properties Corp.—so-called because they both were born in the Year of the Dragon—will complete building a chain of 100 community shopping malls across the country by 2020.

Seeing this potential, the country’s largest conglomerate—SM Investments Corp.—acquired a 34-percent stake in DoubleDragon’s subsidiary, CityMall Commercial Centers Inc. (CMCCI), which is building the community malls.

Cinemas in provinces

CMCCI recently teamed up with broadcast giant ABS-CBN to roll out cinemas in the provinces. ABS-CBN will manage the booking and the food and beverage operations of the theaters while CityMall will build the cinema infrastructure.

Ten cinemas, each seating 100 to 120 people, are scheduled to open in CityMalls in Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao in the second quarter of 2017.

Property magnate Manuel Villar Jr., founder of Vista Land & Lifescapes (VLL), is a relatively late entrant in the shopping mall business but with the group’s vast properties, he expects to scale up rapidly.

“With the worsening traffic [congestion] these days, you don’t want to drive for three hours just to watch a movie

But the problem with the neighborhood malls is that they are too small. So, if you can come up with smaller but nice malls, people will come,” Villar said.

Vista Land plans to invest around P18 billion to build 10 new shopping malls in the next two years—a massive expansion program that could catapult it to the ranks of the country’s leading mall developers. At present, VLL has 17 malls with a combined GFA of 910,000 sq m.

Challenges

Fernandez said internet and smartphone penetration were also driving interest in e-commerce, while RLC’s Magtibay noted the increasing interface between online and traditional shopping.

Online shopping is seen as competing with the physical malls for the youth market—the millennials who are naturally wired to the digital space. All shopping mall developers recognize this and are preparing for it.

“Online shopping is on the rise. With its increasing popularity, our malls need to constantly evolve to offer experiences that cannot be had online,” Magtibay said.

Megaworld’s Tan acknowledged that the “shift to everything digital and on demand” was bringing both challenges and opportunities.

“From creative visual merchandising to creating new and unique customer service strategies, engaging your customers in a world full of digital distraction is very important,” he said. TVJ

RELATED STORIES

Giant malls replacing old plazas

Shop, eat and pray at malls in PH

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

RELATED FROM PHILSTAR

Christmas at Iloilo Business Park (philstar.com) | Updated December 23, 2016 - 4:40pm googleplus


Iloilo Business Park recently unveiled the first Paris-inspired Christmas village in the region, open to the public for free for the whole holiday season.

Ilonggos have so much to enjoy during the Christmas season with activities lined up at Iloilo Business Park, the biggest lifestyle hub in Iloilo developed by Megaworld. The township has got it all wrapped up for anyone to have the best Christmas season yet.

First ever Paris-inspired Christmas Village

Iloilo Business Park once again brings the magic of merry-making this holiday season with the first ever Paris-themed Christmas Village in Iloilo.

Recently, the village was launched to the public with more exciting surprises such as the first Christmas-lighted Santa Claus dancers, live music performances, choir and carolling presentations, the unveiling of the Produkto Lokal food festival and a grand fireworks display.

“The Paris-themed Christmas Village is a magical and exciting place to visit during the Yuletide season in Iloilo," said Jennifer Ann Palmares-Fong, vice president for sales and marketing for Iloilo Business Park.

“This month-long activity is also Megaworld’s way of thanking the Ilonggos for their relentless support in establishing Iloilo Business Park as the grandest business and tourism hub in Western Visayas,” she added.

Most festive place for Christmas


A room at Richmonde Hotel Iloilo

Aside from the Christmas Village, you can still do so much more at Iloilo Business Park during the holidays, making it the most festive place you can visit this season. For one, you can experience luxurious relaxation when you book a room at Richmonde Hotel Iloilo from Dec. 16, 2016 to Jan. 16, 2017.

Room rates with breakfast buffet, Wi-Fi access, use of the hotel’s gym and pool start at P3,800. Come Christmas and New Year’s Eve weekend, Holiday Room Packages are available with an added sumptuous dinner buffet for two for as low as P5,800.

You can also spend your Christmas get-togethers in one of Iloilo Business Park’s various dining concepts.

Whether you feel like listening to some live acoustic performances at Cable Car, satisfying your cravings for brunch favorites at Dova or tasting some hearty and organic dishes at Farm to Table, you are always welcome to enjoy the holiday season at Iloilo Business Park.

The perfect gift

With the Christmas season already here, are you still thinking about the perfect gift to give your loved one? Since this is the best time of the year to show your appreciation, why not give them a gift that lasts a lifetime—a unit at Saint Honore, Iloilo Business Park’s newest residential tower with French-inspired architecture.

With unique amenities and set in a vibrant township setting, Saint Honore is a gift that will not just ensure your money’s worth but also expresses your gratitude and love, especially during the most wonderful time of the year.

To know more about Iloilo Business Park and its lineup of events for the Christmas season, call (033) 330-3464 or visit http://www.facebook.com/IBPofficial and http://www.iloilobusinesspark.ph .


PHILSTAR

Business titans vow to support development of Sulu By Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 21, 2016 - 12:00am 2 50 googleplus0 0


President Duterte speaks before business leaders and other stakeholders in the Negosyo Para sa Kapayapaan sa Sulu initiative launched during a Christmas townhall meeting at Malacañang on Monday night.

MANILA, Philippines – Businesses have vowed to support efforts to promote development in Sulu, a known stronghold of the Abu Sayyaf bandit group and the site of several kidnapping and bombing incidents.

Business leaders made the commitment during the Christmas town hall meeting Monday at Malacañang for the Negosyo para sa Kapayapaan sa Sulu (Business for Peace in Sulu), an initiative that aims to involve the private sector in supplementing government efforts to establish peace and development in the province.

MV PANGILINAN GROUP

The group of businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan promised to provide assistance in telecommunications, hospitals and the coconut milling industry.

“We plan to rehabilitate, upgrade and expand the current 16 Smart cell sites in Sulu so its people can enjoy the full suite of digital services we’re now rolling out nationwide,” Pangilinan said.

READ MORE...

The Pangilinan group also pledged to build at least 40 houses in the next two years and more houses thereafter.

“Maynilad and Meralco will be there to provide the needed water and power services the communities require,” Pangilinan said.

He added that his group might also invest in a coconut mill facility to help boost agriculture in the province.

“We were told that Sulu can actually supply enough coconuts to build an integrated coconut processing mill with the capacity of 150 to 200 tons per day, so this will need investment of anywhere between P600- to P800 million. We’d like to consider that,” Pangilinan said.

The businessman also vowed to support training for hospital personnel in Sulu and to provide them with the equipment they need.

“The biggest challenge we see in the hospital sector is the lack of equipment and lack of personnel. Nurses, technicians and doctors do not want to practice in Sulu for a number of reasons. Our hospitals would like to suggest and help out by supplying relevant equipment, training med personnel in our own hospitals,” Pangilinan said.

This is aside from providing scholarships and medical degrees to people in Sulu to address the personnel gap.

“Our Zamboanga hospital can serve any of the medical needs of the four hospitals in Sulu, including the ability to transport patients from Sulu to Zamboanga for complex medical procedures,” Pangilinan said.

SAN MIGUEL CORPORATION, RAMON ANG

The diversified conglomerate San Miguel Corp. of Ramon Ang is also ready to support the development efforts by establishing a 50-megawatt coal-fired power plant.

Ang promised to build a 15 megawatt coal-fired power plant, rebuild an arts and trade school and invest in a feed mill supply chain.

Ginggay Hontiveros, Go Negosyo Sulu project coordinator, said tycoon Lucio Tan is considering resuming flights to the province. Tan is the majority shareholder of the country’s flag carrier Philippine Airlines.

Industry groups also promised to provide trainings and livelihood for Sulu residents.

Players in the seaweed industry are willing to put up drying facilities and warehouses where seaweed can be stored until they are transported to Zamboanga.

Poultry industry players, for their part, promised to support a poultry growing operation that can benefit 50 to 100 families in the province.

Gawad Kalinga officials vowed to continue building houses in Sulu, believing that “the more they sweat in peace, the less they bleed in war.”

AGRICULTURE GROUP

Toto Barcelona, president of Harbest Agribusiness Corp., said the Philippine Seed Industry Association is ready to conduct trainings and share its technology with Sulu-based farmers.

Leading broiler integrator Bounty Fresh Food Inc. will equip and invest in 50 to 100 poultry contract growers. The province of Sulu cannot produce enough chicken for its people’s consumption and broiler chicken supply comes from as far as Davao City, General Santos City and Cagayan de Oro.

The Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry will likewise provide 15 school buildings in the area.

Other private sector commitments include trainings from the Kapatid Agri Group, library and literacy programs in Gawad Kalinga Kapatid Villages and school supplies for at least 100,000 school children from National Bookstore.

SECURITY ISSUES IN MINDANAO

President Duterte said the government is determined to address the security issues in Mindanao to make it conducive for investments. He said his administration is continuously talking to armed rebels while running after terrorist groups to promote peace in the island.

“This is what I want to tell the nation: You have to heed us people, guys from Mindanao because we are telling you the truth, you have to really transform this country,” Duterte said.

Trade secretary Ramon Lopez said the president has allotted P1 billion to promote entrepreneurship in the country.

“The vision and promise of the President is P1 billion per region. So to start off that program, he is allocating P1 billion to our project to really help the startups,” Lopez said.

“We are happy to say that for the Sulu project, we are happy to allocate P50 million for the Sulu farmers and all our projects will be for Sulu to jumpstart the economy in Sulu. That is our little contribution for a start. If we do well, we can do another P50 million for the area,” he added.

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said at least 20 private firms have committed investments to the Save Sulu Project that aims to bring peace and socio-economic development to the province.

He added that the P3-billion is just an initial pledge and additional investments would depend on the reaction of the people of Sulu to the interventions.

“This is the first time that the private sector intervened with the peace efforts of the government. The President commands the respect of the business companies,” Piñol said. – With Louise Maureen Simeon

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

RELATED FROM PHILSTAR

Sulu: No longer solo PEOPLE By Joanne Rae M. Ramirez (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 22, 2016 - 12:00am googleplus


President Rodrigo Duterte leads the Christmas town hall gathering of the ‘Negosyo Para sa Kapayapaan sa Sulu’ project at the Rizal Hall in Malacañang. With him on stage are (from left) Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Secretary Jess Dureza, Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol, Presidential Adviser Joey Concepcion, Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez and Emissary of the Royal Sultanate of Sulu Datu Shahbandar Sakur Mahail Tan.

Government and the private sector “volted in” Monday night to lift Sulu from its rung as the second poorest province in the Philippines.

In a town hall meeting held at Malacañang organized by Presidential Adviser Joey Concepcion, tycoons and taipans pledged before President Duterte to lend their hand in this big pull.

Manny Pangilinan of the MVP Group of Companies (which includes PLDT, SMART, Meralco, Philex, The Philippine STAR, among others) pledged rehabilitation of SMART network facilities in Sulu; CSR hospital project of Metro Pacific Zamboanga Hospital Corp. and PLDT Enterprise; the rehabilitation of a coconut processing plant in the province; 40 houses for Gawad Kalinga Kapatid Villages and the provision of water for GK Villages through Maynilad.

According to private sector coordinator Ginggay Hontiveros, San Miguel Corp.’s Ramon Ang, for his part, promised a 50MW power plant; the rehabilitation of Hadji Butu School of Arts and Trade and a feed mill supply facility.


With President Duterte, Joe Concepcion and Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo are (from left) Secretary Manny Piñol, Secretary Jess Dureza, Marivic Concepcion, Joey and Marissa Concepcion with daughters Isabella, Catherine, Monica and Magsy, Christian and Olivia Concepcion and Datu Shahbandar Sakur Mahail Tan.

The Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce & Industry Inc. led by Angel Ngu, Henry Lim and Michael Tan pledged 16-classroom buildings for Sulu for a total of 30 classrooms.

Bohol Rep. Art Yap, who has roots in Sulu, promised a one-classroom building.

The Lucio Tan Group, through Michael Tan, said it would seriously study the resumption of commercial flights to Jolo via Zamboanga. Right now, it could only be reached by boat or hydrofoil. The group would also support construction of more Gawad Kalinga houses in the province.


(From left) The author, Alexandra Moran, Rustan Commercial Corp. president Donnie Tantoco, Karin Igual, Martha Uy and Alou Koa.

“This is all about inclusive growth,” declared Joey, founder of Go Negosyo. According to him, only 0.4 percent of all businesses in the country are big businesses, the rest are micro-enterprises. All in all, through the “arm twisting” of Joey Concepcion, the efforts of the private sector led Go Negosyo and the expertise of Gawad Kalinga’s Tony Meloto, the town hall meeting was able to get concrete pledges of 109 houses.

Even President Duterte pledged P1 billion from the Office of the President to be lent to micro-enterprises through the Department of Trade and Industry. DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez said an initial P50 million will be funneled to Sulu.

And those were writ in stone.

***

Malacañang under the Duterte administration is definitely no-frills. The halls and the gardens were festive, but the Christmas décor was minimal. The Christmas tree in the Rizal Hall, the main and biggest ballroom of Malacañang, was a real tree with fresh plants and succulents as décor. Even the wreaths were made of real fir tree vines. Pots of poinsettias dotted the hall.


Datu Shahbandar Sakur Mahail Tan.

I have visited the palace under five Presidents, and to my mind, Malacañang nowadays seems less exclusive, less hallowed, more accessible. A reflection of its down-to-earth main occupant who makes no bones about his simple tastes. (This is not to say I didn’t admire the elegance that gilded its social gatherings in the past.)


MVP Group’s Manny Pangilinan. Malacañang Photo

As we waited for the program to start, chips and chicharon were passed around to guests who cooled their heels at the Premier Guesthouse across the main Palace. As another big event preceded the town hall meeting, the meeting was two hours delayed. But the patience of the 400 guests who attended the gathering was rewarded by a photo opportunity with an accommodating President Duterte. He was actually in a good mood — notwithstanding the fact that he was his usual self during his speech. He was profound one moment, his words so heartrending they could have sent a tear down your cheek, then kidding about how his salary of P130,000 was not enough for his obligations. (“Kulang talaga, plus I have two families. I got an annulment for the first. Pero, talagang kulang.”) Then he would turn ballistic whenever he would bring up criticism about his anti-drugs campaign — not mincing words or expletives in front of the diplomatic corps. But that’s Mayor Digong for you, he obtained such an overwhelming mandate from the electorate. And as he said at Monday’s speech, he also wonders why so many people voted for him — “There is something there,” he told himself!


Ginggay Hontiveros.

Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol recalled how he got a call last September from the President himself “to save Sulu.” This, after the President had a lengthy dinner at his official residence (“Bahay Pagbabago”) for former Sulu Gov. Datu Shahbandar Sakur Mahail Tan — the first time he has ever hosted an official dinner in his residence. Piñol then got in touch with Joey and the rest, I’m sure, will not just be history — but will go down in history.

As the President said in his extemporaneous speech during the town hall meeting, “I never expected to be President, it was a challenge, really. But I was looking at the alternatives. Nobody else was talking about the problems (in Mindanao). The serious problem actually is Mindanao. If we don’t handle it carefully, this country will be dismembered.”

In saving Sulu, which has the woeful tag of “kidnap capital of the Philippines,” we will be saving ourselves.


PHILSTAR

Duterte signs ‘pro-people’ P3.35-T 2017 budget By Rosette Adel (philstar.com) | Updated December 22, 2016 - 2:55pm 6 201 googleplus0 0


In this Dec. 22, 2016 photo, President Rodrigo Duterte signed into law the P3.35 trillion national budget for 2017. The STAR/Alexis Romero

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday signed into law the P3.35 trillion national budget for 2017.

Duterte signed the 2017 General Appropriations Act or Republic Act 10924 at the Rizal Hall in Malacañan Palace, the first under his administration.

In his speech, Duterte said the 2017 national budget is the “embodiment of Filipinos’ clamor for change.” He said it will enhance basic social services.

“As the first budget of my administration, we ensure that it will be pro-people, pro-investment, pro-growth and pro-development,” the president said.

READ MORE...

Duterte who previously said the 2017 budget will prioritize education agriculture and health fulfilled his vow.

He noted that since the budget is higher, the government increased its allocation on infrastructure, free education for state universities and colleges, universal health care, rice allowance for the poor, free irrigation, budget for prisoners, and pension for war veterans, among others.

Education will get the biggest share with around P544.1 billion while the Department of Public Works and Highways will get P454.7 billion.

The bicameral conference composed of members of both the House of Representatives and Senate approved the proposed P3.35 trillion national budget for 2017 last Tuesday. It was ratified the next day.

Former President Benigno Aquino III also signed his final budget last year also on the same date, December 22.

RELATED: PNoy signs national budget on time for sixth year |

Bicam approves proposed P3.35-T budget for 2017

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RELATED FROM PHILSTAR (EDITORIAL COMMENTARY)

Twice ‘little’ president COMMONSENSE By Marichu A. Villanueva (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 21, 2016 - 12:00am 2 123 googleplus0 0


By Marichu A. Villanueva

Before the Senators and Congressmen adjourned last week for their one-month Christmas break, both chambers of the 17th Congress ratified the proposed 2017 General Appropriations Act (GAA) bill.

The voluminous copy of the Congress-approved budget bill is now submitted to Malacanang Palace for vetting and scrutiny. The combined team of legal and economic managers of President Rodrigo Duterte are now pouring over the enrolled bill with the proverbial fine-toothed comb.

As of press time yesterday, the Development Budget Coordinating Council (DBCC), co-chaired by Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Benjamin Diokno were still going over the enrolled 2017 budget bill.

In his past public speeches, President Duterte has repeatedly stressed his new administration is hard-pressed for the funding of his priority projects because he merely inherited half-year of whatever remains from the 2016 budget of his immediate predecessor, former president Benigno “Noy” Aquino III.

The 2017 budget was also prepared by the previous Aquino administration. So likewise it does not reflect the priorities of the next administration.

Obviously, the DBCC would make sure the 2017 budget that President Duterte would soon sign into law should be re-aligned with the priorities of the new administration.

Like any other presidents, the former Davao City Mayor may opt to exercise the line item veto power.

DBM Secretary Diokno, however, told me over the weekend he does not see presidential veto on any major provisions of the 2017 GAA bill.

In fact, Diokno is confident President Duterte will be able to sign into law the proposed P3.35 trillion budget for 2017 before the end of this year.

Diokno refused though to comment on the claims of Sen. Panfilo Lacson there were alleged “pork” insertions made by Congressmen. If these “pork” provisions are not vetoed by the President, Lacson plans to question them before the Supreme Court (SC).

ALLEGED PORK NOT OF SAME KIND IN AQUINO PDAF

As far as the DBM is concerned, Diokno noted, the alleged “pork” insertions in the 2017 GAA bill were not of the same kind found in the PDAF, or Priority Development Assistance Fund, contained in the Aquino budget, but which the SC before had ruled illegal and unconstitutional.

The PDAF was the official name of the congressional pork barrel.

It used to allocate in the annual budget law as much as P200 million for each of the 24 senators and P70 million for each of the more than 290 House members.

HOUSE COMMITTEE: NO PORK

But Davao City Congressman Karlo Nograles, chairman of the House of Representatives committee on appropriations, vehemently denied yesterday Lacson’s claims. “There is no congressional pork barrel, in the sense the term has been defined by the SC,” Nograles swore.

Before the 2017 budget was finally ratified by both chambers last week, the bicameral (bicam) conference committee realigned to the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) P8.3 billion in infrastructure funds that President Duterte had proposed for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

ARMM BUDGET

The funds were originally part of the proposed P40-billion ARMM funding. But the Lower House transferred the allocation to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) upon request of congressmen from the Muslim region.

Lacson, who chaired a Senate finance subcommittee in charge of the ARMM outlay, however, discovered the re-alignment. As a compromise, the bicam added the P8.3 billion to CHED’s scholarship funds. This became the source of the funding for scholarships starting school year 2017 for deserving students who enroll at state universities and colleges (SUCs) as administered by the CHED.

But Sen. Lacson was unappeased. He swore there are other allocations which he described as “pork-like” appropriations ingeniously inserted into the 2017 GAA bill.

Like the late Sen. Joker Arroyo, Lacson had not touched his P200-million annual PDAF allocation.

DBM CHIEF SHRUGGED OFF LACSON'S 'PORK ALLEGATION'

The DBM chief merely shrugged off Lacson’s claims of other “pork-like” insertions. Taking the matter before the SC is an avenue that the Senator may take though, the DBM Secretary pointed out.

Diokno should know what he is talking about. He was one of the petitioners who questioned the PDAF insertions in the Aquino budget before the High Court.

DIOKNO LAUGHED OFF TITLE 'LITTLE PRESIDENT'

After all, Diokno served the longest at the DBM, starting as undersecretary during the administration of P-Noy’s late mother, former president Corazon Aquino. He became “acting” DBM Secretary on an off-and-on basis from that time on until he was appointed as full-time DBM Secretary during the shortened stint of former president Joseph Estrada.

Diokno is being ribbed as the real “little president” and not Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea. Diokno has twice served already as the chairman of the “caretaker committee” at Malacanang Palace when Medialdea joined President Duterte in his state visits abroad.

The first time was when Medialdea joined the President in his state visit to Japan from Oct. 25 to 27. The second time was when Medialdea joined again the presidential delegation during the state visits to Cambodia and Singapore last Dec. 14 to 17.

The “caretaker committee” twice headed by Diokno as “acting” executive secretary was composed of undersecretaries Jesus Melchor Quitain and Menardo Guevarra of the Office of the President as his members.

The “caretaker” committee was created through Special Order No. 185 when President Duterte first embarked on his official trips abroad. “The committee shall take care of the day-to-day operations in the Office of the President and oversee the general administration of the Executive Department,” the order read. “It (caretaker) shall, if necessary, act for and on behalf of the President except in matters on which the President is required by the Constitution to act in person,” it added.

According to the same order, all acts of the committee for and on behalf of the President shall be deemed acts of the Chief Executive unless subsequently disapproved or reprobated by him. To date, however, nothing of that sort happened during the short-term watch of Diokno as “caretaker.”

Meanwhile, Diokno himself is bound for an official trip abroad. Diokno is off to embark on his own official trip abroad later this month. He will fly to Beijing to officially submit two infrastructure projects for the Philippines that would apply to the newly created Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

Twice “little” president, the low-key DBM Secretary just laughed off the title.

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EARLIER RELATED REPORT FROM RAPPLER.COM

Lacson dares Duterte: Show political will, veto 'pork' in 2017 budget Camille Elemia @CamilleElemia Published 1:48 PM, December 15, 2016 Updated 5:17 PM, December 15, 2016

Senator Panfilo Lacson is also thinking of questioning the 'pork barrel-filled' 2017 national budget before the Supreme Court


CASE VS PORK. Senator Panfilo Lacson eyes filing a case before the Supreme Court to question the 2017 budget, allegedly filled with 'pork barrel.'Photo by LeAnne Jazul/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Panfilo Lacson has challenged President Rodrigo Duterte to show his political will to end corruption in government by vetoing all 'pork barrel" items in the 2017 national budget.

Lacson said in a news conference on Thursday, December 15, that the President's action on the 2017 budget would be a "test" of his campaign promise to stamp out corruption.

“I want to see this as a test to the political will of the President. This is the best test as far as I'm concerned na ayaw niya talaga ng (that he really doesn't want) corruption,” he said.

“Gusto ko makita o itest kung papayagan nya umiral ulit ang pork barrel and magsuffer government projects kung hindi nya ivi-veto ang dapat nya i-veto (I want to see or test if he would allow the proliferation of pork barrel and let goverment projects suffer if he would not veto what he should veto),” he added.

Lacson, vice chairman of the Senate finance committee, was one of two senators who opposed the ratification of the bicameral conference committee report on the proposed P3.35- trillion 2017 budget on Wednesday, December 14, citing the alleged continued existence of pork barrel funds years after the Supreme Court ruled that the funds are unconstitutional.

Case before Supreme Court

The senator also said he was thinking of fling a case before the Supreme Court to question alleged pork barrel-filled 2017 budget.

Before he decides on whether to push through with the case, the senator said he would have to wait for the final version of the 2017 GAA. The budget bill is subject to presidential veto.

“I’m considering, pero depende 'di pa naman napapasa [ang 2017 General Appropriations Act] (but it depends since the 2017 General Appropriations Act is still not approved),” Lacson said.

In his opposition speech on the budget, Lacson stood firm that billions of questionable lumpsum funds still exist years after the High Court ruled that "pork barrel" is unconstitutional.

He earlier moved to remove the “pork-like” P8.3 billion inserted in the public works budget meant for projects in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao at the bicameral conference committee, saying it violates Republic Act 9054 or the Organic Act for the ARMM.

(READ: Lacson to House: Don't blame Villar for 'pork' cut from DPWH budget)

Lacson claimed the billions of pork barrel are “parked” in the Department of Public Works and Highways, Department of Education, Department of Health, and Department of Justice, among other offices.

Smell of pork

During the Senate budget hearings, Lacson questioned P9 billion in lump sum funds inserted in the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) central office.

(READ: Pork barrel? DPWH grilled over P9B lump sum funds)

The amount – which he said "smelled" of pork barrel – is meant for unexplained and repeated “feasibility studies” and “legislative districts.”

“Madaling makita, maamoy, at mabasa kung nasaan 'yung mga pork – feasibility studies, engineering design, P5.9 billion… and then below it P500 million for feasibility in the central office. Ano ang ibig sabihin noon? Bakit di pa ginawang P6.4 billion total? Bakit nakahiwalay?”

(It's so easy to see, smell, and read pork barrel – feasibility studies, engineering design, P5.9 billion…and then below it P500 million for feasibility in the central office. What does that mean? Why don't you just put them into one, P6.4 billion total? Why do you have to separate it?)

“May 'legislative district' so and so. Meron bang legislative district ang DPWH? Only one reason kung ano legislative district: baka kasi magkawalaan [ng pork barrel] (There's also 'legislative district' so and so. Does the DPWH have legislative district? There's only one reason for that: They're afraid to lose their pork barrel)," he said.

Lacson said the Department of Budget and Management earlier allowed the existence of pork barrel when it allowed lawmakers to specify their pet projects, which the DBM eventually denied.

The House of Representatives also denied there is pork barrel in the budget, arguing what is prohibited is the identification of projects after the enactment of the 2017 General Appropriations Act. – Rappler.com


INQUIRER

Allocation of 2017 budget is pro-people — Legarda By: Ed Margareth Barahan - @inquirerdotnet INQUIRER.net / 09:27 PM December 22, 2016


Sen. Loren Legarda. File photo from Office of Sen. Loren Legarda

Senator Loren Legarda on Thursday said that she is proud of the work they have done for the budget for 2017, calling it pro-people as it addresses the “most basic needs of the people while improving the country’s economic growth.”

President Duterte on the same day signed the first budget of the new administration, the 2017 General Appropriations Act (GAA) worth P3.350 trillion.

READ: Duterte signs P3.35-T nat’l budget for 2017

She mentioned all of the agencies where the budget will be allocated for as well as their projects and programs. Most funds will be used mainly for revamping programs, increase of help to the poor, site developments, construction and additional facilities.

READ MORE...

“Through this budget, we aim to fuel hope and inspire our people to believe in our collective future again. We have provided funds to ensure universal healthcare coverage, free irrigation for farmers, free tuition in state universities and colleges (SUCs), additional allowance for teachers, police and military, rice allowance for conditional cash transfer beneficiaries, creation of drug rehabilitation centers, increase in prisoners’ subsistence allowance, pension for Post World War II veterans and centenarians, among many others,” said Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Finance in a statement.

“A leap in infrastructure spending is also one of the priorities of the 2017 budget given its indispensable role in poverty reduction, raising productivity, and in spreading the benefits of economic growth,” she added.

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RELATED EARLIER REPORT FROM THE MANILA BULLETIN

Duterte won’t allow return of pork in the 2017 national budget – Alvarez by Charissa Luci July 5, 2016 (updated) Share0 Tweet0 Share0 Email0 Share0 image: http://2016.mb.com.ph/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/050716_duterte-airforce-anniv_09_vinas-226x300.jpg


President Rodrigo R. Duterte wearing a jeans with barong troops the line during his attendance to the 69th Philippine Air Force anniversary held at the Haribon Hangar, Air Force City, Clark Air Base in Pampanga on July 5, 2016. (MB Photo by Richard V. Viñas) President Rodrigo R. Duterte wearing a jeans with barong troops the line during his attendance to the 69th Philippine Air Force anniversary held at the Haribon Hangar, Air Force City, Clark Air Base in Pampanga on July 5, 2016. (MB Photo by Richard V. Viñas)terr

President Rodrigo Duterte and the incoming House leadership will not allow the return of the lumpsum pork barrel funds in the 2017 national budget.

This was assured by incoming House Speaker and Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez following the reported revival of the lawmakers’ P80-million project entitlement fund, used to be known as the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) under the Duterte administration.

“President Duterte won’t allow it, it has been declared illegal by the Supreme Court,” he said in a text message after the House Committee on Appropriations received proposals for P80-million worth of “soft” and “hard” projects from the neophyte lawmakers.

“That is purely guni-guni (imagination),” he said.

In a radio interview, Alvarez expressed confidence that the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), headed by Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno will stick to the Supreme Court ruling, declaring as illegal the pork barrel funds in November, 2013.

“Kalokohan, malaking kalokohan. Pano naman babalik ang pork barrel eh sinabi na ng Korte Suprema na iligal yan. So hindi yan papayagan ni Sec. Diokno lalo’t napakahigpit ni Sec. (That’s foolishness. How can the pork barrel return, the Supreme Court already declared it as illegal. So it will not be allowed by Secretary Diokno, especially that he is very lenient),” he said over DzRH.

He said the Duterte administration will only court cases if it will breathe life into the PDAF.

“Kung papayagan yan panibagong kaso na naman yan. Hindi natin gagawin yan, wala na yang PDAF-PDAF na yan, guni-guni, masyadong imaginative (If it will be allowed, new cases will be filed. We won’t do that, there is no PDAF, that’s pure imagination, very imaginative),” Alvarez said.


MANILA BULLETIN

Okada foresees PH gaming industry surpassing Singapore’s 0 SHARES Share it! Published December 22, 2016, 10:01 PM By Ian Sayson and Siegfrid Alegado (Bloomberg)


Kazuo Okada Kazuo Okada

Universal Entertainment Corp. Chairman Kazuo Okada said the Philippine gaming market could soon surpass Singapore’s, as improved ties with China promises more tourists and raise the prospects for his upcoming $2.4-billion casino.

The Japanese gaming tycoon said in Manila on Wednesday that Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s move to thaw relations with China as well as his efforts to fight drugs and crime will increase the number of Chinese visitors.

At the same time, he sounded a note of caution about jumping into the world’s newest casino market in Japan due to its aging population.

“A lot of Chinese are coming into the Philippines, and that will improve more as improving bilateral relations between China and the Philippines increase tourism here,” said Okada in an interview ahead of a public preview of his resort, starting Dec. 21 and lasting till its official opening in the first quarter of 2017.

READ MORE...

“The Philippine gaming market will become bigger than Singapore” within years, he said, without giving a specific timeframe.

The Philippines is competing with Macau and Singapore to become a gambling hub targeting Asia’s rising middle-class, even as the prevalence of high-stakes Chinese gamblers has been weakened by government crackdowns on corruption and capital outflow.

Competition in the region is set to become more crowded, with Japan’s parliament passing a bill legalizing casinos Dec. 15, paving the way for billions of dollars of potential investments.

Details of Japan’s casinos, or so-called integrated resorts, must still be laid out in an implementation bill before any casinos can be built – meaning none is likely to open their doors in time for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Universal Entertainment shares rose as much as 2.4 percent in Tokyo trading Thursday, the most since Dec. 14 on an intraday basis.

The benchmark Topix index fell 0.5 percent. The company’s shares have surged 37 percent this year.

“I am very much interested in investing in Japan also for a casino – but I feel that the rules would take a year to be fully-established, so we will consider it for one year,” said Okada, whose company is a manufacturer of gaming machines known as pachinko.

“It’s one way to promote tourism to Japan, and it’s also a way in Japan to provide a different form of gaming other than pachinko to the people.”

While Yokohama and Osaka have been touted as potential venues for Japan’s first casino resorts, Okada said he sees the northern city of Sapporo as an attractive location due to its natural resources and good seafood, and its existing popularity with tourists.

Still, the 74-year-old is keeping his expectations low.

“I don’t have very high expectations when it comes to the gaming industry in Japan because economic growth has been very stable,” he said.

“Another reason is that Japan is an aging society, so probably not a lot of people will be spending.”

Instead, he’s keeping his focus firmly on Okada Manila, which will be the Philippine capital’s largest casino resort with over 26,000 square meters (280,000 square feet) of gaming space, and the third to open in Entertainment City, a 120-hectare (297 acres) site along the city’s bay that the government is developing into a casinos and leisure hub.

COMPARISON TO SINGAPORE

Philippine gross gaming revenue will probably reach $3 billion this year and could reach $3.6 billion in 2018, as new entrants like Okada and improving relations with China bring in more overseas gamers, said Rommel Rodrigo, an analyst at Maybank ATR Kim Eng.

By comparison, gross gaming revenue from Singapore’s two casino resorts was $4.8 billion in 2015, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Okada expects his Manila casino, which missed its previous deadline to start operations in November, to be profitable in its first year of operations and to give a return on his investment in three to five years.

The venture could seek a listing on the Philippine Stock Exchange in a year, he said.

“The gaming market here in Philippines has a lot of room for growth,” Okada said. Duterte’s controversial fight against drugs and crime is expected to improve the image of the country and draw foreign tourists, in turn boosting the local economy, he said. “We are very positive.”

Duterte, who assumed office in June 30, has made a pivot to China in a bid to attract investments from the world’s second-largest economy and thaw relations that cooled in the previous six years due to a territorial dispute.

In a state visit in October, Duterte secured $24 billion of investment and credit pledges, supporting his push to veer foreign policy away from the US, the Philippines’ top military ally.

“Our initial target is to have 30 percent of the guests from the international segment, but we would eventually like to bring that up to 50 percent,” said Okada.

“We are looking at China, Taiwan, Korea and Japan – if you think about it from proximity, a lot of our guests will initially be coming from China and Taiwan.”

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RELATED FROM ABS-CBN

Why Japanese billionaire Okada invested in Philippines ABS-CBN News Posted at Dec 22 2016 07:54 AM


Kazuo Okada, chairman of Tiger Resort, Leisure and Entertainment Inc. listens at the press launch of 65th annual Miss Universe competition on January 30, 2017 to be held in the Philippines, during a news conference in Makati city, Metro Manila, Philippines November 16, 2016. Erik De Castro, Reuters/File Photo

MANILA – Japanese casino tycoon Kazuo Okada said he bought land in the Philippines nearly a decade ago, seeing immense potential in what was then, Asia’s laggard economy.

On Wednesday, Okada soft-opened a $2.4-billion plum-hued gaming resort in Entertainment City, Manila’s challenge to Las Vegas.

“There was a lot of potential for development and within those Asian countries was the Philippines, wherein they were located in the center of Southeast Asia and proximity wise it would be the best location,” Okada told ANC.

A new airport is “definitely a necessity” for the Philippines, with the potential to double or triple tourist arrivals, he said.

READ: Japanese billionaire backs Duterte's war on crime

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FLASHBACK: RELATED(2) FROM THA ASIAN GAME INDUSTRY WEBSITE (2015 REPORT)

8th 2015 Annual Ranking: The Asian Gaming 50 - 2015: 10-20 Sponsored by: scientific_games_corp_logo
Saturday, 26 December 2015 06:24



NO. 10 Kazuo Okada
Chairman
Universal Entertainment

“It was the year 2008,” pachinko mogul Kazuo Okada recalls on the home page of the website for his Manila Bay Resorts project, expected to open late next year.

“A visit to the Philippines opened me up to the warmth, friendliness and hospitality of the Filipino people. Seeing the country’s enormous potential for growth and development, I decided that I want to be part of that promising future.

“Fast forward to this day, my vision is not just to build a successful business, but to make it a global leader—and just as importantly, to share the good fortune that will come from that success with the Filipino people and their communities.

“The property will be the world’s most magnificent casino resort. I hope that all Filipinos will be as proud as I am of what we will be achieving together in building it.”

At first glance, Mr Okada personally pitching his $2 billion resort in Manila’s Entertainment City might smack of irony since the Philippines and Mr Okada have thus far arguably not helped each other’s reputations.

Mr Okada made his fortune in Japan, graduating from juke boxes to pachinko machines, forming Universal Entertainment and its slot machine subsidiary Aruze. He became Steve Wynn’s partner after Mr Wynn was ousted from Mirage in 2000 following its takeover by Kirk Kerkorian and MGM Grand. Mr Okada staked Mr Wynn to the tune of $455 million over the next four years, receiving 20% of Wynn Resorts. Mr Okada’s money was instrumental in the development of Wynn in Las Vegas and Wynn Macau. In 2008, Mr Wynn famously declared of his vice chairman, “I love Kazuo Okada as much as any man that I’ve ever met in my life.”

But love doesn’t always last. In 2008, Mr Okada, who owns 67.9% of Universal, obtained one of four gaming licenses in the Philippines’ Entertainment City zone for integrated resorts. Mr Okada thought his friend would join the project, but Wynn Resorts declined. So Mr Okada proceeded alone, assembling 44 hectares (109 acres), the largest landholding in Entertainment City, for his resort and forming Tiger Resort, Leisure and Entertainment to oversee the development.

In 2011, Mr Okada and Mr Wynn began a very public brawl. Wynn Resorts said the Philippine project was inappropriate because it was a competitor to Macau—a notion few in the industry accept—and could threaten Wynn’s gaming licenses due to the country’s lax regulatory environment. Mr Okada was forced out as Wynn Resorts’ vice chairman.


POSTED APRIL 2016 -Kazuo Okada and Elaine Wynn helped Steve Wynn created the stylish Las Vegas and Macau resorts that bear his name. Now they’re all tied up in lawsuits stirring up mud. (Photo credit: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg) FROM FORBES.COM REPORT - The twice married (to each other) Wynns and Okada are tied together by a 2010 agreement giving Steve Wynn control over voting and sale of 10 million Wynn Resorts shares that Elaine Wynn received as part of the couple’s divorce settlement. The Wynns’ split left Okada as the largest single shareholder in Wynn Resorts

New accusations flew. Mr Okada claimed the animosity grew out of him questioning the company’s $135 million donation to the University of Macau, and he questioned Wynn’s Cotai land deal, A Reuters investigative report alleged Universal had paid $40 million to an associate of Efraim Genuino, Pagcor’s chairman under President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. Wynn Resorts released a report by former FBI Director Louis Freeh that charged Mr Okada with ethics violations over $110,000 of hospitality granted to Philippine officials at Wynn properties in Las Vegas and Macau; besmirched Pagcor officials claim they received only routine courtesy accommodations. In February 2012, Wynn’s board of directors voted to buy back Mr Okada’s stock at a 30% discount payable over 10 years, a deal that cost him $800 million at the time. The stream of allegations prompted investigations in five jurisdictions, some of them still open. Japanese probers cleared Mr Okada, but the unpleasantness has likely doomed his dream of getting a casino license in Japan, and they haven’t helped Wynn’s prospects there either.

Mr Okada also clashed with Philippine officials. Tiger’s license targeted completion of the project by 31st March this year, a deadline the company missed. Pagcor, which had already granted the company one extension, confiscated Tiger’s 100 million peso ($2.2 million) performance bond but has conditionally granted another extension until 31st December next year.

Investigators say Tiger tried to circumvent laws requiring Philippine nationals to own 60% of the land and recommended charges against Okada and other executives. Tiger says it followed local legal advice and has since tried to find a local partner. It has fallen out with at least two potential partners and seems to have now settled on All Seasons Hotels and Resorts, controlled by Antonio Cojuangco, a cousin of current Philippine President Benigno Aquino III. Mr Cojuangco introduced himself to media as a participant in the project—though Tiger and Pagcor say regulatory paperwork on All Seasons has yet to be filed—at a late July topping ceremony for Manila Bay Resorts. And it’s the event that’s key.

Throughout all the legal and financial woes, Mr Okada has kept building the resort that’s likely to be Entertainment City’s largest. The opening phase will include 1,000 rooms in two towers, a 30,000-square-meter (322,800 square foot) casino with 500 tables and 3,000 machines, a resort beach overlooking Manila Bay, a nightclub and two dozen restaurants. Mr Okada even founded a restaurant division, KO Dining, to develop food concepts and brands for the resort; its flagship Hong Kong restaurant serving traditional Japanese cuisine, dubbed Kazuo Okada, won a Michelin Star this year, as did its other Hong Kong-based outlet, Yu Lei, which features Shanghainese fare.

Although he hasn’t necessarily done it the best or most efficient way, Mr Okada has remained dedicated to making Manila Bay Resorts happen and making it a success. That’s why he wants to put himself right out front on the website. Or maybe he’s showing what he learned from working for a decade with his estranged partner, who used to appear in TV ads for Golden Nugget in Atlantic City with the tagline, “My name is Steve Wynn, I run this place.” One thing’s for sure, if the Manila project wasn’t always personal for Mr Okada, it surely is now.

TO CONTINUE READING :
http://www.asgam.com/in-focus/item/2706-the-asian-gaming-50-2015-10-20.html


PHILSTAR ANALYSIS/COMMENTARY

Manufacturing industry resurgence – from dream to reality BIZLINKS By Rey Gamboa (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 22, 2016 - 12:00am 0 9 googleplus1 1


By Rey Gamboa

We’re hearing more loudly from the government those lofty words about building the country’s manufacturing capability. This may partly have resulted from what seems to be a seemingly successful attempt at revitalizing the automotive sector.

To date, the two participants of the Comprehensive Automotive Resurgence Strategy (CARS) program – Toyota Motor Philippines, Inc. and Mitsubishi Motors Philippines, Inc. – are readying their manufacturing facilities to be able to deliver their pledged production over the next five years.

The government, of course, has promised a fairly reasonable set of incentives should the subsidiaries of the two Japanese automobile company deliver on their promise and ensure the success of the program.

We could be seeing more Philippine-made Toyotas and Mitsibushis on our crowded streets starting next year, but more importantly, this will strengthen the country’s local capability to manufacture automotive parts –initially to supply the requirements of the CARS program participants, and eventually, to export directly to other vehicle manufacturers in the world.

READ MORE...

Need for inclusive growth The imperative to grow our industries is not the issue. From an economic point of view, the country needs to rely on manufacturing industries that can employ more Filipinos, and consequently, bring about more inclusive growth, and negate joblessness and non-productivity.

The Philippines cannot forever rely on the remittances of overseas Filipinos – or from the livelihood generated by the millions of migrant Filipinos holding jobs abroad.

The same holds true for our business processing sector, which, no matter how bullish its growth potential, will not be able to realistically absorb into its ranks all the unemployed and underemployed Filipinos that lack the qualifications to serve in call centers.

Our government needs programs that can break the cycle of poverty that afflicts more than half of the population. While the country’s overall economic growth has been impressive, its benefits have not seeped to the lower ranks of the population.

And this is where the government is trying to bridge a gap. During the last administration, in 2012, the Department of Trade and Industry announced its Industry Development Plan initially targeting 40 sectors where potential growth for the economy could be generated.

The plan was for the sectors to present their respective roadmaps, including a wish list of sorts that detailed how they saw themselves moving forward in the medium- and long-term, and how they expected to contribute to the country’s overall economic growth.

So far, 26 sectors have completed and submitted their roadmaps, and eight others in near-finalization stages. The CARS and rubber programs were the first sectors to receive industry support in terms of incentives and other state interventions to make them globally competitive.

The DTI has been helping out through training and improvement projects for the die-and-mould, coffee, cottage, and tourism industries. But the support and commitment by the government has been mostly on tentative levels, and nowhere near what is now being enjoyed by the automotive industry.

Good timing Timing has played a big part for the resurgence of the automotive industry. It did help that the Philippine government had been trying, albeit unsuccessfully, to build this sector since four decades ago and transform it into an export hub for the ASEAN and the world.

Mistakes, they say, make the best teachers. The grandiose plan of the 1970s has been tweaked to make it more down-to-earth and doable. Its growth program will now deliberately encompass local suppliers of parts, instead of giving incentives only to the big boys.

Toyota and Mitsubishi are relying on the local market to absorb most of their production during the next five years, a fact that has been made possible because of the strong growth of the Philippine economy during the last decade which has been responsible in turn for the continued double-digit sales performance in local vehicle the last few years.

Unique Even then, the success the CARS program currently enjoys notwithstanding taxation threats in the horizon would be difficult to duplicated any time soon by the other 39 sectors under the government’s manufacturing sector resurgence plan.

What the auto industry is going through is unique, a confluence of many good things happening at the same time. But this is not to say there is nothing good that may happen to a few others in the immediate future. After all, a roaring blaze can be started with just one spark.

At a recent summit by the manufacturing sector, Ayala Corp. scion Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala spoke about a small window of opportunity that the country’s electronic components manufacturing sector should seriously take advantage of.

With autonomous driving and intelligence sweeping the world, the manufacture of electronic components is expanding at unprecedented levels on a global level. The Philippines may have a good chance of getting a sizeable chunk of foreign investments that are being earmarked for this sector.

2017 may be the year of electronic components, just like 2016 was the automotive industry’s. This may not be the fire blaze that we all want and dream of, but who can complain: there is still one more good that’s happening.

Inspiration The Christmas message of the Catholic Church’s Pope Francis’ has not been released in time for this column’s deadline, but he shared with the world last Sunday some words that are worth repeating to others, especially as the Christian world observes the birth of Christ.

Drawing from the plight of pilgrims all over the world searching for peace and rest from strife and hunger, the Pope gives a parallelism on Mary and Joseph’s plight to Bethlehem. “Mary helps us to put ourselves in an attitude of availability to welcome the Son of God in our concrete lives, in our flesh. Joseph spurs us to always seek the will of God and to follow it with full trust,” he said.

With this, I wish you all a Blessed Christmas day.

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