Abe photo Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, followed by his wife Akie (partly hidden), walks during arrival honors in Manila on Thursday. Abe is scheduled to meet President Duterte and Philippine business groups in Manila and Davao City during his two-day state visit. See story below. NONIE REYES
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Ang may bring in foreign partners for new refinery
By Lenie Lectura
he country’s largest oil refiner Petron Corp. will likely partner with giant firms based in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Taiwan for its planned multibillion-dollar refinery in the country.
Petron President Ramon S. Ang disclosed that a plan to build a second refinery, possibly in the Bicol region or Cebu, is being seriously considered. “Petron plans to put up an oil refin-
ery somewhere in the South, maybe in Bicol, to supply Luzon and the Visayas and Mindanao at 250,000 barrels a day,” said Ang, when asked to provide company plans on expansion.
$10B The estimated cost of Petron’s planned second refinery
Petron already has a refinery in Bataan, which is capable of producing a maximum of 180,000 barrels of fuel a day. He said Cebu could also be another possible location for its planned refinery, because the growth potential there is huge. “Malaki kase ang market Continued on A2
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JAPAN’S ABE STARTS FOUR-NATION TRIP WITH VISIT TO PHL J
apanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe arrived on Thursday for a two-day visit to Manila, as the Philippines has boosted ties with China while taking a hostile stance toward Tokyo’s main ally the United States. The Philippines is Abe’s first stop in a four-nation swing, as the Japanese leader presses efforts to boost his country’s trade and security engagements amid China’s rise to Asian dominance. He will later travel to Australia, Indonesia and Vietnam. Accompanied by his wife and a business delegation, Abe is the first head of state to visit since President Duterte took office last June. It’s an important affirmation of Duterte’s leadership at a time he faces domestic and international criticism for a brutal crackdown on illegal drugs that has claimed more than 6,000 lives. “Japan is one of our strongest friends and ally and partner in this part of the world, and we value this friendship,” Duterte’s foreign secretary, Perfecto R. Yasay Jr., said ahead of Abe’s visit. The two sides plan to sign agreements to bolster cooperation in agriculture, infrastructure and security. After Manila, Abe will travel to southern Davao City, Duterte’s hometown, where Yasay said the President may host breakfast for the Japanese premier at his home. Japan may also provide help in the construction of rehabilitation centers for drug addicts, Yasay said. Continued on A2
‘China can’t have access to South China Sea isles’ I
NEW ROAD Public Works Secretary Mark A. Villar (left) and Undersecretary Romeo S. Momo lead the opening of Radial Road 10 (R10), which traverses the old Smokey Mountain area, on Thursday. R10 is expected to help ease traffic in major highways, like Edsa and C5. Roy Domingo
Keeping the ball rolling for 2017
‘Hot’ money net inflows hit $354M in 2016 By Bianca Cuaresma
ndividual investments in 2016 helped keep so-called hotmoney transactions in the Philippines vibrant during the year, no matter the net outflow posted toward end -2016. The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas
PESO exchange rates n US 49.5640
(BSP) reported on Thursday that foreign portfolio investments (FPI) yielded net inflows of $354 million in 2016, a turnaround from the $600-million net outflows recorded in 2015. FPI are more popularly known as hot or “speculative” money, because they are easily pulled in and out of the local platforms at the slightest
change in global or local sentiment. The central bank said the country’s FPI was able to retain its net inflow position for 2016, despite the series of outflows for most of the fourth quarter last year, because of particularly big-ticket investments during the year. These include the initial public offering by an industrial See “Hot money,” A2
n an apparent toughening of the US’s stance on the South China Sea, US President-elect Donald J. Trump’s nominee for secretary of state said China must be denied access to artificial islands built in the disputed waters. Hours into a confirmation hearing with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, where he was grilled extensively about his views on Russia, former Exxon Mobil Corp. chief Rex Tillerson said a failure to respond to China’s actions had allowed it to “keep pushing the envelope” in the South China Sea. “We’re going to have to send China a clear signal that, first, the island-building stops and, second, your access to those islands is also not going to be allowed,” he said, when asked whether he would support a more aggressive posture in the South China Sea. He compared
TILLERSON: “We’re going to have to send China a clear signal that, first, the island-building stops and, second, your access to those islands is also not going to be allowed.”
China’s actions to those of Russia in the Crimea. China claims more than 80 percent of the South China Sea, where it has constructed artificial land features on seven rocks and reefs, and installed military facilities. Vietnam, the Philippines, Brunei Darussalam, Malaysia and Taiwan also claim parts of the same area, through which more than $5 trillion of trade passes each year. Tillerson offered no detail about how the US could stop
n japan 0.4295 n UK 60.4780 n HK 6.3916 n CHINA 7.1459 n singapore 34.7111 n australia 36.9004 n EU 52.4139 n SAUDI arabia 13.2192
Continued on A2
Source: BSP (12 January 2017 )
A2 Friday, January 13, 2017
Japan’s Abe starts four-nation trip with visit to Phl Continued from A1
China has backed President Duterte’s bloody crackdown on drug users and pushers, and a Chinese real-estate magnate financed the construction of the biggest drug-rehab center in the country, drawing praises from the president. While Duterte has cozied up to China and Russia, he has railed at President Barack Obama’s outgoing administration for raising alarm over human-rights concerns. The brash-talking Duterte has repeatedly vowed to scale back joint military exercises and other defense engagements with the US, his country’s treaty ally, but has walked back on many of his threats. Duterte visited Japan last October when he and Abe agreed to cooperate in promoting regional peace and stability and acknowledged the importance of their alliances with Washington.
About two dozen activists led by four women who were forced into sexual slavery by Japanese troops in World War II protested outside the Japanese Embassy, calling for justice for their sufferings in a call that has largely been muted by t he blossoming relations of t he Asian neighbors. Narcisa Claveria, 87, said she and other former sex slaves were treated “like pigs” by Japanese troops during the war, lamenting that many of her fellow victims had died without getting justice. “Shinzo Abe, end the issue of women now,” Claveria said at the protest. “You are meeting again with the president, will you bring forces of aggression here again? Are you going to make women here like pigs again?” It’s not clear if the demand by the former sex slaves would be raised by Duterte in his talk with Abe.
Japan is now among the top trading partners of the Philippines and one of its largest aid providers. It has also provided patrol ships to help the Philippines protect its territory amid long-standing territorial rifts with China. Japan has expressed readiness to finance a major railway project in the south, where Duterte hails from, something that China also pledged.
The Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) announced on Thursday that it is extending ¥4.9-billion development aid to help boost Mindanao’s agriculture sector. The official development assistance (ODA) under Jica’s yen loan scheme is allocated through a project launched this week called Harnessing Agribusiness Opportunities through Robust and Vibrant
Entrepreneurship Supportive of Peaceful Transformation (Harvest). The project is meant to support farmers’ cooperatives, agriculture enterprises and related organizations in Mindanao. “Through the project’s financial inclusion of farmers’ cooperatives, micro, small and medium enterprises, and related organizations, more investments and jobs will be created in Mindanao’s conflict-affected areas,” Jica Chief Representative Susumu Ito said in a statement. About 61 percent of Mindanao’s regional economy accounts for agriculture, forestry and fishing, according to 2013 data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA). Citing PSA data, Jica noted that the sector employed 68.4 percent of its population in the same period. However, decades of conflict affected the region’s rise from poverty, whose rate exceeded 50 percent,
Ang may bring in foreign partners for new refinery Continued from A1
doon [the market there is huge].” The planned refinery entails a huge investment, or as much as $10 billion, Ang said. “To put up a 250,000 barrels a day refinery costs $10 billion,” said the businessman, who is also the president of San Miguel Corp. As such, Petron may bring in a foreign partner. “We hope to be able to invite Saudi Aramco, Kuwait Petroleum to put up an oil refinery, or any big-time oil refiner, like Formosa [Petrochemical Corp.], which is one of the biggest in the region. In fact, it’s 10 times
bigger than Petron,” Ang said. Preliminary discussions between Petron and Formosa could take place as early next month when Formosa’s William Wang visits the country. “The owner of Formosa is a good friend. He is coming to visit us in February. I went to visit him a couple of months ago, and we are in talks to look for more business together.” A possible partnership would help Petron execute faster its planned refinery. “If I can convince Formosa to invest then, immediately, we should put up one. Bago matapos, mga four years iyan [It would take about four
years]. By then, the demand is already very big,” he said. When asked why he needs to build another refinery outside Bataan, Ang said: “There is no more space there and we don’t want to put our eggs in one basket. Oil refinery is a very complex business. It’s not how to put up an oil refinery that counts, but it’s how to run it properly.” Petron is already producing more high-value fuels and petrochemicals after the commissioning of its upgraded $2-billion refinery last year. Costs have, likewise, gone down, as its Bataan refinery can now process cheaper crude oil. At end-September last year,
Petron posted a 47-percent increase in earnings to P7.4 billion, from P5.1 billion in the same period in 2015. The growth was mainly on account of stronger sales due to strong demand and improved production efficiencies. Ang said in May last year that the oil firm was expecting a higher net income for 2016, from P6.27 billion in the previous year, following the completion of its upgraded refinery. “Driven by a more efficient oil refinery, [it] has a liquid yield of 66 percent to 67 percent. But with the upgrade, it’s 92 percent to 93 percent,” Ang said.
thus making Mindanao one of the poorest regions in the country. The Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro, signed by the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in 2014, paved the way for the promotion of Mindanao’s agro-industry to create jobs and aid development in the region. Under Harvest, the Japanese aid agency will also provide human-resource training and technical assistance to Land Bank of the Philippines, agriculture cooperatives and relevant institutions. Since 2002, Jica has provided ODA to Mindanao under the Japan-Bangsamoro Initiatives for Reconstruction and Development implementing over 30 projects in the region. From 2003 to 2015, Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Jica have extended ¥20 billion of development aid to Mindanao. AP/With a report from Cai U. Ordinario
‘China can’t have access to South China Sea isles’ Continued from A1
China from building islands, or prevent access, but in recent years the US has con-sistently conducted freedom of navigation operations throughout the area. “This is the sort of off-the-cuff remark akin to a tweet that pours fuel on the fire and maybe makes things worse,” said Malcolm Davis, a senior analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute in Canberra. “Short of going to war with China, there is nothing the Americans can do.” Last March Trump accused Beijing of building a military fortress. “They do that at will because they have no respect for our president and they have no respect for our country,” he said.
Tillerson also said he would stand by US defense treaties with Japan and South Korea. These had been in doubt after Trump said in an interview in March last year that he would consider withdrawing US troops if the allies didn’t pay more for their upkeep. Asked whether he agreed with Trump’s assertion that it wouldn’t be a bad thing for the US if Japan and South Korea acquired nuclear weapons, Tillerson said he “did not agree.” The nominee also appeared to suggest he would maintain a US pledge to defend Japan-administered islands close to Taiwan against any military take-over by China, which also claims them. Japanese and Chinese ships and planes frequently tail one another around the uninhabited islands, known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China. “We have long-standing ally commitments with Japan and South Korea in the area and I think we would respond in accordance with those accords,” he said. “Certainly, we have made commitments to Japan in terms of a guarantee of their defense.” Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga declined to comment on Tillerson’s remarks on the islands. AP
‘Hot’ money. . . Continued from A1
company, as well as investments in shares of two holding companies and a universal bank. The BSP also said renewed interest in Peso government securities also boosted FPI inflows into the country. Total inflows in 2016 amounted to $17.57 billion, while outflows reached $17.22 billion. For the year, registered investments were mainly in Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) listed securities, comprising 82.5 percent of the total investments. Peso government securities, meanwhile, comprised the other 17.3 percent. The United Kingdom, the United States, Singapore, Luxembourg and Hong Kong were the top 5 investor countries for 2016, with a combined share of 76.7 percent. The US remained as the top destination of outflows, receiving 83.1 percent of total. For the last quarter of the year, however, the FPI transactions were plagued with weekly net outflows starting the week ending November 11, 2016. In total, net outflows recorded in the fourth quarter of the year hit $912.93 million. September, meanwhile, was the month with the largest FPI net outflow for 2016 hitting $807.15 million. July, meanwhile, was the month with the largest net inflow at $1.07 billion.
Friday, January 13, 2017 A3
Asean seen to exceed GDP of big economies
ombined GDP of the 10 member-countries of Association of the Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) is seen to surpass GDP of big economies across the world. IHS Global Insight Rajiv Biswas said GDP of Asean is projected to hit $2.6 trillion with economic growth expected at 4.6 percent. Asean GDP is forecasted to reach $2.5 trillion for the full year of 2016. Based on IHS Global Insight world economic forecast, the region’s $2.6-trillion GDP this year is higher compared to these major economies: India, at $2.4 trillion; the United Kingdom, at $2.4 trillion; France, at $2.3 trillion; Brazil, at $1.7 trillion; Russia, at $1.5 trillion; and Australia, at $1.2 trillion. “The Asean region is expected to benefit from a moderate improvement in global GDP growth from 2.4 percent in 2016 to 2.8 percent in 2017, with the US economy forecast to strengthen in 2017, supported by the incoming Trump administra-
tion’s plans for deep corporate-tax cuts and a boost to infrastructure spending,” Biswas said. “This should provide a boost to Asean exporters, as the US remains a key export market for many Asian nations, including Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand,” he added.
Taking the lead
The economist cited economic developments in Indonesia, the Philippines and Malaysia, which will fuel Asean’s GDP growth. Indonesia, the region’s largest economy, is expected to sustain its growth at 5 percent in 2016 and 5.1 percent in 2017. “Indonesian domestic demand is expected to be supported by the transmission effects of significant monetary easing in 2016,” Biswas said. The Philippines’s robust domes-
tic demand, as well as its strong information technology and business-process outsourcing (IT-BPO) sector and remittances support the rapid economic growth momentum of the country, according to the economist. On the other hand, Malaysia’s economy is expected to benefit from improving global growth and its competitive ringgit. Biswas noted that the higher average oil price in the world market, from $44 per barrel in 2016 to $58 per barrel in 2017, and the improving US economy will drive Malaysia’s GDP growth. “A positive factor for the Malaysian export sector in 2017 is that the US economy, which is Malaysia’s third-largest export market, is expected to grow more rapidly. Malaysian merchandise exports to the US measured in ringgit terms showed positive growth in 2016, up 9.7 percent year-on-year in the first 11 months of 2016,” the IHS economist mentioned.
The CLMV economies
Economic expansions of Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Vietnam are seen to significantly contribute to the region’s GDP. “The Asean frontier economies
of Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and Myanmar are also expected to show continued strong growth,” Biswas said. In particular, Vietnam’s freetrade agreement (FTA) with the European Union (EU) will push for brighter prospects in its economy, as its crucial exports products— garments and electronics—will have better access to the EU market.
China as Asean’s major economic partner
Biswas added that China will remain a major economic partner of the region, with the giant economy’s increase in tourism visits to Asean and its Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st-century Maritime Silk Road initiative. He mentioned that Chinese tourists in Thailand have increased to an estimated of 8.8 million in 2016, from 7.9 million in 2015. Likewise, Chinese tourists’ visit to Cambodia jumped by 20 percent in 2016. He further noted that the extension of electronic visa scheme and significant increments in number of direct flights between Malaysia and China through the former’s airlines—Malaysia Airlines and AirAsia—have driven the growth
in number of Chinese visitors to Malaysia to 26 percent in Januaryto-August 2016 period. Figures from Asean Tourism Statistics Database also showed that China is the region’s secondlargest source of visitors next to the 10 member-countries of Asean in 2014. Chinese visitors to Asean increased from 9.3 million in 2012 to 12.6 million in 2013, and hitting 13 million in 2014. Moreover, Biswas said the China-led Silk Road initiative will also pave the way for closer economic partnership with Asean membercountries and increased investments in the region. “Many countries in Southeast Asia are expected to benefit from China’s ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiative over the medium term, which will help to accelerate infrastructure development and regional transport connectivity, facilitating the development of the Greater Mekong Sub-region as a new global manufacturing hub,” he said. “China has also made significant bilateral trade and investment deals with a number of Asian developing countries, including Malaysia and the Philippines,” Biswas added.
Asean 2017 and beyond
This year also marks Asean’s 50th year of existence. The 2017 Asean Summit will also be hosted by the Philippines, with President Duterte leading the official launching of the country’s chairmanship in Davao City on Sunday, January 15. In a previous interview, Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez said Asean member-nations aim for the completion of text of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) in this year’s summit. RCEP is another multilateral trade agreement to facilitate flow of goods and services, as well as investments among 10 Asean countries and its FTA partners, including Australia, New Zealand, China, South Korea, Japan and India. The conclusion of RCEP will lead to the ratification of the agreement among 16 RCEP participating countries, followed by implementation of the regional pact, which is expected to further facilitate growth in the region. With these developments in the region, IHS’s Biswas said the Asean economic growth is expected to remains strong over the next decade, with GDP reaching $6.4 trillion in 2027. PNA
Editor: Max V. de Leon • Friday, January 13, 2017 A5
Trump, Indonesian partner to bolster deals
ndonesian tycoon Hary Tanoesoedibjo will fly to New York next week for meetings with Donald J. Trump’s sons on resort projects in the Southeast Asian nation. Days later he will watch in Washington, D.C., as Trump is sworn in as US president.
The good thing I like about the Trump family, the three children are all good people, very professional and humble.” —Tanoesoedibjo
While their association began long before Trump ran for office, Tanoesoedibjo’s itinerary, with its mix of corporate and political conversations, illustrates the tricky task for Trump in divorcing himself entirely from his sprawling international business empire—with interests in about 20 countries— once he’s in office. Tanoesoedibjo, who is founder of media and real-estate conglomerate MNC Group and may harbor political aspirations of his own, will meet Trump’s sons Don Jr. and Eric on January 18 in New York to discuss their deal to upgrade two resorts in Bali and West Java. The following day he will leave for Washington, having been invited by the Trump family to attend the inauguration with his wife. “I have to underline that it’s a business relationship,” Tanoesoedibjo, 51, said in an interview on Monday at his gated residence in South Jakarta. “I’m sure when he becomes president, Mr. Trump, everything won’t be much different from now.” Trump’s plan to let his sons run the business empire during his presidential term hasn’t satisfied politicians from both parties, who continue calling for him to divest completely to resolve conflicts of interest. While he has pledged to do no new deals during his administration, ongoing projects still in their early stages are set to test ethical boundaries. The president-elect said on Wednesday in New York he would leave all positions at the Trump Organization, though he won’t be divesting his ownership in the company or placing it in a blind trust. Tanoesoedibjo is confident in the strength of his partnership with the Trump Organization, which entails the upgrading and then operation of a 700-hectare resort and golf course in Lido, West Java, and a 100-hectare complex in Bali. The meeting in New York will discuss details of the projects, with construction of the resort in Lido set to begin next year, he said. “I deal with them regularly, with the two children who run the business now,” he said. “The good thing I like about the Trump
Vietnam’s biggest fund sees stock benchmark rising 17%
ietnam’s stock benchmark will rise as much as 17 percent this year as an expanding economy and the sale of stakes in state-owned businesses lure investors, the nation’s largest fund manager said. That would follow a 15-percent climb in 2016. “The macrosituation looks very favorable,” said Alan Pham, Ho Chi Minh City-based chief economist of VinaCapital Group, which manages about $2 billion in assets. He expects Vietnam’s economy to expand 6.5 percent in 2017, up from 6.2 percent last year. Corporate profits will be buoyed by a stable currency and “reasonable” interest rates, Pham said in a telephone interview on Thursday. Earnings at VN Index members are projected to increase 14 percent in the next 12 months, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Last year the index was buoyed by the growing economy and foreign-direct investment, rising for a fifth consecutive year and recording the biggest gain in three. It has risen 3.3 percent so far in 2017. Foreigners will continue to invest in Vietnam as the government speeds up the sale of so-called SOEs and pushes companies to list shares, Pham said. Consumer and manufacturing stocks will continue to do well this year, Pham said “Positive” on banks because industry is “functioning better,” improved liquidity is allowing banks to make loans, buy bonds. Bloomberg News
family, the three children are all good people, very professional and humble.” “I deal more with the sons,” Tanoesoedibjo added. “Right from the beginning, because Don. Jr covers the whole organization, Eric is more design and Ivanka is something more basically fitin, fit-out, interior.” Tanoesoedibjo also said MNC Group is open to more joint ventures, given his
existing relationship and access. “We’re partners —we can come to meet them anytime to discuss the business.” As Southeast Asia’s biggest economy, Indonesia will be a key player in the Trump administration’s security policy in the region as China flexes its military and economic clout. While President Barack Obama boasts a childhood spent in the capital Jakarta and
the ability to speak a few local words, Trump remains a less-familiar figure, known more for his anti-Islamic rhetoric in a country that’s home to more than 200 million Muslims. Indonesian President Joko Widodo has downplayed concerns about dealing with Trump. The incoming president “has a strong sense in business and economy” and would do the best for the
US and the world, he said last November. Tanoesoedibjo may yet mirror Trump’s move into politics. He founded the United Indonesia Party, or Perindo, two years ago and said he could run for the Indonesian presidency in the 2019 election if he sees no candidate meeting his criteria of “having integrity and providing solution to Indonesia.” Bloomberg News
A6 Friday, January 13, 2017 • Editor: Lyn Resurreccion • www.businessmirror.com.ph
The World BusinessMirror
Obamacare repeal effort clears first big hurdle in US Senate
he US Senate took the first step toward repealing Obamacare in a razor-thin vote early on Thursday, even as House leaders were struggling to line up support for a vote later this week. The 51-48 vote fell almost entirely along party lines, an early sign of the contentiousness surrounding Republican plans to undo President Barack Obama’s signature health-care law. Senate Republicans held together to defeat Democratic amendments aimed at defending popular portions of the Affordable Care Act, including expanded Medicaid and Medicare drug benefits and allowing kids to stay on their parents’ insurance until 26. The House is planning to vote on the budget as early as Friday, but the timing could slip because of intraparty angst. Doubts were growing among both moderate and conservative Republicans about the wisdom of voting for repeal without laying out more details about the eventual replacement. Republicans intend to come up with the repeal bill in the coming weeks, though they remain far apart over how it would work. The budget blueprint lets Republicans repeal much of Obamacare without any votes from Democrats, because followon legislation wouldn’t be subject to filibusters. GOP leaders initially discussed setting an Obamacare repeal sometime months or even years in the future, with a replacement to be enacted by that date. But a revolt by rank-and-file members in both chambers, with apparent agreement from President-elect Donald J. Trump, has lawmakers looking for a near-simultaneous repeal and enactment of a new health-care law several weeks or months into the new administration. The budget resolution, Senate Concurrent Resolution 3, sets a January 27 target for writing the first Obamacare replacement bill. A group of five Republicans proposed changing that target to March 3, but they withdrew the amendment late Wednesday after GOP leaders reassured them that there was no practical difference because missing the deadline doesn’t carry a penalty. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky said he voted against the budget resolution for an unrelated reason—it would allow the federal debt to increase by more than $9 trillion over the next decade. Republicans control the Senate 52-48, which meant that Republicans could afford only a single additional defection to advance the measure before Trump’s inauguration. The “vote-a-rama” procedure for budget resolutions allows Democrats to force unlimited votes on amendments, which meant hours of votes before final approval of the measure. Democrats tried to use the amendments to demonstrate a split between where the country is on popular provisions and the Republican base. “The Republicans cannot please their base and the broader public at the same time,” Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York said on the Senate floor. “From a policy perspective, they can’t repeal the law and keep in place the provisions that are overwhelmingly popular with a majority of Americans. That’s why they’re in such a pickle.”
An amendment on prescription-drug pricing—a hot topic in the wake of the furor over Mylan NV’s EpiPen price increases and others in the last year—received a vote. The provision aimed at allowing importation of drugs from Canada was defeated 46-52, with numerous Democrats and Republicans breaking from party ranks in what was a significant symbolic win for the powerful pharmaceutical industry. Provisions were also filed on numerous other issues, including the carried interest tax break, trade and veterans’ benefits, but most of them did not get roll-call votes. Previous vote-a-ramas have been nearly all-night affairs with proposed amendments on a wide range of topics, but Democrats focused most of their amendments on Obamacare. Democrats are due to get another chance at offering dozens of amendments later this year, when Republicans plan to vote on next year’s budget, including fast-track provisions intended to speed an overhaul of the tax code.
Most Republicans seemed inclined to vote against even items they support to avoid hiccups that could create an embarrassing start to GOP control of Washington. Several senators said many of the amendments are effectively meaningless. No Democratic amendments were adopted. But one, an attempt to create a 60-vote threshold on legislation that would harm rural hospitals, had the backing of four Republican senators—Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Susan Collins of Maine, Dean Heller of Nevada and Rob Portman of Ohio. The attempt failed on procedural grounds, but could be a preview of the difficulty Republicans can expect in actually writing a repeal bill. Ideally, leaders want the House to adopt the Senate resolution later this week and move on, but it’s not clear yet whether Speaker Paul Ryan will have the votes to do so without changes to assuage his restive conference. Senior House Deputy Whip Dennis Ross of Florida said on Wednesday he’s been advised by a colleague that more Republican votes must be found to adopt the resolution, since all Democrats are expected to oppose the measure. The vote is tentatively set for Friday, but Ross said GOP leaders are preparing for the possibility that the vote may have to be moved to Saturday to allow more time to assemble enough support.
Some House Freedom Caucus members are opposed to the current plan, while Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania, who cochairs a group of moderate Republicans, said he has “serious reservations” at this point about voting for the budget. Among the differences Republicans are struggling with are how to treat states that expanded Medicaid under Obamacare—a priority for senators like Capito—and whether to immediately repeal all of the Obamacare taxes or keep some of them in place for now to ensure funding for a robust replacement. Trump said on Wednesday he plans to weigh in on the outlines of a replacement after he takes office. Bloomberg News
German firms take relaxed view of Brexit impact
hen it comes to Brexit, German companies appear to be relaxed for now. More than 90 percent of firms in a sur vey by the Cologne Institute for Economic Research don’t see “strong effects” on them from the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union (EU). “They are relaxed because they don’t see a large impact on their business,” said Juergen Matthes, head of international economic research at the institute. In the sur vey, released on Wednesday in Brussels, only 10 percent of the approximately 2,900 businesses polled said they expected a “serious decline” in exports to the UK due to Brexit. “Strikingly, a quarter of German firms rather expect to benefit from diversion of business activities away from the UK,” it said. Matthes said the results indicate that companies are “prepared” for the expected negative effects of Brexit, which include an impact of 0.8-percentage point on
exports to Britain this year, according to the institute. Reports showing record-low unemployment and improving business sentiment reinforce the view that the economy may be well placed to ride out many challenges. Germany will publish its first estimate of 2016 GDP on Thursday, which economists forecast will come in at 1.8 percent, the fastest since 2011. The research group estimates that Brexit factors—in particular the weaker pound and lower forecasts for UK economic growth— will hurt Germany’s economy to the tune of one-quarter percentage point of GDP in 2017, an impact it termed “moderate”. British Prime Minister Theresa May said on Monday the UK would need a new trading relationship with the 27 other EU nations after its withdrawal. A day later, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said it would be the “height of insanity” to imperil investments in both Germany and Britain that underpin hundreds of thousands of jobs. Bloomberg News
Donald J. Trump speaks during a news conference on Wednesday in New York, his first as president-elect. AP/Seth Wenig
In first Trump news conference, sound, fury and a new plan
ASHINGTON—Presidentelect Donald J. Trump’s aides often cite his appearances at professional wrestling matches as an inspiration for his political style. His buoyantly belligerent news conference in New York on Wednesday proved he has no plans to betray his brawler’s roots in the service of seeming more presidential.
Trump delivered a stream-ofconsciousness survey of his prepresidency and the state of his psyche, holding forth on his “germophobia,” his belief that many foreign governments secretly videotape Americans in “the strangest places” inside hotel rooms, and his low opinion of BuzzFeed, which published an unsubstantiated report prepared by the intelligence community that said he had frolicked with prostitutes in Moscow. With Hi l lar y C linton vanquished, Trump trained his ire on the ripest adversary at hand, the “left-wing” news media. The news conference began with Sean Spicer, who will soon occupy the dual roles of White House press secretary and communications director, acting as an angry master of ceremonies, berating the news media for following up on the unverified report. Then Trump personally shouted down a CNN correspondent, accusing the network of broadcasting the same “fake news.” All that Trumpian sound and fury overshadowed significant news: The unveiling of a complex series of financial maneuvers geared at addressing conflict-ofinterest concerns, his admission that Mexico won’t initially pay for
the construction of a border wall and his concession that President Vladimir Putin of Russia had, after all, authorized the hacking operation against Hillary Clinton and her allies. “Well,” he said, shrugging, “if Putin likes Donald Trump, I consider that an asset, not a liability.” Seldom has the contrast between a departing president and his successor been so stark. The night before, in Chicago, President Barack Obama delivered a solemn and civil farewell address, modeled, his aides said, on George Washington’s 1796 call for national unity in his farewell address. But with Obama ceding the spotlight with a little more than a week before Inauguration Day, the Trump era has begun, with a jarring image of the future president slugging it out in the lobby of Trump Tower, WrestleMania meeting the West Wing. “ To me, the irony of the split screen is that the guy who is leaving actually represents the future and the guy who is replacing him represents the past,” said Dan Pfeiffer, Obama’s former communications director. Kellyanne Conway, who was Trump’s campaign manager and will be a counselor to the presi-
dent, said his critics, including Obama, were simply not prepared for “the fast pace of change, the swiftness with which Mr. Trump plans to execute his plans” to roll back the Affordable Care Act, renegotiate trade deals and rewrite the tax code. When told that Obama took the president-elect to task on Tuesday night for stoking partisan divisions, without mentioning Trump by name, she said, “Maybe he isn’t using a name because he’s talking about himself.” “If you are identifying problems after eight years, you have to own those problems,” she said. “During the election, he said he took the campaign personally because his legacy was on the line. Well, it was one of division.” For Trump, these fights are less important in the short term than the need to assemble an administration quickly from a campaign that was short on presidential, or even governmental, experience. After weeks of languid comings and goings at Trump’s Manhattan tower and his Florida estate at Mar-a-Lago, the Trump W hite House vaulted from abstraction to reality with the start of contentious hearings into the nomination of Jeff Sessions for attorney general on Tuesday and then tense hearings on Rex W. Tillerson as secretary of state on Wednesday. In the midst of his news conference, Trump announced that he was naming his latest Cabinet appointee, David Shulkin, to be secretary of veterans affairs. The transition was roaring ahead in many other ways this week, including a final push to fill several crucial positions inside the West Wing that includes consideration of a prominent Trump television surrogate, Boris Epshteyn, for a top position in the White House press office, according to
two people with knowledge of the hiring process. As the external battles rage, Trump’s team is coming to grips with the pragmatic challenges of running the day-to-day operations of an unfamiliar West Wing bureaucracy in a city that the candidate Trump demonized during his underdog populist campaign. “To the Washington establishment, he’s the biggest question mark they have ever faced,” said a longtime Trump adviser, Roger Stone, who began his career campaigning for Richard M. Nixon. “The establishment wants to know what it means for them, and there’s no way of knowing yet.” Among the biggest questions, he said, is how decisions will be made. But the biggest problem he faces, and one that threatens to spill into the first months of his presidency, is continued reports of his interaction with Russia and Putin. That controversy only intensified after a report surfaced late on Tuesday that US intelligence officials briefed both Trump and Obama last week on a memo claiming that Russia’s intelligence agencies had spied on Trump having sex during a trip to Moscow. The unsubstantiated assertions, which came from a researcher opposed to Trump’s candidacy and which were first reported by CNN, quickly eclipsed Obama’s address and the confirmation hearings, which had dominated news coverage all day. B efore Tr u mp a ns wered a single question on Wednesday, he and his team rolled out a prescripted 30 -minute denial of the report, beginning with Spicer’s lecture. Next came a more muted st atement f rom Vice President-elect Mike Pence and then a forceful statement by Trump, who railed against leaks by intelligence agencies. New York Times News Service
Trump concedes: Russia interfered in campaign P resident-elect Donald J. Trump on Wednesday conceded for the first time that Russia had carried out cyber attacks against the two major political parties during the presidential election, but he angrily rejected unsubstantiated reports that Moscow had gathered salacious personal and financial information about him that could be used for extortion. In a chaotic news conference in the lobby of Trump Tower in Manhattan nine days before he is to be sworn in as the nation’s 45th president, Trump compared US intelligence officials to Nazis, sidestepped repeated
questions about whether he or anyone in his presidential campaign had contact with Russia during the campaign, and lashed out at the news media and political opponents, arguing that they were out to get him. “As far as hacking, I think it was Russia,” Trump said, his first comments accepting the conclusions of US intelligence officials that Moscow interfered in the election to help him win. But the president-elect expressed little outrage about that breach and seemed to cast doubt on Russia’s role moments after acknowledging it, asserting that “it could have been others also.”
He also quoted a Kremlin denial on Tuesday night of reports that it had gathered damaging information to compromise Trump. “They said it totally never happened,” Trump said of President Vladimir Putin of Russia and his government. “I respected the fact that he said that.” The news conference displayed the showmanship, combativeness and sensitivity to criticism that Trump exhibited throughout the 2016 presidential campaign, and underscored his reflex to rebut any criticism or question about his conduct. In his maligning of the nation’s intelligence agencies, journalists and Hillary Clinton, the
president-elect indicated that he will conduct himself the same way in the White House. Using the same boastful tone that characterized his campaign rallies, Trump asserted that his victory last November had vindicated his view that he should not release his tax returns, an issue that he said only the news media cared about, not the public. “I won,” he said. “I don’t think they care at all.” In Pew Research Center poll this month, 60 percent of respondents said Trump should release his returns, although just 38 percent of Republican respondents said he should. New York Times News Service
Friday, January 13, 2017
Higher minimum wage have losers, US studies find
HICAGO—A growing number of economists have found that many cities and states have considerable room to raise the minimum wage before employers meaningfully cut back on hiring. But that conclusion may gloss over some significant responses to minimum-wage increases by individual employers, according to two new studies. And those reactions may, in turn, raise questions about the effectiveness of the minimum wage in helping certain workers. The findings, presented over the weekend at the annual meeting of the American Economic Association, the nation’s premier gathering of academic economists, come as many cities and states are raising their minimum wages. California and New York last year approved gradual increases to $15 per hour. Proponents argue that raising the minimum is one of the most practical ways of improving living standards for the working poor and reducing inequality. To test that proposition, John Horton of New York University conducted an experiment on an online platform where employers post discrete jobs—including customer-service support, data entry and graphic design—and workers submit a proposed hourly wage for completing them. Horton, working with the platform, was able to impose a minimum wage at random on one-quarter of about 160,000 jobs posted over roughly a month and a half in 2013. If a worker proposed an hourly wage that was below the minimum, the platform’s software asked him or her to raise the bid until it cleared the threshold. In some cases the minimum wage was $2 per hour, in some cases $3 and in some cases $4. At first glance, the findings were consistent with the growing body of work on the minimum wage: While the workers saw their wages rise, there was little decline in hiring. But other results suggested that the minimum wage was having large effects. Most important, the hours a given worker spent on a given job fell substantially for jobs that typically pay a low wage—say, answering customer e-mails. Horton concluded that, when forced to pay more in wages, many employers were hiring more productive workers, so that the overall amount they spent on each job changed far less than the minimum-wage increase would have suggested. The more productive workers appeared to finish similar work more quickly. The traditional way most studies determine if employees are hiring a different kind of worker after the minimum wage rises is to consider certain characteristics, like race, age and education level. The problem is that one worker can be much more productive than another with the same demographic profile, potentially masking the productivity upgrade that Horton documents. He was able to overcome this problem because the platform gave him access to precise data reflecting productivity, like past wages. When the minimum wage increased, employers tended to hire workers who had earned higher wages in the past, suggesting that they were looking for a more productive work force. If the pattern Horton identified were to apply across the economy, it would raise questions about whether increasing the minimum wage is as helpful to those near the bottom of the income spectrum as some proponents assume. The higher minimum wage could cost low-skilled workers their jobs, as employers rush to replace them with somewhat more skilled workers. New York Times News Service
Friday, January 13, 2017
Iraqi commander: Mosul may be liberated in 3 mos.
RBIL, Iraq—A top Iraqi commander told The Associated Press (AP) that the operation to retake the city of Mosul from the Islamic State (IS) group could be complete in three months or less.
“It’s possible” that Mosul will be liberated in that time frame, Lt. Gen. Talib Shaghati said in an inter view with the AP on Tuesday evening. However, he warned it is difficult to give an accurate estimate of how long the operation will take because it is not a conventional fight. “There are many variables,” he said, describing the combat as “guerrilla warfare”. On Wednesday Iraqi forces announced that three more neighborhoods in eastern Mosul had been retaken from IS fighters. Brig. Gen. Haider Fadhil of Iraq’s special forces estimated about 85 percent of eastern Mosul was now under Iraqi control. The massive offensive involving some 30,000
The number of Iraqi forces involved in massive offensive
I raqi forces w a s l au nc hed l a st October and Iraqi leaders o r i g i n a l l y p l e d g e d t h e c it y wou ld be ret a ken before 2017. Howe ver, a s t he f ig ht enters it s fou r t h mont h , on ly about a t h i rd of t he c it y i s u nder gover n ment cont rol . Iraqi forces—largely led by s p e c i a l f orc e s — h av e s l o w l y advanced across Mosu l ’s east. Fierce IS counterattacks have
k i l led a nd i nju red hu nd red s of Iraqi troops and inf licted considerable damage to Iraqi militar y equipment. Repeatedly, after what appeared to be swift progress on the ground, Iraqi forces have been pushed back by IS counterattacks overnight. However, Shaghati said the counterattacks—specif ica l ly car bombings—have slowed. He estimated his forces are seeing less than half the number of IS car bomb attacks on the front than they were faced with when the operation first began. The US-led coalition bombed the bridges spanning the Tigris River connecting Mosul ’s east and west last November in an effort to stop the flow of car bombs to Iraqi frontline positions in the eastern half of the city. Shaghati, the top commander of Iraq’s special forces and the Commander of Iraq’s Joint Military Operation said that while many forces are participating in the Mosul fight, Iraq’s special forces are the only troops with the skills to fight IS. “ T he forces who have t he skills to fight guerrilla warfare
is only the CTS,” he said using an alternative acronym for Iraq’s special forces who are also called t he counter ter ror ism forces. “ They have f lexibility and can act quickly,” he said. For the Mosul operation to continue, Shaghati said Iraqi forces need to continue to receive support and equipment from the US-led coalition. Since the Mosul operation began, the coalition says its planes have launched thousands of air strikes in and around Iraq’s second-largest city. A lthough Shaghati said he believes that the beginning of the Mosul operation marked the end of IS in Iraq, the countr y w ill likely strug gle w ith terrorist threats long after IS is defeated in Mosul. A lso on Wednesday, bombings in Baghdad largely targeting commercial areas of the capital killed 11 people and wounded 40. W hen asked if he expected levels of support to change when US President-elect Donald J. Trump takes office this month, he said: “We believe that the support of our American friends is continuing and ongoing.” AP
Trump’s pick for State Dept. calls Russia a ‘danger’ to US H W
Flooded California residents rescued as major storms recede
ASHINGTON—Donald J. Trump’s pick for secretary of state, former Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson, adopted a tough new line on Russia on Wednesday, calling it a “danger” to the United States and saying he would have recommended a muscular response to Moscow’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region. Both assertions appeared to contradict the views of the president-elect, who has repeatedly spoken of improving US-Russian ties. Tillerson, a friend of the Kremlin and foe of sanctions in his corporate life, said last week ’s intelligence report that Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election was troubling and that it was a “fair assumption” Russian President V lad imir Putin wou ld have personally ordered the intervention. He wouldn’t call Putin a “war criminal” for Russian military actions in Syria, but said he’d consider such a designation if he saw evidence. Faced with pointed questions from Democratic and Republican senators about his Russia ties and relationship with Putin, who awarded him the Order of Friendship in 2013, Tillerson sought to allay fears that either he or Trump would go easy on Moscow. But in a surprising revelation, he conceded that he hadn’t yet discussed with Trump ideas for a Russia policy. On Russia’s Crimea actions, he said: “That was a taking of territory that was not theirs.” He said he had been “caught by surprise” by the step, while criticizing the Obama administration’s response through sanctions on Russia, which ended up costing Exxon hundreds of millions of dollars. Going beyond Barack Obama’s approach, however, Tillerson said he would have responded to Russia’s actions against Ukraine by urging Kiev to send all available military units to its Russian border.
He would have recommended the US and allied support to Ukraine, through defensive weapons and air surveillance, to send a message to Moscow. “That is the type of response that Russia expects,” he said in a response to quest ions from Sen. Marco Rubio, who offered Tillerson perhaps the toughest Republican questioning. “If Russia acts with force,” Tillerson said, “they require a proportional show of force.” Trump offered a sharply different account of Ukraine during the presidential campaign. In an August 2016 interview, he claimed Russia would not enter Ukraine, not seeming to know Russian troops were already there. He suggested Crimea didn’t count because the peninsula’s people preferred being part of Russia, restating Putin’s reason for taking the territory. As chief of Exxon, Tillerson had opposed economic sanctions championed by both Democratic and Republican lawmakers. On Wednesday he said sanctions “are a powerful tool and they are an important tool in terms of deterring additional action.” However, he said they could also send a “weak” message unless carefully crafted and applied on an international basis. Addressing some of Congress’s most experienced architects of US sanctions, Tillerson declared that neither he nor Exxon to his knowledge had lobbied against such forms of economic pressure previously. But the company did lobby to try to influence sanctions legislation on Russia two years ago, congressional records and data from the Center for Responsive Politics show, and Tillerson made numerous White House visits, to no avail. Given a second chance on the subject, Tillerson sought to clarify his answer by saying his opposition came after sanctions were imposed and that he expressed security-related
concerns. Unlike Tr ump, who has played dow n the intelligence communit y’s a l legations of Russian ma lfeasance in the presidential campaign, Til lerson said he had no reason to doubt those conclusions. He st ressed t h at he hadn’t yet received a secur it y clearance and read the classified repor t. After Rubio detailed the allegations of Russian hacking, propaganda and Internet trolls to disrupt the electoral process, Tillerson said the public, unclassified report “indicates that all the actions you have described took place.” On whether Putin directed the initiative, Tillerson said, “I think that’s a fair assumption.” Still, he said cooperation between Washington and Moscow rema ined desirable on many issues. It’s a line that hardly differs from that of the Obama administration. “Russia today poses a danger, but it is not unpredictable in advancing its own interests,” Tillerson said, accusing the outgoing president of failing to demonstrate American resolve and sending mixed signals to both friends and adversaries. Tillerson represents a break in a long-standing tradition of secretaries of state with extensive military, legislative, political or diplomatic experience. Yet, his supporters point to Tillerson’s lengthy career as a senior executive in a mammoth multinational company as proof he has the management and negotiating skills to succeed in the State Department’s top post, particularly when facing tough foreign governments. Tillerson stepped down as Exxon CEO at the end of 2016. “I think it’s brilliant what he’s doing and what he’s saying,” Trump said of Tillerson during a news conference in New York that occurred as Tillerson was testifying. “He ran incredibly Exxon Mobil. When there was a find, he would get it.” AP
O L L I S T E R , Ca l i f o r n i a — R e s c u e workers used boats and firetrucks to evacuate dozens of Northern California residents from their flooded homes on Wednesday as a drought-busting series of storms began to move out of the region after days of heavy rain and snow that toppled trees and created havoc as far north as Portland, Oregon. Reports of the flooding started about 2 a.m. on Wednesday as water from a quickly rising creek in the small rural town of Hollister deluged homes on a two-lane stretch of road called Lovers Lane. Torrents of rain gushed down the street even after rescuers finished evacuating residents more than seven hours later. Some homes had mudlines about 5-feet high, marking how far the water rose. The water by that time was receding but still waist-deep in places. “It’s just a lot of water,” said Kevin O’Neill, emergency services manager for San Benito County. “Fields that look like lakes. The ground just can’t soak it up. Vehicles that are partly submerged, homes have water damage.” Hollister resident Richard Sanchez said he didn’t evacuate because he wanted to look after his animals after seeing his yard flood. “My yard is just an ocean,” Sanchez said. “I decided to stay because I have animals. I wasn’t being hardheaded. I just wanted to make sure they were safe.” Forecasters said precipitation would continue through Thursday, but the brunt of the back-to-back systems fueled by an “atmospheric river” weather phenomenon had passed after delivering the heaviest rain in a decade to parts of Northern California and Nevada. The massive rain and snowfall that prompted a rare blizzard warning in parts of the Sierra Nevada mountains is helping much of Northern California recover from a six-year drought. The series of storms has also added 39 billion gallons of water to Lake Tahoe since January 1. Stormy weather ex tended nor th where Portland, Oregon and Southwest Washington were slammed with a surprising foot of snow, unusual for an area that normally sees rain. Crater Lake National Park in Oregon closed on Tuesday and into Wednesday with more than 8 feet of snow on the ground. The staggering snow totals in the Sierra Nevada—up to 11 feet the past week at some ski resorts around Lake Tahoe—was great for easing drought conditions but bad for area ski enthusiasts as road closures and avalanche threats kept most resorts closed for the third day in a row on Wednesday. AP
A10 Friday, January 13, 2017 • Editor: Angel R. Calso
Friday the 13th
F you are superstitious, the worst days of the year come on a Friday, when it is also the 13th day of the month. People do take this whole thing seriously. It is estimated the United States economy loses $900 million of production on each Friday the 13th (F13), because people are afraid to go to work and to travel. The day, now known as “Black Friday” on the US stock markets, saw Friday, October 13, 1989, as the second-worst day in history. Perhaps, if you are doubly superstitious, having the first 13th day of the year also falling on a Friday must be really unlucky. The last time a year started with a Friday, January 13th, was 2012. About the only notable—and perhaps weird—occurrence on that Friday the 13th was that small fish reportedly fell from the sky during a downpour in the municipality of Loreto, Agusan del Sur. The fish were collected and placed in an aquarium, but have not been heard from since. For the local stock market, January 13, 2012, saw share prices down 0.74 percent. But then again, it may have been an auspicious event, since in 2012 the local stock market was 26 percent higher. We have had other years begin with F13 in 1989, 1995 and 2006. However, if you happen to miss today’s, the next will be in 2023. Miss that one, and another will not come until 2034. While we may think that this superstition—called paraskevidekatriaphobia —goes far back in human history, the first reference to the potential doom of this date is found in the 1869 biography of Italian composer Gioachino Rossini, best known for his opera The Barber of Seville. “He regarded Fridays as an unlucky day and 13 as an unlucky number, it is remarkable that on Friday 13th of November he passed away.” Others attribute the idea to F13 being the day Eve bit the apple from the Tree of Knowledge or that Noah’s great flood started. In the New Testament there were 13 people present for Jesus’ Last Supper on Maundy Thursday, the day before Christ’s crucifixion on Good Friday. However, to borrow a phrase that we have heard lately, it “doesn’t have to be true, just have to look like that”. While there is no evidence that F13 even in January means anything more or less than any of the other 365 days, a study in the British Medical Journal, published in 1993, concluded that there “is a significant level of traffic-related incidences on Friday the 13th as opposed to a random day in the UK”. Except, a similar study in the Netherlands by the Dutch Centre for Insurance Statistics found fewer accidents on F13, probably because more people stay home cowering in fear. But either way, taking a quiet day off in front your computer might not be a bad idea. Unfortunately, the most famous computer virus in history—the Jerusalem virus—attacked on January 13, 1989. It was the first time ordinary computer users faced the virus problem. Have a good F13—if you can. Since 2005
Stay at it James Jimenez
n his farewell speech, US President Barack Obama said: “Our democracy is threatened, whenever we take it for granted.” He then goes on to lament how America has one of the lowest voting turnouts in the world.
We don’t have that problem in the Philippines. Election after election, our voting turnout averages around 75 percent. In the last election, we posted a turnout higher than 80 percent out of a voting population of more than 50 million. Filipinos clearly like voting, and they come to the polling places to prove it. And yet, for all of that enthusiasm on display, sometimes it is still possible to feel that, somehow, we take our democracy for granted. There are even times when you might think that some among us have gamed the
Soar like an eagle
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democratic system, so that it is no longer a true mechanism for hearing the voice of the people, but just a way to grab power. And infinitely worse, it can sometime seem that the people don’t mind. There are safeguards, of course, that can easily be pointed out. The Constitution, for instance. It bears remembering, however, that the Charter is no magic firewall. “Our constitution is a remarkable, beautiful gift,” Obama said in his valedictory. “But it’s really just a piece of parchment. It has no
ose “Joe” Magsaysay Jr. tried out politics just like his other relatives. But when he failed, I can only surmise that Joe thought that, while politics is in his DNA, something better is in store for him. His positive attitude never failed him, especially when he was eventually exposed to the food industry. His business has now become the undisputed leader in the French fries franchise in the Philippines, the blueprint of which was written in a tissue paper by a certain Jorge Wieneke. From its first Potato Corner outlet in 1992, there are now more than 500 stores both here and abroad. And Joe Magsaysay has successfully steered the business, despite his initial failure in politics. We all make plans in life. But, as in all plans, something changes along the way. While we all adjust to such change, optimists will say something “different” happened, while the pessimists will say something “bad” happened. It is all a matter of attitude. In his book Today Counts, Harold Sala said the attitude of complaining and grumbling can be contagious, and at the same time, sinful. In Philippians 2:14, apostle Paul tells us to “do everything without complaining or arguing.” In his Facebook post, inspirational speaker Chinkee Tan campaigned against negative mind-set and shared some pessimistic remarks, such as—“Naku, ang dami nag a-apply. Panigurado hindi ako matatanggap [Oh, there
are just too many job applicants, I will not be hired for sure]”; “Magsave ng pera? Hindi na nga makakain ng maayos. Paano pa makaka-save, eh sakto lang naman kinikita ko sa araw-araw [What? Save money? I cannot eat well enough, as it is as my salary is barely enough on a daily basis]?”; “Sila magtatagal!? Wala namang forever! Maghihiwalay din yan! [Oh, they will not last as spouses. There is no “forever” in life, they will end up separating soon]!” Tan said that “the more you focus on the negative, the more it becomes real.” The more we complain and explain our excuses, the more energy we spend in becoming unsuccessful in life. We ultimately become what we think. We normally get what we expect. During
power on its own. We, the people, give it power. We, the people, give it meaning, with our participation and with the choices that we make and the alliances that we forge; whether or not we stand up for our freedoms; whether or not we respect and enforce the rule of law. That’s up to us.” Up to us it is, indeed and in deed. We can mouth allegiance to the ideals enshrined in the Fundamental Law all day long, but it wouldn’t matter unless we actually walk the talk. There might not be a shortage of people to cry outrage at perceived injustices, but there’s all too often just a precious few willing to do something about it. But “that’s what our democracy demands. It needs you. Not just when there’s an election, not just when your own narrow interest is at stake, but over the full span of a lifetime,” Obama said. Because that is where a democracy is actually built. Not just at the ballot box, but in the day to day of our lives as members of a living democracy. “For all our outward differences, we, in
fact, all share the same proud title; the most important office in a democracy: citizen.” And democracy requires that its citizens do their share in keeping things working, even when it’s not the easiest thing to do. “If you’re tired of arguing with strangers on the Internet, try talking with one of them in real life; if something needs fixing, then lace up your shoes and do some organizing; if you’re disappointed with your elected officials, grab a clipboard, get some signatures, and run for office yourself.” When you roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty this way, of course, it’s a gamble. Sometimes, you will get everything you want; often, you won’t, but maybe you’ll achieve enough to keep you going; and sometimes—as painful as it may be—sometimes you will fail. But that’s all right. Not taking democracy for granted also means accepting disappointment just as gracefully as claiming victory. And in the end, what matters is that you “show up. Dive in. Stay at it.”
the first flag-raising ceremony of Philippine Airline, President Jaime Bautista encouraged all his coworkers to have a positive attitude in the workplace. Bautista then shared the story of Abdul—a Dubai cab driver who chose not to react negatively but to act positively. The story started with a smartly dressed cab driver named Abdul and his spotlessly clean and shiny taxicab. As contained in a plastic-laminated card, the Mission Statement of Abdul was “to get my customers to their destination in the quickest, safest and cheapest way possible in a friendly environment.” Abdul’s cab services include a choice of beverage coffee (regular and decaf) and soft drink (regular and Diet Coke, Lassi, water and orange juice); a choice of newspaper to read (The NST, Star and Sun Today); and choice of radio stations to listen from. If ever there was such a five-star taxicab, Abdul’s taxi must be one! After spending his first five years driving a taxi complaining like the others, Abdul said—“If you get up in the morning expecting to have a bad day, you’ll rarely disappoint yourself. Stop complaining!” Abdul simply chose to improve himself and his taxi services and soar like an eagle above the rest rather than complain and quack like a duck. Author and inspirational speaker Harvey MacKay is actually credited for this story, but instead of Abdul, Wally was his cab driver. Others might see the story of Abdul as a case study for outstanding customer service. But looking at the story a little
deeper, I find that success requires a purposeful choice. Just like Abdul, Potato Corner founder Joe Magsaysay made a conscious decision to change his attitude and become an eagle. Why focus on the negative, when there is always something positive in everything? When faced with trials, we have to purposely shift our mind-set—from a negative mind-set and the action of complaining to a positive mind-set with the expectation of receiving good things. That’s what I ultimately did when I left the Bureau of Immigration early last year. While initially difficult to accept, my not-so-good experiences as a public servant made me what I am today. There are always better things ahead. We have to remain hopeful and optimistic. Bautista ended his New Year’s message with one of my favorite verses in the Bible, Isaiah 40:31—“But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” In our workplace, let’s stop all the complaining and just start supporting the company and our coworkers in any way we can. In our community, let’s stop all forms of crabbiness and simply foster cooperation and collaboration, a là bayanihan style. In our country, let’s stop the bickering and just do the little things we can do to help our country. It will just be a matter of time when all of us will soar on wings like eagles. For questions and comments, e-mail me at email@example.com
Why market timing is hazardous for returns
Friday, January 13, 2017 A11
Educating the post-truth generation Tito Genova Valiente
Riz L. Jao
HE year 2016 turned out to be a roller-coaster ride for the Philippine stock market. After a disappointing start by dropping 2.13 percent at the end of January, the index managed to regain its footing and entered an uptrend in the first half that culminated with increasing by 14.09 percent year-to-date (YTD) at the end of June. By July 21, it came within a breath of its all-time high of 8,127.48 (posted in April 10, 2015) closing at 8,102.30 (up 18.57 percent YTD) before losing a bit of ground, but ultimately retesting that 8,100 level the week after closing at 8,100.48 on July 27. Since then, however, the Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) has entered a downtrend virtually giving back all the gains of 2016 closing the year at 6,840.64 (up just 0.11 percent). All this activity has brought about the resurgence of such advice, like “buy the dips and sell the rallies”. While this is good advice, the stock market has a few properties that make this advice the financial equivalent of “eat more fruits and vegetables” (i.e., we understand it but we lose it when cakes and ice cream come our way). Figure 1.1 plots the daily PSEi returns by how likely they have occurred in the last 21 years from 1995 to 2016 and contrasts this with a set of hypothetical normally distributed returns. Figure 1.1 Daily PSEi Returns (1995-2016) Source: Philippine Stock Exchange, Author’s Calculations
ost-truth” has been chosen by the Oxford Dictionaries as the international word of the year. According to the Oxford University Press, the word defines “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” Many circumstances and technological developments have contributed to the creation of truths or facts outside the mind of the literal library. Through the Internet, sites are created in which views and ideas are posted. If one does not have substantial material information, the sensory overload can overwhelm the perceiver to give up resistance and accept what are posted, what are written. The writings on the wall do not warn; they instigate belief, they fool the already foolish, and confuse the intellectuals who love to be lost in mental space. One can dismiss the declaration of words as outstanding in terms of impact over all other words until one sees its usage in the local context. That’s what happened with post-truth. In a forum for educators in a university in the South, Dr. Cynthia B. Bautista interrogates the state of
education in the post-truth world. Immediately, a word that is outstanding for its singularity turns into a reality unique for its urgency. What happens to educators and their age-old approach to teaching through lectures? What will contentbased disciplines do in the face of the availability and accessibility of a universe of facts through the Net. Education has always been part of a system that is deemed rational. This state of rationality, however, owes its power to a world of men— and women—that have gained entrances to archives of knowledge. But the Internet has collapsed, summarized, synthesized and analyzed concepts faster than any industrious teacher. The post-truth era has not only annihilated truth of any acceptable form; it has also banished the authority that wields those mountain of facts. Get any discipline and you will
find on the Internet a veritable treasure trove of information about them. The student who is a techie surpasses the teacher who relies on old, perhaps yellowed, notes. Look for the word “brute” and the file will open you to the horizon of physical anthropology, to modern political thoughts, from thinkers like Hobbes and Locke. Ideas and debate about the state and the sovereign are practically at the fingertips of the students of political science. Go on further and your search will lead you to biographies of Cromwell and Thomas More. Go on and explore and more links surface, nurturing your interest deeper as films about thinkers glimmer for you to download and, more fun than thinking, to enjoy. Find any theme, like the banality of evil, and the Internet will provide
you not only with definitions; there will also be debates and perspectives that are innumerable, you either get lost in the discussion or you lose your control of the data. In the end, you assume a position out of the thousands of positions. You cannot care anymore it your choice is ultimately the truth. There can be no ultimate truth; there are just many truths. As for these many truths, well, you do not have to believe them. In the post-truth era, the one who can post anything and make it the truth is the winner. This must be the new idea about the “philosopherking”. Sad. In a country of nonreaders, the politician and his supporters with many facts win. Bad. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
‘Do not waste the blessing of hope God is giving us’ Rev. Fr. Antonio Cecilio T. Pascual
We can see that the daily stock re- Over the last 21 years, turns are positively skewed—the data Philippine stock-market has a skewness of 0.47—this has two key implications for investing. First, returns have exhibited a there is slightly more observations to slight positive skew and high the left of the mean of 0.03 percent kurtosis, this implies that than to the right, in fact, 51.51 percent of all days saw the PSEi either drop or trying to time markets is an stay flat. Second, the right tail of the especially difficult task as we distribution is longer than the left tail, risk missing out on the large, this means there are slightly more positive extreme values (0.09 percent) than but infrequent, gains where there are negative extreme values (0.07 so much of the PSEi’s historical percent). Thus, we shouldn’t lose sleep returns have come from. if the PSEi closes flat or negative for the day, it usually does so, and we should avoid obsessing over the next big crash, as they are extremely rare and our time would be much better spent doing what we love instead. Returning to Figure 1.1, we can also see that stock returns are not normally distributed, rather, the data is leptokurtic. Just like our earlier observation, this has two important implications for investing in the stock market. First, the central peak is higher than what we would expect from a normal distribution, put another way, “average” outcomes are very common indeed, e.g., almost 40 percent of days experienced a return of approximately 0.66 percent and a whopping 81.17 percent of days saw returns between -0.34 percent and 1.65 percent. So the next time the market moves 1.50 percent in a day, don’t be surprised, that’s common. Second, the tails are fatter, i.e., extreme events occur much more often than what a normal probability distribution would predict. For example, the largest one-day gain occurred back in January 22, 2001, which saw the PSEi advance 17.56 percent, assuming normally distributed returns implies that the probability of this occurring is 8.55E-34 (yes, you read that right). Similarly, the largest one-day loss that occurred back in October 27, 2008, which saw the PSEi suffer a stomach churning drop of 12.27 percent, well, the odds of that happening is just 3.04E-18 (again, yup, you’re reading that right). And these aren’t just one off freak events, 1.52 percent of total trading saw returns either less than -4.15 percent, or greater than 4.20 percent, whereas under a normal distribution, we would have expected just 0.27 percent of days to experience such extreme price changes. An important corollary of this is that the frequency of these extreme events exerts a disproportionate influence on returns. For example, average daily returns from 1995 to 2016 annualizes to a 9.94-percent rate. However, if we are unlucky enough to have missed the 50 best days (which represents just 0.88 percent of days) the annualized return drops to -8.82 percent. Of course, it’s a two-way street, if we’re lucky enough to avoid the 50 worst days our return jumps to 36.30 percent. Simply put, while there are vast rewards for those who can time the time the market successfully, we should be aware of the fact that the odds of such an endeavor are certainly not with us. To conclude, over the last 21 years, Philippine stock-market returns have exhibited a slight positive skew and high kurtosis, this implies that trying to time markets is an especially difficult task, as we risk missing out on the large, but infrequent, gains where so much of the PSEi’s historical returns have come from. This, coupled with the fact that transaction costs quickly pile up with frequent short-term trading, means that we are much better off simply staying the course rather than reacting spasmodically over every blip. Riz L. Jao is a lecturer of economics and a research associate for Eagle Watch at the Ateneo de Manila University.
his was the message of His Eminence Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, D.D., as he celebrated the Day of Hope last Sunday, January 8, 2017, the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord through a Thanksgiving Mass for the renewed life of those who were victimized by drugs. The cardinal said everyone can find hope in God because He is a hospitable God who welcomes even those who are considered as outsiders, outcasts and even the impure. “God wanted to accept us all. Let us not waste the blessing that He is giving us. I hope we do not waste the new life He is giving us. All of us commit mistakes, but the Lord is still here and He’s always willing to accept us. Don’t be afraid. Come to Him. Don’t be indifferent. No person will be discarded by Jesus.
Every person is welcome to follow the light and hope. Every life has hope,” Cardinal Tagle said. He also urged the public to avoid the act of being judgmental, especially to the society’s least, lost and last. “Let’s stop pretending to be clean —‘You stay there, we’re here!’ Let’s stop being judgmental: ‘You are sinful, dirty; impure. We are proper, clean.’ The light of Christ is for everyone,” Tagle added. Closing his homily, Tagle encouraged everyone to be the light and
What strong women do Camille R. Escudero
Women Stepping UP
trong women lift each other up. The truly great ones give just the right impetus to lead you to pursue your intentions and make you believe you can achieve anything.
Many women are cloaked with fear— of the unknown, of what could be, of the future. In her book Lean In, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg wrote, “Women need to shift from thinking ‘I’m not ready to do that’ to thinking ‘I want to do that—and I’ll learn by doing it.’” Readiness is the combination of skill and will. Often, women undervalue themselves by rationalizing a lack of training or experience that they never pursue an idea. Even worse, when they aim for something achievable, going for something easy because they are laced with fear of falling and failing. Recognizing this fear is good, but we must learn to embrace uncertainty. Nothing is absolute and nothing is ever sure. We must
take action and plan for success. More important, we must value resilience and the ability to bounce back when we make a mistake. It is easier to fall than it is to rise back up. So let’s muster the courage. Let’s take responsibility and create the future we want for ourselves. Strong women lift each other up. When one cracks the glass ceiling, she opens the door and paves the way for others to follow. There’s an old saying, “It’s lonely at the top;” that the most successful and powerful have very few friends. People at the top have either been placed on a pedestal that people “beneath” them see beyond the title or the success, or have isolated themselves because they are “too” great for others to be close
hands of Jesus ready to embrace and say “come, there’s hope. Come, there’s new life.” After the Mass, the social action arm of the Archdiocese of Manila, Caritas Manila signed a partnership with Fazenda da Esperança, an international drug rehabilitation farm to strengthen the archdiocese’s own parish-based drug-rehabilitation program called Sanlakbay. The partnership also aims to create a Sanlakbay Fazenda therapeutic community and healing center in the Archdiocese of Manila. Masbate Bishop Jose Bantolo witnessed the signing, while Interior Undersecretary John R. Castriciones represented the government. Launched in October 2016, Sanlakbay program that strengthens the preventive phase of the Restorative Justice Ministry in partnership with the Mamamayang Ayaw Sa Anomalya, Mamamayang Ayaw Sa Iligal na Droga (Masa Masid) in the community. The program aims to help thousands of drug dependents who had sur rendered resulting from the Duterte
to. But FLOTUS Michelle Obama also once said, “When you have worked hard, and done well, and walked through that doorway of opportunity, you do not slam it shut behind you. You reach back and you give other folks the same chances that helped you succeed.” Those powerful words hold so much truth. Whether we are entrepreneurs, skilled professionals, amazing mothers, power connectors, life coaches, change makers or influencers, let’s stop intimidating other women but instead encourage them. Let’s rid ourselves of the feeling of inadequacy and learn to value ourselves. Other women’s success, is our success. Fan each other’s flames and use it to light your own way. Strong women lift each other up. We acknowledge our multifaceted roles in society, which reveal our multifaceted selves, and positively impact those around us, because this is where we find our own purpose and fulfillment. We recognize the importance of building and strengthening bridges of change and progress; that an interconnected and collaborative community will advance our country’s economy. During the Ateneo de Manila School of Government’s 2015 commencement exercises, Vice President Maria Leonor G. Robredo shared how an empowered woman “meant knowing when to let go
administration’s war on drugs. Sanlakbay provides paralegal assistance, religious studies, livelihood training, education, advocacy, services for social action and medical assistance to drug dependents. Fazenda da Esperança, or The Farm of Hope, is a therapeutic community founded in Brazil. It eventually expanded to 120 farms in 18 other countries, including the Philippines. Fazenda da Esperança has been in the Philippines for 13 years now and has recovered over a hundred Filipinos already. They have been giving new life to so many drug addicts based on its three pillars: community—coexistence in the family, work—as a pedagogical process and most of all, spiritually—to find a sense of life and love.
To know more about Caritas Manila, visit www. caritasmanila.org.ph. For your donations, please call our DonorCare lines 563-9311, 564-0205, 0999-7943455, 0905-4285001 and 0929-8343857. Make it a habit to listen to Radio Veritas 846 in the AM band, or through live streaming at www.veritas846.ph. For comments, e-mail veritas846pr@ gmail.com.
of the limelight and when to step up. It meant knowing when to keep quiet and when to speak. Being empowered meant understanding that not all kinds of strength are visible and auditory. When you know your true value as a woman, you can sit back with secure knowledge that the man [or woman] of your dreams values your judgment because you value yours, and that together, you are working on the same goals. You are not in a contest to be heard; you are working on the same team.” In Business & Professional Women Makati, we envision women to be true to their own passion, to not second-guess themselves and own up to their choices. And in the fulfillment of our intentions, we feel empowered. However way we choose to lead our lives, we will support and have each other’s backs, because one’s achievement breeds inspiration for others’ own success.
Camille R. Escudero is president of Quality Philippine Export Lingerie & Apparel and founder of Lily of the Valley Period Panties, Active Wear and Breast Care. She supports an export manufacturing company with 400 employees, 91 percent of whom are women. She is also president of Business & Professional Women (BPW)-Makati, a nonprofit organization aligned with the United Nations Women Empowerment Principles.
2nd Front Page BusinessMirror
Friday, January 13, 2017
GOVT PINS HOPE ON HOSTING OF MISS U, ASEAN MEETING
6.5M tourist-arrivals target easy–DOT
By Catherine N. Pillas
he country’s hosting of several international events, such as the 65th Miss Universe, will allow the Philippines to attract 6.5 million foreign tourists this year, an official of the Department of Tourism (DOT) said on Thursday.
Cesar R. Villanueva, officer in charge of the Industry Relations and Services Division at the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB), has expressed optimism that the government would hit its foreign tourist-arrivals target this year. “Based on the target of the DOT for foreign arrivals, we have 6.5 million for 2017. This is an increase from the 6 million target we had last year, when we got only 5.9 million,” Villanueva told reporters in a news briefing on the Philippine Travel Agencies Association’s (PTAA) Travel Tour Expo (TTE). Aside from the 65th Miss Universe, the Philippines will also host Asean’s 50th founding anniversary
5.9M The estimated number of foreigners who visited the Philippines in 2016
this year. Villanueva said the government failed to meet its target of foreign tourist arrivals last year due to the typhoons that hit the country. For one, Typhoon Nina (international code name Nock-ten) forced the cancellation of nearly 200 domestic and international flights last December. Domestic trips are also expected to improve this year. According to data from the TPB, the DOT expects domestic trips could hit 73 million this year, higher than the 70.5 million registered last year. On the domestic front, PTAA
former President and TTE Vice Chairman Marciano C. Ragaza III noted that the Filipinos’ improving purchasing power and the proliferation of cheap travel deals online would boost domestic trips. PTAA said the top destinations for local travelers have remained the same. According to Antonio Herrera, assistant vice president for passenger sales at Philippine Airlines, these are Busuanga, Batanes, Baler, Coron and Boracay. Japan remains the top foreign destination for Filipino travelers, PTA A President Maria Michelle Reyes-Victoria said. The number of bookings for business travel to Davao, where President Duterte spends his weekends, spiked substantially in the latter half of 2016, according to the PTAA. The increase in trips to Davao is expected to continue this year, as visiting dignitaries and top foreign government officials have made it a point to drop by the city when visiting the Philippines. PTA A will hold the TTE from February 5 to 7 at the SMX Convention Center. The expo is expected to draw some 100,000 visitors looking for affordable tour and travel packages. For the 23rd Travel Tour Expo, PTAA will be showcasing 311 exhibitors, including airlines, travel agencies and tour operators, hotels and resorts, cruise liners and themepark operators. Exhibitors were able to generate at least P254 million during last year’s TTE. PTAA said this figure will likely be exceeded by the 2017 edition.
Opec chief ‘confident’ countries to meet cuts in oil production
BU DHABI, United Arab Emirates—The head of Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries said on Thursday he remains “confident” the cartel and outside members will stick to an agreement to cut production to help boost oil prices. The comments by Opec Secretary-General Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo of Nigeria come as the cartel and nonmembers try to stick to the landmark deal after oil prices collapsed last year. The Opec agreed in late November to cut its production by 1.2 million barrels a day, the first reduction agreed to by the cartel since 2008. Nearly a dozen other countries pledged last December to cut an additional 558,000 barrels a day. “I remain very confident with what I have seen in the last several months,” Barkindo said at the Atlantic Council’s Global Energy Forum in Abu Dhabi. “The level of commitment from both sides is unparalleled.” He added that there’s been “a high level of compliance.” However, how that compliance will be verified has yet to be determined. Kuwaiti Oil Minister Essam alMarzouq, who leads a five-nation Opec committee monitoring compliance, said that should be judged on the average at the end of the six-month cut. Al-Marzouq declined to offer any other specifics ahead of a planned committee meeting in Vienna beginning January 21. Crude oil sold for over $100
1.2M barrels a day The production cut agreed to by oil producers belonging to Opec
a barrel in the summer of 2014, before bottoming out below $30 a barrel in January 2016. Crude-oil futures closed at $52.25 a barrel in New York on Wednesday. Producers acknowledged they hoped for higher prices, especially those in the Persian Gulf, whose crude-based economies have been hurting. Also hurting are the oil-dominated economies of Venezuela and Nigeria. Emirati Energy Minister Suhail al-Mazroui said there is “a fair movement” toward higher prices, though it isn’t at a price his nation would like. “The real correction will happen when we see the actions of all of those...concerned nations who came together to try to help the market,” he said. However, Patrick Pouyanné, the CEO of French oil firm Total SA, offered a stark warning, saying there’s a lot still unknown in the market—especially ahead of the inauguration of US Presidentelect Donald J. Trump. “Let’s be clear: Volatility is still there,” Pouyanné said.AP
CA junks DOTr bid to tax oil shipments By Joel R. San Juan
he Court of Appeals (CA) has denied the plea of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to prevent a trial court from implementing its order stopping the government from imposing a 10-centavo levy per liter for every delivery and transshipment of oil. In a six-page resolution penned by Associate Justice Maria Elisa Sempio Diy, the Special 12th Division held that petitioners DOTr, Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) and Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) failed to establish all the requisites necessary for the issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO).
Bare allegations do not amount to substantial evidence.”—CA The appellate court noted that under Rule 58 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, the requisites for the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction and TRO are: the applicant must have a clear and unmistakable right to be protected; there is material and substantial invasion of right; there is an urgent need for the writ to prevent irreparable injury to the applicant; and no other ordinary, speedy and adequate remedy exists to prevent irreparable injury. “Here, there is no showing of a clear right which was violated or what ‘irreparable injury’ petitioners would stand to suffer, aside from their general allegation that prevention from discharging their duty and responsibility under Republic Act 9483 would cause ‘public inconvenience’ or result in ‘public mischief’ at the expense of the environment,” the CA said. “Bare allegations do not amount to substantial evidence,” it added. Earlier, the CA directed the respondents petroleum marinetransport companies to show cause why the prayer for a TRO and/or a writ of preliminary injunction by the petitioners should not be granted within 10 days from notice. In its order issued on July 25, 2016, the Regional Trial Court in Quezon City Branch 216, presided by Judge Alfonso Ruiz II, granted the motion filed by respondents— Philippine Sea Transport Association, Herma Shipping and Transport Corp., Islas Tankers Seatransport Corp., MIS Maritime Corp., Petrolift Inc., Golden Albatross Shipping Corp., Via Marine Corp., and Cargo Marine Corp.—for declaratory relief with prayer for the issuance of a TRO and/or a writ of preliminary injunction. The RTC in Quezon City directed the DOTr, Marina and the PCG to cease and desist from enforcing Section 22, Paragraph (a) of RA 9483 and Section 1, Rule X of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of RA 9483, or the Oil Pollution Compensation Act of 2007. It also ordered the petitioners to pay a bond in the amount of P5 million to answer for any damage that respondents may suffer as a result of the order. The said provision basically imposes a 10-centavo levy per liter for every delivery and transshipment of oil, which will go to the Oil Pollution Management Fund.