Friday, 25 July 2008

Photos of Qantas 747 that made emergency landing at NAIA,23607,5033318-5007150,00.html

One comment said: Has anyone realized that, that was the plane ("Longreach") the Pope flew back to Rome on!!

Posted by: Kay of Brisbane 7:30pm today
Comment 130 of 137

NAIA-3 intl flights to start August 1


Terminal 3 of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport will start catering to international flights sooner than expected. This development came after Cebu Pacific (CEB) announced that it will move its entire domestic and international operations to the newly-opened terminal on August 1.

"Now that we will be flying both domestic and international services under one roof, we will be able to see some operational efficiencies and offer our passengers an even better product," CEB president and CEO Lance Gokongwei said in a statement released Friday.

"NAIA-3's opening is a welcome development for us especially since we have outgrown both the domestic passenger terminal and NAIA-1. As the country's fastest growing airline, we are very pleased to be offering our passengers a much improved airport facility," he added.

At present, CEB flies to 24 domestic and 16 international destinations, operating a total of 1078 flights per week.

At the new terminal, the airline has been allotted 28 check-in counters and nine boarding gates, up from sharing 22 counters and four gates with other airlines at the old Manila Domestic Airport terminal.

The airline is expecting to carry seven million passengers in 2008, up from almosty [sic] 5.5 million passengers last year.

Cebu Pacific was the first airline to use the $600 million terminal, which was mothballed for more than six years due to legal disputes before being partially opened last July 22.

It currently shares the terminal with Philippine Airlines' budget carrier, PAL Express, and Air Philippines, both of which used to operate from the NAIA Centennial Terminal (Terminal 2).

The new terminal building has 140 check-in counters and 188 immigration counters and was designed to handle some 13 million passengers a year.

During the inauguration of the flights of PAL Express and Air Philippines last Thursday, Task Force NAIA-3 head Michael Defensor said international flights would originate from the terminal by mid-August. (With a report from the Agence France-Presse)

Philippines offers $220K for Olympic gold


MANILA, Philippines (AP) -- The Philippine government and the private sector are offering 9.5 million pesos (US$220,000) to any athlete who brings home the country's first-ever Olympic gold medal.

The gold has eluded the Philippines since 1924, when it first attended the Olympic games in Paris. The last medal it won was a silver in boxing in Atlanta in 1996.

Philippine Olympic Committee spokesman Joey Romasanta says the money will go to the first gold winner. But he says it is not the first time a reward has been offered.

He said Friday the government has pledged 5 million pesos (US$116,000) and the rest were donations from businessmen

Hole forces Qantas plane to land in Manila

A passenger plane from Hong Kong to Melbourne has made an emergency landing in the Philippines after suffering cabin pressure problems.

Airport officials in Manila said the Qantas Airways Boeing 747-400, with 350 passengers and 16 crew, landed safely.

Airport Authority spokesman Octavio Lina said the plane lost cabin pressure after take-off and there was a "big hole in the right side near the wing".

He said the passengers looked scared and some vomited after the incident.


Mex Cooper and Matthew Burgess
July 25, 2008 - 3:06PM
Page 1 of 2 | Single page

A Qantas Boeing 747 passenger plane with over 300 passengers flying from London to Melbourne made an emergency landing in Manila today, with reports of a two-metre gash torn in the plane's fuselage.

The flight dropped nearly 20,000 feet before being diverted to Manila from Hong Kong.

Passengers said they heard a loud bang as the aircraft lost pressure and oxygen masks dropped.During the emergency part of the plane's flooring gave way, exposing some of the cargo in the hold, he said. Part of the ceiling also collapsed.


A Qantas plane flying from London to Melbourne was forced to make an ermergency landing at Manila airport after a door "popped" midflight, leaving a hole in the side of the plane.

The Boeing 747 carrying 300 passengers and crew plunged 20,000 feet after the faulty door "popped", causing an "explosive" depressurisation. Flight QF30 had just taken off from Hong Kong when the incident happened. As the plane dropped from 30,000 feet to 10,000 feet, oxygen masks dropped from the ceiling.

One passenger on flight QF 30, Brendan McClements said there was a sudden "gust of wind" through the plane. ''There was a degree of surprise - people questioning what it was,'' he told Australia's Herald Sun website.

''There was a rush of wind as the air pressure came down. It got people's attention. It was then a matter of getting the masks on.'' He said the faulty door was on the "driver's" side of the plane. There was ''a big gap where the door used to be'', he said. He said other passengers were in "reasonably good" spirits.

Another passenger described how children burst into tears after a "quick bang" reverberated throught the cabin. She said the plane plunged, but then stabilised after about five minutes.

Passengers reported that the pilot did "an amazing job" of controlling the aircraft, taking it lower to counter the effects of the depressurised cabin. Mr McClements, an Australian businessman, said: ''The crew were terrific, they did a great job. Everyone gave them a round of applause as we landed.''

Qantas is still trying to establish how a large hole came to appear in the fuselage outside the baggage compartment. An emergency room has been set up at the airline's head office at Mascot airport in Sydney, where senior airline executives are being continuously [??] by aircraft engineers.

Alfonso Cusi, the Manila airport manager confirmed that the plane has requested an emergency landing. A Qantas spokeswoman said last night: "Qantas can confirm that Qantas flight 30 from Hong Kong to Melbourne has been diverted to Manila . The aircraft is on the ground and is currently being inspected”.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau has been notified of the incident and its director of air safety is being briefed by Qantas officials.

In January a Qantas 747 flying from Londno to Bangkok was forced to land on battery backup after an electrical failure, caused by a cracked drip tray. In March, a cockpit alert on a Qantas flight bound from Los Angeles to Sydney forced the pilot to abandon take-off. He was travelling at such speed the impact blew out three of the plane's tyres and threw passengers forward in their seats.

Mark Merueñas, GMANews.TV

(Updated 2:10 p.m.) MANILA, Philippines – An Australian passenger airplane flying from Hong Kong to Melbourne made an emergency landing at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Friday due to a hole near one of the aircraft’s wings.

Octavio Lina, assistant general manager for operations at the Manila International Airport Authority, said in an interview on radio dzBB said that a Qantas Boeing 747 airplane diverted from its original course and landed at the NAIA at 11:20 a.m.

The airplane, which took off in London and stopped over in Hong Kong, was carrying 350 passengers and 19 crewmen when the incident happened.

Lina said the craft’s pilots were prompted to land on Philippine soil after discovering in mid-air a “big hole" on the plane’s right belly, just near the aircraft’s right wing.

“We were first informed by the plane’s pilot that there was a cabin pressurization. They had to land immediately. The pilot decided to call our Manila control tower to help in the immediate landing on the nearest airport," Lina said.

Malaki iyong butas ng pinaka-belly ng aircraft. Mga 2.5 to 3 meters ang diameter ng butas (The hole on the belly was big. The hole’s diameter was about 2.5 to 3 meters)," Lina added.

Luggage inside the plane were reportedly almost thrown out of their compartments during the air incident. Tension briefly gripped the plane after oxygen masks began dropping when the plane's altitude plummeted to 29,000 feet.

Lina said the airplane landed safely and flight operations on the NAIA runway were not disrupted since the Qantas plane was immediately pulled out of the runway 15 minutes after it landed.

The passengers had already been taken out and accommodated at the airport’s Gate 4. The management of the Qantas Airways has already made arrangements to billet the passengers in nearby hotels.

The radio report said that the plane was repositioned at the NAIA’s Remote Parking 24 and would later be brought to the Lufthansa Hangar near the Villamor Airbase to undergo repair.

The Sydney-based Qantas Airways Limited, which derived its name from the acronym of Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services, is Australia’s largest airline.

The 87-year old airline company is considered the second oldest continuously operating airline and was voted the fifth best airline in the world by a United Kingdom-based research consultancy firm. -

Arroyo’s bridge team goes full blast

By Joel E. Zurbano
The Manila Standard

At least 28 of the 35 typhoon-damaged bridges in Visayas have been repaired while a major river in Mindanao is being unclogged, the Public Works Department said yesterday.

Apart from repairing bridges, life-saving operations also formed part of the task of the department, in tandem with the President’s Bridge Program Emergency Response Team.

In a report to Secretary Hermogenes Ebdane Jr., Region 6 director Rolando Asis said that 28 bridges are now passable and seven others are provided with alternate routes and/or footbridges.

Asis said the immediate repair of the damaged road and bridges will help ensure delivery of relief to major evacuation areas.

The agency is now doing feasibility studies or preliminary work on the design of permanent replacement for those bridges that were totally destroyed, Asis said.

The agency is trying to make sure the bridges are durable enough to withstand massive floods, Asis said.

In Cotabato City, efforts to unclog a major tributary of the country’s second largest river system to prevent massive floods in low-lying areas went on high gear mode with the support of the President’s Bridge Program Emergency Response Team.

The unclogging operations to remove a large mass of water lilies and other debris from the Pulangi River Section of the Rio de Grande de Mindanao went on fast-track mode with the recent entry of the PBP Emergency Response Team, which brought in its cranes, excavators and dump trucks.

The Rio Grande de Mindanao, or the Mindanao River, is the second largest river system in the country, second to the Cagayan River in Luzon. It is a major transportation artery in the island, used mainly to ship agricultural products.

PBP director Emil Sadain said that the Emergency Response Team expects to clean up the mid-part of the Pulangi River in 10 days’ time with the arrival of its 12 modular-part floating barge component with an 18-ton backhoe, which is now being used to unclog the water system.

“With the onset of the typhoon season, any delay in the clearing and de-clogging operations of the river could lead to millions of pesos worth of damage and loss of lives,” Sadain said. “During strong rains, the river waters would find its way to small tributaries, and, in the process, inundating low-lying barangays.”

Under the program, a total of 1,403 bridges have been built over the past 12 years, at least 1,203 of them under the Arroyo administration alone. These PBP projects include 261 bridges in Luzon, 161 in the Visayas and 781 in Mindanao.

GMA is right on the repro bill

The Manila Times

[Today, I am giving my column up to a better writer, former senator Kit Tatad, whose article contains exactly what I think of the RH bill.

— Rene Q. Bas]

The “culture of death” issue is once again in the headlines, after the Catholic bishops denounced a reproductive health bill which two standing committees are trying to steamroll in the House of Representatives, in violation of the Constitution and the Rules of the House.

Using painfully faulty data, former President Fidel V. Ramos has criticized President Gloria Arroyo for reportedly listening to the bishops, at the cost of her birth control program, which the international repro health lobby is vigorously trying to push.

This is one issue where Ramos and his friends are dead wrong, and Arroyo is refreshingly right. The bill is an abomination, and the effort to ram it through, without observing the process guaranteed by the Constitution and the House’s own rules, makes it even worse.

Women’s health, like everybody else’s, is and should be a permanent concern. But the repro health bill is not about this. It is an attempt to use women’s health to advance an ideology that does not recognize the sanctity of human life or family life, which occupies such a high place in our Constitution, our culture, and our hierarchy of moral values and religious beliefs.

The bill –An Act Providing For A National Policy On Reproductive Health, Responsible Parenthood and Population Development and For Other Purposes —is a consolidation of four bills. Three of the bills were heard once on April 29, 2008 by the House committees on Health and on Population and Family Relations; the fourth was not. On May 21st, the two committees met again purportedly for a second hearing, but declared after a few minutes that the bills had been consolidated into one unnumbered substitute bill, which would now be reported out on second reading for floor debates.

The offense is procedural but fatal. Section 3 (4), Article XV of the Constitution provides: “The State shall defend…the right of families or family associations to participate in the planning and implementation of policies and programs that affect them.” Likewise, Sec. 34 of the Rules of the House requires the committees to “undertake measures and establish systems to ensure that constituencies, sectors or groups whose welfare and interests are directly affected by measures to be discussed are able to participate in these meetings or public hearings.”

Such steamrolling cannot result in any valid legislation. That the proposal had allegedly been filed and heard in the previous Congress, which chose not to act on it, has no effect on the present Congress, which has a different membership altogether. It must go through the mill as if it had never been filed before, and was being heard for the first time.

While the bill purportedly seeks to “uphold and promote responsible parenthood, informed choice, birth spacing and respect for life,” it limits these to those that are “in conformity with universally recognized international human rights.” This denies the unborn the right to life, which is sacred to the Constitution, since so many governments have legalized the killing of the unborn.

The bill seeks full official funding for artificial birth control methods, which the Church condemns as unlawful; which the World Health Organization has determined to be carcinogenic and hazardous to women’s health; and which make a mockery of the constitutional guarantee of “equal protection for the life of the mother and the life of the unborn from conception.”

It is a blatant attempt to circumvent that core constitutional provision. Equal State protection for the life of the mother and the life of the unborn from the moment of conception leaves no room for the State to support a program that prevents mothers from conceiving. But this is exactly what the bill proposes to do —to reduce the solemn words of the Constitution into a mere shell game.

The controversy has grown ever since Ozamiz Archbishop Jesus Dosado reportedly issued a pastoral letter saying his archdiocese would deny holy communion to church-going pro-abortion politicians. The Code of Canon Law (Can. 1398) provides that “a person who actually procures an abortion incurs a latae sententiae excommunication.” That is to say, automatic excommunication, without anyone pronouncing sentence.

While advocating abortion may not necessarily be the same as procuring one, “the Church has its own and exclusive right to judge cases which refer to matters which are spiritual or linked with the spiritual; and the violation of ecclesiastical laws and whatever contains an element of sin, to determine guilt and impose ecclesiastical penalties” (Can. 1401).

The separation of Church and State has been invoked. This, however, means the State’s non-interference in the affairs of the Church, which does not owe the State its existence. The Pope has no armed divisions, as Stalin once said, while the State has vast coercive powers. But since the State is not the source of truth, it has no authority or competence to legislate outside of the moral law on the whole complex being of man.

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NAIA-3 international flights to start August

BusinessWorld Online

THE NINOY AQUINO International Airport Passenger Terminal-3 (NAIA-3) will start serving international flights in August, months earlier than initially targetted.

Task Force NAIA-3 head Michael T. Defensor yesterday said flights to and from the country could be accommodated as early as August 8 after local carrier Cebu Pacific agreed to the move.

"[NAIA-3] can be used for international flights around August 8 ... They (Cebu Pacific) said they can use it in August," he said in Pilipino.

Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) General Manager Alfonso G. Cusi declined to give a specific date, only saying the plan was for daily international flights "by the early part of August."

Next month the terminal will be ready to service 28 daily international flights of Cebu Pacific, he said.

"We have been talking to Cebu Pacific. Right now we are also talking to PAL (Philippine Airlines)," he said, adding that the flight destinations include Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore, and Bangkok.

An official of Cebu Pacific, which began using NAIA-3 for select domestic flights on Tuesday, said the airline would be focusing for the moment on moving its entire domestic operations.

Candice A. Iyog, spokesperson for the Gokongwei-led low-cost carrier, said, "let’s do it one at a time. We haven’t even announced when we will be moving [the rest] of our domestic operations."

For international flights, the airline "should be able to move ... soon after," she said.

PAL officials were not immediately available for comment. The airline’s PAL Express and Air Philippines brands began using the terminal, also for select flights, yesterday.

Messrs. Cusi and Defensor, meanwhile, said full operations would be achieved early next year.

"Hopefully [the terminal] will be fully operational by February," Mr. Defensor said.

By this point, the terminal will be able to accommodate as much as 140 international and 220 domestic flights a day, he added.

"We are talking to other foreign airlines. They said they need six to eight months before they can move in. They said they would have to organize their offices," Mr. Cusi said.

Last month, officials said NAIA-3 would be open for international flights in six to nine months.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who inspected the facility yesterday, called NAIA-3 the "gateway to our country from the rest of the world."

"This is our showcase for tourism and economic progress. Today’s commercial opening is a result of our resolve and determination to move this nation forward," she said.

NAIA-3 has been dogged by controversy and the Supreme Court in 2002 voided the 1997 contract awarding the project to Philippine International Air Terminals Co.

Cases filed in the wake of the decision have yet to be settled, and the government was only able to take over the facility after paying Piatco an initial P3 billion in compensation. — with a report from Paolo Luis G. Montecillo

San Miguel corporate shake-up

San Miguel springs surprise
Part of core businesses may be sold, Cojuangco tells shareholders

Reuters with a report from K. J. R. Liu
BusinessWorld Online

A LITTLE OVER A YEAR AFTER stunning investors with radical diversification plans, conglomerate San Miguel Corp. yesterday served up another surprise: a new corporate shake-up that may see it sell part of its core food unit and more of its flagship beer operations.

"The restructuring may require the divestment of part of our interest in our major subsidiaries through either an IPO (initial public offering) or follow-on offering and strategic partnerships with existing partners and other industry leaders," San Miguel Chairman Eduardo "Danding" M. Cojuangco, Jr. told a shareholders’ meeting.

"This would enable each of our operating businesses to focus more fully on optimizing the underlying potential of each business which investors could more easily participate," Mr. Cojuangco added.

"In the event that we do pursue such a partnership, San Miguel would retain controlling interest of at least 51%."

Southeast Asia’s largest food and drinks group has yet to win over fund managers to a previous strategic shift, announced last year, that saw it list its domestic beer unit and declare an intention to branch into mining, power and property.

The 118-year old group, in which Japanese brewer Kirin has a 20% stake, has yet to make a major acquisition in heavy industry in the Philippines.

Rising costs

Hit by rising input costs and a maturing home market, San Miguel also went on a sell-off spree last year including unloading Australian dairy and juice producer National Foods to Kirin for $1 billion.

San Miguel’s A shares, restricted to local investors, have dropped 34% and its B stock, open to all, have slid 42% since the new strategy was unveiled in May 2007.

The Philippines’ main index lost 24% in that period.

"Fellow stockholders, it may seem that far too much is fluid," said Mr. Cojuangco, who has a 17% stake in the company.

"One year on, we are still on the lookout for potential and prospective investments," he added.

"There are a few companies out there that we are looking at, and we will report to you as soon as something concrete materializes," he said.


Mr. Cojuangco said San Miguel was preparing for a secondary offering of its food business and its newly listed beer unit, San Miguel Brewery , and an IPO for its packaging unit.

The company raised just $147 million when it floated 5% of San Miguel Brewery, which contributes around 40% of group operating profit, in an IPO in May.

It had originally hoped to raise around $566 million from the listing which was hit by market turbulence.

Kirin, meanwhile, would be interested in buying a stake in the beer business of Philippines’ San Miguel , a senior official yesterday said.

Asked if Kirin would be interested in buying shares in San Miguel Brewery, Yoshinori Isozaki, who represents Kirin on the board of San Miguel Brewery’s parent group, said: "If there is an opportunity."

"We are very interested in the beer business," he said.

Relative success

Mr. Cojuangco described the brewery’s listing as a relative success.

"Having attracted substantial interest from both overseas and domestic investors, we bucked the trend of the weak worldwide equity markets, gaining 6.25% in price for our stock market debut," he said.

The brewery yesterday reported higher sales of P23.8 billion in the first half, some 9% than last year, which the company attributed to higher beer consumption, among others.

For the first quarter, San Miguel said the group netted P17 billion or 200% growth from last year.

San Miguel’s A shares stayed at P42.50 yesterday while its B shares gained P0.50 to P43.50.

Shares of San Miguel Brewery rose by ten centavos to P8.50. —

New bridge links Samar town to rest of RP

The Manila Bulletin

TACLOBAN CITY — The long-time dream of the people in Matuguinao, Samar to be connected to the rest of the country has been realized at last with the inauguration of the P53-million Sto. Niño Bridge in Gandara, Samar last July 15.

The 72.195-meter Sto. Niño Bridge, which now connects the coastal town of Gandara to the inland town of Matuguinao has provided travelers access to Matuguinao’s hinterland villages.

It was learned that Matuguinao town and its upland villages were traditionally accessible only by bancas and pump boats via the Gandara River.

With land travel now available, transport of agricultural products from the area becomes faster and cheaper.

Tonete Lim, regional information officer, said largely benefited by the project are farmers, students and businessmen.

The peace and order situation in the area is also believed to improve as the town is now easily reached by military and police authorities.

It was reported that the Sto. Niño Bridge project was implemented by the Regional Project Management Office (RPMO), Regional Office VIII, Samar 1st District Office.

The vital bridge was constructed by the B. Vicencio Construction.

Total appropriation was R42 million, and the contract cost was R40.2 million. An additional amount of R13 million was released to the Samar First District Engineering Office to improve the abutment and the approaches.

The implementation started on January 7, 2006 and was completed on January 25, 2008 with revised contract duration of 325 days.

The scope of work covers removal of existing 18.115-meter RCDG superstructure at Span 1; construction of 3-span steel superstructure with total length of 72.195 meters; construction of 60 l.-meter steel craneway; construction of 227.145-meter approach; construction of stone masonry; and slope protection works at approaches.

Lim said completion of the project was in fulfillment of President Arroyo's promise to the people of Samar Province.

All church bells ring in Manila at 6 p.m. as pro-life commitment

The Manila Bulletin

All church bells in the Archdiocese of Manila will simultaneously ring at 6 tonight to signify the Catholics’ commitment to life.

Participating in the activity are the 84 parishes, nine shrines, basilicas, and chapels under the archdiocese, the Office of Communications of the Archdiocese of Manila said yesterday.

"This will express the Catholics’ firm belief in life and their commitment to stand up for life," Manila Auxiliary Bishop Bernardino Cortez said.

The simultaneous ringing of bells is also in celebration of the 40th anniversary of Pope Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae Vitae [Of Human Life] which was promulgated on July 25, 1968.

Bishop Cortez also urged all priests in the archdiocese to make the activity an act of thanksgiving for the encyclical.

He enjoined the faithful to participate in today’s Prayer Rally for Life and Family at the University of Santo Tomas (UST) on España, Sampaloc, Manila.

Initiated by the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) Episcopal Commission on Family and Life (ECFL) together with the Archdiocese of Manila, today’s 3 p.m. prayer rally is aimed at opposing the Reproductive Health Bill in Congress.

"It’s a bit festive in a sense because it’s the 40th anniversary of the encyclical ‘Humanae Vitae’ but very militant as well," Fr. Melvin Castro, ECFL executive secretary, told reporters.

"It is our way of telling our legislators strongly but respectfully that we oppose these bills," he added.

Castro is convinced that today’s prayer rally will gather enough pro-life advocates especially since other religious groups have already signified their intention to join.

"El Shaddai and the two groups of Couples for Christ (CFC) have signified their support… God willing we can muster significant numbers," he said.

Aside from El Shaddai and CFC, more than 45 lay and religious Church groups such as the Christian Family Movement, Ligaya ng Panginoon, congregations of men and women, schools and parishes are also expected to attend the prayer rally.

Focusing on the theme "Humanae Vitae 40: Biyaya ng Buhay, Biyaya ng Pamilya," the rally will have two parts. The first part will feature testimonies and talks from lay couples and Church experts on the values and message of the encyclical.

The second part will be a Eucharistic celebration to be led by CBCP president and Jaro, Iloilo Archbishop Angel N. Lagdameo, with other bishops and priests concelebrating.

Manila Archbishop Gaudencio B. Cardinal Rosales, Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines Archbishop Edward Joseph Adams, and ECFL chairman and San Fernando, Pampanga Archbishop Paciano Aniceto are also scheduled to speak at the prayer rally.

4 foreign chambers identify 5 Philippine cities as retirement havens

The Manila Bulletin

Four foreign chambers of commerce comprising of Japan, Korea, European and [the] US have identified five areas – Manila, Subic, Tagaytay, Cebu and Dumaguete – as ideal retirement havens in the country that can really provide full service to foreign retirees.

Henry Schumacher, executive vice president of the European Chamber in the Philippines, said the four foreign chambers have already formed the International Chamber of Commerce, Retirement and Healthcare Coalition primarily to promote the Philippines as a retirement market.

"We have to see to it that they will be provided the required amenities and an end-to-end service – from the time they arrive at the airport to caretaker down to undertaker," Schumacher said.

"We believe the retirement market is an exciting market for the Philippines and if we want to be known as a retirement haven then we have to move now," Schumacher said.

According to Schumacher, the five cities have been chosen as priority areas as the country’s retirement sites largely due to their excellent medical facilities to serve the medical needs of foreign retirees, who may decide to make the Philippines their second home.

The five cities have excellent medical facilities and have the right environment for retirees to stay longer in the country.

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Update video on NAIA 3 opening

From soundsneu

Arroyo tours Philippines’ ‘gateway to rest of world’

Int’l flights could start next month--execs
By Lira Dalangin-Fernandez

MANILA, Philippines – (UPDATE) President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo arrived Thursday at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3, which she called the “gateway to our country and to the rest of the world.”

“It’s a showcase for tourism and economic progress. It’s a result of our resolve to move this nation forward,” Arroyo said in a brief speech after planing in from Cebu at the NAIA 3 where she was welcomed by Lucio Tan of Philippine Airlines and Lance Gokongwei of Cebu Pacific.

Also present were several Cabinet officials, legislators, ambassadors, and heads of travel agencies.

Arroyo has inspected the airport’s check-in counters and three departure lounges.

With its smooth opening on Tuesday, officials said NAIA 3 would start servicing international flights by next month.

Manila International Airport Authority general manager Alfonso Cusi said local carrier Cebu Pacific has committed to begin using the terminal for its regional flights by early August.

Cusi said NAIA 3 could accommodate Cebu Pacific's 28 international flights a day.

Officials said that international flights in the newly-opened airport would begin in six months, although NAIA 3 task force head Michael Defensor said the airport was ready to handle international flights with the continuous improvement in the system.

International operations would coincide with the inaugural flights of Philippines Airlines express and Air Philippines using the airport.

NAIA 3 opened on Tuesday with Cebu Pacific servicing domestic flights.

Cusi said the transfer of the country's main flag carrier, PAL, and Air Philippines "completed the start-up scenario" of Terminal 3.

"With its opening, hopefully it would change the outlook of the world on the Philippines," he said.

Defensor also said NAIA 3 would continue operations despite legal obstacles.

"The cloud of legal turbulence is slowly going away," he said.

But the government still has to comply with the full payment to the Philippine International Air Terminals Co. Inc. (PIATCo) that built the facility after releasing an initial P3 billion pesos last year.

NAIA 3 update photos

24 July 2008


or here:


PGMA inaugurates RP’s first landfill gas-to-energy project in Montalban


RODRIGUEZ, Rizal—President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo inaugurated today the country’s first-ever landfill gas-to-energy project in this town formerly known as Montalban.

The President flew here by chopper this afternoon to formally open and commission the Montalban Landfill Methane Recovery and Electricity Generation Project (MLMREGP) at Barangay San Isidro.

The President inspected the facilities and led the ceremonial switch-on to kick-off the formal operation of the waste-to-energy power plant.

Touted as the country’s first clean development mechanism (CDM) project, and the 4th largest in the world, the power plant is being maintained and operated by the MMPC.

Welcoming the President here were Environment Secretary Lito Atienza, United Kingdom Ambassador to the Philippines Peter Beckingham, Pampanga Rep. Mikey Arroyo, chair of the House Committee on Energy; and Rizal Governor Casimiro Ynares III, Rodriguez Mayor Pedro Cuerpo, and MMPC president Peregrino Fernandez Jr.

In his welcome remarks, Salvador Zamora II, MMPC chairman, said the power plant was constructed in 2007 to take advantage of the new carbon credit market created by the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Through this arrangement, countries that are heavy polluters are made to invest in carbon-emission-reducing projects in countries with less pollution by trading certified emission reductions (CERs) or carbon credits. One CER is worth an emission reduction of one ton of carbon dioxide.

Zamora informed the President that the plant is expected to produce 15-22 megawatts of electricity per year using methane gas extracted from the Rodriguez sanitary landfill.

Zamora added that this US$33 million (P1.65 billion) project is a build-own-operate (BOO) project of the MMPC, a predominantly Filipino-owned company, in partnership with UK-based Carbon Capital Markets that specializes in clean development mechanism (CDM) projects and trading carbon credits.

The MMPC is scheduled to set up similar facilities in the landfills in San Pedro, Laguna and in Navotas to provide cheap and environment-friendly electricity to the residents.

“At today’s oil price that is projected to hit up to $150 per barrel, the country will have a foreign exchange savings of US$94 million over the 10-year project life,” the MMPC said.

The gas-to-energy project is also expected to benefit the environment as the flaring component of the project breaks down methane gas, which is a green house gas (GHG) 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

Currently, the Rodriguez landfill hosts 1,500 tons of garbage daily. Collected garbage is expected to increase to 2,500 tons per day once the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) starts dumping garbage collected from around the Metropolis.

PGMA: NAIA T-3 opening is proof of gov’t’s “resolve & determination to move forward”

NAIA TERMINAL 3, Pasay City, Metro Manila -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo today said the opening of the Terminal 3 (T-3) of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) here is proof of the government’s “resolve and determination to move forward” towards economic progress.

In an impromptu speech after her walking inspection tour of the sprawling T-3 which has been dubbed by the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) as “the Philippines’ most modern airport terminal today,” the President thanked everyone who helped open the NAIA’s third terminal.

Introduced by Transportation Secretary Leandro Mendoza as “ang champion sa pagbubukas ng Terminal 3 (the champion of the opening of T-3),” the President stressed that “this airport is the gateway from our country to the rest of the world.”

For this second inspection of the now operational T-3, the President planed in from Cebu City where she had inaugurated earlier in the day the Plaza Sugbu and the Dona Eva Macapagal Session Hall at the Legislative Building in the Cebu City Hall compound.

The President’s plane -- which was brought to a halt in front of Gate 131 of the 28-gate terminal -- arrived at 12:07 p.m.

Going through a platoon of welcoming honor guards from the Philippine Air Force (PAF), the President was met by Mendoza, MIAA general manager Alfonso Cusi, NAIA T-3 task force head Mike Defensor, PAL chairman Lucio Tan, Cebu Pacific’s Lance Gokongwei, among others.

Inside the terminal awaited a group of foreign ambassadors to the Philippines who toured the NAIA-3 facilities with the President who took the escalator to the second floor which houses the arrival area.

The President waved and shook hands with departing plane passengers who took the chance to also take photos of her.

The President’s inspection of the T-3 today coincided with the launching of the domestic flights from T-3 of the ‘PAL Express’ of the Philippine Air Lines (PAL), and PAL’s sister company, Air Philippines. PAL Express shall “operate services to Caticlan, Busuanga, Calbayog, San Jose, Surigao and Virac; while Air Philippines will operate services to Bacolod, Dumaguete, Iloilo, Naga, Puerto Princesa, Ozamis and Tuguegarao.”

NAIA T-3 started its operation for domestic flights two days ago last Tuesday (July 22), with a Cebu Pacific plane taking off for Caticlan, Aklan. The said airline now operates 16 flights daily to five destinations, namely, Caticlan, San Jose, Tuguegarao, Naga, and Laoag, according to the MIAA.

T-3’s domestic operation started exactly 22 days after the said terminal processed at dawn last June 30 the papers of the arriving passengers of a commercial Philippine Air Lines (PAL) flight which brought home President Arroyo and her delegation from the United States where she had conducted a successful 10-day working visit.

Meanwhile, MIAA’s Cusi enthused that T-3 is now readying itself for international flights, telling media that the MIAA expects to process up to 28 international flights daily by August.


From limited traffic of five Cebu Pacific domestic flights on Tuesday, the terminal operations will be ramped up to include 28 Cebu Pacific international flights per day by mid-August, said Arroyo aide Michael Defensor.

The terminal would be "fully operational" by February, Defensor added.

Philippine Airlines and sister carrier Air Philippines use another terminal at the airport, while foreign carriers now use a 30-year-old international terminal.

Manila airport now serves 500 flights a day and the Philippines recorded 23 million passengers last year, airport authorities said.

Budget air terminal eyed


After a six-year delay in the opening of Terminal 3 of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA 3), the government is considering a terminal for budget carriers, officials said Wednesday.

The budget terminal could be completed by mid-2009 and host the budget carriers Asian Spirit and South East Asian Airline, said airport general manager Alfonso Cusi.

“We need to provide a little allowance for growth because right now we have severe overcrowding,” Cusi said.

“Our low-cost operators are [going] regional so we need to keep in step with them,” he added without giving financial arrangements and other details.

Plans for the new terminal were announced after the $600-million Terminal 3 opened to limited traffic early Tuesday morning.

Cusi said the terminal would handle a few flights by budget carrier Cebu Pacific Air but operations would be ramped up next week with the transfer of Cebu Pacific’s domestic operations, which consist of its 110 daily flights.

This Thursday, Philippine Airlines (PAL) will move its low-fare unit PAL Express and its affiliate Air Philippines into Terminal 3.


Nurturing a resilient economy—Amando Tetangco, Jr.


(These are excerpts from the speech of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas governor before the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines on July 23, 2008.)

The economic environment has turned more challenging for reasons that are well-known. Global growth has decelerated as a result of a weak US economy, the credit crunch, and the high and unstable oil and food prices. Official statistics on 1st quarter GDP of the US showed a 1 percent expansion, higher than previously expected but still below par.

Meanwhile, the strains in global financial markets have persisted and are likely to continue for some time. The coordinated credit operations by the major central banks and the policy rate cuts by the US have helped ease market tensions, but wider problems in the financial system have remained. This makes the operating environment difficult.

The main problem is uncertainty. First, there is continued uncertainty about the size of losses from defaults on US subprime mortgages that the global financial system will eventually have to absorb. Second, there is uncertainty about where these exposures will end up. Third, this lack of information breeds fear of ratings downgrades, of steep sell-offs, and of other unknown consequences.

The biggest and most immediate challenge is the sharp spike in global oil and food prices. World oil prices continue to be volatile at elevated levels. Global food prices remain high though the increases have moderated. These concurrent and interrelated shocks to the economy have contributed to the acceleration of domestic inflation.

As a result, as with most – if not all – countries, the domestic inflation environment has become more challenging. In June 2008, inflation stood at 11.4 percent compared to 2.3 percent in the same period last year, bringing the average inflation for the first six months of 2008 to 7.6 percent. Of late, we have started to see stronger signs of second-round effects, with core inflation rising and inflation expectations trending upwards.

To prevent these inflation pressures from further feeding into the price- and wage-setting behavior of economic agents, we raised our policy rates by 25 basis points on 5 June and 50 basis points on 17 July.

In both instances, the BSP’s baseline inflation forecasts showed more elevated inflation numbers for 2008 and 2009. Sustained high inflation can unseat inflation expectations and potentially create a repeating cycle of lingering inflation and wage pressures that could prove costly to the economy. In response, we believe that the series of policy adjustments will help in steering inflation towards its desired path for the medium term.

Cushions and buffers

It is important to note that the challenges facing us are largely external in origin. A key issue therefore is the Philippines’ ability to weather these shocks. On the upside, the country was able to build up cushions that serve as sources of resilience for the economy against potential shocks. Let me cite some of these buffers and how exactly these have insulated the economy from external risks.

First, the Philippine economy continued to grow notwithstanding the tougher operating environment. In the first quarter of 2008, GDP grew by 5.2 percent, led by the strong performance of services on the production side, and by consumption spending, on the expenditure side. The strong growth of net factor income from abroad (NFIA) pushed GNP to grow by 7.3 percent. There is resilience here because growth is broad-based and notwithstanding the difficult times, the magnitude of growth is quite respectable.

Second, the banking sector has become stronger as a result of the reform measures that have been implemented over the past years. There is resilience here because our major financial intermediaries have remained strong enough to continue channeling savings into investment, and therefore supporting production and more sustainable employment.

The Philippine banking system’s asset base has grown steadily. The overall asset quality of banks continued to improve as well, with the NPL ratio now moving closer to the pre-crisis level of around 4 percent. With healthier balance sheets, banks have been able to post a steady growth in lending.

The banking system’s overall capital adequacy ratio remained strong, shored up by the increased issuance of hybrid financial instruments to bolster their capital base. The average CAR of the banking system was maintained well above regulatory and international standards despite some decline caused by the new requirements of the revised capital framework which is patterned after the Basel 2 Accord. The revised framework is considered a more risk-sensitive measure of a bank’s solvency position.

Effects of US slowdown

However, we continue to closely monitor developments, particularly on the spillover effects from the slowdown in the US and the global economy as well as higher risk aversion brought about by the financial market turmoil in the West. These could pose downside risks to output growth that could impact negatively on the banking system’s growth.

Lastly, the country’s external payments profile remains a major source of strength for the economy. For the first six months of 2008, the BOP surplus has been sustained at US$1.9 billion. There is resilience here because the existence of a BOP surplus provides space to accommodate the volatilities of both the export and investment markets.

We acknowledge that there are risks given the increase in the trade deficit but remittances and income receipts from services coming from a vibrant BPO industry should provide the needed support. For the first quarter of 2008, the current account remained in surplus of about 3 percent of GDP despite a wider merchandise trade deficit due to higher oil and food costs. The stability of the current account is due to the sustained expansion in remittances. Latest data show remittances for Jan-May 2008 totaled US$6.8 billion, growing year-on-year by 14.7 percent from the comparable period a year ago.

As a result of the BOP surplus, our gross international reserves (GIR) increased further to US$36.7 billion as of end-June 2008. At this level, the GIR is equivalent to 6.0 months’ worth of import cover and 2.9 times short-term external debt based on residual maturity.

The external debt ratio has also improved. With the build-up in the GIR, the BSP, together with the National Government as well as private corporations, were able to prepay some obligations. This has led to the appreciable decline in the country’s total external debt to 35.5 percent of GDP as of end-March 2008 from 72.9 percent in 2001.

Promote stability

What is the outlook in the near-term?

Reflecting the impact of the slowdown in the US economy and the higher oil and food prices, economic targets have been revised. The government now projects GDP to grow by 5.7-6.6 percent while the forecast for inflation is at 9-11 percent. The BOP surplus will reach US$2.5 billion. Exports are seen to grow by 5 percent while imports will expand by 10 percent due to higher prices of oil and food imports.

What can you expect in terms of the BSP’s policy thrusts?

The policy thrust of the BSP is aimed at ensuring that the headway that we have achieved in nurturing a resilient economy and a strong banking sector will continue.

The BSP’s key monetary policy thrust will remain focused on promoting price stability. In its latest policy move, the BSP recognized the need for a more decisive monetary action to reduce the risks to inflation expectations and the long-term cost to output growth from prolonged high inflation. So our eye is on inflation because price stability is critical to sustained, durable economic growth.

In the external sector, our policies will continue to be directed at maintaining a market-determined exchange rate with scope for occasional official action to address sharp volatilities in the exchange rate; maintaining a comfortable level of reserves as self-insurance; and ensuring the sustainability of our external debt.

In the financial sector, we remain firmly committed to institute key reforms that will lead to greater efficiency, effective risk management, stronger capital base and improved corporate governance standards in the banking system. Given these reforms, we expect to see the continued expansion of bank resources and capital, as well as a further improvement in bank asset quality. We also envision a stronger and more resilient banking system as banks improve their ability to anticipate, price and manage risks.

We will also continue to push for the passage of key legislations intended to develop a deep and efficient capital market as a complementary source of funds. This will make credit more accessible to a broader set of users and ensure a more efficient mobilization of resources.

In summary, the BSP is prepared to take all necessary actions to address the threat of high inflation and promote price stability. We also continue to be mindful of the impact of any policy action on the economy’s growth momentum. The resiliency of our economy allows us to have greater flexibility in responding to the challenges that come our way.

Philippines raises $1.6 bln from retail bonds

MANILA, July 23 (Reuters) - The Philippines raised 70 billion pesos ($1.6 billion) in three days from a retail Treasury bond offer that attracted plenty of interest from small investors looking for steady returns.

"I suppose there are a lot of investors waiting for this opportunity," National Treasurer Roberto Tan told Reuters on Wednesday.

"There is now a flight to quality to safer investments with fixed income streams."

The government closed the offer for three-year and five-year fixed rate retail bonds on Wednesday, six days ahead of schedule, due to the volume of funds raised. The offer, which opened to banks on July 18, was meant to close on July 29.


Reactions to appointment of Recto as NEDA chief

Recto appointed NEDA chief
By Paolo Romero
The Philippine Star

President Arroyo has appointed former senator Ralph Recto as the new director general of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

Recto’s appointment was signed on July 10. He is expected to officially assume his new post today upon receiving his appointment papers, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita told a news briefing.

Acting NEDA chief Augusto Santos will revert to his previous post as deputy director general.

“It will be a very challenging job considering current conditions (global credit crunch, high fuel, rice and commodity prices), but I look forward to possibly working with the best and the brightest of government employees,” Recto said in a statement in reaction to his appointment.

“I also look forward to sharing ideas with former NEDA directors general on a wide range of issues and hopefully work out a consensus with the opposition on strategic economic policies regarding economic threats and opportunities,” he added.

Recto is the third losing administration candidate in the May 2007 senatorial elections to be given a post by Mrs. Arroyo.

Earlier this month, former senator Vicente Sotto III was named chairman of the Dangerous Drugs Board while former presidential chief of staff Michael Defensor now heads the Presidential Task Force on the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3.

There are reports that another poll loser, former Surigao del Sur congressman Prospero Pichay, will get the top post in the Overseas Workers’ Welfare Administration.

Ermita said Recto did not ask for the post and that “the President asked him (to head NEDA).”

“He’s very qualified and he’s an economist,” Ermita said of Recto when asked by reporters why the Palace chose the former senator.

“You cannot question Sen. Recto’s qualifications. He was chairman of the committee on economic affairs when he was still congressman (representing Batangas) for nine years,” he said.

When it was pointed out that the former senator was the third pro-administration poll loser to be given a new post by the administration, Ermita said: “You cannot avoid that some people would have something to say on appointments made by the President.”

“Every time there is an appointment, we get reactions. We must recognize the President’s appointing authority and she very well knows the qualities of people who can help her in governance,” Ermita said.

The former senator, husband of multi-awarded actress and Batangas Gov. Vilma Santos, is best known for authoring the 12-percent value-added tax bill.

It was said that his sponsorship of the VAT cost him his senatorial bid last year but the Arroyo administration cited the fiscal measure as the single biggest measure that allowed the country to improve its credit ratings and to survive the raging fuel and food price crises.

Recto holds two masteral degrees – one in Public Administration from the University of the Philippines and another in Strategic Business Economics from the University of Asia & the Pacific.

He also took up a Leadership Scholarship Course at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Recto was youngest member of the 9th Congress and the youngest senator in 2001 at 37.

He is a grandson of the late statesman and nationalist Claro M. Recto.

Messages of support, caution

“Good luck” was the message relayed by a fellow “Wednesday Group” member in the Senate to the new NEDA chief.

Senate Majority Leader Francis Pangilinan expressed hope that Recto’s appointment would improve the relations between the executive department and the Senate.

Other members of the “Wednesday Group” are Senate President Manuel Villar Jr. and Sen. Joker Arroyo.

Sen. Benigno Aquino III dared Recto to be always truthful and not to follow the footsteps of former NEDA chief Romulo Neri, who cited executive privilege in his refusal to divulge to the Senate the details of his conversation with President Arroyo regarding irregularities in the national broadband network deal with China’s ZTE Corp.

Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr. said Recto “is fully qualified for the post but administration is bad for him and the nation.”

Sen. Francis Escudero, for his part, wished Recto well but said he “would have preferred a career person to be appointed.”

Former socioeconomic planning secretary Cielito Habito also expressed support for Recto’s appointment. “I have worked with him in deliberations on fiscal reforms, and he struck me as being very professional and serious in what he undertakes,” Habito said.

“I admire him, especially when he has to make recommendations and possible legislative agendas that are unpopular to certain business groups, including foreign groups,” he added.

Another former NEDA official also lauded Recto’s appointment, citing his credentials including his educational background. “NEDA charter states that the Director General must be a professional economist. That is generally interpreted as one with a master’s or doctorate degree in economics. It has been brought to our attention that Ralph Rector has a business administration and a public administration degree,” the former official said.

Prominent businessmen also voiced support for Recto. “We know that he is going to be pragmatic about things, being a pragmatic person. We wish him all the best of luck and we will be very supportive,” Manuel Pangilinan, chairman of the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co., said.

“He is a very good finance person and an economist. He is extremely qualified for the position. I am sure he will contribute a lot to the growth of the Philippine economy,” said Philippine Airlines president Juan [sic] Bautista.

“It is a good appointment. He has the legislative background and authored laws that helped put the country in a better financial situation,” said Lance Gokongwei, president of JG Summit Holdings. - With Marvin Sy, Aurea Calica, Mary Ann Reyes and Ted Torres

Puno and Kenney lead launching of court info system

The Manila Bulletin

US Ambassador Kristie A. Kenney and Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno yesterday led senior officials of the Philippine judiciary and other US representatives in launching an information system that will help the courts improve efficiency in handling cases during ceremonies at the Supreme Court in Ermita, Manila.

The result of a partnership between the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Supreme Court, the Case Management Information System (CMIS) is an automated system that will allow the courts and their officials to closely and effectively monitor and manage cases pending in their dockets.

The system aims to strengthen the judiciary’s management information system processes and capacities by ensuring accurate, up-to-date, and adequate information useful in court management and oversight monitoring, policy and planning, and evaluation.

Ambassador Kenney also turned over 50 computers and related equipment such as scanners, computer-aided transcription machines, and servers as part of the CMIS program.

"The CMIS is a tool that, on its own, will not solve the problem of docket congestion and case delay, but it is a good tool that, if maintained, will certainly provide greater efficiency to the judiciary’s management information system," the US envoy said. "This is a great example of US and Philippine partnership, but there must be a strong commitment from the court leadership to ensure the success of computerization."

In line with the judiciary’s ongoing program of easy access to justice, the CMIS will also promote greater public transparency and accountability because the system allows for regular updating of information on the caseloads and litigation performance of the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals, the Court of Tax Appeals, and the Sandiganbayan.

Total US grant for the development of the CMIS for the four courts amounted to more than 0,000, [sic] covering the cost of developing the software, building the information structure, computer equipment, technical assistance, and training for the justices and court personnel.

The CMIS is one of the many reform programs of the judiciary sponsored by the US government, the largest grant donor to the Philippine Supreme Court.

Since 2001, the US has provided some million for a variety of training programs and equipment that seek to enhance judicial efficiency, strengthen judicial capacity, improve access to justice, and promote greater transparency and accountability.

Philippines aall center industry eyes 30% growth, 50,000 more jobs

The Manila Bulletin

Confident of hitting $ 4.35 billion revenues this year to sustain a 30 percent annual growth and accounting for two-thirds of the total projected 2008 business process outsourcing (BPO) revenues of $ 6.7 billion, the call center industry is focusing on improving efficiencies, ridding of unscrupulous brokers and imposing sanctions against poaching.

Benedict Hernandez, director of the Contact Center Association of the Philippines (CCAP), told a press conference at the CCAP Annual Call Center Conference and Expo that the growth would translate to 50,000 additional net job creation this year and bringing the industry’s total jobs to 230,000 as of end this year from 176,000 last year.

"This is quite high considering that we have already have a bigger base," Hernandez said.

But the non-voice sector is expected to be growing at higher rate than the non-voice as other contact centers have moved on to higher and more complex services like software development, finance and accounting, legal and human resources management among others.

Hernandez, however, said the association has been wary of brokers who are victimizing small call center operators as they plan to put up an accreditation procedure and blacklisting those with bad records.

"Actually it is a risk issue and largely dependent on the company taking risks," he said.

On agents leaving their companies without prior proper dismissal from previous companies, Hernandez said the HR Council of the industry has come up with a written agreement on what is acceptable and non-acceptable practice.

But there is no move really to blacklist agents who are hopping form one company to the other.

"If an agent is not happy with us then why force him to stay," he said.

Hernandez said that e-Telecare, a publicly-listed call center firm, even opposed to a proposal for a non-compete clause, which would ban an agent from working in another company for a certain period of time after resigning from another call center firm.

But the industry said the attrition rate has somehow improved to 22 months from 18 months as companies continue to make collective efforts to make their workers’ stay longer by making them happy and content with their jobs.

In fact, companies are providing agents a place to take rest in between shifts, game rooms, cafeteria to meet and hangout with friends.

An inhouse clinic and pharmacies are also provided.

"We’re enjoying a better attrition rate than other countries," Hernandez said.

The industry has also implemented measures to cushion the impact of the weak U.S. economy, the country’s biggest outsourcing destination.

As far as the foreign exchange is concerned, industry players said there had been some pressure on margins, but companies have resorted to hedging by entering into forward contracts.

The recent appreciation of the US dollar to the P44-P45 range has somehow eased any adverse impact to the industry.

If anything, the economic slowdown and price pressures should lead companies to improve operational efficiencies and cost structures.

Call centers have also diversified their sources of revenues by getting new clients from Canada, UK and Australia, which currencies have remained strong vis-a-vis the US currency.

Companies have also improved their productivity and gave training more focus.

The U.S. recession may have some impact in the immediate term on their businesses but is likely to be beneficial in the longer run as US industries need to reduce costs may likely lead to more outsourced work to countries like the Philippines.

On the issue of labor cost, John Langford, executive vice-president of the ICT Group, said the wage rates in the country is not something that would discourage investors from coming in.

"Labor cost do impact but the Philippines is sustainable," Langford said.

Maulik Parekh, general manager of TeleTech, said the issue of labor is a matter of supply and demand and with 400,000 graduates annually their industry has enough supply of manpower that they can tap.

Dan Reyes of Sitel said the industry has been paying more its workers than other sectors not just in terms of basic pay but add-ons like transportation allowance, health insurance, commission, among others.

"The basic rate is not what the agents go for because the commissions and incentives could bring a first time level agent to P30,000 salary a month and could further go if he performs better," an industry player added.(BCM)

Philippine retirees boosting property outlook

By Rizal Raoul Reyes
The Business Mirror

OVERSEAS Filipinos and retirees remain the most active buyers of residential property in the Philippines despite the sluggish economic environment prevailing, and their spending has kept a train of industry-linked enterprises going, according to an official of an international real-estate services company.

In a presentation to delegates in the recent Asia-Pacific Marketing Power and Sales Effectiveness property and marketing conference in Macau, Mike Mabutol, director for investment properties and capital markets at CB Richard Ellis Philippines, said overseas Filipino workers and retirees have been consistently a lucrative market for residential properties because of their plan to provide a higher quality of life for their families.

“This trend started four or five years ago and now we see these retired buyers becoming more active in the market,” said Mabutol, who compared the domestic real-estate business to the sector’s dismal performance in other parts of the world, in particular the US after the subprime meltdown.

To address this increasing demand, real-estate developers have introduced affordable housing developments and condominium projects, with investments ranging from P1 million to P2.5 million, according to a CBRE Philippines report.

In the period 2008 to 2013, at least 28 residential condominiums are expected to rise in Makati City, providing more than 18,000 units. In Fort Bonifacio, 33 residential condominiums are expected to be completed between 2008 and 2013, which will provide more than 11,500 higher-end units.

High-end residential condominiums are also in demand and, as a result, prices for these units in Makati City have risen to P100,000 to P130,000 per square meter this year from P90,000 in 2006.

Contributing to the expansion of the industry are the low interest rates and flexible financing terms granted by developers and banks. CBRE Philippines general manager Trent Frankum said mortgage rates are hovering at a range of 8.5 percent to 12 percent.

CBRE noted the development of retirement villages for expatriate “empty nesters” are also a great potential for the country’s residential market. Studies show that retirees from the US, Europe and Asian countries such as China, South Korea and Japan have chosen tropical countries like the Philippines for their retirement.

“The retirement market is a potential multibillion-dollar industry, and the Philippines has stepped up efforts to entice foreign and local investments in such projects,” said Mabutol.

The Philippine Retirement Authority, a government-owned and -controlled corporation, and the Philippine Retirement Institute are the main state arm tasked with encouraging local and foreign investors to take a stake in retirement community projects.

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

President Arroyo orders Marina to revise shipping standards

CEBU CITY - President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has instructed the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) to review and revise the Philippine shipping standards to be at par with international standards so that the "brain drain" of competent Filipino seafarers is kept to a minimum, Transportation undersecretary Ma. Elena Bautista said today.

In a press conference at the Malacanang sa Sugbo (MSS) this afternoon, Bautista said the President ordered a revision of the "salary standardization" of Filipino seafarers to match with their international counterparts so that they will be more enticed to stay and work here instead of abroad.

"The President has instructed MARINA to revise shipping standards in the Philippines kasi napaka-in demand ng ating seafarers abroad," Bautisata said.

"Kaya kailangan tingnan natin yung sweldo na binibigay ng ating mga domestic shipowners kasi kung may oportunidad ang ating mga kapitan at mga seafarers na doble o triple ang kita abroad, mas gugustuhin nilang mag-abroad kesa mag-trabaho dito," she added.

As an example, a Filipino ship captain earning up to P60,000 a month could earn as much as US$5,000 in the same capacity on a foreign owned ship.

Bautista stressed that adjusting the pay-grade of Filipino seafarers to that of their international counterparts would ensure that competent shipping crews would be hired because by then, the hiring standard for crew members would have also gone up thereby preventing "undesireables" from being hired.

Bautista also cited the possible "upgrading" of the insurance coverage for seamen to be "more comprehensive" to include better oil pollution, salvage and third party liability coverages in the event of accidents similar to that suffered by the M/V Princess of the Stars.

She said the President had instructed DoTC Secretary Leandro Mendoza to hold discussions with Government Service and Insurance System (GSIS) president Winston Garcia on the possibility of the state-run pension to fund such an undertaking which she said would provide protection for those affected by shipping mishaps.

Government moves to address shipping industry concerns

CEBU CITY – President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo met this afternoon with some 20 representatives of the shipping industry at the Malacañang sa Sugbo (MSS) to come up with recommendations and solutions to the nightmare the halting of operations of transport and cargo service provider Sulpicio Lines, Inc. (SLI) has caused to the shipping industry.

Pending an investigation by the Board of Marine Inquiry (BMI), SLI operations, the second largest ship operator in the Philippines, was stopped shortly after its M/V Princess of the Stars capsized and sunk off the waters of Sibuyan Island in Romblon at the height of typhoon Frank's (international codename: Fengshen) onslaught of the Visayas region last June 21.

More than 800 passengers and crew of the ill-fated ship lost their lives in what has been called one of the worst maritime disasters in the country’s history.

Department of Transportation and Communication Secretary (DoTC) Leandro Mendoza who was among the Cabinet secretaries who joined the President in the closed-door meeting said that the "issues" discussed touched on the transport and cargo ship shortage, the resulting increase in cargo transportation fees and labor concerns such as the possible closure of SLI offices, layoffs, retrenchment.

"These issues were discussed together with proposed solutions," Mendoza said.

On the transport and cargo ship shortage, DoTC undersecretary Ma. Elena Bautista, who together with Trade Secretary Peter Favila and Presidential Management Staff Head Cerge Remonde joined Mendoza for the closed-door meeting, said that the President wanted to ensure businessmen that the government was doing everything to maintain the movement of domestic and international cargos despite the halting of SLI operations.

Bautista said that several shipping companies had "committed" to "fill the vacuum" left by SLI's absence.

She said Aboitiz Transport System Corporation (ATS) and NMC Container Lines will be fielding two ships each with 500 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) each for ATS and 300 TEUs for NMC.

Negros Navigation Comapany, Inc., Bautista said, will be fielding one ship that can service 2,500 TEUs.

Twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU) is an inexact unit of cargo capacity often used to describe the capacity of container ships and container terminals. It is based on the volume of a 20-foot long shipping container, a standard-sized metal box which can be easily transferred between different modes of transportation, such as ships, trains and trucks.

"So, itong mga barko na ito ay tutulong para maikot ang mga kargamento sa buong bansa at hindi ma-apekto dahil sa grounding ng vessels ng Sulpicio," Bautista said.

She added that once these three shipping companies field in their commitments, cargo and transportation fees will go down accordingly.

On labor concerns, Remonde said that the President has instructed the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to provide "safety nets" to SLI employees who might be laid off as a result of the shipping company's grounding of operations.

"The President has directed the Department of Social Welfare and Development to give some sort of welfare benefits to SLI employees in the interim that they will be laid off," Remonde said.

He assured the employees that the President was concerned about their plight and that they would not be left alone to face it.

He added that employees of SLI are "fortunately" members of associated labor unions and the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines and are thus entitled to benefits stated within their Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).

"So we reminded SLI management of their obligations under the CBA," Remonde said.

PGMA appoints former Senator Ralph Recto as Neda Director-General

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has appointed former senator Ralph Recto as the new director-general of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita made the announcement at his weekly press briefing in Malacanang.

Recto will take over the post left by Romulo Neri, who was appointed by the President as Commission on Higher Education (CHED) before he was appointed to head the Social Security System (SSS).

NEDA Deputy Director-General Augusto Santos was appointed acting director-general of NEDA until Recto's appointment.

Recto, an economist, run for reelection in the Senate in the May 2007 senatorial elections but lost.

He is known to be the author of the Expanded Value Added Tax Law.

Ermita also announced the appointment by the President of Antonio L. Romero II as undersecretary of the Department of National Defense (DND) and Thelma G. Santos as assistant secretary of the Department of Education (DepEd).

Arroyo to inaugurate RP’s first Landfill Gas-to-Energy project in Rodriguez

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will visit Rodriguez (formerly Montalban), in Rizal tomorrow to inaugurate and lead the commissioning of the first Landfill Gas-to-Energy Project in the country.

The methane power plant will capture the landfill gas particularly methane from Montalban Sanitary Landfill to produce electricity for the town.

On her arrival at the Montalban Landfill Methane Recovery and Electricity Generation Project at Barangay San Isidro, the President will inspect the facilities and to lead the ceremonial switch-on signaling the start of operation of the power plant.

This US$ 33 million (P1.65 billion) project is a Build-Own-Operate Project of the Montalban Methane Power Corporation (MMPC).

Based on today’s oil price of about US$130 per barrel, the country will have a foreign exchange savings of US$94 million over the 10-year project life.

It is also expected to benefit the environment as the Flaring component of the Project breaks down methane gas, which is a green house gas (GHG) 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

This methane gas facility of Montalban Methane Power Corporation (MMPC) follows the Kyoto Protocol of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) initiative and provides carbon credits for developed countries under category of projects that reduce emissions in developing economies under the Clean Development Mechanism.

The power plant project in Montalban is a candidate for a Gold Standard (GS) Clean Development Mechanism status.

PGMA mixes with 500 evacuees in Cotabato City

COTABATO CITY -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo visited today the evacuation center at the Notre Dame Village here where some 500 victims of the flooding caused by typhoon Frank are temporarily housed.

The President saw for herself the plight of the flood victims and was glad to learn that they are being taken cared of by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

The President went around each tent put up at the Notre Dame Village Elementary School.

The activities of the People's Government Mobile Action (PGMA) that include medical and dental missions were on-going at the evacuation center.

Family food packs were also distributed to the flood victims who were delighted to see the President personally looking after their welfare.

“Don’t build bridges without connecting roads,” says PGMA

DATU ODIN SINSUAT, Shariff Kabunsuan ---Works on the access road for the Quirino Delta Bridge in Poblacion 1 in Cotabato City starts tomorrow with the release last night of P63 million for the project.

President Gloria Macapagal -Arroyo, who was here Tuesday and today for a two-day visit to the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and Region 12 has ordered the release of the said funds to complete one of her legacy projects to the ARMM and Region 12 residents.

''Don't build bridges without connecting roads,'' the President said during Tuesday's National Anti-Poverty Commission Cabinet meeting here.

Surprisingly, this morning, during the President's inspection of the United Kingdom-assisted bridge project under the President's Bridge Program, Public Works ARMM Secretary Razul Abpi said work on the access road will start Thursday with the release of the funds.

''Thank you to the President,'' he said.

The 210-lineal meter Qurino Delta Bridge was completed on Dec. 31 last year but until today, it is not yet used as there are no access roads due to some problems on the acquisition of right of way.

But with the President's visit here where she held consultations with the stakeholders, Sec. Razul Abpi said they were able to talk to some 15 families whose houses stand the way for the acquisition of the right-of-way.

When completed, the Quirino Delta Bridge is expected to lift the levels of living in the locality,

The access road will serve as an alternate road towards the northern portion of Cotabato City, onwards to Lanao, Bukidnon and Davao provinces as the existing Delta Bridge is already weak.

The President also inspected the Rio Grande de Mindanao which overflew during the recent onslaught of Typhoon Frank because of its heavy concentration of water lilies.

The President said she will issue an executive order for the creation of a task force that will come up with a comprehensive plan to stop flooding in the Mindanao Basin.

Tan to lead PAL Express, AirPhil move to NAIA 3

Philippine Airlines website

MANILA – Philippine Airlines chairman and CEO Lucio C. Tan will lead top PAL executives and ranking guests from the government when the flag carrier’s low-fares unit PAL Express and affiliate carrier Air Philippines both take off from their new hub – Terminal 3 of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport – tomorrow, July 24, 2008.

The move underscores PAL’s support for the Philippine government’s effort to turn NAIA Terminal 3 into the premier gateway to Manila.

Dr. Tan will open the PAL Express and Air Philippines check-in counters at the new terminal and then personally welcome passengers checking-in for PAL Express flight PR 055 to Boracay and Air Philippines flight 2P 977 to Bacolod.

He will be assisted by PAL president Jaime J. Bautista and other senior PAL executives. The PAL Chorale will serenade passengers and guests during the ceremonies.

Starting tomorrow (July 24), all PAL Express flights departing Manila will operate from Terminal 3. These comprise the services to Boracay (Caticlan), Busuanga, Calbayog, San Jose, Surigao and Virac. The return flights from these points will also disembark at the new terminal.

Likewise, all Air Philippines flights will shift their departure and arrival operations to Terminal 3 tomorrow (July 24). These include the services to Bacolod, Dumaguete, Iloilo, Naga, Puerto Princesa, Ozamiz and Tuguegarao.

In all, PAL Express will operate 75 flights per week and Air Philippines, 56 flights per week at Terminal 3, making the two PAL affiliates combined the largest operator at the newly opened facility.

Any new or additional service by these two units in the future will also emanate from Terminal 3, PAL said. For instance, PAL Express’ forthcoming service to Catarman, Northern Samar, scheduled to start August 1, will operate from Terminal 3.

However, regular PAL domestic and international flights using jet aircraft will still operate from the flag carrier’s current hub at NAIA Centennial Terminal 2.

Passengers on PAL Express and Air Philippines flights from Manila, as well as those holding PAL tickets on Air Philippines-operated code-share flights, are advised to proceed to NAIA Terminal 3 along Andrews Avenue (opposite the Shrine of St. Therese of the Child Jesus), Pasay City at least two hours prior to their scheduled departure time.

PGMA to inspect operational NAIA Terminal 3 tomorrow

NAIA TERMINAL 3, Pasay City -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will disembark here at around 10 a.m. tomorrow, Thursday (July 24) to inspect the now operational terminal which opened for domestic flights the other day, Tuesday.

President Arroyo will be flying in from the South where she inspected jathropa and rubber plantations in central Mindanao, among other activities.

It would be the second time for the President to inspect the third terminal of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA-3). The first time was upon her arrival from the United States at month-end last month.

President Arroyo’s PR Flight # 105 last June 30 aboard a Philippine Air Lines (PAL) plane was the first-ever flight to be serviced by the ‘NAIA-3’ which is just across the Base Operations Center of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) where the President had immediately sent off planes-load of relief goods for the then victims of super typhoon Frank.

The President shall be checking on the improvements in the terminal almost a month after her first dawn inspection following her successful 10-day visit to the United States where she was able to request instant assistance from the United States government for areas battered by typhoon Frank which struck just as the she was already on her way to the US.

For this second inspection, the President shall be joined by some 50 ambassadors to the Philippines, and by leaders of foreign chambers of commerce, and representatives from travel agencies.

The President shall be received at the NAIA-3 by Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) general manager Alfonso Cusi, Transportation Secretary Leandro Mendoza, and NAIA-3 Task Force head Mike Defensor.

With its total floor area of 240,000 square meters that can accommodate 13 million passengers annually, NAIA-3 is now “the Philippines’ most modern airport terminal today,” according to the MIAA.

In an earlier press release for the opening of the NAIA-3 for domestic operations, the MIAA related that the new terminal was built to “address the congestion in Terminal 1, the (NAIA’s) first international passenger terminal… which opened in 1982 with a design capacity of 4.5 million passengers per annum, (and which) level was reached in 1991.”

“Improvements raised its design capacity to six million passengers per year but with the traffic passenger volume growing at an annual rate of nine percent, a peak level of 7.7 million passengers was reached in 1997, causing an overflow of passengers that year.

“In 1990, the NAIA Master Plan Study conducted by Aeroports de Paris included the construction of a much bigger and far modernized international passenger terminal to accommodate the increasing volume of passengers going in and out of the country. This became the rationale behind the construction of a new international passenger terminal,” the MIAA added.

Update video of NAIA 3--first arrival

By ablaners:

By kratos1211:

PASAY CITY, Philippines--Tirso G. Serrano, Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) assistant general manager for airport development and corporate affairs, gives online videographer Janie Christine Octia a tour of the newly opened Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 (NAIA-3). NAIA-3 officially opened Tuesday, July 22 2008.

A backgrounder on NAIA 3 opening

Local airlines take risks in moving to Naia 3

After six years of non-use, the partial opening of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 (Naia 3) would not have been possible if the two local airlines did not take some risks.

Cebu Pacific Air commenced operations in Naia 3 on July 22 with five domestic flights, and Philippine Airlines (PAL), which controls domestic carriers, PAL Express and Air Philippines will kick off departures and arrivals at Naia 3 in a few days.

For agreeing to a Memorandum of Agreement that does not assure them of a long term lease at the newly opened terminal, Cebu Pacific and PAL's affiliates are betting that their lessor, Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA), will eventually overcome legal and structural hurdles.

MIAA currently has court-approved possession of Naia 3 after it paid a down payment of P3 billion in 2006 to Piatco, the private concessionaire accused of engaging in illegal acts to bag some contracts.

But since the Supreme Court ruled that MIAA could expropriate the privately financed terminal building, MIAA still has no right to exercise full ownership over the property since it has not fully paid the balance yet.

So far, legal issues have kept MIAA from fully claiming the terminal as its own. A lower court-appointed engineering firm was supposed to verify the building's value, which could then become the basis for the "just compensation" due to Piatco. But when the Supreme Court found the P1.9 billion cost of the valuation exercise too expensive, there has yet to be another round of negotiations on who will assess the expropriated property and how to go about it.

In other words, as long as Piatco is not reimbursed—either after going through the valuation process or through a compromise agreement—MIAA's identity as a legitimate lessor is still uncertain. (Read: Task Force NAIA 3 to compromise with PIATCO)

Legitimate lessor

The foreign airlines have raised the importance of addressing Naia 3's structural and safety issues in some areas of the 10-section building before moving their operations to Naia 3.

But it seems that entering into commercial lease agreements with a party that could not yet fully assert itself in awarding concessions and renting parts of the terminal facility is one of the major risks that the foreign international airlines operating in the dilapidated Terminal 1 (Naia 1) are not keen to take.

Besides, transferring ground operations from the dilapidated Naia 1 to Naia 3 will cost the airlines.

In the late 1990's, when the foreign international airlines were invited to temporarily transfer their operations to Naia 2, also known as Centennial Terminal, they declined.

The foreign airlines told MIAA then that they would rather wait out the construction period of Naia 3, which was originally scheduled to be up and operational to accommodate international flights by December 2002. Otherwise, it would have cost them an estimated P5 million each to temporarily move from Naia 1 to Naia 2, then another sum to move again to Naia 3.

But then, the Supreme Court nullified Piatco's contract with the government, and the rest is a six-year long history.

Yet, while at least 25 airlines are crammed at the aged Naia 1, which is about six kilometers from the spanking Naia 3, inking a deal now with MIAA requires the foreign international airlines to risk some millions of pesos worth of investments for the transfer.

Risk and rewards

But that's a risk that the local airlines seem to find tolerable. In effect, for agreeing to enter into a temporary—and non-binding—deal with MIAA, the local airlines showed they have a higher risk appetite and an appreciation of the dynamics that come to play in a project as high profile as this, than their foreign counterparts.

Risks, after all, have some rewards.

Take the case of Cebu Pacific. For at least 12 years, it has been languishing in the terribly outdated Domestic Terminal, which has long been bursting at the seams. What used to be a private hangar-turned-domestic terminal big enough for 2.5 million passengers a year is now accommodating 5.5 million passengers every year. Tourists en route to island destinations, like popular Boracay, have to endure the long queues since the retrograde building only has one passenger entrance, two security machines, and no flightways.

During the inaugural domestic flights of Cebu Pacific at Naia 3 last July 22, the budget airline's president, Lance Gokongwei, could not contain his relief. Referring to the newly opened terminal that sits on a 65-hectare lot with a 13-million passenger capacity per year, Gokongwei said, "Naia 3 is heaven for us."

What more, unlike Philippine Airlines, which, since 1999, was able to bag the exclusive use of Naia 2 for both its domestic and international operations, Cebu Pacific is currently hopping between Naia 1 for its international flights, and Domestic Terminal, for its local flights.

For operating in separate terminals, Cebu Pacific misses out on operational efficiencies that PAL enjoys in Naia 2. It deploys two sets of ground service systems and crew, provides and times the transfers between the two terminals for passengers with connecting flights, among others.

PAL, on the other hand, is fast filling the 7.5 million-a-year capacity of Naia 2 for both domestic and international passengers. Extra space is needed, especially for its profitable international flights. In 2007, it handled more than three million international passengers on its North wing, which could only accommodate 2.5 million passengers.

With the imminent transfer of the domestic budget flights of subsidiaries, Air Philippines and PAL Express, which covers secondary routes, to Naia 3, the vacated space means more room to accommodate PAL's increasing number of international passengers.

Location options

For being the first locators in Naia 3, Cebu Pacific and PAL's subsidiaries may have some bargaining chips while MIAA is finalizing how it will eventually assign Naia 1, 2, 3 and the Domestic Terminal to the local and foreign airlines.

According to MIAA general manager Alfonso Cusi, they are currently studying which airline will be assigned where in their "strategic airline accommodation mix" project.

Tirso Serrano, MIAA assistant general manager for airport development and corporate affairs, told that the options include leasing Naia 3 to one airline with combined domestic and international operations, plus several of the foreign airlines that will relocate from Naia 1. Another local airline, PAL or Cebu Pacific, can either operate their merged domestic and international operations in either Naia 1 or 2.

For those catering to passengers and cargo bound or coming from local destinations, MIAA is considering to put up a new terminal for budget domestic carriers, so that the current Domestic Terminal could be converted to a corporate hangar.

First-entrant advantage

Whatever the outcome of the study, Gokongwei said he's well aware of his advantages as the first locator in Naia 3. He prefers not to move elsewhere anymore, especially when Cebu Pacific's international flights are eventually transferred from Naia 1 to Naia 3.

"It's not even the cost [of transferring] that I'm concerned about," he explained to "Moving to a different terminal is like moving house but a thousand times more difficult and tedious. Besides, we don't want to inconvenience our passengers anymore."

While the airline accommodation mix project involves consultations with all the stakeholders—of which the airlines are considered one of, if not the, most important—the cooperation and the confidence displayed by Cebu Pacific and PAL are expected to be rewarded.

After all, Naia 3 is one of the flagship infrastructure projects that President Gloria Arroyo wanted to see fully operational before she steps down after nine years in power in 2010. (Read: NAIA 3 opens for Arroyo, but obstacles remain for commercial operations)

In fact, the July 22 commencement of the commercial flights in Naia 3 comes at the heel of the president's State of the Nation Address on July 28. Government officials, however, downplayed the rush and the timing.

Big challenge

Nevertheless, politics and pressure did play a role in the run up to the July inaugural flights. Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez, chairman of the House oversight committee, told those who attended the formal event that same day, "We forced [transportation secretary Leandro Mendoza] to make sure [Naia 3 is] open by December [2008], or else we will revamp MIAA."

Suarez said that since Naia 3 opened six months earlier, "This work between the legislative and executive will be a model in setting targets for other projects." Suarez belonged to the transportation committee in Congress that helped finance the cost of an engineering study, which became the basis for claiming that a portion of Naia 3 is safe for partial commercial operations, while the repair and remediation are going on in the defective parts of the terminal.

The transportation secretary said that finally opening Naia 3 for commercial operations is a major feat.

The Naia 3 terminal went through three administrations, required thousands of hours of technical negotiations on the terminal building's repair and remediation, involved over 60 resolved and ongoing court cases filed here and abroad, endangered or lost lives of at least three people who were involved in some of the legal proceedings, and two botched soft openings.

Hopefully, the euphoria among those who pushed for Naia 3's commercial opening will make sure the lessons are learned from what was an ill-fated privatization project.