Saturday, 2 June 2007

Businessmen hail Arroyo admin for strong Q1 performance

By Ma. Elisa P. Osorio
Saturday, June 2, 2007
Full report at Philstar
http://www.philstar.com/index.php?Business&p=49&type=2&sec=27&aid=2007060138

The country’s largest business organization lauded yesterday President Arroyo and her economic team for the strong first quarter economic performance saying they are optimistic the growth will continue until the end of the year.

“This track ensures that the economy is in for a more stable and stronger growth in the next six months, providing the means to achieve the elusive seven percent growth in the gross national product (GNP) that Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) is advocating for,” PCCI president Samie Lim said.

According to Lim, the good performance was due to the strong ties between the public and the private sector.

Departure statement of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo: On her visits to Italy, Portugal & China

SATURDAY, JUNE 2, 2007 | FOREIGN RELATIONS
Original article at Gov.Ph News
http://www.gov.ph/news/default.asp?i=17803

The sun never sets on the work of the Philippine President in the modern world. In the past two weeks, I have traveled across East Asia to reap greater tides, peace and prosperity for our nation; and I am embarking today for the Vatican and Portugal in a virtually uninterrupted voyage for trade, investments, peace, security and spiritual rearmament for the Filipino people.

Japan was for economic partnership. New Zealand was for peace. Australia was for regional security. I shall go to the Vatican to seek the Pope’s renewed blessings for our people, then to Portugal to reinvigorate century-old ties. On the way home, I shall pass by Chengdu in Sichuan, China’s largest province; and Chongquing, the fastest growing city in the world.

From the economic to the spiritual realm, the Filipino rules the future. From seven percent growth to fuel the fight against poverty, we take higher inspiration from the prospective canonization of the first Filipino Saint of this century. God has given us a wellspring of blessings as well as the fortitude and the armor to do good and prosper.

We are stitching the threads of history and strategy to gain the vantage point for the Filipino people towards the end of the decade. From political stability at home, we have to stretch our horizons to security in the region. From economic vibrance at home, we must derive broader alliances to leverage the excellence of the Filipino and the value of our natural resources.

Growth must defeat poverty, global cooperation must win the peace, trade must propel people-to-people exchanges that make us one world and one humanity. The panoply of aspirations, creeds and dreams in East Asia must drive a caring and sharing community.

We shall continue to forge on with the unity of the Filipino people behind the sails of our nation, the confidence of the world as a buoy in challenging seas, and the collective patriotism of our leaders to pave the way forward. We shall bring your warm embrace to all our compatriots in the lands I shall visit.

Friday, 1 June 2007

Winners say they were cheated--what?

By Dan Mariano
Full article at The Manila Times
http://www.manilatimes.net/national/2007/june/01/yehey/opinion/20070601opi2.html

Election winners cry "Fraud!"

Time was when politicians who lose in Philippine elections invariably claim they were cheated. Nowadays, even winners insist they were victims of “massive election fraud.”

As of this writing, Genuine Opposition senatorial bets continue to occupy eight slots in the Magic 12. However, two of them are in statistical danger of being eased out by Team Unity candidates.

Notwithstanding their ticket’s remarkable showing, all 11 GO senatorial bets have issued a manifesto denouncing widespread election cheating.

Part of the GO statement read: “We… strongly denounce the numerous cases of actual and attempted electoral fraud, cheating, manipulation and sabotage in relation to the senatorial elections and the ongoing counting of votes.”

Loren Legarda and Panfilo Lacson even said they would continue to “lend support” to ticket-mates Antonio Trillanes and Koko Pimentel, who were in the 11th and 12th spots in the Commission on Elections tally as of Wednesday. What form that “support” would take, observers could only speculate.

Maybe Lacson and company felt compelled to express sympathy for Pimentel—who was even beaten in his hometown of Cagayan de Oro by Team Unity’s Migz Zubiri—and Trillanes, whom even GO’s handlers had described as a dark horse in their preelection projections.

But GO’s unanimous and blanket condemnation of election irregularities could backfire on those opposition bets whose election to the Senate now seems assured.

If the election was as dirty as Lacson, Legarda, Chiz Escudero, Manny Villar, Noynoy Aquino and Alan Peter Cayetano pictured it to be, doesn’t that cast a cloud of doubt over their own apparent victory?

Preelection forecasts

Not even the preelection surveys were able to predict that GO would give as good a showing as it now has.

The Inquirer-SWS survey of May 2-4, for instance, pointed to six Senate seats going to GO, four to TU and two to independent candidates.

The Inquirer-SWS survey even enumerated the 10 “safe” candidates: Legarda, Villar, Escudero, Pangilinan, Lacson, Aquino, Ralph Recto, Cayetano, Zubiri and Gregorio Honasan.

If any of these candidates has cause to complain of election rigging it is Recto who has thus far remained outside the winning circle—albeit tantalizingly close.

Neither Pimentel nor Trillanes was ranked “safe” in the PDI-SWS survey.

Meanwhile, the May 14 exit poll conducted by ABS-CBN and Pulse Asia showed Trillanes possibly placing from eighth to 12th and Pimentel from 14th to 17th.

The ranking it gave to the other senatorial bets foretold closely the tally of both the Comelec’s and the citizen watchdog Namfrel’s.

What the surveys and the election results show is that SWS and Pulse Asia are able to give a reasonably accurate forecast of election outcomes.

Majority coalition agree on 12-pt economic agenda

Original report at Manila Bulletin
http://www.mb.com.ph/MAIN2007060195042.html

Speaker Jose de Venecia and the House majority coalition have signed a 12- point economic agenda to create a "new wave of reforms that will invigorate our economy and restructure our politics" under the Arroyo administration.

Members of the six major political parties making up the House majority coalition signed the Declaration of Unity for Reform and Development in which they unveiled a legislative program for 2007-2010 that "responds to the Filipinos’ most urgent needs."

The political parties are Lakas Christian-Muslim Democrats (Lakas-CMD), Kabalikat ng Mamayang Pilipino, Nationalist People’s Coalition, Liberal Party-Atienza wing, Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino and Partido Demokratiko Sosyalista ng Pilipinas.

The economic agenda is also supported by six party-list organizations that signed a coalition agreement with Lakas-CMD weeks before the May 14 elections.

In the declaration, those who signed the 12-point program said De Venecia is the "best equipped, by his track record and strong political will, by his understanding of the parliamentary process, his broad legislative experience, his standing in the Asian and international community, and his conciliatory spirit to steer the make-or-break Legislative Program through the 14th Congress."

De Venecia said the program will be presented to President Arroyo before Congress convenes on June 4. The program has the following thematic goals:

1. Sustained the economic and political gains the Arroyo administration has achieved.

2. Speed up market opening to catch Asia’s new wave of growth.

3. Install the constitutional, political, electoral, and administrative reforms that will make the Philippines a "Strong Republic" and lead her to Second World, and eventually, First World status.

4. Raise the country’s competitiveness by lowering the costs of doing business and improving workers’ productivity.

5. Equip Filipino youth to compete in the global knowledge society by modernizing basic education and emphasizing math, English, and science.

6. Focus on core strengths in industry and the service sector by striving to become a hub of global business-process outsourcing, information technology and logistics.

7. Emphasize tourism as a growth industry.

8. Develop alternative fuels and energy sources.

9. Bridge the gap between urban and rural economies by modernizing agriculture and raising rural incomes.

10. Give everyone a stake in the country’s development.

11. Reconcile the needs of development with our duty to care for our environment.

12. Ensure regional peace by building with Association of Southeast Asian Nation partners, one Southeast Asian economic and political community and an East Asian economic grouping.

PGMA leads groundbreaking rites for rail linkage project

FRIDAY, JUNE 1, 2007 | PROGRAMS/PROJECTS
Original article at Gov.Ph News
http://www.gov.ph/news/default.asp?i=17801

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo led today the groundbreaking of the Northrail-Southrail Linkage Project Phase 1 that would reduce air pollution, decongest traffic condition, and provide fast, efficient and cheap means of transportation to the Filipino people.

The Northrail-Southrail Linkage is one of the priority landmark flagship projects of the Arroyo administration that would provide interconnectivity to the mass transport system.

Upon her arrival at the Philippine National Railways (PNR) Buendia Station in Makati City, the President was briefed by PNR General Manager Jose Maria Sarazola and South Korean Ambassador to the Philippines Jong Ki Hong on the importance of the project.

In her brief statement, the President admitted that she’s very happy that after five years of waiting, the interconnection of the South Rail and North Rail is now on the road to realization.

She said that after the pain of raising taxes, the government can now afford to invest in human and physical capital through the successful implementation of fiscal and reforms measures, as well as sustainable and irreversible investment to human and physical infrastructure.

"I’m very happy that today, we’ll start the construction of this project and I’m very happy to say that in 12 months, June 1, 2008, let’s all be back here again for the inauguration," the President said.

For his part Sarazola said that the realization of the project is part of the socioeconomic responsibility of the administration.

Ambassador Jong informed the President that the Korean government is proud to be a partner of the Philippines in the infrastructure development of the country.

"I hope this project would help not only decongest traffic in Metro Manila but also reduce air pollution," Jong told the President.

The Linkage Project Phase 1 from Caloocan City to Alabang in Muntinlupa City spans 34 kilometers with a total project cost of $50.42 million.

The funds for the construction and rehabilitation of the existing PNR rail road from Caloocan to Alabang will be sourced from the Economic and Development Cooperation Fund (EDCF), the Government of Korea, and the Korean Export-Import Bank.

Among the focus of the rehabilitation and construction are the following:

* track renewal from Caloocan to España St. in Sampaloc, Manila;
* strengthening of tracks from España to Alabang;
* double-tracking from Sucat (in Parañaque) to Alabang;
* level crossing improvement;
* raising of the Pandacan bridge and reconstruction/rehabilitation of bridges;
* improvements of stations and flatstops;
* supply of 18 diesel multiple units (DMUs) high-end air conditioned trains;
* improvement of depot and maintenance facilities; and
* upgrading of communications and tracking facilities.

The rehabilitation and construction of the North Rail and South Rail Linkage Project started today up to June 1, 2008.

Once completed, the linkage project will also provide interconnection to the existing Light Rail Transit (LRT) from Caloocan City to Baclaran, in Parañaque City; Metro Rail Transit (MRT) from North Avenue in Quezon City to Taft Avenue in Pasay City; and MegaTren or LRT 2 plying from Avenida Rizal along the University Belt in Recto, Manila up to Santolan in Pasig City.

Arrival statement of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on her visits to New Zealand and Australia

FRIDAY, JUNE 1, 2007 | FOREIGN RELATIONS
Original article at Gov.Ph News
http://www.gov.ph/news/?i=17797

We return from New Zealand and Australia with renewed confidence that Philippine relations with these two great nations are rock solid. We stand shoulder to shoulder in the fight against terrorism and side by side in our belief that greater economic, military and cultural engagement between our nations will lift up the Philippines.

In New Zealand, we worked to advance greater understanding between all communities of faith. This is so essential in our quest for peace in Mindanao. We were able to forge new economic ties and promote vital investments.

In Australia, we received a huge boost in mutual security with the new Status of Forces Agreement that will help to professionalize our military through training and advanced education along with the vital contribution of special sea crafts to help us fight terrorists lurking in the swamps and shadows of remote southern islands. Like the Philippines, Australia has felt the lash of terrorism on its citizens. By working together on a regional basis, we hope to make our country and the entire region safer and more secure for our God-fearing people.

We thank New Zealand and Australia for their leadership in interfaith dialogue, and for also extending the hand of friendship to help us wipe out our own lingering human rights issues here at home.

The Philippines must stay engaged with our neighbors. We cannot become isolated. It is clear from the valuable participation of our legislative and local officials in our trips to Japan and now New Zealand and Australia that our elected officials must also turn their sights outward and not solely focus on domestic issues.

We all have an obligation to strengthen our relations abroad in order to strengthen our economy and security here at home. Let us remain united as a nation in common purpose when it comes to our international standing and obligations. Let us not send mixed messages to the world. Rather let us say with one voice that says the Philippines is on the move. It is a worthy partner in peace and a prime location for investment.

RP stocks hit new record high at 3,548.76

Full report at ABS-CBN News
http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/storypage.aspx?StoryID=79245

The Philippine stock market index set a new record intraday high on Friday, led by top phone firm PLDT and power distributor Meralco, on bullish sentiments following news of strong first-quarter economic growth.

As of 11:11 am, the index had climbed up 2.13 percent or 74.09 points at 3,548.76, a new all-time high.

Arroyo restoring open-skies policy in Clark, Subic airports

By Roderick T. dela Cruz
Original report at the Manila Standard Today
http://www.manilastandardtoday.com/?page=business2_june1_2007

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is expected to sign an executive order that will restore the open skies policy in Subic and Clark within the next few days, Economic Planning Secretary Romulo Neri said yesterday.

“It is ready for signing,” said Neri, adding that Executive Order No. 500-B would likely be signed after President Arroyo’s arrival from a five-day visit to New Zealand and Australia.

The National Economic and Development Authority, which is headed by Neri, and the Subic-Clark Alliance for Development Council have been pushing for the restoration of open skies in Subic and Clark, after the Civil Aeronautics Board restricted the flights of foreign budget carriers in the two former American military bases in Central Luzon, now regarded as the country’s main logistics hub.

Neri said EO 500-B, which seeks to restore the open skies provision of the original EO 500 declaring air access to the Subic and Clark as developmental routes, would result in increased international visitor arrivals in the country and generate employment for thousands of Filipinos.

“We must cut loose from policies that distort market competition. They simply raise the cost of doing business, and deter investments and job creation,” Neri said. “We need a pro-market regulatory environment, which dismantles regulatory capture, to support a high growth.”

The National Competitiveness Council Infrastructure Group, headed by businessman Meneleo Carlos Jr. and economist Enrico Basilio, earlier wrote a letter asking Mrs. Arroyo to issue EO 500-B. They said the executive order would address the need for a stable environment in promoting government’s vision for providing better service to Filipino workers overseas and developing Subic-Clark as a tourism gateway and logistics hub.

Thursday, 31 May 2007

Arroyo on Q1 6.9% GDP rise

THURSDAY, MAY 31, 2007 | ECONOMY
http://www.gov.ph/news/?i=17788
http://www.gov.ph/news/?i=17790

STATEMENT OF THE PRESIDENT

I am pleased to announce that the economy has shown rather strong growth in the first quarter of 2007. Gross domestic product or GDP grew by 6.9 percent, while gross national product or GNP grew by 6.6 percent. This is a great sign that we will meet our GDP growth target of 6.1 to 6.7 percent for 2007.

The strong growth performance and sustained gains on the fiscal front point to a stable macroeconomic environment. International creditors and investors have noticed this. Investments are pouring in, and they have pushed the stock market to an 80-year high. Robust exports, OFW inflows, outsourcing revenues, and tourism receipts are strengthening the peso. For all this, I congratulate my economic managers and the Filipino workforce here and abroad.

Years ago, we hovered along the growth band of 3 to 4 percent. Then we accelerated to growth of 5 to 6 percent in my second term. This latest figure may signal that we are knocking at the door of 7 percent growth in the years ahead. We need rapid growth to multiply jobs, to raise incomes, and to defeat poverty.

As head of the NEDA Board, the highest economic policy-making body, I will promote policies to sustain the growth surge. These include maintaining macroeconomic stability, improving the investment climate, sustaining agricultural modernization, and achieving peace and order. We will adhere to the spending program set by the Development Budget Coordinating Committee and will continue to work with Congress to pass important economic bills.

There is an urgent need to ensure that these gains will impact on the lives of the common Filipino. This is why your government is pursuing aggressive measures which include:

o Realigning the national budget to spend more on social services
o Improving the infrastructure network;
o Eliminating regulatory capture in the bureaucracy;
o Boosting and diversifying exports and expanding their markets;
o Raising agricultural productivity;
o Strengthening micro, small and medium-sized enterprises;
o Supporting mass housing;
o Protecting the environment, and
o Eradicating terrorism.

A lot must still be accomplished. Let us therefore be closely united, looking beyond our differences, and work together in the fight against poverty. With the aid of the Almighty God, we will be able to accomplish everything fruitfully.

----

PGMA confident of attaining GDP growth target
THURSDAY, MAY 31, 2007 | ECONOMY


An upbeat President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo declared today that the economy is well-positioned to meet this year’s projected gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 6.1-6.7 percent.

The 6.9 percent growth of the GDP and the 6.6 percent uptake of the Gross National Product (GNP) in the first quarter of 2007 are "great" signs that "we will meet our GDP growth target of 6.1-6.7 percent for 2007," the President said in a statement issued by Malacañang this morning.

Now in Australia on the last leg of a two-nation overseas trip to strengthen Philippine relations with its Asian neighbors, the President said she would work with Congress on important bills to ensure that the economic gains will impact on the lives of the Filipino masses.

"Investments are pouring in, and they have pushed the stock market to an 80-year high," she said.

She added that remittances by Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), coupled with robust exports, outsourcing revenues and tourism receipts are bolstering the performance of the peso vis-à-vis foreign currencies.

Compared with other Asian countries, the Philippines fared better than Malaysia (5.3%), Indonesia (6.0%), Singapore (6,0%), Hong Kong (5.6%), Taiwan (4.1%), and South Korea (4.0%) though it lagged behind China (11.1%), and Vietnam (7.7%).

Philippine economy grows 6.9% in Q1; highest in 17 years

Reports at ABS-CBN News
http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/storypage.aspx?StoryId=79102

CANBERRA - The Philippines economy grew 6.9 percent in the first quarter of 2007, Philippines President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo said on Thursday.

"The Philippines grew 6.9 percent in the first quarter of 2007," Arroyo told reporters in the Australian capital Canberra, where she is on an official visit.

"This is the fastest pace in almost two decades, 9.1 percent growth in services, 5.3 percent in industry, 4.2 percent in agriculture."

------
By CHARO LOGARTA
http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/storypage.aspx?StoryId=79104

The Philippine economy grew at its fastest pace in 17 years in the first quarter, rising by 6.9 percent as robust dollar remittances and a strong peso encouraged people to spend more and companies to expand.

On a seasonally-adjusted basis, the economy grew 2.5 percent in the first quarter from the final quarter of 2006.

Economists polled by ABS-CBN News had forecast annual growth of 5.42 percent in the first quarter.

"It's a stunner. The upside call we had was growth at 6.5 percent for the year and this way exceeded our expectations in the first quarter," said Bill Belchere, an economist at Macquarie Bank.

"The good news is imports picking up in March, which signals that the exports sector is going to continue to be strong in the second quarter.

"You have that business expectations and improving confidence
there, you are going to have a barn burner in the first half of
the year."

STOCKS, PESO JUMP

Financial markets jumped in mid-trade following news of spectacular growth in the first quarter.

As of 10:39 am, the peso was quoted at 46.16 per dollar, higher than Wednesday's close of 46.33.

The Philippine Stock Exchange composite index had climbed 64.65 points or 1.9 percent to 3,463.20.

Wednesday, 30 May 2007

Gov't ready to act on adverse effects of strong peso

WEDNESDAY, MAY 30, 2007 | ECONOMY
Original report at Gov.Ph News
http://www.gov.ph/news/?i=17785

Mitigating measures to help exporters and families of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) cope with the adverse effects of the strong peso are now in place, according to Malacanang.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said in his weekly press briefing this afternoon that while the government and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) will not interfere and let the market determine the exchange rate, it is ready to act to prevent changes that are too fast.

"To slow down the peso, we have been prepaying some of our debts while the BSP has also been accumulating foreign exchange, that is why the gross international reserves are at record levels," he said.

The peso has been hovering at the P45 to P46 exchange rates against the dollar, reaching levels from as far back as seven years ago following the general trend of appreciating Asian currencies.

To directly help exporters, Ermita said the government has cut exporters’ fees and has set up an initial P280 million fund to support exporters through the Industrial Guarantee and Loan Fund (IGLF) which will be used to improve product quality, packaging, design and marketing.

"The BSP has also been supporting small and medium exporters through microfinance," he said. "Ultimately, the best way to help our exporters is to lower power rates, but that is for the medium term."

Ermita even read the position report of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) and the Department of Finance (DOF) stating that in 2006, exports of goods grew by 14 percent, the fastest in eight years.

He said that the strong peso has also helped reduce interests costs including those for the financing needs of the exporters.

"For OFW remittances, in year 2006, it rose to an all-time high of $12.8 billion while this year, they are up by 24 percent despite the fact that OFW deployment or the number leaving the country has gone down and the foreign direct investments in 2006 expanded by 26 percent," Ermita pointed out.

"Why am I reading this? Sinasabi maaapektuhan daw ang export and yet despite the improving peso laban sa dollar, export continued to improve," he explained.

Although families of OFWs may find themselves with less peso equivalent of dollars remitted to them, Ermita pointed out that relatively the strong peso lowered the price of imports notably oil and in the process lowered inflation and prices of commodities.

Tuesday, 29 May 2007

RP debt payments fall 8% from Jan to April 2007

Full report at GMANews.TV
http://www.gmanews.tv/story/44268/RP-debt-payments-fall-8-from-Jan-to-April-2007

The Philippines' debt payments fell close to eight percent in the first four months of the year despite the huge chunk of domestic debt that matured last month, the government said Tuesday.

Data from the Bureau of the Treasury showed that the government paid P300.86 billion worth of principal debt and interest from January to April 2007, P25.37 billion or 7.78 percent less than what was paid in the same period last year.

Outgoing National Treasurer Omar Cruz said the country’s debt service requirement went down in the first four months of the year despite the fiscal slippage early in the year and the huge chunk of domestic debt that matured last month.

RP debt-to-GDP ratio at single-digit level this yr

Full article at GMANews.TV
http://www.gmanews.tv/story/43715/RP-debt-to-GDP-ratio-at-single-digit-level-this-yr

The ratio of the Philippines' debt payments to its gross domestic product will finally fall to a single digit this year as the government continues to implement its fiscal reform program.

Finance Secretary Margarito Teves said Thursday that the country's debt service requirement would decline 30 percent to P610.4 billion, or 9.1 percent of GDP this year, from P854.4 billion or 14.2 percent of GDP last year.

This year’s budget for debt service would be the lowest since 2004 when the Philippines spent P601.6 billion to pay both its foreign and domestic obligations.

Gov't posts P12B April surplus on high revenues

Full report at GMANews.TV
http://www.gmanews.tv/story/43021/Govt-posts-P12B-April-surplus-on-high-revenues

The Philippine government posted a budget surplus of P12 billion for the month of April due to higher collections during the income tax payment season. This made for a four-month deficit of P40 billion.

April is the deadline for the submission of income tax returns and payment of income tax.

Total revenues for April amounted to P101.2 billion, 6.5 percent higher than the P95 billion collected a year ago.

Of this, the Bureau of Internal Revenue contributed P75.8 billion to the government, while the Bureau of Customs gave P17.2 billion and the Bureau of Treasury, P4.8 billion. Other government offices remitted P3.4 billion in revenues.

Monday, 28 May 2007

Solon wary of government-run broadband network to be put up by Chinese firm

Original article at News.Balita.Ph
http://news.balita.ph/html/article.php/20070527121517765

Reelected lone Catanduanes Rep. Joseph Santiago has warned the government against recklessly taking on a costly and high-risk national broadband network project.

"The agencies concerned should go slow and rethink their plan with care. We see no point in rushing fulfillment of the project at this time," said Santiago, former chief of the National Telecommunications Commission.

"Even the highly advanced U.S. government does not have a federal broadband network. The various agencies there from the national to municipal levels are engaging the services of the most dependable broadband network providers from the private sector," he pointed out.

Santiago was referring to the controversial initiative of the Department of Transportation and Communications to establish a national broadband network through the build-operate-transfer (BOT) scheme. The project involves a foreign private contractor, ZTE Corp., one of the largest state-owned firms in China.

The project is supposedly meant to build up the government's communications capabilities by establishing an integrated and high-speed communications network interconnecting all state agencies and units from the national to the barangay level.

Santiago, however, warned that taxpayers face serious financial risks, even if a private company would initially build and operate the network on behalf of the government.

"In the past, government ended up needlessly paying large amounts to cover the debt and foreign exchange risk guarantees of BOT projects. Thus, taxpayers are not automatically insulated from financial hazards insofar as BOT projects are concerned," he said.

He added: "Besides, we seriously doubt whether the agencies concerned can later on cost-efficiently operate and maintain a reliable national broadband network, once the system is eventually conveyed to the government."

Santiago cited the case of the Telepono sa Barangay, which he said has been reduced into "a white elephant" after the government spent billions of pesos for the project.

"The project now has a grossly degraded and depreciated infrastructure that is of little use, and yet requires high maintenance," the Catanduanes solon lamented.

Santiago said a nationwide broadband network would definitely involve a high-risk investment that is best left entirely up to private enterprise to undertake.

"Private investors, totally on their own and at their own risk, are in the best position to try out the viability of new networks and technologies," he stressed.

Santiago cited the case of the so-called third-generation or 3G mobile communication networks.

"Only last year, mobile telephone operators were so upbeat about 3G. They were all scrambling to build their networks. Now, operators themselves are scaling down capital spending for 3G. This, after realizing that the market is just not ready yet for the new technology," he said. (PNA)

===
(Blog Editor's Note: Secretary Leandro Mendoza also opposes open skies for DMIA. Hmmm... Just wondering whether he knows what he's doing. He seems to be making the wrong moves.)

Foreign banks earn record profit last year

By Maricel E. Burgonio, Reporter
Full report at The Manila Times
http://www.manilatimes.net/national/2007/may/28/yehey/business/20070528bus2.html

FOREIGN banks operating in the Philippines earned record profits due to strong trading gains and lending activities, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) said.

In a report, the BSP said the lenders’ net income after tax climbed to P12 billion, or 37.7 percent higher than the P8.7 billion in 2005.

Stock market-listed firms make a killing

Profitability was broad-based
By Darwin G. Amojelar, Reporter
Full report at The Manila Times
http://www.manilatimes.net/national/2007/may/28/yehey/business/20070528bus1.html

COMPANIES whose shares are traded at the local bourse made a killing last year, as their combined profit climbed by more than a fourth.

In a statement, the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) said the profitability of listed companies went up by 27.5 percent to P261.1 billion from P204.75 billion in 2005.

Francis Lim, PSE president, said the performance of the listed companies is clear proof that improvements in the country’s macroeconomic environment, especially the lower interest and inflation rates, have benefited companies.

He noted that all six industry groups in the Main Board, as well as the Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) Board, enjoyed net earnings and gross revenues that were higher than their levels the previous year.

Firms listed at the SME Board recorded the best performance with 511 percent growth, as they reversed the P3.44-million net loss incurred in 2005 and posted a P14.14-million profit last year.

At the Main Board, the industrial sector recorded the highest growth in earnings at 54 percent as combined profits of companies in this sector jumped to P80.87 billion from P52.54 billion in 2005.

Asian economic boom fuels demand for Filipino workers

By Joel E. Zurbano
Original report at the Manila Standard Today
http://www.manilastandardtoday.com/?page=politics5_may28_2007

The demand for Filipino professionals and skilled workers in Asia remains high due to the steady economic growth in the region, according to the Labor department.

Acting Labor Secretary Danilo Cruz said the bustling economies of many Asian countries have sustained the construction of major infrastructures and industrial projects, resulting in the steady increase in the demand for foreign workers, including Filipino workers.

Citing a report from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, Cruz said Taiwan and South Korea, both remain major destination for Filipino factory workers.

Cruz also noted the emerging markets for IT and health care workers in Taiwan and skilled workers in the construction and ship-building sectors in Korea. He expressed confidence that both countries would provide opportunities to Filipinos as they fill their manpower requirements in these sectors.

Cruz also cited the employment opportunities in Singapore, Malaysia, and Brunei. He said the Philippine Overseas Labor Offices in these countries are exerting efforts to make employment opportunities available to Filipinos.

Meanwhile, Singapore said it was in need of hotel managers, supervisors, and skilled workers including croupiers, dealers, chambermaids, and waiters/waitresses. The island state is also in need of architects, engineers, and draftsmen for its construction projects.

There is also a rising demand for IT and related skills in Penang, Johore, and Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. At the same time, the construction, ship-building and ship repair industries in Johore need skilled workers while Genting Highlands Hotels and Resorts need casino workers and entertainers.

In Brunei, industries such as oil and gas, hotels and restaurants, and construction provide employment opportunities for skilled and professional workers such as fabricators, riggers, high-pressure operators, managers, and engineers.

Sunday, 27 May 2007

EO on air liberalization in Clark far from implemented

By EMMIE V. ABADILLA
Original report at the Manila Bulletin Online
http://www.mb.com.ph/BSNS2007052794699.html

The government is far from finalizing its controversial air liberalization policy, Executive Order 500-B, which gives unlimited 3rd, 4th, 5th and 7th freedom rights to foreign airlines flying in and out of Diosdado Macapagal International Airport (DMIA), Clark, Pampanga.

After a recent meeting with the authors of the EO, the Philippine Travel Agencies Association (PTAA) agreed in principle with the government’s open sky initiative, President Jose C. Clemente III told reporters in their general membership meeting in Tagaytay City.

However, some provisions of the EO need to be addressed, he clarified. "We should have a passenger bill of rights to protect consumers and resolve issues such as entitlements in case of cancellation or cessation of operations."

Overall, PTAA believes that air liberalization will bring in more tourists from high profit markets inasmuch as foreign carriers operating at DMIA, such as Tiger Airways and Air Asia, are low-cost airlines charging less than half the normal fares.

Reciprocity, which is the main issue of local carriers against E.O. 500-B, is just a side issue the PTAA president pointed out.

Local carriers want the government to grant them the same privileges given to foreign airlines at DMIA which enjoy third freedom rights, enabling them to carry passengers and cargo from their country to another; fourth freedom, which enables them to ferry passengers and cargo from one country to theirs and fifth freedom, which allows them to transport passengers from their country to a third country.

If foreign airlines can operate unlimited frequencies to third countries from the Philippines, local carriers should also be given the same rights, argued Philippine Airlines (PAL), Cebu Pacific Air (CEB), Air Philippines, Asian Spirit and Pacific East Asia Cargo Airlines Inc.

But Reciprocity should be for high-revenue routes like the U.S., ASEAN, Europe and Australia, Clemente countered. Some of our local carriers are not equipped for those flights. It’s not the fault of foreign carriers if they can mount flights here. Why should we blame them?

PTAA expects the Philippines will hit its 3.5 million tourist target for 2007, generating some 0 [sic] million revenues tough there’s still lack of flights, rooms and airports.

"We have not yet maximized the potentials of Cebu and Davao," the PTAA President noted. "Open skies should develop North and Central Luzon as tourist destinations and take the pressure off Manila. Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 1 is full. Terminal 2 is overcrowded and we don’t know when Terminal 3 will open.