BOOM UPS FILIPINOS' PER CAPITA INCOME AT $2,765 IN 2013; LUXURY GOODS RISING
Despite the robust economic growth being enjoyed by the Philippines these past few years—as always trumpeted by the Aquino administration—many Filipinos remain poor, if pundits are to be believed.

But if one goes around Metro Manila, one will see a number of development projects that may turn a skeptic into a believer in the economic miracle that has turned around the Philippines from being the “sick of man of Asia” to one of the emerging economies in the region. See the malls choked with people shopping all day; more vehicles on the roads, causing traffic jams (poor infrastructure is also a major cause of congestion, but that’s another story); and high-rise, high-end residential and commercial buildings mushrooming all around. World Bank data showed that alongside the expansion of the Philippines’ gross domestic product (GDP), or output of goods and services, came the rise in the purchasing power of Filipino consumers. From a GDP per capita of $1,832 in 2009, it steadily rose to $2,136 in 2010, $2,358 in 2011 and $2,587 in 2012.

Last year, when the Philippine economy grew to second fastest in Asia—next only to China—with a 7.2-percent expansion, the GDP per capita further climbed to $2,765. The auto industry is one of the sectors enjoying increased sales as a result of the Filipinos’ higher capacity to spend. The industry group Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines Inc. (Campi) has already jacked up its sales target for 2014 to 250,000 vehicles from the earlier projection of 230,000 vehicles on the back of rosier prospects for car companies. “The growing economy bodes well for the automotive industry. With GDP per capita of more than $2,500, we are set for the motorization stage,” Campi president Rommel T. Gutierrez said.

“The purchasing power of consumers is getting stronger, which enables more buyers to purchase vehicles. The availability of affordable models across all segments makes it a good time to buy a car. Buying a car is second to owning a house,” he said. Even luxury vehicles that cost tens of millions of pesos are now available to the ultrarich, as local dealerships of bespoke Rolls Royce and sports car Ferrari were opened during the past two years. In the case of Rolls Royce, its Ghost, the least expensive model available in the Philippines, sells at P25 million for starters.
A Ferrari means shelling out between P18 million and P30 million. An industry executive who requested anonymity said that luxury cars have a ready market here, mostly among captains of industry or top-level executives. * READ MORE...

ALSO: Will Aquino win the day on Sona? 

Will it still be all gloves off or all apologies in President Benigno Aquino III’s second to last State of the Nation Address on Monday (July 28)? Lawmakers differ on the President’s mindset going into his fifth Sona, which they agree will be his most crucial, given his declining popularity ratings, the fallout from the legal debacle of his economic stimulus program, his first impeachment case, and the first murmurings of a military unrest. Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. admitted that this would be the President’s “most difficult” Sona after coasting along on his popularity and “daang matuwid (straight path)” slogan in previous years. “Yes” was Belmonte’s curt reply when asked if the extended honeymoon of the President was finally over.
For Belmonte, he would rather the President focus on his priority bills in Congress and “giving only passing reference to DAP (Disbursement Acceleration Program) and his adherence to the Constitution.”

Belmonte also cautioned the President against harping on the three jailed senators — Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada, and Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr.; and more than a dozen former representatives charged in the pork barrel scam, which led to the abolition late last year of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) the President’s main tool in keeping Congress in check. “They have already been charged, that cannot be ignored. But this should not be gloated over as the investigations are continuing,” said Belmonte. But an administration ally admitted that Monday’s Sona was crucial because the President “daang matuwid” campaign promise was “hanging in the balance” because of questions on his administration’s credibility. “If the president comes across as willing to have a constructive dialogue on DAP and announces measures to speed up structural reforms, like completing land reform by the end of the year and restructuring the energy sector by repealing or radically amending EPIRA (Electric Power Industry Reform Act), then he could re-energize his administration. A combative stance toward critics might not go down well, and I really hope he avoids that,” said Akbayan partylist Rep. Walden Bello. * READ MORE...

ALSO Press Statement: Facing isolation, Aquino garrisons roads going to Batasan 

Facing growing isolation and multiple impeachment complaints, President Benigno Aquino III has ordered the military and police to garrison Commonwealth Avenue and prevent protesters from reaching Batasan Road during his State of the Nation Address The Philippine National Police has imposed a “rally site” for SONA protesters that is surrounded by razor-sharp concertina wires, steel fences and concrete barriers. Not even during the regime of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo were such measures implemented. The regime continues to violate the people’s right to peaceably assemble.

On Monday, the image we will see is that of a President terrified by the growing people’s protest. Populist rhetoric has now been replaced by naked fascism. Such actions do not reflect strength. Nay, they reflect utter weakness and show a lack of support from the people. On July 28, the people will gather in their thousands all over the country to denounce the Aquino regime and its policies. The people will protest systemic corruption and the plunder of public coffers in the name of the pork barrel system. The people will protest rising unemployment and poverty amid Palace claims of economic growth. The people will protest human rights violations and the violations of our national sovereignty. Four years and five SONAs later, Aquino has failed miserably in bringing about meaningful change. His anti-corruption campaign has been exposed as a sham by his stubborn defense of the pork barrel system. The Disbursement Acceleration Program has also revealed the dictatorial tendencies of Aquino, who now thinks he is above the law and beyond the reach of the Supreme Court. * READ MORE...

ALSO: SONA 2014 red carpet fashion anticipated 

The yearly State of the Nation Address (SONA) have become an occasion for lawmakers and guests to dress to the nines. Despite clamor to tone down the ritz and glamour that effectively steal attention away from the true purpose of the national event, lawmakers, particularly the women, who wear updated tribal costumes or modernized Filipiniana outfits has become an anticipated sideshow and this year probably won’t be any different. Senators Pia Cayetano and Loren Legarda in their gowns during the 2012 SONA. (MB File Photo)

Last year, Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, aghast at the display of what she called female solons’ “obsession to bling” proposed a Senate resolution prescribing an official uniform for lawmakers to wear during official national events like the SONA. Under the resolution, “women legislators could wear a short pencil skirt, paired with a simple short-sleeved barong blouse, with jewelry being limited to a single strand of Philippine pearls; male legislators could wear a plain long-sleeved barong; both men and women could wear a ceremonial ribbon with the Congress logo; while the audience in the gallery could wear office attire.” Twelve months later, Santiago’s resolution is still pending at the Senate Committee on Rules chaired by Senator Alan Peter Cayetano. In a Twitter post, Senator Nancy Binay expressed support for the resolution to dress simply during SONA. * RAD MORE...

ALSO: State of the Nation: Of targets and promises 

A lot could happen in 12 months–or not. In last year’s State of the Nation Address, President Benigno S. Aquino III regaled the nation with reports about his administration’s major achievements and projects that would improve the economy and the lives of Filipinos. On the eve of his fifth State of the Nation Address or SONA, we revisited some of the major points made by the Chief Executive last year to see how they measured up with reality. ELECTRICITY, SQUATTERS --The National Electrification Administration (NEA) on its website reported that 5,263 sitios have been electrified in 2013 and 2,899 more from Jan. 1 to June 6, 2014. NEA said the electrification was hampered by the damage brought about by super typhoon Yolanda, which refocused its efforts on the rehabilitation of the distribution system from November to December 2013.

Beyond the sitios, electricity woes marked the last 12 months, not only in many parts of Mindanao but also in the Visayas after several calamities struck the region. It’s a problem that has also spread to Luzon, prompting the Energy Secretary to urge that emergency powers be granted to the President to prevent three-hour rolling blackouts in Metro Manila and Luzon next year. In 2013, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) received P374.4 million to carry out the Interim Shelter Fund for Informal Settler Families, which seeks to benefit 16,695 families validated as informal settlers. As of Dec. 6 last year, some 1,232 families have been resettled based on DSWD’s year-end report posted on Jan. 3, 2014. Another DSWD statement (dated Feb. 20, 2014) quoted Aquino as saying that under Oplan Likas” (Lipat Para Iwas Kalamidad at Sakit), the government has initially allocated P10 billion for the relocation of informal settler families in danger zones in Metro Manila. To date, more than 3,400 families have been “successfully relocated to safer communities.” SCHOOL BACKLOGS --* READ MORE...


READ FULL REPORT HERE:

Boom ups Filipinos’ per capita income at $2,765 in 2013; luxury goods sale rising


PNoy'S MALACANANG PALACE

MANILA, JULY 28, 2014
(INQUIRER)
By Ben O. de Vera - Despite the robust economic growth being enjoyed by the Philippines these past few years—as always trumpeted by the Aquino administration—many Filipinos remain poor, if pundits are to be believed.

But if one goes around Metro Manila, one will see a number of development projects that may turn a skeptic into a believer in the economic miracle that has turned around the Philippines from being the “sick of man of Asia” to one of the emerging economies in the region.

See the malls choked with people shopping all day; more vehicles on the roads, causing traffic jams (poor infrastructure is also a major cause of congestion, but that’s another story); and high-rise, high-end residential and commercial buildings mushrooming all around.

World Bank data showed that alongside the expansion of the Philippines’ gross domestic product (GDP), or output of goods and services, came the rise in the purchasing power of Filipino consumers.

From a GDP per capita of $1,832 in 2009, it steadily rose to $2,136 in 2010, $2,358 in 2011 and $2,587 in 2012.

Last year, when the Philippine economy grew to second fastest in Asia—next only to China—with a 7.2-percent expansion, the GDP per capita further climbed to $2,765.

The auto industry is one of the sectors enjoying increased sales as a result of the Filipinos’ higher capacity to spend.

The industry group Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines Inc. (Campi) has already jacked up its sales target for 2014 to 250,000 vehicles from the earlier projection of 230,000 vehicles on the back of rosier prospects for car companies.

“The growing economy bodes well for the automotive industry. With GDP per capita of more than $2,500, we are set for the motorization stage,” Campi president Rommel T. Gutierrez said.

“The purchasing power of consumers is getting stronger, which enables more buyers to purchase vehicles. The availability of affordable models across all segments makes it a good time to buy a car. Buying a car is second to owning a house,” he said.

Even luxury vehicles that cost tens of millions of pesos are now available to the ultrarich, as local dealerships of bespoke Rolls Royce and sports car Ferrari were opened during the past two years.

In the case of Rolls Royce, its Ghost, the least expensive model available in the Philippines, sells at P25 million for starters.

A Ferrari means shelling out between P18 million and P30 million.

An industry executive who requested anonymity said that luxury cars have a ready market here, mostly among captains of industry or top-level executives.

* Sales of luxury consumer goods are also rising, as more Filipinos have found more stable jobs, according to a recent study of global market research firm Euromonitor International.

“The demand for luxury goods was sustained in 2013 by the overall improvement in the country’s economic condition, which provided better employment opportunities for Filipinos,” Euromonitor said in the executive summary of its report titled “Luxury Goods in the Philippines” released this month.

“The continued growth in business process outsourcing activities contributed to improved disposable incomes providing opportunities for occasional purchases of luxury goods from lower income groups. The increased participation of women in the workforce likewise proved beneficial, as double-income households provided families the flexibility to trade up to more expensive luxury brands,” the report said.

According to Euromonitor, the influx of luxury brands came on the back of additional investments in casino, hotels and residential development that would mainly cater to affluent foreign tourists, but this widening of brand choices would also benefit Filipinos.

“Consumers are provided with better options with the increasing availability of affordable and aspirational luxury brands,” Euromonitor said.

The wider range of high-end brands now available in the country has also made luxury goods more accessible to the middle class, it said.

In particular, high-end electronic gadgets “hold much promise for growth given the current limited market appeal these luxury goods have and the small number of players available locally,” the report said.

As for real estate, the luxury and high-end segments have also become a lucrative market for property developers.

Catherine A. Ilagan, executive vice president of Filinvest Alabang Inc., said in an interview that competition among real estate firms has intensified as more and more of them have ventured into a “still small” but higher-value market.

Filinvest, for one, has focused on the lower and midmarket housing segments but has also introduced its “Premiere” and “Exclusive Collection” projects, which cater to the ultrarich.

The smallest unit, at 140 square meters, of Filinvest’s luxury project called Botanika that will soon rise in Muntinlupa City costs at least P19 million, while the most expensive homes could reach around P40 million.

At BeauFort in Bonifacio Global City in Taguig City, one-bedroom units go for a minimum of P8 million and three-bedroom units cost up to P30 million. Despite the steep price tags, 60 percent of the west wing of the two-tower development is already occupied.

“High-end and luxury developments are not as risky because there’s money in this market,” Ilagan said.

Will Aquino win the day on Sona? By Gil C. Cabacungan |Philippine Daily Inquirer8:06 pm | Sunday, July 27th, 2014


Members of various militant groups head to President Aquino’s residence in Times Street Quezon City to stage a rally a day before his scheduled SONA. INQUIRER PHOTO/ ALEXIS CORPUZ

MANILA, Philippines — Will it still be all gloves off or all apologies in President Benigno Aquino III’s second to last State of the Nation Address on Monday (July 28)?

Lawmakers differ on the President’s mindset going into his fifth Sona, which they agree will be his most crucial, given his declining popularity ratings, the fallout from the legal debacle of his economic stimulus program, his first impeachment case, and the first murmurings of a military unrest.

Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. admitted that this would be the President’s “most difficult” Sona after coasting along on his popularity and “daang matuwid (straight path)” slogan in previous years.

“Yes” was Belmonte’s curt reply when asked if the extended honeymoon of the President was finally over.

For Belmonte, he would rather the President focus on his priority bills in Congress and “giving only passing reference to DAP (Disbursement Acceleration Program) and his adherence to the Constitution.”

Belmonte also cautioned the President against harping on the three jailed senators — Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada, and Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr.; and more than a dozen former representatives charged in the pork barrel scam, which led to the abolition late last year of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) the President’s main tool in keeping Congress in check. “They have already been charged, that cannot be ignored. But this should not be gloated over as the investigations are continuing,” said Belmonte.

But an administration ally admitted that Monday’s Sona was crucial because the President “daang matuwid” campaign promise was “hanging in the balance” because of questions on his administration’s credibility.

“If the president comes across as willing to have a constructive dialogue on DAP and announces measures to speed up structural reforms, like completing land reform by the end of the year and restructuring the energy sector by repealing or radically amending EPIRA (Electric Power Industry Reform Act), then he could re-energize his administration. A combative stance toward critics might not go down well, and I really hope he avoids that,” said Akbayan partylist Rep. Walden Bello.

* To appease his critics, Bello said the President could use the Sona to announce a change in his Cabinet.

“Using the occasion to announce strategic replacements or reinforcements to his team might work wonders. The president does not need to convince me about his intention to continue and deepen reform. He needs to convince the people most of whom retain goodwill towards him,” said Bello.”One cannot stress too much the importance of making changes in any presidential team. Loyalty is fine, but one should avoid at all cost giving the impression that one’s Cabinet is run like a UP (University of the Philippines) frat, with its norm of uncritical loyalty.”

“I wish some people had the delicadeza to turn in their badge and ride off to the sunset, like Gary Cooper, with Grace Kelly in tow, in `High Noon’. Like Fidel Castro, they could just say `history will absolve me’, take the hit for their actions, and just let history render its judgment on them.

More than his words, Bello said the public would look at the President’s demeanor in the Sona.

“The attitude he projects is key. If he comes across as humble and willing to listen, he’ll win the day and isolate the few, disarm his critics, and isolate the noisy few howling for his impeachment,” Bello said.

Deputy Speaker and Isabela Rep. Giorgidi Aggabao expected the President to be his feisty self. “He will be in the offensive, flaunting his achievements especially in his anti-corruption agenda. The economy is not doing bad. At five to six percent GDP (gross domestic product) growth thus far this year, the economy remains robust,” said Aggabao.

Aggabao also placed into context the public perception on the DAP and the pork barrel scam cases. “The DAP issue is relevant only in Metro Manila. In the countryside, the talk is how a president jailed three popular senators. I sense the president is on a war path. In his Sona, I predict he will be less deferential to those he sees as undermining his program like the SC,” said Aggabao.

Iloilo Rep. Jerry Trenas expressed doubt the President would change his disposition and assume a defensive mode. “The DAP should not make him defensive. He has already spoken sufficiently on the DAP in his previous speeches. The arrest and continued imprisonment of the three senators are clear manifestation of the seriousness of the reform agenda of the President. This has never happened before,” said Trenas.

Trenas said that the DAP fiasco should not cloud what the government achieved in the last 12 months, which was about fighting corruption and bringing final peace to Mindanao.

“This year’s Sona will continue to focus on the reforms that he will push for the last two years of his administration, one that will ensure that the standard of governance, transparency and accountability will be made irreversible such that a successor who will continue to push his reforms, not one who will backslide the country to the dark ages,” said Trenas.

Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate considered this Sona a major turning point for the administration because the President has been slapped with his first impeachment complaint. “The duplicity of his administration is finally unmasked as no different from its predecessor especially on the issue of corruption, pork barrel patronage politics, and cronyism,” said Zarate. “We expect the President to use the Sona to cover up the true state of the nation to hide the true state of his administration.”

With the administration in its final two years, ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio said that the time of reckoning for the President has come.

“He will have to account to the public if his vaunted anti-corruption and good government platform has been fulfilled. The Supreme Court ruling on DAP has shown that the President’s reform program was underpinned by unconstitutional acts and littered with political patronage. It is fitting that the President will face an impeachment when he delivers his penultimate Sona,” said Tinio.

Kabataan Rep. Terry Ridon expected the President to go all out in defending his anti-corruption legacy, which was tarnished by lingering questions on the illegal DAP. “For as long as the President remains stubborn and arrogant in his defense of DAP, he can kiss his legacy goodbye. He will only reveal himself as truly not `daang matuwid’,” said Ridon.

FROM BAYAN.PH

Facing isolation, Aquino garrisons roads going to Batasan Posted date: July 26, 2014in: News Releases


Photo from Karapatan:
Press Statement July 27, 2014

Facing growing isolation and multiple impeachment complaints, President Benigno Aquino III has ordered the military and police to garrison Commonwealth Avenue and prevent protesters from reaching Batasan Road during his State of the Nation Address

The Philippine National Police has imposed a “rally site” for SONA protesters that is surrounded by razor-sharp concertina wires, steel fences and concrete barriers. Not even during the regime of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo were such measures implemented. The regime continues to violate the people’s right to peaceably assemble.

On Monday, the image we will see is that of a President terrified by the growing people’s protest. Populist rhetoric has now been replaced by naked fascism. Such actions do not reflect strength. Nay, they reflect utter weakness and show a lack of support from the people.

On July 28, the people will gather in their thousands all over the country to denounce the Aquino regime and its policies. The people will protest systemic corruption and the plunder of public coffers in the name of the pork barrel system. The people will protest rising unemployment and poverty amid Palace claims of economic growth. The people will protest human rights violations and the violations of our national sovereignty.

Four years and five SONAs later, Aquino has failed miserably in bringing about meaningful change. His anti-corruption campaign has been exposed as a sham by his stubborn defense of the pork barrel system. The Disbursement Acceleration Program has also revealed the dictatorial tendencies of Aquino, who now thinks he is above the law and beyond the reach of the Supreme Court.

* Both Congress and the Executive have colluded to promote and preserve the pork barrel system, whether in the form of congressional pork or Presidential pork like the DAP. Congress and the President continue to insult the people by claiming that pork is good, that pork is beneficial for the poor and the economy. Their joint defense of DAP, despite public outrage against pork, show how truly corrupt the ruling system is.

The call for accountability has been reverberating since the Supreme Court issued its decision on the DAP. The President faces the prospect of removal from office because he violated the law and exacerbated the corrupt pork barrel system. He has only made things worse by defending to death the rotten system of pork.

As we become a nation of 100 million Filipinos, we share grave concern about the next generation’s future. It is not enough that they inherit a rotten and corrupt system, made even worse by the Aquino regime. The system must change and the people must fight to change the system. ###

FROM THE MANILA BULLETIN

SONA 2014 red carpet fashion anticipated by Jomari Guillermo
July 27, 2014 (updated)


SONA, SONA gows, SONA fashion, SONA fashion show, Manila Bulletin

The yearly State of the Nation Address (SONA) have become an occasion for lawmakers and guests to dress to the nines. Despite clamor to tone down the ritz and glamour that effectively steal attention away from the true purpose of the national event, lawmakers, particularly the women, who wear updated tribal costumes or modernized Filipiniana outfits has become an anticipated sideshow and this year probably won’t be any different.

Senators Pia Cayetano and Loren Legarda in their gowns during the 2012 SONA. (MB File Photo)
Last year, Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, aghast at the display of what she called female solons’ “obsession to bling” proposed a Senate resolution prescribing an official uniform for lawmakers to wear during official national events like the SONA.

Under the resolution, “women legislators could wear a short pencil skirt, paired with a simple short-sleeved barong blouse, with jewelry being limited to a single strand of Philippine pearls; male legislators could wear a plain long-sleeved barong; both men and women could wear a ceremonial ribbon with the Congress logo; while the audience in the gallery could wear office attire.”

Twelve months later, Santiago’s resolution is still pending at the Senate Committee on Rules chaired by Senator Alan Peter Cayetano.

In a Twitter post, Senator Nancy Binay expressed support for the resolution to dress simply during SONA.

* The neophyte senator said there is a need to review the dress code and to bring back the focus on the real purpose of SONA as “it is quite surprising” that it usually centers on the red carpet and on what people, particularly the lawmakers, wear during the event.

“Mas madalas na sumisikat pa ang designers during SONA sa free plugging [Designers become famous during SONA because of free plugging], and we don’t want SONA to become a virtual marketing event. Okay lang [It is okay] if there are those willing to do the outfits at a low cost to highlight their designs, but it should be within reasonable fashion sense,” Binay added.

Meanwhile, her media relations officer Rex Hirang, in a text message to Manila Bulletin said the senator will wear a gown made by Randy Ortiz during tomorrow’s SONA.

State of the Nation: Of targets and promises by MB Online July 27, 2014

A lot could happen in 12 months–or not.

In last year’s State of the Nation Address, President Benigno S. Aquino III regaled the nation with reports about his administration’s major achievements and projects that would improve the economy and the lives of Filipinos.

On the eve of his fifth State of the Nation Address or SONA, we revisited some of the major points made by the Chief Executive last year to see how they measured up with reality.

ELECTRICITY, SQUATTERS


Sona

The National Electrification Administration (NEA) on its website reported that 5,263 sitios have been electrified in 2013 and 2,899 more from Jan. 1 to June 6, 2014. NEA said the electrification was hampered by the damage brought about by super typhoon Yolanda, which refocused its efforts on the rehabilitation of the distribution system from November to December 2013.

Beyond the sitios, electricity woes marked the last 12 months, not only in many parts of Mindanao but also in the Visayas after several calamities struck the region. It’s a problem that has also spread to Luzon, prompting the Energy Secretary to urge that emergency powers be granted to the President to prevent three-hour rolling blackouts in Metro Manila and Luzon next year.

In 2013, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) received P374.4 million to carry out the Interim Shelter Fund for Informal Settler Families, which seeks to benefit 16,695 families validated as informal settlers. As of Dec. 6 last year, some 1,232 families have been resettled based on DSWD’s year-end report posted on Jan. 3, 2014. Another DSWD statement (dated Feb. 20, 2014) quoted Aquino as saying that under Oplan Likas” (Lipat Para Iwas Kalamidad at Sakit), the government has initially allocated P10 billion for the relocation of informal settler families in danger zones in Metro Manila. To date, more than 3,400 families have been “successfully relocated to safer communities.”

SCHOOL BACKLOGS


Sona

* Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda admitted that there is still a backlog in educational facilities, which was apparent when classes opened this year. Lacierda said that while the national government has addressed the 66,000 classroom backlog in 2010, shortages continue due to increased rates of enrollment.

RICE SUFFICIENCY


SONA

By now, it is obvious to everyone that the government failed to fulfill its rice-sufficiency promise for 2014. Just last week, the Philippines’ food security chief, Francis Pangilinan, announced that the country will import an extra 500,000 tons of rice to increase its thin stockpile after a typhoon damaged crops recently. The fresh demand brings the country’s total rice purchases for this year’s needs to nearly 2 million tons, the highest in four years, making the country one of the world’s biggest rice buyers.

The United States’ Department of Agriculture has forecast that the Philippines may need to import as much as 2 million tons of rice this year and 1.8 million tons in 2015.

HACIENDA LUISITA


Hacienda Luisita, Manila Bulletin

According to DAR, they are now at the final stages of installing beneficiaries of Hacienda Luisita, which was formerly owned by the family of President Aquino. The 6,212 beneficiaries are getting 6,000 square meters from the 4,009 hectares net distributable portion for distribution by the DAR.

DISASTER PREPAREDNESS


geohazard maps, SONA, Manila Bulletin

The 1:10,000 Scale Geohazards Assessment and Mapping Program of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau has mapped 1,147 cities and municipalities or 70 percent of the 1,634 target. The accomplishment includes the assessment of the 171 Typhoon Yolanda-affected areas and 17 municipalities or city for the sinkhole mapping in Bohol Province.

The assessment of the remaining 487 cities and municipalities will be completed by the end of 2014.

FLOOD CONTROL


anti-flood, flood control, Manila Bulletin, SONA

The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) is pushing for the completion of the Blumentritt Interceptor Catchment in Manila by December 2014.

INFRASTRUCTURE


Sona, Manila Bulletin

Even before super typhoon Yolanda severely damaged the Daniel Z. Romualdez Airport in Tacloban City, it was already up for a P2.12-billion redevelopment to be implemented from 2013-2016.

The P3.5 billion Bicol International Airport in Albay which was supposed to be completed this year is now projected to be finished before the end of Aquino’s term in 2016.

The new airport in Bohol is expected to be completed by June 2016. As of June, six Japanese firms have submitted bids and financial proposals for the project.

The Department of Transportation and Communications in early April awarded the contract for the Mactan-Cebu International Airport capacity expansion project to the partnership of Megawide Construction Corp. and India’s GMR Infrastructure. Construction will begin in January 2015 and is expected to be completed by early 2019.

Meanwhile, a joint venture by South Korean Kumho Industrial Co. Ltd. and GS Engineering & Construction joint Venture bagged the contract to design and build the Puerto Princesa airport last May. The designing process will start by the third quarter of the year. The airport is expected to be fully operational by 2017.

Aquino also said that various road projects such as the Skyway 3 and the NLEx-SLEx Link Connector will be implemented in the coming years. Project cost is at P25.56 billion. Construction is expected to be completed by February 2017.

Segment 10.1 is a 5.65 km four lane expressway connecting McArthur Highway and C–3. Construction started in May this year. It is expected to be completed in April 2016.

Metro Manila Skyway Stage 3 that links SLEX and NLEX and EDSA end-to-end costs P26.656 billion. DPWH said the project is expected to be completed by 2016. Construction started this February.

BILLS AND LAWS


SONA

The Cabotage law, Fiscal Incentives Rationalization Bill, and the Land Administration Reform Bill are all still pending at the Senate and the House of Representatives. For the amendment of the Cabotage Law, House Bill 1789 has been filed by Cagayan de Oro Representative Rufus Rodriguez. Meanwhile, Senators Grace Poe and Bam Aquino filed separate bills seeking to reform the country’s shipping industry.

The Fiscal Incentives Bill, which has been pending in Congress for 15 years now, is expected to be approved at the committee level by August, a House leader said early this month. The bill seeks to lift the tax- and duty-free incentives enjoyed by several industries to raise government revenues.

Several measures filed in the Senate are calling for the reform of the country’s land administration. In 2013, Senators Miriam Defensor Santiago, Jinggoy Estrada, Pia Cayetano, Francis Escudero, and Loren Legarda filed separate bills entitled Land Administration Reform Act of 2013. All are still pending at the committee level.

Meanwhile, House leaders led by Speaker Feliciano Belmonte filed a measure seeking to repeal PD1894 to facilitate the government’s direct control over all road projects related to the expressways without having to go through the Philippine National Construction Co.

NIA, BOC, BI


SONA, Manila Bulletin

In his last SONA, Aquino berated these agencies, particularly BOC and NAIA for missing their targets.

For the year 2013, Customs missed its P340 billion target, collecting only P304.48 billion, 5 percent up from previous year’s P289 billion. Latest figures showed that Customs continued to miss its P35.087 billion revenue target for the month of May collecting only P28.809 billion. This amount however was 11 percent higher than the P25.925 billion collected in the same period last year. For the month, only three of the 17 collection districts – Subic, Cebu, and Davao – met or surpassed their revenue goals for May. For the first five months, BOC collected P146.074 billion, 20 percent up from the same period last year, but falling short of its P165.657 billion goal. For the month of June, the bureau has a target of P33.29 billion. It aims to collect P408 billion by the end of the year.

Finally, Aquino said the following in his 2013 SONA. How true are these words? Did the President walk the talk or are we going to hear updated promises this year?


sona, Manila Bulletin


Sona, Manila Bulletin


SONA, Manila Bulletin


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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