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Thursday, January 16, 2020 Vol. 15 No. 98

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‘Taal eruption likely to affect inflation’ T

By Bianca Cuaresma @BcuaresmaBM & Samuel P. Medenilla @sam_medenilla

aal Volcano’s unrest is not expected to pull down the country’s economy this year, but it could stoke inflationary pressures in the coming months, a local economist said.

Early assessments made by Philippine National Bank (PNB) economist Jun Trinidad showed that the adverse impact of Taal’s eruption could be mitigated by the

size and the speed of the government’s relief operations. “Deploying significant private and public resources in disaster affected areas to address the nat-

ural disaster’s damages compensates for macro downside risks,” Trinidad said. Trinidad said the government’s aid, reconstruction and rehabilita-

P25.00 nationwide | 6 sections 60 pages |

Rebalancing development strategy:

Filipino First in an uncertain and volatile world

2.5 percent

Rene E. Ofreneo

The average inflation rate in 2019 tion efforts, coupled by a private sector-led reparation to normalize their operations will likely offset the negative impact of the natural disaster on domestic demand. The economist also said that the P20-billion National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund as approved in the 2020 budget, as well as the $222 million proceeds from the catastrophe-linked bonds could cover for the losses caused by the volcano’s eruption.

laborem exercens

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he world heaved a collective sigh of relief when Teheran elected to avoid an all-out force-by-force response to Trump’s brazen decision to kill Iran’s General Qassem Soleimani through a powerful air strike. Nonetheless, it is still a VUCA world—vulnerable, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. The global consensus is that the US-Iran war will continue in various forms, e.g., proxy wars in Yemen, drone attacks on oil tankers, violent demonstrations against US bases, etc. The oil market remains volatile and unpredictable. The Middle East will increasingly become an inhospitable place for work to around 3 million OFWs, documented and undocumented. Continued on A7

Continued on A2

Price of live chicken down 9%

Citira won’t widen gap in tax collection–EIU By Bernadette D. Nicolas

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@BNicolasBM

espite the expected cut in corporate income tax (CIT) under the proposed Corporate Income Tax and Incentives Rationalization Act (Citira), the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) said this will not widen the shortfall in actual tax collection. While the Citira faces opposition from businesses lobbying for the retention of fiscal incentives, the EIU said in an article that the measure will be passed by Congress this year, putting the country “on track” to cutting CIT to 20 percent by 2030. However, the EIU said the extent by which the measure will lower the effective tax rate companies pay and its impact on arresting falling foreign direct investment will still depend on the final outcome of the bicameral review of Senate and the House of Representatives. “While the government will find it hard to achieve its ambitious revenue target, the shortfall in actual collection will not be wide, considering that the pace of reduction in the corporate income tax rate is much slower than at which incentives are supposed to be rolled back,” EIU said in the January 14 article, titled “Crunch time for Duterte’s corporate tax reform.” Citira aims to lower the CIT rate

PESO exchange rates n

from 30 percent to 20 percent over 10 years to bring it closer to the Asean average while redesigning the current convoluted fiscal incentives system to make it performancebased, time-bound, specifically targeted and more transparent. The EIU noted that corporate tax reforms under President Duterte comes at a time that the government needs to increase tax revenues to fund his commitments to raise social spending and disbursements for infrastructure. In a statement on Wednesday, the Department of Finance said the House version of the Citira bill, which was approved on September 13, 2019, has already been transmitted to the Senate on September 16. The measure is now pending in the counterpart Senate panel chaired by the equally hardworking Sen. Pia Cayetano, the DOF said. Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III reiterated in the same statement that the tax reform will attract more investments and help propel the country to an “A” credit rating from its current “BBB plus” while creating “a better level playing field” for businesses, as well as entice new players to come in and compete. Aside from Citira, the other pending packages under the Comprehensive Tax Reform Program (CTRP) include Package 3 or the Continued on A2

By Jasper Emmanuel Y. Arcalas @jearcalas

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By country source, BSP data showed that the United States is still the highest country source of OFW remittances during the period, accounting for 37.7 percent of total money transfers in January to November 2019. This was followed by Saudi

he average farm-gate price of broiler chicken fell by over 9 percent to P72.25 per kilogram (kg) in the second week of January, as lower demand caused inventory to swell, the United Broiler Raisers Association (Ubra) said. Ubra’s weekly price monitoring indicated that the price of broiler chicken as of January 10 was P7.42 lower than the P79.67 per kg recorded in the previous week. Also, the average price of primesized broiler declined by almost 10 percent to P73.67 per kg, from last week’s P81.62 per kg, according to Ubra’s report. Figures from the group also showed that the average farmgate price of off-sized broiler fell by 4.3 percent to P78.8 per kg from P82.33 per kg during the reference period. Ubra President Elias Jose Inciong told the BusinessMirror that the reduction in farm-gate prices was caused by “a confluence of events,” including seasonal factors. For one, Inciong said there is a high carry over chicken inventory due to higher local production and an increase in imports. Inciong added that the increase of new entrants in the poultry sector contributed

Continued on A2

Continued on A2

Dr. Renato Solidum, officer in charge of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, is shown here pointing to sets of data on the eruption of Taal Volcano. During a news conference held at the Phivolcs office in Quezon City on January 15, Solidum said Phivolcs data showed that since 5:00 a.m. of January 14 until 5:00 a.m. of January 15, nearly 160 volcanic earthquakes related to the eruption were felt. Twenty-eight of these volcanic earthquakes had intensities ranging from Intensity 1 to 3. NONOY LACZA

OFW remittances rise to $2.37 million in November

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he Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) reported on Wednesday that overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) sent home some $2.37 million in remittances in November 2019, 2 percent higher than the total amount they sent a year ago. The BSP said total remittances in

January to November 2019 rose to $27.2 billion, 4.4 percent higher than the previous year’s $26.1 billion. “By type of worker, cash remittances from land-based and seabased workers increased by 3.6 percent to $21.3 billion, and 7.3 percent to $6 billion, respectively,” the BSP said in a statement.

US 50.5120 n japan 0.4593 n UK 65.7666 n HK 6.4952 n CHINA 7.3371 n singapore 37.5080 n australia 34.8533 n EU 56.2199 n SAUDI ARABIA 13.4641

Source: BSP (15 January 2020)


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BusinessMirror

A2 Thursday, January 16, 2020

www.businessmirror.com.ph

PHL declares total deployment ban to Kuwait

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By Samuel P. Medenilla

@sam_medenilla

verseas Filipino workers (OFWs) will no longer be allowed to go to Kuwait after the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration’s (POEA) governing board had approved a total deployment ban to the Arab nation.

The POEA imposed the ban due to the Kuwaiti government’s lapses in addressing the case

of Filipino household ser vice worker Jeanelyn Villavende who was slain last month allegedly by

her employers. Labor Secretary and POEA governing board Chairman Silvestre H. Bello III said he ordered the total deployment ban after Kuwaiti authorities failed to disclose in their autopsy report that Villavende was also sexually violated. Philippine authorities only found out that Villavende was sexually abused when the National Bureau of Investigation conducted a separate autopsy. The incident irked Bello, who vowed stronger deployment restrictions for Kuwait to further pressure its government to hold accountable the people behind Villavende’s death and to fully implement the 2018 Philippine-

243,843 The number of Filipino workers currently in Kuwait

Kuwait memorandum of agreement (MOA). Under a total deployment ban, all job categories of OFWs, regardless if they are newly hired or returning (balik manggagawa) will no longer be allowed to go to a destination country. The new resolution, however, provides that the labor secretar y could set job categor ies to be exempted from the total

‘Taal eruption likely PHL improves score to affect inflation’ in WB index Continued from A1

Continued from A1

What is worrisome, however, is the pressure that the Taal eruption could put on food prices—particularly on chicken, hogs and fish since Region 4A—the region most affected by the calamity—is a significant contributor to local production of livestock, he said. Trinidad said the region is the second-largest regional producer of live chicken, accounting for 87,000 metric tons out of the total 429,000 MT in the third quarter of 2019. The Department of Agriculture (DA) said Taal Volcano’s eruption has damaged some P600 million worth of crops and other produce. The DA said the figure could go up in the coming days due to the probable fish kill in Taal Lake caused by the volcano’s eruption. In its report on Tuesday, the DA said Taal Volcano’s damage to the farm sector rose to P577.59 million, from the agency’s initial estimate of P74.55 million. The Philippines ended 2019 with a 2.5-percent uptick in inflation in December, from 1.3 percent recorded in November. Even before Taal’s eruption, inflation has already been flagged to trend upwards in 2020 due to local and global developments. The government’s target inflation range for 2020 remains at 2 to 4 percent. In 2019, inflation averaged at 2.5 percent.

‘No shortage’

The DA on Wednesday said it will ensure that there will be no food shortage in Luzon as it will mobilize supplies from areas outside of Taal. In an ambush interview, Agriculture Undersecretary Ariel Cayanan said the DA is confident that other food-producing regions in Luzon could offset the losses incurred by

farmers in areas affected by the eruption of Taal Volcano. “So far BFAR [Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources] and BPI [Bureau of Plant Industry] have made no declaration [on a possible food shortage],” Cayanan said. He said the crop production of Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino, and Baguio will be sufficient for the vegetable needs of Luzon. And for fish, Cayanan said Pampanga, Tarlac and other areas in Region 3 “have greater market share when it comes to volume” compared to that of Batangas, which was severely affected by the eruption. “The challenge for us now is how we are going to ration it. How we will distribute it from North to South [of Luzon],” Cayanan said. Cayanan said Agriculture Secretary William Dar already gave instructions to the DA’s regional offices in Luzon to help with the logistics to ensure that sufficient supplies of vegetables and fish in the market and minimize possible “price distortion.” Also, the Department of Health warned the public against eating fish caught from Taal Lake due to the concerns that these may be contaminated with harmful toxins released during the eruption. “While we are not sure, might as well as be cautious because we know that toxic substances have been thrown out of the volcano and dissolved in the water. Ingesting fishes and animals, which were killed by it might transfer those toxins to our bodies,” Health Undersecretary Eric Domingo said. However, Domingo said vegetables and fruits, which were exposed to ashfall from the eruption will be safe to eat as long as ash is washed away. DOH said eating ash could cause symptoms similar to food poisoning.

Price of live chicken down 9% Continued from A1

to higher production, resulting in oversupply. He said the situation was worsened by the practice of Filipinos to avoid serving chicken during the New Year’s Eve feast due to the superstitious belief that the consumption of poultry will make one’s life difficult the whole year. The Department of Agriculture’s market price monitoring report showed that the average retail price of dressed chicken in Metro Manila market as of January 15 fell to P154.5 per kg from the previous week’s P156.67 per kg. Inciong noted that the price is still quite higher than the industry’s estimated or suggested retail price of P125 per kg, at the prevailing farm-gate prices. Broiler industry stakeholders noted that the retail price of chicken should only be P50 higher than

its farm-gate price. In its report on the performance of the agriculture sector in the third quarter, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said chicken production expanded by an annualized rate of 8.48 percent during the period due to the increase in demand for broiler chicken in Central Luzon and Calabarzon. “Chicken served as substitute for pork due to outbreak of African swine fever [ASF]. Sustained local demand for native/improved chicken and broiler chicken was reported in Mimaropa region, Western Visayas, Eastern Visayas, Zamboanga Peninsula, Northern Mindanao and Davao region,” the PSA report read. “There were also reports of increased culling of unproductive layers in Central Luzon, Mimaropa region and Central Visayas,” it added.

Mobi l it y e x amined constraints to women’s freedom of movement while workplace analyzed the laws affecting women’s decisions to enter and remain in the labor force. The indicator on pay measured laws and regulations regarding job restrictions and the gender wage gap; legal constraints in marriage; and parenthood evaluated laws affecting women’s work after having children. Other indicators such as entrepreneurship examined constraints faced by women when starting and running their own business assets, gender differences in property and inheritance law; and the size of women’s pension. The Philippines scored the highest in workplace, pay, and entrepreneurship with a score of 100. The country scored 80 out of 100 in parenthood; 75 in mobility and pension; and 60 in marriage and assets. The country’s primary reform was to extend the duration of paid maternity leave to 105 days from 60 days approved by President Duterte in May 2019. This reform fell under parenthood where majority of countries in the index implemented their reforms. Apart from the Philippines, countries like Canada, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and the United States, among others, made reforms in this indicator. “Reforms are urgently needed in the area of Parenthood, which scored just 53.9 on average. In almost half of economies that provide any form of paid maternity leave, the burden falls on the employer, making it more costly to hire women,” the World Bank said in a statement. “But paid maternity leave can

help to retain female employees, reducing turnover cost and improving productivity. These longer-term benefits often outweigh the shortterm costs to employers, according to the study,” it added. The WBL index measures only formal laws and the regulations which govern a woman’s ability to work or own businesses—a country’s actual norms and practices are not captured. The global average score was 75.2 out of 100. Women Business and the Law 2020 included 190 economies, tracked how laws affect women at different stages in their working lives and focused on those laws applicable in the main business city. It covered reforms in eight areas that are associated with women’s economic empowerment, conducted from June 2017 to September 2019. The World Bank said achieving legal gender equality requires strong political will and a concerted effort by governments, civil society, and international organizations, among others. Legal and regulatory reforms can serve as an important catalyst to improve the lives of women, as well as their families and communities, it added. “This study helps us understand where laws facilitate or hinder women’s economic participation. It has incentivized countries to undertake reforms that can eliminate gender imbalances,” said World Bank Group Chief Economist Pinelopi Koujianou Goldberg. “Achieving equality will take time, but it is encouraging that all regions have improved. We hope that this research will continue to serve as an important tool to inform policy-making and level the playing field for women,” Goldberg added.

Citira won’t widen gap in tax collection–EIU

Continued from A1

Real Property Valuation Reform and Package 4 or the Passive Income and Financial Intermediary Taxation Act or PIFITA. Nonetheless, Dominguez has since expressed confidence that the pending CTRP packages will be approved by Congress this year. “Completing the reform measures will guarantee the revenue flow and the equitable sharing of the contributions to underwrite our social and infrastructure programs. It will also ensure fiscal stability long into the future,” he said. The bill imposing higher excise taxes on alcohol products and an increase in the tax rate for ecigarettes, such as heated tobacco products and vapor products was approved by Congress and is now

awaiting President Duterte’s signature. In July last year, President Duterte also signed into law Republic Act 11346, which raised the excise tax on tobacco products to P45 per pack beginning in 2020, followed by a series of P5 per pack increases until the rate reaches P60 in 2023. Thereafter, the tax rate will increase by 5 percent every year. It also included a provision taxing e-cigarettes by at least P10 per milliliter for e-juices with high nicotine concentrations, also known as nicotine salt. Under the bill up for the President’s signature, this minimal rate has since increased to be closer to that of cigarettes based on comparative consumption patterns.

deployment ban. It also allows OFWs, who are currently employed in Kuwait, to complete their employment contracts. However, once the contract is completed, they will no longer be allowed to return to Kuwait. POEA has yet to release a copy of the resolution since it still lacked the needed signatures from its governing board members. Bello and POEA administrator Bernard P. Olalia, however, confirmed to the BusinessMirror the resolution’s existence via SMS. In the latest deployment data of POEA, Kuwait is currently one of the top 10 destinations for OFWs. The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE)

said there are 243,843 Filipino workers in Kuwait. Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian on Tuesday pressed concerned Philippine officials to pursue accountability of the Kuwaiti government for slain OFWs, as three Filipino maids have been reported killed in high-profile cases in the last two years. “It is high time to stop these occurrences from happening again,” the senator stressed as he affirmed support for a snowballing clamor to enforce a total ban on the deployment of Filipino household service workers to Kuwait amid findings that the OFWs “are the most vulnerable among workers deployed in the area.”

Moratorium on SSS loan payments pushed

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enator Nancy Binay on Wednesday urged the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), Social Security System and Pag-IBIG, as well as other government financial agencies and offices, to impose a six-month to oneyear loan payment moratorium for those affected by the restive Taal Volcano as a way to help ease their burdens. “It’s a way for government agencies to show continuing concern for its members, and it’s a way of helping out its members during their times of need,” Binay said in a statement. Besides government institutions, the senator also called on private and government banks, lending agencies, and financial institutions to defer loan payments of borrowers in areas declared under a state of calamity. Likewise, she also urged local government units (LGUs) in the affected areas to defer collecting penalties from individuals who are unable to pay real property taxes, as well as businesses that are unable to renew their business permits. “The situation calls for everyone to be more caring and compassionate,” she said. “Yung pagbibigay ng loan moratorium and debt restructuring ay malaking tulong para makabangon ang ating mga kababayan

[The granting of loan moratorium and debt restructuring would greatly help our countrymen to get to their feet]. Compassionate care is an important component of rebuilding, and will surely make a difference,” Binay said. The province of Batangas was placed under a state of calamity a day after Taal Volcano erupted. According to reports from the Batangas Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC), over 200,000 individuals have been affected by Taal’s activity. About 17,000 individuals or more than 3,000 families in the most affected towns of Balete, Laurel, San Nicolas, Talisay and parts of Lipa and Tanauan City have initially been evacuated. Binay had earlier called on the government to enlist the help of the private sector in procuring masks, as well as other supplies that would protect citizens in affected areas. She also scored the “enterprising” attitude of traders and hoarders who have taken advantage of the situation and exacerbated the lack of supply. Binay warned that there are serious repercussions for establishments that would be proven to have marked up the prices of goods during the crisis. PNA

OFW remittances rise to $2.37 million in November Continued from A1

Arabia, Singapore, Japan, United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, Canada, Hong Kong, Germany and Qatar. The combined remittances from these countries accounted for 78.4 percent of total cash remittances during the period. In a recent roundtable discussion with the BusinessMirror, Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) Executive Vice President and Corporate Banking Head Juan Carlos Syquia said the Philippine banking sector will likely feel the effect of the Middle East tensions largely through expectations of declines in remittances. “Definitely their [OFWs] jobs will be compromised. At the best, compromised, at the worst lost. In the banking aspect I think it will be affected especially as this [USIran tiff] escalates. We will watch its effect not only on the banking sector but on the economy,” said Syquia. Ju st l a st wee k , P resident Duterte ordered the mandatory repatriation of Filipinos living and working in Iraq, due to the tensions between Iran and the US. Iraq was dragged into the fray

because it hosts US bases. It was also near Baghdad’s airport where a US air strike on January 3 killed top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani. On Wednesday, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration approved a total ban on the deployment of OFWs to Kuwait following the death of a Filipina migrant worker last December. Labor Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III wanted a total deployment to Kuwait after the Kuwaiti government failed to disclose in its autopsy report that Jeanelyn Villavende was also sexually violated. Under a total deployment ban, all job categories of OFWs, regardless of whether they are newly hired or returning (balik manggagawa), will no longer be allowed to go to a destination country. Bello noted that his proposed deployment ban will also cover vacationing OFWs. Latest data from Department of Labor and Employment revealed there are 243,843 Filipinos workers in Kuwait. Bianca Cuaresma


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Recruitment expert Geslani says 1,500 unregistered OFWs ‘stranded’ in Beirut By Recto Mercene @rectomercene

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OME 1,500 overseas Filipino workers (OFW) are currently stranded in Lebanon, waiting to be repatriated but unable to raise the $200 required by Beirut for being unregistered workers. Recruitment consultant Manny Geslani said there are as many as 50,000 undocumented OFWs in Lebanon “brought in by illegalrecruitment syndicates from 2006 to 2019, escaping the deployment ban imposed by the Department of Labor and Employment [DOLE] and Philippine Overseas Employment Administration [POEA] in the wake of the Israel-Lebanon War from 2006 to 2007.” Demand, however, for Filipina maids was so high in Lebanon, that planeloads of OFWs were reportedly brought in monthly leading to an undisclosed number of illegal-maids working in Lebanon, he added. On the other hand, Geslani said, there are some 34,000 properly documented OFW’s in Lebanon. He said the exodus of OFW’s out of Beirut was brought about by the    economic crisis    in the country, which is now “heading toward bankruptcy.” “The Lebanese pound has lost its value more than 60 percent and the crisis has led to daily demonstrations in major cities of Lebanon,” Geslani said. “The more than 1,500 Filipina domestic workers are still waiting for the go-signal to board planes out of Beirut, while the Philippines government negotiates for their departure,” he said. He added that recently, the Honorary Consul-General of Lebanon to the Philippines, Joseph Assad, had a dialogue with Secretary of Foreign Affairs Teodoro Locsin Jr., to discuss what measures can be done to bring home the OFWs. “Consul Assad has prepared a letter addressed to Lebanon President Michel Aoun to grant amnesty for those 1,500 OFWs on their immigration penalties through his embassy in Tokyo.” The 1,500 domestic workers have all signed up for repatriation with the Philippine Embassy but they are being fined $200 for working illegally in Lebanon, for several years. The maids have to pay the $200 fine so that they can be issued exit visas. Although the Philippine Embassy has the funds to fly them out for their plane tickets, Geslani said the sheer number of maids waiting for repatriation has delayed the process “while the embassy has asked the Department of

Foreign Affairs [DFA] in Manila to negotiate for an amnesty from the Lebanese government,” according to Geslani. Meanwhile the 1,500 maids are cooling their heels in Beirut by working part-time, or staying with friends, while waiting for their exit visas. More OFWs are expected to take advantage of the free repatriation offered by the DFA in the coming months as the political situation deteriorates in Lebanon. Lebanon is facing its worst economic crisis in decades, with the local currency plummeting against the US dollar, losing more than 60 percent of its value over the last weeks while sources of foreign currency have dried up. Meanwhile, banks have imposed informal capital controls, limiting withdrawal of dollars and foreign transfers in the country, which relies heavily on import of basic goods, Geslani said. In this connection, the DFA has started it’s Iraq repatriation with the arrival of 13 Filipinos on Wednesday afternoon. The DFA, through the Philippine Embassy in Iraq, is bringing home two groups coming from Baghdad and Erbil. The first group from Baghdad, which comprises seven adults and two minors, was supposed to arrive on Wednesday, but was held by Iraqi immigration officials at the Baghdad International Airport for baseless allegations of visa fraud, the DFA said in a news statement.  The other four adults coming from Erbil, a city located north of Baghdad, form the second group. Both groups will be transiting Doha, Qatar, before arriving in Manila. Locsin praised the embassy staff in Libya, who sent off the OFW home. “DFA [is] the best. Not only do we not leave our kind behind but we seek them out to help them. Fast and no fuss, all in a sleepless week’s time,” he said in his official Twitter account. The repatriates comprise the first batch of Filipinos coming home after the government ordered mandatory repatriation, Affairs Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs Sarah Lou Arriola said. Alert Level 4, or mandatory repatriation of Filipinos in Iraq, was raised on January 8, 2020, due to growing security threats in the Middle East. The DFA-Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers’ Affairs coordinates the repatriation of distressed Filipinos abroad. “More Filipinos from affected areas are expected to come home in the coming weeks,” Arriola added.

DPWH completes ₧279.3-million Taguig River project in six weeks By Lorenz S. Marasigan @lorenzmarasigan

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HE Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) said on Wednesday that its multimillion-peso slope protection initiative for the Taguig River has been completed. Public Works Secretary Mark A. Villar said the P279.3-million project was completed in six weeks. Aside from protecting the slopes along the Taguig River, the project also entailed bank improvements. “As a tributary of Pasig River, Taguig River bounds places in Taguig and Pateros that are very susceptible to flooding. With the speedy completion of this project, residents can be more relieved knowing that a structure now safeguards their lives and properties,”

“As a tributary of Pasig River, Taguig River bounds places in Taguig and Pateros that are very susceptible to flooding. With the speedy completion of this project, residents can be more relieved knowing that a structure now safeguards their lives and properties.” —Villar

said Villar. He said the project was necessary as the area is “prone to river overflowing during rainy season.” The project will help prevent flooding in the City of Taguig and Pateros. It was funded under general appropriations for 2018 and 2019.

Editor: Vittorio V. Vitug • Thursday, January 16, 2020 A3

DOJ chief to de Lima: Shift your tack to gain freedom By Joel R. San Juan @jrsanjuan1573

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USTICE Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Wednesday challenged detained Sen. Leila M. de Lima to avail all the legal remedies to gain her freedom rather than relying on foreign groups and individuals to pressure the government into releasing her from detention. Speaking before media men at the Kapihan sa Manila Bay forum, Guevarra admitted that he was baffled by de Lima’s non-filing of a motion to post bail despite her insistence that the evidence submitted by the prosecutors in the conspiracy to commit illegal-drug charges filed against her before the trial courts in Muntinlupa City are fabricated and weak.   “If you believe that the charges against you are not true then slug it out, fight it out, file a demurrer to evidence. If you want to file a petition

for bail, so there are so many legal remedies available to her,” Guevarra told de Lima. “If that is her position, why has not she applied for bail? Why is it that other people, even foreigners will be asking for her freedom now, temporary or permanently, but she, herself, has not applied for bail? So what could be the reason for that? We can only guess about the possible reasons. It’s up to you to think why she hasn’t filed a petition for bail,” he added.   Guevarra maintained that the call of US Senators Dick Durbin and Patrick Leahy, who authored the ban on Philippine government officials behind the alleged wrongful detention of de Lima for her immediate release from jail is illegal.   He said de Lima’s indictment and incarceration for her involvement in the illegal-drug trade was in consonance with

the country’s criminal laws. “What the US senators are saying, they are saying free de lima now. First of all, that is against our law because trial is still ongoing. How can you release a person that is still undergoing trial.  She can only be released if she gets acquitted and if she gets convicted, only executive clemency can free her because that is life imprisonment for the offense charge. But if you’ll notice something, people are asking, some sectors are asking to free her, but haven’t you noticed that de Lima has not even thought of filing a petition for bail,” Guevarra asked.   However, Guevarra expressed optimism that the travel ban and the freezing of assets of those believed to be behind de Lima’s supposed illegal detention which have been included as provisions in the 2020 US Appropriations Act would not be implemented eventually by the

US State Department. He explained that the US State Department, which will implement the resolution, would have to determine and convince itself whether  not there was wrongful detention, or imprisonment, on the part of de Lima.   Assuming that they believe that de Lima’s was a victim of wrongful detention, and was not accorded due process, Guevarra said, the US State Department would have to identify the people supposedly responsible for de Lima’s current predicament.   “But I am sure that if they exercise some prudence and circumspection, I’m talking about the US state Department, they will realize that where is the wrongful imprisonment, wrongful detention here, everything was followed in accordance with the laws of the Republic of the Philippines,” the DOJ secretary said.

Surrender of 3 C. Luzon rebels boosts localized peace talks initiative–Army By Rene Acosta @reneacostaBM

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HE localized talks initiative espoused by the military despite the planned resumption of peace talks between the government and leftist groups continued to gain headway as Army forces in Central Luzon reported that three more members of the New People’s Army (NPA) have yielded this week. Christopher Lorente, alias Nova, and Jayson Villafria surrendered at about 11:30 p.m. on Monday in Barangay Antipolo, Bongabon, Nueva

Ecija, as a result of the intelligencedriven operations by the Army’s 91st Infantry Battalion. The third rebel surrenderer, however, is not identified by the Army. “The former rebels have started the year right by deciding to surrender to government troops, who proved their readiness to welcome rebels back to the folds of law,” said 2nd Lt. Irene Bugarin, acting civilmilitary operations officer of the 703rd Infantry Brigade. Bugarin said Lorente had served as the squad leader of Platoon Dos of the NPA’s Kilusang Larangang

Gerilya Sierra Madre, while Villafria was the former squad leader and radioman of Platoon Tres of the NPA in Bulacan. The two former rebels surrendered to soldiers as a result of the efforts of Capt. Rey Carandang and Lt. Col. Reandrew Rubio, acting commander of the 91st Infantry Battalion. Col. Andrew Costelo, commander of the 703rd Infantry Brigade, said the yielding of the two former squad leaders of the NPA in Central Luzon was made with the help and collaboration of residents in the areas where the two have formerly operated.

“The support of the residents themselves in the area is an important component in the aspiration to give real peace and inclusive progress a chance,” he said. Maj. Gen. Lenard Agustin, 7th Infantry Division commander, said the military is doing everything it can in order to end the 51-year communist movement in the country. Seventh  Infantr y Div ision spokesman Maj. Amado Gutierrez said his division “recorded a high turnout of rebel and rebel supporter surrenderers” last year, by taking in 1,003.

WHO scientist admits e-cigs may Bacoor twin land-reclamation projects offers ‘best solutions’ be less harmful than cigarettes to urban devt, mayor says

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HE World Health Organization (WHO) has finally admitted that ecigarettes are less harmful compared to cigarettes. The acknowledgment came from WHO representative Dr. Ranti Fayokun, scientist in the National Capacity-Tobacco Control Prevention of Noncommunicable Diseases during the hearing on vaping regulation conducted by the House of Representatives last month.    Fayokun’s admission was made amid the organization’s cautious stand on ecigarettes despite the mounting scientific evidence that they are less harmful than traditional cigarettes.     Public Health England has always maintained that e-cigarettes are 95 percent less harmful than tobacco and has encouraged smokers who can’t quit smoking to switch to the less harmful alternative.  The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine in 2018 released a report stating that “completely switching from cigarettes to e-cigarettes will reduce exposure to numerous toxicants and carcinogens found in cigarettes.”  “They [WHO] are saying if you are a country that cannot produce regulation and cannot enforce regulation, you must ban. That, to me, is a contradiction. A country cannot regulate perfectly, but the last thing it should do is ban because the blackmarket will proliferate. This is an issue that is extremely important to children. If we ban things, if we do not regulate things, we create a blackmarket that does not care about children, that does not care about elderly people, that does not care about us at all,” Dr. Andrew da Roza, an addictions psychotherapist and lawyer said in the congressional hearing.  A ban on electronic cigarettes and heatno-burn tobacco products will only create a black market that will be disastrous to public health, according to international public-

health experts who attended a hearing. “If you ban them, there will simply be a black market. When the United States banned alcohol in the 1900s, that did not work out,” said da Roza.    Rep. Weslie Gatchalian, chairman of the House Committee on Trade, said the hearing was called because “the use of ENDS [electronic nicotine delivery system] and heated tobacco products is now a national concern, so much that the President [Duterte] recently issued a directive banning the importation and use of ENDS and HTPs [heated tobacco products] in public spaces.” “This committee respects the directive of the President, and sees this as an opportunity for the Philippines to finally regulate this innovative device,” Gatchalian said earlier. Da Roza, who holds a master’s degree in counseling from Monash University in Australia, said e-cigarettes, HTP products, and other ENDS proved effective in winning smokers away from cigarette smoking which is extremely addictive and powerful. “E-cigarettes are twice as effective as NRTs [nicotine replacement therapies],” he said. “New technologies give public-health policy a unique opportunity to eliminate cigarettes in a single generation. I truly believe that. We can have a smoke-free world if we use these heat-not-burn products and if we use these e-cigarette products,” said da Roza. He said that instead of a ban, the government should support and incentivize safer technologies that will win people away from the scourge of cigarette smoking. “Any regulation that slows down the developments in science means the people of the Philippines will not benefit from safer products. The government, in my humble opinion, should be investing in research on e-cigarettes and heat-not-burn products,” da Roza said.

By Jonathan L. Mayuga

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@jonlmayuga

LAIMING that the two proposed land-reclamation projects in Bacoor City have been receiving overwhelming support from various stakeholders, Cavite local officials said they intend to integrate and adopt “a most effective approach to the long-term cleanup of Manila Bay” as mandated by a decade-old Supreme Court continuing mandamus. The twin land-reclamation projects are being opposed by coastal communities and fishermen of Bacoor, known as the birthplace of oyster and mussel farming in the country. The Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas and Oceana Philippines, an international ocean conservation advocacy nongovernment organization, are vocal about the adverse environmental impacts of land reclamation, particularly in Manila Bay, which is currently the subject of a massive rehabilitation effort by the Duterte administration under the Battle For Manila Bay campaign being waged by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). The Office of Sen. Cynthia Villar had also expressed strong opposition to the projects because, according to the lady legislator, the projects will cause massive flooding. President Duterte declared during an interview on national television that he will not allow new land-reclamation projects to proceed under his watch. The proponent of land-reclamation projects, the Bacoor City local government, through its public information officer, said the Bacoor Reclamation and Development Project (BRDP), consisting of a total of 320-hectare island and the Diamond Reclamation and Development Project (DRDP), consisting of one 100-hectare island via public-private partnership under the PPP Code of Bacoor are the only projects along Manila Bay that carry with it a program for relocation and resettlement squatter dwellers. The city targets the relocation of would-be affected residents living in ten coastal barangays. In a news statement, Mayor Lani M. Revilla said the twin development projects would also address flooding in the city. She said the projects are integrated with the various long-term flood mitigation projects of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH). The Flood Risk Management Project of the DPWH will improve river channels and create diversion channels from Imus to Bacoor City, which will serve as the flood discharge system of the rainwater catchment basin of Bacoor, in Buhay na Tubig.


A4 Thursday, January 16, 2020 | www.businessmirror.com.ph

BusinessMirr

Make your life a masterpiece at NSJB

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By Leony R. Garcia

RT is everywhere, influencing us on a daily basis, whether we realize it or not. And with the art that we are surrounded by, whether it’s a painting, music or even videos, it can definitely have a huge impact on our mood and emotions. That’s why art is important in our daily lives. Art has been a means of expression since the evolution of mankind. It is a huge part of our culture, shaping our ideas, providing us with a deeper understanding of emotions, selfawareness, and a lot more. Art makes the community more beautiful. It also makes the places we go and visit and spend time in more interesting. Through art, we gain a better understanding of cultures, history and tradition; as well as help others weave their own. Thanks to the wonderful minds behind the New San Jose Builders, Inc. (NSJBI) brand, people who are more attuned towards their naturally artistic side would be happy to know that they now have a home specifically dedicated to their own passion and interests. Soon to stand only a stone's throw away from GMA Network compound will be the Victoria Arts and Theater Tower. It’s a spectacular 60-storey abode that will serve as the new mecca for creative minds and inspired spirits.

The groundbreaking ceremony is set to happen on January 25, 2020, at Timog Avenue corner Samar and GMA Network Drive, Diliman, Quezon City. According to NSJBI AVP-Sales Head Hazel De Dios, the project is currently in its pre-selling stage and is set to be finished in five years time. “We are 60 per cent sold out and we expect more buyers and investors to come in as the construction starts after the groundbreaking ceremony,” she told the BusinessMirror. The Victoria Arts and Theater Tower will rise along Timog Avenue in Quezon City and will feature everything the best in life has to offer, that include a hotel, residential condominium, swimming pool, fitness gym, multi-purpose hall, comedy bar, piano bar, folk song bar, and even a poem bar; not to mention, its centerpiece, a grand theater with a seating capacity of 350 people. Victoria Arts and Theater Tower is another first from NSJBI -- the first condominium to give

THE Theater stage


www.businessmirror.com.ph | Thursday, January 16, 2020 A5

ror Special Feature

BI’s Victoria Arts and Theater Tower

THE grand lobby

details and importance for the performing arts. With the tagline, “Make your life a masterpiece”— because of its sophisticated and artistic lifestyle—the project aims to make NSJBI’s clients and buyers appreciate art, experience luxurious

living, savor gastronomic delights and recognize exquisite talent all at the same time. Victoria Arts and Theater Tower has a classic-modern façade, and balconies at the lobby area that gives the structure a blend of

European artistic style. “The design accents are being made at Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar in Bataan now and they would be transported here and fit in like a puzzle,” she added. It is a mixed-use residential

and commercial building, with six commercial floors with a total of 1,314 residential and 98 hotel units. It also features a residential penthouse, a function room, sky garden and helipad. NSJBI’s grand project will also house a mini amphitheater, an art studio, a recording studio and an auditorium. Like most Victoria brand projects, Victoria Arts and Theater Tower shall have access to the indoor sports facilities of the nearby Victoria Sports Tower. After all, this is what distinguishes NSJBI from other establishments. The owner himself advocates for sporty and healthy lifestyle. Our young generation deserves to be healthy as they fulfil their dreams for a better tomorrow. The indoor sports wouldn't be as big as that of the nearby Victoria Sports Tower. But should they need bigger space, tenants have free access to Victoria Sports Tower according to De Dios. New San Jose Builders, Inc., the authority in sports-inspired condominium projects, knows that today’s young achievers have so much more to give and so much more to share. The Victoria Arts and Theater Tower is the perfect place for these creative minds to thrive in, allowing them to realize their dreams. Likewise, families would surely love to create memorable moments under their new abode and design the kind of life that they have always wanted. De Dios assured buyers and investors that the project is still one of the most affordable in the real estate sector “because NSJBI is the builder, contractor, and finisher.Most important, the company is known to be a trusted name in the industry,” she added.


A6 Thursday, January 16, 2020 • Editor: Angel R. Calso

Opinion BusinessMirror

www.businessmirror.com.ph

editorial

How will the PHL water drama end?

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ercantilism is an economic system designed to increase a nation’s wealth by government regulation of all the country’s commercial interests. It was a system dominant in some parts of Europe from the 16th to the 18th centuries before falling into decline, although some quarters contend that it is still practiced in the economies of industrializing countries in the form of government interventions. Laissez-faire economics, on the other hand, is a doctrine advocating that an economic system should be free from government intervention and be driven only by market forces. Laissez-faire (French for “let go”) economics originated in 18th century France where economists (at that time called “physiocrats”) became hostile to subsidies and discriminatory economic measures prevalent under mercantilism. This doctrine became popular in the Western world in the 19th century. However, its failings showed in the form of great disparity in wealth distribution, bad treatment of workers and consumers, and the spread of monopolies. Not long after, opposition to laissez-faire economics snowballed, and governments in industrialized countries intervened on behalf of workers and the general population. The early 20th century saw the breakup of monopolies in the US, and the nationalization of essential industries and services in Europe after World War ll. From the 1970s, however, the pendulum swung back to laissez-faire economics (renamed “free enterprise”) and brought deregulation of business and progressive removal of trade barriers. In an article—“The Theory of Power”—published by The American Prospect on September 30, 2011, Robert Kuttner offered a robust challenge to laissez-faire economics. He said: “Over the past three decades, laissez-faire economics has had an immense impact on our society, mostly for the worse. The elements have included privatization of public services, an assault on social benefits, and most important, deregulation of finance. Elites find laissez-faire an immensely useful fable, because it serves as an expert brief against government interference. In the academy, dissenting economics has had trouble gaining a foothold. The reigning paradigm is simple and elegant: Free markets maximize individual choices and collective well-being, end of story.” The discourse on free markets and deregulation can’t come at a better time after President Duterte castigated the two water concessionaires, Manila Water and Maynilad, for treating water like a commodity, not as a natural resource to be shared with all Filipinos. The President’s outburst against the two water firms started when he learned about the rulings of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in Singapore, which ordered the Philippine government to pay P3.4 billion and P7.39 billion to Maynilad and Manila Water, respectively. The Singapore court made the ruling following the losses the two water firms allegedly suffered due to non-implementation of water rate increases. The Chief Executive, however, said the existing contracts with Manila Water and Maynilad that contain “onerous” provisions are null and void from the very start. Consequently, the President ordered the filing of appropriate criminal, civil, and administrative charges against the owners and legal counsels of Manila Water and Maynilad, as well as the agents and lawyers of the administrations involved in the crafting of the water concession deals. He said: “It was really at that time a conspiracy to defraud government.” The President has since announced that a new draft of water contracts would be offered to Manila Water Co. Inc. and Maynilad Water Services Inc. to replace the existing onerous agreements. He also threatened the concessionaires to accept the new contracts or the government would terminate their concession deals and nationalize water distribution services. Are there policy alternatives available if the water firms don’t sign the new contracts? Rene E. Ofreneo wrote in his column, “Securing water for all: Shifting development strategy for the commons” (BusinessMirror, December 26, 2019) that the euphoria over privatization has been on the decline in Europe and in North and South America. He said: “A re-municipalization or de-privatization campaign by citizens and local governments is putting privatized water and power companies in Germany, France and United Kingdom back in the hands or control of government.”

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The volcano and the condos John Mangun

OUTSIDE THE BOX

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am totally biased. I think that Tagaytay and the surrounding areas are an abomination against man and nature. I can remember 25 years ago when a trip to the area was an excursion, an adventure. You went to Tagaytay for the fresh air, cool breeze, and a chance for the majestic view of Taal Lake and the volcano.  

You could pull over on the Tagaytay-Nasugbu Highway (just a road) and take pictures. Going the other direction you could go to Picnic Grove and People’s Park. Now both are more like visiting the Pasay Rotonda bus terminal. I actually hiked all the way (well, almost all the way) up the steep road to the Palace in the Sky. And if I knew then what I know now, I would have sold everything and bought all the land I could along the main road and made millions. We went to Tagaytay to escape the city. But that was not good enough.

We had to bring the city to Tagaytay. Now you can view the volcano from McDonald’s. Let’s be realistic. This eruption put all those condo units constructed in the past decade in interesting perspective. If Taal decides to do a “Pinatubo,” there are going to be many billions of pesos of condos— figuratively if not literally—falling down the hill to Silang. Depending on which volcanologist you read, Taal Volcano is the “second” most active volcano in the Philippines. We have heard many

times about the 1911 eruption, but check the recent activity. Taal went off from September 28 to 30, 1965, blanketing 60 square kilometers and killed about 200 people. “The clouds that formed during the explosive eruption rose to heights of 15 kilometers to 20 km and deposited fine ash as far as 80 km west of the vent.” An eruption happened on September 3, 1976, and this explosive activity persisted for 50 days. While correctly filed under “No Big Deal,” Taal rumbled and did other volcano things in 1991, 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011. And the condo construction continued. I have a problem with anyone who says, “But the government did not tell me.” I check under the seat to make sure the life vest is there when I fly. I have a hard time when somebody gets onboard a leaky bangka obviously overcrowded without life vests and goes to sea in stormy weather. Then when the wave hits, the fan expects taxpayer funded emergency agencies to save them and complains that they were not warned about the risks. You might mention the Marikina

Valley Fault System that runs 146 km from Marikina to Canlubang, Laguna. That is a false equivalency. A large earthquake on that fault will have devastating effects on all of the National Capital Region. Unless Taal acts up like Pinatubo, the damage to Metro Manila will be potentially major, but not a catastrophe. However, read this contemporary account—The Eruption of Taal Volcano, January 30, 1911—by Rev. Miguel Saderra Masó, S.J. of the Manila Observatory and the Weather Bureau. “The area of destruction consists of a central portion and an outer zone. Within the former the devastation was complete.” The central portion measured 20 kilometers north to south and 12 km east to west, which is almost the same as what we are seeing now. “The effects are better described as ‘annulations’ than ‘destruction.’” There is no mention of significant damage in the “outer zone.” E-mail me at mangun@gmail.com. Visit my web site at www.mangunonmarkets.com. Follow me on Twitter @mangunonmarkets. PSE stockmarket information and technical analysis tools provided by the COL Financial Group Inc.

Iran-US confrontation fosters Gulf Arab unity By Hussein Ibish | Bloomberg Opinion

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S they breathe a collective sigh of relief that the US and Iran have not stumbled into a war in their backyard, the bickering Gulf Arab countries have been reminded they still have powerful common interests. The six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council—Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait and Oman—have worked to reduce tensions since the targeted killing of Qassem Soleimani and several key henchmen. One of the biggest disagreements within the GCC has been over attitudes toward Tehran. Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE, along with the US and Israel, make up the core of the international coalition opposing the Islamic Republic. Oman, Kuwait and Qatar maintain much better relations with Iran. Oman has long served as a mediator in disputes with Iran; Muscat hosted some of the initial meetings that eventually produced the 2015 nuclear deal. Kuwait, which has a mixed population of Sunni and Shiite Muslims, is determined not to get dragged into regional disputes, especially of the sectarian kind. Qatar has been aligned with Sunni Islamists like Turkey’s ruling party and the Muslim Brotherhood, and it has actively opposed Iran in

Syria and Iraq. However, since Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt imposed an embargo on Qatar in June 2017, Doha has drifted closer to Tehran. In addition to sharing a natural-gas field that provides almost all of Qatar’s income, the emirate is now dependent on Iran for commercial air routes and other critical support. Unsurprisingly, Qatar was quickest off the blocks after the Soleimani killing: its Foreign Minister and Emir made visits to Tehran to express solidarity and condolences. There is widespread speculation that the Reaper drones used in the strike were launched from the US base at Al-Udeid, near Doha. The Qataris were anxious to tell the world, and especially Iran, that they were not a party to the attack. (Incidentally, if Washington and Tehran weren’t sending messages to each other via the Qataris, it would be tantamount to diplomatic malpractice; Doha is unusually both a key US ally and friendly to Iran.) Similarly, Oman announced a mediation effort, only to quickly

More striking were efforts by Saudi Arabia and the UAE to calm nerves and contribute to de-escalation. While many have assumed that these two countries, along with Israel, have been pressing the US into a war with Iran, that was never true. While they welcomed the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” sanctions campaign on Iran, these countries know that they would be among the first targets Iran would strike in the event of an all-out fight.

conclude there was “no room” for negotiations at present. More striking were efforts by Saudi Arabia and the UAE to calm nerves and contribute to de-escalation. While many have assumed that these two countries, along with Israel, have been pressing the US into a war with Iran, that was never true. While they welcomed the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” sanctions campaign on Iran, these countries know that they would be among the first targets Iran would strike in the event of an all-out fight. Last year’s attacks on Saudi Aramco facilities and UAE-related international shipping were stark reminders of their vulnerability. The UAE’s chief diplomat, Anwar Gargash, made early and repeated,

public pleas that all parties put “wisdom, balance and political solutions above confrontation and escalation.” Behind the scenes, the message to Washington was that the UAE has no interest in anybody starting a war with Iran. Last summer, for the first time in years, the UAE dispatched several diplomatic delegations to Iran to reopen dialogue on issues such as maritime security and other matters of mutual concern. Saudi Arabia repeatedly called for restraint and dispatched deputy defense minister—and former ambassador to the US—Khalid bin Salman, to encourage Washington to de-escalate. Riyadh recently established a new diplomatic back channel to Tehran. So, after years of bitter bickering and confrontation, the Gulf Arab countries suddenly found themselves operating in concert. This is appropriate, since the GCC was founded in 1981, in large part to deal with the challenges posed to the peninsular states by the then fledgling Islamic Republic. Iran remains an overarching, unifying threat: for some GCC states, the threat of war is more real than the threat of Iranian hegemony. In practical terms, that might amount to the same thing. All of them have had to develop a more robust conversation with Tehran than previously in recent years. See “Iran-US,” A7


www.businessmirror.com.ph

Opinion

Draped in a veil of gray

Learning from a child

BusinessMirror

Msgr. Sabino A. Vengco Jr.

Val A. Villanueva

Businesswise

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ithout traffic, our house is only a 15-minute drive to Tagaytay. The road to that cool and popular holiday town south of Manila, dotted with hotels, restaurants, and pasalubong stores, offer locals and tourists a vantage view of the idyllic, bluish Taal Lake and, the world’s smallest, Taal Volcano. It was a usual lazy Sunday for me, meant to be spent lounging in bed. Except for the continuous thunder-like rumbling sound in the late afternoon that I was hearing from afar, nothing seemed unusual. That is, until I got a call from my friend, multi-awarded photographer George Tapan, who was asking me for updates about the erupting Taal. It was only then that I realized that the pitter-patter I was hearing on our roof wasn’t rain, but the sound of tiny rocks and ash pelting down on our house and the entire village. Monday was, as I feared, glum, with the ash cloud from Taal blanketing and sandblasting our village. The entire mood was draped in a veil of gray. The air had the stench of sulfur, similar or even worse than that after the New Year revelry. Our village had turned desolate and barren with ash-covered vegetation. Rooftops that were blue or red had turned dark gray and even black. Our garden was covered with a 2-inch-thick layer of ash. The streets, I surmised, were worse. As I write this, the back-breaking clean up we had to do remains unfinished. Perhaps, it will take the whole week to completely flush out the minerals kept for years in Taal Volcano’s belly only to be violently regurgitated. Despite this painful climatic intrusion into our otherwise peaceful life, our family is thankful that we only have to endure temporary inconveniences. Our main concern really is our dutiful dog, who, thankfully, was unharmed. My heart bleeds for those who live in and around ground zero. While no human deaths have been reported so far, I pity the dead and dying animals who had been the residents’ beasts of burden. Their homes, their crops— their main sources of income—have been laid to waste. Coffee farmers in Batangas and Cavite were hit hard. Government has recorded around 752.45 hectares of lands devoted to the crop were ravaged, resulting in the loss of some 3,563 metric tons of coffee. Initial estimate from the Department of Agriculture (DA) placed the value of the damage at P74.5 million: 99 percent of which is by the coffee industry, and the rest noted in livestock and corn. The impact on the economy is as devastating: P7.63 billion in Batangas alone, excluding public and private damage costs, according Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia. The value of the agricultural damage wrought by Taal Volcano has already increased to P577.39 million, affecting 2,772 hectares and 1,967 animal heads. Other affected commodities include rice, cacao, banana and high-value crops. Catastrophes could unmask the worst, and highlight the best in how we deal with them. Already, grandstanding politicians are asking for a public hearing to interrogate the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) for not raising alarm about the looming explosion. Did Phivolcs commit lapses in its duty? I thought so, too. Perhaps, we were so occupied with the hustle and bustle of daily living that we sometimes gloss over dire warnings of dangers until they hit us. Phivolcs said that it had raised Alert Level 1 as early as March 2019, and advised people of heightened unrest just last month. In fact, Phivolcs— its personnel and equipment—had

Coffee farmers in Batangas and Cavite were hit hard. Government has recorded around 752.45 hectares of lands devoted to the crop were ravaged, resulting in the loss of some 3,563 metric tons of coffee. Initial estimate from the Department of Agriculture placed the value of the damage at P74.5 million: 99 percent of which is by the coffee industry, and the rest noted in livestock and corn. left the volcano island specifically to demonstrate how chancy the place is. Also, three elementary schools were moved to the mainland, again to emphasize the risk posed by the volcano. What riles me the most is how “enterprising” opportunists had been buying wholesale N95 face masks only to sell them at exorbitant prices. There has got to be a way where this practice is prevented or immediately stopped, and perpetrators are put behind bars. Still, the good Samaritan spirit outshines all these. Reports of residents offering their homes to the evacuees, food stalls offering free food, transport groups offering free rides, donations pouring in, and all acts of bayanihan rightfully recorded, posted and shared in various social-media platforms. Days of calm after the eruption do not mean that we should let our guard down. As I write this, it’s being reported by Phivolcs that Taal Volcano’s magma or molten rock is rising, and an explosive eruption is imminent. The agency is maintaining its alert level on Taal at 4 out of 5, which means that “a hazardous explosive eruption is possible within hours to days.” Level 5 means a hazardous eruption is under way. Phivolcs Director Renato Solidum said “residents who fled their villages around the volcano on Sunday should not take the easing of activity on Taal as a sign that danger was now over.” An Alert Level 4 warns of a possible hazardous explosive eruption. “If that really happens,” Solidum added, “they can’t return to the area because it will be really devastated.” According to him, Taal’s previous eruptions had lasted months, so it was impossible to predict an end to the current activity. The alert warning of a potentially catastrophic explosive eruption, he said, might remain in place for weeks, depending on developments: “In the past 24 hours, “ he pointed out, “geologists had recorded lava fountaining and hydrovolcanic activity—interaction of water and magma.” Four decades after its last eruption, Taal Volcano is again showing us its fiery, violent side. Let us hope that Taal goes back to sleep soon and for a much longer time. In the meantime, let us meet whatever grim future Taal offers us with prayer, vigilance and common sense. We also need urgent and compassionate action from the government, not a boastful, braggadocio— mindless, irresponsible and insensitive comment—from the highest officer of the land to pee and eat Taal’s ashfall just to prove that he’s up to the task. For comments and suggestions, e-mail me at mvala.v@gmail.com

Alálaong Bagá

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he Feast of the Santo Niño on the third Sunday of January is proper to the Philippines by indult from Rome. In a way it is a Filipino extension of the Christmas season, even as it reflects our deeply ingrained love for children, which in the light of the Gospel becomes a medium for our spiritual growth and maturity (Matthew 18:1-5, 10).

The greatest in the kingdom Life in communion with God is not to be judged according to the world’s category of power and greatness. Greatness in the kingdom of heaven for Jesus is modeled by a child, who in the world of utilitarianism and activism is a picture of uselessness and helplessness. The very helplessness of a child, however, is the precise situation for the divine love and mercy, the human “emptiness” ready to be filled up by God’s munificence. For the true greatness of any human being lies in the unmerited love and care the Creator pours out on humankind. Being ready to receive and grow, as a child images, in what God gives is

the road to greatness that lasts forever. In the reign of God, a child is already like a receptacle full as can be of the divine goodness; tragic is when diverted into worldliness this innocence of the child is lost. The Child is Jesus himself who in the incarnation became one of us. He assumed our neediness as a newborn baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying on a manger (Luke 2:7), with shepherds as His first visitors (2:15), the entire family threatened into flight by the mighty Herod (Matthew 2:13), one who grew “in wisdom and age, and favor before God and before man” (Luke 2:52), and a child destined “to be a sign that will be contradicted” (2:34). He took upon

Thursday, January 16, 2020 A7

Himself our humanity in obedience to the Father and for love of us. In becoming a child, Jesus in humility and total trust in the Father’s love is now normative to anyone of us wanting to be admitted into communion with God. Our humanity embraced humbly and lived fully in God’s love is our experience of existence in holiness and the promise of eternal fulfillment.

Jesus the child received

“Whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me” (Matthew 18:5). As Jesus himself was the child received and also rejected, any child now received or rejected is an extension of Jesus mediating His transforming commitment to our humanity. As the incarnate Son of God, one with and for us, His own humanity even as a child is the primordial sacrament of our salvation. Anything done to this humanity is done to Him; anything intended for Him must be in relation to and for the humankind He has identified Himself with. Any response to His initiative of saving love is measured by what we do with our own humanity and the humanity of others, that is, with God’s child in each of us. “Do not despise one of these little ones” (Matthew 18:10). The stare of

wide-eyed children wearily walking in search of freedom from war-torn homes, or scavenging in garbage piles, or shivering through the night on a sidewalk, or trembling in the presence of predators who kidnap and victimize them as sex-slaves, apprentice criminals, plain childrenfor-sale, or cheap, expendable childlabor, painfully tells us that to be a child in our world is particularly to be helpless unless lovingly received. What we willingly and lovingly extend to a child is a measure of our faith, hope and charity, and that is the way for us to the love of God in Christ Jesus. Alálaong bagá, our celebration of the feast of the Child Jesus today is also our continuing acceptance of the gift of faith shared by Magellan to Rajah Humabon on the latter’s Christian baptism 500 years ago. The image of Santo Niño that changed hands then and ever since treasured by us should symbolize our acceptance of the call of Jesus to become like Him in our humble and total openness to God’s love, as well as our willingness to be responsible for our children as we are for him. Join me in meditating on the Word of God every Sunday, from 5 to 6 a.m. on DWIZ 882, or by audio streaming on www.dwiz882.com.

Rebalancing development strategy: Filipino First in an uncertain and volatile world

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Hopefully, the Filipino First policy proposal of Tolentino can lead to an honest-to-goodness re-thinking of the appropriate industrial and agricultural development program for the country. Given the technological changes that have occurred in the last five decades, the idea of an all-around selfsufficient industrial development, as articulated by the Filipino First senators in the 1950s-1960s, may not be practical today.

Meanwhile, trade wars are evolving into cyber wars, with big corporations and big governments mobilizing an army of hackers and cyber troopers to gain control over mountains of data from competitors, politicians and ordinary citizens. Part of the US-China trade war is the US accusation that China is not only acquiring US technology sans license but is also actively spying on US trade and military operations. The US has banned Huawei because the latter is accused of being at the center of China’s cyber espionage network; Huawei also represents a major threat to US technology superiority, with Huawei managing to forge ahead in the development of the 5G technology. The cyber warfare is likely to become a full-blown technology warfare as the Fourth Industrial Revolution is now being renumbered by some pundits as the Fifth Industrial Revolution because of the continuous flow of new innovations and scientific gadgets for use in various fields of human existence. Finally, there is war against climate change. But sadly and as a reflection of a divided world, there is lack of progress in the climatechange talks. Australia’s bushfires, burning over 6 million hectares of forests, are a dramatic reminder that the Earth’s temperature is nearing apocalyptic level. And yet, developed countries, increasingly mindful

of their national budgets, have remained hesitant to make substantial contributions and commitments in the global effort to contain the risks of rising global temperature. Against the foregoing background, what should the Philippine policy-makers do? Is this not a good time for Neda to review and reassess PDP 2017-2022, which is based on a highly optimistic forecast of sustained growth via more exports, more foreign exchange earnings, more infrastructures to be built, and so on? Is this not a good time to do some rebalancing, especially if overseas Filipino workers return migration from the Middle East turns into a massive return diaspora? Along this line, there are sound ideas coming from the Executive and Legislative branches that are worth citing here. One major proposal comes from Sen. Francis Tolentino, who seeks the institutionalization of “Filipino First” in government procurement of goods and services. Said he: “Our procurement law does not contain provisions helping Filipino products… it is only proper to give chance to Filipino manufacturers…so that our products will be promoted.” Under Tolentino’s Senate Bill 1102, a government institution or agency can procure products and services from foreign suppliers only after securing a certification or clearance that there

is no existing domestic and Filipino supplier who can supply and satisfy the needed products or services. Tolentino’s Filipino First proposal is a timely reminder that only Filipinos can take care of the Filipinos. It is consistent with the provision of the Philippine Constitution, which mandates the State to give preference to Philippine industry and labor. Buying from domestic producers is also a normal practice by governments around the world, precisely because this is one way of promoting a country’s industrial and agricultural development. Thus, Japanese government agencies (and corporations) will buy first from Japanese producers before seeking products from foreign suppliers. Same with Chinese, Korean, Malaysian and Indian public agencies. In the United States, government procurement is also used to weed out “scalawag” suppliers, such as those who violate labor and environmental standards. Incidentally, Filipino First was the battlecry of Filipino nationalists in the late 1950s. Sen. Claro M. Recto, Sen. Gil Puyat and President Carlos P. Garcia issued the call for deeper and faster Philippine industrialization, dubbed then as Filipino First. This was opposed by the American business community, which was resentful of their inability to remit profits under the “foreign exchange” controls institutionalized by Central Bank Governor Miguel Cuaderno. This was also opposed by the IMF and the World Bank, which became loan partners and policy advisers of the Philippines beginning in 1962 during the Diosdado Macapagal Administration. The Filipino First

policy was also criticized by a group of Western-trained Filipino economists who got entrenched in the IMF-WBsupported Program Implementation Agency in Malacañang. However, the campaign for Filipino First policy never ceased. In 1968, Congress, under the leadership of Speaker Jose Laurel, passed House Joint Resolution 2, known as the “Magna Carta of Social Justice and Economic Freedom.” The lead authors of the Magna Carta were Emmanuel Yap and Alejandro Lichauco of the Congressional Economic Planning Office. The gist of the Magna Carta is that the Philippine economy then could not be truly self-reliant and move forward if remained stuck at the low-level assembly of imported industrial raw materials and machinery. Like Japan, the Philippines should be able to develop not only light processing industries but also basic and midstream industries for the rounded or all-around development of the economy. President Ferdinand Marcos did not pay attention to the Magna Carta and listen to the proponents of Filipino First. When martial law was declared in 1972, the PIA economists became ascendant and formed the National Economic and Development Authority. The Neda economists totally ignored the Magna Carta. Instead, they pushed for a new IMFWB-supported development strategy called “labor-intensive export-oriented industrial strategy,” which was later shortened to “export-oriented industrial” strategy. But five decades after the adoption of the LIEO/EOI program, the Philippines has remained an industrial laggard in Asia. Hopefully, the Filipino First policy proposal of Tolentino can lead to an honest-to-goodness re-thinking of the appropriate industrial and agricultural development program for the country. Given the technological changes that have occurred in the last five decades, the idea of an all-around self-sufficient industrial development, as articulated by the Filipino First senators in the 1950s-1960s, may not be practical today. However, the idea of building a strong nation with a strong industrial and agricultural base remains relevant, especially in an unpredictable VUCA world that we are living in.

talking among themselves. Tentative steps have already been taken toward reconciling the split with Qatar, especially since the participation of the national soccer teams of

Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain in the Gulf Cup in Doha late last year. The differences, especially over Doha’s support for Islamists, are some way from being reconciled, but the

combined response to the flare-up between Washington and Tehran shows that, on existential questions, the Gulf Arab states can—and must—act in harmony.

Dr. Rene E. Ofreneo

LABOREM EXERCENS Continued from A1

he US-China trade war also remains unresolved despite an initial “phase one” agreement this January, with Trump’s supporters declaring “victory.” America First is now reverberating around the world in various ways—as Boris Johnson’s Brexit, as Putin’s Russian Transformation, as China’s land and maritime Silk Roads, and so on. The WTO’s design for global multilateral trade arrangements is being ignored. Contrary to the naïve belief of the neoliberal economists, governments, especially those of the developed countries, are not prepared to liberalize fully their respective economies, particularly home industries deemed “too big to fail” or critical in their own development.

Iran-US. . .

continued from A6

Another challenge is to keep


A8 Thursday, January 16, 2020

Govt to file raps vs sellers of costly face masks

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By Samuel P. Medenilla

@sam_medenilla

he Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) on Wednesday said it is set to file administrative cases against shops which allegedly engaged in profiteering activities by selling overpriced face masks following the eruption of Taal Volcano.

During their market inspection in Manila on Monday, Trade Undersecretary Ruth Castelo said

authorities found 12 medical suppliers to be selling overpriced and low-quality N95 masks.

Castelo said the establishments were given 48 hours to explain why they should not be held accountable for the said infraction. “Under the Price Act, the penalty is P5,000…ranging between P5,000 to P2 million. When found to really have committed profiteering, we can impose the highest penalty of P2 million,” she said. Castelo said companies could also face criminal liability and may have their business permits suspended. The eruption of Taal Volcano on Sunday sparked the panic buying of N95 masks in Metro Manila and in provinces in Region 4A due to the ashfall, which poses

“When found to really have committed profiteering, we can impose the highest penalty of P2 million.”—Castelo

health hazards. Some medical suppliers took advantage of the surge in the demand for N95 masks by jacking up their prices to as high as P200 for each item. Health Undersecretary Eric Domingo said the prescribed price for the said N95 masks range from P45

to P105, depending on its quality and brand. “Any centavo higher than the price ceiling imposed by the DOH [Department of Health] would be an offense already, so, we could file cases against them [violators], whether administrative or criminal,” Castelo said. To address the shortage of N95 masks, Castelo said authorities will coordinate with major suppliers and retailers of medical supplies, such as Mercury Drug, Watsons and South Star Drug. “They have committed to the Department of Trade and Industry that they will not increase their prices. Stocks in their branches

and warehouses in non-affected areas have been transferred to the affected areas, such as the Calabarzon, especially Batangas, NCR [National Capital Region] and Region 3 while they wait for the arrival of new stocks,” she said. “The DTI had also communicated with foreign suppliers to immediately send stocks to the country,” she added. Castelo again reminded establishments of the existing price freeze on basic commodities in Batangas, which has been placed under a state of calamity. The DTI official warned that the government will go after companies that will violate the price freeze.

PHL improves score in WBL index Taal eruption ‘LOCK DOWN DANGER By Cai U. Ordinario

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@caiordinario

he extended duration of paid maternity leave approved by the government allowed the Philippines to register a slight improvement in its score in the 2020 edition of the World Bank’s Women, Business and the Law (WBL) index. The country scored 81.3 this year, slightly higher than the 81.25 last year. The Philippines placed

third out of the 10 Asean countries and 23rd in the global index. In the Asean, Lao PDR scored the highest at 88.1, followed by Singapore with 82.5. In the global index, the Philippines had the same score as The Bahamas, Puerto Rico and Zambia. “Legal rights for women are both the right thing to do and good from an economic perspective. When women can move more freely, work outside the home and manage assets, they are more likely to join

NORTHEAST MONSOON AFFECTING LUZON LOW PRESSURE AREA 150 KM EAST NORTHEAST OF HINATUAN, SURIGAO DEL SUR as of 4:00 pm - January 15, 2020

the work force and help strengthen their country’s economies,” said World Bank Group President David Malpass. “We stand ready to help until every woman can move through her life without facing legal barriers to her success,” Malpass added. The country’s performance was scored based on eight indicators— mobility, workplace, pay, marriage, parenthood, entrepreneurship, assets and pension. Continued on A2

displaces 18k families By Rene Acosta

@reneacostaBM

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he number of families in Batangas affected by Taal Volcano’s activity has already climbed to more than 18,000, the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) of Batangas reported on Wednesday. Joselito M. Castro, PDRRMO head, said the 18,646 families or 82,068 individuals are currently sheltered in different evacuation centers in the provinces. Castro also reported that two persons were killed while another one was injured from a vehicular accident on Tuesday along the national road in Barangay Banaybanay, Lipa City. He did not say whether the accident was related or had been caused by the eruption. The PDRRMO’s data of evacuated residents was much higher than the figures officially reported by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) on Wednesday. In its 6 a.m. report, the NDRRMC listed 12,486 families or 53,019 individuals that were affected in 24 cities and towns of Batangas, and in five towns and one city in Cavite and Laguna. Of the number, 10,000 or 43,681 persons are taking temporary shelters in 217 evacuation centers. At least P4,971,175.28 in assistance has been provided by the Department of Social Welfare and Development, and Department of Health. Philippine National Police Officer in Charge Lt. Gen. Archie Gamboa said peace and order appeared to be holding in Batangas despite the panic created by the eruption. “We were happy when the deputy regional director for administration reported to me that we have zero incidents of looting, and other related criminal activities, and of course, no less than the President was also happy when we had a conference where he found that there is no casualty,” said Gamboa. The PNP chief said the eruption also affected at least 278 policemen and their families in the province.

ZONES NEAR VOLCANO’ By Jovee Marie N. dela Cruz

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@joveemarie

he government must lock dow n danger zones near Taal Volcano, particularly in Lemery, Agoncillo, Talisay and San Nicolas, Batangas where fissures or cracks in the ground are appearing, a lawmaker said on Wednesday. “Str ictly implement the lockdown of Lemery, and other towns where fissures are showing. Evacuate some, if not all, of the residents of high-risk areas to Metro Manila,” said ACT-CIS Party-list Rep. Niña Taduran. Taduran, an assistant majority leader, also asked Metro Manila mayors to open their gyms, and other evacuation centers, and to lend their tents and survival kits to the Batangas evacuees. She issued the statement after she and ACT-CIS Rep. Eric Go Yap personally witnessed the situation of the evacuees in San Luis, Batangas, where they distributed relief goods and face masks. “Marikina and Makati have modular tents. Other local governments have empty gyms that can accommodate more evacuees. It is safer for the evacuees to be in Metro Manila where there’s water and electricity, and where help is readily available,” said Taduran. “Phivolcs [Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology] said that the fissures which are currently emerging in the said towns are the same cracks that appeared before the 1911 eruption of Taal Volcano. Shouldn’t we learn from this experience? Evacuate everyone. Get them out now before it’s too late. Arrest anyone who will defy the lockdown,” she added. She said the fissures should be marked for future comprehensive

land use plan.

Evacuation centers

Deputy Speaker Luis Raymund Villafuerte has sought anew the construction of permanent evacuation centers in places most vulnerable to natural disasters, following the continued eruption of Taal Volcano that has forced over 50,000 Batangas and Cavite residents to flee to temporary shelters, elsewhere. “Taal Volcano’s continuing activity, which has sent thousands of families abandoning their homes in search of safer grounds, gives all the more reason for the concerned government agencies to fast-track President Duterte’s proposal on the ‘simultaneous’ construction of permanent evacuation centers,” said Villafuerte. Duterte bared this plan during a situation briefing for the President in Batangas City, following Taal Volcano’s latest eruption. “I hope that you can finish it before my term ends. I want projects that are doable and can be finished during my term,” he said. The lawmaker first raised his proposal to construct permanent facilities for evacuees in September 2018, following the onslaught in Luzon of Typhoon Ompong, which killed at least 65 people and sent over 100,000 people fleeing to evacuation centers. Villafuerte said such a plan should top the concerns of the proposed Department of Disaster Resilience, so the government could best achieve its zero-casualty goal as this office, and other concerned government agencies could fully implement preemptive evacuation, especially of people in coastal and mountainous communities.

Manila court junks unjust vexation rap vs Kapunan By Joel R. San Juan

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@jrsanjuan1573

HE Metropolitan Trial Court (MeTC) of Manila has junked the unjust vexation complaint filed against Lawyer Lorna Kapunan over her alleged defamatory remarks against University of Santo Tomas law dean Nilo Divina. The alleged defamatory remarks were supposedly uttered during the Department of Justice’s investigation into the fatal hazing of University of Santo Tomas law student Horatio “Atio” Castillo in 2017. In a 21-page decision issued early

this month, MeTC Branch 17 Presiding Judge Karla Funtila-Abugan held that the prosecution failed to prove Kapunan’s guilt beyond reasonable doubt. The court also absolved Kapunan of civil liability “for failure of the prosecution to prove the same by preponderance of evidence.” The court, however, reminded lawyers to always observe the canons of professionalism in protecting the interest of their clients. “Hence, let the disposition of this case serve as an exercise of the Court’s equal duty to gently remind the members of the bar

to refrain from and be cautious in using language that is abusive, offensive, or otherwise, improper in all their professional dealings so that unnecessary impediments in the performance of their legal duties and appropriate sanctions from the court’s may be avoided,” Abugan said in her decision. It can be recalled that in 2018, the DOJ indicted Kapunan for unjust vexation for calling Divina “an obstructionist to justice” and “appear[ing] to be above the law.” The DOJ has cleared Divina of any criminal liability over the death of Castillo.


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Thursday, January 16, 2020 A9

Senators pitch for funds to cope with calamities, ME repatriation

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By Butch Fernandez

@butchfBM

HE Executive department was urged on Wednesday to revert to the calamity funds some P11 billion that was allocated to the Palace’s intelligence funds in the 2020 budget, as authorities scrambled to put together funding for a string of natural disasters, as well as for the repatriation of Filipinos in conflict zones in the Middle East.

The suggestion to return the P11 billion came from Minority Sen. Francis Pangilinan, noting the ongoing Taal activity, the recent Typhoon Ursula and the string of earthquakes in the south, as well as the campaign to take out of harm’s way thousands of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in the Middle East. Asked how his proposal to revert P11 billion back to calamity fund after it had already been transferred to the intelligence fund, Pangilinan suggested an alternative option. “What can be done now is to look into the OP [Office of the President] intelligence funds of 2019 that have been extended to end of 2020,” Pangilinan said.  He suggested that “Congress can declare some MOOE [maintenance and other operating expenses] and CO [capital outlay] items there as savings and use the funds to support a supplementary budget to augment disaster relief funds.”

In a text message to the BusinessMirror, Pangilinan pointed to other potential sources. “Another possible source of additional disaster funds would be the contingency funds for 2019 and 2020. There may still be balances there, especially for 2020,” the senator said, suggesting that “these can be used for disaster relief.” For her part, Sen. Risa Hontiveros said “it will require an amendment since the [budget] bill has been signed into law.” She added, “it can no longer be recalled/reverted.”

Poe: Permanent disaster office needed

MEANWHILE, Sen. Grace Poe on Tuesday pushed early passage of remedial legislation creating a permanent disaster management department, citing several southern Luzon areas grappling with the backlash of Taal’s eruption and continuing activity. Scientists had warned that all

indications point to a distinct possibility of a major magmatic eruption, as destructive as the 1911 Taal eruption that killed thousands. Poe said it is time the country create a Department of Disaster Resilience, and Emergency Assistance and Management, which she is pushing in Senate Bill 124 that she filed last year. “I think the eruption of Taal Volcano gives yet another reason for the establishment of this department,” Poe said when asked in a radio interview Tuesday. “We really need a department that has a mandate of focusing on preventing tragedy during a calamity, correct and timely response, and adequate and proper rehabilitation, including acceptable relocation of victims,” Poe said. Under the bill, the department will have a Bureau of Disaster Resiliency, which will focus on mitigation, prevention, and post-disaster rehabilitation; Bureau of Disaster Preparation and Response, which will handle the operations immediately before, during, and immediately after a disaster; and the Bureau of Knowledge Management and Dissemination, which will build up and disseminate technical knowledge on disaster risk reduction management. Structurally, the department shall consists of two separate and distinct entities, which are the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management and the department proper. “Noon pa ito ay na-file ko na kasi iyong ating NDRRMC, ngayon, bagama’t sila ay abala sa mga nangyayari, hindi pa ito ganap na departa-

mento. So, ano ang ibig sabihin n’yan? Wala talagang secretary o cabinet rank level kaya coordinating council lang talaga sila,” Poe said. The NDRRMC shall retain its policy-making and coordinating functions under Republic Act 10121, or the “Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010,” while the department proper shall be the secretariat and executive arm envisioned to provide leadership with accountability. The department shall also have local offices in every region. Poe said that while the NDRRMC has a head, the council is actually composed of several departments like the Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of Health, and Department of Public Works and Highways. Poe stressed that in times of calamities and disasters, it is critical that someone is in charge. “One secretary should be responsible for the total picture,” she said in a mix of English and Filipino

‘Bayanihan’ spirit

ALSO on Tuesday, Pangilinan hailed the “Filipino bayanihan spirit at its finest with how groups and individuals from all walks of life are coming together and pitching in whatever they can to help families and animals affected by the Taal eruption cope with the calamity.” He noted that “local government units are responding with their resources to provide for the daily needs of the thousands of evacuees in various towns in Batangas and nearby areas.   “It is incumbent upon the na-

tional government to do more and prepare for the long haul.” In 1754, Pangilinan noted, Taal’s volcanic activity lasted for six months. “Phivolcs could not predict when the current eruption would end. As we pray for safety, we should also be vigilant in being ready.” His suggested measures:   1. The Department of Agriculture should make an inventory of the damages, and see how it can salvage and protect crops and lands nearby that are in imminent danger. 2. There should also be a comprehensive data on the number of people whose livelihoods have been affected, so that government could map out a plan on how to help them. 3. Farmers and farm workers who could not immediately return to their lands should be given alternative livelihood and funding assistance if this calamity will last for months. 4. Fisherfolk in Taal Lake need critical help because they source their daily food and income from the waters. This early, they should be assured of income assistance to prevent them from returning to the lake. 5. Evacuation centers should be improved with more portalets or even permanent comfort rooms, kitchen facilities and other needs of the evacuees. 6. Near the evacuation centers, we also urge the setting up of refuge areas for animals and pets of the evacuees. These animals are part of their family and source of their income. 7. Health centers should also be beefed up to attend to the needs of the evacuees, especially those who

are elderly, sick and pregnant. 8. Makeshift classrooms should also be installed to allow the students to continue studying and so as not to waste their time in evacuation centers. Finally, Pangilinan made a suggestion for those who want to help: 1. In-kind donations of bottled water, blankets, medicines, masks, hygiene kits, raincoats and food items may be dropped off at: 446 Edsa, AGS Building, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Contact person: Precy-(0917) 533 8452. 21 Kaliraya Street, Barangay Doña Josefa, Quezon City. UP CHK MBT Coach’s Lounge from January 15 (Wednesday) to 17 (Friday), from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Goods gathered will be delivered to a specific evacuation site in Batangas on Saturday. Volunteers will be needed to repack the goods. Please come with your UP Maroon attire. Contact persons: Yvette Garcia-(0917) 311 7858, Tricia Miranda-Fernandez(0917) 887 4242. 2. For cash donations, donate through OVP’s  #AngatBuhay  partner, Kaya Natin! Movement for Good Governance and Ethical Leadership: Bank Name: Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) Bank Account Name: KN Movement for Good Governance and Ethical Leadership Inc. Bank Account No.: 3081-1173-72   Please send a copy of your deposit slip to these e-mails to keep track of your donations: knmovement@gmail.com  and  angatbuhay@gmail.com. You may also send a message at (0998) 596 8820 for queries and clarifications.

More cracks, fissures on Day 4 of Taal Volcano eruption By Jonathan L. Mayuga @jonlmayuga

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ONTINUOUS but weaker er upt ions of t he m a i n crater of Taal Volcano due to magmatic and hydrovolcanic processes were recorded over the past 24 hours, the Philippine Institute of Volcanolog y and Seismology (Phivolcs) reported on Wednesday. Since Sunday, eruptions of one of the world’s smallest volcanoes sent thousands of residents fleeing their homes for safety. Volcano experts have been anticipating a hazardous magmatic eruption reminiscent of the volcano’s 1754 eruption that altered the natural landscape in that part of the Calabarzon region.   The 1754 eruption, according to history, devastated many towns around the volcano and created the unique caldera that is now known as the Taal Lake, which became home to the tawilis, the only freshwater sardine and the freshwater maliputo, also called talakitok, which can be found only in Taal Lake, now a popular tourist spot in Luzon.   It was said that volcanic debris and pyroclastic material from the volcano completely blocked the Pansipit River, and cut off the lake from the Balayan Bay, which explains why the lake’s waters became freshwater after some time.  Part of its violent past, the 1754 eruption of Taal Volcano lasted for seven months, according to Phivolcs, submerging lakeside towns near it. On Tuesday, the Provincial Government of Batangas declared the province under a state of calamity as volcanic ashes covered many towns in the province, forcing thousands of residents to flee their homes and take shelter in government evacuation centers in various parts of the province. In its Volcano Bulletin released 8 a.m. on Wednesday, January 15, 2020, Phivolcs reported that the eruption generated dark gray steam-laden fumes that reached

approximately 1,000 meters high, dispersing ash to the southwest of the main crater. Moreover, Phivolcs’ volcanology experts detected new fissures or cracks in more areas. These are in Sinisian, Mahabang Dahilig, Dayapan, Palanas, Sangalang, Poblacion, Mataas na Bayan, in Lemery; Pansipit, Bilibinwang in Agoncillo; Poblacion 1, Poblacion 2, Poblacion 3, Poblacion 5, in Talisay; and Poblacion in San Nicolas. Phivolcs reported that a fissure cut across the road connecting Agoncillo to Laurel towns. Meanwhile, volcanologists recorded a total of 466 volcanic earthquakes on Sunday, January 12, 2020, 156 of which were felt with intensities ranging from Intensity 1 to 5. The past 24 hours, from 5 a.m. on January 14, 2020, until 5 am. on Wednesday, there were 159 volcanic earthquakes, 28 of which were felt with intensities ranging from Intensity 1 to 3. “Such intense seismic activity probably signifies continuous magmatic intrusion beneath the Taal edifice, which may lead to further eruptive activity,” the Phivolcs Volcano Bulletin read. Meanwhile, Phivolcs reported that an average of 1,686 tonnes of sulfur-dioxide emission was spewed by the volcano on January 14, 2020. As such, Phivolcs maintains that Alert Level 4 remains in effect over Taal Volcano. Alert Level 4 means that hazardous explosive eruption is possible within hours to days, reiterating the need for total evacuation from the Taal Volcano island and highrisk areas as identified in the hazard maps within the 14-kilometer radius from the Taal main crater. Phivolcs also recommended that people stay away from the Pansipit River Valley where fissuring has been observed. According to Phivolcs, residents should prepare for the effects of heavy and prolonged ashfall. At the same time, civil aviation authorities were advised to

RESIDENTS of Barangay Sinisian East in Lemery, Batangas, express their concern after a series of volcanic quakes left wide cracks and fissures on the ground. Their concrete houses were also not spared. BERNARD TESTA

strictly inform pilots to avoid the airspace around Taal Volcano as airborne ash and ballistic fragments from the eruption column pose hazards to aircrafts. Lincoln Olayva, science research specialist at Phivolcs’ Volcanology Division earlier said the fissures, or cracks being discovered, indicate magmatic and hydrovolcanic activity is happening.  He said Phivolcs field personnel will look into the cracks as soon as it becomes safe for a site inspection. Because Alert Level 4 remains in effect, he said, the entire 14-ki-

lometer Permanent Danger Zone from the main crater of the volcano is “a no man’s land.” He said lava fountains and spewing of ashes are expected in the next few hours or maybe days. “We are still monitoring and as soon as it is safe, we will start conducting an assessment to determine the volume of deposits that were spewed by the volcano,” he said. Forestry experts said the eruption of Taal Volcano will adversely impact on the surrounding environment.  Ricardo Calderon, an

assistant secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and concurrent director of the Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) said they expect total destruction of ecosystems in Taal and surrounding areas. A forester and a former director of the DENR’s Forest Management Bureau (FMB), Calderon said it will take years for forest destroyed by a volcanic eruption to recover.  As soon as possible, they will immediately conduct an assessment of the damage. 

For now, he said, field personnel of the DENR are out to rescue affected wildlife that were observed to flee from the Taal Volcano island since Sunday. The DENR appealed to the public not to harm distressed wildlife and urged them to turnover rescued wildlife, including birds and reptiles to the DENR. Rescued wildlife will be brought to the Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Center in Quezon City where they will be observed, treated of their injuries and kept safe until they fit to be released back in the wild, Calderon said.


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If you have any information / objection to the above mentioned application/s, please communicate with the Regional Director thru Employment Promotion and Workers Welfare (EPWW) Division with Telephone No. 400-6011.

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Thursday, January 16, 2020

B1

PHL tapping ADB consultants in drafting new deal for water firms, says DOJ chief

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By Joel R. San Juan

@jrsanjuan1573

USTICE Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Wednesday said the government will be tapping consultants from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to help in the revision of the economic and financial terms of the new concession agreement to be offered to water concessionaires Maynilad and Manila Water. Guesting at the Kapihan sa Manila Bay Forum, Guevarra said he was informed by Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III about the engagement of consultants from the ADB.  He noted that the Department of Finance (DOF) was heavily involved even in the crafting of previous contracts with the water concessionaires.  “In fact, they’re going to have a meeting this afternoon in Malacañang with the Department of Finance in the Office of the President and I assume that one of the matters that we are going to take up later is the engagement of the ADB consultants for the purpose

of guiding the government side in the matter of revision of the economic and financial terms of the water concession agreement,” Guevarra said. The DOJ chief also stressed that it may take six months to finish the draft concession agreements, which will then be presented to the water concessionaires for comments.  “The whole process may last six months. That is a conservative estimate on my part.... We’ll be sitting down with the water concessionaires, I know that they are waiting,” Guevarra noted.  The DOJ secretary said the legal and constitutional issues pertain-

Department of Justice building

ing to the concession contracts have already been resolved by the DOJ. Thus,  Guevarra said the  legal team is only waiting for the input of the DOF on economic terms  such as water rate-setting mechanism, factors to be considered such as inflation rate and exchange rate, expenditures that can be validly included in the concession agreement and a determination of what can be and cannot be taxed.   Earlier, Guevarra said the government is still open to discuss with  Maynilad and  Manila  Water 

the proposed amendments on the concession contracts. He stressed that government’s takeover or nationalization of  water distribution as authorized under Sections 17 and 18, Article XII of the Philippine Constitution, is the government’s last option.   Earlier, President Duterte lambasted Manila Water and Maynilad and threatened to file a case of economic sabotage against the two water firms due to the “onerous” 1997 contracts with the government.   Duterte made the remark after

Court upholds TWG stand in Angkas suit vs rider cap By Lorenz S. Marasigan @lorenzmarasigan

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HE technical working group (TWG) for the motorcycle taxi pilot program scored a win from a local court, which denied the temporary restraining order that Angkas riders sought against the arbitrary cap on supply. In a four-page decision, Judge Rizalina T. Capco-Umali of the Mandaluyong City Trial Court Branch 212 dismissed for lack of merit the petition lodged by Angkas riders against the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB). “Since the Petitioner’s application for issuance of injunctive writ involves prayer to enjoin the enforcement of Section 10 of Revised General Guidelines for the Pilot Implementation of Motorcycle Taxis, which is also the same action being sought in the main case of injunction, the court is mindful that as much as possible, avoid issuing writ which would effectively dispose of the

Angkas riders hold a unity ride along Edsa on December 22, to dramatize their protest against the decision of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board to cap the number of their bikers next year. NONOY LACZA main case without trial and/or due process,” the order read. Based on the revised guidelines for the extension of the motorcycle taxi pilot program, each participating motorcycle taxi app—Angkas, JoyRide and Move It—can only have

10,000 riders for Metro Manila and 3,000 riders for Cebu. This particular provision, being questioned by Angkas and its riders, effectively cuts the 27,000 riders Angkas has in its platform before the revised guidelines were issued.

Angkas was the lone participant in the pilot program, but competition was introduced in late December as part of the extended study. To recall, Angkas riders sought an injection order against the TWG, and initially won a three-day stay order. When the 72-hour period after a hearing had lapsed, the petitioners sought for a permanent writ of preliminary induction.  The BusinessMirror sought out Angkas for comment, but has yet to receive a reply as of press time.  Aside from denying the injunction plea, the court also ruled that the government agencies have the “presumption of regularity” in the performance of their official duties, a point that the respondent Angkas riders had failed to rebut.  “The presumption of regularity of official acts may be rebutted by affirmative evidence or irregularity or failure to perform a duty. The presumption, however, prevails until it is overcome by no less than clear and convincing evidence to the contrary. Thus, unless the presumption is rebutted, it becomes conclusive,” the court order read.

SBS completes disbursement of ₧1.16-B IPO proceeds in ’15 By VG Cabuag @villygc

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HEMICAL trader SBS Philippines Corp. said it has disbursed all of the P1.16 billion proceeds of its initial public offering that it raised in 2015. The company said about 8 percent of the IPO proceeds was used to finance the purchase and importation of additions to the company’s product portfolio. These include new products and product improvements, as well as funding the organization of a business development unit providing sales and marketing support to develop market share for such new products. 

Some 30 percent of the proceeds, meanwhile, was reallocated for investment and capital infusion in the company’s new subsidiary, Lence Holdings Corp., to partly finance the acquisition of a warehouse facility complex in Laguna.   The Sytengco-controlled firm said about 65 percent of the warehouse facility is being considered to be utilized for the warehouse and distribution operations of the company.  Another 8 percent was allocated for facility improvements, reduction of liabilities, working capital, while 2  percent went for equipment and machineries, according to its report.  The company at the same time

spent 24.5 percent of the amount to prepay a P282.92-million loan from BDO Unibank Inc., including accrued interests, bearing an interest of 5 percent per annum. “The company decided to prepay the BDO Loan as it carried a higher interest rate compared to its other loan obligations,” SBS said. Over the past years, the company has been expanding and diversifying its business.  Late last year, it acquired additional shares of its affiliate Aychester Holdings Corp. and subscribed in a related company, Goldchester Holdings Corp., in line with the diversification plan.  Aychester Holdings approved to

increase its authorized capital stock. To maintain the SBS’s shareholding interest of 25 percent, it will have to subscribe to such increase. On the other hand, the company will increase its holdings Goldchester Holdings, another affiliate through  SBS Holdings and Enterprises Corp.  SBS interest in its SBS Holdings has been diluted, which also resulted in an indirect dilution of its shareholdings in Goldchester.  “Thus, the company [SBS] will subscribe to up to 7.75-percent holdings in Goldchester through share subscription, which together with its indirect 9.15-percent shareholdings via SBS Holdings, will help maintain its holding interest,” it said. 

Guevarra disclosed that the Justice department found the extension of these contracts to 2037 irregular, considering that the extension was granted 12-13 years before the original expiration of the 25-year concession agreements in 2022.  Among the provisions in the old contracts that should be struck down for being onerous, DOJ said, are the prohibition on the government’s interference in the rate-setting mechanism of the two water firms and the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System.

Co-ops, rural banks improve credit reporting compliance to CIC

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IGNALING a growing appreciation for the value of a shared credit  database to promote financial inclusion and risk-based lending,  more and more financial institutions, now led by cooperatives and rural banks, submit credit data of their borrowers to the Credit Information Corporation’s (CIC) database. In its Circular Letter 2019-02 dated 23 December 2019, the country’s sole public credit registry and repository of  credit  information published the list of 30 additional financial institutions that are submitting basic  credit  data of their borrowers pursuant to Republic Act 9510, or the Credit Information System Act (Cisa).  Rural banks dominated the list with an additional 14 submitting entities covering the places of Pampanga, Cavite, La Union, Cebu, Quezon, Ilocos Sur, Pangasinan, Camarines Norte, Southern Leyte, Batangas and Tarlac.    Mea nwh i le, cooperat ives showed a marked improvement in compliance with the entry of Caniogan Credit and Development Cooperative; Cooperative Bank of Bohol; St. Martin of Tours  Credit  and Development Cooperative; and the multipurpose cooperatives of Adamson University Faculty, Bohol Community, Mangagoy Fishermen, Morong Kabalikat, and PGH Bayanihan. Continued on B2


B2

Companies BusinessMirror

Thursday, January 16, 2020

PSE STOCK QUOTATIONS

January 15, 2020

Net Foreign Stocks Bid Ask Open High Low Close Volume Value Trade (Peso) Buy (Sell) FINANCIALs

ASIA UNITED BDO UNIBANK BANK PH ISLANDS CHINABANK EAST WEST BANK METROBANK PB BANK PBCOM PHIL NATL BANK PSBANK RCBC SECURITY BANK UNION BANK BRIGHT KINDLE BDO LEASING COL FINANCIAL FERRONOUX HLDG FILIPINO FUND PHIL STOCK EXCH

53.75 153.2 83.7 25 12.26 65 12.02 20.4 32.05 57.7 22.55 185 58.3 0.89 2.28 18.02 3.81 6.9 173.7

54.65 153.5 83.85 25.05 12.28 65.05 12.2 20.8 32.1 58 22.75 188 58.4 0.92 2.42 18.46 3.92 7.18 177.8

53.6 155 86.45 25.05 12 65.8 12.02 20.8 33.2 58 23 192 58.5 0.88 2.34 18.02 3.75 6.81 178

53.9 155.1 86.45 25.05 12.32 65.8 12.02 20.8 33.95 58 23 192 58.5 0.89 2.43 18.1 3.95 6.81 178

53.6 153.2 83.65 25 11.94 64.95 12.02 20.8 32.1 58 22.6 185 58.4 0.88 2.24 18.02 3.71 6.81 174

53.9 153.2 83.7 25.05 12.28 65 12.02 20.8 32.1 58 22.6 185 58.4 0.89 2.43 18.1 3.93 6.81 177.8

960 3331300 3221650 68200 347100 2967360 45600 1400 644200 170 13400 576790 280 15000 222000 1700 75000 1600 420

51594 513125491 271983643.5 1706905 4221866 192946793.5 548112 29120 21049485 9860 305420 107676671 16359 13310 524410 30642 291650 10896 73538

INDUSTRIAL

AC ENERGY ALSONS CONS ABOITIZ POWER BASIC ENERGY FIRST GEN FIRST PHIL HLDG MERALCO MANILA WATER PETRON PETROENERGY PHX PETROLEUM PILIPINAS SHELL SPC POWER AGRINURTURE AXELUM CNTRL AZUCARERA CENTURY FOOD DEL MONTE DNL INDUS EMPERADOR SMC FOODANDBEV ALLIANCE SELECT FRUITAS HLDG GINEBRA JOLLIBEE MACAY HLDG MAXS GROUP PEPSI COLA SHAKEYS PIZZA ROXAS AND CO RFM CORP ROXAS HLDG SWIFT FOODS UNIV ROBINA VITARICH VICTORIAS CONCRETE B CEMEX HLDG EAGLE CEMENT EEI CORP HOLCIM MEGAWIDE PHINMA TKC METALS VULCAN INDL CROWN ASIA PRYCE CORP CONCEPCION GREENERGY INTEGRATED MICR IONICS SFA SEMICON CIRTEK HLDG

HOLDING & FRIMS

ABACORE CAPITAL ASIABEST GROUP AYALA CORP ABOITIZ EQUITY ALLIANCE GLOBAL AYALA LAND LOG ANSCOR ANGLO PHIL HLDG ATN HLDG A ATN HLDG B COSCO CAPITAL DMCI HLDG FILINVEST DEV FJ PRINCE B GT CAPITAL HOUSE OF INV JG SUMMIT JOLLIVILLE HLDG LODESTAR LOPEZ HLDG LT GROUP MABUHAY HLDG METRO PAC INV PACIFICA HLDG PRIME MEDIA SYNERGY GRID SM INVESTMENTS SAN MIGUEL CORP SOC RESOURCES TOP FRONTIER WELLEX INDUS ZEUS HLDG

-40205248 -113385332 10020 -195324 -96530816.5 8320 -12081255 -271320 -50728181 -9928 7540 -

2.31 1.23 32.5 0.233 21.55 66.45 292.4 10.02 3.98 4 11.74 32.95 8.81 12.42 2.98 17 15.02 5.1 9.25 7.22 74.7 0.54 1.45 37.9 206 6.8 11.28 1.84 9.85 1.89 5.28 1.76 0.12 149.9 1.2 2.42 67.05 1.56 13.68 9 13.58 14.9 9.6 0.99 0.93 2.12 4.72 32.25 2.1 7.7 1.26 0.96 6.6

2.32 1.24 32.55 0.236 21.6 67.4 295 10.04 3.99 4.25 12 33.05 8.82 12.6 3 18.74 15.18 5.15 9.35 7.25 75 0.55 1.46 38 208 7.05 11.3 1.85 9.89 1.91 5.29 1.8 0.124 150 1.21 2.57 71 1.57 13.7 9.01 13.6 15 10 1 0.95 2.16 4.79 32.4 2.11 7.8 1.27 1 6.68

2.3 1.24 33.8 0.234 22.4 66.4 304.8 10.42 4.03 4.25 11.8 33.05 8.78 12.78 2.98 16.7 15.14 4.8 9.48 7.24 79.5 0.54 1.47 38.4 211 6.96 11.36 1.91 9.4 1.92 5.3 1.76 0.12 148.5 1.23 2.42 68 1.58 13.66 9.11 13.78 15.16 10 0.99 0.93 2.12 4.8 32.2 2.07 7.84 1.25 0.97 7.15

2.38 1.24 33.8 0.236 22.4 66.8 306 10.48 4.03 4.25 12 33.4 8.84 12.8 3.05 18.78 15.14 5.15 9.48 7.3 79.6 0.55 1.53 38.4 212 7.21 11.38 1.91 9.85 1.92 5.3 1.76 0.12 150 1.23 2.58 71 1.62 14.18 9.18 13.78 15.16 10 0.99 0.97 2.16 4.8 32.4 2.12 7.95 1.28 1.01 7.25

2.3 1.24 32.4 0.233 21.5 66.2 287 9.99 3.95 4.25 11.8 32.9 8.78 12.6 2.96 16.6 15 4.8 9.29 7.2 73.5 0.54 1.45 37.15 206 6.96 11.18 1.8 9.4 1.88 5.2 1.76 0.12 147.1 1.2 2.42 67 1.57 13.66 9 13.6 14.62 10 0.99 0.92 2.12 4.75 32.2 2.03 7.7 1.23 0.94 6.53

2.32 1.24 32.5 0.236 21.6 66.45 292.4 10.04 3.99 4.25 12 32.95 8.81 12.6 3 18.78 15.02 5.15 9.34 7.22 75 0.55 1.45 38.2 206 7.05 11.28 1.84 9.85 1.89 5.29 1.76 0.12 150 1.21 2.58 71 1.57 13.7 9 13.6 15 10 0.99 0.95 2.16 4.8 32.25 2.11 7.8 1.27 1 6.6

2767000 11000 2341200 490000 1373200 238290 254360 5549900 1198000 2000 30800 123700 206300 901500 1064000 7400 23100 400 1622000 5923700 269240 578000 26782000 17400 308320 35900 106700 710000 252700 580000 12900 1000 240000 878310 1518000 70000 470 33129000 186100 55200 129300 1363700 11200 1000 1108000 32000 354000 5100 6691000 739100 120000 325000 4663400

6477820 13640 77429375 114960 29689565 15818882.5 75078194 56268410 4780110 8500 366500 4084845 1816020 11485384 3180250 123458 349030 2025 15148688 42769447 20473882 313560 39611900 665605 63980130 253335 1205238 1327820 2449649 1101620 67880 1760 28800 130853071 1841170 169560 32000 52618780 2550078 498671 1768412 20392924 112000 990 1043180 68080 1698880 164510 14002890 5759203 151910 313810 31778482

751830 -46338045 -14136680 -8181211.5 -45534250 4722893 -206890 8500 -34538 732385 -208582 -4209120 8930 34968 13040544 -3904347 -4906815 48820 57795 -1383062 -1894 351342 -175740 72135 -17803 29608328 -410860 -2580 -34899420 67392 -135318 -18045288 8520 -14440 138590 3152240 2678070 -10240 209580

0.89 11.2 788 51.75 11 2.84 6.23 0.67 0.93 0.94 6.69 6.61 13 3.6 785 5.2 73.5 6.06 0.485 3.72 11.26 0.57 3.69 4.8 1.16 190 1058 151.5 0.79 203.2 0.207 0.218

0.9 11.58 790 52.4 11.08 2.85 6.4 0.69 0.94 0.95 6.72 6.69 13.18 5.2 801.5 5.4 74.65 6.5 0.5 3.78 11.3 0.6 3.7 5 1.18 195 1060 151.6 0.81 207.2 0.217 0.225

0.9 12.04 790 51.7 11.2 2.93 6.4 0.67 0.93 0.94 6.54 6.75 13 3.61 810 5.4 78.1 6.51 0.5 3.76 11.4 0.59 3.79 5.04 1.26 190 1076 157 0.8 213.8 0.21 0.212

0.92 12.06 792 52.4 11.22 2.93 6.4 0.69 0.94 0.95 6.75 6.83 13.18 3.61 810 5.4 78.3 6.62 0.5 3.76 11.6 0.6 3.79 5.17 1.26 195 1076 157.5 0.82 213.8 0.216 0.24

0.89 11.2 777.5 51.7 11 2.83 6.3 0.67 0.93 0.94 6.54 6.6 13 3.61 785 5.4 73.5 6.51 0.49 3.72 11.26 0.59 3.7 4.9 1.18 190 1056 151.6 0.8 203.2 0.202 0.212

0.89 11.2 790 52.4 11 2.85 6.35 0.69 0.94 0.94 6.71 6.69 13.16 3.61 785 5.4 73.5 6.62 0.5 3.72 11.3 0.6 3.7 5 1.18 195 1060 151.6 0.81 207.2 0.206 0.218

2746000 27700 350630 805600 3986900 782000 32500 140000 1383000 619000 426800 7793600 35200 5000 107760 4009000 3664770 103000 33000 71000 936500 89000 43778000 95200 152000 130 119465 255280 53000 360 240000 6380000

2471280 322386 274897550 42035770.5 44098418 2241380 206095 93980 1291530 582850 2854408 52178427 463336 18050 85676080 21648600 273169355.5 677800 16200 265830 10693692 53210 163404870 478222 179930 25240 126742525 39101816 42520 74936 51500 1442720

-10512830 10121992 -11379730 -137570 -7560 -44230 468150 75534 -25241428 -7800 -46434745 -39420 -128039508.5 -41040 5422614 45780710 34800 -1404170 -11470438 -16000 35588 2200

PROPERTY ARTHALAND CORP 0.85 0.87 0.84 0.88 0.84 0.87 4030000 3478140 -8800 43.2 43.5 43.85 44 43.2 43.2 6208500 270442585 -41222545 AYALA LAND ARANETA PROP 1.39 1.4 1.44 1.44 1.4 1.4 6000 8550 1.87 1.88 1.9 1.9 1.88 1.88 387000 731100 28410 BELLE CORP A BROWN 0.71 0.72 0.71 0.73 0.71 0.72 57000 40770 0.84 0.85 0.83 0.83 0.83 0.83 23000 19090 CITYLAND DEVT CROWN EQUITIES 0.184 0.188 0.184 0.184 0.181 0.181 290000 52520 CEBU HLDG 6.5 6.7 6.5 6.89 6.5 6.88 91000 625911 616348 4.69 4.7 4.8 4.8 4.67 4.7 412000 1944760 75080 CEB LANDMASTERS CENTURY PROP 0.54 0.55 0.55 0.55 0.54 0.55 1095000 594830 -52800 18.28 18.3 18.26 18.6 18.26 18.3 230000 4239830 -1202864 DOUBLEDRAGON DM WENCESLAO 9.48 9.65 9.22 9.66 9.22 9.65 87600 840895 -138737 0.415 0.43 0.43 0.43 0.43 0.43 20000 8600 EMPIRE EAST FILINVEST LAND 1.53 1.54 1.55 1.56 1.52 1.54 17433000 26769860 3587280 1.1 1.12 1.17 1.17 1.09 1.12 281000 309520 GLOBAL ESTATE 8990 HLDG 14.72 14.82 14.72 14.74 14.72 14.72 501800 7386556 PHIL INFRADEV 1.17 1.2 1.21 1.21 1.18 1.18 558000 661390 -21600 4.3 4.32 4.37 4.37 4.27 4.32 27371000 118293340 -15690240 MEGAWORLD MRC ALLIED 0.247 0.248 0.243 0.26 0.243 0.247 59250000 14860770 -29290 0.405 0.415 0.41 0.41 0.41 0.41 30000 12300 PHIL ESTATES PRIMEX CORP 2.17 2.21 2.2 2.24 2.17 2.17 406000 896340 89200 27.6 27.65 27.75 28.1 27.25 27.6 1752300 48466105 5546275 ROBINSONS LAND PHIL REALTY 0.335 0.345 0.325 0.355 0.325 0.345 1130000 387450 7000 ROCKWELL 2.11 2.13 2.09 2.11 2.09 2.11 52000 109290 3.18 3.24 3.24 3.24 3.24 3.24 20000 64800 -16200 SHANG PROP STA LUCIA LAND 2.39 2.43 2.42 2.45 2.42 2.43 27000 65600 40.65 40.7 40.9 40.95 40.5 40.7 14451500 588151950 -122938235 SM PRIME HLDG VISTAMALLS 5.8 5.85 5.87 5.87 5.8 5.85 41300 241577 1.56 1.57 1.67 1.69 1.57 1.57 12022000 19462990 SUNTRUST HOME VISTA LAND 7.39 7.4 7.46 7.46 7.4 7.4 8099800 59971622 -10076076 SERVICES ABS CBN 18 18.02 18.2 18.4 18 18.02 265400 4797940 5.42 5.45 5.41 5.45 5.41 5.45 176800 960306 GMA NETWORK MANILA BULLETIN 0.395 0.41 0.41 0.41 0.41 0.41 100000 41000 2058 2062 1996 2066 1996 2062 93230 191912740 52391940 GLOBE TELECOM PLDT 1082 1097 1110 1110 1082 1082 264715 290250770 -44004610 0.046 0.047 0.045 0.047 0.045 0.047 8700000 399200 APOLLO GLOBAL IMPERIAL 1.66 1.81 1.77 1.77 1.66 1.66 8000 13620 ISLAND INFO 0.104 0.106 0.102 0.11 0.102 0.106 4480000 474810 4.1 4.11 4 4.1 3.92 4.1 6845000 27665250 352340.0003 ISM COMM NOW CORP 2.55 2.59 2.68 2.68 2.53 2.57 1633000 4242990 2780 0.265 0.27 0.27 0.28 0.265 0.27 2830000 765500 TRANSPACIFIC BR PHILWEB 2.61 2.65 2.69 2.7 2.61 2.61 430000 1134500 -18470 9.6 9.8 9.85 9.85 9.6 9.6 3800 37075 -1929.9999 2GO GROUP CHELSEA 5.55 5.57 5.58 5.61 5.44 5.57 487600 2713735 178560 88.6 88.7 88.5 88.85 88.45 88.7 52400 4646453 207109.5 CEBU AIR 131.5 131.8 131.9 132.8 130.5 131.5 1524240 200705687 -85437782 INTL CONTAINER LBC EXPRESS 13 13.9 13.94 13.94 13.94 13.94 700 9758 13.22 13.32 14.3 14.4 13.12 13.22 1758000 23665096 -10266902 MACROASIA METROALLIANCE A 0.9 0.96 0.9 0.96 0.9 0.96 45000 40560 0.9 1 1 1 1 1 5000 5000 4000 METROALLIANCE B PAL HLDG 7.8 7.85 7.5 7.85 7.3 7.85 6200 48305 1.42 1.43 1.31 1.45 1.31 1.42 4485000 6250880 268220 HARBOR STAR WATERFRONT 0.61 0.62 0.61 0.63 0.61 0.62 591000 362620 FAR EASTERN U 891 893 890 892 890 892 50 44530 0.6 0.61 0.6 0.61 0.6 0.61 21857000 13116530 36920 STI HLDG BERJAYA 3.55 3.56 3.65 3.9 3.56 3.56 2946000 11005540 113610 10.74 10.84 10.9 11 10.74 10.84 1499700 16258910 8383134 BLOOMBERRY PACIFIC ONLINE 2.21 2.3 2.34 2.34 2.2 2.3 95000 213660 -124500 2.44 2.45 2.45 2.52 2.45 2.45 101000 247660 -2450 LEISURE AND RES MANILA JOCKEY 3.17 3.2 3.2 3.2 3.18 3.2 122000 388700 4.61 4.98 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 2000 9000 PH RESORTS GRP PREMIUM LEISURE 0.59 0.6 0.61 0.61 0.59 0.6 4791000 2854820 -439800 ALLHOME 11.48 11.5 11.52 11.54 11.48 11.5 1018000 11705286 -1651958 2.08 2.09 2.09 2.1 2.08 2.09 628000 1314470 -551680 METRO RETAIL PUREGOLD 39.1 39.45 39.75 40.1 39 39.1 802300 31705485 -2156815 77.8 78 79.2 79.2 77.5 78 676450 52861559.5 -33989217.5 ROBINSONS RTL PHIL SEVEN CORP 135 137 138.1 138.1 137 137 370 50755 -12395 2.7 2.71 2.73 2.74 2.7 2.71 1586000 4303730 130290 SSI GROUP WILCON DEPOT 18.6 18.62 18.48 18.7 18.4 18.6 7111000 132127994 41245806 APC GROUP 0.4 0.405 0.41 0.41 0.4 0.405 390000 158300 8.6 8.84 8.54 8.85 8.54 8.6 9200 79395 EASYCALL GOLDEN BRIA 430.2 439 435 449 429.2 438.6 47190 20717766 7.6 7.8 7.8 7.8 7.8 7.8 100 780 IPM HLDG PRMIERE HORIZON 0.36 0.365 0.345 0.37 0.345 0.365 14900000 5366000 -120899.9997 9.1 9.44 9.45 9.45 9.28 9.44 4200 39585 SBS PHIL CORP MINING & OIL ATOK 10.06 10.86 10.9 10.9 10.9 10.9 100 1090 1.05 1.06 1.03 1.06 1.03 1.05 732000 762290 APEX MINING ABRA MINING 0.0014 0.0015 0.0014 0.0014 0.0014 0.0014 9000000 12600 2.5 2.53 2.5 2.5 2.5 2.5 256000 640000 -640000 ATLAS MINING BENGUET B 1.1 1.2 1.1 1.1 1.1 1.1 12000 13200 13200 0.27 0.275 0.27 0.27 0.27 0.27 110000 29700 COAL ASIA HLDG CENTURY PEAK 2.85 2.86 2.9 2.95 2.84 2.86 2104000 6025620 -206640 DIZON MINES 7.1 7.19 7.19 7.19 7.08 7.19 900 6396 1.58 1.6 1.62 1.65 1.56 1.58 5011000 7942680 -1217380 FERRONICKEL GEOGRACE 0.22 0.221 0.202 0.24 0.202 0.22 24700000 5575250 -180000 0.099 0.1 0.101 0.101 0.099 0.099 320000 31920 LEPANTO A MARCVENTURES 0.89 0.9 0.9 0.91 0.89 0.89 544000 489160 1.04 1.08 1.02 1.12 1.02 1.08 1313000 1416830 -50180 NIHAO NICKEL ASIA 3.16 3.19 3.06 3.19 3.04 3.19 6977000 21896330 1153700 0.42 0.45 0.42 0.425 0.42 0.425 40000 16950 -12750 OMICO CORP 0.74 0.76 0.75 0.76 0.74 0.76 53000 40040 ORNTL PENINSULA PX MINING 2.96 2.98 3.05 3.05 2.96 2.96 699000 2107330 -1742930 21.8 21.9 21.9 21.9 21.55 21.9 1173700 25555915 -6606400 SEMIRARA MINING ACE ENEXOR 8.42 8.75 9.2 9.2 8.4 8.75 630200 5447618 103117 0.011 0.012 0.011 0.012 0.011 0.011 16200000 184800 ORNTL PETROL B PHILODRILL 0.01 0.011 0.01 0.011 0.01 0.011 23200000 255000 9.33 9.4 9.62 9.62 9.2 9.33 450400 4220460 -1550440 PXP ENERGY PREFFERED HOUSE PREF A 99.05 99.75 99.05 99.75 99.05 99.75 6910 689265.5 501 501.5 501.5 501.5 501.5 501.5 5210 2612815 AC PREF B1 ALCO PREF B 100.4 103.1 101.5 101.5 101.5 101.5 860 87290 100.8 106 104.9 105 104.9 105 14100 1480442 ALCO PREF C AC PREF B2R 500 505 500 500 500 500 60 30000 100.2 101.2 101.2 101.5 101.2 101.3 3080 312293 -50600 CPG PREF A DD PREF 100.4 100.5 100.5 100.5 100.5 100.5 180 18090 FGEN PREF G 105.1 110 110.7 110.7 103.8 110 10330 1085832 500 501 501 502 501 501 12020 6029020 GLO PREF P GTCAP PREF B 980 992 970 970 970 970 50 48500 100.2 103.8 100.7 100.7 100.2 100.2 22270 2232699 MWIDE PREF PNX PREF 3B 107 108.9 108.9 108.9 108.9 108.9 1210 131769 1027 1028 1029 1030 1028 1028 4835 4976405 PNX PREF 4 PCOR PREF 3A 1027 1049 1030 1030 1027 1027 1560 1605900 1050 1055 1055 1055 1055 1055 10120 10676600 PCOR PREF 3B SMC PREF 2C 76.95 77.6 78 78 76.8 77.6 93810 7234082 SMC PREF 2D 74.6 75.2 75.2 75.2 75.2 75.2 200 15040 75 76 75 75 75 75 27000 2025000 SMC PREF 2E SMC PREF 2F 76 76.5 75.85 76 75.8 76 13920 1055555 75.1 75.4 75.1 75.1 75.1 75.1 6000 450600 SMC PREF 2G PHIL. DEPOSITARY RECEIPTS

ABS HLDG PDR GMA HLDG PDR

16.98 5.26

17.1 5.4

17.22 5.44

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16.98 5.4

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387000 52900

6586240 288133

WARRANTS LR WARRANT

1.3

SMALL & MEDIUM ENTERPRISES ITALPINAS 3.95 KEPWEALTH 9.84 0.85 XURPAS

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EXHANGE TRADE FUNDS FIRST METRO ETF

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116.6

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www.businessmirror.com.ph

Holcim bullish on helping boost PHL devt with better ops, new products, sustainability

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By Roderick L. Abad

@rodrik_28

OLCIM Philippines Inc. (HPI) is positive that it is better positioned to back up the nation’s development and even continue its business growth with the completion of major plant expansion initiatives, favorable market reception of its new products and stronger sustainability focus.

In 2019, the company completed the upgrade of its manufacturing facilities in La Union, Bulacan and Davao, increasing its annual cement output capacity to 10 million metric tons. The enhanced production allows it to supply more cement for the local construction sector, which grew by 16.3 percent in the third quarter of 2019 on the back of constant development of public and private infrastructure projects. In March, the firm officially introduced nationwide a blended cement called “Solido,” designed as a better alternative to Ordinary Portland Cement for roads and light infrastructure. The sales of this new offering significantly formed part of Holcim’s product mix last year as customers shifted to this due to its superior strength and durability. Moving forward, the cement

maker started preparations to make available its 24-hour concrete SuperFast-Crete to other key urban markets nationwide. It, likewise, develops its soil stabilization solution for enhanced durability of farm-to-market roads and permeable concrete technology for flood control applications. In addition, Holcim has beefed up its involvement with key government offices and customers in line with its social and environmental thrusts.  

Safety record

For instance, the company posted significant improvement in the workplace and road safety records of its contractor and haulers in 2019 via skills trainings and strict implementation of standards. It also engaged its customers on the value of workplace safety, resulting in a number of business partners putting up their own departments

PAL offers promo for New Year

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LAG carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) is celebrating New Year 2020 with a ticket sale that goes as low as P20 for domestic and $20 for international tickets. One-way economy domestic tickets on selected flights may be availed of for low prices starting at P20, while roundtrip economy international tickets (base fare) go as low as $20. The promo fares are applicable for those traveling in twos. Those flying solo also get a discount.

Tickets may be purchased from January 20 to 24, 2020. Travel period is July 1, 2020, to December 10, 2020. Special travel dates will be applicable on PAL’s new routes: ManilaPerth, Davao-Manado, Zamboanga-Kota Kinabalu,  Davao-Iloilo, Cebu-Zamboanga, Cebu-Dipolog, Zamboanga-Tawi-Tawi, and more. Details may be obtained by visiting philippineairlines.com, any PAL ticket office or accredited travel agents. Recto L. Mercene

Co-ops, rural banks improve credit reporting compliance to CIC Continued from B1

The increase in cooperative compliance is supported by Memorandum Circular 2019-01 issued by the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA), stating that cooperatives must submit credit information to the CIC.   Other financial institutions that made the list were AND Financing Corp.; Asialink Finance Corp.; Citystate Savings Bank Inc.; First Digital Finance Corp.; Pagasa ng Masang Pinoy Microfinance Inc.; Pagasa Philippines Lending Co. Inc.; Philippine Trust Co.; and RSA Prosperity Microlending Philippines.  As of December 31, 2019, there are 1,736 submitting entities that are registered with the CIC.  These are made up of universal and commercial banks,  credit-card issuers, thrift banks, rural banks, cooperatives, government-owned and -controlled corporations, private lending institutions, insurance companies, and financing and lending institutions. Out of this number, 474 are already contributing both positive and negative  credit  data—among other relevant data points—making

the CIC database the largest in the Philippines, with the most diverse set of contributors. Other lenders are currently working on their compliance requirements. “The old way of thinking is that the use of negative data about a borrower is more important than positive data in order to prevent default when giving out loans,” CIC President and CEO Jaime Casto Jose P. Garchitorena shared. “But research over the last decade has shown that when positive and negative data are used, default rates are actually lower.”

Balanced view of creditworthiness

A recent release of the Credit Reporting Knowledge Guide 2019 from the World Bank includes studies showing that the inclusion of positive information in the lending process had the potential to reduce default rates of 22 percent to 45 percent in some economies. “If we were to oversimplify the value of lenders using positive and negative data, we could say that if lenders only look at negative data, then the likelihood of approving a loan will be lower. In other words, the loan application will be denied,” Garchitorena explained.

dedicated to this. Holcim kept helping local government and industry partners manage their waste in a sustainable manner by using qualified and properly sorted materials as alternative fuels in making cement. With this, it again diverted tens of thousands of waste materials away from landfills last year and contributed to easing the country’s challenge in this area. “There continues to be a bright

mutual funds

outlook for the Philippines and its construction industry. The many initiatives we implemented in 2019 make us more capable in helping the country achieve its development goals,” said John Stull, president and chief executive officer of HPI. “We are confident that our focus on innovation and commitment to sustainability enables us to continue being a partner of the country’s progress, helping our customers grow and driving our performance,” he added. January 15, 2020

NAV One Year Three Year Five Year Y-T-D per share Return* Return Stock Funds ALFM Growth Fund, Inc. -a 251.34  -5.79%  -0.26%  -1.05%  -0.22%  ATRAM Alpha Opportunity Fund, Inc. -a   1.3393  -11.54%  -0.51%  -4.41%  -3.09%  ATRAM Philippine Equity Opportunity Fund, Inc. -a   3.5395  -14.89%  -4.3%  -4.46%  -3.77%  Climbs Share Capital Equity Investment Fund Corp. -a   0.8853  -6.97%  n.a.  n.a.  -1.32%  First Metro Consumer Fund on MSCI Phils. IMI, Inc. -a   0.8472  -3.73%  n.a.  n.a.  -0.25%  First Metro Save and Learn Equity Fund,Inc. -a   5.2926  -5.85%  1.15%  -1.28%  -0.67%  First Metro Save and Learn Philippine Index Fund, Inc. -a,6   0.8501  -4.83%  -2.56%  n.a.  -0.41%  MBG Equity Investment Fund, Inc. -a   102.16  -15.05%  n.a.  n.a.  -1.13%  PAMI Equity Index Fund, Inc. -a   51.1014  -3.2%  2.04%  n.a.  -0.35%  Philam Strategic Growth Fund, Inc. -a   530.83  -3.07%  0.97%  -0.86%  -0.37%  Philequity Alpha One Fund, Inc. -a,d,8   1.0244  n.a.  n.a.  n.a.  -0.55%  Philequity Dividend Yield Fund, Inc. -a   1.2844  -3.2%  1.8%  0.13%  -0.19%  Philequity Fund, Inc. -a   37.7192  -3.36%  2.68%  0.08%  -0.47%  Philequity MSCI Philippine Index Fund, Inc. -a,1   1.0142  -3.52%  n.a.  n.a.  -0.38%  Philequity PSE Index Fund Inc. -a   5.2063  -2.3%  1.15%  -0.33%  2.68%  Philippine Stock Index Fund Corp. -a   869.19  -2.36%  2.6%  1.06%  -0.33%  Soldivo Strategic Growth Fund, Inc. -a   0.8207  -9.9%  -1.3%  -2.98%  -3.61%  Sun Life Prosperity Philippine Equity Fund, Inc. -a   4.1707  -3.24%  1.88%  0.15%  -0.91%  Sun Life Prosperity Philippine Stock Index Fund, Inc. -a   0.9976  -2.66%  2.47%  n.a.  -0.32%  United Fund, Inc. -a   3.643  -2%  3.76%  1.83%  -0.28%      Exchange Traded Fund First Metro Phil. Equity Exchange Traded Fund, Inc. -a,c   116.5809  -1.99%  3.31%  2.02%  -0.32%  ATRAM AsiaPlus Equity Fund, Inc. -b   $1.046  10.08%  6.25%  1.08%  1.71%  Sun Life Prosperity World Voyager Fund, Inc. -a   $1.3998  20.34%  9.86%  n.a.  1.53%  Balanced Funds     Primarily invested in Peso securities ATRAM Dynamic Allocation Fund, Inc. -a   1.5427  -10.92%  -3.69%  -4.57%  -1.29%  ATRAM Philippine Balanced Fund, Inc. -a   2.1551  -6.39%  -1.85%  -1.88%  -1.19%  First Metro Save and Learn Balanced Fund Inc. -a   2.6134  -1.97%  1.46%  -1.63%  -0.69%  First Metro Save and Learn F.O.C.C.U.S. Dynamic Fund, Inc. -a,5   0.2305  n.a.  n.a.  n.a.  0.88%  Grepalife Balanced Fund Corporation -a   N.S.  N.S.  N.S.  N.S.  N.S.  NCM Mutual Fund of the Phils., Inc. -a   1.9591  2.69%  2.29%  0.72%  -0.2%  PAMI Horizon Fund, Inc. -a   3.7693  4.55%  1.29%  -0.2%  -0.52%  16.8684  2.94%  1.2%  -0.27%  -0.54%  Philam Fund, Inc. -a   Solidaritas Fund, Inc. -a   2.1293  -0.82%  1.19%  0.78%  0.16%  Sun Life of Canada Prosperity Balanced Fund, Inc. -a   3.8332  0.64%  1.8%  0.19%  -0.79%  Sun Life Prosperity Achiever Fund 2028, Inc. -a,d,2   1.006  n.a.  n.a.  n.a.  -0.96%  Sun Life Prosperity Achiever Fund 2038, Inc. -a,d,2   0.9911  n.a.  n.a.  n.a.  -0.53%  Sun Life Prosperity Achiever Fund 2048, Inc. -a,d,2   0.9882  n.a.  n.a.  n.a.  -0.5%  Sun Life Prosperity Dynamic Fund, Inc. -a   0.9648  0.32%  1.13%  -0.98%  -1.03%      Primarily invested in foreign currency securities $0.03829  8.13%  2.59%  2.01%  0.16%  Cocolife Dollar Fund Builder, Inc. -a   PAMI Asia Balanced Fund, Inc. -a   $1.0983  15.56%  6.82%  2.19%  5.82%  Sun Life Prosperity Dollar Advantage Fund, Inc. -a   $3.9524  15.07%  7.65%  4.57%  1.06%  Sun Life Prosperity Dollar Wellspring Fund, Inc. -a,7   $1.1355  10.34%  4.48%  n.a.  0.59%  Bond Funds     Primarily invested in Peso securities ALFM Peso Bond Fund, Inc. -a   358.21  4.16%  2.76%  2.28%  0.11%  ATRAM Corporate Bond Fund, Inc. -a   1.904  2.62%  0.41%  -0.67%  0.11%  Cocolife Fixed Income Fund, Inc. -a   3.1198  4.73%  5.14%  5.17%  0.11%  Ekklesia Mutual Fund Inc. -a   2.2193  3.79%  1.85%  1.78%  -0.26%  1.99%  1.39%  -0.41%  First Metro Save and Learn Fixed Income Fund,Inc. -a   2.3494  5.81%  Grepalife Fixed Income Fund Corp. -a   P N.S.  N.S.  N.S.  N.S.  N.S.  Philam Bond Fund, Inc. -a   4.3422  12.94%  1.99%  1.45%  -0.7%  Philequity Peso Bond Fund, Inc. -a   3.7761  6.08%  2.73%  1.27%  -0.32%  Soldivo Bond Fund, Inc. -a   0.9581  6.22%  0.87%  -0.14%  -0.64%  Sun Life of Canada Prosperity Bond Fund, Inc. -a   3.0496  8.97%  3.8%  2.33%  -0.86%  Sun Life Prosperity GS Fund, Inc. -a   1.6817  7.91%  3.28%  1.68%  -1.14%      Primarily invested in foreign currency securities ALFM Dollar Bond Fund, Inc. -a   $469.07  4.46%  2.64%  2.75%  0.18%  1.28%  -0.02%  ALFM Euro Bond Fund, Inc. -a   Є219.69  3.37%  1.64%  ATRAM Total Return Dollar Bond Fund, Inc. -b   $1.2086  6.89%  2.95%  2.51%  0.12%  First Metro Save and Learn Dollar Bond Fund, Inc. -a   $0.0259  4.02%  1.46%  1.45%  0.39%  Grepalife Dollar Bond Fund Corp. -a   N.S.  N.S.  N.S.  N.S.  N.S.  PAMI Global Bond Fund, Inc -a   $1.0983  5.74%  1.22%  -0.6%  0.28%  Philam Dollar Bond Fund, Inc. -a   $2.41  10.13%  3.01%  2.7%  0.26%  Philequity Dollar Income Fund Inc. -a   $0.0604152  5.88%  2.24%  1.98%  0.17%  Sun Life Prosperity Dollar Abundance Fund, Inc. -a   $3.1923  10.68%  2.54%  2.67%  0.54%  Money Market Funds     Primarily invested in Peso securities ALFM Money Market Fund, Inc. -a   125.96  2.88%  2.19%  0.14%  4.05%  First Metro Save and Learn Money Market Fund, Inc. -a,3   1.0298  n.a.  n.a.  n.a.  0.34%  Philam Managed Income Fund, Inc. -a   1.2503  6.03%  2.92%  1.6%  -0.51%  Sun Life Prosperity Money Market Fund, Inc. -a   1.2662  3.72%  2.91%  2.39%  0.13%      Primarily invested in foreign currency securities Sun Life Prosperity Dollar Starter Fund, Inc. -a   $1.0379  2.08%  n.a.  n.a.  0.07%  Feeder Fund     Primarily invested in foreign currency securities ALFM Global Multi-Asset Income Fund Inc. -b,d,4   $1  n.a.  n.a.  n.a.  1.01%                                                                   a - NAVPS as of the previous banking day.    b - NAVPS as of two banking days ago.     c - Listed in the PSE.     d - in Net Asset Value per Unit (NAVPU). 1 - Launch date is January 3, 2019.   2 - Launch date is January 28, 2019.     3 - Launch date is February 1, 2019.     4 - Launch date is November 15, 2019. 5 - Launch date is September 28, 2019.     6 - Renaming was approved by the SEC last October 12, 2018 (formerly, One Wealthy Nation Fund, Inc.).     7 - Adjusted due to stock dividend issuance last October 9, 2019. 8 - Launch date is December 09, 2019.     "While we endeavor to keep the information accurate, the Philippine Investment Funds Association (PIFA) and its members make no warranties as to the correctness of the newspaper’s publication and assume no liability or responsibility for any error or omissions. You may visit http://www. pifa. com.ph to see the latest NAVPS/NAVPU."


Editor: Angel R. Calso

World Companies

Thursday, January 16, 2020

B3

NSA finds major security flaw in Windows 10, free fix issued

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he National Security Agency (NSA) has discovered a major security flaw in Microsoft’s Windows 10 operating system that could let hackers intercept seemingly secure communications. But rather than exploit the flaw for its own intelligence needs, the NSA tipped off Microsoft so that it can fix the system for everyone. Microsoft released a free software patch to fix the flaw on Tuesday and credited the intelligence agency for discovering it. The company said it has not seen any evidence that hackers have used the technique. Amit Yoran, CEO of security firm Tenable, said it is “exceptionally rare if not unprecedented” for the US government to share its discovery of such a critical vulnerability with a company. Yoran, who was a founding director of the Department of Homeland Security’s computer emergency readiness team, urged all organizations to prioritize patching their systems quickly.

An advisory sent by the NSA on Tuesday said “the consequences of not patching the vulnerability are severe and widespread.” Microsoft said an attacker could exploit the vulnerability by spoofing a code-signing certificate so it looked like a file came from a trusted source. “The user would have no way of knowing the file was malicious, because the digital signature would appear to be from a trusted provider,” the company said. If successfully exploited, attackers would have been able to conduct “manin-the-middle attacks” and decrypt confidential information they intercept on user connections, the company said. “The biggest risk is to secure communications,” said Adam Meyers, vice president of intelligence for security

German prosecutors charge 6 more in VW emissions scandal

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R ANKFURT, Germany—Prosecutors in Germany have filed charges against six more individuals in connection with Volkswagen’s diesel emissions scandal, bringing the total to 11. Prosecutors in the town of Braunschweig said on Tuesday that the suspects—all Volkswagen executives at the time—were responsible for cars that had software that let them pass emissions tests in labs but then turned off pollution controls. It said the illegal actions involved took place at different times between 2006 and 2015. The prosecutors’ statement did not

name the individuals charged. Three of the accused were charged with direct offenses, and the other three as accessories to the offenses, meaning they assisted or facilitated them. The prosecutors said 32 more individuals were under investigation. Those charged earlier include former CEO Martin Winterkorn. He resigned after the scandal erupted in 2015. Winterkorn also faces charges in the United States but cannot be extradited. The company has paid more than €30 billion ($33 billion) in fines, settlements and recall costs. AP

Pfizer eyes IPO of Glaxo consumer health joint venture in 3 to 4 years

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fizer Inc. is planning an initial public offering (IPO) of its consumer-health joint venture with GlaxoSmithKline Plc. in three to four years as the two drugmakers turn back toward the lab. Pfizer Chief Executive Officer Albert Bourla discussed the time frame for the IPO at the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference, in San Francisco, on Tuesday. The plan provides New York-based Pfizer with a clear exit strategy, he said. The world’s biggest supplier of over-the-counter medicines will be one of the industry’s only standalones, facing off with companies integrated into larger entities, such as Johnson & Johnson, Bayer AG and Procter & Gamble Co. With annual sales of about $13 billion, it brings under one roof Advil painkillers, Tums stomach tablets, Sensodyne toothpaste and Nicorette gum. Both Glaxo, the majority owner, and Pfizer, which has about a third of the business, are looking to focus

on drug development. Recent shifts in the healthcare business and in the broader economy have challenged a model in which drugmakers control every corner of home medicine cabinets. Big pharma companies are increasingly focused on developing high-priced new medicines that draw on cutting-edge research in genetics and other fields. At the same time, the cost of researching new cures is climbing even as insurers and governments demand lower prices. On the consumer-health front, intense price competition online from the likes of Amazon, as well as own-brand store products have dented margins in the United States and parts of Europe. When the deal was announced, Glaxo said it expected a listing within three years of its close, which took place last August. Glaxo shares rose less than 1 percent to 1,815 pence in London trading. Bloomberg News

Malaysia Airlines halts 737 Max deliveries in fresh blow to Boeing

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alaysia Airlines Bhd. suspended deliveries of Boeing Co. 737 Max aircraft it had on order for this year, the first Southeast Asian carrier to publicly take such a step since the global grounding of the plane in March. The airline said it made the decision because it’s unclear when the 737 Max will return to service following crashes in Indonesia in late 2018, and Ethiopia 10 months ago that killed 346 people. Malaysia Airlines has 25 of the jets on order and hasn’t received any. “In view of the production stoppage and the delayed return to service of the 737-Max, Malaysia Airlines has suspended the delivery of its orders which are due in 2020,” the carrier said in a statement. “Malaysia Airlines views safety of its operations and customers of utmost priority, and welcomes moves by Boeing to improve procedures to ensure the safe operations of the 737 Max.” The crashes and subsequent grounding of

the single-aisle 737 Max plunged Boeing into an unprecedented crisis that’s led to multiple lawsuits, weighed heavily on sales and cost former Chief Executive Officer Dennis Muilenburg his job. The Chicago-based company said on Tuesday that deliveries slumped to 380 jetliners in 2019. That left Airbus SE as a clear winner with its 863 deliveries. Saudi Arabian budget carrier Flyadeal became the first airline to officially drop the 737 Max back in July, when it reversed a commitment to buy up to 50 of the Boeing jets, saying instead it would operate an entirely Airbus fleet. PT Garuda Indonesia said in May it would cancel a 737 Max order, though it remains on Boeing’s books, while Lion Air’s owner Rusdi Kirana warned he may cancel tens of billions of dollars worth of orders. Kirana said the US manufacturer unfairly implicated his airline in the 2018 crash, but he hasn’t followed through on his threat. Bloomberg News

This August 7, 2017, file photo, shows a Microsoft Windows sign on display at a store in Hialeah, Florida. The National Security Agency has discovered a major security flaw in Microsoft’s Windows operating system. Microsoft says the NSA notified the company about it. A fix was made available on Tuesday, January 14, 2020. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)

firm CrowdStrike. Some computers will get the fix automatically, if they have the automatic update option turned on. Others can get it manually by going to Windows Update in the

computer’s settings. Microsoft typically releases security and other updates once a month, and waited until Tuesday to disclose the flaw and the NSA’s involvement. Microsoft

and the NSA both declined to say when the agency privately notified the company. The agency shared the vulnerability with Microsoft “quickly and responsibly,” Neal Ziring, technical director of the NSA’s cyber-security directorate, said in a blog post on Tuesday. Priscilla Moriuchi, who retired from the NSA in 2017, after running its East Asia and Pacific operations, said this is a good example of the “constructive role” that the NSA can play in improving global information security. Moriuchi, now an analyst at the US cyber-security firm Recorded Future, said it’s likely a reflection of changes made in 2017 to how the US determines whether to disclose a major vul-

nerability or exploit it for intelligence purposes. The revamping of what’s known as the “Vulnerability Equities Process” put more emphasis on disclosing vulnerabilities whenever possible to protect core Internet systems, and the US economy and general public. Those changes happened after a mysterious group calling itself the “Shadow Brokers” released a trove of high-level hacking tools stolen from the NSA, forcing companies, including Microsoft to repair their systems. The US believes that North Korea, and Russia were able to capitalize on those stolen hacking tools to unleash devastating global cyber attacks. AP


TheBroa BACKYARD HOG RAISE WITH SWINE VIRUS’S IM B4

Business

Thursday, January 16, 2020

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By Alladin S. Diega Contributor

HE African swine fever (ASF) that ravaged backyard hog raising is said to have been weakening alongside the hopes urban livestock raisers can recoup their losses as well as the source of their income. According to Department of Agriculture Spokesman Noel O. Reyes, the ASF is showing signs of slowing down, even in the most affected areas. “The ASF [outbreak] is tapering off, in Pampanga and Bulacan, and even in Quezon City, and quarantine has been sustained to contain the disease,” Reyes told the BusinessMirror last Wednesday, more than a week after another reported discovery of ASF-tainted pork in another supermarket in Quezon City. Reyes asserted, however, that sentinel animals are showing no signs of new symptoms. He emphasized that the government is serious in banning hog raising in all highly urbanized areas in the country, specifically the National Capital Region (NCR). And after six months when the first confirmed outbreak was reported, Reyes said that right now the assistance is only composed of the P5,000 per head of culled animals and a loan for those qualified. Told of the concerns of affected backyard raisers in Quezon City that switching to other livelihood is not easy and will take time, Reyes said that the DA is ready to provide training for alternative small livelihood for affected backyard hog raisers. All the local government units concerned have to do is to coordinate with the agency. “We are also encouraging urban gardening and the DA will assist with technical assistance even with free vegetable seeds for those in the urban areas who are interested with urban gardening,” Reyes added.

QC loan

ON Sunday, Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte said that about P16.9 million cash aid was already given by the local government unit (LGU) to hog raisers, adding that around 5,824 pigs were culled since the first ASF incident from floating dead pigs was reported in Silangan, a village near the Araneta commercial area. The Quezon City LGU extended P3,000 cash assistance for every pig voluntarily surrendered for culling by backyard hog raisers in infected areas. Belmonte also said the ASF is already contained in her city, with no new positive blood tests reported since November 13 and no ASF-related death in the past 30 days. She, however, clarified that the monthlong disinfection process continues and given no new cases will be completed by end of the year. By February, the Quezon City government will prohibit backyard piggeries and poultries in all barangays through an ordinance, according to City Veterinarian Dr. Ana Maria V. Cabel. “We had a meeting with all barangays and they already know about this proposed ordinance,” Cabel said. She added that last year the local government has allowed backyard raisers to sell or dispose of the pigs, those that are not affected, in time for the Christmas season.

Un-augmented feeds

BELMONTE has instructed the Small Business Development and Promotions Office to assist backyard hog raisers in starting alternative livelihood programs. “We will endorse these hog raisers to the Small Business Development and Promotions Office for alternative livelihood programs,” Belmonte said in a statement. Feeding of swill or food refuse locally known as kaning-baboy is also blamed for the spread of ASF virus as contaminated feed can easily reach many backyard raisers. Norly Garcia, a resident of Payatas, Quezon City, is a longtime backyard hog raiser and had used swills sourced from local restaurants. Garcia said she cooks the swill before feeding it to her pigs. She asserts that uncooked swills affect the flavor of the meat and “you can identify traces of fishy smell” in the uncooked pork meat. Garcia explained that the main reason she used swill and augment it to commercial feeds is that the profit is better than using un-augmented commercial feeds. Four months ago, she sold all of her five adult hogs, including a sow, at a much lower price despite the absence of ASF symptoms for fear of eventual contamination and greater losses. She has stopped raising hogs since and is waiting for the local government of Quezon City to roll out its alternative livelihood program for growers like her.

A crisis

RECORDS from the Philippine Statistics Authority revealed that as of October 1, 2019, the total inventory of swine in the country was estimated at 13.01 million heads. This represents a decrease of 0.9 percent compared with the previous year’s stocks of 13.13 million heads. In backyard farms, swine inventory at 8.20 million heads decreased by 1.7 percent from the previous year’s count of 8.34 million heads. Stocks in commercial farms at 4.81 million heads have increased by 0.6 percent from the previous year’s level of 4.78 million heads. Among the regions, Central Luzon recorded the highest swine inventory of 2.21 million heads. Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon) and Western Visayas followed with stocks of 1.57 million heads and 1.27 million heads, respectively. The combined stocks of these three regions accounted for 38.8 percent of the country’s total swine inventory. According to Romeo Andres C. Royandoyan, convener of Al­ yansa Agrikultura, an alliance of different farmers groups and associations, backyard hog raisers are among the poorest of Filipinos. And, if the crisis is not resolved immediately, the incidence of poverty will intensify, particularly in provinces where hog raising is a main livestock activity, Royan­ doyan said.

Rendering assistance

AGRICULTURAL Credit and Policy Council (ACPC) Director Meliton M. Montenegro said that the DA assistance for backyard hog raisers affected by the ASF is P5,000 per head of depopulated swine. Qualified beneficiaries are those with 20 heads or less but the maximum number that will be paid is for 10 heads, Montenegro said. The affected farmer should report to the local government about the affected livestock. Afterward, a team composed of representatives from the barangay, municipal and provincial government will conduct assessment, interview and basic information from the affected grower. A couple is considered as one unit for the purposes of assistance, Montenegro explained. Aside from the direct assistance, the affected hog raisers will be eligible for loans from the ACPC. Eligible borrowers are those raising hogs with up to 20 heads and the borrower can access a loan of P3,000 representing per head of the livestock up to a maximum of 10 heads, or the equivalent of P30,000 maximum loan. “The loan can be used for any IGP [income-generating projects], except hog raising, until the DA issues a clearance,” Montenegro told the BusinessMirror. The mode of payment can be varied, depending on the nature of the IGP. If it is used for a sari-sari store, the payment can be monthly. If is used for broiler-raising, which can be harvested after 45 days, the loan payment can be quarterly, similar with vegetables.

Accessing loans

ACCORDING to Montenegro, the ACPC could not directly release the loan because the Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act forbids so. Hence, a conduit is needed, he explained. Cooperatives were also barred from accessing loans for their members under the 2019 General Appropriations Act. However, in the past they were able to access loans from the agency, Montenegro recalled. The New Rural Bank of San Leonardo (NRBSL) was chosen as one of the conduit banks by the ACPC to distribute the loan facility to eligible borrowers. The bank has recently identified 2,500 borrowers from Pampanga, Bulacan and Nueva Ecija. Other banks that also serve as conduits include the Land Bank of the Philippines. In the case of the NRBSL, the rural bank is already a conduit bank of the ACPC starting in 2017. It received P50 million for broiler raisers who were affected by the avian influenza outbreak. According to NRBSL Vice President for Branches Department Liza J. Ison, the ACPC allowed them to use and extend the unused portion of the avian flu fund for the ASF onslaught. Ison said they were already preparing for the liquidation of the fund but the ACPC’s move allowed the bank to start processing eligible borrowers. A separate P60-million allocation for the bank’s ASF loan portfolio is being readied by the agricultural credit agency, she added.

NRBSL line

ISON said her bank has a total of P80-million credit line ready for ASF-related loans. She added that as of December 13, the NRBSL has P6 million worth of loans approved for affected hog raisers in Apalit, Pampanga, and several barangays in Bulacan. Asked whether based on their


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Editor: Dennis D. Estopace | Thursday, January 16, 2020

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ERS, GROUPS GRAPPLE MPACT WITH LOANS

Records from the Philippine Statistics Authority revealed that as of October 1, 2019, the total inventory of swine in the country was estimated at 13.01 million heads. This represents a decrease of 0.9 percent compared with the previous year’s stocks of 13.13 million heads. assessment the borrowers are capable of paying the loans considering they are backyard raisers, Ison replied in the affirmative. “They [borrowers] undergo the usual bank process, assessment, review of the plan they are proposing and modes of payment, and other processes,” she told the BusinessMirror. According to Montenegro, his agency is positive with the arrangement as the bank’s internal procedure will prevent the Napoles-type scheme, in which many of the beneficiaries were proven fictitious. “This is also our advocacy for financial inclusion, our way of helping the unbanked access the formal channel and give them better alternative from loan sharks,” Montenegro said. According to him, the Quezon City LGU is preparing a list of backyard hog raisers who are eligible for assistance and loans. Ison clarified that her rural bank will treat the release of loans using the normal credit evaluation policy. Hence, there is a real possibility that some loan applications would not be approved, she said. Montenegro, on the other hand, clarified that his agency’s role is to assist qualified hog raisers affected by ASF to access the fund. Other assistance not in the form of loans should come from the department [DA] that, for now, is P5,000 per head of depopulated swine for backyard raisers. “In terms of fund, the government has no problem to assist, particularly the affected backyard hog raisers,” Montenegro said.

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The Spanish experience

THE experience of using cash against the ASF is best exemplified by Spain, the Philippines’s former colonial master. Spain’s history with ASF is well documented. When the disease first entered the country in the 1960s, control was difficult as veterinary services were still developing. The first documented cases of the virus being associated with ticks were recorded in Spain. The ASF is the only known arthropodvectored DNA virus of animals. Some believe it is actually a virus of ticks that happens to affect pigs. In the 1980s, as Spain was preparing to enter the European Union, it began to receive funding from the EU to combat ASF. The funding resulted in improved diagnostics for quicker identification of outbreaks in the 1990s. After Spain became officially clear of ASF in 1995, the virus reemerged in 1999. This was possibly due to an infected tick that survived eradication. Spain had a good solid indemnity program based on the actual price of pork and swine at the time of the outbreak. It also built a solid collaboration between the federal government, regional government units, private sector, the scientific community and universities. Spain’s pork producers have the natural incentive to convince their members and other producers that it was in everyone’s best

interests to eradicate the virus and follow the national program.

Indemnification

FOR Royandoyan, hog raising is a literal “piggy bank” for farmers as it’s their source of income to pay for their children’s tuition and other important household expenses. Backyard raisers sell their hogs in times of need and emergencies, he said. It’s unlike a sari-sari store wherein you need to earn in small amounts every day, he added. The markup can be higher especially if the backyard raiser is engaged in producing piglets. Hence, according to Royandoyan, indemnity to culled animals should be equal to the farmgate price of hogs, or at least on a par with the prevailing price. “There is a need for immediate relief to affected backyard hog raisers by indemnification, and this calls for a swift but thorough identification of all victims, and that the amount of indemnification should be based on the actual value of pigs culled and not a ‘uniformed’ amount,” Royandoyan told the BusinessMirror. The indemnification for culled animals at present is at P5,000 per head. Royandoyan said that backyard hog raisers in urban areas and even near areas would have more difficulty because they would not be able to go back to hog raising while other alternative livelihoods would be very difficult to pull through because of oversaturation. “Do you think other possible alternative livelihoods have not been already considered by other Filipinos with not enough income? Do you think [operating a] sari-sari store will do the trick?,” Royan­ doyan said.

Natural magnet

BACKYARD hog raisers in Quezon City are selling their hogs to traders between P105 and P110 a kilo before the ASF struck. For a fullgrown animal at 85 kilos, this is between P8,925 and P9,350. Quezon City is a natural magnet for backyard hog raising, particularly the areas of Commonwealth, Payatas and Silangan, because of their proximity to Rodriguez, Rizal, and San Jose del Monte, Bulacan. These are well-known areas for small and commercial-size piggeries. Backyard raisers from Quezon City source their piglets and swine materials, including boar services and artificial insemination, from the nearby provinces. Collectors of food refuse from food establishments segregated by garbage collectors, a raw material for kaningbaboy (swill), daily ply along these routes of Quezon City. Those hog raisers who produce their own piglets have a better income, as a newly weaned piglet is usually sold between P2,800 and P3,500. Some of the backyard hog raisers in Quezon City have already received payment for their culled animals but are still waiting for the financial assistance for alternative livelihood promised by the local government.

For Royandoyan, the ASF also affected rice farmers. Rice farmers are naturally hog raisers because of the darak, the inner covering of rice packed with minerals, a known raw material for locally produced feeds for local hogs, he explained. “Hence, the ASF crisis is a double-whammy for the rice farmers who are already affected by the steep fall in the prices of their produce because of the rice tariffication law. “Affected backyard hog raisers should be given free piglets, for them to start all over once the ASF is contained,” Royandoyan said. He called on the government to draw up a road map for the backyard piggery sector.

Enter supermarkets

LAST Monday the DA said it will improve measures against the ASF as it validates another reported discovery of ASF-tainted pork in another supermarket in Quezon City. Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of his meeting with pork industry stakeholders, Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar said they have agreed to “strengthen” existing guidelines to further control and contain ASF in Luzon. Dar said DA teams are currently validating another report that ASF-affected pork was being sold in a Quezon City supermarket, the second under the DA’s radar after it confirmed recently the ASFtainted pork in their shelves. “We are one in seeing to it that the ASF is properly managed, controlled and contained,” he said. “We will continue to strengthen existing guidelines to ensure that nothing gets past us. The validation is ongoing [on the reported case]. Only one has been confirmed [so far],” he added. Dar did not provide details on the possible changes in DA’s existing guidelines on ASF, saying that they are “too general to mention now.” He pointed out, though, that everything would be “elevated.” Dar disclosed that he will talk to Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea this week for the possible issuance of an executive order on the government’s National ASF Zoning plan. He expects the document to be issued by Malacañang before February 1. In a separate interview with reporters, Belmonte said the pork samples that “allegedly” tested positive for ASF virus were tested by the Bureau of Animal Industry. “Given that, there’s more than one supermarket now that has been identified having tainted meat regardless of the fact that they have NMIS [National Meat Inspection Service] certification,” Belmonte said. The mayor said she called for an immediate meeting this week with supermarkets and their respective meat suppliers to thresh out issues surrounding ASF-tainted pork being sold in retail stores. With additional report from Jasper Emmanuel Y. Arcalas


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Thursday, January 16, 2020

The World BusinessMirror

US-China pact signing to ease tension but leave much undone

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ASHINGTON—After 18 months of economic combat, the United States and China are set to take a step toward peace on Wednesday. At least for now. President Donald J. Trump and China’s chief negotiator, Liu He, are scheduled to sign a modest trade agreement in which the administration will ease some sanctions on China and Beijing will step up its purchases of US farm products and other goods. Above all, the deal will defuse a conflict that has slowed global growth, hurt American man-

ufacturers and weighed on the Chinese economy. But the so-called Phase 1 pact does little to force China to make the major economic reforms—such as reducing unfair subsidies for its own companies—hat the Trump administration sought when it started the trade war by imposing tariffs on Chinese imports in July 2018. The US

A worker waits to transport containers at the container port in Qingdao, in eastern China’s Shandong province on Tuesday, January 14, 2020. China’s exports rose 0.5 percent in 2019 despite a tariff war with Washington after growth rebounded in December on stronger demand from other markets. Chinatopix Via AP has yet to reveal details of the agreement, though US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has said they would be made public on Wednesday. Most analysts say any meaningful resolution of the key US allegation—that Beijing uses predatory tactics in its drive to supplant America’s technological supremacy—could require years of contentious talks. And skeptics say a satisfactory resolution may be next to impossible given China’s ambitions to become the global leader in such advanced technologies as driverless cars and artificial intelligence. “The signing of the Phase 1 deal would represent a welcome, even if modest, deescalation of trade hostilities between China and the US,” said Eswar Prasad, a Cornell University economist and and former head of the International Monetary Fund’s China division. “But it hardly addresses in any substantive way the fundamental sources of trade and economic tensions between the two sides, which will continue to fester.’’ In a letter to Trump on Monday, the top Senate Democrat, Chuck Schumer of New York, complained that the Phase 1 deal appeared to make “very little progress in reforming China’s rapacious trade behaviors and seems like it could send a signal to Chinese negotiators that the US can be steamrolled.’’ The thornier issues are expected to be taken up in future rounds of negotiations. But it’s unclear when they will begin. And few expect much progress before the November US election. “Phase 2—I wouldn’t wait by the phone,’’ said John Veroneau, who was a US trade official in the George W. Bush administration, and is now cochair of the international trade practice at Covington & Burling. “That is probably a 2021 issue.’’ Under the Phase 1 agreement, which the two sides reached in mid-December, the administration dropped plans to impose tariffs on an additional $160 billion in Chinese imports. And it halved, to 7.5 percent, existing tariffs on $110 billion of good from China. For its part, Beijing agreed to significantly increase its purchases of US products. According to the Trump administration, China is to buy $40 billion a year in US farm products—an ambitious goal for a country that has never imported more than $26 billion a year in US agricultural products. The deal may be most notable for what it doesn’t do. It leaves in place tariffs on about $360 billion in Chinese imports—a level of protectionism that would have been unthinkable before Trump took office. Chad Bown of the Peterson Institute for International Economics calculates that the Phase 1 agreement will leave nearly two-thirds of Chinese imports covered by Trump’s tariffs. Beijing’s retaliatory tariffs affect more than half of American exports to China. The average US tariff on Chinese imports has risen from 3 percent in January 2018 to 21 percent now. High tariffs between the world’s two biggest economies, Bown says, are now “the new normal.’’ The Trump administration argues that the Phase 1 deal is a solid start that includes Chinese commitments to do more to protect intellectual property, curb the practice of forcing foreign companies to hand over sensitive technology and refrain from manipulating their currency lower to benefit Chinese exporters. In advance of the Phase 1 signing, in fact, the Treasury Department on Monday dropped its designation of China as a

currency manipulator. And by maintaining significant tariffs on Chinese imports, the administration retains leverage to force Beijing to abide by its commitments—something the US says Beijing has failed to do for decades. “We’ve never punished them before,” said Derek Scissors, China specialist at the American Enterprise Institute. “If you don’t have tariffs, you can write down anything you want, and the Chinese will cheat.’’ The administration contends that, however narrow the Phase 1 agreement may be, it represents a significant breakthrough. “Across the board, it’s a really, really good deal for the United States,’’ Lighthizer told Fox Business Network on Monday. “And, it will work if reformers in China want it to work. And if that happens, great. If it doesn’t happen, [the pact] is fully enforceable....We expect them to live up to the letter of the law. We’ll bring cases—we’ll bring actions against them if they don’t.’’ Scissors said the trade war has already delivered a benefit for Trump, even if it hasn’t forced Beijing to make major changes to its economic policy: Trump’s tariffs have reduced Chinese exports to the US and narrowed America’s trade deficit with China. The president has long lambasted the US trade gap with Beijing as a sign of economic weakness, though many economists disagree. A wide trade deficit can actually reflect economic strength because it means that a nation’s consumers feel prosperous and confident enough to spend freely—on imported goods, as well as on home-grown goods. So far this year, the US deficit with China in the trade of goods has declined by 16 percent, or $62 billion, to $321 billion compared with a year earlier. And the deficit will narrow further if Beijing lives up to its pledges to buy dramatically more American imports. Trump’s tariff hikes have proved to be a headwind for China’s economy, which was already slowing, though the damage has been less than some forecasters expected. Chinese global exports eked out a 0.5-percent increase in 2019, despite a plunge in sales to the United States, according to Chinese customs data. Chinese exporters responded to Trump’s tariff hikes by shipping goods to the US through other countries and by stepping up sales to Asia, Europe and Africa. The government reported doubledigit gains in 2019 exports to France, Canada, Australia, Brazil and Southeast Asia. Economists said the tariff war slowed Chinese growth, which hit a multi-decade low of 6 percent in the quarter ending in September, by as little as 0.6 percentage point. Weak domestic demand and the cooling of a construction boom inflicted more damage. “It is unrealistic for the US government to think they could defeat China by exerting extreme pressure,” said Tu Xinquan, director of the China Institute of WTO Studies at the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing. “As an economy with a massive size, China will gradually absorb such external shocks.” “China didn’t get everything they wanted out of this deal, and the US has obviously not got the structural changes in the Chinese economy they wanted,” said Julian Evans-Pritchard of Capital Economics. “But they are going to get a substantial increase in exports and a reduction in the bilateral trade [deficit], which I think the Trump administration will clearly see as a win.” AP

Editor: Angel R. Calso

Singapore overhauls fund rule to enhance financial hub allure

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ingapore has just made it easier for investment firms to register funds locally in a bid to increase its allure as a financial hub. A new law, which came into effect on Tuesday, encourages asset managers to domicile their funds in Singapore by allowing the creation of a single structure to hold a pool of assets and multiple sub-funds, and offers investors added confidentiality. While many asset managers have offices in Singapore, most of their funds are still registered in offshore jurisdictions. The new rules offer investors greater flexibility, and can be used for traditional and alternative strategies. Firms will be allowed to use both Singapore and international accounting standards. The move is part of government efforts to build on Singapore’s traditional strength as a financial center and reduce the economy’s reliance on more volatile sectors, such as trade. Singapore’s asset-management industry grew more than 5 percent to S$3.4 trillion ($2.5 trillion) in 2018, according to the Monetary Authority of Singapore. The new law, known as the Variable Capital Companies Act, is “another salvo in the island republic’s efforts to further promote Singapore as both an assetmanagement and fund-domicile hub,” said Daniel Yong, a partner at law firm Withers KhattarWong LLP. At the same time, the city-state is set to benefit from months of unrest in its long-time regional rival, with more Hong Kong-based asset managers inquiring about opening offices in

Singapore. There was about $74 trillion of assets under management globally in 2018, according to Boston Consulting Group Inc. The simplified fund structure has been launched alongside a pilot program involving 18 asset managers, who incorporated or re-domiciled 20 funds as variable capital companies on Wednesday. Asset managers are allowed to hold multiple sub-funds under one company, a change from the current system where they typically need to incorporate special purpose vehicles for each fund. That means just a single set of service providers, financial statements and board of directors are required for multiple sub-funds, substantially cutting costs. The company is treated as a single entity for tax purposes, and has access to Singapore’s network of 67 double-tax treaties. The move may create more than 1,000 jobs for services, such as legal and accounting firms and fund administrators over the next two years, according to Indranee Rajah, Singapore’s second minister for finance. Gordian Capital Singapore Ltd., a fund platform that participated in the pilot program, has launched a sustainable investment fund in partnership with GoImpact Capital Partners this quarter, targeting $100 million in assets. “Offshore jurisdictions in general are losing ground slowly by surely to onshore jurisdictions,” said Mark Voumard, Gordian’s chief executive officer.

Bloomberg News

Malaysia wants to break up big companies without hurting stocks

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alaysia is considering the merits of having the state control, its biggest companies, after moves to break up their dominance in sectors from the Internet to electricity led to declines in Asia’s worst major stock market. The government needs to review on a caseby-case basis whether it needs to hold on to its golden shares in state-linked firms, as the 1MDB scandal proves it’s still needed, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said on Tuesday. His administration has sought to make the companies more efficient to meet its campaign promise of lowering living costs, a drive that analysts expect to benefit the economy in the long run. Yet, Mahathir walks a tightrope as he tries to overhaul state-linked firms that have stifled competition, without causing an earnings upheaval and spooking investors. The US-China trade war that triggered foreign stock outflows across Asia hasn’t helped either—Malaysia’s benchmark index fell 6 percent last year, the most since 2008. State operator Telekom Malaysia Bhd. was the first hit when the country slashed broadband prices as part of an election pledge. That triggered a loss of almost $1 billion in its market value since May 2018. Now, power firm Tenaga Nasional Bhd. is bracing for new players as the government moves to open up the retail electricity market. Its shares have slumped 18 percent since September 2018, when the government first mooted the plan. “The government’s push for industry specific and procedural reforms aimed at increasing competition and transparency are for the greater good in the long-term,” said Geoffrey Ng, director at Fortress Capital Asset Management Sdn. It’s the lack of public education and market engagement that created short-term uncertainty, “resulting in perception of increased policy risk when investing in Malaysia,” he added. While Malaysians welcomed cheaper Internet and the prospect of smaller electricity bills, some of the cost may be borne by state funds Permodalan Nasional Bhd. and Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF), which are among the biggest shareholders in the companies.

Golden shares

Public pension fund EPF, which owns a 16-percent stake each in Telekom and Tenaga, said its investment income fell 7.6 percent to 13.5 billion ringgit ($3.3 billion) in the third quarter from a year ago due to the decline in Malaysia’s stock market. Permodalan, or PNB, announced its lowest income distribution since 1990 to unit holders of Amanah Saham Bumiputera, which owns 12 percent of Telekom and 9 percent of Tenaga. PNB was formed by the government in 1978, to help boost the wealth of ethnic Malays and

indigenous people, who can buy its trusts. Telekom shares dropped 1.8 percent as of the midday break in Kuala Lumpur trading, while Tenaga slid 1.1 percent. “The government should be more cognizant of the impact of policy changes on publicly traded companies and service providers,” said Alexander Chia, head of regional equity research at RHB Bank Bhd. That includes consulting stakeholders and giving the market enough time to prepare for the changes “to avoid shocking the system,” he added. Representatives for the finance ministry, EPF and Telekom declined to comment, while a representative for Tenaga didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. Khazanah Nasional Bhd. called for the government to move away from the practice of using golden shares to have clout over stateowned companies, and to wield its influence through legislation and regulators instead, Managing Director Shahril Ridza Ridzuan said at the same conference where Mahathir spoke on Tuesday in Kuala Lumpur. A golden share allows the government to outvote all other shareholders on certain matters, such as in appointing chief executive officers. To be sure, the reform has pushed the companies to become leaner. Telekom cut costs by dismissing workers, renegotiating contracts and delaying capital spending. UBS Group AG analyst expects its net income to rise to 412 million ringgit in the fourth quarter, which would be the biggest since 2011, from 261.3 million in the previous period. Tenaga is splitting itself into three units, including one to handle retail electricity, and planning a debt sale for the first time since 2017 to gear up for new competition.

Learning curve

“GLC reforms are definitely good for the country,” said Mohd Afzanizam Abdul Rashid, the chief economist of Bank Islam Malaysia Bhd., referring to government-linked companies. “The way I see it, the critical thing to do is to ensure that the GLC’s existence will not crowd out the private investment.” The move to open up industries dominated by state companies is also meant to encourage smaller private companies to take a bigger role in the economy. Malaysia wants small and medium-sized enterprises to contribute 50 percent to the gross domestic product, from 38.3 percent in 2018. As Mahathir put it, the government has “no business to be in business.” Overall, the government’s handling of the corporate reform has improved, said RHB’s Chia. While the broadband price cut was abrupt, the government is now communicating well and phasing in the plan to open up the electricity sector, he said. Bloomberg News


The World BusinessMirror

www.businessmirror.com.ph · Editor: Angel R. Calso

Davos forum: Trump to attend; Iran’s foreign minister cancels

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ENEVA—Ira n’s foreig n m inister has ca nceled an ex pected appearance at next week ’s World Economic For u m in Davos, Sw it zerl a nd, orga n i z ers sa id on Tuesd ay, c it i ng t he “ bac kd rop of u ncer t a int y” in t he Midd le East. The move averts a possible crossing-of-paths with top US officials, including President Donald Trump, in the Alpine town at a time when relations between Iran and the United States have hit a new low. WEF President Borge Brende cited only the “cancellation” by Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who was notably blacklisted by the Trump administration even before the new tensions. Brende declined to elaborate on the reasons for it. “We have to understand the cancellation against the backdrop of uncertainty in the region and what is happening in Iran,” he told reporters at WEF headquar ters in Geneva at a look-ahead event to the 50th anniversar y of the forum. Word of Zarif ’s absence came as WEF founder Klaus Schwab warned that the world faces a “state of emergency” and said the window for opportunity is closing fast—notably when it comes to acting to save the environment.

He insisted the annual meeting will be “a ‘do-shop,’ not a ‘talk-shop.’” All told, nearly 3,000 leaders from 118 countries are expected for the January 21 to 24 event. The president of Iraq, Barham Salih, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel are among the 53 heads of state and government set to attend, along with hundreds of business leaders and civil-society activists, like environmental campaigner Greta Thunberg of Sweden. Schwab emphasized the importance of sustainable economic growth, the need for decent jobs and salaries, and plans for skills training for a billion people worldwide over the next decade. He expressed hopes that a “Green Revolution” will go mainstream and said the World Economic Forum would encourage partner businesses to become carbon neutral. He highlighted an environmental project to plant 1 trillion trees worldwide by 2030 to help gobble up excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Sc hwab rev ived h is ca l l for “s t a k e ho l d e r c a p it a l i s m” t o help t a ke t he lead in solv ing globa l problems. “Environmental responsibility is very much a part of the stakeholder responsibility,” he said. AP

Microsoft CEO calls India’s new citizenship limits ‘sad’

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wo high profile, Indian-born business leaders— Microsoft’s Satya Nadella and venture capitalist Vinod Khosla—have added their voices to criticisms of India’s new religion-based citizenship law that has roiled the country and led to violent protests. Nadella, Microsoft Corp.’s chief executive officer, said the Citizenship Amendment Act, which bans undocumented Muslim migrants from neighboring countries from seeking citizenship in India while allowing immigrants from other religions to do so, is “sad.” “I think it’s just bad,” Nadella said on Monday at a Microsoft event for technology editors in New York. “If anything, I would love to see a Bangladeshi immigrant who comes to India and creates the next unicorn in India, or becomes the CEO of Infosys. That should be the aspiration.” Longtime Silicon Valley venture capitalist Khosla, echoed Nadella’s comments on the topic. “I strongly believe India should be a secular country!” he wrote via e-mail late on Monday, when asked about the law. The software maker’s Indian Twitter account later tweeted a statement from Nadella that seemed to moderate the initial comments, beginning with the thought that “every country will and should define its borders, protect national security and set immigration policy accordingly.”

‘Multicultural India’

“I’m shaped by my Indian heritage, growing up in a multicultural India and my immigrant experience in the United States,” the written follow-up statement continued. “My hope is for an India where an immigrant can aspire to found a prosperous start-up or lead a multinational corporation benefiting Indian society and the economy at large.” The comments were reported earlier by Buzzfeed, which asked Nadella the question at the event. Protests, led mostly by students of all faiths, have erupted across India since Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government pushed the Citizenship Amendment Act through Parliament in December. However condemnation from prominent Indians, within the country and abroad, has been slow to come. “Well-known names criticizing the citizenship move is bad for India’s image abroad,”said Arati Jerath, a New Delhi-based author and political analyst. Criticism from eminent people along with continuing protests will “scare off potential investors at a time when economy desperately needs infusion of capital. I don’t think the government can afford to ignore this anymore.” A spokesman and federal lawmaker for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party however sought to dismiss Nadella’s comments. “How literate need to be educated! Perfect example,” Meenakshi Lekhi tweeted, adding “How about granting these opportunities to Syrian Muslims instead of Yezidis in USA?” Lekhi was likely referring to President Donald Trump’s travel ban that includes visa restrictions on five majorityMuslim nations: Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen, as well as Venezuela and North Korea. The Yezidis, a tiny religious minority in northern Iraq, faced a brutal genocide at the hands of militants of the Islamic State.

Bloomberg News

Thursday, January 16, 2020

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EU pressures Iran on nuclear deal in last-ditch bid to save it

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RUSSELS—Britain, France and Germany on Tuesday ratcheted up pressure on Iran to stop violating its landmark nuclear deal in a last-ditch effort to resolve their differences through talks while also starting a process that could bring back punishing UN sanctions on Tehran.

The three European Union countries are being pressed on one side by US President Donald Trump to abandon the agreement like he did unilaterally in 2018, and on the other side from Iran to provide enough economic incentives for them to roll back their violations. Now, the Europeans have reluctantly triggered the accord’s dispute mechanism to force Iran into discussions, starting the clock on a process that could result in the “snapback” of UN and EU sanctions on Iran. The three nations specifically avoided threatening the sanctions while emphasizing hopes for a negotiated resolution. They held off their announcement until tensions between the US and Iran had calmed down after the January 3 killing of an Iranian general in an American drone strike so their intent would not be misinterpreted. “Our goal is clear: We want to preserve the accord and come to a diplomatic solution within the agreement,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said in a statement. “We will tackle this together with all partners in the agreement. We call on Iran to participate constructively in the negotiation process that is now beginning.” I r a n ’s F o r e i g n M i n i s t r y warned of a “serious and strong response” to the European move. But at the same time, ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi held out an olive branch, saying his country was “fully ready to answer any good will and constructive effort” that preserves the nuclear deal, Iran’s official IRNA news agency reported. The US State Department said it fully supports the decision to initiate the dispute resolution mechanism. “We believe further diplomatic and economic pressure is warranted by nations,” it said in a statement. “The civilized world must send a clear and unified message to the Iranian regime: Your campaign of terror, murder, mayhem will not

be tolerated any longer,” Trump said, according to the statement. The accord, which Iran signed with the US, Britain, Germany, France, China and Russia in 2015, has been unraveling since Trump pulled Washington out in 2018 and reinstated sanctions designed to cripple the Islamic Republic under what the US called a “maximum pressure” campaign. The Europeans felt compelled to act, despite objections from Russia and China, because every violation of the deal reduces the socalled breakout time Iran needs to produce a nuclear bomb, Britain’s Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told Parliament. “Each of these actions were individually serious,” Raab said. “Together, they now raise acute concerns about Iran’s nuclear ambitions.” Iran insists it is not seeking an atomic weapon. At the time of the signing of the deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA, Iran’s “breakout” time was estimated to be as little as two months. With the safeguards in place, limiting Iran’s stockpiles of enriched uranium and heavy water, the number and types of centrifuges it can use to enrich uranium, and the purity that is allowed, that estimate grew to more than a year. Trump said the deal should be renegotiated because it didn’t address Iran’s ballistic missile program or its involvement in regional conflicts, and reimposed US sanctions that have left Iran’s economy reeling. To pressure the remaining signatories to provide enough economic incentives to offset the US sanctions, Iran last year began violating its limitations in stages. Throughout, it has announced the violations publicly and continued to allow inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency in to its facilities. Following the US drone strike that killed Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani, Iran announced what it said was its

European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell is surrounded by reporters at the European parliament on Tuesday, January 14, in Strasbourg, eastern France. Britain, France and Germany have launched action under the Iran nuclear agreement paving the way for possible sanctions in response to Tehran’s attempts to roll back parts of the deal, Borrell said on Tuesday. AP/Jean-Francois Badias

fifth and final step in violating the deal, saying it would no longer abide by any limitation to its enrichment activities. T hat lef t the Europeans “w it h no c hoice” but to invoke t he d ispute mec ha nism, R a ab told Pa rl i a ment. “We do so with a view to bringing Iran back into full compliance,” he said, adding that they hope the move will “reinforce the diplomatic track, not to abandon it.” In their letter to the EU’s foreign policy chief announcing their move, the three countries distanced themselves from the new US sanctions. “Our three countries are not joining a campaign to implement maximum pressure against Iran,” they said. “Our hope is to bring Iran back into full compliance with its commitments.” At the same time, they rejected Tehran’s argument that it was justified in violating the deal because Washington broke the agreement first when it pulled out. Invoking the dispute mechanism starts a 30-day period in which to resolve the problem, which can be extended and probably will be. If the problem persists, the matter could be brought before the UN Security Council and might result in the “snapback” of sanctions that had been lifted under the deal. After receiving the letter, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, who coordinates the agreement on behalf of the world powers, stressed that the pressure on Iran from Europe does not mean international sanctions will automatically be imposed. Despite Iran’s recent violations, all remaining parties to the JCPOA have said it is worth

preserving, saying it is the best way to curb Iran’s nuclear program. Diplomats note that even with its violations, Iran is still enriching uranium to a lower purity than it did before the deal, and IAEA inspectors continue to have access to its facilities. “We see no reason for such a step,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement about the EU countries’ decision. It called the move an “ill-considered decision” that could lead to a new escalation and make a return to the original framework “unachievable.” With the growing skepticism that the deal will be saved without US i nvolvement, Br it ish Prime Minister Boris Johnson sug gested the possibility the agreement could be reworked somehow to address some of Trump’s concerns. “Let’s work together to replace the JCPOA with the Trump deal,” he told the BBC. Borrell refused to comment on that but again emphasized that the remaining signatories feel it is the best solution to limiting Iran’s nuclear ambitions. “We have to preserve the nuclear deal and work to go back to full and effective implementation,” Borrell said in Strasbourg, France. He described the pact as a “significant achievement” and underlined that “there is no alternative to this agreement.” Raab told Britain’s Parliament that “the government in Iran has a choice.” “The regime can take the steps to de-escalate tensions and adhere to the basic rules of international law. Or sink deeper and deeper into political and economic isolation,” he said. “We urge Iran to work with us to save the deal.” AP

Oil near 6-week low after report of growing US crude stockpiles

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il traded near a six-week low after a repor t indicated American crude stockpiles increased, while signs that trade tensions between the US and China haven’t gone away damped investor sentiment. Futures in New York edged lower after rising 0.3 percent on Tuesday to snap a five-day losing streak. The American Petroleum Institute reported inventories expanded by 1.1 million

barrels last week, according to people familiar with the data. Existing US tariffs on Chinese goods are likely to stay in place until after the presidential election, people familiar said, while Reuters reported the US is drafting more rules to block sales to Huawei Technologies Co. The renewed trade frictions are a reminder that the phase one deal to be signed by the US and China this week won’t necessarily spur a

rebound in economic growth and crude demand. That’s adding to a bearish outlook for oil after Washington and Tehran stepped back from the brink of war last week. “While the stay in existing tariffs may be disappointing, further details from the agreement tonight might change the mood in the market,” said Howie Lee, an economist at Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp. in Singapore.

“Additional positive details, especially pertaining to phase two negotiations, might yet give crude prices a lift.” We s t Te x a s I n t e r m e d i at e c r u d e f o r February delivery fell 15 cents, or 0.3 percent, to $58.08 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange as of 7:43 a.m. in London. The contract closed at $58.08, Monday, the lowest since December 3. Bloomberg News


B8 Thursday, January 16, 2020

E- Commerce delivery firm partners with WorldVision

Coffee table book to empower PWDs, their loved ones, and the communities launched

D Featured PWDs are joined by their parents, officers of FPPF, NCDA, supporters, and media representatives.

Philippines, highly achieving architectblind Jimmy Silva, and Vico Cham, a poster boy for PWDs in the workplace. Many of the photographs were taken by project coordinator Cris Cleofas and art director Joy Ganaden culled from their extensive volunteer-work for PWDs. The book’s editorial team also included editor-head writer Yugel Losorata (pioneer photographer profiler for Manila Bulletin’s Picture Perfect fold) and layout artistgraphic designer Buccino de Ocampo. “This book is a culmination of the many photographs our group has taken from our years of support and charitable activities for the PWDs and for various groups working with and for them ,” said FPPF President Pablo “Lito” Beltran.

In attendance were some of the PWDs featured and their parents who gave inspiring stories about the struggles and little successes of their children in battling their disabilities and acceptance by people around them. Joey de Leon is now the country’s champion in boccia despite having cerebral palsy while Muneer (Angelico Amir Peña) and his mom, Jan, continues their advocacy of helping fellow children with autism. Also gracing the event were representatives from private NGOs helping the PWDs such as Project Inclusion and the NCDA which gave update on the government policies for the PWDs. For book reservation, call 09562692610 or 0995-0132515 or email myfppf@yahoo.com.

Asset Magazine cites BPI economist for research excellence

BPI Lead Economist Emilio Neri Jr.

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HE Asset Magazine cited Bank of the Philippines Islands (BPI) Lead Economist, Emilio Neri Jr., as the Philippines' Best Local Currency Bond Individual in Research for 2019. In the Asset Benchmark Research Awards, Neri was given “Rank 1”, which is the first time such ranking was topped by a local bank.

Having been acknowledged as one of the best in the industry, Neri was recognized by institutional investors to be among the top economists who made accurate forecasts for economic and financial market indicators. “It is truly an honor to have been recognized by the Asset,” said Neri. “This inspires me and my team to bring the quality of our research output to a much higher level. By doing so, we hope to contribute more to building a bigger community of well informed and financially astute Filipinos.” The BPI Economics and Market Research team led by Neri has provided valuable insights on various macroeconomic indicators, as well as local currency fixed income and foreign exchange forecasting. For its methodology, the 2019 Asian Local Currency Bond Benchmark Review surveyed over 300 institutional fixed income investors who are active in 11 Asian currency bond markets: China (onshore and offshore), Hong

Kong, Indonesia, India, Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, and Thailand. This year, more than 600 sell-side individuals active in Asian local currency bond markets were nominated and over 180 achieved a rank. Neri has also ranked high in international economic polls in both GDP and inflation forecasting conducted by Bloomberg. With his leadership, BPI has won several awards throughout the years from the Fund Managers Association of the Philippines, Asiamoney, and The Asset, among others. Furthermore, Neri was voted as the president of the Philippine Economic Society (PES) for the year 2020. As the president, Neri hopes to further strengthen networks of economists in the academe, government, and business sector. He will continue to provide a venue for free and open discussion on economics education, financial literacy and other policy issues through conferences, training, and symposia.

Bai Hotel Cebu’s Alfred M. Reyes clinches 2019 Mabuhay Gold Award

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LFRED M. Reyes, VP of Operations and General Manager of Bai Hotel Cebu, declared the 24th Mabuhay Gold Awardee by the prestigious Association of Human Resources Managers in the Hospitality Industry (AHRM) during the Awards Night held recently at the Manila Marriott Hotel. With the advent of technology, the already dynamic industry has become even more exciting. Industry professionals are driven to innovate and integrate new technology and young minds with time-tested approaches in hospitality to exceed client expectations. Thus, the 24th Mabuhay Awards theme of “Going Beyond”. Such is this year’s Mabuhay Gold Awardee. In his thirty-something years of being a hotelier, Reyes has always gone beyond expectations. Now, he joins the roster of the most notable names in the history of the tourism industry – Mabuhay Gold Awardees that include former Tourism Secretary Mina Gabor (2000), Senator Richard Gordon (2001), former Tourism Undersecretary Dr, Evelyn Pantig (2004), Taipan Lucio C. Tan (2005), Arthur Gindap (2007), Vanessa Suatengco (2008), and Lyceum of

“We are truly privileged to be a part of this effort. We are J&T Express share the same mission with WorldVision of helping children in need,” said Zoe Chi, Vice President of J&T Express Philippines. “We want to give these kids a chance to feel the true spirit of the season by allowing them to enjoy the love generosity from others.” J&T Express, the number one e-Commerce delivery in Southeast Asia, while a relatively new player in the Philippines, has made strong inroads in the country its aggressive expansion programs. To date, the company has more then 400 branches across the country. J&T Express hopes to continue to impact the online business segment by providing better value and operation presence 365 days of the year.

MSMEs goes green, help save the environment

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PHOTO-DRIVEN hardbound entitled Inspire/Empower: Images and Stories of Persons with Disabilities in the Philippines was recently introduced to the media at the FPPF office (Room 302A, FEMII Building, A. Soriano Avenue. Intramuros, Manila. A project of Federation of Philippine Photographers Foundation, Inc. (FPPF) , the book contains several unpublished pictures and features chronicling the plight and triumph of PWDs, their families, and concerned groups. Also included are features about NCDA (National Council on Disability Affairs), Tahanang Walang Hagdanan, Apolinario Mabini Awards, SM Cares, among others. Some of the interesting persons tackled were the late photography icon John Chua who initiated efforts to reach out to children with disabilities, photography hobbyist Luis Harder who now heads the Down Syndrome Association of the

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&T Express and WorldVision recently brought he holiday cheer to some 30 children, all between the ages of 5 to 7 years old. The children were all from the Baseco Port Manila. The partnership was in line with J&T Express’ corporate social responsibility of helping children in need by giving a chance to enjoy the warmth and spirit of the season. The kids were joined by 11 volunteers from J&T Express. During the event, they were treated to a lunch, games and gift giving. The children also performed a dance number as part of the program’s intermission. The kids belonged to the community that the global foundation regularly supported. The company chose WorldVision since it has long been catering to the needs of underprivileged children in the country and around the world.

the Philippines University’s Atty. Roberto P. Laurel (2015), to name a few. A befitting accolade to one of the tourism industry’s prime movers. Even during the early years of his career, Reyes always found ways to provide service beyond expectations. After three years with Cebu Plaza Hotel, and in constant pursuit of ways to improve himself and to learn more, Reyes left his hometown Cebu to pursue a career in the hospitality industry in Manila. After a decade of learning and gathering experience from the capital city, Reyes returned to Cebu as the General Manager of the Waterfront Airport Hotel and Casino. The recognition of his exceptional talent did not escape the attention of the international industry players. He was soon offered positions overseas, which he gladly took and excelled in. Despite his successful career overseas, his heart remained in his home country. His vision to make a significant contribution to the Philippine hospitality industry never wavered. He returned to the Philippines and took the reins of Linden Suites Under SwissBelhotel International. Now as Vice President for Operations and General Manager of bai Hotel Cebu, Reyes

has proved to be steps ahead in ensuring that he and his team provide globallycompetitive With Reyes at the helm of its operations, bai Hotel Cebu is already considered an industry leader. At the tender age of two years, bai Hotel Cebu has established a standard of a holistically sustainable hotel. Not only does it provide outstanding amenities and hospitality to its guests, it also maintains environmental consciousness and sound community service all while providing for a healthy milieu for mentoring its personnel.

Bai Hotel VP for Operations and GM Alfred Reyes (center) during the awarding rites.

ESPITE being one of the fastestgrowing countries in Asia, the Philippines is considered the most susceptible to hazards brought by climate change. This alarming reality, which can put the lives of Filipinos at risk, calls timely attention to the pressing environmental issues that need to be acknowledged and addressed before it is too late. Local organizations, especially the Micro, Small, and Medium-Scale Enterprises (MSMEs), have a role to play in tackling these environmental challenges. With 99.56 per cent of companies in the Philippines registered as MSMEs in 2017, these businesses have the potential to take the lead in helping address the collective burden and help mitigate the effects of climate change in the country. When it comes to running an ecofriendlier business, Epson’s printers can help SMEs reduce its energy consumption through its heat-free Micro Piezo and PrecisionCore printing technology and can consider these three steps to go green and save the environment. One option for MSMEs is the use of efficient office equipment, such as printers, projectors, and other electronic devices, that can support business processes using less power. For instance, MSMEs can consider switching from laser to inkjet printers, which can save up to 85 per cent energy in normal operations. MSMEs should incorporate the habit of recycling paper, plastic, and e-waste into

their regular operations. MSMEs should also consciously seek out alternatives to reduce garbage disposal, such as recycling spent consumables or using office devices like inkjet printers that do not employ non-reusable cartridges, which can significantly lessen the environmental impact of using printers. Eco-initiatives play a key role in companies to impact climate change. It may come in simple ways like taking part in annual environmental activities or by conducting social responsibility projects, such as information dissemination campaigns on environmental issues, clean up drives, among others. For instance, Epson Philippines Corporation has partnered with the Environmental Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR-EMB) and its youth-led organization GREENducation Philippines in rolling out eco-initiatives for two years now. This year, Epson Philippines’ eco-projects focus on upcycling, a practice that transforms by-products and waste materials into new materials of better quality and environmental value. These initiatives include a denim upcycling workshop for the youth beneficiaries of Alay Pag-Asa Christian Foundation, Inc. and the EcoVision Short Film Competition, an inter-collegiate competition which taps the artistry of Filipino students in raising public understanding of the environment and its conservation through the power of the visual medium.

Kink Cakes welcomes the new year with a twist & good fortune

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APPY New Year to all ! How fun it is to welcome year 2020 with a twist and good fortune through a money pulling cake, a cake that has money coming out of its topper. Not exactly a game, but likewise results into good family fun. So, where can we get this money pulling cake which can also signify good fortune? Well, look no further than Kink Cakes. As one of the country’s pioneers in specialized creative custom cakes, Kink Cakes actually makes cakes for every demographic and caters to all occasions. All cakes, novelty chocolates, cookies, and treats are handmade and decorated. The money pulling cake is one of Kink Cakes’ most popular creations, especially around the celebrations of both western and Chinese New Year.

The cake itself is available in Double Chocolate, Butter Pound, Carrot Cake, and other flavors then frosted with a choice of fondant or Marshmallow Meringue icing. Designs vary from different types of bags to cute piggy banks. You can even custom made your own design, all ready to dispense cash. Perfect for the whole family’s fun celebrations, where greetings of “Happy New Year!” and “Kung Hei Fat Choi!” echo within the warm walls of their loving homes. So what are you waiting for, surprise your loved ones not only with a cake but a Money Pulling Cake...." Kink Cakes branches are located at: Timog – C12 Landsdale Arcade, Timog Avenue, QC – 09176343274 and 83724454 ; Makati – Berjaya Makati Hotel 7835 Eduque Street corner Makati Avenue – 09176344039 and 83986586; and Commonwealth – Don Antonio Arcade, Holy Spirit Drive, QC -73585390 and 09171106969. Check out Kink Cakes: website www.kinkcakes.com.ph; FB:@ kinkcakesph; or contact hotlines: 09178651006 and 77442377


DREAMING BIG FOR TOKYO 2020 Sports BusinessMirror

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| Thursday, January 16, 2020 mirror_sports@yahoo.com.ph Editor: Jun Lomibao

Israel’s national baseball team poses for a group photo at a team practice in Tel Aviv, Israel. AP

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By Aron Heller The Associated Press

EL AVIV, Israel—As a baseballcrazed kid growing up in Miami, Danny Valencia dreamed of playing in the Major Leagues. The thought of heading to the Olympics, for a foreign country no less, never crossed his mind. But after nine years and nearly 100 homers in the big leagues, that’s the next surreal step for the 35-year-old Valencia, who recently became an Israeli citizen thanks to his Jewishness and is now the star player in Team Israel’s improbable run to the Tokyo Games. Baseball is returning to the Olympics after being dropped for 2012 and 2016 and Israel is one of six teams vying for the three medals. “It’s pretty cool to be playing in the Olympics,” he told The Associated Press at a team event in Tel Aviv. “For it to come about the way it did, especially for my mother who is a practicing Jew and very pro-Israel, it just meant a lot to her. So, to do this, especially at the end of my career, it is like the icing on the cake.” It’s even more of a dream fulfilled for the small baseball community in Israel, comprised mostly of American immigrants, and which has languished for decades in the country’s sporting wilderness. Israel has zero tradition of the American pastime, which is largely derided by locals as an arcane and boring sport. In Israel, soccer and basketball reign supreme while baseball, long popular among American Jews, has failed to catch on with the rough-and-tumble native-born Israelis who have taken more of a liking to the strategy and hard hitting of American football. Only about 1,000 kids play baseball in Israel and there is just one regulation baseball field in the country. In 2007, a group of American supporters launched the Israel Baseball League, a semi-professional league comprised almost entirely of foreign players that generated little interest and folded after just one season. But thanks to a creative outreach campaign to Jewish-American pros, Israel’s national team has surged to unthinkable heights. It started when Israel fielded a qualifying team for the 2013 World Baseball Classic that was skippered by future Detroit Tigers manager Brad Ausmus and included former all-star Shawn Green. In 2017, Israel made the showcase tournament, upsetting South Korea and Taiwan en route to a surprising 6th-place finish. But even that paled in comparison to the sensation of knocking off the top 3 European teams before routing South Africa

11-1 in September to earn the Europe/Africa Olympic berth and becoming the first team to qualify after host Japan. Mexico and South Korea, which won the Olympic gold in 2008, have since also qualified with the final two openings to be decided in the coming months. It’s an achievement that Gili Lustig, the executive director of the Israel Olympic Committee, said was nothing short of “unbelievable.” Extolling praise this week in Hebrew upon the team—nearly none of whose members understood the language— he expressed hope that their Olympic odyssey would finally give the sport its long-awaited boost in Israel. “What’s important is to leverage your participation to grow baseball in Israel,” he said. “I have no doubt you will represent us well.” Lustig noted that the 24-member group will represent the first time Israel is sending a team sport to the Olympics since 1976, when it sent a soccer team, and will make the Israeli delegation to Tokyo the country’s largest ever. Baseball is one of five sports that were added to the 2020 Summer Olympics. It won’t be back in Paris in 2024 but seems likely to return once again for Los Angeles 2028. Unlike the World Baseball Classic, whose “heritage rule” allowed countries to field players who were merely

eligible for citizenship, the Olympics requires its participants to be full-fledged citizens of the countries they represent. Israel grants citizenship to anyone with at least one Jewish grandparent and in recent months the players have been going through the process, providing marriage certificates, letters from rabbis and other proof of their Judaism. Five of the players have Major League experience and others who find themselves outside opening day rosters may join later before the games kick off in July. Among the former major leaguers on the team are Jon Moscot, Ty Kelly and Josh Zeid. Once in Israel, they’ve faced an even greater challenge in drawing interest among a skeptical audience that

American Jew who plans to apply for citizenship, said he is aiming to double the number of local players in Israel within two years of the Olympics. He said his primary mission was to “instill our love and passion to the five and six-year-old kids throughout this country and show them what a great game this is.” As for the Olympic Games themselves, he noted that Israel would be an underdog, as usual, but still had a theoretical 50 percent chance of winning a medal. “Nobody gave us a shot...and we shocked the world,” Holtz said of the qualifying process. “It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity and we as a team couldn’t be prouder to represent Israel.”

couldn’t tell the difference between a strikeout and a stolen base. Even Israeli President Reuven Rivlin offered his greetings with a caveat while meeting the team during their current weeklong promotional visit to the Holy Land. “It’s not a secret that I prefer soccer, but you can’t ignore your exciting achievement,” he told them at his Jerusalem residence. Team Israel Head Coach Eric Holtz, himself an

Bach: Iran vows to stop violating Olympic Charter

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nternational Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach claimed Iran has not been suspended by the organization because the country has sent a letter assuring it will end its discriminatory policy against athletes from Israel. Bach said the National Olympic Committee of the Islamic Republic of Iran (NOCIRI) promised to “in future fully comply with the Olympic Charter” in a letter to the IOC. Bach claimed the document had been signed by Iranian Sports Minister Masoud

International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach says Iran is not suspended because of controversies including its order on Saeid Mollaei to withdraw from the Judo World Championships in August to avoid facing an Israeli.

Soltanifar and NOCIRI President Syed Reza Salehi Amiri. NOCIRI escaped any punishment from the IOC, despite the government in Tehran continuing to order Iranian athletes not to face Israelis at sports events—a clear violation of the Olympic Charter that Bach helped draft. Iran sent a similar letter to the International Judo Federation (IJF), copied to the IOC, in May of last year, where the nation vowed to end its decades-long boycott against Israeli athletes. But the Iranian government then

allegedly ordered Saeid Mollaei to lose at the World Championships in Tokyo in August, to ensure he did not face an Israeli in the under-81 kilograms class, prompting the IJF to ban the country. The 27-year-old former world champion alleged he had been instructed to withdraw from the competition by Iran Judo Federation head Arash Miresmaeili and the NOCIRI president. Mollaei has since defected from Iran, seeking refuge in Germany before being cleared to compete for Mongolia by the IJF. “We are in contact with the IJF to shed further light on what happened at the World Championships and whether the National Olympic Committee [NOC] was involved,” Bach—who praised Iran’s support for “principles of political neutrality in sport” in a letter to the country’s President Hassan Rouhani last month—said. “We have had an exchange of letters with the NOC, we have received a letter having been signed by the minister of Sport of Iran, as well as the president of the NOC, assuring us that in the future Iran will fully comply with the Olympic Charter. “We have forwarded these assurances to the IJF and they are, at this moment in time, discussing among themselves how to proceed there and whether this assurance is enough, or whether they would need more evidence. “This is happening in close cooperation with the IOC and the IJF, in other words this is an ongoing procedure where no final decision has been taken yet.” Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has repeatedly praised athletes who have refused to face opponents from Israel.

Since its Islamic Revolution in 1979, Iran has refused to recognize Israel. The suspension initiated by the IJF threatens Iran’s participation in the sport at Tokyo 2020 and it is possible other organizations could follow suit if Iran does not relax its stance. In November, United World Wrestling postponed its Greco-Roman World Cup in Tehran in response to “current instability” in Iran. Two teams had withdrawn from the event on the advice of their governments. Iran’s only female Olympic medalist Kimia Alizadeh announced her defection this week after criticizing the regime’s “hypocrisy, lies and injustice.” Iran has also faced worldwide criticism for another clear breach of the Olympic Charter by not allowing female spectators to attend football matches and other events in stadiums.  Clerics in Iran have claimed women must be shielded from the masculine atmosphere at sports events and the sight of semi-clad men. Last September, world football’s governing body Fifa ordered Iran to allow women access to stadiums without restrictions. A small number of female fans were subsequently allowed into the 80,000-capacity Azadi Stadium for Iran’s 2022 World Cup qualifier against Cambodia in October.  The Fifa order followed the death of Sahar Khodayari, who set herself ablaze outside a court in Tehran in September, after finding out she could face a two-year jail sentence for attempting to enter a stadium dressed as a boy. Insidethegames


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Business

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ROSE FINED $25,000 FOR TOSSING A PEN N QATAR’S Nasser Al-Attiyah and his French codriver Matthieu Baumel race their Toyota in the ninth stage of the Dakar Rally between Wadi al-Dawasir and Haradh in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday. AP

Sainz’s lead in Dakar Rally cut to 24 secs

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ARADH, Saudi Arabia—Carlos Sainz’s lead of the Dakar Rally was slashed for a second straight day and reduced to 24 seconds on Tuesday with three stages to go. Sainz was powering over the 410-kilometer stony route from Wadi Al-Dawasir northeast to Haradh with title rivals Nasser Al-Attiyah and Stephane Peterhansel when he made a navigation error and was left behind. The Spaniard conceded five minutes at the time then lost tread on a tire and, eventually, finished 6 1/2 minutes behind Peterhansel, who earned a rally-leading third stage win. Sainz, 10 minutes up on Al-Attiyah on Sunday, was just 24 seconds up on the defending champion from Qatar. But Al-Attiyah was wary that there was still lots of room for error on Wednesday on the longest stage, 534 kilometers. “Tomorrow and after tomorrow will be very, very difficult for everybody,” Al-Attiyah said. “It’s good tomorrow that Stephane is opening [the way] on marathon day.”

Peterhansel, third overall, was six-and-ahalf minutes back. The teammate of Sainz was chasing his 14th Dakar victory, and eighth in cars. “We made no mistakes at all with the navigation,” Peterhansel said. “We only lost 10 or 15 minutes, but that’s nothing. We’ll try to keep the pressure on the leader.” After the eighth motorbike stage was canceled on Monday so riders could mourn the death of racer Paulo Goncalves, Ricky Brabec resumed as the leader and was still well in front after the ninth stage. Pablo Quintanilla won his first stage of this Dakar, two minutes ahead of defending champion Toby Price. Joan Barreda was third, and Brabec limited the damage to his overall lead by finishing fourth and only four minutes behind Quintanilla. The American still led second-placed Quintanilla of Chile by 21 minutes overall, while Price was 27 minutes back in third. AP

EW YORK—Pistons guard Derrick Rose was fined $25,000 by the National Basketball Association (NBA) on Tuesday for tossing a pen across the court during the end of Detroit’s loss to New Orleans. With 37 seconds left in overtime and play stopped on Monday night, Rose sat slumped on a courtside table and flung the pen into the stands. The Pelicans beat the Pistons, 117-110. The punishment was announced by NBA Executive Kiki VanDeWeghe. Rose had 23 points and eight assists, but it was a costly and frustrating night. His bank shot tied the score at 100 in regulation with 30 seconds left, capping Detroit’s rally from 16 points down with 11 minutes remaining. E’Twaun Moore missed two short jumpers, giving Detroit the ball with 14 seconds to go. That gave Rose a chance to replicate his winner from December 9 in New Orleans, but he missed at the buzzer. In overtime, Rose had two turnovers in the last 90 seconds. In Los Angeles, Kawhi Leonard more than did his part to make sure the Clippers made quick

work of the Cleveland Cavaliers. The All-Star forward scored a season-high 43 points in 28 minutes Tuesday night as the Clippers cruised to a 128-103 rout. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, he became the third NBA player in the shot-clock era to score at least 43 points in under 29 minutes—and the first in franchise history to have at least 40 points in less than 30 minutes. “We had great ball movement and, obviously, I made shots tonight,” said Leonard, who didn’t play in the fourth quarter. “The rest of the guys

were making shots and they got me in my spots and opened the floor for me.” According to Sportradar, it was only the second time since 1996 a Clippers player scored at least 40 points in the first three quarters. Lou Williams had 40 against Golden State in a 2018 game. Leonard had 14 points in the second quarter and set a career high for 3-pointers in one period with four as the Clippers broke open the game. He finished two points from tying his regularseason career high, going 14 of 22 from the floor and six of 10 from beyond the arc. “His pace was fantastic. When

INTENSE ACTION Czech Republic’s

Jakub Hrstka (front) and Ukraine’s Dmytro Ilchenko battle for the ball during their Men’s Handball European Championship preliminary round match in Vienna, Austria, on Tuesday. AP

IT’S a costly and frustrating night for Derrick Rose. AP

Kawhi is that efficient it is pretty impressive to watch,” Clippers Coach Doc Rivers said. Williams added 24 points for the Clippers, who played again without injured star Paul George. They have won five of six and had six scorers in double figures. “We had the right mindset and the right spirit tonight, both ends playing the right way,” said guard Landry Shamet, who scored 12 points. Collin Sexton led Cleveland with 25 points and Cedi Osman added 21. Rookie guard Darius Garland, the fifth overall pick in last June’s draft, had 14 points and a career-high 10 assists for his first double-double. Cavaliers Coach John Beilein thought Garland’s double-double and Osman hitting five threes were some positive things to take away despite his team’s 10th loss by at least 20 points. “There’s a lot of things we look at and say OK, in any lopsided loss earlier in the year we didn’t have those numbers,” he said. “The only thing we can do is find those growth areas. We know we are in transition.” Osman’s 3-pointer gave the Cavs a 34-33 lead with 9:58 remaining in the second quarter before Los Angeles outscored them 33-16 the remainder of the half. The Clippers scored the final 13 points of the first half, including nine from Leonard. He closed the half by intercepting Osman’s pass and going down the floor for a dunk while drawing a foul from Garland. Leonard’s free throw completed the three-point play to put Los Angeles up 66-50 at halftime. The Clippers’ largest lead was 36 early in the fourth. AP

Smoke haze again forces delay in Australian Open qualifying

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ELBOURNE, Australia—Australian Open officials have delayed the start of play by two hours on the second day of qualifying, hoping that smoke from regional wild fires will clear later Wednesday. Smoke and hazy conditions at Melbourne Park on Tuesday affected the opening day’s play with organizers criticized for allowing qualifying matches to proceed. A number of players complained, including Australian Bernard Tomic, who sought medical treatment during his first-round loss when he struggled to breathe. Slovenia’s Dalila Jakupovic feared she would pass out before retiring from her match when she collapsed to her knees with a coughing spell. Health authorities expect the air quality to

bounce between the “very poor to hazardous range” until at least Wednesday afternoon, with a top temperature of 34 oCelsius (93 oFahrenheit) before a late weather change that’s set to bring rain. Tennis Australia said it will continue to work with its medical team, the Bureau of Meteorology and Environment Protection Authority Victoria scientists when making decisions about whether it’s safe to play. The Australian Open begins Monday. Former Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber, meanwhile, sustained a lower back injury and retired from her Adelaide International match on Wednesday. The former world No. 1 trailed 6-2, 2-0 in her match against Dayana Yastremska when she stopped playing. Kerber, who won the Australian

Impressive young netters Tessa Jazmines | tessa4347@gmail.com

PART OF THE GAME PHILIPPINE tennis has a bright future. That’s what Ivy League coaches from three US NCAA Division I schools said after conducting a camp in Manila to train and identify local talent with potential to get scholarships into top universities. Twenty young tennis players were given the rare opportunity at the DreamBig Gold Series Tennis Camp at the Manila Polo Club on January 11 and 12 to learn from the Ivy League tennis coaches and undergo extensive, hands-on training that gave them a taste of how US colleges run their programs. Ezequiel Gils of Rice University Athletics, Rob Raines of Cornell University and Jesse Frieder from Boston University saw huge potential in the 20 young netters who joined the camp—not just to improve their game but, more importantl—to get the opportunity to be scouted by foreign coaches who could provide them the chance to study and hone their game in US schools. DreamBig Events, headed by its Founder/CEO Akshay Maliwal, has been bringing the best coaches from US schools to Asia, including Manila, to give young Asian athletes a once-in-a-lifetime experience to get all-important training and the opportunity to network with world-class coaches through the tennis camps. The camps give them a chance to get access into top US academic colleges and play college tennis there as student athlete recruits—a chance that is hard to come by if they were to do it on their own. In the recent Gold Series Camp, the young netters impressed the coaches with their eagerness to learn. Boston U Coach Jesse Frieder said “The students here are very coachable, which leads me to believe that were they to end up in

any of our teams, we could help them reach that ceiling because they’re open to feedback.” Coach Rob Raine was also pleasantly surprised with the Filipino talents. “The Philippines was not in my radar as a place to find tennis talent. I can’t believe I’ve been missing out on the Philippines. It’s a place a lot of coaches are missing out on. And it’s certainly a place that I’ll keep in mind when recruiting.” “The level’s great. Talent is everywhere. I’ve seen a lot of players that can play at a really high level [here] if they just commit to spending time on the court and practicing. The talent is here for sure and DreamBig is really providing something special. A chance to talk with college coaches in the US is very hard to come by in Asia. In the US, it’s really common to go to tennis camps. So to bring that service across the ocean really closes the gap,” continued Coach Rob. Boston U Coach Jesse laid down what he and most international coaches are looking for in young players. “I look for millions of things. I look for a high level [of play] so you can potentially win a lot for our team. I look for potential that a player’s game [will] improve. We look for players who haven’t yet played their best tennis. Players who have a ton of potential. The ceiling is really high for them. That with hard work, good coaching and good team culture, we can help them reach that ceiling. I also look for really strong character—those who are really disciplined, who are kind to each other, who are empathetic, and who are incredibly competitive. Who are going to do so many things before they lose a set, a point, a match, whatever it is beyond tennis and academics, because those are kind of prerequisites. I look for players who are good people. I want to be excited to

Open in 2016 and also has Wimbledon and US Open titles, had on-court medical help for the injury and then retired. Kerber lost in the first round to Sam Stosur last week at the Brisbane International. In other second-round women’s matches in Adelaide, Donna Vekic beat Maria Sakkari, 2-6, 7-5, 6-1, and American Danielle Collins upset her seventh-seeded compatriot Sofia Kenin 6-3 6-1, to secure a quarterfinal spot. In the men’s Association of Tennis Professionals tournament at the same venue, third-seeded Andrey Rublev beat Sam Querrey, 6-3, 6-3. Australia’s Lizette Cabrera, on the other hand, is into the Hobart International quarterfinals after completing a second come-from-behind upset in two days. AP spend the next four years with [them].” The coaches were particularly impressed with the country’s up and coming tennis sensation Sebastien Lhuillier who participated in the camp. According to the coaches, the 16-year-old son of former Olympian Bea Lucero, showed potential to play in the division 1 level. “He hits the ball very nicely and has a nice technique. He hits a heavy ball, which is something I look for at the Division 1 level. Physicality and fitness are so important. It’s so easy to lose to somebody because they hit the ball harder than you because they’re bigger than you are. But he hits a heavy ball and we want to see him consistently beating players who are ranked higher than he is, winning three-set matches and proving to us that he’s really tough and really gritty. Frankly, we want to see him in millions of matches because it makes the UTR [Universal Tennis Ranking] more accurate and it makes you a tougher tennis player. We want players in our team who are tough, who are not scared of pressure and not scared of the moment. But I think he has a ton of potential overall,” Coach Jesse said.  Does the Philippines have a chance to produce a world-class tennis player? “Absolutely,” said Coach Jesse. “The talent exists. It’s how it’s cultivated. It’s the infrastructure of facilities, of coaching, of money to fund that player’s career. Based on what I saw today, it’s totally possible. But so much of it is the infrastructure to support it. “I think if you want to be top 10 in the world, you have to be supremely talented. Outside of that, people who work the hardest, who are the most disciplined, who go to the gym the most, who practice buckets of serves the most are generally the most confident. You gain confidence from preparation. If you prepare well, you gain confidence, The more confident player generally wins,” Coach Jesse concluded. DreamBig Founder/CEO Maliwal said DreamBig will bring in more camps in tennis, golf and soccer to help local talents achieve their personal dreams and the country’s own: to have Filipino players compete and win in the international stage.


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Thursday, January 16, 2020

PACQUIAO WARNING

Malonzo, Tungcab lead D-League Draft roster

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he new batch of aspirants take their first step of making it to the pros as 137 players have declared their availability for the 2020 Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Developmental League Draft. Fil-Am high-flyer Jamie Malonzo and Gilas pool member Jaydee Tungcab lead the list of hopefuls for Monday’s Draft at the PBA Office in Libis, Quezon City. The 6-foot-6 Malonzo, 23, burst into the scene in his short stint at De La Salle that saw him earning a spot in the Mythical Team in the last University Athletic Association of the Philippines season. Tungcab, 22, is a 6-foot-3 guard who played sparingly during his stint with University of the Philippines but caught the attention of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) that led to his inclusion in the national team pool. The two are expected to be picked in the first round. For the fourth straight year, AMA Online Education holds the right to the top pick. Also joining the Draft are former Batang Gilas standout Jollo Go, ex-UAAP Juniors MVP Jerie Pingoy, Cebuano standouts Darrell Menina and Jaybie Mantilla, former Centro Escolar University scorer Judel Fuentes and University of the East forward John Apacible. From the field, 17 are Fil-foreigners led by Malonzo, former La Salle shooter Joshua Torralba and UP’s James Spencer, David Murrell and JJ Espanola. Players from Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League have also applied, including Yves Sazon and King Destacamento.

Kyusi@80 in U-24 Finals

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YUSI@80 bucked a sluggish start and frustrated a determined Batang Maynila, 109-104, in their winner-take-all semifinal duel on Tuesday in the Metro League 24-Under Men’s Basketball Tournament at the Vista Real Classica Gym in Quezon City. The Mayor Joy Belmonte-backed Quezon City squad advanced to the best-of-three title series against playoffs top seed Taguig. The Finals begin on Thursday at the Hagonoy Gym.

The Generals, who topped the classification round with a 7-1 record, were first to advance to the Finals after they beat fourth-ranked Makabagong San Juan, 84-75, on Friday at the San Andres Gym. Kyusi@80 unleashed a 23-4 run in the second period with combo guard Nathaniel Lopez carrying the scoring load with his 19 first half-points en route to a tournament-best 32 points. Lopez bounced back from a letdown in Kyusi@80’s 107-109 double overtime loss in their first semifinal meeting last Tuesday where he fouled out early in the regulation by connecting six of his seven three-point attempts. Lopez also recorded four steals and two blocks.

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CeresNegros celebrate their victory.

Ceres edges Myanmar side in Champions League duel N

ational team player OJ Porteria sparkled with a goal and an assist to help lift CeresNegros past Shan United of Myanmar, 3-2, on Wednesday night to advance to the second round of the Asian Football Confederation Champions League preliminary round at the Rizal Memorial Stadium. Porteria set up Bienve Marañon for Ceres’s second goal, before scoring the marginal strike in the 79th minute as the Busmen forged a duel with Port FC of Thailand in the next round in Bangkok.  Admittedly short on preparation, the Busmen

came out sharp with Senegalese striker Robert Lopez Mendy breaking the ice in the fifth minute with a leftfooter to the bottom corner off a cutback from new teammate Pika Minegishi. “We were pressured them and we were unlucky not to get more goals,” Porteria said. “We only had four or five training sessions so we were really tired. But we just stuck in there and got the win.” “We’re not fit that’s why we wanted to keep the ball. We just showed the heart to survive the game,” he added. Despite their dominance, the Busmen only scored

CLOSE aide of Sen. Manny Pacquiao warned the public against bogus fundraisers who are using the boxing icon’s name for relief efforts for the victims of Taal Volcano’s eruption. Jake Joson, the longtime assistant of the eight-division world champion Pacquiao, said on Wednesday that scammers are taking advantage of the catastrophe and are soliciting monetary donations using fraudulent accounts. Joson added that the 41-year-old boxer— who earned $435 million from his fights, pay-per-view shares and endorsements in the last decade—always spends his own money for his charity work. “There are many Facebook accounts that offer raffles or prizes. Those are fake,” Joson said. “We all know that Sen. MP uses his own money to help people. He doesn’t need to source funds from the government nor get donations from the people.” He reminded the public that there is only one legitimate charity that the lawmaker personally supports—the Manny Pacquiao Foundation. “Those people who want to donate should only trust his foundation,” Joson said. Staff members of Pacquiao’s Senate office are now tracking individuals behind the deceptive accounts. Ramon Rafael Bonilla

their second goal just before halftime when Marañon’s deflected effort had Shan goalkeeper Thiha Sithu nailed to his spot. Zin Min Tun pulled a goal back in the 73rd minute, but Porteria quickly restored the two-goal cushion by meeting Mike Ott’s pass inside the box.  Maximin Djawa set the stage for a thrilling finish as his 87th-minute strike made it 3-2. But Ceres hung on to pick up the victory, moving within two wins of reaching the group stage of Asia’s most prestigious club competition.


FROM 30 TO 30K BOOKS

GIFT TO SCOTLAND A

By Doug Ferguson The Associated Press

lastair Johnston returned home to Scotland after an internship with IMG and brought with him 30 golf books that had been collecting dust in a storage room. That was more than 50 years ago. His next shipment to Scotland is going to be substantially more. What began as a hobby has become the largest golf library in the world. Johnston has kept his stunning exhibit in rows of shelves on the second floor of his home in the Cleveland suburbs. It now contains more than 28,000 volumes covering five centuries of the royal and ancient game. So enormous is his library that it requires two volumes totaling 944 pages for the bibliography alone. And he’s giving it all away. Johnston, vice chairman at IMG and former chairman of Rangers Football Club, is gifting the entire library to the R&A in St. Andrews to establish the most comprehensive collection of golf books. The location has not been determined, though it will be within walking distance from the Old Course. It will be called the Alastair J. Johnston Library. For the Scottish-born Johnston, it only made sense—for the home of golf and for himself. “I had a sense of appreciation from having seen so many of my friends in the collecting world try to leave it to family, sell it or do something that would dampen their enthusiasm the last 20 years of life,” Johnston said Monday. “I tried to have a plan that would make me more enthusiastic the last 20 years of life.” In other words, he’ll still be searching, spending and acquiring. That’s what keeps him going. One of his greatest finds was the first edition of The Goff, written by Thomas Mathison in 1743, the first book devoted to golf. His collection includes an original copy of the 1457 Scottish Acts of Parliament, in which the king banned golf because he feared it was taking time from archery practice. It also has The Chronicles of Golf, an exhaustive tome that covers 400 years of history starting with the 1457 Scottish Acts of Parliament. Johnston and his father spent eight years researching and writing it. Johnston grew up in Glasgow and is an R&A member. In his role at IMG, he has been heavily involved in TV negotiations for The Open Championship.

But this was more about his native home. Johnston can recall more than one occasion when he was in Scotland and would find pamphlets from the 19th century or club histories that revealed so much about the early establishment of golf. Stuffing them into a briefcase, he would board a plane in Prestwick to return to IMG headquarters in Cleveland and feel like a thief. “I was taking pieces of great Scottish history from authors,” Johnston said. “And I was thinking it should not have been leaving the country.” The idea of returning it to Scotland never left him, even as the collection grew and he began to appreciate the magnitude of the library he was building. The trick was to find a beneficiary that could keep it together, grow it and protect it. Is there a better fit than the oldest golf in the world? A better place than St. Andrews? “I told them I wasn’t looking for tax breaks,” Johnston said. “I wasn’t looking for anything except to do the right thing.” The R&A is making plans to move everything to St. Andrews, where it will be managed by the Museum and Heritage division. It’s part of a redevelopment plan ahead of the R&A celebrating the 150th British Open at St. Andrews in 2021. Johnston said it would be ambitious to have everything in place by then. “We are committed to nurturing the world-class

status of the library and ensuring that Alastair’s legacy is maintained for the enjoyment of those who love this great sport,” said Martin Slumbers, chief executive of the R&A. That might be the best part of this enormous gift. St. Andrews is the top golf destination in the world, at least the most romantic. The gray, old town is steeped in centuries of golf heritage. It’s far more visible than the second story of a home in Pepper Pike, Ohio. That’s not to suggest Johnston kept it all to himself. He often built his global travel schedule around anyone who loved golf, literature and history, and wanted to see the collection he had amassed. When the seniors were at Canterbury for majors, or the World Golf Championships was at Firestone in nearby Akron, there was plenty of traffic. Johnston was Arnold Palmer’s longtime agent and top confidante for decades, and both Palmer and Gary Player toured the exhibit, along with Jim Nantz at CBS Sports and golf historians from all corners of the globe. Those 30 books turned into to nearly 30,000 during a passion that lasted more than a half-century. Johnston always believed it was a library the likes of which would never be seen again. Except that soon everyone will get a chance to see it.

So enormous is Alastair Johnston’s library that it requires two volumes totaling 944 pages for the bibliography alone.

Sports BusinessMirror

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| Thursday, January 16, 2020 mirror_sports@yahoo.com.ph Editor: Jun Lomibao

Shiffrin beaten for second straight slalom F

THE American four-time world champion Mikaela Shiffrin yields the spotlight to Petra Vlhova. AP

LACHAU, Austria—After her rare second straight defeat in a women’s World Cup slalom on Tuesday, Mikaela Shiffrin admitted to lacking confidence. Not that she felt overly confident when she was winning almost every slalom race in recent years. “I am not somebody who really believes in myself,” the American four-time world champion said after Petra Vlhova won a night race by 0.10 seconds over Anna Swenn Larsson of Sweden, 10 days after the Slovakian skier had also triumphed in a slalom in Zagreb. Shiffrin, who was second after the opening run, came 0.43 behind in third for her worst result in the discipline in two years, when she failed to finish in the final race before the Pyeongchang Olympics. “The way that I have been able to be on the top for so long, is I always did more work, harder work and better work than everybody else did,” said Shiffrin, who has a record 43 World Cup wins and six season titles in the discipline, and has won four straight world championships and Olympic gold in 2014 in skiing’s most technically demanding event. “So I could come to race day and I didn’t have to be confident,” she added. “I could just ski, I could just ski really hard and it would be enough sometimes. On the rare days when I was confident, then you could see these really big, spectacular margins.” Shiffrin won a record 17 races last season. And while many started to take her wins for granted, Shiffrin never did. “I have said this so many times when I am winning and

[the media] ask, ‘Is it so easy?’ and ‘Are you unbeatable?’ And I am always saying, that these big margins, these wins, they can disappear so easily,” she said. The wins have disappeared. Shiffrin convincingly won two races in two days in Lienz just after Christmas but is yet to win an event in 2020. “Look at someone like Petra, who has just been getting better and better and better,” she said. “Her technique is nearly perfect and the way that she is working is like she is doing what I have been able to do, better than I can do it right now. So that’s motivation for me.” Vlhova positioned herself for the win by building a lead of six tenths of a second in the opening run. Though she lost some time on Shiffrin and Larsson in the final run, she had done enough for her 12th career win, and seventh in slalom. “Both of us, we had a lot of emotions. I have really big respect for her, for me she is a champion. It’s a really good battle,” Vlhova said about her American rival, who gave her a hug after the race to congratulate on the victory. “I know she is angry because she wants to always win,” Vlhova said. “It’s good to have Miki close to me because she pushes me. It’s good for our sport to have two girls like this. We are both on the top.” Vlhova closed the gap to Shiffrin in the slalom standings to 80 points, but she still trails the American by 273 in the overall rankings. Vlhova had beaten Shiffrin by a margin of 1.31 seconds

in Zagreb, which ended the American’s winning streak in slaloms after nearly a year. The previous time that Shiffrin lost back-to-back slaloms in a single season was more than five years ago. In three races in November and December 2014, she placed 11th, fifth and fourth, respectively, and parted ways with long-term Coach Roland Pfeifer shortly afterward. “I am happy to be on the podium again. I am disappointed with my skiing. But that’s ski racing,” Shiffrin said. “After Zagreb, I knew I had to get some training and fix some things with my slalom skiing. I feel like I accomplished a lot in my training but it’s also another race, it’s a different race, it’s a different day, and I didn’t quite put it out there in the race today.” Shiffrin failed to make up her deficit in the final run even though she was 0.17 seconds faster than Vlhova on a course with more sharp turns than the first leg. Her head coach, Mike Day, placed the gates for the final run but Shiffrin denied it was set against Vlhova, who favors more straightforward courses. “You can’t set a course against her right now because her skiing is the best,” Shiffrin said. “So she is able to do any course and handle it the way she needs to.” All 25 World Cup slaloms since January 2017, when Sweden’s Frida Hansdotter triumphed here, have been won by either Shiffrin—with 19—or Vlhova. Runner-up Swenn Larsson matched her career best result and came just one-tenth short of her first win. AP

Man United scraps planned training camp in Middle East

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Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford (left) celebrates with teammate Mason Greenwood after scoring his side’s first goal during their English League Cup quarterfinal match with Colchester United at Old Trafford in Manchester last month. AP

ANCHESTER, England— Manchester United has scrapped a planned midseason training camp in the Middle East amid high tensions in the region, Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said Tuesday. “If there’s one thing that worries me, it’s not on the football pitch,” Solskjaer said. “It’s other things that worry me more. “We were looking at the Middle East but that’s definitely not going to happen.” Last week, Iran launched missile attacks on two military bases in Iraq that house US troops. The missiles were a retaliation following an American drone strike that killed Qassem Soleimani, the leader of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s powerful Quds Force.

In another incident, a Ukrainian passenger jet was shot down as it left Tehran by Iranian military, killing all 176 people aboard. Iran has said the jetliner was brought down “unintentionally” and blamed human error. Man United, one of the world’s most famous soccer teams, has been a frequent visitor to the Nad Al Sheba Sports Complex in Dubai in recent years, and the squad was looking to use the upcoming and newly introduced winter break in the English Premier League schedule for another warm-weather camp. Solskjaer indicated he would instead give his players some time off to spend alone during the break, which will follow United’s home match against Wolverhampton in the league on February 1.

“I don’t know where they’ll all scatter around but we’ll stay in Europe,” Solskjaer said. Solskjaer sees the mid-season break as vital for his players after an intense run of games. With United still competing on four fronts, the FA Cup third-round replay against Wolves at Old Trafford on Wednesday will be the team’s 15th game in 49 days, and the number will reach 19 in 66 days by the time they meet again at the start of February. “I think the mid-season break is very, very important for everyone,” he said. “We’ve got five or six games now until then, we’ve just got to stick at it, hang in there until then, get the performances and the results that we hope we’re going to get, and then use that to get some vitamin D.” AP


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God of mercy and love

EAR God, from age to age You are God. We place our hope in You and pray: Show pity on Your people, oh God. Encourage those who suffer disappointment, loss, despair or hardship. Shower Your care upon those who are in transition and those who experience change in their mind, body or attitude. Heal those who suffer betrayal, the termination of a long relationship or bullying. May the Word of God be a lamp for our feet and a light to our path all the days of our lives. Amen. GIVE US THIS DAY, SHARED BY LUISA LACSON, HFL Word&Life Publications • teacherlouie1965@yahoo.com

Editor: Gerard S. Ramos • lifestylebusinessmirror@gmail.com

“WALES is Britain’s best-kept secret, especially the beaches. They’re mainly pretty quiet, even on a superhot, sunny day in the summer. On the south side, where you have the Severn Estuary, the difference between high and low tide is immense,” says furniture guru Bethan Gray.

Life BusinessMirror

REELING: ‘IL CARNEVALE E FINITO’: ‘THE TWO POPES’ D4

Thursday, January 16, 2020

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SINGAPORE AIRLINES TO ADD BRUSSELS TO ROUTE NETWORK

HANNAH GERRISH

Could this be the best beach in the world?

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BY MARK ELLWOOD Bloomberg News

ETHAN GRAY is one of Britain’s foremost furniture gurus. She began her awardwinning career with affordable design store Habitat before striking out on her own a little more than a decade ago to focus on high-quality furniture that employs natural materials in modern ways. Gray’s latest collection, Shamsian, is made in Oman, one of her favorite destinations, and is inspired by the crafts and techniques there. The designer, who lives in London with her husband and business partner, Massimo, and their five-year-old son, says Emirates is her favorite airline, as she’s often in the Middle East. “I’ve traveled for business and also traveled for pleasure with my son, and they’re amazing at both—they’re really good with kids.” Gray usually logs about 350,000 miles per year, but in 2019 she reached double that thanks to a threemonthlong family trip. YOU WON’T BELIEVE WHERE GRAY CLAIMS THE BEST BEACHES IN THE WORLD ARE WALES is Britain’s best-kept secret, especially the beaches. They’re mainly pretty quiet, even on a superhot, sunny day in the summer. On the south side, where you have the Severn Estuary, the difference between high and low tide is immense. The beach goes on for so long when the tide is out that it can take you 15 minutes to walk across it. It’s unimaginable. And it creates these amazing rock pools that I love. It means I get quite disappointed with other beaches. I had a friend go to California recently, and he said, “I don’t know why I came all the way over here when we have it all in Pembrokeshire.”  I’d also recommend Mwnt (pronounced Munt), a tiny cove with a medieval sailors’ chapel. It has a wonderful place to eat fresh seafood, Café Môr, which means “sea” in Welsh. I went last July, and while we were swimming in the cove, dolphins came in. YES, YOU CAN COLLECT SHELLS AS AN ADULT—IF YOU DO IT LIKE THIS EVERYBODY has a keen connection with shells from when they were children. It just reminds us of being little, I guess. So I have an ever-expanding collection of shells, and when it is ethically responsible to do so, I always bring home a few. To display them, I pick up lots of the same (shell)

going from small to large, or (different shells) of the same size in different colors. Something in repetition works well as a display. FORGET APPS, AND EMBRACE THE JOY OF MAPS MOST people start gathering travel tips only when they know they’re visiting somewhere new. But my father, a geography teacher, is fascinated by maps, so you can’t tell him about a good restaurant or an interesting museum without him marking the location on one—even if he’s got no intention of visiting. I used to drive a scooter around London, and I would photocopy a page of the A to Z, and that’s how I got to learn the city. I’ve given maps to friends as a gift. The best place to buy them is the Kempton antiques market in London; you’ve got to go really early in the morning, and it has amazing things. WHAT TO PACK TO TURN ANY UNFAMILIAR HOTEL ROOM INTO A COZY HAVEN I’VE got a really sensitive sense of smell, so scent has always been very important to me. Sometimes you arrive in a new place, and it smells amazing, but often hotels forget about our fifth sense, so I always bring rose and frankincense oil with me when I travel. Frankincense is used in by lots of people in perfume, but they don’t think about having it in the house as a staple like we do. I mix it myself, with rose, around 70 percent versus 30 percent. I pack a diffuser to spray it on the pillow, or I use it in the bath. It gives me such a sense of grace and keeps me grounded. Even when you don’t consciously notice the ambient fragrance, it can really affect your sense of well-being, particularly when you’re in unfamiliar surroundings. WHAT MAKES OMAN A MUST-VISIT IN THE GULF BECAUSE Oman is close to Dubai, people think it will be like it, but it’s nothing like Dubai. There’s only one building over 10 stories high in the whole country, because the Sultan saw it in 1976, and then said, “Never again.” The Wave, a new residential and shopping area, is where lots of people, especially youngsters, go and hang out. The country is clean, with lots of character and a heritage that’s been well preserved. Oman is a very thin, long country, so there’s such varied landscapes: Inland, there are mountains like Jebel Shams and Jabel Akhdar, which is where a lot of

roses are grown. I go to the souk to buy my essential oils. Farther south, there’s monsoon weather, and even an island, Masirah. Omani hospitality is second to none. The Chedi hotel is beautiful, with such symmetry in the pathways and arches inside and out. There’s quite a large Indian population, so I buy a lot of kantha scarves, those beautiful, hand-embroidered ones that are superfine and will go through a ring. SWAP OUT FLORENCE FOR THIS LESSER-KNOWN PART OF TUSCANY A LOT of people think of Tuscany as very rural, hilly, and full of yellow fields. But I love Pietrasanta, about an hour north of Pisa, on the coast in an area called Versilia—it’s where my husband and I got married. He’s Italian, and we’ve spent a lot of time there with his family. It’s near Carrara, where the white marble comes from, and it has marble, too; Michelangelo said it was better here. Now the streets are filled with sculptures, turning the whole town into an open-air art gallery. There are artisans’ studios and marble and bronze workshops tucked away in every corner, so it’s full of craftsmanship that’s been there for centuries. From the town, it’s about a 20-minute bike ride to the beach, a really lovely ride through the pine forests. They’re Italian-style beaches: sandy, quite white, long, with not much tidal variation, and row upon row of beach clubs. Gilda beach club has a fabulous restaurant, and La Perla is family-friendly, with a lovely pool. I also like Ristorante Franco Mare. DON’T HESITATE TO MAKE A WORLD TRIP AS A FAMILY—AND INVOLVE YOUR CHILDREN’S SCHOOL, TOO I JUST returned from a three-month trip across Asia and Australasia with Massimo and our son, Cian. It was an incredible immersion into all sorts of experiences. Having a child-friendly airline like Emirates made a huge difference. They come in, take a little picture with an instant camera, and give it you; then they bring a little kids’ pack, give them a toy and their food comes first. They really think about things. And we thought about the trip as a project that Cian’s class could benefit from, when he was away. He kept in touch with his class a lot; we would make a PDF of each country we visited, and they would learn about it. They made their whole term about traveling the world. ■

BRUSSELS will become the latest European destination in Singapore Airlines’ (SIA) route network this year, when nonstop flights are introduced from Singapore to the Belgian capital. The first flight will be launched on October 25. “We are excited to launch services to Brussels—a city which is both an important economic and political hub in Europe. This also represents SIA’s commitment to constantly expand our network reach and provide our customers with a more seamless travel experience,” said SIA Senior Vice President in Marketing Planning Tan Kai Ping. Subject to regulatory approval, flight SQ304 will depart Singapore on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays at 2355hrs (local time) and will arrive at Brussels the next day at 0650hrs. The return sector, operated as flight SQ303, departs Brussels on Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 1120hrs (local time) and arrives at Singapore the next day at 0655hrs. SIA will operate the Airbus A350-900 on these flights. As the capital of Belgium, Brussels is home to the European Union and is also dubbed as the EU’s capital city. Its unique geographical location makes Brussels an ideal hub for rail, road and air traffic, earning the city the moniker “The Crossroads of Europe.” The introduction of the new route allows SIA to enhance the Benelux’s connection to Singapore with nonstop flights from Amsterdam, Dusseldorf and Brussels. Tickets for the new Brussels flights became available for sale through various distribution channels on December 17.

TOURISTS enjoying the serene waters of Burnham Lake

DOT chief vows to revitalize Baguio THE triumvirate of the Department of Tourism (DOT), led by Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and the Department of the Interior and Local Government visited the City of Pines on January 10. Puyat, together with Secretaries Eduardo Año and Roy Cimatu, visited Burnham Park, Wright Park, Mines View Park, Baguio City’s sewage treatment plant and Balili River, and the sanitary landfill in Irisan. An interagency meeting with the Baguio local government unit took place to tackle the prevailing problems that ail the premier tourist site, such as overtourism, and discuss the possible sustainable infrastructure rehabilitation projects on the urban carrying capacity of Baguio, La Trinidad, Itogon, Sablan, Tuba and Tublay, along with other plans to redevelop and decongest the Unesco Creative City. “The commitment to our mandate to sell and protect our natural attractions remains our paramount objective. It is a shared responsibility, however, among government and our people to be responsible stewards of our planet,” the tourism chief added. More than a year since Boracay underwent massive restoration, the DOT bared plans to rehabilitate the flagship tourist destination. Among the projects the DOT pledged to bankroll in the City of Pines, through its infrastructure arm, the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority, is the P480-million rehabilitation of the iconic Burnham Park. Tieza and Baguio signed a MOA on the funding commitment. Meanwhile, the DOT and Tieza are also intently studying Baguio’s request for funding for the construction of a sewerage system and the rehabilitation of the Mines View Park.


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Thursday, January 16, 2020

Entertaining BusinessMirror

The perfect baked potato begins with russets

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By Elizabeth Karmel The Associated Press

FLUFFY baked potato is a glorious thing, but too often you slice into the potato and it is shiny and waxy, not light and creamy in texture. Baking a potato is the easiest thing in the world, right? Then why are so many potatoes lacking in texture and flavor? First, for the traditional baked potato that is going to be loaded with toppings, you must buy a Russet potato. Russets have a thicker skin and a beautiful starchy, snowy—almost meaty—interior that soaks up all your butter, cheese and sour cream. I love making smashed potatoes with red new potatoes or baby Yukon gold potatoes, but only a Russet will do for a “baked potato.” For my latest cookbook Steak and Cake, I tested several popular ways of baking potatoes. I have friends who swear by wrapping the potato in foil before baking. I have always baked the potato without the foil, but I tried both ways. I baked them at 350 degrees Fahrenheit and at 400 degrees, too. The potatoes took a bit longer to bake at 350 but they were fluffier, and had a better crust and interior texture. Generally, when you cook anything at a higher temperature, the outside gets done before the inside. That means you risk an overdone exterior by the time the interior is cooked through. Potatoes are no exception. That’s why I prefer a lower temperature. But if you like to bake your potatoes at a higher temp, do so. It is all about what works. The potato wrapped in foil was waxy and had a hard texture even when fully cooked. The foil also prevents the skin from become crusty, which I think is the best part of a baked potato. If you are a fan of twice-baked potatoes, you have to bake them unwrapped or the skin/shell will be too soft to restuff. When I bake potatoes, I preheat the oven to 350

Today’s Horoscope By Eugenia Last

CELEBRITIES BORN ON THIS DAY: Kate Moss, 46; Richard T. Jones, 48; Debbie Allen, 70; John Carpenter, 72. HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Look at the positive in life. Walk with the people who are forward thinkers. Take the time to invest in yourself, your personal surroundings and your involvement in things that matter to you. Dedication and determination will lead to success. Don’t live in the past when you should be moving forward. Take control and make things happen. Your lucky numbers are 9, 17, 24, 28, 30, 38, 46.

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ARIES (March 21-April 19): Take care of business. If you fall short, someone will complain. Channel your energy instead of letting it fuel anger. What you accomplish will make you feel good and prompt you to relax later in the day with someone you love. HHH

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TAURUS (April 20-May 20): Share what’s on your mind. Intellectual interaction will be the key to getting things up and running or putting your plans into motion. Being able to give and take will help you reach your goal faster and without complications. HHH

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GEMINI (May 21-June 20): A relationship will take a turn that will prompt you to do things differently. Make plans that encourage a closer connection to someone you feel is special. Romance is on the rise and will improve your life. HHH

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CANCER (June 21-July 22): Try something different, but don’t make a change for the wrong reason. A realistic approach to partnerships, joint ventures and money matters will deter you from getting involved in something that could lead to financial loss, heartache or injury. HHHH

degrees Fahrenheit and place a sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil on the bottom shelf of the oven in case any of the juices drip. After washing and drying the potatoes, I coat them with either a little regular Crisco shortening or olive oil—both work well. Next, I prick them four or five times with a fork to let steam escape while they are baking. Sometimes, I sprinkle them with a little kosher salt to add to the skin’s flavor, but it doesn’t affect the interior. I place the potatoes in the center of the oven, directly on the oven rack set over the foil. Drips are generally not an issue for Russet

potatoes, but they are a big issue for sweet potatoes, which I bake exactly the same way. After an hour of baking, I stick the end of a paring knife into the potato to gauge its doneness. It generally takes another 20 minutes to be perfect, but it depends on the potato’s size. A little tip for those who like to make twice-baked potatoes: Always bake three potatoes for two finished potatoes, so you can mound the filling over the top. I make them often for dinner parties since they are best made in advance and reheated just before serving. n

WELCOMING THE CHINESE NEW YEAR OF THE METAL RAT AS you pursue new opportunities this year, involving matters of the heart or maybe a career change, F1 Hotel Manila (www.f1hotelmanila.com), welcomes another prosperous year ahead with a bountiful Chinese New Year lunch buffet on January 25, at F All Day Dining for only P2,288 net per person.

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The festivities will commence at the hotel with the traditional Lion Dance performance as it is believed to bring good luck and fortune. Accompanied by the music of beating drums, pounding gongs and clashing cymbals, the lion dancers imitate the lion’s movements to bring prosperity and scare off evil spirits. Guests enjoying the Chinese New Year buffet will have front row seats to the Lion Dance. The Chinese New Year buffet will be prepared by F1 Hotel Manila’s award-winning culinary team, featuring special Chinese dishes, including Yee Sang, a prosperity salad that symbolizes abundance and vigor, which is tossed for good luck; DongPo Pork Knuckle, pan-fried braised pork flavored with secret Chinese spices; Duck Wrap pancakes with hoisin sauce; Suckling Pig and Tang Yuan, sweet glutinous rice balls with a hint of ginger, which may remind diners of local ginataan but with a twist. Fortune cookies will also be handed out at the hotel lobby and restaurant so that guests can learn their prophecies for the coming year. To complete the Chinese New Year ambiance at F All Day Dining, a legendary Money Tree will be placed at the foyer of the restaurant to bring money and good fortune to everyone who rubs it.

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LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): Play time will lift your spirits and help you build enthusiasm to work harder and achieve more. Get physical and join forces with someone who motivates you to be your best. HH

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VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): Keep your life simple, your emotions under control and your plans doable. Refuse to let anyone upset your world or tempt you to get involved in something that isn’t in your best interest emotionally, physically or financially. HH

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LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): Focus on personal and physical changes that will make you feel good about the way you look, who you are and the relationships you want to nurture. Make a point to distance yourself from those who bring you down. HHHHH

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SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): Communication can help solve problems, but arguing will not. Stay calm and address issues intellectually and with facts to avoid being pressured by someone who likes to bait you into a conversation that is upsetting. HHH

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SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): Bypass anyone you don’t trust. Stick to the people who share common interests and beliefs. Positive changes at home will help you put the past behind you. HHH

PINOY COMFORT FOOD FOR GLOOMY DAYS

A WARM bowl of soup is sure to bring you comfort and warmth on a gloomy day. So beat the blues with a piping-hot Pinoy favorite Sinigang na Salmon at Isla Sugbu Seafood City (www.seafoodcity.ph). With fresh and chunky salmon cuts, Sinigang na Salmon, one of Isla Sugbu Seafood City’s Sugbu Specials, may be enjoyed any time of day. You may also want to try other delectable Sugbu Specials. The Salt and Pepper Calamari, smothered in slices of chives, and red and green bell peppers, is a nice way to start your meal. Vegetable lovers may want to try the Scallop Broccoli with garden-fresh cauliflower and broccoli, crisp carrot slices and steamed scallops. The Sugbu Specials are included in the Paluto All-You-Can offer available for only P848 per person (lunch) and P888 (dinner) at the Venice Grand Canal in McKinley Hills, Taguig City; or P797 per person (lunch) and P848 (dinner) at the Cebu branch.

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): Share your thoughts with someone you live with or would like to go into partnership with. You may not agree on everything, but with cooperation, you’ll come up with a plan that will satisfy the needs of you both. HHHHH

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AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): Don’t share your secrets or your plans until you have everything in place. Taking proper steps to protect what you want to do will ensure that no one interferes. HH

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PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): Get involved in something that interests you. The people you meet along the way will offer good advice and inside information that will encourage you to make changes to the way you handle your money or pending negotiations. HHHH BIRTHDAY BABY: You are friendly, compassionate and helpful. You are fashionable and unique.

‘refurnishing’ BY KEN ALBRIGHT The Universal Crossword/Edited by David Steinberg

ACROSS 1 Flock calls 5 Very small, informally 10 First-rate 14 Part of AKA 15 Chile con ___ 16 Sword whose name has two accents 17 Furniture for a reporter? 19 Hit the books 20 First-rate 21 Annual carnival locale 22 Ergo 23 Furniture for a clotheshorse? 28 Superhero movie trailer? 30 Beethoven’s “Third” 31 Puts forth 34 E-mail folder 35 Tennis court ruling 38 What many a maze path leads to 40 Downhill stick 42 Antlered beast 43 Track event 45 Unwelcome looks 46 Twitches 48 Zeros’ counterparts

9 Furniture for a chemist? 4 54 Lesser of two ___ 55 Rainy mo. 56 Corp. money person 59 Carton sealer 60 Furniture for a spiky-haired singer? 64 Idyllic spot 65 Talk show host 66 Viral cultural element 67 Apartment expense 68 Apple discontinued most models of them 69 Genesis guy DOWN 1 Munich star Eric 2 Baldwin of 30 Rock 3 At this very moment 4 Emergency call 5 Outfit 6 Where the Eiffel Tower and Tower Bridge are 7 Society page word 8 Retirees’ fund org. 9 “___ Are My Sunshine” 10 Mother who won a Nobel Prize

1 Double-clicks on, perhaps 1 12 Quiet’s partner 13 Passover feast 18 It becomes another garment when its middle letter is changed to “o” 22 Frenzied 24 Stereotypical coder 25 Millennium’s thousand: Abbr. 26 Female deer 27 Curling venues 28 Yield, as property 29 Skating jump 32 Music speeds 33 Sam of 20th-century golf 35 Like some gowns 36 Magazine whose title is a French pronoun 37 Durbeyfield girl 39 He loved Lucy 41 Place to play with noodles 44 Network for film buffs 46 Like early movies 47 Risked, as a wager 49 2020 Bachelor Weber 50 Sidestep

1 Become less sour, say 5 52 ___-ski (relaxation time) 53 “My man!” 57 Disaster aid org. 58 City near Provo 60 Longtime architect I.M. 61 Ballpark figure 62 Barracks VIP 63 Award for Kacey Musgraves: Abbr. Solution to yesterday’s puzzle:


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Parentlife BusinessMirror

Thursday, January 16, 2020

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FROM LEFT: Our amiespourjamais group taking our senior barkada photo; our 4-B Class Photo with Mrs. Ang in 1995; Luisa, Mia, myself and Ods at our recent homecoming.

DOMWNL: My Yellow Home (Part I) MOMMY NO LIMITS

MAYE YAO CO SAY

mommynolimits@gmail.com

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UST last weekend, we celebrated our Poveda high-school homecoming at Saint Pedro Poveda College. I was grateful to be given a few minutes to speak about my advocacy: “Poveda is a big part of my advocacy’s roots and its future. It was Poveda’s ever-nurturing Ms. Sally Villavicencio who pushed me to finish my Education course here at Poveda and pass my LET exam last September. It is my great memories with my teachers and classmates in Poveda, that I wish for child education to be as enriching as what I experienced in my Yellow Home. From my series “Diary of a Mom with No Limits” (DOMWNL), this week let me share my treasured journey in my Yellow Home. In August 1993, I came home for summer break from New York. I was set to go back for junior year but was exploring options of coming back to Manila on

my graduating year. As it turned out, no school would grant you a diploma without studying at least two years in their institution. Before I knew it, I remember being told I was no longer going back to New York. I was quite resentful because I promised my teachers in New York I would be back and had prepared to get my college achievement test that year. More than that, I had to catch up on a whole semester’s school work again since the first tri-semester just concluded. I remember telling myself: “Just study well. You survived catching up in New York. Just stay in the library every break time. No point to socialize. It’s just two years!” Little did I know those two years would have the greatest impact in my high-school life. I still remember vividly my first day of school in my yellow checkered uniform. Camille Macapanpan invited me to join her for lunch. She introduced me to her barkada. I remember meeting Eirene Aguila, who remains a great friend today. I kept quiet most of the time. Coming from Saint Jude Catholic School, Poveda was definitely a very different environment. There were few Chinese. Students were more vocal. It was an all-girl environment. Being rigid-minded back then, I felt I would not fit in. I was as aloof as any transferee would be. It was surprising for me that in every encounter when I could have felt out of place, there will always be someone initiating a welcome. My classmates like Anna Martirez, Camille, Carmela Beltran, Carmela

Jose, Jing Osias, Karla Ermita, Katrina Odi, Lea Disini, Lia Pastrana, Luisa Evangelista, Mia Capistrano, Mary Ann Santos, Missy Castro, Nikki Mercado, Nona Reyes, Sunshine Garcia, Tiggy Hernandez, Tyreen Catral and, of course, my seat mate Paula Locsin were very patient with my very serious ways. Slowly, they peeled through me. Eventually, especially after our retreats at the Poveda House of Prayer, I understood what it meant to be truly real with people—that it was OK to cry, listen, be accepting, be angry...because this was home. I remembered it started with my notes. I copy fast and would do so with almost every word a teacher said, and so classmates would borrow my notes to photocopy. I also remember a statistics class when I was asked by a classmate to explain a lesson during recess, and I ended up explaining it on the board to the class. My barkada from Poveda are five amazingly strong women: Maika, Pia, Chin, Chris and Kends. They granted me the gift of amiespourjamais (“friends forever” in French, and what we called our group), and together we faced our fears, hurts and challenges with candid solace and meaningful togetherness. Even at one of the most dangerous times during college, we all marched to be with Kends. I truly believe we were strong women then, and even stronger and happier women today. Learning also took on a different shape in Poveda. Outside of our regular homework and tests, there

was the famous IW (individual work). An hour before formal class started, we visited each subject stations for projects to process our formal lessons. For example, when we were learning Shakespeare in Ms. Terry’s class, we were tasked to make our own sonnet, create a tune and record it as a song with our own voice. In another quarter, when we were reading The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer, we were tasked to pick a character, create the costume ourselves, and participate in a gathering acting exactly like that character. I will always remember Poveda as a school of open-armed opportunities, not just from teachers but from fellow students. It was an English class, in my first school year there, that I was surprised to be given the task to lead our final class play for the year. I remember asking myself: Who will listen to a newcomer? And yet, with everyone’s enthusiasm and cooperation, we got an E (excellent). At the beginning of the next school year, before class elections, Katrina Odi, our class president in our junior year, approached me. She said that I did a good job in the English project, so would I like to run for class president that year? I told her I might not be ready but Ods, as we fondly called her, said she would help me. And she, together with the whole class, truly did. Up to this day, this benevolent act of Ods is a story I tell my kids, and one that I am forever grateful for. To be continued.... n

WE ASKED KIDS TO SEND US THEIR BURNING QUESTIONS— HERE ARE 5 OF OUR FAVORITES FROM 2019 By Maggie Villiger The Conversation

PLANTING THE SEEDS OF ENVIRONMENTAL AWARENESS

THERE’S no refuting the fact that trees are the source of life, and their value to Mother Earth cannot be denied. In the face of environmental degradation and massive deforestation, instilling the importance of trees and properly caring for the environment among the young is best started early. It’s against this pressing backdrop that Natalia Sali, a social worker with an innate love for the environment, took action. Together with her family, the One Child, One Tree movement was born. Launched under the auspices of the Fostering Education and Environment for Development Inc., the Sali family has been supporting environmental projects in Hagonoy, Bulacan, that educate, encourage and foster awareness on ecological preservation. From 2017 to present, the One Child, One Tree movement’s series of mangrove reforestation efforts saw the planting of 5,000 mangrove seedlings along the Tibaguin seashore in Hagonoy, Bulacan, as well as the planting of over 2,000 fruit-bearing and native trees in different elementary schools and forests in the province. They have also planted 1,000 cropped plants and 150 trees in different elementary schools in the same area. “The initiative is good as kids become aware early on, as they are oriented on the value of planting trees,” said Leonora Robles, a teacher from Sitio Buga Elementary School, a beneficiary of the family’s One Child, One Tree movement. No doubt, the selfless and impactful work of the Sali family for the environment could not be more timely or relevant. In light of the world that we live in, initiatives such as the One Child, One Tree movement are truly deserving of emulation and praise, with the Jollibee Family Values Awards bringing recognition to the Sali family’s efforts.

SO this year, The Conversation US jumped on a great idea dreamed up by our colleagues in Australia, and launched a series of articles meant to answer questions kids ask, but that everyone probably wonders about. The Conversation’s editors collect children’s questions and then look for scholars who can provide clear answers based on their own research and expertise.

probably spend a fair amount of time listening to music or watching music videos.... For many people over 30, job and family obligations increase, so there’s less time to spend discovering new music.”

WHY IS MONEY GREEN? THIS one could only have come from an American kid. Marek, age 12, asked the question; history PhD student Jonah Estess gave an answer. It turns out that green ink is hard for counterfeiters to get right on their phony bills. And in the quirks-ofhistory department: “Also, there was lots of green ink for the government to use when it started printing the money we have now. The green color also does not fade or decompose easily.”

IF YOU BARELY EVER HEAR THE LATEST BANGERS, YOU MIGHT NOT LIKE THEM EITHER. WHAT can you learn from an animal’s scat? Verity Mathis from the University of Florida’s Florida Museum of Natural History confirmed that Cora, age nine, was onto something with this question. Poop is a window into animals’ hidden lives. “Scat can tell us a lot about an animal’s diet, habits and movement, so scientists like to study it both in nature and in the lab. Outdoors, scat can identify what animals are present in an area. Then researchers take it to a lab, dry it out and dissect it for clues about the animal’s diet.” Researchers can even extract DNA from scat, a hands-off way to learn more about what’s going on with a particular population.

WHY DO OLD PEOPLE HATE NEW MUSIC? MAYBE Holly, age 14, got sick of adults yelling “turn that racket down” and decided to ask this question. Psychology researcher Frank McAndrew had some ideas for her. As they age, brains get worse at telling apart chords, rhythms and melodies. Another factor: Grown-ups might gravitate to the music they listened to back when they were young and their emotions were more intense. Or, it might come down to what’s called the “mere exposure effect”—just hearing something more tends to make you like it more. “When you’re in your early teens, you

WHY DO FEET STINK BY THE END OF THE DAY? OUR inbox suggests that kids are very interested in all things gross and smelly. Indiana University microbiologist Bill Sullivan took a stab at this question from Helen, age six. He points the finger (toe?) at a harmless type of bacteria that live all over people’s skin, happily eating up dead skin cells. The stinkiness problem arises inside your warm, moist shoes—conditions the bacteria love and take advantage of to chow down and multiply. “Like anything else that eats, these bacteria make smelly waste. It is their waste that gives sweaty feet their funky odor: It

contains stinky chemicals like those made by skunks and rotten eggs.” WHERE DOES THE SAND ON THE BEACH COME FROM? KIDS write in with big questions about how the Earth works, too. Sly, age six, posed this one that many an adult relaxing at the shore might have wondered about. University of Washington geomorphologist David Montgomery explained that there’s “more to beach sand than meets the eye.” “It has stories to tell about the land, and an epic journey to the sea. That’s because mountains end their lives as

sand on beaches.” It’s a story of erosion. And the sizes, shapes and colors of the individual grains of sand you see can tell you about the kinds of rocks they originally came from. What are you wondering? Over the past year, we had a blast hunting down answers to about everything from stargazing with binoculars to why kids aren’t very patriotic these days to what makes pizza so infernally delicious. Thank you to all the kids who were curious enough to ask questions—and keep ‘em coming in the new year.


D4

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Show BusinessMirror

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‘Il carnevale è finito’: ‘The Two Popes’ REELING

TITO GENOVA VALIENTE

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PON assumption of Papacy, the Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was asked by the Vatican staff to put on the official habit of the Pope. The future Pope Francis kept on saying no to the requests of the staff but they persisted. To the repeated entreaties, the new Pope looked intently at the person so eager to see him in the “costume” of the Pontiff, and muttered: “Il carnevale è �inite.” The carnival is ended. I laughed and I am sure for audiences all over the world, that scene must have elicited loud laughter, as well. It was the kind of response we, by hindsight, expected to hear from the Jesuit Pope. It was also a scene that, perhaps, the Vatican would not validate. The scene comes from The Two Popes, which is claimed by the film itself as having been inspired by the presence of the two popes: Pope Francis and Pope Benedict XVI. There have been stories about these two Popes. One is the claim that when Pope John Paul II died in 2005, the enclaves had two frontrunners: Bergoglio and Ratzinger. The latter was elected as the Pope that year and assumed the name Pope Benedict XVI. Several years later, Benedict would resign as a Pope, the first in modern history to do so (the last Pope to resign was in the 15th century). Bergoglio would be elected as the next Pope, a reluctant one if we are to believe cinema. The artifice of cinema. This is exactly the problem of The Two Popes. Did the conversation really happen between Benedict and Francis? Did the two meet and engage in such heated, if not witty, debates about God, spirituality and football? The film starts with Bergoglio traveling to the Vatican. Benedict summons him for a meeting at the summer home of the Pope, in the Apostolic Palace of Castel Gandolfo. Bergoglio arrives at the papal retreat and does not hide his contempt for the luxury of that place. He is there to submit his resignation letter

as a cardinal. Benedict waits to confront him about differences and some possibilities. Immediately, we see how Bergoglio is not Ratzinger/Benedict. In between the meetings of the two, there are flashbacks to the life of Bergoglio as a young man leaving a marital engagement in order to follow the calling of a Church. The short stay of the guest and the reception given by the host allows us to witness what seems like a thawing of the cold façade of Benedict. In the process, we also get a glance of Bergoglio softening his stance from what seems to be, early on, an adversarial position to one that is a bit more accommodating. The conversation between the two begins always from points of inquiry and escalates to more heated exchanges. The dialogue is not what we expect between a Pope and one of his cardinals. There is spite from the cardinal; there is a surprise sarcasm from the Prince of the Church. The two make candor magical and heartwarming. The same openness, however, is also the reason why, at a point, we close our heart to the relentless epiphanies demonstrated like a vulgar morality play before us. Toward the end of the film, we start bracketing our experiences. In that moment, we come to a realization, never too late really, that the film is a game played for us not by the real popes but by a film with two characters seductive in the orality or verbosity of their hearts and minds. Now herein is the problem of this film about two Popes coexisting: who vets the veracity of the encounter of these two theologians at loggerheads with each other for the conflicted ideas they both hold on to? No one really. We wish the bickering and witticism and pedantry did take place. What The Two Popes accomplished is in illustrating how an enthralling film can be made about popes. No violence. No sexuality. No nudity even. And yet, all throughout, our eyes are glued on the screen as if all the saints have been implored for our concentration. What the same film has done is to convince us that a film with two characters (for the most part) talking to each other can make for good cinema. Where lies the power and the glory of The Two Popes? Very simply, they are enthroned in two of the most convincing characterizations: that of Pope Benedict XVI in the grippingly eccentric presence of Anthony Hopkins and in the bristling warmth of Pope Francis as portrayed by Jonathan Pryce. This is not to

mention that the two actors look very similar in the physicality of the persons they are incarnating. As the outgoing Pope, Anthony Hopkins has the less sympathetic character. His Benedict is aloof, with a smile that is forever a grin and a look that is too sharp to be deemed sacred. But when he is shown dining and walking alone, this astute and rigid theologian begins to manifest the aura of a forlorn old man. The film, by virtue of the screenplay, belongs to the Pope—Francis—that is going to be known for his disdain for royal protocol. It will take, perhaps, many more long years before we would encounter again on-screen an actor who makes us forget he is merely performing another life. Pryce’s Pope Francis makes us wish the real Pope Francis is really like the man we apprehend on-screen.

In fact, when the film abruptly ends, we wish the story is really true. We are left holding on to a truth—the pomp and pageantry that the institutional Catholic Church has to stage to keep its power and hold on the believers. I believe the greatest problem a modern Pope can face is not the crisis of celibacy and the issues of homosexuality the Church is at a loss to deal with. The Pope’s predicament will be how to live like a Christian and be humble amid the trappings of a Mother Church professing to be one for the poor while wallowing in wealth that requires justification. Now streaming on Netflix, The Two Popes is directed by Fernando Ferreira Meirelles, with the screenplay written by Anthony McCarten (Darkest Hour; Bohemian Rhapsody). Meirelles is known for the acclaimed film The City of God. ■

Martin del Rosario, Cathy Yang, ‘Mystified’ and ‘Alanganin’ win in Asian Television Awards BY DINNA VASQUEZ MARTIN DEL ROSARIO won the award for the Best Leading Male Performance-Digital category for his role in the digital series Born Beautiful as one Filipino film, and a Filipino song also topped their respective categories in the 24th Asian Television Awards, held at the Newport Performing Arts Theater in Resorts World Manila on January 11. ABS-CBN News Channel (ANC) anchor Cathy Yang was named best news presenter. In Born Beautiful, which was directed by Perci Intalan, del Rosario plays Barbs, a transgender woman who works as a mortuary beautician at Happy Ending Funeral Homes. Filipino actor Mark Neumann served as one of the hosts alongside Yang, as well as Thai actress Ase Wang and Singapore media personality Wallace Ang. Mystified, the Filipino digital series starring Karylle, Diana Zubiri, Iza Calzado and Sunshine Dizon, won the Best Single Drama or Telemovie category, while the song “Alanganin,” performed by artists Kris Lawrence and Krizza Neri for the animated series Barangay 143, received the Best Theme Song award. The Asian Television Awards honors the best performances, TV shows and networks in the regions. The winners are chosen by a panel of over 50 judges from different parts of Asia. Launched in 1996, the Asian Television Awards is considered the region’s most prestigious gathering of TV artists and professionals in the region. Lee Keen Whye, chairman of the Asian Television Awards, acknowledged that the competition gets tougher year after year. “The awards have traveled to Manila for the first time. Every single entry was carefully selected by their respective organizations. My heartiest congratulations to our nominees and award winners,” said Lee. This year’s panel of judges was composed of producers, directors, creatives, company executives and CEOs from different countries. They include Riaz Mehta, Imagine Group Pte Ltd. president and founder; Joe Teng, Nada Holdings CEO; Dan Zonmani, Line Corp Global Brand Lead; Kyle Murdoch, NHNZ (Beijing) managing director; Chen Shengyin, Great Sports Media executive managing director; Sienna Olaso, Cignal TV vice president/head of Channel; Gillian Carr, Moody Street Kids MD/executive producer; and Craig Galvin, iFlix Sdn Bhd Global head of Content. The other acting awards went to Taiwanese actor William Hsieh (Best Actor in a Leading Role), Thai actress Tisanart Sornsuek (Best Actress in a Leading Role), Thai actor Attaphan Poonsawat (Best Actor in a Supporting Role), and Thai actress Anyarin Terathananpat (Best Actress in a Supporting Role). Sky Castle from Korea was named Best Drama Series. Indonesian singer-songwriter Anggun received the special award for Outstanding Contribution to Asian Television Performing Art, while Filipino businessman Manny V. Pangilinan received the special award for Outstanding

ANC Anchor Cathy Yang was named Best News Presenter

Contribution to Asian Television. Anggun was honored for being one of the few Asian entertainers who have earned international acclaim. The Indonesian-born former child star moved to Europe when she was only 20. Pangilinan was honored for his business acumen and vision for the companies he has handled, and how he built the Philippine businesses of First Pacific. He was not able to receive the award but he did mention the intense network war in the Philippines in his acceptance speech read by TV5 President and CEO Jane Basas. ANC Anchor Yang and the GMA animated show Barangay 143 were among the winners of the Technical and Creative Awards in the 24 Asian Television Awards. Yang was named Best News Presenter or Anchor winner for her work in her program Market Edge With Cathy Yang on cable channel ANC. Barangay 143 was the Best 2D Animated Program winner. Here is the complete list of the winners of the 24th Asian Television Awards: ■ Best Actor in a Leading Role: William Hsieh (First Love) ■ Best Actress in a Leading Role: Tisanart Sornsuek (True Life of a Drama Queen) ■ Best Direction (Fiction): Jeevan Nathan (Avenue 14) ■ Cable/Satellite Network of the Year: Line Co. Thailand ■ Terrestrial Broadcaster of the Year: China Global Television ■ Best Host/Presenter-Digital: Panirin Tumwattana (Little Nirin) ■ Best Entertainment Presenter/Host: Alana Nichols (Follow Alana)

MARTIN DEL ROSARIO won as Best Leading Male Performance-Digital

■ Best Adaption of an Existing Format: MasterChef Junior Thailand Season 1 ■ Best Reality Show: My Kitchen Rules Australia ■ Best Original Digital Drama Series: The Deadline ■ Best Digital Fiction Program/Series: Social Syndrome ■ Best Leading Male Performance-Digital: Martin del Rosario (Born Beautiful) ■ Best Leading Female Performance-Digital: Chanya McClory (The Deadline) ■ Best Actor in a Supporting Role: Attaphan Poonsawat (The Gifted) ■ Best Actress in Supporting Role: Anyarin Terethananpat (Loop of Vengeance) ■ Best Single Drama or Telemovie: Mystified ■ Best Drama Series: Sky Castle ■ Best Theme Song: “Alanganin” by Kris Lawrence and Krizza Neri (Barangay 143) ■ Award for Outstanding Contribution to Asian Television Performing Arts: Anggun ■ Award for Outstanding Contribution to Asian Television: Manny V. Pangilinan TECHNICAL AND CREATIVE AWARDS: ■ Best Documentary Program (one-off/special): Is Australia Sexist? ■ Best Documentary Series: China From Above 2 ■ Best Natural History or Wildlife Program: Orangutan Jungle School ■ Best Single News Story/Report (10 minutes or less): Giant Clams-Nature’s Climate Archive ■ Best News Program: Sunaina’s Story

■ Best News Presenter or Anchor: Cathy Yang, Market Edge with Cathy Yang (ABS-CBN News Channel, Philippines) ■ Best Social Awareness Program: Planet Healers ■ Best Current Affairs Presenter: Andini Effendi, Q&A Metro TV ■ Best Current Affairs Program: Kerala Floods-The Human Story ■ Best Comedy Program: The Family Law Season 3 ■ Best Lifestyle Program: The Spirit of Zen ■ Best Infotainment Program: Mega Icons ■ Best Entertainment Program (One off/Annual): 20182019 Jiangsu Satellite TV New Year’s Eve Concert ■ Best General Entertainment Program: Sasuke Ninja Warrior 2018 ■ Best Original Digital Entertainment Program: Super Nova Games ■ Best Children’s Program: Bodypedia Baby ■ Best Preschool Program: Didi & Friends ■ Best 2D Animated Program: Barangay 143 ■ Best 3D Animated Program: Treehouse Detectives ■ Best Live Sports Coverage: Australian PGA Championships 2018 ■ Best Sports Program: Go Top Heroes ■ Best Sports Presenter/Commentator: Michael O’Dwyer (Live@HWWC HSBC Singapore 2019) ■ Best Talk Show: Koffee with Karan Season 6 ■ Best Game/Quiz Program: Boom! Vietnam ■ Best Music Program: The Producer ■ Best Music Video: “Sandcastles” by Olinda Cho ■ Best Influencer Content/Series: Stupid Man Smartphone Singapore ■ Best Branded Content (>15 mins): Prison Rat ■ Best Branded Content (<15 mins): Queensway: Home of Football ■ Best Branded Marketing Content: Mitsubishi Adventure with National Geographic ■ Best Digital Non-Fiction Program/ Series: Painted Love: Our Story ■ Best Scriptwriting for Web Series: The Deadline ■ Best Cinematography: Kumar Subramaniam (Breaking Point Haws) ■ Best Original Screenplay: Ekachai Uekrongtham (Bangkok Love Stories: Plead) ■ Best Editing: Zhou Quan, Life Matters Season 2 ■ Best Direction (Non-Fiction): Prabhu Asgadnkar (Breaking Point Haws) A concert closed the 24th Asian TV Awards 2020. The Sundown concert took place at the Newport Theater at Resorts World Manila. The performers included Anggun, K-pop girl group Cherry Bullet, and Vietnamese singer Hoang Yen Chibi. Pinoy artists included in the lineup are Martin Nievera, Gab and Kiana Valenciano, Jona, Morisette, Kris Lawrence and 4th Impact.

ANTHONY HOPKINS (right) and Jonathan Pryce in the acclaimed Netflix film The Two Popes.


Envoys&Expats

www.businessmirror.com.ph | Thursday, January 16, 2020 E1

65 YEARS OF PHL-LAO PDR DIPLOMATIC TIES

Envoy expands his country’s reach, cooperation beyond borders

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By Recto L. Mercene

@rectomercene

NCE dubbed as “The Kingdom of a Million Elephants Under the White Parasol,” Lao People’s Democratic Republic, or Lao PDR, is a landlocked Southeast Asian country known for its mountainous terrain, French colonial architecture, hill-tribe settlements and Buddhist monasteries.

The capital city of Vientiane is the site of the That Luang monument, where a reliquary reportedly houses the Buddha’s breastbone. Also found there is the Patuxai war memorial, and the Talat Sao or the Morning Market, a complex teeming with food choices, clothes and craft stalls. Ambassador Songkane Luangmuninthone hopes to regain his nation’s old glory, as he campaigns for a more educated Laos population and the construction of modern infrastructure to link Laos to

the rest of the developed world. For one, he explains that, although it is a solid landmass of 236,800 square kilometers. (which can fit inside Metro Manila), his country has a hilly geography and would need concrete, paved roads to complete its modernization program. “This is not only the dream of our Prime Minister [PM] [Thongloun Sisoulith]; it’s our government policy for many years since we opened up in 1986 to integrate

with the world economy,” Luangmuninthone explained. “We can’t be landlocked—literally; we have to connect with our neighbors. We need to be able to get products out of [our country through cheaper means] to be competitive with others. One way to get out of that [predicament is to transform our country from being] landlocked into land-linked.” The Laos emissary explained, “We’re trying to make the infrastructures [that will] bridge us with Thailand and Myanmar. Such would be augmented by another railway link to China.” Today, he said a high-speed rail system would eventually connect Vientiane to their more prosperous Asian neighbors. “I hope this train [service] will reduce the cost of transport for goods and foreign direct investments,” the good ambassador told Envoys&Expats in an exclusive interview. He volunteered that it is scheduled for completion in 2021. “It is a great opportunity for Lao PDR to connect with all its Asean neighbors—including

the Philippines—[because] we’re one economic, political and social community.” In this exclusive interview, the Laos envoy also bannered their abundance of natural resources and young work force, as well as affordable cost of utilities, such as electricity. He explained that Laos’s electricity is cheaper than neighboring Myanmar or Cambodia, as it comes from hydroelectric sources generated by the mighty Mekong River and its tributaries, as well as other waterways, which traverse his country. Speaking of traversing spaces, his country’s flag carrier, Lao Airlines, connects to China, Japan, Korea, Thailand and Vietnam. He wishes, though, that Philippine Airlines would also fly to Laos, which will transit to Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh to make the route economically feasible. “That’s how I can see PAL stopping over to Vietnam, or even Thailand, for more passengers, because we have a very small number of passengers.” Luangmuninthone, however,

shuns suggestions of turning Laos into an aviation hub in Southeast Asia. “We don’t compete to be a hub, because there are already many in the ‘neighborhood,’ like those in Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam and even in the Philippines.” “Everyone wants to be the original hub, but we only want to reach out to our neighbors [and to connect with them], so that it could be easy for our people’s goods to reach the region without any tariff barriers,” the ambassador expounded. Last year, the Laos diplomat brought a delegation of foreign investors to his country, “because I want them to determine what areas need investments, and not just believe what we say.”

English and education

LUANGMUNINTHONE is a Master of Legal Science (Master equivalent) in Public International Law from the Moscow Institute of International Relations. While fluent in Russian and English, he wishes that many of his young compatriots would be well versed in the latter, as well. “English is the road to technologi-

cal progress,” the diplomat admitted, but said many Laos students know either Vietnamese or Chinese instead, since his country shares borders with native speakers of these languages. To speed up educating many young Laotians as part of his country’s ongoing reforms, the envoy said he had visited several colleges and universities across the Philippines, appreciating its many schools of higher learning. He said he is hoping there would be more of their students matriculating locally or being able to bag a scholarship program, like those provided by the late Ambassador Antonio L. Cabangon Chua, whom he greatly admires still. (The brains behind BusinessMirror’s creation, Cabangon Chua was a former Philippine ambassador to Laos under the administration of former president Gloria MacapagalArroyo. Fondly called “Amba” by friends and close associates, he was very active in promoting the connections between the Philippines and Laos.) Continued on E2


Envoys& BusinessMirror

E2 Thursday, January 16, 2020

FILIPINOS IN LAO PDR

PHL medical mission brings more smiles anew to Lao kids

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IENTIANE—The Philippine Embassy in Lao PDR, in coordination with the Medical Corpsman Department of the Lao Ministry of National Defense and assisted by the Global Shapers Vientiane Hub, organized the second Philippines-Laos Cleft Mission, conducted by the Philippine Band of Mercy (PBM) and Smile Train Philippines in early September 2019 at the Lao Military Hospital.

In the opening ceremony, Ambassador Belinda M. Ante highlighted the mission as a way to strengthen Philippines-Laos diplomatic relations in the fields of military and health cooperation. Lao Ministry of National Defense-Medical Corpsman Department Deputy Chief Colonel Vanpheng Phuangsawaddy expressed her gratitude for the return of the Philippine doctors and expressed hopes that the Laos medical personnel would learn more about medical procedures and skills during the mission. A total of 38 Laos patients,

mostly children, were operated on during the mission. At the same time, Philippine surgeons conducted on-site lectures, as well as training for the Laos doctors and nurses of the Military Hospital 103 on surgery procedures. The Philippine delegation also followed up on the patients who underwent cleft lip/palate surgery during the first Philippines-Laos Cleft Mission held in August 2018. During the closing ceremony on September 5, 2019, Philippine delegation head Dr. Hector Santos Jr. expressed his appreciation for the

PHL talents featured in Lao PDR fashion week

AMBASSADOR to Lao PDR Belinda M. Ante (center) congratulates Philippine fashion icon Albert Andrada (second from right) for a successful show at the culmination of the Lao Fashion Week 2019. JEAN-CHRISTOPHE OLRY/DFA DR. Mel Anthony Cruz (center, in black uniform) conducts a handson lecture and training on cleft-lip surgeries for Laos doctors and nurses.

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VIENTIANE PE/DFA

DR. Hector Santos (left) hands a certificate of appreciation to Lao PDR Ministry of National DefenseMedical Corpsman Department Deputy Chief Colonel Vanpheng Phuangsawaddy. VIENTIANE PE/DFA

Laos people’s hospitality and for placing their trust on the Philippine doctors. He hoped that PBM and Smile Train Philippines would be invited again this year to conduct another mission. A private nonstock, nonprofit

foundation established in 1937, the PBM aims to provide medical assistance to disfigured underprivileged Filipinos. During the mission, it collaborated with Smile Train Philippines, a foundation which provides free cleft-repair surgery. DFA

IENTIANE—Aiming to promote the fashion industry in Lao PDR, more than 50 local and international designers showcased their latest collections at the Laos Fashion Week in September 2019 at the Landmark Mekong Riverside Hotel in the capital city. Laos designers, former Lao Fashion Week winners and designers from the Philippines, Indonesia, Japan, Singapore, France and Germany, among many other countries, joined the event that included nightly fashion shows, workshops and seminars on various subjects. It also included the announcement of the winner of Lao Fashion Week 2019, who will then study in fashion institutes in Paris, London, Manila and Bangkok. Participating fashion designers were also asked to donate some of their works, which were for retail at the Designers Pop-Up Store set up in the event. A percentage of the sales revenue was earmarked to support the Lao Young Designers project, disabled people, as well as the victims of the typhoon and floods in the

southern provinces of Laos. The artistic works of several Filipino designers graced the fashion week’s runway, including Cambodiabased Filipinos Don Protasio, Reynier Abello (Armada), Julius Tarog (JT clothing line), Renan Pacson (creative director of the Arin fashion brand), Christian Edward Dalagaog (CHED Studio), Bryan Peralta (Bryan Peralta Designs), Ann Lorio (Ann Lorio Couture that featured sea glass jewelry) and Albert Andrada, who promoted his Luxewear collection during the culminating event of the fashion week. Recent graduates of the Fashion Institute of the Philippines (FIP) JJ Aquino and Mariton Villanueva also presented their collections, which featured colorful woven textiles from the Philippines. In addition, FIP Director Iross Santos-Cramer represented the institute as a judge during the Lao Fashion Week 2019 Contest. Filipino designers paid a courtesy call at the Philippine Embassy on September 12, 2019. DFA

Envoy expands his country’s reach, cooperation beyond borders Continued from E1

“I knew him very well. He sent many Lao scholars to school, and some of them serve in our foreign service,” Luangmuninthone confirmed. “During my tenure, I’ll try to expand [the entry of more Lao] students coming here to study,” he promised, adding he had a dialogue with some Filipino “movers and shakers” who are willing to support scholarships for his country’s learners. “I’ll try my best to increase the number of [our] students studying in the Philippines,” he committed, while saying in jest that he had already added a couple of students by way of his two sons: a 20-year-old studying Commerce at the AMA University, and one who is 22 taking up a business course at the Far Eastern University. While the ambassador admitted that many of his compatriots are still poor, he appreciates the country’s potentials, such as its agricultural front, service sector and educational system. Speaking of which, since Filipinos are proficient in English, he would like their students to study here, instead of in Australia or Singapore. “Your English teachers are of very good quality. There are nearly 2,000 Filipinos in Lao PDR teaching [the language].” He volunteered there are also Filipino engineers, consultants and lawyers there. The Laos envoy noted one more of his country’s potential, which is in tourism. It is Laos’s plan, and among his wishes within his four year- (or longer) tenure, that Filipinos would know more about the said nation, in the same manner that his people would, of their Asean neighbor to the east. Luangmuninthone takes pride that half of Laos’s population of 7 million comprises its work force. “We don’t have [an issue on our

elders, but the young] are unskilled. We need to teach them vocational skills; to get them to work in industrial processing plants, for example. That’s the issue.”

sia, Singapore and Thailand. Brunei Darussalam joined on January 8, 1984, Vietnam on July 28, 1995, Laos and Myanmar on July 23, 1997, and Cambodia on April 30, 1999.) He noted with appreciation that since becoming integrated with the Southeast Asian regional bloc, Laos was extended a high level of political cooperation of other membercountries. Both his country and the Philippines have hosted the visits of their respective leaders. Duterte’s first official foreign trip as Chief Executive was to Laos.

Expanding cooperation

LAOS’s highest-ranking envoy to the Philippines is a highly skilled director general in foreign affairs, policy analysis, political science and government. He hopes that his country would regain its status as a highly cultured nation, able to equal the economic stature of its neighbors after years under colonial rule, proxy wars and a general decline following years of neglect. (A socialist state, Laos had countless political upheavals over the course of its history. It became a French protectorate in 1893, was occupied by the Japanese in 1945, recolonized by France thereafter, won autonomy in 1949 and became independent in 1953. Then, civil war ensued, followed by a number of United States-backed military dictatorships. As the Vietnam War ended in 1975, the Laos nation came under Communist rule.) Luangmuninthone said Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro L. Locsin Jr. is scheduled to visit Vientiane in February to confer with other AsiaPacific officials and “discuss deliverables, which is a good impetus for our expanding relationship.” Laos PM Sisoulith, the diplomat shared, was to fly to Manila early this year. However, President Duterte’s full schedule warranted the highlevel visit to be postponed to the latter half of 2020. “I think the Department of Foreign Affairs agreed it to be on the third quarter,” Luangmuninthone revealed. Of Laos-Philippine relations, he described it as “very good. But on the economic front, we must do more because, although we have a trade investment council, the level

Thoughts about PHL AMBASSADOR of Lao PDR to the Philippines Songkane Luangmuninthone (left) receives a plaque of appreciation from Asian Studies students of the University of Santo Tomas in November 2019.

of bilateral trade and investment is very minimal.” He said in 2017, trade between Manila and Vientiane was a little over $1 million, “which is very small. I think both countries have great potential to expand; [although] certainly, there are difficulties.” “We have about 20 memoranda of understanding and agreements signed by both sides, but only a few were implemented due to lack of money, resources and people,” according to the envoy. There are many grand projects, but both countries lack funding, he said. “If we have the money, we can expand cooperation in various fields.” Luangmuninthone avers that 2020 is a very important year for the two countries’ bilateral relations, marking the 65th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between them. “January 14, 1955, was a very auspicious date. It’s an occasion when we established cordial and mutually beneficial relations,” acknowledged the Asian diplomat. He said during the Indo-China War, Operation Brotherhood (OB), an overseas-assistance program

initiated by the Philippine Junior Chamber of Commerce, was very active in Laos starting in 1957. During the OB program, a group of Filipino doctors, nurses, nutritionists and social workers traveled to the said country. They provided medical and relief assistance, as well as community development-projects, to more than 1 million Laotians. (The ambassador intimated that he was born in an OB-operated hospital, although when he was young, he did not know what OB meant. The structure of the health-care facility no longer stands. The Laos government has reclaimed the lot, which has been converted into a park adjacent to the aforementioned That Luang.) At the height of the Vietnam War, when the Philippines remained on the side of the US and Laos was a Communist state, both sides pulled out their embassies in the respective countries. “But we re-established relations in 1997, when Laos joined the Asean.” It was then that the Philippines— a founding member of Asean—lent its active support to Laos and helped integrate the latter with the association (together with the rest of the original members Indonesia, Malay-

THE Laos envoy, who also studied at the National University of Singapore (predecessor of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy), admitted that the conduct of Philippine elections that produce frequent changes in national and local leadership could discourage investors—although he does not want to intrude into internal politics. “If a new government changes the investment policy for foreign investors, would [the latter want to come over]? Of course, they [do], but they are reluctant, because there are other countries who can provide more stability for investments.” He said some investors might be encouraged to place financial resources, aware of the many skilled and hardworking Filipinos. “But if I own the money, I would ask: ‘If the new government changes the tax policy, what should I do? [Am I willing to pay more taxes], or should I withdraw?’” “That’s my impression about the [Philippine] system,” the ambassador opined. “But your education and legal foundations are very good. And if you keep implementing the rule of law, that’s what will make the Philippines very strong.” Luangmuninthone is also appreciative of the country’s womenempowerment policy: “One of the

best in Asean—if not in the world.” “The females’ opportunities here are bigger, more than in any other countries. We in Lao PDR are trying to reach your level, but it is still difficult—even though we have a female president of the National Assembly and many [of our] ministers at that. Compared with [the Philippines], we’re still lagging behind. We want to reach that point of your women’s empowerment,” he emphasized. Although the Lao diplomat is at a loss for words praising the many Philippine tourist spots, he said: “You need to improve on a lot of infrastructure to sell [your country] to foreigners, like airlines, hotels, services...everything for their convenience.’’ “The Philippines has all the ‘beauties:’ mountains, rivers...and your people are very kind [and] open… they love foreigners,” Luangmuninthone observed. “But overall, I think you need better infrastructure.” He compared the Philippines to Singapore, which is more efficiently run in terms of governance. “I studied there for one-and-a-half years; but here, there is more beauty; although Lao PDR, too, has natural and cultural beauty in our many temples.” Luangmuninthone presented his credentials in Malacañang in March 2019. Since then, he has been to some parts of the country. He likes Baguio City the most because of its cool weather, and had gone to Cebu and Davao. “I like Cebu—it is near the sea. It’s cleaner than Manila. I went to Clark [in Pampanga], but not yet to Palawan, although I plan to go to Coron during my stay.” The Laos ambassador likes to cook and plays golf for recreation. He has developed a craving for chicken tinola, and regularly sends her daughter, who is based in Japan, Philippine dried mangoes, which he said are “the best, compared with the rest.”


&Expats

envoys.expats.bm@gmail.com |Thursday, January 16, 2020 E3

‘GOLDEN FRIENDSHIP’

PHL, Japan agree on bolstering bilateral ties

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HE Philippine and Japanese governments vowed to increase their bilateral cooperation to maintain peace and security, as well as uphold the rule of law in the region.

JAPANESE Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi speaks before the media. JOYCE ANN L. ROCAMORA/PNA

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro L. Locsin Jr. and Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi made the commitment after their bilateral meeting in Makati City. “A survey of the most pressing concerns in the regional security environment is an indispensable element of our strategic dialogue. I was pleased with my candid exchanges with Minister Motegi on issues, such as the Rule of Law in the maritime commons and the situation in the West Philippine Sea,” Locsin said during his speech. “We committed to continue our cooperation—bilaterally, and in all possible forums—to maintain peace and security, stability, and the Rule of Law in our region,” he added. Meanwhile, Motegi echoed the pacts forged between him and the Philippines’s top diplomat in the area of maritime security. “Secretary Locsin and I were able to deepen our discussion from such perspectives and agreed to deepen bilateral cooperation in [a] wide area, including security and enforcement of the laws of the seas,” he said. The Philippines, China and other neighboring countries have overlapping claims in the resource-rich South China Sea/West Philippine Sea, a vital trade route in the region. Japan, on the other hand, is locked in a territorial dispute with China in the East China Sea over an island chain called Senkaku by Tokyo and Diaoyu by Beijing. Aside from the commitment of upholding the Rule of Law in the region, the two foreign ministers also “reviewed” the direction of the two states’ defense and security engagement. Locsin thanked Japan for supporting Manila’s acquisition of new air and maritime assets and equipment to enhance its maritime domain awareness and capability, as well as law enforcement and humanitarian responses. Among others, they further discussed “future acquisitions” in aid of the modernization of the Philippines’s armed forces and maritime forces. “This is the first of our many meetings which I look forward to having with Minister Motegi. The Philippines-Japan Strategic Partnership has been a positive force, not just for Philippine development and security, but in the best interest of our larger region,” Locsin affirmed. “In 2017, President Duterte described the Philippine-Japan Strategic Partnership as having entered a ‘golden age.’ Minister Motegi’s visit adds further luster

to that golden friendship, which remains one of the region’s closest and strongest,” he added.

Notes exchanged on Metro bridges

MEANWHILE, both governments of the Philippines and Japan signed diplomatic notes on the same date for the additional financing of a project aimed to reinforce major bridges in Metro Manila against earthquakes. Tokyo, through the Japan International Cooperation Agency, will provide a supplemental loan amount of ¥4.409 billion, or about P2 billion, for the Metro Manila Priority Bridges Seismic Improvement Project-Phase 2, which will rehabilitate the Guadalupe Bridge in Makati City, and the Lambingan Bridge in the City of Manila. With the exchange of notes, Motegi is hopeful the additional yen credit would contribute to the country’s efforts strengthen its infrastructure versus strong temblors. “Recently, several large-scale earthquakes struck various places in the Philippines, such as [in Metro] Manila and Mindanao. I wish to express my heartfelt condolences to those who have lost their lives, the victims, and their families,” he said after signing the diplomatic notes with Locsin in Makati City. “Japan wishes to cooperate by leveraging on our knowledge in responding to natural disasters, which [are common challenges] for both our countries,” he added. The original loan agreement amounting to ¥9.783 billion, or about P4.5 billion, was signed on August 25, 2015. According to the Department of Foreign Affairs, the current project responds to the increase in the total project cost and the extension of its implementation period by more than one year until August 2023. The cost augmentation stems from changes in construction technology that will be applied into the Guadalupe Bridge, the need for temporary detour bridges in the area, and the need for additional work shifts to the construction period, among others.

Continued support hailed

ON the part of the palace, President Duterte expressed his gratitude to Japan for its unwavering assistance to his administration that “helps boost the Philippine economy,” Malacañang said. The Chief Executive acknowledged Tokyo’s relentless support when the Japanese foreign minister paid him a visit at Malacañang. “ The Philippine leader [ex-

FINANCE Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez (center, left) and Motegi (center, right) hold their bilateral meeting. PNA

FOR Japan’s continuous support to his government’s development, President Duterte thanked Motegi at Malacañang during the latter’s courtesy call on January 9. KING RODRIGUEZ/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO/PNA

FOREIGN Affairs Secretary Teodoro L. Locsin Jr. and Motegi sign the diplomatic notes on the Metro Manila Priority Bridges Seismic Improvement Project-Phase 2 in Makati City, on the same day. The project will improve the resilience of two major spans: the Lambingan Bridge and Guadalupe Bridge, through the incorporation of improved seismic bridge-design specifications. JOYCE ANN L. ROCAMORA/PNA

pressed] his gratitude to Japan for its continuing support to the country’s development agenda,” the Palace said in a press statement. “The President highlighted numerous Japan-financed projects in the Philippines, which make Filipinos grateful to the Asian economic powerhouse for its continuing assistance.” As of September 2019, Japan is the Philippines’s top source of official development assistance, with $8.64 billion in loans and grants. The former makes up nearly half, or 46 percent, of the country’s total ODA portfolio. Malacañang said the President also thanked Motegi for finding time to visit Manila for the first time. It quoted the foreign minister, to wit: “The Philippine-Japanese bilateral relations has entered a golden age since Duterte’s election.” For Motegi, it was a “great honor” to meet Duterte during his stay in the Philippines. He, likewise, expressed his appreciation for the chief executive’s attendance to the Japanese Emperor’s enthronement rite in October last year. The Palace said Motegi also expressed his condolences and sympathies to the survivors of the recent typhoons that hit the central Philippines, as well as the series of powerful earthquakes that devastated parts of Mindanao in December 2019. Moteg i hai ls f rom Japan’s Tochigi Prefecture, particularly

development assistance, Japan, he assured, will continue to support the famous “Build, Build, Build” program, and assist in achieving sustainable economic, under the Asian superpower’s guiding principle of implementing “quality work infrastructure” to its projects worldwide. Such entails the elements of financial stability, transparent procurement, as well as environmental and financial sustainability. Atsushi cited the earlier exchange of notes signing for the new 40 year, ¥4-billion loans for the priority bridges project as an example for this. For what he termed as “positive and welcome development,” the deputy press secretary revealed the decision of lifting the restrictions for agricultural products from Japan, especially those emanating from the southern part of the country, as well as Fukushima Prefecture, which was the site of a nuclear disaster in the Daiichi power plant a few years back. He shared that the people from the area are very much encouraged with the decision as they can resume their food exports to Filipinos, which include meat, fruits and vegetables. Regarding peace and development in Mindanao, Atsushi said Japan welcomes the lifting of martial law in the island-region, as it will “further strengthen its assistance in decommissioning and disarming Moro Islamic Liberation Front

its fifth district, and has served in Japan’s House of Representatives for nine times. Before his appointment as foreign minister in September 2019, he worked in the Minister of State for Economic and Fiscal Policy, minister in charge of Social Security Reform, minister in charge of Transpacific Partnership, as well as for trade negotiations between Japan and the United States in October 2018. The Japanese government official also became his country’s minister for Human Resources Development and minister in charge of Economic Revitalization. He graduated from the University of Tokyo’s Faculty of Economics in March 1978, and completed his Master’s degree at the Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government in June 1983.

Briefing with press secretary

ON the evening of the same day, Deputy Press Secretary and Deputy Assistant Minister Kaifu Atsushi met with select members of the local media to recapitulate and clarify some of the matters that were earlier dealt with between executives of the Philippine and Japanese governments, with the latter’s delegation led by Motegi. Atsushi reemphasized Japan’s deep cooperation with the Philippines in the areas of law enforcement, national and maritime security, as well as many others. With regard to economic and

soldiers, and will further support social infrastructure development, for the people [there] to feel the actual dividends of peace.” He also added a gist of discussion points between Motegi and Duterte, the themes of which echoed those which were brought up together with the DFA chief and Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III. These included policies on Build, Build, Build, Japan’s support for peace and progress in Mindanao, cooperation on migrant law enforcement, as well as exchanges of views on regional and international affairs, including those taking place in Iran, in North Korea, and in the South China Sea. Atsushi also mentioned that Motegi was able to visit the Philippine Coast Guard headquarters during the latter’s brief stay in Manila. The Japanese foreign minister had a briefing with Vice Admiral Joel Garcia. Japan helped procure about 10 high-speed boats for the PCG via the yen loan that was obtained back in 2013. These are currently being utilized, Japan’s deputy press secretary said, for law enforcement, sea patrolling and anti-piracy activities. Other items that were quickly reviewed were those involving the infrastructure project concept in Subic Bay and the comprehensive tax-reform structure, among others. (Joyce Ann L. Rocamora and Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos/PNA, with a report from Mike Policarpio)


Envoys&Expats BusinessMirror

E4 Thursday, January 16, 2020

www.businessmirror.com.ph

EMBASSIES, EVENTS, ETC.

SFA: New child-protection measures needed

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N the face of new challenges confronting children of the region, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro L. Locsin Jr. called on participants at an Asean Dialogue in Manila to find more ways to interpret and implement the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. In a message read by Asean Intergover nmenta l Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) Rep. Ambassador Elizabeth P. Buensuceso, who co-organized on December 11 and 12, 2019, with Child Rights CoalitionAsia, the Asean Dialogue on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) General Comments, Locsin enjoined government decisionmakers and civil-society representatives to give meaning to the convention’s core objective of promoting and protecting children’s rights, as well as to share best practices that have saved children from abuse and neglect. The dialogue shared best practices in addressing challenges by discussing the General Comments, as authoritative interpretations of the UNCRC articles and as a means to identify regional, and international, similarities in advancing the rights of the child. General Comment 12 on the “Right of the Child to be Heard,” and General Comment 14 on the “Right of the Child to Have His or Her Best Interests Taken as a Primary Consideration” were extensively discussed.

The dialogue also came up w it h recom mend at ion s a nd identified ways to include these as inputs in policy formulation at the national and regional levels. Special focus was given to children in vulnerable situations, such as those of illegal migrants, child brides, children of sex workers and those with disabilities. A special session with a child-rights advocate Ericka Quilos, acting as a resource person, was also held. Representat ives of A sea n member-states, AICHR and other Asean sectoral bodies, government agencies, national legislators, civil-society organizations and other persons working with children attended the forum. Ambassador of the Kingdom of Norway to the Philippines Bjørn Staurset Jahnsen emphasized the need to strengthen children’s awareness on human rights. For the part of the Philippine government, Social Welfare Undersecretary Florita Villar read the message of Social Welfare Secretary Rolando Joselito Bautista, who challenged the participants to realize efforts in advancing children’s rights. DFA

PARTICIPANTS of the Asean Dialogue on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child PHILIP FERNANDEZ/DFA

AMBASSADOR of Norway Bjørn Staurset Jahnsen delivers a message during the opening ceremony. CRC ASIA/DFA

ATTY. Mikiko Otani (center) of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child discusses the General Comments. CRC ASIA/DFA

Canada pledges ₧7.25-M grant for 11 PHL groups

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A NA DA has ear marked CAD$185,000, or about P7.25 million, to fund projects in the Philippines focused on advancing inclusive governance and human rights. Its embassy in Manila said 11 organizations across the country would receive the grants from Canada Fund this year. “By working with Philippine organizations through the Canada Fund, the Embassy of Canada is championing the values of inclusive and accountable governance...by promoting human rights, women’s empowerment, gender equality and respect for diversity,” Chargé d’affaires Crista McInnis said. McInnis noted that advancing inclusive governance remains a strategic priority for Canada in the Philippines. “We are partnering with civil-society organizations in addressing barriers that prevent marginalized groups from realizing their full potential and participating in the development, and prosperity, of their families and communities,” she explained. The following organizations and their respective projects will receive the said Canada Fund grants: n Active Citizenship Foundation’s Safe Campuses Project—which promotes safe spaces by establishing desks for women, as well as students who are part of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer/questioning, or LGBTQ+, communities in five universities across the Philippines. n Samahan ng mga Pilipina para sa Reporma at Kaunlaran Inc. (or Spark! Philippines)’s Humanizing Sogie (sexual orientation and gender identity expression)—which aims to increase Filipinos’ willingness to accept, and recognize, the diverse sexual orientations, gender identities and LGBTQ+ expressions.

n Ateneo de Manila University’s Ateneo Human Rights Center—in collaboration with the provincial government of the Dinagat Islands, which seeks to improve access to justice in the province by empowering barangay officials to promote peace and order. n Pakigdait Alang sa Pag-amoma sa Kalinaw—which is working with six communities in Lanao del Norte to sustain peace, and prevent violent extremism by organizing community dialogues with Bangsamoro women and youth. n League of Cities of the Philippines—which is establishing evidence-based mechanisms for its 145 member-cities to share best practices for implementing gender and development policies. The project will research examples of best policies and gather relevant statistics for publication in a database and guidebook for local leaders, which will allow cities to ensure maximum effectiveness of the existing GAD focal-point system. n University of the Philippines Center for Women’s and Gender Studies—which will continue the Phase 2 of its Angat Bayi Women’s Political Empowerment Program that supports and expands a network of Filipino women-political leaders committed to advance feminist and rights-based, democratic governance. n Foundation for the Advancement of Clinical Epidemiology’s Technological Intervention to Protect Teenagers Against Early Unintended At-Risk Pregnancies and

Sexually Transmitted Illnesses in the Philippines, or PROTECT—which is in its second year of researching of developing an innovative chat robot on Facebook Messenger. n Ba h ay T u luya n’s cont i nued work to empower marginalized youth by building their capacities to protect themselves from abuse and exploitation. n Pa m ba n s a n g K o n g re s o n g Kababaihan sa Kanayunan Inc.’s Women in Emergencies Network in the Philippines’s promotion of women’s capacity in disaster-risk reduction management by boosting women’s leadership in decision-making and participation in disaster-risk reduction management, climate-change adaptation, as well as peace and security. n Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan’s work on a nationwide project that aims to increase active, and more meaningful, political engagement of community-based and civil-society organizations, parishes, and schools by conducting political and civic education, advocacy campaigning and local support networks building. n G over nment Watc h (or G Watch)—which will continue to train and mobilize officials of the Sangguniang Kabataan (local youth councils) to effectively monitor anti-poverty programs in their respective barangays to enhance transparency, participation, and accountability and improve outcomes for beneficiaries. The Canada Fund is a competitive grants program implemented by the Embassy of Canada in the Philippines, which provides direct financial support to local organizations for projects that promote inclusive governance, including empowering women and girls, strengthening democracy, advancing human rights and promoting the rule of law. Joyce Ann L. Rocamora/PNA

Profile for BusinessMirror

BusinessMirror January 16, 2020  

BusinessMirror January 16, 2020  

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