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Thursday, February 8, 2018 Vol. 13 No. 120

Duterte turns gun-shy on contractualization K

By Samuel P. Medenilla


nown for his independent foreign policy, President Duterte is apparently now giving premium to what foreign investors will say on the issue of labor contractualization. The firebrand President again decided to delay the issuance of the much-awaited executive order (EO) that will finally clarify his administration’s position on contractualization, reportedly due

to the need to study further its impact on foreign investments. Duterte decided to postpone signing the EO, which would have further restricted contractualization, during his two-hour meeting

The President said he would have his legal team review the EO, so there is a chance it could still be changed.” —Cainglet

with labor groups in Malacañang on Wednesday. “He told us he was still open to our proposal, saying it was consistent with the parameters Continued on A2

Retailers to govt: Let NFA import rice By Jasper Emmanuel Y. Arcalas



he Philippines must import rice soon to avert spikes in the price of the staple and prevent unscrupulous traders from taking advantage of the diminishing stockpile of the National Food Authority (NFA), local rice retailers said on Wednesday.

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Remunicipalization, deprivatization Rene E. Ofreneo

laborem exercens


new social movement is sweeping Europe. It is a movement of local governments and civil-society groups calling for the “remunicipalization” of public services, meaning the return to government control of essential public services that were privatized in the 1980s-2000s due to the then dominant neoliberal thinking that such services are better handled by the private sector. These services include water distribution, waste collection, energy and electricity management, transport, education, health care and social work, infrastructure development, and a host of other local government services. This remunicipalization movement arose out of the widespread citizen dissatisfaction with the privatization “revolution” launched by Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher in the early-1980s and promoted with unwavering enthusiasm by the global financial institutions World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, in the succeeding decades. The remunicipalization movement finds strongest expression in Europe. This is partly a reflection of Europeans’ deep resentment against the austerity program that has been embraced by European Union and a number of European governments in the

PHL seeks to expand trade ties with Turkey, Hungary By Elijah Felice E. Rosales

The volume of rice the National Food Authority wants to import to boost its stockpile

See “Retailers,” A12

business news source of the year

Continued on A12

250,000 MT

Grains Retailers’ Confederation of the Philippines Inc. (Grecon) appealed to the NFA Council (NFAC) to immediately approve the proposal of the NFA to import 250,000 metric tons (MT) of rice to boost its buffer stock. Currently, the NFA has a total inventory of 1.2 million 50-kilogram (kg) bags, equivalent to two days of the country’s total rice consumption. “ We made a resolution addressed to the NFAC urging them to act immediately on the request of the NFA for the importation of 250,000 MT,” Grecon National President Jaime O. Magbanua told reporters in a news briefing in Quezon City on February 7. “We are asking the NFAC to reconsider so that affordable rice would continue to be available,” Magbanua added. Magbanua said the price of commercial rice rose by P2 to P3 per kg in recent days due to the high farmgate price of local paddy.

2016 ejap journalism awards

T This file photo shows a worker piling up sacks of rice at a warehouse of the National Food Authority. According to reports, the depletion of the NFA’s stockpile has prompted some retailers to increase the price of commercial rice. NONIE REYES

San Miguel sets ₧700-B five-year capex By VG Cabuag



onglomerate S a n Miguel Corp. is allotting some P700 billion in capital expenditures (capex) over the next five years to fund the expansion of its core and new businesses. In an interview on the sidelines of the investors’ briefing for the company’s P30-billion bond float, San Miguel Senior Vice President and Head of Treasury Sergio Edeza said the firm’s food group led by San Miguel Pure Foods Co. and infrastructure businesses, such as toll

PESO exchange rates n US 51.5500

roads and airports, will get most of the funds. Also getting substantial shares are its power business through SMC Global Power Holdings Corp. and San Miguel Brewery Inc., which is putting up breweries and bottling facilities in Southern Luzon and Mindanao with a capacity of 2 million hectoliters each. The company’s CFO, Ferdinand Constantino, said the capex figure does not yet include the proposed international airport in Bulacan, the unsolicited bid that the company submitted to the government.

This project may cost another P700 billion on its own. “As usual, the capex will be funded by 70-percent debt and 30percent equity,” Edeza said, adding that they will be tapping all available funding options, such as bank loans, preferred-share issuance and cash from operations. San Miguel may also opt to offer more bonds, although Edeza noted that they will already have used up the P60 billion that was shelf registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) once Continued on A12

LOPEZ: “There are opportunities for our Philippine exporters—whether manufactured goods or services— to further tap the Turkish market.”


he country’s trade chief was able to secure Turkey’s commitment to expand trade relations with the Philippines in line with the Duterte administration’s goal of improving ties with nontraditional partners. Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez headed a delegation that convened the first Philippine-Turkey Joint Committee on Economic and Technical Cooperation (JCETC). He also discussed with Turkish trade officials issues relating to trade, investment promotions and economic cooperation. Under the JCETC , var ious areas of trade and investment were tackled by Lopez and Turkish National Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli, including micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs); manufacturing of textiles and garments; pharmaceuticals; agricultural processing for mango, coconut and banana; hospitality services; infrastructure; and air services. “The Philippines is committed to pursue several growth opportunities by strengthening partnerships with emerging economic partners like Turkey,” Lopez said

in a statement. On top of this, trade cooperation on customs; energy; science and technology; education; standardization; film and creatives; defense; and contracting and consultancy services were also put on the table. On Turkey’s part, its government offered to exports products from Manila and vowed to explore the opportunity to invest in the country, especially in textiles and pharmaceuticals. Aside from this, the Turkish government also informed the Philippine delegation that it is ready to provide interest-free financial assistance to any project critical to the country’s development and security. As a predominantly Muslim country, Ankara expressed interest in helping Manila rebuild Marawi City, Lanao del Sur, through financing MSMEs in the Islamic town. Continued on A12

n japan 0.4707 n UK 71.9123 n HK 6.5935 n CHINA 8.2073 n singapore 39.0678 n australia 40.6781 n EU 63.7828 n SAUDI arabia 13.7467

Source: BSP (7 February 2018 )

A2 Thursday, February 8, 2018

BMReports BusinessMirror

Duterte turns gun-shy on contractualization Continued from A1

of what he committed to us about contractualization during our Labor Day meeting last year,” ALUTUCP National Vice President for National and International Affairs Louie Corral told the BusinessMirror in a phone interview. “But he added he would still have to study it in detail since he would still need to convince potential foreign investors about the said reform,” Corral added. In May last year, the labor group submitted to the Office of the President a draft EO that will prohibit all forms of contractual arrangement. The scrapping of contractualization was one of the campaign promises of Duterte. According to Tanjusay and Labor Undersecretar y Joel B. Maglunsod, the draft EO was requested by Duterte during his Labor Day meeting with labor leaders in Davao City. Under the proposed EO, regular employment will become the norm, while contractualization will only

be allowed for some professions to be decided by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and its advisory council, the National Tripartite Industrial Peace Council (NTIPC). Corral said they understood the position of the President, especially since he is being pressured by his economic advisers. “We understand our demands will not be given to us on a silver platter, but we remain optimistic after we saw that he did not change his position on contractualization,” he said. Corral added they were still willing to give the President the chance to fulfill his commitment on contractualization. “He said he will act on it within the year.” Corral was among the labor representatives from the labor coalition Nagkaisa and the militant labor group Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), who met with President Duterte on Wednesday. Aside from the EO, Corral said the meeting also focused on other matters, such as wage

increase, subsidy for the labor sector, bringing down electricity cost and boosting the participation of the labor sector in the government’s policy-making. Corral said the President committed to hold a meeting with labor groups, together with Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III, during the second week of March to further discuss the said issues. While the EO remains unsigned by the President, Corral said they will continue to push for the passage of House Bill (HB) 6908 on the Security of Tenure (SOT) in the Senate to further restrict contractualization in the country. HB 6908 bans the practice of subcontracting of jobs and fixedterm employment, as well as fines labor contractors, which will violate its provisions. Federation of Free Workers (FFW) Vice President Julius Cainglet said they will continue to hold more demonstrations until the meeting next month to pressure the President to finally sign the EO. “He said he would have his

legal team review the EO, so there is a chance it could still be changed,” Cainglet said. Maglunsod said a revision is now unlikely after Labor Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III already gave his approval to the said version of the EO. “If employers would still want it to be revised, they would now have to go to Malacañang.” Businessmen and other stakeholders are still awaiting the final policy of the Duterte administration on contractualization. Earlier, Employers Confederation of the Philippines President Donald Dee told the BusinessMirror that investors have been put on a wait-and-see mode because of this. “One of the problems why our [level of] investments is low compared to other countries is precisely because our policies are inconsistent. Our policies keep on changing. Investors don’t have an assurance. The commitment they were given [by the government] when they entered the country was not the same after a few years,” Dee said.

Retailers. . . Continued from A12

NFA rice in island provinces and municipalities, like Batanes, because 60 [percent] to 80 percent of their supply comes from the NFA. Aside from that other government agencies are making advanced orders in anticipation of calamities,” he added. Aquino pointed out, however, that there is no rice shortage in the Philippines as the country’s total inventory is enough for 88 days. Stocks held by commercial warehouses and households would be good for 34 days and 52 days, respectively. He also said the agency was not able to beef up its buffer stock through local palay procurement as the prevailing farm-gate prices, ranging from P19 to P19.50 per kg, are higher than the NFA’s buying price of P17 per kg.

EU regulator: 12 banks so far plan euro expansion for Brexit


R ANKFURT, Germany—A top European financial supervisor said that, so far, a dozen banks are making definite plans to expand their business in the eurozone ahead of Britain’s departure from the European Union (EU)—and that time is getting short for others that may want to make the same move. Sabine Lautenschlaeger warned on Wednesday that banks both in Britain and the EU need to be ready for a so-called hard Brexit, in which the United Kingdom leaves the bloc without a transitional period to ease the changeover. Under a hard Brexit, Britain would exit the 28-country EU and its free-trade zone completely when the deadline arrives in March 2019. That means banks that have been operating in London would lose their automatic right to do business throughout the rest of the bloc. That includes non-UK banks that had been using London as their gateway to Europe. A transition period could provide time for banks to adjust to new rules of trade. “We cannot be sure whether the transitional period will really happen,” said Lautenschlaeger, the vice chairman of the European Central Bank’s banking supervisory board. “Banks must continue to prepare for any outcome, including a hard Brexit.” AP

The Nation BusinessMirror

Editor: Vittorio V. Vitug • Thursday, February 8, 2018 A3

Govt to tap foreign expert to resolve Dengvaxia controversy


By Joel R. San Juan


USTICE Secretary Vitaliano N. Aguirre II on Wednesday admitted that a third party, preferably a foreign pathologist, may be needed to examine the bodies of children suspected to have died as a result of shots they received from the antidengue vaccine Dengvaxia. At a news briefing, Aguirre said he and Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) chief Persida Rueda-Acosta will meet with President Duterte on Thursday to discuss the controversies surrounding the Dengvaxia vaccine.

“I am going to emphasize that we need a clinical pathologist or an 
expert on [the] matter,” Aguirre told reporters.    “It  will not be a Filipino. It will come from abroad, who can establish

definitely the linkage between the Dengvaxia and the death or injuries suffered by the students,” he added. Attending the meeting with the President, according to Aguirre, are Presidential Spokesman Harry L. Roque Jr., Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III, RuedaAcosta, Executive Secretary Salvador C. Medialdea and Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption Chairman Dante Jimenez.   Aguirre disclosed that he had already relayed the need to tap an independent foreign expert during his recent meeting with Roque and Duque in Malacañang.   “I impressed upon the two that there should be an opinion of the pathologist,” Aguirre added.   Earlier, a group called Doctors for Public Welfare led by former Health Secretary Esperanza Cabral called on the DOJ to order the PAO to stop

the autopsies and to leave the matter of determining the cause of death of the children vaccinated with Dengvaxia to expert forensic pathologists. The group said Dr. Erwin  Erfe, who is leading the PAO team conducting the autopsies, is not a qualified forensic pathologist.   The group also quoted the results of the forensic tests conducted by pathologists from the University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital (PGH) that Erfe was actually wrong in practically all of the 14 cases his team had examined.   Aguirre said Erfe’s findings on the examined bodies cannot be considered conclusive being a mere medico legal officer.   However, Aguirre said the PAO will still continue to conduct autopsies of suspected Dengvaxia victims since  the report released by the PGH-

Dengue Investigative Task Force, which is tasked by the health department to also conduct an investigation cannot be relied upon. More than 830, 000 school children from the National Capital Region, Calabarzon, Central Luzon and Cebu were vaccinated with Dengvaxia under the program

started by the Aquino administration and continued by the present administration until in November last year when Duque ordered its suspension after Sanofi Pasteur disclosed that the vaccine could worsen symptoms of the dengue for people who had not previously been infected with the virus.

I am going to emphasize that we need a clinical pathologist or an 
expert on [the] matter. It will not be a Filipino. It will come from abroad who can establish definitely the linkage between the Dengvaxia and the death or injuries suffered by the students.”—Aguirre

Pinay caregiver missing after Taiwan quake

B.I.R. to dig deep into Sereno’s tax returns

he Manila Economic and Cultural Office (Meco) has confirmed that a Filipino is missing following a 6.4-magnitude earthquake that struck Hualien County. A local radio station, whose reporter was able to get in touch with Filipinos in Taiwan, identified the missing Filipino as Melody de Alba, 23, a caregiver. She was reportedly looking for her ward, an octogenarian, who fled their home following the earthquake. Unfortunately, however, in the aftermath of the commotion, it was de Alba who was reported lost, while her ward was taken back to her home. According to the Department of Foreign Affairs, a team from Meco, led by Labor Attache, lawyer Cesar Chavez, is in Hualien to personally check on the condition of Filipinos in the area. There are some 80,000 Filipinos in Taiwan, forming the thirdlargest national contingent of migrant workers there. They account for about onefifth of foreign workers there, according to the latest census. There are about 77,933 Filipino workers in Taiwan, with 53,868 of them working in the manufacturing sector and 22,994 others working as caregivers. Taiwan was struck by the powerful earthquake just before midn ight  on Tuesd ay, d a m ag ing buildings in the city of Hualien, killing four people and leaving and some 80 others missing, according to reports.   The 6.4-magnitude quake was recorded at 11:50 p.m., and was centered about 14 miles northeast of Hualien, a city of 110,000 on Taiwan’s east coast, the United States Geological Survey reported. Recto Mercene


By Jovee Marie N. dela Cruz @joveemarie


Rice dilemma

An elderly man pushes a steel cart to make a living, oblivious of the signages that indicate the relatively high per-kilo price of commercial rice brought about by the dwindling stocks of the National Food Authority previously being sold at a lower price. Nonie Reyes

he Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) on Wednesday vowed to pursue its investigation on earnings and income-tax returns of beleugared Chief Justice Maria Lourdes A. Sereno when she worked as legal counsel for the government in the Philippine International Air Terminals Co. Inc. (Piatco) case. In the impeachment complaint filed by lawyer Larry Gadon, it was alleged that Sereno misdeclared some P37 million earnings as lawyer in an arbitration case and that the chief magistrate failed to pay the corresponding taxes. According to Gadon, Sereno earned P37 million in defending the government in the Piatco arbitration case. Sereno, in her verified reply, said she earned P30 million and not P37 million in the Piatco case. For his part, BIR Deputy Commissioner Arnel Guballa said the bureau

is still gathering documents related to Sereno’s income. “There was no formal investigation yet regarding the income tax returns of the chief justice. So, as I peruse all the records of the tax returns of the chief justice, we can do the formal investigation so we can assess whether there was under-declaration or nondeclaration of income,” Guballa said. He, however, submitted to the House panel the income-tax returns of Sereno from 2004 to 2010, when she represented the government on the Piatco case. Meanwhile, House Committee on Justice Chairman Reynaldo Umali of Oriental Mindoro asked the BIR to finish and submit its report on February 19. According to Umali, the committee is eyeing to finish the impeachment proceedings this month. The lawmaker added the panel would submit its recommendation for approval of the plenary before the House adjourns its session on March 23, 2018.

Legislator supports Duterte pivot to East Philippine Sea By Butch Fernandez @butchfBM


enate President Pro Tempore Ralph G. Recto backed Malacañang’s option to turn to the undisputed Eastern Philippine Sea territory to explore potentially rich sources of food and fuel supply. “I support President Duterte’s pivot in Benham Rise [also called Philippine Rise],” Recto said, adding that, “with the West Philippine Sea effectively fenced off” due to conflicting territorial claims with China, “we have to look to the east Philippine seas for our food and fuel.” In a news statement issued  on Wednesday, Recto cited projec-

tions that the Malampaya natural gas field off Palawan is seen to run dry by 2024. He said Malampaya provides 45 percent of electricity supply of Luzon, which is home to 57 million people. “If there’s an impregnable Great Wall of Sand from the Scarborough Shoal to the Spratlys, then we have to look elsewhere for our power and protein needs,” the senator said. “Thus, protecting Philippine Rise means protecting our future food and energy security,” Recto added. According to Recto, a “zero dark hour” prospect for the world’s fourthmost populous island should spur the Duterte administration this early to find replacement energy sources.

The lawmaker added that a joint exploration with other claimants in the West Philippine Sea is the “lowhanging fruit” option, and the other is to explore for oil in other promising areas, like the Philippine Rise in the eastern seaboard. “The other imperative is the need to boost our fisheries output,” he added. Recto added that, if the entire Western waters of the country have become “a no- or restricted fishing zone, then we have to cast our nets elsewhere.” He recalled that one estimate pegged at P200 million a day potential fishery losses “if the whole West Philippine Sea becomes another country’s fishpond.”

Recto voiced concern that this will “hit us where it hurts most— our stomach,” noting that “we are now feeling the pinch.” This developed even as Sen. Emmanuel Joel J. Villanueva prodded the Duterte administration to reassert the Philippines’s rightful claim over the West Philippine Sea “amid ongoing militarization” of China-built artificial islands in the Spratlys archipelago. Villanueva cited a recent report showing aerial photographs confirming Chinese construction of runways, military facilities and stationary weapons on Kagitingan Reef, Calderon, Burgos, Mabini, Panganiban, Zamora and McKennan reefs.

“China’s militarization has been ongoing despite the ruling of UNbacked tribunal favoring the Philippines’s claim to exclusive sovereign rights over the West Philippine Sea,” Villanueva lamented, even as he noted that an International Court ruled China’s “nine-dash line” is invalid and that Beijing violated Manila’s sovereign rights to fish and explore for minerals in the disputed territory. He suggested that, since the decision of an international tribunal has no enforcement apparatus, “it would be best for the Philippine government and its citizens to fully exercise our sovereign rights over its Exclusive Economic Zone in the West Philippine Sea.”


A4 Thursday, February 8, 2018 • Editors: Vittorio V. Vitug and Max V. de Leon


Majority of WESM members favor shift to IMO in vote


By Lenie Lectura


embers of the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM) have voted in favor of a shift to an independent market operator (IMO).

During the first membership meeting held late Tuesday  afternoon, 81.3 percent, or 1,493,652.5 of the total 1,837,440 votes, were in favor of an independent WESM operation. Votes against stood at 4,029.5 votes, or 0.002 percent, abstention votes were at 475.2, or 0.0003 percent, while 339,284.30, or 18.5 percent, did not cast a vote.    The move toward the independent operations of the electricity market is overdue for more than a decade, with the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001 (Epira) initially calling for the formation of an IMO one year after the WESM’s establishment.  The WESM is currently being operated by the Philippine Electricity Market Corp. (PEMC), a 15-man body led by the secretary of the Department of Energy

(DOE) and composed of representatives from each sector of the electric-power industry, as well as independent members. The PEMC was incorporated in 2003 and was constituted as the autonomous group market operator to oversee market governance and perform the functions of the market operator in the WESM. Energy Secretary and PEMC Chairman Alfonso G. Cusi welcomed the results of the vote, saying that independent WESM operations exemplify the government’s commitment to continued industry reform, private-sector participation and inclusive progress. “We will be fulfilling one of the most salient programs of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act, which empowers the country with more freedom of choice, as well as a free and competitive


The percentage of members, or 1,493,652.5 of the total 1,837,440 members, who voted in favor of an independent WESM operation

market,” Cusi said.   Upon the recommendation of the PEMC Transition Committee and the approval of the PEMC Board, the IMO should, among others, comply with the following requirements:   It should be an independent entity to be formed or selected, and not owned directly nor indirectly by distribution utilities, retail electricity suppliers and other industry players; It should be jointly endorsed by the DOE and the electric-power industry participants through a majority vote of PEMC members; and   It must possess financial and technical capabilities and operate on a nonprofit basis. The DOE would cease its involvement in the PEMC Board, but maintain its mandates of policy

oversight, approval of the rules, manuals, as well as operational and performance standards, while the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) would maintain its role as the regulator. The transition plan retains PEMC as the governing body of the IMO, albeit existing as completely separate entities. Cusi emphasized that despite the IMO’s independence, the DOE shall continue with its mandate to prescribe fair and relevant WESM rules.    Furthermore, the DOE and the ERC will maintain vigilance in their roles as the people’s guardian against breaches and anticompetitive behavior.  Under the Department Circular DC2018-01-0002, otherwise known as Adopting Policies for the Effective and Efficient Transition to the IMO for the WESM, the DOE and the ERC will ensure fair competition and the promotion of public interest as envisioned in the Epira. The policy on IMO outlines the mandates of the DOE and the ERC over the operator; its guiding principles; its composition, including the board of at least five members; its functions; and WESM’s new governing and governance structure and the conditions for transition.

Govt signs pact to transform Ceza into Asian ‘Silicon Valley’


he Philippine government, through the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (Ceza), signed on Tuesday a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that would establish an unparalleled technological environment that promises to turn Ceza into an Asian version of “Silicon Valley.” In simple ceremonies held at the Philippine Trade Center in Tokyo, Japan, the agreement was signed by the Ceza, iWave Inc., a Philippine technology company and the Japanese publicly listed Traders Holdings (Ticker Code 8704).
 The MOU calls for the crafting and development of the first Asian-located Special Economic Zone to regulate, license and propagate financial-technology (Fintech) companies from around the world, and develop the Cagayan Zone as the premier hub for the continuous development of these financial technologies.
 The aim is to turn Cagayan Valley into the Asian version of Silicon Valley by providing an unparalleled technological environment. This environment will combine nature’s serene beauty—in this case Cagayan’s surrounding Sierra Madre mountains and some of the world’s finest beaches—with wide bandwidth submarine cable landing points that are soon to be completed to ensure that the special economic zone is firmly connected to the rest of the world.
 “This is a planned, calibrated development, which would be in stark

contrast to the large unmitigated growth of Asian cities with their huge traffic and unproductive environments,” said Secretary Raul L. Lambino, Ceza administrator and CEO. 
 Under the MOU, Ceza will be provided with technology to properly regulate, license, audit, monitor and launch the latest Fintech as they become available to address, the unbanked and future crowdfunding solutions.
 Among these technologies are those based on Blockchain (distributed-ledger technologies), Bitcoin, crypto technologies, cryptocurrencies, initial coin offerings, crypto exchanges, payment solutions and financial solutions.
 The MOU on a larger scale will bridge the technology industries of Japan and the Philippines, Lambino said, and this will be carried out by synergizing Japan’s advanced technologies and research and development capability with a greenfield technology hub of the Philippines, which is expanding its telecommunications and bandwidth capabilities.
 The base of the regulation will follow the forward-looking policies of Japan, which is a major trading partner of the Philippines. IWave Inc., will provide, together with Traders Group of Japan, the intellectual property it has accrued servicing the Philippine banking sector and the country’s largest online brokerage, and Japan’s largest consumer finance company Aeon in the Asia Pacific.

DENR’s Cimatu orders crafting of new Villar: DPWH opens 2 more lanes at Katipunan Avenue guideline on ‘no burn’ WTE technology By Jonathan L. Mayuga @jonlmayuga


nvironment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu has ordered concerned offices of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to craft a new guideline for the use of environmentfriendly technologies to address the country’s looming garbage crisis. Environment Undersecretary for Policy, Planning, International Affairs and Foreign Projects Jonas R. Leones, said the guideline, in the form of a department administrative order (DAO), will provide a clear-cut policy on the use of incinerators, including no-burn, waste-to-energy (WTE) technologies or use of incinerators, anticipating the possible lifting of the ban under the Clean Air Act in the future. Leones said to address the solidwaste management problem is one of the priority concerns, or one of the major thrusts of the DENR chief, with the closure of the Payatas dump, which is expected to aggravate the garbage situation, specially in Metro Manila. “ T he Ph i l ip p i ne s pro duce s 40,000 tons of garbage every day, and around 12,000 tons come from Metro Manila. We are currently coordinating with the MMDA [Metropolitan Manila Development Authority] to look for an alternative dumpsite,” he said.   Short of admitting the failure of the 3Rs; reuse, reduce and recycle strategy being promoted by the government under the Republic Act 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Manage-

ment Act of 2000, Leones said the DENR, under Cimatu’s watch, is now looking at appropriate and environment-friendly technologies to get rid of garbage heaps across the country. There are still around 400 open dumps all over the country that needs to be shuttered as mandated by the garbage law. Leones, also the designated spokesman of Cimatu, said the country’s top environment official is consistent with his position on the issue of solid-waste management. “Under the Clean Air Act, incineration is banned. But guided by the Supreme Court decision on Jancom v. MMDA, wherein the Supreme Court clarified that not all incineration are banned for as long as the emission of that facility complies with the DENR standard on dioxins and furans,” Leones said. “But even then, the policy of [the] secretary is not to violate or oppose what is provided for under the law,” he added. Leones, however, is confident that the ban on the use of incinerator will eventually be lifted by Congress with the amendment of the Clean Air Act.   He said the use of incinerators is a proven technology. “Even Singapore has six incineration plants, yet it is the cleanest and greenest city in the world,” he added. For now, he again pointed the DENR will not be adopting incinerator use in the strict sense of the word.    “What we are doing is waste-to-energy.  These are no-burn technologies.  At the same time, we destroy the garbage and generate power out of these

wastes. That is the current direction,” he said. “In anticipation of the amendment in the House, we are now crafting a guideline and we are consulting with various stakeholders to get inputs,” Leones added. Leones said in the next two to three months, the DENR will come up with the draft guideline. “For now, while we implement RA 9003, maybe we can use new technologies to address the garbage problem,” he said. He clarified though, that the DAO will prevail over the resolution of the National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC) supportingWTE.  He added that, the NSWMC resolution is just a broad stroke that supports the use of new technologies. The DAO, Leones added, will be the policy or guideline that will include the specific or detailed guideline for field offices of the DENR in case of permitting requirement. The DAO, he added, will be specific about the technologies to be allowed, as well as the step-by-step process in seeking permit and the requirements for the establishment of WTE technologies. Cimatu was also tasked by President Duterte to address the environmental problems besetting Boracay Island, the county’s top tourist destination, in Malay, Aklan.  Last week, Cimatu has ordered to limit the number of tourists being allowed in El Nido, another top tourist destination in Palawan Province, because of reports that the number of visitors in the area has exceeded its carrying capacity.

Public Works Secretary Mark A. Villar (right) leads the ceremony marking the opening of P55-million widening and flood-control project along Katipunan Avenue in Quezon City.


ood news to motorists as the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) completed its P55-million widening and flood-control project along Katipunan Avenue in Quezon City.   Public Works Secretary Mark A. Villar on Wednesday led the opening of the newly completed project covering the widening of a 672-lineal meter portion of Katipunan Avenue Southbound from Shuster Street to C.P. Gar-

cia Avenue, fronting University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman Campus. “We’ve constructed two additional lanes along the southbound direction of Katipunan Avenue, including geometric improvement works, installation of reinforced concrete pipes for flood-control, retaining wall and restoration of perimeter fence and gates of UP Diliman,” Villar said.    “[The] sidewalk was also integrated in the project for the

safety of pedestrians using the road,” he said.   Villar said the widening of Katipunan was integrated with the proposed UP-Miriam-Ateneo Viaduct Project to decongest traffic at the intersection of C. P. Garcia and Katipunan Avenues.   The DPWH Quezon City Second District Engineering Office, which implemented the project was able to complete the widening works within a year since it commenced in February 2017.

PRC to undertake review of CPD law’s operational guidelines amid complaints By Samuel P. Medenilla @sam_medenilla


mid growing number of complaints it has received in its implementation of the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) law, the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) on Wednesday said it undertake a review of the legislation’s operational guidelines (OG).

PRC said it has issued the instruction to the CPD Council of the 43 regulated professions. “Some CPD Councils have already revised their respective OGs to further make CPD more accessible and affordable,” PRC said in a news statement.   The CPD Councils, which made such adjustments, are from accountancy; agriculture and biosystems engineers; architects; chemists and

chemical technicians; civil engineers; customs brokers; professional electrical engineers, registered electrical engineers and registered master engineer; environmental planners; foresters; landscape architects; metallurgical engineers; professional teachers; midwives; nurses; radiologic engineers and x-ray technologists; and respiratory therapists. The PRC reiterated it had also exercised “maximum flexibility” in

enforcing the CPD law by granting professionals a grace period for them to fully comply with its provisions by accomplishing the undertaking embedded in their Professional Identification Card (PIC) application. This will allow “the professional to complete and submit only the CPD units in the next renewal period [of] three years after his or her first renewal under the CPD law.”   PRC said this is an assurance that

professionals were given enough time to comply with the CPD law. “Since the implementation of the Continuing Professional Development in July 2017, no professional who applied for the renewal of his or her professional ID has ever been denied by PRC due to incomplete or lacking [of] CPD units,” the PRC said.   The CPD law took effect on 2016, but was only fully complied with by the professional regulatory boards

(PRBs) on 2017 with the release of its implementing rules and regulations (IRR). It mandates professionals to obtain the necessary CPD units as prescribed by their respective PRB to renew their PIC.   Many professionals are against the legislation due to its costs since it will require them to undergo trainings, seminars or other activities related to their profession to earn the necessary CPD units.    

Agriculture/Commodities BusinessMirror

Editor: Jennifer A. Ng • Thursday, Feburary 8, 2018


PHL lifts ban on poultry from Belgium By Jasper Emmanuel Y. Arcalas



he Philippine government has lifted the import ban it slapped on poultry products from two areas in Belgium that were struck by a lethal strain of the birdflu virus last year.

The Department of Agriculture (DA) said traders may now resume importing poultry from Oostkamp and Menen in West Flanders, Belgium, as these areas are already free from the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI). The DA issued Memorandum Order (MO) 2 authorizing the lifting of the temporary ban on poultry imports from Oostkamp and Menen. MO 2 was issued after Belgium’s Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain informed the

World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) that the HPAI events in Oostkamp and Menen in West Flanders have been resolved. “In accordance to the provisions of Chapter 10.4, Article 10.4.3 of the OIE Terrestrial Animal Health Code 2017, Belgium is now free from HPAI. Based on the evaluation of the Bureau of Animal Industry [BAI], the risk of contamination from importing poultry and poultry products from Oostkamp and Menen in West Flanders, Belgium, is negligible,” Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel

F. Piñol said in MO 2 dated January 17, a copy of which was given to reporters on February 7. “By the powers vested in me by law, I hereby lift the temporary ban on the importation of domestic and wild birds, including poultry meat, day-old chicks, eggs and semen originating from Oostkamp and Menen i n West F l a nders, Belg iu m,” Piñol added. He said all poultry imports coming from the two areas of Belgium shall be in accordance with the rules and regulations of the BAI and the National Meat Inspection Service. Manila imposes a temporary ban on meat imports from countries struck by animal diseases to protect the local livestock and poultry sector. With the lifting of the ban, the Philippine government would resume the processing, evaluation of the application and issuance of sanitary and phytosanitary import clearance of domestic and wild birds and poultry products from Belgium.

Jasper Juinen/Bloomberg

Goldman’s a raging Earnings from abaca exports up 16.4% in Jan-May bull on commodities R as turmoil aids view evenues from the country’s abaca shipments in January to May 2017 grew by 16.4 percent to $59.832 million, from $51.384 million recorded in the same period last year, according to the Philippine Fiber Industry Development Authority (PhilFida). The latest data released by the PhilFida showed the bulk of export receipts came from outbound shipments of abaca pulp, which accounted for nearly 70 percent of total revenues. On an annual basis, abaca pulp exports during

the five-month period rose by 22.1 percent to $41.772 million. Total volume of abaca pulp exported by the Philippines during the January-to-May period reached 9,654.033 metric tons (MT), 12.5 percent higher than the 8,577.935 MT recorded in 2016. The United Kingdom was the top importer of the country’s abaca pulp, accounting for 40.1 percent of total shipments during the fivemonth period. Abaca pulp exports to the UK expanded by 15.6 percent to 3,867.271 MT, from the previous year’s 3,265.885 MT.

Germany was the second top buyer of Philippine abaca pulp, accounting for 23.8 percent of shipments. However, abaca pulp exports to Germany declined by 10.9 percent to 2,300.254 MT, from 2,551.087 MT. PhilFida data showed the country’s total abaca fiber export during the five-month period rose by a third to 7,077.75 MT, from 2016’s record of 5,311.25 MT. Spain was the country’s top abaca fiber export destination, accounting for 32.5 percent of ship-

ments. Shipments to Spain jumped to 2,301.75 MT, from the previous year’s 432.25 MT. Japan was the second top buyer of abaca fiber. It imported 2,103 MT, accounting for 29.7 percent of the total shipments. The volume was 13.6 percent higher than the 1,851.25 MT recorded in the same period a year ago. PhilFida data showed total earnings from shipments of abaca fiber expanded by 41 percent to $13.581 million, from the previous year’s record of $9.635 million. Jasper Emmanuel Y. Arcalas

Can a plant-based diet save the planet?


Simon Dawson/Bloomberg


oldman Sachs Group Inc. is standing by its very bullish call on commodities, saying that the recent global markets sell-off only bolsters its view that raw materials are set to perform well in the months ahead. “Commodities proved to work just as advertised” during the equity-led declines, Jeffrey Currie, the bank’s head of commodities research, said in an interview on Bloomberg Television from Hong Kong on Wednesday. “In fact, you saw base metals and gold trade up as the equity market went down.” Globa l markets have been roiled in the past week after a twoday rout in United States equities spilled over into commodities and other assets, before Wall Street rebounded in Tuesday’s session. Ahead of the tumble, Goldman threw its weight behind raw materials in a February 1 note, saying that it’s more bullish on commodities than any time since the end of the supercycle in 2008. As economies around the world pick up, factories are humming, eating into stockpiles and driving raw material demand, according to the bank. “Historically, when you look at commodities they perform very well during rate-hiking cycles,” Currie told Tom Mackenzie in the interview. “Oil’s what we called backwardated, where spot prices sit above forward prices, so you buy at a discount and roll up the curve. In other words, it pays you to be long.” The Bloomberg Commodity

Index rallied in late-January to the highest level since October 2015, aided by gains in metals and oil. While the index did drop in the three days to Tuesday, the losses were smaller than seen among equity benchmarks. During the selloff, other analysts also reaffirmed their positive outlook, with Citigroup Inc. backing metals over bonds.

‘Spot on’

“During the rate-hiking cycle industrial metals are up on average 50 percent per annum: We did 30 percent last year,” Currie said. “So again, we’d think again that in this type of environment, this is what commodities were intended to perform really well. And what we’re seeing so far is spot on.” Among the targets in the February 1 report, Goldman forecast copper rising to $8,000 a metric ton in 12 months, Brent crude topping $82 a barrel within six, and iron ore gaining to $85 a ton in three. On Wednesday copper rebounded 0.7 percent to $7,124, after falling 1.3 percent the previous day, Brent climbed 0.7 percent to $67.32 and spot iron ore was last at $75.92. Currie said reforms in China, where policy-makers have moved to reduce excess capacity, also aided raw materials as they improved utilization rates and helped companies to cut debt loads. “When you look at the supply-side reforms in China, they’ve been absolutely brilliant,” Currie said. Bloomberg News

y answer is “yes.” This, even if I’m happily (and guiltlessly) snacking on Greek yogurt and cheese and pepperoni pizza while writing this column. But I will qualify that answer by saying that one doesn’t have to be vegan/vegetarian to enjoy a more environment-friendly diet. What we can do instead is to eat more vegetables—preferably seasonal, local and organic vegetables—and reduce meat and dairy consumption. They’re not only healthier for the body, but it also encourages farmers to grow more types of crops, enrich the soil and secure their livelihood. I discovered vegetarianism about 20 years ago, after I bought a copy of Fraces Moore Lappe’s Diet for a Small Planet in Popular Bookstore. After reading how wasteful cattle raising was—as cattle consumes so much soybeans and corn, and with more profitable feedgrains discouraging the cultivation of food crops—I decided to drop beef from my diet. I also stopped eating pork, chicken meat and seafood because it was also around that time that I started doing yoga and meditation under an Ananda Marga nun. Although yoga and meditation students are not required to become vegetarians, Ananda Marga encourages its students to get into a lacto-vegetarian diet as a form of compassion for sentient beings and to aid in meditation. Soon after, I got a job offer in Singapore, and thanks to the Lion City’s multiethnic populace, I had the chance to dine on Hindu and Buddhist vegetarian meals. I was an ovo-lacto-vegetarian for several years until I returned to Manila in 2005 and reverted to being an omnivore owing to my anemia. But I continue to believe in putting more greens in my diet and to this day, seldom eat hamburgers, lechon

Prime Sarmiento

prime commodities and steak. Having said that, I still maintain that vegetarianism/veganism is not for everyone. Plant-based protein sources like tofu or beans, for one, can’t supply vitamins like B12 that the body needs. We also need to consider local food cultures. Would you ask an Inuit to give up seal meat or require all Pinoys to stop serving lechon during fiesta? And how about the taste? We don’t just eat food for fuel but to enjoy being a gourmet. Another consideration is that farmers have to maximize their small plots of land by raising a variety of animals and plants as this will diversify their sources of food and income. Thankfully, the Philippine dining scene has changed since I first embarked on my vegetarian journey. The rise of weekend markets, organic farming, healthy eating and farm-totable dining has encouraged Filipinos to eat more vegetables. There are now vegetarian and vegan restaurants and cafes; and several stores and pop-ups are selling tofu, mock meats and even veganized versions of Pinoy favorites like tapa and longganisa. In Facebook, there are groups offering tips, recipes and even supplies for a vegetarian/vegan cook and diner. I even had the chance to sign up for a vegetarian cooking class and spent one weekend mashing garbanzos and slicing onions for the falafels that I’m cooking in vegetarian chef Marie Gonzalez’s culinary class. Such development is welcome if only because a relatively new environment issue—climate change—has

given rise to the “low-carbon diet.” Unlike other diet fads, low-carbon diet is not about weight loss but about carbon loss. It’s about reducing the farming sector’s greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions by being mindful of what we eat. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said livestock raising alone emits 7.1 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2)-equivalent per year, representing 14.5 percent of all man-made GHG emissions. Cattle accounted for more than 60 percent of the livestock sector’s emissions. FAO estimates that on a commodity basis, beef and cattle milk are responsible for the livestock sector’s emissions, contributing 41 percent and 20 percent, respectively, to the sector’s overall GHG output. In contrast, pork only accounted for 9 percent of the livestock emissions. This was followed by buffalo milk and meat (eight percent), chicken meat and eggs (8 percent), and goat/sheep milk and meat (6 percent). So, if you are an avowed carnivore and your diet is heavy on cow’s milk, steak and corned beef, then your carbon footprint is higher than those carnivores who eat lower in the food chain, opting for fried chicken, omelet and goat’s milk. If you want to reduce your carbon footprint further there’s no better way to do that but to eat more greens, beans (and bean by-products like tofu) and fish. According to a fact sheet issued by the University of Michigan’s Center for Sustainable Systems (CSS), meat products have larger carbon footprints per calorie than grain or vegetable products because of the inefficient transformation of plant energy to animal energy. “A vegetarian diet greatly reduces an individual’s carbon footprint, but switching to less carbon

intensive meats can have a major impact, as well. For example, replacing all beef consumption with chicken for one year leads to an annual carbon footprint reduction of 882 pounds carbon emissions,” CSS said. CSS added eating a vegetarian meal one day a week could save the equivalent of driving 1,160 miles, while replacing all beef consumption with chicken for one year leads to an annual carbon footprint reduction of 882 pounds carbon dioxide. According to a story published in, planting beans can return nitrogen to the soil and can save 600 kilograms of carbon emissions per hectare. Herring and tuna, meanwhile, produce only 0.56 g CO2/Kcal of protein and 5.75 g CO2/Kcal of protein. Meanwhile, released a ranking of each food’s carbon footprint ( and you can see that vegetables, fruits and lentils are among the food items that have the lowest carbon footprints. But more than reducing GHG emissions, eating more vegetables can also encourage farmers to diversify their crops. As what several studies have shown, monocropping can deplete the soil’s nutrients and also make crops more prone to disease and pests. Monocropping also puts most farmers’ livelihood at risk as one infestation can wipe out their crops— and ultimately their only source of income. The farmers’ welfare may not be one of our key concerns at the moment as living in the city has detached us from the real people who put the food in our table. But whether like it or not, the farmers’ welfare is a key concern for all of us because we all have a stake in our local farming systems. And this is something I will discuss in my next column on community-supported agriculture.




Thursday, February 8, 2018

Birds, food and tricycles: Metro T

By Roger Pe

HE three-city tour was fast, ran in clockwork precision and very organized.

THE world-famous Bamboo Organ in Las Piñas’s Saint Joseph Parish Church

There was no time for waiting and we didn’t waste time secondguessing what was going to happen next. Inside the blizzard-cold coaster as we began rolling on Edsa, the atmosphere was warm and, surprise, very quiet. Far different from previous tours we’ve attended, where our ears would bleed from people tirelessly talking throughout the entire trip. I had gingerly slid my back on the seat, ready to coil and doze off to catch sleep—It was going to be a one-and-a-half-hour travel, I was told—when I heard two girls giggling and kept uttering the word “Elpipicheya.” On the fourth mention of that strange name, I began to get curious and listened carefully. Were they going to hand out pieces of pichi-pichi or chichiriya? Did I get it right, I asked myself again. After all, we were heading to Malabon, and you know what the city is known for—glorious pancit and other wonderful kakanin. Grabbing my travel bag, I learned that “Elpipicheya” was actually LPPCHEA, acronym for the Las Piñas-Parañaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area, the vast, elongated stretch of coastal patch of land off limits to the public before because it was uninhabitable, choked by garbage and had a sensitive ecosystem. It’s the same mangrove forest you see while your airplane descends to Manila. It is the most beautiful thing that happened to this lonely patch of land, a welcome respite from a sea of buildings that suffocate the metro. Before the LPPCHEA was cleaned and almost vacuumed to the last piece of trash, it was gasping for its last remaining breath to survive. Now there’s hope. Visitors could soon be flocking to this “no man’s land,” by boat or by land, to see a once dystopian place now miraculously sprouting different species of Philippine trees, bamboos and shrubs. On its shores and branches of abundant trees, around 84 species of migratory and endemic birds have turned them into their habitat. In this oasis, just a stone’s throw from the Mall of Asia and the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, nature is reasserting itself and telling us, “You need us.”

The cycle of life has returned.

Manila’s last natural bastion

IN 2004 Mike Lu and members of the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines (WBCP) discovered a new bird-watching site along Coastal Road in Parañaque. It was an islet ringed by mangroves beside a shallow lagoon that teemed with thousands of birds during low tide. They recorded the number of species and, to their amazement, the LPPCHEA emerged as the only site in Metro Manila with the largest on record, while the rest have shrunk to pitifully low. The following year, the WBCP partnered with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-National Capital Region (DENR-NCR) to conduct a census of waterbirds flocking in the area. Researchers carried out an indepth survey and found out the LPPCHEA is home to an amazing rich ecosystem and has a number of avian species. The full list would make one fall off a seat. Among them were the Philippine Duck, Yellow Bitern, the Black and Grey Night Heron, the Great Egret, the Western Osprey, the Barred Rail, the White-Breasted Waterhen, the Pacific Golden Plover, the Marsh Sandpiper, the Spotted and Zebra Doves, the Philippine Pied Fantail and many more. Ecology-kindred souls have replanted Philippine trees to resuscitate the fledgling lungs of Metro Manila. Now you see juvenile kamagong, narra, molave, kamuning, bignay, madre cacao and malabulak trees abound in the area. They will be become beautiful, sturdy trees in 20 years’ time. Near the beach, where large flocks of herons and egrets rummage for food, there is also a hectare of land devoted to different species of bamboos. The 175-hectare site received a global recognition and was declared a wetland of international importance in 2013. A source of pride and joy by its number-one protector, Sen. Cynthia Villar, the LPPCHEA has been getting welldeserved attention in recent years, joining the list of other places in the Philippines recognized by the Ramsar Convention. The Ramsar Convention (on wetlands of international impor-

LPPCHEA (Las Piñas, Parañaque Critical Habitat Ecotourism Area) Bird Sanctuary, last bastion of nature in Metro Manila

nowned because of this]. But we will be ready for the future and make next-generation jeepneys that will be relevant to the changing times.”

Bamboo organ

ZERO emission and e-jeepney edition of Sarao jeepney

PARAÑAQUE’S food-trip avenue, Aguirre Street

tance, especially as waterfowl habitat) is an international treaty for the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands. It is also known as the Convention on Wetlands named after the city of Ramsar in Iran, where the convention was signed in 1971.

Iconic Philippine jeepney

WHEN American soldiers left many Willys jeeps in the Philippines at the end of World War II, they were reconstructed and converted into the “Kings of the Road” we see today—with distinct Filipino design and artistry. Over the years, small local companies started to produce newer versions of them by importing engine parts and reassembling

them locally. Since then, they have become part of the Filipino culture. In Manila, a Las Piñas trip would not be special without a side trip to the Sarao jeepney manufacturing plant, where fleets of multicolored jeepneys are meticulously handcrafted. The company was a small automotive shop put up by Leonardo S. Sarao Sr. in 1953. A mechanic and former calesa driver, Sarao built his company from a budget of P700 into a multimillion-peso corporation. Sarao jeepneys eventually ruled the streets of Manila during its peak, making the name synonymous with the vehicle and eventually becoming an icon of Filipino pop culture.

The Sarao jeepney has been exhibited at the Philippine pavilion of the New York World’s Fair in 1964 and traveled from Manila to London and across Europe in 1971, as part of the London-Manila Express, a roadshow sponsored by the Philippine Tourism and Travel Association to boost the country’s tourism and industry to European countries. Today, however, jeepneys are embattled and, operators, including manufacturers, are on tenterhooks. Some are still on the road but not for long, if the Department of Transportation (DOTr) would have its way. The DOTr has blamed vehicular traffic on jeepneys. A report also noted that jeepneys contribute 80 percent of air pollution in the metropolis. But Eduardo Sarao, representing the second generation of the clan, is unfazed. He said the company is ready to follow whatever policy the government wants to implement. In fact, Sarao has already made a prototype of a zero-emission jeepney as early as 2014. His eponymous firm manufactured an e-jeepney the following year and is focusing on creating a third this year. Asked whether the e-jeepney will take off, Sarao said, “We were still kids when this modernization thing was being talked about. My opinion is that we will still build the traditional jeepneys. D’yan kasi tayo nakilala [We became re-

JANUARY 30 was special because it was the day I experienced the solemn grandeur of Las Piñas’s Bamboo Organ playing for the first time. After stepping foot on the doorsteps of Saint Joseph Parish Church, we were ushered upstairs to listen to a medieval song. Right there and then, I felt an adrenaline rush. And as the organ played, I was transported to the set of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, where Romeo was waxing poetic with his cousin Benvolio listening. Were those pipes really made of bamboos? I moved to the back to play like a sleuth. Oh, yes, indeed. Father Diego Cera de la Virgen del Carmen, a priest from Spain, is recognized as leading the construction of both the church and the famous organ. Records show he was the parish priest of Las Piñas from 1795 to 1830. Del Carmen is portrayed as being a gifted man, a natural scientist, chemist, architect and community leader. Del Carmen’s choice of bamboo as material for the organ was probably for both practical and aesthetic reasons. Documents available on the Internet said the priest began work on the organ in 1816, while the church was still under construction. The organ took many years to become playable. It was finally completed in 1824, after Del Carmen decided to use metal for trumpets because he could not replicate certain musical characteristics using bamboos.

Food tourism

THE South is wildly famous for a myriad of food havens, but few come close to the food wonders that BF Homes offers. One of these is Container Turf. We passed through the newly


sMirror | Thursday, February 8, 2018


Manila offers tourism treasures

THE 404-year-old San Bartolome Church, Malabon City

his business partner were dining in a food park along Congressional Avenue two years ago when an idea popped up his head. “Why don’t we put up something like this in BF Homes?” he mused and began hunting for a spot. The rest, they say, is a continuing history.

Life is a feast

TOURISM Secretary Wanda Corazon Teo with Malabon Mayor Antolin A. Oreta lll

constructed Naia superskyway and within an hour, Aguirre Street beckoned. After a few minutes, we’re inside BF Homes’s favorite chow and fun stop. From the name itself, the food stalls in this hip food park are located in individual shipping containers, thus the name Container Turf. The colors around the three-level food hideaway will definitely brighten one’s mood. The 34 shops, each with its own distinct persona and character, will liven up one’s taste buds. The must-try food stalls include Pothead Pig, Swig and Guzzle, El

Chapo’s, Eatnam, The Steak Joint, Fromagerie, Red Buffalo, Wok Your Way, Smoke Grill House, Noona’s, Melt, Ayan’s Rumah Makan, Zig-ahZig and Dip n’ Dough. “We have a large community here, in fact, the biggest subdivision in Asia. That explains why we have a wide array of local and international cuisines,” Jovic Susim, the owner of Container Turf, said. “In addition, we will have the original paluto from the famous Dampa, a hawker-style shop of Singapore and more.” Only 26 years old, Susim and

EXTRAORDINARY people know that Malabon is not only about floods: the city has one of the oldest churches in the Philippines, well-preserved heritage houses in the entire country, plus excellent food treats. The city folks of Malabon gave us a rousing welcome inside a 404-year-old church that looked like the Pantheon of Rome from afar. When we arrived at San Bartolome Church, city tourism officials, all garbed in different shades of pink, ushered us inside. Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo, together with Mayor Antolin A. Oreta III, were already mingling with foreign tourists who were all amazed at how the church’s Baroque interior has survived since its construction in 1599. “The ceiling is amazing, only the paintings of Michelangelo are missing, otherwise you’d mistake it as the Sistine Chapel,” one tourist was overheard as saying. Outside, three huge 17th-century bells lie as mute witnesses to a glorious past. A few steps away, an antique fountain serves as a centerpiece of the beautiful adobe-covered courtyard. Documents provided by the City Tourism Office said Malabon came from the words “Maraming Labong” (lots of labong, or edible bamboo shoots). Originally called Tambobong, Malabon was founded as a visita of Tondo by the Augus-

tinian friars on May 21, 1599, and remained under the administrative jurisdiction of the province of Tondo from 1627 to 1688. The city boasts of a rich economic history by playing an important role in the late 19th century. It was the site of La Princesa Tabacalera in 1851 and the Malabon Sugar Co. in 1878. The former was under the corporate umbrella of Compania General de Tabacos de Filipinas, which was owned by the King of Spain, while the latter pioneered the refined sugar industry in the Philippines. The newspaper La Independencia was first printed in an orphanage in Malabon’s Asilo de Huérfanos. The first Mayor of Malabon was Don Agustin Salamante, a Spanish mestizo originally from Cavite. For 70 years, Malabon was a municipality of Rizal until 1975 when it became part of the National Capital Region.

Tricycle heritage tour

THE Department of Tourism (DOT) wanted to start the year with a big bang and did it with an auspicious, uniquely Malabon start to promote emerging destinations in the Philippines. They are jewels in their own right but hardly publicized. No less than Teo and Tourism Assistant Secretary Ricky Alegre joined the barnstorming as they participated in Malabon’s tricycle tour of the city’s heritage house treasures. Teo gamely hopped inside a quaintly decorated tricycle that brought her, Oreta and members of the media snaking through narrow, busy streets. The first stop was the Syjuco Mansion. Once inside, our world turned back to the days of the Katipuneros. Malabon, being close to Caloocan, the hub of Andres

Bonifacio’s campaign against Spain during the 1898 uprising, was also part of that tumultuous chapter in our history. The mansion is a virtual repository of a storied past. Photos, furniture, curtains, resplendent floors, sturdy balustrades, intricately designed window sills, paintings of the Katipunan blood compact, medallions and other mementos of a bygone but not forgotten era abound in this gem of a house. Oreta said ever since Malabon’s “Tricycle Tours” project was launched, more and more tourists were coming in. “The most notable was a group of students from Harvard University last year,” he said. “Culture, history, the best food in the Philippines, we all have it here, so help us promote our beloved Malabon.” “By promoting emerging destinations that are hardly on the consciousness of people, we will also be able to help the local community, notably, tricycle drivers and those working in the tourism industry,” Teo said. “We will definitely support and help promote them.” The Tricycle Heritage Tour includes the following stops: the San Bartolome Church, the Nepomuceno, Ibaviosa, Rivera and Raymundo Ancestral House, Syjuco Mansion and El Casa Katipunero, which also includes a tour of Artes de Paseo Art Gallery owned by Angel Cacnio. The basic tour is priced at P250 per person, a Food Trip Special Tour at P750 and a combined Food and Heritage tour is at P900 per person.

‘Lugaw’ and art

THE city tourism office then brought us to experience what many people are raving about: Malabon’s “Lugaw Experience,” a

hole-in-the-wall eatery that is always packed with customers. The lugaw, rice porridge, was indeed, delectable. The place is located just in front of another famous heritage house, the Ibaviosa Mansion, the house that patis (fish sauce) built. Old-timers say this was the birth of the original “Patis Malabon” that spawned a lot of other brands. Next stop was the Angel Cacnio Art Gallery and Residence. I immediately noticed Cacnio’s University of the Philippines School of Fine Arts diploma signed by National Artist Guillermo Tolentino in 1954. The artist’s gallery had many paintings depicting Katipuneros at war. In one corner hangs several glass-encased modern-day peso bills he designed. Now having a difficulty to speak clearly, Cacnio proudly told us that he never commercialized his paintings and brought them outside of the country. “I painted for the Filipino people and for the Filipinos only,” he said. Our Malabon tour ended with a grand lunch at the grand Borja-Gonzalez Mansion. The residence, located right beside a heavily populated area, was everything grand: from the grand staircase to the grand piano to the grand artdeco mirror, grand ballroom and, of course, grand long table, grand ceilings and turn-of-the-century memorabilia. As soon as we stepped into the living room, a couple garbed in Filipino-Spanish outfit depicting that era greeted us and danced to the tune of “La Jota Moncadena.” Crispy pata, morcon, Pancit Malabon and a wide array of kakanin were then served. What a feast! Teo told reporters the Philippines has many attractions for the world to discover. “Metro Manila alone has hundreds of emerging tourist destinations to offer, not only the usual sun-and-beach recreation, but a widely diverse fun experience, and they deserve publicity. We want the media to promote them so that foreign as well as local tourists would come in,” Teo said. “Thailand has tuktuk, Indonesia has Bajaj and Vietnam has Cyclo [but] ours is very unique. There’s nothing like it anywhere else in the world. We should make an effort to promote this touch of local color.”

Brighter tourism future

CHINESE tourists propelled the Philippines’ tourism industry in 2017 by registering a whopping 43.3-percent increase or a total of 968,447 arrivals. With that figure, the country’s tourist arrivals jumped to 6.62 million, exceeding the 6.5-million target of the Duterte administration under its National Tourism Development Plan (NTDP). The Philippines sees an even larger increase in Chinese visitors when Philippine Airlines (PAL) brings in tourists from Xiamen to Puerto Princesa, Palawan, starting February 10. More flights are scheduled on February 14, 18 and 22. Teo said the DOT is also working on developing a Tianjin-Puerto Princesa route in time for the Chinese New Year on February 16. “We are looking forward to the resulting effects for the country’s tourism industry once all the massive infrastructure projects are completed under the ‘Build, Build, Build’ program of the administration. To complement this, the DOT is undertaking its ‘Promote, Promote, Promote’ program to entice more foreign tourists to come to the country,” Alegre said. “It [the program] must be three times harder to promote the Philippines now.” “We have to keep the momentum going now that we are in the implementation phase of the Tourism Development Plan for 20172022, which aims to unleash the potentials of our tourism industry and make it more competitive,” Teo added.

Banking&Finance BusinessMirror

A8 Thursday, February 8, 2018 • Editor: Jun B. Vallecera

BSP governor faces his first major test


angko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Nestor A. Espenilla Jr. faces his first major test on Thursday: striking a balance between curbing inflation and calming financial markets. Inflation is at the highest in more than three years, the currency is under pressure and financial markets are experiencing wild moves this week. Espenilla has to decide whether now is the right time to tighten monetary policy for the first time since 2014 to prevent one of Asia’s fastest-growing economies from overheating. “Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas may finally deliver on rate hikes after the spike in inflation to 4 percent,” said Eugene Leow, a fixed-income strategist at DBS Group Holdings Ltd. in Singapore. “With sentiment already jittery, higher rates may actually instill confidence in peso assets.” Twelve of the 17 economists surveyed by Bloomberg predict the benchmark rate would be held at 3 percent, with the rest forecasting an increase to 3.25 percent. The Philippines is among the top inflation-targeting central banks in Asia, and its credibility now rests on the governor, who took office in July. Policy-makers in Asia face pressure to follow the United States in tightening monetary policy with Malaysia raising rates in January. The financial market volatility is complicating the job of central bankers, who seek to preserve

stability while anchoring inflation and growth expectations. In India, the central bank is forecast to hold its key rate on Wednesday. The Philippine peso has lost more than 2 percent this year, the worst-performing currency in emerging markets after the Argentine peso. The Philippine currency and benchmark stock index gained on Wednesday, following an Asia shares rally. The BSP is among the most predictable in Asia on monetary policy. Former Governor Amando M. Tetangco Jr. communicated potential changes in advance, and the last unexpected decision was in July 2012, when authorities cut interest rates. The implementation last month of the tax law that raised levies on fuel, sugary drinks and cigarettes is boosting inflation. The surge in January prices was driven by food, beverages and tobacco. Walking around the cramped alleys of Mega Q-Mart, one of the largest wet markets in Manila, Nenita Villamor lamented that prices of goods like chicken have gone up. The mother of six has stopped buying poultry as the cost has risen more than 10 percent in recent weeks. “I cook vegetables for my family

MWSS unveils ecotourism hub master plan A

Espenilla instead of chicken, which has gotten more expensive,” she said. “We miss it, but we can’t afford it now. The vendors say the price increase is because of new taxes.” Public transport groups and ride-sharing companies Uber Technologies Inc. and Grab are calling for fare hikes, while labor unions are also seeking an increase in minimum wages. The Central Bank will be closely monitoring the situation and stands ready to take timely action, Espenilla said on Tuesday. “We’re not ruling out a rate hike,” said Euben Paracuelles, an economist at Nomura Holdings Inc. in Singapore, who forecast no change. “The BSP is very sensitive to the inflation targets being breached. Given the tax law and oil, they probably would realize that the inflation outlook will only drift higher this year, so the target is more at risk.”

UCPB start-up bancassurance business takes off in 2017


CPB’S partnership with life insurance company, Cocolife, and nonlife insurance company, UCPB General Insurance Co. Inc., is paying solid dividends for the bank. In the nine months following its launch in April 2017, the bancassurance partnership generated total premiums of P1.05 billion from the sale of insurance policies of the two companies to the bank’s, customers.  Bancasssurance is an arrangement between an insurance company and a bank whereby the former sells its products to the latter’s clientele.   The partnership benefits UCPB in two ways. One, it makes readily available to the bank’s clients a variety of insur-

ance products to secure their future and to protect them against financial losses; and two, it provides the bank itself with a steady source of topline revenues with high growth potentials. UCPB President and CEO Higinio Macadaeg Jr. said bancassurance dovetails perfectly with the bank’s thrust to leverage the nationwide reach of its network of 188 branches and focus on the retail and consumer markets.  “Our individual depositors and borrowers present a huge market for insurance products,” he said, pointing out that as these customers progress in their businesses and careers and goes through the various stages of their personal lives, “they will be needing more risk cover, from the

basic motor, fire and life insurance to health, retirement and estate plans, as well as new investment outlets.” UCPB Vice president for Bancassurance Merline de la Cruz sees the volume increasing dramatically this year as the bank continues to expand its loan portfolio and deposit base, and this, she said, “would double the new business’s production by year-end.”  De la Cruz said a key driver of volume growth would be the variable life insurance, a life-insurance coverage with an investment component, which the bancassurance partnership will push aggressively this year.  UCPB secured Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas approval to sell the hybrid insurance late last year.

PLDT debuts virtual rewards wallet and card


eading telecom and digital service provider PLDT on Wednesday launched the PLDT group’s converged rewards program that will benefit customers of PLDT, Smart, TNT and Sun subscribers. Dubbed the Most Valuable Partner program or MVP, customers can enroll via their PLDT Home, Smart, TNT and Sun accounts and conveniently link it to just one rewards wallet–MVP Rewards.   “Our customers are our most valuable partners and they deserve nothing less than an innovative and unparalleled rewards program,” PLDT Chairman and CEO Manuel V. Pangilinan said.  “MVP Rewards is in a category of its own. We’ve taken what is best across industries and put it in one powerful program that offers more than just rewards. And the PLDT Group has the unique ability to provide this level of convergence owing to the breadth of our combined services,” he stressed.   MVP Rewards is a product of the strategic collaboration of PLDT, Smart and Voyager Innovations, through its digital financial-services arm, PayMaya Philippines, and its digital marketing arm, Hatch.   Customers are rewarded by paying their monthly bills on time and in full, or whenever they load their prepaid numbers. Earned points are as good as cash, hence they need not worry about when points will expire or when points can be redeemed. Customers are given the freedom to choose when and where to use their rewards. Points earned are consolidated in a sin-

gle rewards wallet that comes with a virtual card powered by PayMaya, the leading digital payments wallet in the country. MVP Rewards members simply need to download the PayMaya app and activate their virtual card. Members can also get their own MVP Rewards physical card, which they can link to their wallet and use to swipe or dip at point-of-sale terminals when they go out to shop or dine at establishments in the Philippines or abroad. Simply being a member is also rewarding on its own. Members enjoy special deals and privileges at various establishments nationwide just by showing their virtual or physical MVP Rewards card. Each month, customers are part of a members-only raffle, where they can win bill rebates on so many everyday expenses. Rebates won are also credited directly to their rewards wallet.

“We designed the MVP Rewards program with one audience in mind—our customers. By providing them with their own virtual card powered by PayMaya, we are giving our customers more value and convenience in their rewards card.  All you need is now in your mobile phone: one wallet where rewards are credited, seamlessly combined with the most convenient way to shop, dine and pay bills at your fingertips,” said Annette W. Tirol, first vice president and group head for loyalty and rewards.  “This is just the beginning of an evenstronger partnership with our PLDT Group customers, as we open up the MVP Rewards program to include more merchants and services this year,” Pangilinan said. “This is a fitting gift to our loyal customers as PLDT celebrates its 90th anniversary this year.”

Case clippings

By Justice S J Ranada Jr.

ILLEGAL DISMISSAL–premature retirement of employee An employee in the private sector who did not expressly agree to the terms of an early retirement plan cannot be separated from the service before he reaches 65 years. The employer who retires the employee prematurely is guilty of illegal dismissal, and is liable for back wages and must reinstate him without loss of seniority and other benefits, unless the employee has reached the mandatory retirement age under the Labor Code. Laya v. Court of Appeals 10 Jan. 2018

GR 05813 Bersamin, J

s part of its quest to bring new avenues for growth and revenues, Metropolitan Water works and Sewerage System (MWSS) recently unveiled its Water Eco-Tourism Hub Master Plan as it kick started its 140th founding celebration this month. The plan was done by urban planner architect Felino Palafox to bring the 79-hectares Old Balara Picnic Grove into a water ecotourism hub and to make it environmentally compliant. “This grand plan also jibes with the ‘Build, Build, Build’ program of President Duterte, as well as our vision to build a water and environment institute to better serve the present and future generations,” MWSS Administrator Reynaldo V. Velasco said. “Having proven that we have collectively experienced successful water public-private partnership in the last 20 years through a workable concession agreement, I am confident that this Palafox master plan will become a reality under the Duterte administration.” Velasco also thanked MWSS concessionaires Manila Water and Maynilad for their contributions to the project. “Thank you, Mon and Ferdz, for coming forward to fund this noble project,” he said. Manila Water President and CEO Ferdinand M. de la Cruz said, “Water and sanitation services requires a master plan, it requires a sustainable planning and really a long-term view. We extend what we can do through MWSS to promote good water and sanitation.” For his part, Maynilad President and CEO Ram-

oncito S. Fernandez, said, “This serves as a showcase for the local water industry and is definitely a good legacy of Admin Velasco, together with Maynilad, Manila Water and MWSS.” According to Jun Palafox, the master plan will snake around or between the trees and will be a model community. “I think this will be a classic sample of public-private partnership, and everyone will be a stakeholder,” he said. “This can be a model also on how to make places walkable, bikeable, livable, safer, more sustainable and more resilient. Plus, this is our gift to the whole country, where we can live peacefully in a patriotic, humanist and architectural society.” The unveiling was hosted by Maynilad Assistant Vice President for Government Relations Anette Hernandez de Ocampo, and Manila Water Head of Corporate Communications Jeric Sevilla.

Engage and grow


f you Google the word “engage,” you will find many synonyms for it—in this column, I will use three that are relevant to me and important for associations to grow and prosper. The first synonym is “to participate or to become involved” and this has to do with an association’s most important stakeholder: its members. In my column on September 27, 2017, I mentioned that member engagement in the association world is the hardest to undertake and measure among the five stages in the membership-life cycle framework, i.e., awareness, recruitment, engagement, renewal and reinstatement. The main reason for this is that member engagement is multifaceted and dynamic and associations find it more daunting and challenging to undertake. It is, in fact, holistic as it is strategic as you will note in its definition by the American Nurses Association, to wit: “Member engagement is the investment of time, money, attention, and participation, by both the association and its members, in order to provide meaningful, long-term, mutually beneficial experiences and relationships that advance the profession.” The second synonym is “to attract or bring together” and this applies to the engagement of an association with its stakeholders other than members, such as supporters (e.g., donors, sponsors), partners (service collaborators, e.g., academe) and government (e.g., regulators, policymakers). Needless to say, engaging with these stakeholders brings forth tangible benefits (e.g., funding) and nontangible benefits (e.g., expertise, enabling policy environment) to an association. The third synonym is “to begin and carry on an activity.” By this, I refer specifically to the use of technology to propel associations forward as they are now constantly challenged, among others, by declining revenues, competition from Internet-based knowledge resources, and changing demographics, e.g., the entry of millennials

Association World Octavio Peralta into associations. Technology-based solutions, such as using association management software (e.g., for member dues collection, event registration, communication tools and accounting), will make associations more interactive, agile and efficient in their operation. So engagement in the association context is actually making a strategy which an association can plan, implement, and measure. By putting the above three meanings of engagement together, I have developed a simple “growth formula” for associations: Engagement with members + engagement with partners, donors, sponsors, other stakeholders + Engaging in tools and technology = Growth (in membership, in activities, in revenues). I know that this “formula” is easier written than done, but I have learned, as an association executive myself, that by being open to ideas, looking beyond your usual confines, working with others and having more creativity and agility, can help your association do more for the benefit of your stakeholders and your cause, weather challenges, grow steadily and progress into the future. The column contributor, Octavio Peralta, is concurrently the secretary-general of the Association of Development Financing Institutions in Asia and the Pacific (Adfiap) and CEO of the Philippine Council of Associations and Association Executives. PCAAE enjoys the support of Adfiap, the Tourism Promotions Board and the Philippine International Convention Center. E-mail:

The Regions BusinessMirror

Editor: Efleda P. Campos • Thursday, February 8, 2018


DENR seeks public help to protect Candaba swamp, other ‘wetlands’ By Jonathan L. Mayuga



NDERSCORING the importance of maintaining the Candaba swamp and other important wetlands in Central Luzon, an official of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) reiterated his appeal to the public to help protect the country’s unique ecosystems, especially wetlands that serve as a wintering area for thousands of migratory birds during migration season.

CITY OF FLOWERS A florist in Burnham Park, Baguio City, happily prepares bouquets to sell as Valentine’s Day draws near.  She sells roses at between P70 and P100 a dozen and the giant sunflowers are P70 each.  February is celebrated in the city as “The Month of Flowers” through the Panagbenga flower festival.  MAU VICTA

‘Spectacular’ year seen for Subic tourism By Henry Empeño Correspondent


UBIC BAY FREEPORT—With cruise-ship visits, national conferences, sports competitions, and festivals among the 18 major events slated here this year, the tourism outlook in the Subic Bay Freeport is expected to be nothing short of spectacular. Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) Chairman and Administrator Wilma T. Eisma said the scheduled arrival of two of the biggest cruise ships in the world—the Ovation of the Seas and Voyager of the Seas on June 3 and August 25, respectively—would headline the tourism events that the SBMA has calendared so far for this year. “The Subic tourism industry is picking up again, just like in the early years of the Freeport when almost every tourist was looking towards visiting Subic. Now, it is happening again,” Eisma said. She said aside from the expected blockbuster events, the SBMA, through its Tourism Department, would also be managing regular tourism projects. With the various events on schedule, Eisma said the SBMA is expecting at least 43,000 additional local and foreign tourists, with some 10,000 foreign tourists arriving onboard the cruise ships. The SBMA Tourism Department said close to 8.5 million visitors arrived in Subic last year, an increase of close to 7 percent over the 7.8

million record in 2016. More than 1.5 million tourists, or those who stayed at least one night in the Freeport, were recorded last year, a slight increase of 4.3 percent over the 2016 figure. This year, Eisma said, various special events are expected to further increase Subic’s tourism numbers. She named the expected topgrossers as the Summer Siren Festival 2018 Year 2, which will be held here from May 11 to 13, with about 6,000 participants; Association of Accredited Advertising Agencies of the Philippines (4AsP’s) Ad Summit Pilipinas 2018 from March 7 to 10, with around 5,000 delegates; the Brotherhood of Christian Businessmen and Professionals’ 38thNational Anniversary Celebration and General Assembly on April 27 and 28, with 6,000 delegates; and Gold Gym’s Muscle Contest Philippines on September 8, with about 5,000 contestants and delegates. Subic will also host the Couples for Christ’s World Youth Congress from April 20 to 22, with some 3,500 persons expected to attend the religious conference. Jem Camba, head of the SBMA Tourism Department, said sports activities would comprise most of the events scheduled here this year. The first ones to be held were the PRUride PH 2018 by the National Bicycle Organization, PhilCycling and PRU Life UK from January 11 to 14; and the Triathlon Association of the Philippines’s (TAP) National Age Group Triathlon on January 28.

Meanwhile, Run Bike Swim Inc. is set to hold the Tri United 1 Standard Distance Triathlon on February 25, with about 1,000 participants; followed by the National Collegiate Athletic Association Beach Volleyball Championships from February 27 to March 2. Subic will also see spectacular action with the Subic-Boracay Race organized by the  Saturday Afternoon Gentlemen Sailing Club this February, as well as the Boracay Cup Regatta and Commodore’s Cup Regatta in March and April, with about 250 sailors participating in each event. On April 21 and 22, the TAP will stage the NTT ASTC Subic Bay International Triathlon with about 1,000 participants. This will be followed by Sunrise Events Inc.’s Century Tuna Ironman Triathlon Full Distance Ironman 70.3, Superbods Run and Ironkids from June 1 to 3, with about 2,000 participants; and TAP’s Youth Olympic Games Qualifying Race for Asia/Southeast Asian Triathlon Association Championships on  June 17, with 230 contestants. In July Run Bike Swim Inc. will stage Tri United 2, with about 1,000 participants; Run Bike Swim’s Trek 100 Challenge on October 21, with 1,000 participants; Sunrise Events’ T150 Triathlon, Ironkids and Fun Run on  November 3 and 4, with 1,500 participants; Xtribe Inc.’s Subic International Marathon, with 1,500 expected contestants; and the National Duathlon Championship, on  November 11, with 300 participants. 

Francisco Milla Jr., DENR regional director in Central Luzon, said wetlands are critical parts of the natural environment and ecological system, and home to migratory birds. Central Luzon has a number of wetlands vital to maintaining the population of migratory birds healthy. Being a part of the East AsiaAustralian Flyway, the Philippines is frequented by migratory birds that escape the winter months.   As such, wetlands like Angat Dam in Bulacan, Pantabangan and Paitan Lake in Nueva Ecija, Puerto Rivas in Bataan, Uacon Lake in Zambales, Canarem Lake in Tarlac and Candaba Swamp in Pampanga, all in Central Luzon are important to protect and conserve migratory birds. Director Theresa Mundita S. Lim of the DENR’s Biodiversity Mangement Bureau (BMB) said migratory birds are ecosystem indicators and help keep ecological balance.  Mi-

gratory birds tend to stay in an area where there is plenty of food to feed on, where they can nest or roost before leaving to continue their journey. Migratory birds also help keep an area healthy as they feed and leave behind poop that serve as natural soil fertilizers. A party to the Bonn Convention, the Philippines is committed to protecting migratory species, such as birds and marine wildlife that pass through its territory. “Wetlands provide countless ecosystem services and benefits to the local community, ranging from freshwater supply, food, biodiversity, and serve as flood control, groundwater recharge, and for climate-change mitigation,” he said. He said migratory birds from as far as China, Korea, Japan, Australia and New Zealand are frequent visitors of the region’s rich wetland areas particularly the 32,000-hectare Candaba swamp as a wintering refuge, feeding and

Akelco threatened by possible privatization Bulacan’s ‘Usapang By Jun N. Aguirre Correspondent


ALIBO, Aklan—The Aklan Electric Cooperative (Akelco) is being threatened by the possibility of privatization. Roger Orillos, manager of the Institutional Development Department (IDD), said this is the reason the power cooperative kept on strengthening its operation in the province of Aklan. “We are also strengthening the Member Consumers Electrification Committee organized by the electric-power cooperative. Soon, we will also organize the Barangay Member Consumers Electric Cooperative

to further unify and strengthen the power cooperative,” he said. “We have been receiving reports there are at least two multinational companies who are interested to take over the power cooperative once there are opportunities for the power cooperative to be privatized,” he said. For several years, Akelco has been receiving numerous awards from the National Electrification Administration as a Triple A awardee.  Last week newly installed administrator Edgar Masongsong visited the Akelco office here to personally guide the powercooperative officials for their direction setting this year.

ARMM tightens watch of LGU ‘manipulation’ of 4Ps funding By Manuel T. Cayon


@awimailbox Mindanao Bureau Chief

AVAO CITY—The Department of Social Welfare and Development in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (DSWD-ARMM) is going around the region’s scattered provinces to refresh local government executives on the rules governing the implementation of the cash-transfer program, called Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps). Executive Secretary Laisa Masuhud Alamia, concurrent DSWDARMM secretary, said agency personnel would be going around the central Mindanao provinces of

Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur and the southwestern island provinces of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi. On Tuesday, for example, the DSWD-ARMM held the “LGU Assembly on Social Welfare Protection” in Jolo, Sulu where it informed local officials “on the regional government’s seriousness in imposing the program’s rules and regulations in order to prevent anomalous acts during 4Ps payouts.”  Alamia said her office heard from Jolo officials “their mechanisms that address 4Ps’ problems and issues.” The DSWD also asked their “full commitment in upholding clean implementation of the government’s programs and projects.”

The agency laid out the planned information drive since last week for the entire month of February, where activities would serve as immediate measures to address the different 4Ps-related problems. “We would strengthen the current drive against irregularities allegedly involving local government units in the implementation of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program,” she said. She said a “watch/awareness program” would be launched during the events “to allow concerned citizens to be active in the fight against corruption.” She said the DSWD would activate an ARMM hot line “where citizens could call or send

breeding area to escape cold climate. “The Candaba Swamp has been identified as one of the three ‘most important wetlands’ in the Philippines and has consistently been listed in the Asian Bird Map as an essential wintering area for migratory birds,” he said. In the recent Asian Water Birds Census conducted last month, DENR conservation experts deployed in the Candaba swamp and in Puerto Rivas wetland in Balanga City, Bataan, reported to have sighted 14,000 migratory birds, mostly belonging to the families of grebes, herons and egrets, rails, gallinules, coots, finfoot, jacanas, shorebirds-waders, gulls, terns, skimmers, kingfisher, sparrow and other water birds. As this developed, Milla appealed to the public to be more vigilant in protecting wetland areas in the region, saying wetlands are vital for human survival and are among the world’s most productive natural environments. He said various offices of the DENR in the region have embarked on a massive information campaign and cleanup activities to raise the awareness of the public on the importance and value of wetlands and migratory birds. World Wetland Day (WWD) is celebrated every February 2, marking the date of adoption of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands in 1971. The convention was named after the city of Ramsar in Iran, where it was adopted. The first WWD was celebrated in 1997 to raise awareness about the value of wetlands for humanity and the planet and has grown remarkably since then. In 2016 WWD was celebrated in at least 59 countries. This year’s theme is “Wetlands for Sustainable Urban Future— Making Urban Cities Livable.” It  underscores the importance of wetland areas to achieve a sustainable and livable future for the present and future generation.

issues and concerns.” In Compostela Valley province, meanwhile, the provincial government announced that all its 164 barangays have already identified and installed their respective “indigenous people’s mandatory representative.” “This means the provincial government would ensure that the needs and concerns of the tribes are addressed and taken cared of,” Gov. Jayvee Tyron Uy said. The mandatory representative from the tribes was contained in the Joint Memorandum Circular of the Department of the Interior and Local Government and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples to im-

plement the empowerment objective under the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act . The province also supported the move of President Duterte in promising the tribes of slots in the military, as Uy disclosed its 80 tribal recruits were among the 300 tribesmen in the Davao Region who graduated from a basic military training. Col. Erwin Bernard L Neri, commander of the Army’s 1001st Brigade, clarified during the Regional Peace and Order Council meeting in Compostela Valley, that the tribal military graduates would not be sent immediately on military operation, saying their work would concentrate on the community-support program of the Armed Forces.

Agri’ forum tackled land reclassification, housing conversion


ITY OF MALOLOS—The provincial government of Bulacan headed by Gov. Wilhelmino M. Sy-Alvarado addressed on Tuesday  the concern of his constituents regarding excessive land reclassification and conversion of productive land that might affect the food production. He tackled these twin issues during the “Usapang Agri: Pangangalaga sa Lupang Sakahan Forum” held at The Pavilion, Hiyas ng Bulacan Convention Center in this city. “Bulacan is so blessed, but I worry because of the government’s too much land reclassification and conversion. We wake up and see our farmlands developed into urbanized housing. Farmers are tempted to sell their farmlands at say, P30 million per hectare. They would rather sell than spend the whole day doing back-breaking labor under the hot sun in their farm. Besides, many of them farm at a loss,” he said. The governor warned his constituents, though, to make sure land development is “according with the mandate of the law.” Sy-Alvarado said this in the light of Bulacan’s  producing more than 60 percent of all vegetable, meat and fish sold in all public markets in Metro Manila. Vice Gov. Daniel R. Fernando said that although technology keeps on advancing and the province is on a steady path to progress, too much land reclassification might cause hunger in the long run. “We are calling on the National Irrigation Administration to fix irrigation as it is one of the causes of farmers’ selling their farmland to developers.” The forum included discussions on “Productivity and Protection of Agricultural Lands by Michael Manansala from the Department of Agriculture, Region 3; “Powers and Responsibilities of LGUs on Land Reclassification” by Jayson Jumaquio from the Department of the Interior and Local Government; “Process and Requirements of Land Conversion” by Raparado Galos III from the Bureau of Agrarian Reform, Legal Assistance Region 3; and “Process on Land Development” by Perlito Abello from the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board. Catherine Joy L. Maglalang

A10 Thursday, February 8, 2018 • Editor: Angel R. Calso




Let’s support Duterte in fight vs corruption


fter firing a number of presidential appointees for corruption, President Duterte has announced his resolve to clean up the ranks of local government executives in line with his commitment to promote public accountability. According to Presidential Spokesman Harry L. Roque Jr., the President informed his Cabinet last month that he will continue with the process of cleansing the bureaucracy. The President, Roque said, intends to clean up the ranks of the local government executives to highlight that it’s not just presidential appointees that would be subject to the Duterte administration’s anticorruption campaign. This includes everyone in the government.

To show his resolve, Duterte earlier signed Executive Order 43, which formed the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission tasked to investigate administrative cases against erring government officials. The PACC, however, has yet to be constituted. But this did not deter the President from acting on complaints against public officials, and he started cleansing the bureaucracy right away. “As you know, even without the commission, he has gone ahead and fired many presidential appointees,” Roque said, adding “the President won’t wait for the PACC. He has shown that, with or without it, he has a firm resolve against corruption, and he will implement it.” Certainly, Duterte’s action matched his rhetoric, especially his campaign pledge to rid the government of corruption. For example, the President fired Maritime Industry Authority Administrator Marcial C. Amaro III over reports that he took “excessive” overseas trips. Prior to this, Duterte also fired former Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor Chairman Terry L. Ridon over “unnecessary” travels abroad. Also removed from office were former Interior Local Government Secretary Ismael Sueno and National Irrigation Administration chief Peter T. Laviña. The President also admitted he forced Information and Communications Secretary Rodolfo A. Salalima to resign because of complaints regarding his alleged preferential treatments to some telecommunication companies. Although Duterte said he did not want to pass judgment on Salalima, he noticed that the latter seemed to have shortcomings as head of the Department of Information and Communications Technology. Duterte clarified, however, that he was not accusing Salalima of being involved in corrupt activities. Based on his actions, especially the sacking of his closest allies, it’s clear the President has shown zero tolerance for corruption. In a campaign speech, Duterte said: “I will not promise you heaven, but I will try to stop corruption. In three to six months, I will stop corruption in government.” And when he assumed office, this warning: “Any whiff of corruption, particularly those who serve at the pleasure of the President, means suspension or termination of service in government.” Now that we have a President who is serious in his desire to wipe out the curse of corruption in the government, it’s our obligation to give him our full support. The Chief Executive needs all the help and support he can get, because corruption in our public institutions has become systemic and deep-rooted. No wonder the country lost $410.5 billion between 1960 and 2011 on graft and corruption, according to one report. The cancer of corruption reinforces poverty by diverting resources meant to uplift the poor. The Philippine economy also suffers because graft and corruption deter foreign investors who are wary of bribes and favoritism. We hope the Duterte administration will implement corruption-prevention programs for the most corruption-prone government agencies. Congress can do its share by legislating measures meant to enhance sanctions against corruption. We must make corruption a high-risk and low-reward activity. We recommend a collaborative approach involving government, business, the media and civil-society groups to stamp out graft and corruption. With the President’s commitment to promote public accountability among public servants, we hope to see concrete progress before Duterte leaves Malacañang.

Since 2005

Trolling the stock market John Mangun



eople are generally highly predictable in their thinking and actions. It is because of this predictability that allows the “con man” to repeatedly successfully scam people using nearly the exact same formula time and time again.

Every fraudulent “get rich quick” scheme is nothing more than a variation of the ones that came before. Do you think this is a new development beginning with Charles Ponzi in the early part of the 20th century? In the biblical book of Proverbs, the text reads: “Wealth gotten by vanity shall be diminished [King James Version]”. Scammers depend on a person’s vanity that they can beat the system. The New Living Translation puts the verse in more modern terms: “Wealth from get-rich-quick schemes quickly disappears.” Why would a set of writings from more than 2,000 years ago include

that warning if people were not subject to the same set of thinking and emotions as today? Internet “trolling” may be the most interesting social development of the 21st century. While narrowly defined as “The art of deliberately making people angry by making a comment in response to their comment,” it goes far beyond that. We can agree with, disagree or even just ask a question to someone and receive exactly the response we expected, be it approval, anger or any other emotional reaction we want. We can do that because people are remarkably predictable. The same is exactly true

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Part Two

Muslim citizenry included


HE only possible maneuver dictated by the national interest was to meet this incipient “splinter state” with a government and republic duly supported by a great majority of the people. Most important, the Muslim citizenry must be included, operating under a Constitution of their own making and already ratified so as to be enforceable by the government.

Time, of course, was of the essence. The secessionist plan had been set back a few months, but our intelligence sources from the rebel camps were quite certain that the secessionists were determined to follow through their plans, especially that of setting up a separate government before the end of January 1973. More than anyone, I knew the vulnerability of the Philippine Republic in the Muslim areas; martial law was a success in the rest of the country, but our southern backdoor was “strategically vulnerable” to the secessionist. An excruciatingly careful estimate of the situation convinced me that if the entire citizenry, including the residents of the Muslim provinces, were to approve the new Constitution by a show of hands through the barangays, this would dishearten the rebels and the secessionists, commit

the fence sitters and derail the plan for separation. I could achieve this advantage only by pushing through the barangays plebiscite by the middle of January. Necessarily, some formalities had to be set aside, such as the secret or written ballot and allowing a month or two of full discussion on the constitution. I was taking a legal and constitutional gamble, but at stake was the plebiscite, which achieved the purpose I had envisioned. The secessionist plan was upset. I was informed that, in some minds, the proclamation of martial law on September 21, 1972, had eroded the old structure of law. There was need to rebuild a new one. If any further misgivings arose, the new constitution was a basis or foundation for the structure of law that would govern the new society.

for the stock market. Large movements in the financial and asset markets as we have just experienced bring out an unsurprising attitude from investors. A stock market that suddenly explodes higher sees investors wearing golden robes looking skyward as ancient aliens return with boundless wealth and endless peace. A “crashing” market puts investors in a medieval painting depicting the fires of hell and demons gnawing on human bones. The reason for either of those scenarios is that investors are not prepared anymore than a social media user has thought ahead about being “trolled.” Ask almost any stock-market investor, and that person will tell you with supreme confidence that he or she has developed a clear trading strategy and has the discipline to do it. The reality is—as Mike Tyson said —“Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” On the upside, the profit target was obviously way too conservative, and we need to hold on until we have doubled our investment. On the downside, too many investors are sure that, just because the

engines are on fire and one wing has fallen off, the plane will land safely. In any battle, hesitation is a killer. Of course, you can find countless examples of when taking time to count to ten—like before you respond to a troll—can be beneficial. But in a falling market, hesitating to duck is probably going to get you severely injured. For the stock market, trade what you see, not what you hope you see. Falling prices will continue going down until they don’t, meaning you never know how low prices will go. Further, “He who fights and runs away, lives to fight another day.” And, by the way, the local stock market is a type of “bear trap.” Certainly, you should have been on the sidelines and watching days ago. Prices will probably still go lower. But when this market begins its uptrend—and it will, soon—we will see the best profit opportunity since late-2011.

Every step taken in the martial law situation was measured according to the recognized desires and wishes of the greater number of the Filipino people. Dismantling the leftist rebellion and the rightist conspiracy, for example, took the “classical” form of surveillance, apprehension, detention and public trial, although I immediately granted amnesty to those accepting it. The Muslim secessionist movement was met with full consciousness that our Muslim brothers must be integrated into the national community. Considering that all the rebellions and conspiracies are rooted in the social situation, martial law must proceed further to build a new society. The democratic revolution could not proceed at the old-age pace, “in the old society,” simply because that society—left to itself—had become impotent to reform itself. We had to restore civil order as the bedrock of any constitutional survival. Civil order is merely the rationale of all societies, enforcement of and obedience to the law. When I placed the entire country under martial law, my first concern was to secure the republic against any uprising, politically motivated or otherwise, and to secure the entire citizenry from the criminal elements, the private armies bred by local politics and the outlaw bands in the countryside, who might either take advantage of the temporary panic or undermine our efforts to assert the authority of our police forces. It was imperative that we dismantle the apparatus of the insurgency movement and the

whole system of violence and criminality that had virtually imprisoned our society in fear and anarchy.

E-mail me at Visit my web site at Follow me on Twitter @mangunonmarkets. PSE stockmarket information and technical analysis tools provided by the COL Financial Group Inc.

Rehabilitation and development program for Mindanao

I created a presidential task force headed by the Executive Secretary, Annapolis graduate and former navy man Alejandro Melchor, to work on channeling most of our borrowed funds from international institution (running into hundreds of millions of dollars) into the Muslim areas for roads and bridges, settlements, electrification, schoolhouses, credit for both agriculture and industry and economic projects like fishing, fish ponds and seaweed culture and trade. Aware of the fundamental place of infrastructure facilities in any development effort, I caused the allocation of some P900 million ($130 million) to road-building and other construction projects right from the start of the rehabilitation and development program for Mindanao, a continuing and steadily accelerating organized effort to put that once-neglected region on the same level of progress as the rest of the nation. This amount consists entirely of Philippine government funds; apart from it, we have sought and obtained amounts from foreign sources, including the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the Asian Development Bank and the German government, to augment our domestic funds for roads, irrigation systems, airport and harbors, flood control and water systems, as See “Arillo,” A11



Can China Telecom spur healthy industry competition? Val A. Villanueva

Businesswise Part One


ow that the Duterte administration has successfully lured China Telecom to come in to “break” the duopoly of PLDT Inc. and Globe Telecom, fixed line and mobile subscribers are looking forward to better service, and fast and easy connectivity. Such high expectation is understandable. Lamentably, consumers through the years have not been getting what they had been paying for from these two telecom giants. For several weeks now, the Duterte administration itself has been drumbeating that the longsuffering telecom consumers will soon be able to heave a sigh of relief. Presidential Spokesperson Harry L. Roque Jr. recently announced that a new telecom player is about to enter the country, adding that it is now looking for Filipino partners to comply with the constitutional requirement of 60-percent Filipino ownership. Also, Beijing has announced that it has chosen China Telecom to be the “privileged” telecom company to open shop in the Philippines. “Consumers can look forward now to better telecommunications, not just in terms of cellular technology, but also in terms of Internet speed, as well as access,” Roque was quoted as saying. When two companies have cornered all or nearly all of the market for a product or service, they are considered a duopoly, the most basic form of oligopoly. With this undue advantage, they can command higher prices, using their respective production costs as justification. The prices they charge their customers could be much lower, of course, if only the market were more competitive. Higher prices mean that consumers may be forced to demand lower quantity to save on cost. Thus, the quantity produced and expended will be less than it would be under a competitive market with more players. The bottom line is that prices become prohibitive, and production too low. Herein lies an incompetent distribution of resources. This is mainly how the duopoly of PLDT and Globe have maintained a stranglehold on the local telecommunications market. In fact, the Philippines has one of the slowest, but most expensive, Internet service in Asia, with high-speed service costing about $57 per month more than in the United States. Customer complaints are often handled by inept consumer representatives, and are not acted upon swiftly. Obviously, the market is not getting its money’s worth, but given no choice but to swallow the bitter pill. The country has also been consistently graded to be in the bottom of numerous reports that quantify global Internet speed and accessibility. Mobile operator analyst OpenSignal nailed the Philippines’s mobile Internet speed at 8.24 Mbps in the third quarter of last year. This makes us the fourth slowest

Arillo . . .

continued from A10

well as schoolhouses, for the Muslim areas. By late-1973 more than 1,000 kilometers of completed roads had literally brought the thrust of development into once-isolated Muslim lands. We have offered scholarships to 4,000 qualified Muslims youths, trained young Muslims for executive positions; authorized the use of Muslim dialects in primary schools and prepared to incorporate Muslim customs, traditions and laws into Philippine law, and recognized Muslim marriage customs and ceremonies. The same program has increased the number of Muslim

among the 77 countries in the report, and the slowest in Southeast Asia. The report says that, while mobile Internet availability slightly improved for the country quarter-on-quarter, the Philippines still had the least accessible mobile networks in Southeast Asia. Likewise, content delivery network provider Akamai Technologies pegged the average Internet speed of the Philippines to only 5.5 Mbps for the first quarter of 2017, making it the slowest of the 15 Asian countries surveyed. San Miguel Corp.’s (SMC) telecom arm was the most logical entity to challenge the duopoly’s tight hold on the market. For a while, it was bruited about that Duterte would prod the food-andbeverage giant to expedite its foray into the telecoms business, earlier hobbled by its failure to bring in Australian-based Telstra as its partner. But in what SMC President Ramon S. Ang described then as a business decision, the company decided to sell its lucrative telecom business to both PLDT and Globe: “The company has to sacrifice for a cause greater than itself: The country needs better telecommunications services to grow further and fast. Both PLDT and Globe promised to work on that goal.” One of the reasons cited for the acquisition is to fast-track the country’s high-speed Internet service, a feat that can easily be achieved even without SMC selling out, if only it was able to pursue its intent to be the third player in the country’s telecom business. In effect, SMC agreed to sell its telecommunications assets at cost in a 50-50 ownership between PLDT and Globe. The $1.2-billion deal includes SMC’s stake in Bell Telecommunication Philippines Inc., Liberty Telecoms Holdings Inc. and Eastern Telecommunications Philippines Inc.; the assumption of SMC’s contractual obligations related to the broadband project’s rollout, and most of all the company’s hold on the coveted 700 MHz bandwidth. SMC hopes that the sale of its telecom assets will bring about drastic and much-awaited improvements in the telecom industry, a promise that both PLDT and Globe had to make under the sale agreement. But a year after the sale, the country still suffers from the same telecom ills that were supposed to be addressed by the sale. What gives? To be continued

For comments and suggestions, e-mail me at

schoolhouses to twice the number in the Christian areas. In the economic field, we have established the Muslim Amanah Bank with a P100-million capitalization; set up small and medium-scale industries, such as fishing, seaweed and shrimp culture; and liberalized credit for both agriculture and industry. We have secured a loan of $100 million exclusively for hydroelectric power and distribution in Muslim areas. Several industrial centers have been established in Muslim territory, notably Iligan City and Cagayan de Oro City.          To be continued To reach the writer, e-mail cecilio.arillo@

Healed, witnessing Msgr. Sabino A. Vengco Jr.

Alálaong Bagá


he gospel account of the leper healed by Jesus (Mark 1:4045) presents a picture of what could be ourselves as reborn and reconciled followers of Jesus. In our ongoing meditation on Jesus, we discover that in His power and in his compassion we find our salvation.

Repugnant, daring Leprosy condemns a person in the ancient world among the living dead. For the Jews, it and other skin diseases as scourge from God render a person unclean and unfit for life in community with others. The strict quarantine imposed to protect others means the leper must be excluded from society, be labeled and look unclean, announcing at the sight of anyone else his or her wretched state. In the account, it was surprisingly bold of the leper to approach Jesus; clearly he was ready to do whatever it takes to get out of his miseries, disregarding taboos. Jesus Himself was amazingly daring, letting the leper get near

Him and entering into an exchange with Him. Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out His hand and touched the leper and healed Him. In His loving mercy, Jesus, too, oft disregarded taboos, actually welcoming and even seeking out the repugnant outcasts and the forsaken like a good shepherd searching for the lost sheep. It was not a sentimental pity Jesus had for the man, but a form of “anger” inasmuch as leprosy was then associated with sin, somehow demon-caused, and so healing often involved exorcism. That is why Jesus is described as “warning him sternly, he dismissed him at once” —as in casting demons away. With the demon authoritatively exorcised

Thursday, February 8, 2018 A11

out of the man, the leprosy is said also to have “left him immediately.”

Believing, healed, testifying

Apparently aware of the happenings around him, the faith and hope of the leper in Jesus empowered him to break through the wall segregating him from the rest of the living and to connect with the one who can give him new life. His “If you wish, you can make me clean” reveals his startling confidence in Jesus, who responded to the profession of faith with His creative word “I do will it. Be made clean.” The love of Jesus cannot not respond to anyone calling upon Him. The man healed was told not to tell anyone anything, but to go and report to the authorities for the official verification leading to his readmission into the community. The miraculous healing was like a window of light through which the “secret” of Jesus penetrated the man’s consciousness. He could not possibly have kept his mouth shut in such an overwhelmingly joyfilled development. His very person healed and his presence alone would have shouted the miracle abroad, a testimony to Jesus, an invitation to others to believe in Him. The erstwhile leper made the story, the word about Jesus, public, “proclaiming”

it as the early Church would irrepressibly proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ. Alálaong bagá, the former leper is a symbol of the believer, coming into contact with Jesus, purified from the leprosy of sin and reclaimed from death, and restored to a life of communion with God and with others. Reborn, healed and reconciled, the Christian should proclaim in joy the good news of salvation personally experienced. Touched by Jesus, such a person is never the same again; liberated from the forces of evil, the follower of Jesus should become a witness to Him, testifying by one’s life that Jesus is salvation. Can it be said that in 500 years enough Filipinos have already come into contact with Jesus and, touched by Him, have been freed from repugnant disorders? If we have been healed and reconciled, how come evil appears still very much at home among us? What joy in Jesus have we been proclaiming to the world and to one another by our lives? Are we healed, healing and witnessing? Join me in meditating on the Word of God every Sunday, from 5 to 6 a.m. on DWIZ 882, or by audio streaming on

VAT refunds under TRAIN Atty. Pierre Martin Reyes

Tax Law for Business


hile lower income-tax rates and higher excise-tax rates in the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law have been receiving much attention, the changes introduced for value-added tax (VAT) refunds have been left undiscussed. Such changes deserve the same attention as those changes being subjected to much media mileage. First, prior to TRAIN, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue (CIR) is authorized to either grant a cash refund or issue a tax-credit certificate. Under the TRAIN, only cash refunds will be granted for meritorious claims. Second, under old rules, taxpayerclaimants must submit “complete documents.” TRAIN now requires submission of “official receipts or invoices and other documents.” Thus, official receipts or invoices related to purchases and sales of taxpayerclaimants are required to be submitted, and “other documents,” may now likewise be submitted. Such is similar to the evidentiary standard in tax assessments under Section 228 of the Tax Code requiring submission of “relevant supporting documents.” This means that taxpayers may determine what documents to submit, not the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR). Third, similar to assessments under Section 228 of the Tax Code, TRAIN places a due process requirement on the CIR. Should he find that the grant of the VAT refund is not

proper, he must state the legal and factual basis of his denial. Failure to state such in the case of an assessment renders the same void. Since the same procedural requirement is found in VAT refunds in the TRAIN law, there is no reason the same rule should not apply in the latter case. Considering that the denial is void, pursuant to the Pilipinas Total doctrine (GR 207112, December 8, 2015), the Court of Tax Appeals (CTA) may give credence to all evidence presented by the taxpayer, including those that may not have been submitted to the CIR as the case is being essentially decided in the first instance. Fourth, the period given to the CIR to decide whether to grant or deny the VAT refund claim has been reduced from 120 days to 90 days. Failure of any official, agent or employee of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to act on the claim within the 90-day period could result in criminal liability on his or her part. Whether the BIR can review and decide on the VAT refund claims of taxpayers efficiently within the

90-day period, it is hoped that VAT refund claims are not denied simply because of fear of revenue officers of being held criminally liable. Last, and perhaps most notably, under the old rules, taxpayerclaimants may appeal unacted VAT refund claims within 30 days from the expiration of the then 120-day period. In the Rohm Apollo case (GR 168950, January 14, 2015), the Supreme Court has stated that the CIR’s inaction within the 120-day period is already a decision denying the refund claim. In relation to Revenue Memorandum Circular (RMC) 54-2014, the CIR loses jurisdiction to process the claim and, consequently, the taxpayer has no choice but to file his appeal to the CTA within 30 days from the lapse of the 120-day period. The TRAIN law has removed this remedy of the taxpayer to appeal in case of inaction by the CIR. It appears that the law assumes that, in all cases, VAT refund claims shall be acted upon within the 90-day period, perhaps, due to fear of criminal liability. But what if there are still cases where the 90-day period to decide the VAT refund claim lapses with no action at all? To abide by the notion that the taxpayer may only appeal to the CTA after the receipt of a decision denying the claim is to leave VAT refund claims at the mercy of the BIR. While there is a rule in tax refunds that the same should be strictly construed against taxpayers, this should not be used as a reason to deny taxpayers of a remedy. The better rule is to allow taxpayers the option to appeal the CIR’s inaction after the lapse of the 90day period similar to that of assessments under Section 228 of the Tax Code. This would treat the inaction as “deemed a denial,” instead of an

actual decision denying the refund claim pursuant to the Rohm Apollo case. After all, Republic Act (RA) 1125, as amended, by RA 9282, provides that the CTA has jurisdiction over inaction by the CIR in cases involving refunds where the Tax Code provides for a specific period of action, in which case the inaction shall be deemed a denial. Thus, in the case of VAT refund claims, the taxpayer should have two options: (a) if the claim is wholly or partially denied by the CIR, then the taxpayer shall appeal to the CTA within 30 days from receipt of the whole or partial denial of the claim; and (b) if the CIR fails to act upon the claim within 90 days from submission of the official receipts or invoices and other documents, then the taxpayer may appeal to the CTA within 30 days from the lapse of the 90-day period. To guide taxpayer-claimants, the BIR should clarify the above matters by amending Revenue Regulations 16-2005, or the Consolidated VAT Regulations and RMC 54-2014. This should be done before the close of the first taxable quarter or before March 31, 2018, the deadline to file the administrative claims for input VAT for the first taxable quarter of taxable year 2016. The author is a senior associate of Du-Baladad and Associates Law Offices (BDB Law), a memberfirm of WTS Global. The article is for general information only and is not intended, nor should be construed as a substitute for tax, legal or financial advice on any specific matter. Applicability of this article to any actual or particular tax or legal issue should be supported therefore by a professional study or advice. If you have any comments or questions concerning the article, you may e-mail the author at pierremartin. or call 403-2001 local 311.

An immigration compromise that makes sense


T seems increasingly likely that, on immigration, Congress will face a stark choice in the weeks ahead. It can either pass a narrowly drawn bill that attends to border security and provides legal status for “Dreamers,” the undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children. Or it can fail across the board. Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona and Democrat Chris Coons of Delaware have introduced legislation designed to achieve the better outcome. Their bill is similar to a bipartisan effort already introduced in the House, where it is co-sponsored by 27 Republicans and 27 Democrats. It would grant legal status to Dreamers who’ve been in the US since 2013, a population of approximately

1.8 million. The legislation would require the secretary of Homeland Security to produce a southern border security strategy, including “physical barriers,” to gain operational control and “situational awareness” along the border. In other words, it requires construction of a strategic plan to improve security rather than construction of a wall, built willy-nilly at fantastic expense, to feign security. Naturally, a basic immigration compromise that accomplishes sensible goals has committed enemies. President Donald J. Trump has already announced his opposition. And this bill is certainly far from the kind of comprehensive solution, involving limits on family sponsorships and a bigger

emphasis on skills, that is required. Nonetheless, it represents progress. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell promised to allow a debate on immigration if no deal is reached and Democrats help him keep the government open for a few more weeks. It’s a measure of how degraded the Senate has become that even debate on a vital national issue is up for negotiation, but there’s no use pretending the Senate is the great deliberative body of yore. Democrats should meet McConnell’s demand, voting later this week to keep the lights on, and McConnell should, in turn, fulfill his promise. It’s entirely possible that there are 60 votes in the Senate to do the right thing. Coons is already 

proposing to add more security provisions to entice more Republicans to support the bill. A win in the Senate would then focus attention on the House. Speaker Paul Ryan has so far shown every inclination to allow his party’s extremists to ruin any chance of success—even though the existence of 27 Republican cosponsors signals that a simple compromise on Dreamers and border security could win majority support. Of course, if Congress were sensitive to majorities, the Dreamer and border security provisions,  supported by large majorities of voters, would already be law. If Ryan and company can break out of their partisan straitjacket for a day or two, perhaps they still can be. Bloomberg View

2nd Front Page BusinessMirror

A12 Thursday, February 8, 2018

2M visitors expected for Panagbenga 2018 A By Ma. Stella F. Arnaldo

@akosistellaBM Special to the BusinessMirror

BOUT 2 million tourists are projected to ascend to Baguio City this month as the city celebrates its annual Panagbenga Flower Festival, which was launched on February 1. This was disclosed by the Baguio Flower Festival Foundation Inc. (BFFFI), which assured visitors that the city is ready for them. In a news statement, BFFFI Cochairman Freddie Alquiros expressed confidence that Baguio is well-equipped for the upcoming festivities, especially in the aspects of accommodations, water and power, security and traffic. “Water and power have been addressed in the past, and thus, operat ion s h ave nor m a l i z ed without any interruptions. Moving around Baguio has improved due to new routes that have been studied and adopted. We have the usual cooperation of the different armed forces and the Philippine National Police for everyone’s safety,” he added. Last year visitors to the city reached about 1.6 million during the monthlong celebration. The Panagbenga Flower Festival, an annual fiesta anticipated by locals and travelers alike, was launched last Saturday with a Drum and Lyre Parade participated by elementary students of the area. The highlights of the flower festival will be the much-anticipated Grand Street Dance Parade and the Grand Float Parade, to be held on February 24 and 25, respectively. For the entire month of February, Burnham Park will play host to the Baguio Blooms Exposition and Exhibition, a landscape and flower competition, alongside an open

staycation destination for family and friends alike. “There are several happenings for the month, but people should also not miss out on the various sights and yearlong activities for all ages.” Respected hoteliers like Baguio Country Club General Manager Antony de Leon and The Manor at Camp John Hay GM Ramon Cabrera both pointed out an increase in refurbished and brand-new properties and rooms in the city, covering all types of budgets. As for food, which forms an

of the globally renowned Hill Station group of restaurants, said the tourism boom in the city has brought about a multitude of dining choices. Henry Dictaan, area manager of the Filipino food chain Gilligan’s Restaurant, reveals that they have requested additional orders of meats, vegetables and fruits, and have outsourced additional staff from neighboring branches to prepare for the influx of visitors during the festival. “The participation of sponsors, the private sector, different

A photo from last year’s Panagbenga Festival courtesy BFFFI

market offering the best in art pieces, handicraft, food and souvenirs. “Festival mainstays, such as the Panagbenga Cultural Shows, Caravan with the Stars, Session Road in Bloom, Open Kite Flying, Open Golf, Floral Arrangements and Landscaping Competitions are likewise scheduled throughout the weeks ahead,” BFFFI Chief of Staff Evangeline Payno shared. For her part, Department of Tourisms Regional Director for the Cordilleras Venus Tan noted how Baguio has become a viable

1.6M The number of tourists that went to Baguio last year for the monthlong Panagbenga celebration

important component of the festival experience, Mitos BenitezYñiguez and her son Jose, operators

government agencies, schools, universities, Baguio-based foreign communities and the people of Baguio for volunteerism are at an all time high,” Alquiros enthused. Baguio has seen a resurgence in tourism with the opening of the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway, which cuts the travel time from Manila through the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway, by almost half. From close to six to eight hours in the past, residents in Metro Manila can now travel to Baguio in three hours.

San Miguel PHL seeks to expand trade ties with Turkey, Hungary sets ₧700-B five-year capex Continued from A1

Continued from A1

they conclude the ongoing bond sale. The bonds, already the third tranche of the company’s P60-billion bond shelf registration approved by the SEC, are comprised of five-year Series E Bonds due 2023, seven-year Series F Bonds due 2025 and 10-year Series G Bonds due 2028. Based on an indicative guidance issued during an investors’ briefing, the five-year bonds will be priced to yield about 5.6 percent a year, the seven-year bonds about 6 percent and the 10-year bonds about 6.4 percent. Proceeds from the bond offering will be used to refinance existing US dollar-denominated obligations and for investment in existing businesses, including SMC Global Power, San Miguel Holdings Corp. and San Miguel Properties Inc. San Miguel has named BDO Capital and Investments Corp., BPI Capital Corp., China Bank Capital Corp., First Metro Investments Corp., ING Bank, SB Capital Investment Corp. and Standard Chartered Bank as the joint underwriters and book runners for the offering.

Trade Undersecretary Ceferino S. Rodolfo Jr. also signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on investment promotions with Arda Ermut, president of the Investment Support and Promotion Agency of Turkey. Under t he MOU, t he t wo trade departments will exchange best practices and information on i nvest me nt e nv i ron me nt and opportunities. “Engaging with Turkey is in line with the thrust of President Duterte’s administration to en-

Retailers. . .

Continued from A1

Once the NFA’s stockpile is completely depleted, he said local rice prices could go up further as 10 million Filipinos would have no other recourse but to purchase the commercial variant. This, he added, could cause the price of commercial rice to go up by P5 per kg in the coming weeks. “The poorest of the poor depend on NFA rice. Because they cannot buy it anymore, they will buy commercial rice. Going by the law of supply and demand, the price of

gage with nontraditional trading partners to reinvigorate ties and increase trade between both countries,” Lopez said. Turkey is not a well-known trade partner of the country. In 2016 Turkey was the country’s 45th trading partner, 45th export market and 43rd import supplier. From January to November of last year, total trade between the Philippines and Turkey reached $163 million. Lopez said the government intends to expand trade ties with Turkey because this is currently confined to desiccated coconut,

personal-care products, electronics and tires. He added these areas will broaded in the days to come, owing it to the momentum gained by the two countries in recent talks between government officials and business delegates. “During our discussions, we noticed that there are opportunities for our Philippine exporters— whether manufactured goods or services—to further tap the Turkish market,” Lopez said. After Turkey, the delegation is headed to Budapest to discuss trade and investment opportunities with Hungarian government officials.

commercial rice would surely increase,” Magbanua added. The Grecon chief said consumers would have to shoulder the burden of any increases in rice sold by traders. “We have no choice but to pass on the additional cost of rice to consumers.” NFA Administrator Jason L.Y. Aquino said the state-run food agency has suspended its distribution of rice to almost all retailers across the country due to the depletion of its stockpile. Aquino added the remaining stocks of NFA are reserved for the needs of calamity-prone areas and rice requirement of island munici-

palities and provinces. Because of this, he said the NFA slashed its daily rice withdrawal to 34,000 50-kg bags, from 64,000 50-kilogram bags. At this rate, Aquino said its current stockpile will last for 35 days. “Our average market participation is 10 percent of the daily consumption of the country, which translates to 640,000 50-kg bags. Now, we are just releasing 34,000 bags in the market because our stocks are depleted,” he said. “Plus, there is the activity of Mayon Volcano in Region 5 and we cannot reduce our supply of See “Retailers,” A2

Remunicipalization, deprivatization Continued from A1

wake of the 2007-2010 global financial crisis. Also, it should be pointed out that Europe pioneered (after World War II) the development of a strong public sector able to provide the citizenry ample or well-rounded social protection that includes full medical care and unemployment insurance, as well as efficient and affordable public services, such as mass-transport system, water service and so on. Today, many Europeans find the system of privatized public services expensive, inefficient and even corruption-tainted compared to the old government-managed public services. Per study by the Public Service International and Transnational Institute, thereare at least 835 cases of remunicipalization involving 1,600 cities. Most of these are in Europe. However, the remunicipalization movement is also spreading to cities in the United States, Canada and Latin American countries. There are a few cases, too, in Africa and Asia (India, Indonesia, Japan and Malaysia). Some examples of re-municipalization: Nice of France, governed by a conservative administration, has remunicipalized the city’s water and sanitation, public transport, school restaurants, market and cultural festival. Another famous French city, Grenoble, a pioneer in water remunicipalization, ended what the citizens saw as a lopsided contract with water multinational Suez. Germany has the most number of remunicipalization cases, 347 in all. But one project in Hamburg stands out: the remunicipalization of electricity, district heating and gas utility, which were privatized not so long ago, that is, at the turn of the millennium. In 2009 a Conservative-Green coalition government established a new public utility called Hamburg Energie for the purpose of building up renewable-energy generation capacity. The utility was able to develop 13 MW of wind power and 10 MW of solar energy that involved citizens and local businesses as investors. It was also able to attract 100,000 subscriber clients. And despite a change in government in 2011, the citizen-led coalition for re-municipalization was able to force the new government “to reclaim the energy grids [electricity, district heating and gas]” through a “utility that would concur with social and ecological demands.” More examples: In the case of Oslo, Norway, the city was able to bring waste-collection services back into government hands after two decades of dependence on incompetent private service providers, which were found to be noncompliant with labor standards. In the case of Delhi, India, the winning “Common Man’s Party” was able to set up in 2015 affordable and reliable primary health-care clinics numbering around 1,000 at a cost of only $30,000 per clinic (compared to $450,000 in national government dispensaries). From 2015 to 2017 the clinics were able to provide free but quality healthcare services to 2.6 million poor Delhi residents. In Argentina Correo Argentino (Corasa), privatized in 1997,

was renationalized six years after (despite a 30-year contract) because of numerous complaints against Grupo Macri, the winning investor, on the poor quality of its service, series of price increases, nonpayment of royalty to the government and the nonservicing of poorer areas of the country. And yet, Grupo Macri was still reported to be in the red. After the re-nationalization, the government was able to make Corasa profitable, improve the quality and reliability of postal service, and, remarkably, even lower the cost of operations and fees charged to customers. The foregoing cases of privatization and remunicipalization/deprivatization are just a sample of why there are now more than 1,600 cities in Europe and around the world questioning the wisdom of privatization as a development instrument in the delivery of essential public services. The traditional arguments raised by neoliberal economists is that privatization makes these services affordable, efficient and less prone to corruption. The exact opposite is what has been happening in most cases. This is one reason proponents of remunicipalization are coming not only from one segment of the political spectrum. One would assume that the movement for remunicipalization would be spearheaded mainly by fire-breathing socialist radicals. And yet, in Germany, which has the most number of re-municipalization projects, many of the cooperating city governments are allied with the Conservative Democratic Union. As documented by PSI and TNI, the effort to remunicipalize is “being carried out by all shades of politicians” based on a “transpartisan consensus” forged among different segments of society. In turn, this consensus is distilled from the collective daily needs and experiences of the people at the local level. This explains why the energy multinationals in Germany or the water multinationals in France have failed to stop the remunicipalization momentum. In fact, a big casualty of the movement for remunicipalization is the public-private partnership (PPP) model of privatization, which allows big private companies to bid for the control or management of public services in the name of cheaper and efficient service delivery. The movement for remunicipalization has shown that the PPP promise of better and more cost-effective service is simply not true. This brings us to the situation in the Philippines. Why are our economic planners and technocrats pushing mainly for the PPP modality in developing public infrastructures and maintaining a number of key public services? Is going PPP the only way to “Build, Build, Build” these infras? Based on the emerging global social movement for remunicipalization and deprivatization, is it not wise to take a historic pause from this PPP policy obsession and evaluate first other development options open to the country? News bit: The Asia-Europe People’s Forum, through its Social Justice Cluster, is holding a conference on “Assuring Affordable, Accessible and Quality Public Services for All” from February 13 to 15 at Balay Kalinaw, UP Campus.

Businessmirror february 08, 2018  
Businessmirror february 08, 2018