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OFW REMITTANCES UP 18% IN NOVEMBER


JANUARY 17 -The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) reported yesterday that cash sent by overseas-based Flipinos increased by 18.4 percent in November last year from a year ago. This brought total remittances for the first 11 months of 2016 to $26.9 billion, up 5.1 percent from the same period a year ago. File photo
 Remittances from overseas Filipino workers (OFW) grew to $2.4 billion in November last year, aided by steady job orders overseas. The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) reported yesterday that cash sent by overseas-based Flipinos increased by 18.4 percent in November last year from a year ago. This brought total remittances for the first 11 months of 2016 to $26.9 billion, up 5.1 percent from the same period a year ago. The bulk of remittances came from land-based workers with contracts for one year or more who sent back a total of $20.9 billion, up 7.8 percent from a year ago. This made up for the 3.6 percent drop in remittances from sea-based and land-based workers with work contracts of less than one year amounting to $5.5 billion. READ MORE...

ALSO: MOA inked on common MRT-LRT station


JANUARY 18 -Photo shows (from left) San Miguel Corp. president and chief operating officer Ramon Ang, Light Rail Manila Corp. vice chairman Manny V. Pangilinan, Transportation Secretary Art Tugade, Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar, SM Prime Holdings Inc. executive chairman Hans Sy and Ayala Land Inc. vice chairman Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala linking hands after the signing of a memorandum of agreement on the common station for LRT 1 and MRT Lines 3 and 7. Inset shows the design of the common station. MIKE AMOROSO
 Construction of the common station to link Light Rail Transit Line 1 (LRT-1) and Metro Rail Transit (MRT) Lines 3 and 7 is expected to start in December this year and be completed by April 2019. This came after the Department of Transportation (DOTr), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and concerned parties signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) yesterday to end a deadlock spanning nearly eight years. READ MORE...

ALSO: Death penalty not a hindrance to Phl-EU ties, says diplomat


JANAURY 17 -Philippines Franz Jessen said the planned revival of death penalty is among the considerations in the review of the country’s GSP+ status. “Yes (it is one of the things being considered), but so far nothing has changed on capital punishment. That’s part of the regular monitoring and we will not preempt it,” he said. File photo
The Philippines risks losing its Generalized System of Preferences Plus (GSP+) privileges with the European Union (EU) should the country decide to reimpose the death penalty, but not the friendship and support it has been receiving from the economic bloc, EU Ambassador to the Philippines Franz Jessen said yesterday. Jessen said the planned revival of death penalty is among the considerations in the review of the country’s GSP+ status. “Yes (it is one of the things being considered), but so far nothing has changed on capital punishment. That’s part of the regular monitoring and we will not preempt it,” he said. “The view of the EU on capital punishment is very clear. We do not support of course. To be an EU member you have to abolish capital punishment, it’s something that we have strong views on,” Jessen added. READ MORE...

ALSO: Tycoons vow to spur development of Mindanao


JANUARY 19 -President Duterte poses with officials and heads of some of the country’s biggest businesses following a dinner and discussions at Malacañang the other night. Photo shows (from left) GT Capital Holdings Corp. co-vice chairman Alfred Ty, First Pacific managing director and CEO Manny V. Pangilinan, First Philippine Holdings Corp. chairman and CEO Federico Lopez, Magsaysay Corp. president and CEO Doris Magsaysay Ho, LT Group president and COO Michael Tan, PCCI president George Barcelon, Megaworld Corp. first vice president-commercial division Kevin Tan, SM Prime Holdings chairman of the executive committee Hans Sy, ICTSI chairman Enrique Razon, Bohol Rep. Arthur Yap, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, President Duterte, Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion, Alsons Group chairman Tomas Alcantara, Go Negosyo MSME development adviser Merly Cruz, Aboitiz Equity Ventures president and CEO Erramon Aboitiz, Sta. Elena Construction and Development Corp. president and CEO Alice Eduardo, Ayala Corp. chairman and CEO Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, Jollibee Foods Corp. chairman and CEO Tony Tan Caktiong and Double Dragon Investment chairman and CEO Edgar ‘Injap’ Sia.
They came in full force to meet with President Duterte, committing to pour resources into some of the nation’s most impoverished regions and promote inclusive growth. Sitting down to dinner with the President at Malacañang, the country’s business heavyweights vowed to help the government promote peace, spur development and reduce poverty in Mindanao. The meeting took place Tuesday at the President’s Hall, with Ramon Ang of San Miguel Corp., Manuel V. Pangilinan of Metro Pacific and PLDT, Hans Sy of the SM Group, Tony Tan Caktiong of Jollibee and Ayala Corp.’s Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, among others, in attendance. “Mainly, they were there to show their support, especially for improvement in areas of poverty and crisis and conflict,” presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said in a briefing yesterday. READ MORE...

ALSO: Network security in the era of millennials


JANUARY 16 - One of the toughest gigs in IT is the job of keeping an organization’s network safe. It is also one that is getting tougher with the rise of the millennial generation. Millennials – those in their 20s to mid-30s – are starting to dominate workplaces around the world. More than one-in-three workers in the US are millennials, a 2015 study by Pew Research Center found. And this demographic group will account for half of the global workforce by 2020, according to PwC. The term “millennial” has many connotations. Among them: they like sharing on social media. They won’t put up with bad user experiences. They want a flexible approach to work. They move on quickly if their expectations are not being met. These characteristics will define the culture of the future workplace. They will also put the current network security regimes of many organizations to a stern test. READ MORE...

ALSO Envoy: Economics, trade will be key driver of Philippines-China ties


JANUARY 21 - FILE - Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, left, and Chinese President Xi Jinping shake hands after a signing ceremony in Beijing, China, Thursday, Oct. 20, 2016. AP/Ng Han Guan, Pool
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte's new approach in its foreign policy mean that economics and trade would be the key driver of its relations with China, Ambassador-designate to China Jose Santiago "Chito" Sta. Romana said. The maritime dispute over the South China Sea will still be subject to negotiations but it would not be at the front of bilateral ties. Despite Duterte's initiative to improve relations with China and Russia, the Philippines will not abandon its treaty alliance with the United States, Sta. Romana said. "Instead, Manila will mainly focus on promoting political relations and economic partnership with China and Russia while exploring limited military cooperation," Sta. Romana said in an article published by the Asia Pacific Pathways to Progress Foundation newsletter. READ MORE...


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OFW remittances up 18% in Nov


The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) reported yesterday that cash sent by overseas-based Flipinos increased by 18.4 percent in November last year from a year ago. This brought total remittances for the first 11 months of 2016 to $26.9 billion, up 5.1 percent from the same period a year ago. File photo

MANILA, JANUARY 23, 2016 (PHILSTAR) By Zinnia Dela Peña January 17, 2017 - Remittances from overseas Filipino workers (OFW) grew to $2.4 billion in November last year, aided by steady job orders overseas.

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) reported yesterday that cash sent by overseas-based Flipinos increased by 18.4 percent in November last year from a year ago. This brought total remittances for the first 11 months of 2016 to $26.9 billion, up 5.1 percent from the same period a year ago.

The bulk of remittances came from land-based workers with contracts for one year or more who sent back a total of $20.9 billion, up 7.8 percent from a year ago.

This made up for the 3.6 percent drop in remittances from sea-based and land-based workers with work contracts of less than one year amounting to $5.5 billion.

READ MORE...

Cash remitted through banks rose 18.5 percent in November ahead of the holiday season to $2.2 billion.

At the end of the first 11 months, remittances reached $24.3 billion, representing a 5.2 percent increase from the 2015 level.

Cash remittances from land-based workers went up $1.4 billion, compensating for the P200 million decrease in sea-based workers’ remittance amid stiffer competition in the supply of seafarers particularly from East Asia and Eastern Euope.

“The improving global economic conditions particularly in the US may have contbutd to the overall growth in remittances,” the BSP said.

The bulk of cash remittances came from the US, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Singapore, UK, Japan, Qatar, Kuwait, Hong Kong, and Germany. Combined remittances from these countries accounted for more than 80 percent of the total cash remittances from January to November last year.

Remittances from overseas-based Filipinos largely fuel household consumption. They play a crucial role in the economy’s growth.


PHILSTAR

MOA inked on common MRT-LRT station 1 SHARES 0 1 0 Louella Desiderio (The Philippine Star) - January 19, 2017 - 12:00pm


Photo shows (from left) San Miguel Corp. president and chief operating officer Ramon Ang, Light Rail Manila Corp. vice chairman Manny V. Pangilinan, Transportation Secretary Art Tugade, Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar, SM Prime Holdings Inc. executive chairman Hans Sy and Ayala Land Inc. vice chairman Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala linking hands after the signing of a memorandum of agreement on the common station for LRT 1 and MRT Lines 3 and 7. Inset shows the design of the common station. MIKE AMOROSO

MANILA, Philippines - Construction of the common station to link Light Rail Transit Line 1 (LRT-1) and Metro Rail Transit (MRT) Lines 3 and 7 is expected to start in December this year and be completed by April 2019.

This came after the Department of Transportation (DOTr), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and concerned parties signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) yesterday to end a deadlock spanning nearly eight years.

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The agreement was signed by Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade and Public Works Secretary Mark Villar with LRT Authority administrator Reynaldo Berroya, SM Prime Holdings Inc. (SMPHI) executive chairman Hans Sy, Light Rail Manila Corp. vice chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan, San Miguel Corp. (SMC) president and chief operating officer Ramon Ang and North Triangle Depot Commercial Corp. (NTDCC) represented by Ayala Land Inc. vice chairman Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala.

The MOA is a result of the discussions made after the signing of the parties last Sept. 28 of a term sheet which identified the location of the common station.

Covering 13,700-square meters, the common station would be located between SM North EDSA and Trinoma malls in the vicinity of EDSA and North Avenue.

The common station has three components, mainly Area A which costs P2.8 billion and covers the platform and concourse for LRT-1 and MRT-3, to be financed and built by the DOTr.

Ayala and partners in NTDCC will be funding Area B, or the portion connecting Areas A and C.

MRT-7

As for Area C or where the platform for the MRT-7 is located, SMC would undertake construction as well as shoulder the costs.

For its part, the DPWH will build an underpass along EDSA at the part where the common station will be built.

The common station is expected to connect LRT-1 covering Roosevelt station in Quezon City up to Baclaran station in Pasay City, the MRT-3 running from North Avenue station in Quezon City until Taft Avenue station in Pasay City, and the MRT-7 which would span North Avenue in Quezon City up to San Jose del Monte City in Bulacan.

Following the signing of the MOA, a detailed engineering design for the common station would be developed.

Given a temporary restraining order (TRO) obtained by SMPHI from the Supreme Court in 2014 to prevent then Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) under the previous administration from transferring the location of the common station near Trinoma from in front of SM North EDSA, the parties have agreed to file an appeal for the dismissal of the case to allow the construction of the common station.

SMPHI sought a TRO against the DOTC as it had entered into an agreement with LRTA in 2009 to put up the common station in front of SM North EDSA mall.

It also secured naming rights for the common station following its payment of P200 million.

As for the naming rights, both “SM” and “Trinoma” will be part of the name of the common station as agreed.

“In two years, you can expect a common station, barring unforeseen circumstances,” Tugade said.


PHILSTAR

Death penalty not a hindrance to Phl-EU ties, says diplomat By Richmond Mercurio (The Philippine Star) | Updated January 17, 2017 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0


Philippines Franz Jessen said the planned revival of death penalty is among the considerations in the review of the country’s GSP+ status. “Yes (it is one of the things being considered), but so far nothing has changed on capital punishment. That’s part of the regular monitoring and we will not preempt it,” he said. File photo

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines risks losing its Generalized System of Preferences Plus (GSP+) privileges with the European Union (EU) should the country decide to reimpose the death penalty, but not the friendship and support it has been receiving from the economic bloc, EU Ambassador to the Philippines Franz Jessen said yesterday.

Jessen said the planned revival of death penalty is among the considerations in the review of the country’s GSP+ status.

“Yes (it is one of the things being considered), but so far nothing has changed on capital punishment. That’s part of the regular monitoring and we will not preempt it,” he said.

“The view of the EU on capital punishment is very clear. We do not support of course. To be an EU member you have to abolish capital punishment, it’s something that we have strong views on,” Jessen added.

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The EU’s top envoy, however, said whatever decision the Philippines comes up with on death penalty would not affect the strong partnership and friendship between the country and the 28-member economic bloc.

“On capital punishment, some of our closest allies have capital punishment and we work hand in hand with them too as you know. So it is something we have very strong views in Europe. We try to promote that outside Europe too, but of course we work together with all our partners,” Jessen said.

The Philippines was granted beneficiary country status under the EU-GSP+ in December 2014, allowing it to export 6,274 eligible products duty-free to the EU market.

The country’s beneficiary status under the GSP+, however, necessitates the implementation of the 27 international treaties and conventions on human rights, labor rights, environment and governance.

With the proposal to revive the death penalty for certain heinous crimes, the Philippines puts at risk the GSP+ status it currently enjoys with the EU.


EU Ambassador to the Philippines Franz Jessen

Prior to the proposed revival of death penalty wherein President Duterte threatened to execute criminals daily, the Commission on Human Rights has also warned the government about its war on drugs and the alleged cases of extrajudicial killings, saying these may put in danger the country’s privileges under the EU-GSP+.

Jessen said an EU monitoring team for the GSP+ would visit the country later this month.

“We have an ongoing monitoring of the 27 conventions and that work is ongoing and I would not predict how will that come out in the end,” he said.

“It’s a very long term process. People will come out here, they will look at the situation, talk with the different actors in the Philippines, and they would do their reports and they will come out gain. Probably by the end of the year (an assessment report will come out) but there’s no firm timetable for that,” Jessen added.

Aside from enjoying EU GSP+ benefits, the Philippines at present is working on a free trade agreement with the EU, in which a second round of negotiations is set next month.

The negotiations aim to conclude a deal that covers a broad range of issues such as elimination of customs duties and other barriers to trade, services and investment, access to public procurement markets, and additional disciplines in the area of competition and protection of intellectual property rights.

“In the economic front, the EU-Philippine FTA is an important step forward in our economic relationship. We’ll be looking forward to a second round of negotiations here in February. It is important to have the institutional structure so that trade could grow faster. We hope the next round in Manila would be successful and we would get the right political push,” Jessen said.


PHILSTAR

Tycoons vow to spur development of Mindanao By Christina Mendez (The Philippine Star) | Updated January 19, 2017 - 12:00am 0 5 googleplus0 0


President Duterte poses with officials and heads of some of the country’s biggest businesses following a dinner and discussions at Malacañang the other night. Photo shows (from left) GT Capital Holdings Corp. co-vice chairman Alfred Ty, First Pacific managing director and CEO Manny V. Pangilinan, First Philippine Holdings Corp. chairman and CEO Federico Lopez, Magsaysay Corp. president and CEO Doris Magsaysay Ho, LT Group president and COO Michael Tan, PCCI president George Barcelon, Megaworld Corp. first vice president-commercial division Kevin Tan, SM Prime Holdings chairman of the executive committee Hans Sy, ICTSI chairman Enrique Razon, Bohol Rep. Arthur Yap, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, President Duterte, Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion, Alsons Group chairman Tomas Alcantara, Go Negosyo MSME development adviser Merly Cruz, Aboitiz Equity Ventures president and CEO Erramon Aboitiz, Sta. Elena Construction and Development Corp. president and CEO Alice Eduardo, Ayala Corp. chairman and CEO Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, Jollibee Foods Corp. chairman and CEO Tony Tan Caktiong and Double Dragon Investment chairman and CEO Edgar ‘Injap’ Sia.

MANILA, Philippines - They came in full force to meet with President Duterte, committing to pour resources into some of the nation’s most impoverished regions and promote inclusive growth.

Sitting down to dinner with the President at Malacañang, the country’s business heavyweights vowed to help the government promote peace, spur development and reduce poverty in Mindanao.

The meeting took place Tuesday at the President’s Hall, with Ramon Ang of San Miguel Corp., Manuel V. Pangilinan of Metro Pacific and PLDT, Hans Sy of the SM Group, Tony Tan Caktiong of Jollibee and Ayala Corp.’s Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, among others, in attendance.

“Mainly, they were there to show their support, especially for improvement in areas of poverty and crisis and conflict,” presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said in a briefing yesterday.

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He said the consensus after the meeting was for the business sector and the Duterte administration to work more closely in boosting Mindanao development while efforts to forge lasting peace with rebel groups are underway.

“And, in fact, they had taken the initiative regarding Sulu. And, I think, they – as far as I know, I think Sec. Sonny was also talking to them about how the Landbank had extra funds, something like $40 million for improvements in other areas of Mindanao,” he said, referring to Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III.

“So, basically, they were being brought on board to help address the issue of how to create a more inclusive economy, especially addressing work and investments, investments in areas of conflict,” Abella added.

Pangilinan told reporters yesterday his group has conveyed its interest to Duterte in investing more in hospitals, telecommunications and in a coconut oil mill facility in Mindanao.

“We offered and suggested areas where we could help. The business groups that were present, I would say, were in full force, in support of the government,” he said, referring to the Tuesday dinner with the President.

He added his group would also be interested in working with community development movement Gawad Kalinga for housing projects in Mindanao.

Following the dialogue with the President, he said the next step would be to concretize plans and discuss them with relevant government agencies.

“It is good to have this dialogue with the President. In my recollection, this is the first time that a president has done this and sat down with business groups,” Pangilinan said. “It’s unprecedented. We have much to be thankful for.”

Earlier, Pangilinan said his group is looking at submitting unsolicited proposals for projects in the infrastructure, power and agriculture sectors.

At present, MPIC is involved in infrastructure projects in the rail and tollways sectors under the public-private partnership program.

The MPIC is also engaged in other ventures like water, power, healthcare and logistics.

It was presidential adviser on entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion III who invited the business taipans to Malacañang. Former president and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo also helped arrange the dinner meeting.

Listening president

In the same meeting, President Duterte had shown his willingness to listen to the business community’s call for the preservation of the current practice of contracting as long as workers’ security of tenure is guaranteed and protected, Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry president George Barcelon said.

“On contractualization, Mr. Joey Concepcion explained that endo (end of contract) is prohibited and the business community will police its own ranks. Joey pointed out that this is the best solution wherein the workers – even they are given jobs by the service providers, they are protected, they are regularized, they will enjoy all the benefits mandated by law, and in case they will temporarily be out of work, they would be able to get some financial assistance,” Barcelon told The STAR yesterday.

“So this provides the security of tenure for the workers. I think he is okay with the proposal,” Barcelon said.

The Department of Labor and Employment has yet to come out with a clear policy on the issue of labor contracting.

Duterte earlier promised to put an end to contractualization. Workers are calling for the complete abolition of contracting in the country.

The business community, however, said that while it is clearly against the illegal practice of contracting such as endo and “5-5-5,” it wants to maintain the accepted and legal practice of the scheme.

“Under the law, the management has the right to hire contractual workers. Actually I mentioned it in our discussion that the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are not like the big companies that can project the number of people they will need,” he said.

“The biggest employers in our country are the SMEs, so for them it is important to have that flexibility,” Barcelon pointed out.

“We are hoping that this issue can clear the air so that those who want to invest here in our country will see that labor contracting is not an issue to deter them,” he added.

“The common denominator is that the taipans and the business community want to help in job creation,” Barcelon said, stressing the complete abolition of contracting would only limit job opportunities.

Abella said the business leaders were discussing a “win-win” position with Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III.

“Apparently, they are engaged in a conversation with Sec. Bello and they are working out a win-win situation. In the words of Sec. Dominguez, they are trying to work out a win-win situation. They are engaged in working out a situation which will be beneficial for both employees and employers,” Abella pointed out.

He added the dinner meeting provided a conducive environment for the President and the business groups to share insights regarding development goals.

“It was over dinner, they had conversation. Apparently as PA (presidential adviser) Joey (Concepcion) was saying, their preconceptions about PRRD were settled because of the one-on-one conversation,” he said, referring to Duterte by his presidential initials.

“Many of them have not met the President, they had this face-to-face, according to PA Joey, a number of their uncertainties were settled,” Abella disclosed.

Brewery investment

Meanwhile, SMC is investing $300 million or roughly P14.9 billion for beer breweries in Cagayan de Oro and Laguna, its president Ramon Ang said.

He said the brewery in Cagayan de Oro would have a capacity of three million hectoliters. It would have an initial capacity of 1.5 million hectolitres.

“It’s a $300-million investment,” Ang said, adding that the company would soon break ground for the brewery in Cagayan de Oro inside the Phividec Industrial Estate.

SMC would also expand its existing brewery and bottling plant in Santa Rosa, Laguna by two million hectolitres in capacity.

Ang said the company hopes to complete the expansion of its brewery business within the next two years.

Last week, SMC senior vice president, chief financial officer and treasurer Ferdinand Constantino said the conglomerate is pouring in P281 billion to finance the expansion of its various businesses in the next three years.

The allocation is part of a P543.3-billion capital expenditure program for various projects such as the expansion of its food business, a refinery upgrade for Petron, construction of power plants and toll roads.

Of the P543.3 billion, P262.1 billion had already been spent, according to SMC documents.

SMC expects revenue to grow by 1.5 times by 2020 as against 2015 figures on the back of the contribution of its new businesses, Constantino said.

He said revenues would grow because of the contribution of new businesses such as power and infrastructure.

New businesses are seen to retain their contributions to revenues at 66 percent, while their EBITDA contribution is expected to grow to 67 percent from 60 percent. EBITDA stands for earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization.

In 2015, SMC registered consolidated sales revenue of P674 billion while EBITDA hit P108.6 billion.

The beer business is SMC’s first business. The company started as La Fabrica de Cerveza de San Miguel, which was Southeast Asia’s first brewery, producing and bottling what would eventually become one of the best selling beers in the region and among the world’s top beers.

San Miguel has since diversified into other beverages, food, packaging, fuel and oil and, in recent years, power and infrastructure.

It is one of the country’s largest conglomerates, generating about 5.1 percent of the gross domestic product in 2015. – Richmond Mercurio, Iris Gonzales, Louella Desiderio


PHILSTAR

Network security in the era of millennials By Jeff Castillo (The Philippine Star) | Updated January 9, 2017 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 1

MANILA, Philippines – One of the toughest gigs in IT is the job of keeping an organization’s network safe. It is also one that is getting tougher with the rise of the millennial generation.

Millennials – those in their 20s to mid-30s – are starting to dominate workplaces around the world. More than one-in-three workers in the US are millennials, a 2015 study by Pew Research Center found. And this demographic group will account for half of the global workforce by 2020, according to PwC.

The term “millennial” has many connotations. Among them: they like sharing on social media. They won’t put up with bad user experiences. They want a flexible approach to work. They move on quickly if their expectations are not being met. These characteristics will define the culture of the future workplace. They will also put the current network security regimes of many organizations to a stern test.

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Here are three considerations.

• Social media To block or not to block? Many organizations have probably considered this question when it comes to their employees’ use of social media in the workplace.

A study by HR software provider CareerBuilder, which polled employers from North America, found that 37 percent of employers see social media as one of the major productivity killers at the workplace, behind mobile phone and texting (55 percent), using the Internet (41 percent), and gossiping (39 percent). Three in four employers say two or more hours are lost a day in terms of productivity because employees are distracted.

From a network security perspective, social media is a vector for malware and socially engineered attacks. How many links that are shared innocently enough end up bringing users to compromised websites? And even if employees use social channels in a professional way, their friends and contacts are under no such obligation.

It is easy to ban or restrict social media sites at the network level. Static URL filters in Web filtering software can block or monitor specific URLs. The category-filtering feature can block entire groups of websites.

But that doesn’t mean CIOs should start blocking social networks at the workplace.

A better approach is to relook at how network security is being enforced holistically. Having a clear social media policy and training for staff is a good start. For instance, sales staff should be reminded of the security and business risks that might result from checking in their locations at customer sites via social channels like Facebook.

The most important safeguard though, is to have a robust, layered security infrastructure. It is a surer bet than having to rely on employees never erring in their clicks, taps, and swipes with their social media accounts.

• Know thy security layers Layered security, whereby different layers of security controls combine to protect data, devices and people, is widely adopted today. It ensures that when attacks occur at different sources, whether at the network, application, device, or user level, they can be detected and stopped before they spread. It also offers an effective safeguard against different types of threats.

With the changing workplace habits brought on by millennial workers, CIOs should relook at how they are setting up each layer of protection.

Consider, for instance, the use of personal devices in the workplace. According to a McKinsey & Company study, around 80 percent of enterprises now allow employees to use personal devices to connect to corporate networks. And increasingly, employees expect their IT departments to support their personal devices with access to corporate applications like email and calendar. This trend, termed BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), poses a number of new security threats.

In particular, CIOs should look at bolstering security at the device layer. The first step to take is to shore up the devices themselves through mandating some combination of firewalls, anti-malware software, MDM (mobile device management) solutions and regular patching. A BYOD culture also puts organizations at risk from having their employees' smart devices hacked because of poor passwords. Having policies and education on strong passwords are musts.

Device types can also be identified so that less secure devices, such as mobile phones, can be restricted from some parts of the network. Sessions should also be secured, such as by preventing users from visiting unsafe websites.

Similarly, defenses of the user layer should also be shored up to mitigate the rising risks of internal threats. This layer is often the trickiest to manage due to the need to balance security and convenience. You can also use a variety of authentication methods to identify network users and allow varying levels of access. Instilling awareness and educating staff are important steps to take.

• Tackle shadow IT Shadow IT is a term used to describe the use of applications and services, often cloud based, not sanctioned by the organization. Its uncontrolled nature poses a security threat and governance challenge.

Consider the scenario of employees using their smartphone to open a file. It is likely the phone will make a copy of the file, which could then be sent to an unapproved online storage destination when the phone performs its routine automatic backup. Just like that, your secure corporate data has been moved to an insecure location.

In the same way, the many social collaboration apps favoured by millennials can shift sensitive company information to insecure locations.

Mandating that staff stop using non-sanctioned devices and applications is unlikely to stop their growth in the organization. Frankly, with the ubiquity of smartphones, employees are using social networks and their personal cloud apps whether your policies prevent it or not.

What could be more effective is to educate users, as well as implement technology – such as data encryption, access control and traffic monitoring – to manage the issue.

From a larger perspective, shadow IT happens when your staff is not happy with the solutions provided by the organization. While CIOs may not be able to prevent staff from seeking out alternative apps for, say, collaboration, they can keep things in check by being attuned to their needs.

Castillo is country manager of Fortinet Philippines.


PHILSTAR

Envoy: Economics, trade will be key driver of Philippines-China ties By Patricia Lourdes Viray (philstar.com) | Updated January 20, 2017 - 2:45pm 0 10 googleplus0 0


FILE - Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, left, and Chinese President Xi Jinping shake hands after a signing ceremony in Beijing, China, Thursday, Oct. 20, 2016. AP/Ng Han Guan, Pool

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte's new approach in its foreign policy mean that economics and trade would be the key driver of its relations with China, Ambassador-designate to China Jose Santiago "Chito" Sta. Romana said.

The maritime dispute over the South China Sea will still be subject to negotiations but it would not be at the front of bilateral ties.

Despite Duterte's initiative to improve relations with China and Russia, the Philippines will not abandon its treaty alliance with the United States, Sta. Romana said.

"Instead, Manila will mainly focus on promoting political relations and economic partnership with China and Russia while exploring limited military cooperation," Sta. Romana said in an article published by the Asia Pacific Pathways to Progress Foundation newsletter.

READ MORE...

The goal of the administration is to reduce historic dependence on the US and seek a balanced relationship with other major powers such as China and Russia.

Duterte's foreign policy also aims to strengthen ties with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Japan and other Asian countries, the ambassador said.

On the other hand, it would be a challenge for the Philippine to convince China that its Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement with the US is not aimed at threatening Beijing.

"Looking into the near future, the prospects for Philippines-China relations will depend on whether the two sides can combine a high level of statesmanship and pragmatism to manage the disputes, lower tensions, and prevent any accident or miscalculation on one hand; and to restore normal ties and promote areas of bilateral cooperation in trade, tourism, infrastructure, investments and other fields on the other," Sta. Romana said.

Sta. Romana also noted that the geopolitical rivalry between China and the US will likely continue unless they find a mutually acceptable way to manage their strategic differences without resorting to military confrontation.

The rivalry between the two super powers complicates the maritime disputes as the Philippines is a treaty ally of the US.

The relationship between China and the US is a mix of cooperation and competition, Sta. Romana said.

"The cooperative and competitive elements in US-China relations elements exist side by side, and though at present, cooperation still seems to be predominant in the bilateral relationship, the competitive elements are increasingly on the rise," the ambassador said.

The Philippines recently sent a note verbale to China following reports that it has installed weapons in its artificial islands in the Spratly Islands.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. said that the president will not compromise the country's sovereignty rights despite his move to renew ties with Beijing that has been marred by the sea dispute.

"When you want to renew ties with another country, it does not mean that you're compromising or eroding our rights on certain matters in this particular matter our sovereignty rights over the exclusive economic zone that under UNCLOS is ours," Yasay said in a television interview earlier this week.

RELATED: Yasay: Note verbale sent to China after intel verification


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