Saturday, 27 September 2008

Philippines will meet 2015 MDG target, President Arroyo assures UN

NEW YORK CITY---President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo committed to the United Nations (UN) today that the Philippines will meet the 2015 target date of achieving the Millenium Development Goals (MDG).

The President, who was the first head of state to deliver a statement, stressed that the Philippines has made solid gains in reducing poverty and hunger.

''Our pro-poor agenda has been at the center of our poverty alleviation efforts. Early on, we incorporated our commitment under the MDG in our administration's Medium-Term Development Plan, thus we committed ourselves to allocate the resources needed in these areas,'' the President stressed.

This, she said, is because the Philippine government complies with the ''universal dream'' of a better life for all the people.

As a result, the President said that at the rate extreme poverty and malnutrition are declining, the Philippines will be able to meet the 2015 MDG target.

The President said this target is achievable despite the present global economic slowdown and soaring prices of oil and food because of the economic reforms put in place that resulted in an improved economy.

''Against the backdrop of this turmoil, however, we remain optimistic that the structural reforms we have made at home will allow us to overcome the external shock abroad,'' the President said.

She stressed that the Philippines will emerge from these global challenges due to the greater self-reliance strategy adopted by the government.

This strategy includes the diversification of the export market, greater use of renewable and indigenous sources of energy, and ensuring steady supply of food, especially of rice, and measures to increase food production.

But the President stressed that the Philippines still needs the support of developed countries.

''But I am not here to fool myself or anyone else. I am a realist and we cannot be alone. We need the help of developed countries more than ever. We call on donor nations to help developing nations meet their MDGs on time,'' the President said.

''We need UN as never before. We need international cooperation as never before,'' she stressed

''We are all in this boat together... no one is immune,'' she added.

She urged all UN member states to help implement the Comprehensive Framework of Action that will allow the achievement of food security through policies, technology and investments.

She urged all nations to remain firm in resolving the gaps in achieving a world free from poverty and hunger.

''We must always remember to put a face on poverty and a face on the poor,'' the President said, adding that dramatic progress can be achieved if there is unity and cooperation among nations.

VP de Castro acts on seafarer protection

The Business Mirror

Vice President and Presidential Adviser on Overseas Filipino Workers Noli “Kabayan” de Castro discusses with Labor Secretary Marianito Roque and representatives of shipping companies and manning agencies measures to protect Filipino seafarers amid rising risks from Somali pirates. Lately, vessels bearing Filipino seafarers have been raided by pirates, with the Gulf of Aden turning into one of the most notorious sites. This week, the number of Filipinos held by pirates rose to 97, officials were told at the meeting at the Associated Marine Officers’ and Seamen’s Union of the Philippines office in Intramuros, Manila.

Friday, 26 September 2008

Talks to start with US firm on Clark airport project

By Tonette Orejas
Philippine Daily Inquirer

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga, Philippines — American firm Admiral Energy LCC has passed the bidding requirements for building and operating a second terminal at the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport here and the government’s Clark International Airport Corp. (CIAC) will soon start negotiations with it on a joint venture, CIAC chairman Nestor Mangio said.

“We are allowed to do limited negotiations with the lone passing bidder,” Mangio said.

Admiral Energy met the eligibility, technical and financial requirements, exceeding as well the minimum investment of P6.5 billion to develop Terminal 2, said Victor Jose Luciano, CIAC president and chief executive officer.

Admiral Energy offered an investment of P12.4 billion, an upfront payment of P108 million and a minimum guaranteed annual payment of P261 million, Luciano said.

“We can say that we will have a terminal by the first quarter of 2010,” he said.

Terminal 2 is envisioned to accommodate seven million passengers a year. The current terminal’s load is one million passengers a year.

The Diosdado Macapagal International Airport was formerly the airport of the US 13th Air Force, when the US operated an airbase in Clark Field, which is now a special economic zone. The US Air Force left an airport totaling 2,500 hectares, with two 3.5-kilometer-long runways.

CIAC executive vice president Alexander Cauguiran, who chairs a joint venture selection committee, said the committee would do post-qualification evaluation of Admiral Energy in 15 days.

If Admiral Energy will fail that evaluation, CIAC can do conduct another bidding or look for a new mode of implementing the terminal project, he said.

Luciano said two other bidders — Synergy International Resources Group Co. Ltd. and Philippine Regional Investment Development Corp. — failed to pass the eligibility requirement.

CIAC officials earlier reported that 11 private companies had joined the pre-selection conference, held in July. Edited by

Manufacturing output spurts to highest level this year

By Euan Paulo C. Añonuevo, Reporter
The Manila Times

PHILIPPINE factory output rose to its highest level this year in July due to increases in the production of a number of industries.

In its Monthly Integrated Survey of Selected Industries, the National Statistics Office (NSO) reported that the manufacturing sector’s Volume of Production Index (VoPI) grew by 8.1 percent from 0.90 percent in the same period last year.

July’s expansion is the highest recorded so far this year, after the manufacturing sector growth slowed to 5 percent in June from a 7.5-percent and 8-percent rise in April and May, respectively.

The NSO said that the higher production this month was trig­gered by an increase in output in nine sectors, led by chemical products (excluding plastic pro­ducts), non-metallic mineral products, and tobacco products.

Increases were also registered in the manufacture of leather products, clothing, basic metals, rubber and plastics, food and beverages.

However, 11 sectors suffered a dip in production. The losers were led by machinery (except electrical), textiles, miscellaneous manufactures, petroleum products and transport equipment.

The higher volume overall managed to increase the Value of Production Index, which accelerated to 13.90 percent from a year ago.

The Value of Net Sales Index and the Volume of Net Sales Index likewise grew to 13.30 percent and 8.50 percent, respectively.

The NSO said that the sample of manufacturing respondents registered operated with a capacity utilization that averaged 81.6 percent, slightly higher than the previous month’s 81.1 percent.

The proportion of establishments that operated at full capacity accounted for 11.10 percent. More than half or 59.40 percent of the establishments operated at 70 percent to 89 percent capacity, while 29.50 percent operated below 70-percent capacity.

UBS sees peso rising to 42:$1 in ’09

By Lawrence Agcaoili
The Manila Standard

Investment bank UBS of Switzerland sees the peso strengthening to 42 against the US dollar next year due to the softening oil and food prices and robust remittances from migrant Filipino workers.

UBS economist Edward Teather said in a study “Asean: Navigating Commodity Volatility” that the Philippines would be one of the key beneficiaries of lower commodity prices.

“With the Philippines as one of the key beneficiaries of lower commodity prices, the peso ought to get a lift if commodity prices stabilize or fall back. At the same time, because of remittances from foreign overseas workers, the current account surplus remains positive,” Teather said.

He said the peso would likely to appreciate to 42 to $1 instead of its earlier forecast of 44 to $1 next year from the projected 44.5 to $1 this year.

The Philippine government, through the Development Budget Coordination Committee, sees the peso ranging between 42 and 45 per $1 this year and next.

“Furthermore, we expect the central bank to continue edging policy rates higher, which should increase the attractiveness of the yields available in local currency,” he said.

The central bank has increased its key policy rates by 100 basis points since June 5 to contain inflation. This brought the overnight borrowing rate at 6.0 percent and the overnight lending rate at 8.0 percent.

Inflation kicked up to a 17-year high of 12.5 percent in August, bringing the average to 8.8 percent in the first eight months of the year. The central bank has revised upward its inflation forecast to 9.0 percent to 11.0 percent this year from the original 3.0 percent to 5.0 percent and to 6.0 percent to 8.0 percent next year from the original target of 2.5 percent to 4.5 percent.

“However, we do continue to look for more policy tightening in Philippines and Indonesia. Here, non-commodity price inflation pressures are more onerous and in the case of the Philippines, a higher interest rate will help stabilize the currency,” Teather added.

The investment bank expects the central bank to raise its overnight borrowing rate by another 50 basis points this year to 6.5 percent and by another 50 basis points next year to 7.0 percent.

Thursday, 25 September 2008

NAIA 3 update videos

By Ablaners
25 August 2008




Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Cebu Pacific's 3rd ATR arrives

Gokongwei-owned airline Cebu Pacific (CEB), the Philippines’ leading domestic carrier, took delivery of its third brand new ATR 72-500 turbo-prop aircraft yesterday, September 23, 2008, from Toulouse, France. The aircraft will be based in the airline’s Cebu hub to support further expansion. The ATR leads the turbo-prop class due to its reliability, ease of maintenance and its ability to land on short runways. CEB has ordered up to 18 brand new ATR aircraft as part of its overall domestic operations expansion in one of the fastest growing markets in the world. CEB has the youngest fleet of aircraft in the Philippines with 10 A319, eight A320 and three ATR72-500 aircraft.

Manila to produce oil at Malampaya field in 2 yrs

Reporting by Manolo Serapio Jr.; Editing by Clarence Fernandez
Thomson Financial

MANILA, Sept 24 (Reuters) - The Philippine government expects to start oil production from its largest natural gas field in less than two years, a senior official said on Wednesday.

Unlisted domestic firm Burgundy Global Exploration Corp will extract crude deposits at the Camago-Malampaya gas field off the coast of Palawan island in western Philippines, along with state-run Philippine National Oil Co-Exploration Corp.

The gas field is run by a consortium headed by a unit of Royal Dutch Shell.

'This is a highly technical operation but we will succeed because oil is there. We will start production in less than two years,' Eduardo Hernandez, director at PNOC-EC, told reporters at the signing of the government contract awarding the Camago-Malampaya oil project to Burgundy and PNOC-EC.

Hernandez said the recoverable oil reserves were between 20 million and 40 million barrels.

The Philippines imports nearly all its oil requirements but domestic production is expected to rise 70 percent to slightly more than 40,000 barrels per day when the Galoc oilfield, with an expected output of 17,500 bpd, starts production later this year.

Burgundy is to take an 84.9-percent interest in the project, valued at $700 million, while PNOC-EC has the remaining 15.1 percent.

Burgundy will invest an initial $173 million into the project, said company president Rogelio Serafica.

Malampaya is the Southeast Asian nation's biggest hydrocarbon discovery, supplying nearly all of its natural gas and powering three generation plants with a combined capacity of 2,700 megawatts, around a fourth of the installed capacity on the country's main Luzon island.

Philippine president shares with UN-member states Philippines' experience in facing global challenges

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo delivers her speech during the opening ceremony (Sept. 23) of the 63rd United Nations General Assembly at the UN headquarters in New York City. (Rey Baniquet- OPS/NIB Photo)

NEW YORK CITY -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo told the world today that through self-reliance, long-term reforms and international cooperation, the Philippines is now in a better position to face the present global challenges of rising fuel and food prices, and the volatile global economic situation.

In her speech at the opening of the 63rd United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) this morning (Sept 23, NY time), the President admitted though that it was not easy as Filipinos, like other peoples in the rest of the world, also feel the pain of high food and fuel prices.

''It hasn't been easy but Filipinos are tough and resilient. We have pulled together. We have been able to draw on additional revenues to provide targeted investments in food and fuel to keep our poor afloat until a better day,'' the President said.

The President said a new paradigm of self-reliance -- through the use of a targeted strategy with a set of precise prescriptions to ease price challenges; food sufficiency and more energy independence, as well as long- term reforms implemented -- has somehow lessened the impact on the poor of these global challenges.

She, however, said the Philippines also needs international cooperation, including that of the UN, ''as never before.''

''To address these global challenges, we must go on building bridges among allies around the globe, to bring rice to where it is needed to feed the people; investments to create jobs, and keep the peace and stability in the world,'' she said.

The President said since the rise in the global prices of fuel and oil months ago, the Philippines has “increased and stabilized the supply of rice and delivered targeted subsidies to the poor” as funds are now available from increased revenue collections resulting from the tough economic reforms she had initiated.

She added that to “ensure a stable supply and affordable prices of rice,” the Philippines has “reached out to neighbors like Vietnam and others in ASEAN.”

At the same time, the President said the Philippine government has “invested more billions (of pesos) in planting and agricultural modernization” to increase food production; and cracked down on price gouging.

She added that her thrust of developing indigenous and renewable sources of energy has lessened the country's dependence on imported fossil fuel.

''We have increased our energy independence by 17 percent through greater use of geothermal, biofuel and other renewable sources. We expect to attain 60 percent independence in two years,'' she stressed.

The President also said Mindanao -- which is one of the country's food baskets, Luzon being the other -- has the “majority of our poorest provinces –it is a sad irony that our food basket has some of the highest hunger (rates) in our nation (and) the prime reason is the endless Mindanao conflict.”

Just as the peace talks have achieved remarkable progress, the President said rogue elements of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) ''decided to take the law into their own hands.''

Thus, the President added, the government’s decision to shift the basic paradigm of the peace negotiations -- from talking with armed groups to dialoguing with concerned communities and major stakeholders.

''There is no alternative to peace. I stand before you today to declare loud and clear that we are committed to the peace process in Mindanao,'' the President said, adding that “the context of engagement with all armed groups shall subscribe to the UN-recognized principle of demobilization, disarmament and reintegration.''

She also informed the UN body that the Philippines will host next month the Second Global Forum on Migration and Development and, in May next year, the Non-Aligned Movement Ministerial Meeting on Interfaith Dialogue for Cooperation and Development.

The President was the fourth speaker this morning at the UNGA where over a hundred national leaders participated.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Video: President Arroyo in New York


Philippine government infra spending to boost economy

by JUDITH BALEA, | 09/17/2008 7:46 PM

To ensure economic growth in the next two years, the Philippines needs trillions of pesos worth of investments in infrastructure, according to Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ralph Recto.

At the Mid-Year Economic Briefing in Makati City on Wednesday, Recto said pouring public and private funds into this sector is one of the key strategies to address the economic slowdown amid rising food and oil prices.

Thus, the government has lined up projects, amounting to at least P2 trillion, under the updated Comprehensive and Integrated Infrastructure Program for 2008 to 2010.

Of the total investment requirement, P1.1 trillion or 56 percent will come from the government while 31 percent or P613 billion will be sourced from the private sector. As for the rest, 5 percent (P94 billion) will be funded by government-owned and -controlled corporations, 1.3 percent (P26 billion) by government financial institutions, and 6 percent (P118 billion) by other sources such as grants.

Transportation, social services

The transportation sector would have the biggest share of 38 percent or P755 billion mainly for roads and bridges, which, Recto said, "would open new business opportunities, reduce logistic costs and increase access to social services."

He noted that given the huge investment associated with transport-related projects, private financing would continuously be tapped, especially for priority developments under the Build-Operate-Transfer law like the Tarlac-La Union and Manila-Cavite Toll Expressways, and the South Luzon Expressway extension project.

The government, for its part, will focus on its goal to decongest Metro Manila highways and spread development in the countryside by constructing more railway projects linking to the provinces.

To implement this, Recto emphasized the need for the immediate approval of the national budget for next year.

"I ask Congress, please pass the budget on time so that we can make infrastructure investments on time," he said.

"We are directing the infrastructure agencies to prepare their engineering plans now for projects in the proposed 2009 budget. The central government must improve its coordination with local government units to ensure that infrastructure development will reach remote municipalities, particularly by identifying and implementing projects," he added.

Aside from boosting infrastructure, Recto said the country should also invest more in social services--education and health-- as well as in agriculture and tourism.

He also urged players in the manufacturing and export industries to "enter into high-end product lines to generate greater revenues and to become more competitive."

GDP target stands

If the government steps up public spending like it did last year, the country's gross domestic product (GDP) would likely jump to 6.5 percent in the second half, pulling up growth for the whole year back to the target of 5.5 percent.

"Public infrastructure grew by 40 percent in 2007. If we can push it to grow again by 40 percent, we can still hit our projections," said Recto.

Recto remains confident that the Philippines can weather the US-led global downturn and financial turmoil.

"We still have favorable conditions. Inflation is already going down, prices of rice and fuel are easing, and remittances from overseas Filipinos continue to be strong," he said.


The government is looking to invest trillions of pesos for infrastructure projects in a bid to perk up the economy amid global uncertainties.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ralph Recto on Wednesday said that under the updated 2008 to 2010 Comprehensive and Integrated Infrastructure Program (CIIP), the government is seeking P2 trillion from this year to 2010 to finance these projects.

He noted that for the first half of the year, the Philippine economy posted a 4.6-percent expansion, a far cry from its above 7-percent improvement in the same period in 2007, at a time when public construction also slowed.

"What if public construction posted the same growth as in 2007, at 43.4 percent? Our GDP growth in the first half of 2008 would have been 6.9 percent. Our GDP growth targets are achievable so long as our infrastructure programs deliver," he said.

The government’s official economic target for this year is a growth between 5.5 percent and 6.4 percent and 6.1 percent to 6.7 percent in 2009.

Of the total fund requirements, the transportation sector has the highest share at 38 percent or P755 billion, and followed by power electrification, P611 million.

Water resources will get P347.53 million; social infrastructure, P167.91 million; communication, P56.49 million and relending program, P36.69 million.

Recto added that the government is eyeing to finance P1.5 trillion of the total amount, while the private sector is seen to shoulder P613 billion of the investment requirement.

The P94 billion will be funded by the government owned and controlled corporations; P26 billion from government Financial Institutions; P10 billion from local government units and P118 billion through other sources.

Of the whole transport sector, Recto said roads and bridges and rail transport with shares of 44 percent and 39 percent respectively, comprise the biggest investment requirement

"Road and bridge projects are being pursued in support of the government’s thrust of linking the entire country through an effective transport network that would open up new economic opportunities, reduce logistic costs and increase access to social services. Roads are being linked to RORO ports," Recto said.

He said that owing to the huge investments needed for transport projects, the government will continue to tap the private sector in the development of priority projects under the BOT law.

The Tarlac-La Union Toll Expressway, Panguil Bay Bridge, Manila-Cavite Toll Expressway Extension, Daang Hari- SLEX Link Road, South Luzon Expressway Extension Project, and Southern Tagalog Arterial Road Project, among others, are being proposed for private sector financing.

Recto added that the government plans to implement an integrated urban rail-based mass
transport system through projects such as the LRT Line 1 North Extension (Closing the Loop).

To further provide efficient mass transportation, the capacities of existing railway lines will be increased through projects like MRT3 Capacity Expansion, and existing rail facilities will be extended through LRT Line 2 East Extension to Masinag and Line 1 South Extension Project.

"Metro Manila is already crowded. It will be more congested in a decade, as more people flow in from the provinces. Clearly, we don’t want to see EDSA turned into a giant parking lot," Recto said.

In line with decongesting Metro Manila and spreading development in the countryside, other projects lined up are the Northrail-Southrail Linkage Project, Phase 1 (Caloocan to Alabang) and Phase 2 (Alabang – Calamba), North Rail Project Phase 1, Section 1 (Caloocan-Malolos) & Section 2 (Malolos-Clark), Mainline South Railway Project (Southrail) Phase IA (Calamba- Lucena), Phase 1B (Lucena-Legaspi) & Phase II (Extension to Sorsogon).

NAIA 3 update photos


NAIA 3 in full bloom

By Arch. Jason Buensalido
The Business Mirror
Click here for original article with photos of the terminal.

‘Finally—T3!” was the tagline of the opening of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) Terminal 3. After much perseverance and determination to get through the clouds of political turbulence, the new terminal of our international airport has finally opened.

When it was being constructed, I was so anxious to see how it was going to turn out, as I heard that it was designed by a multinational architectural firm, SOM (Skidmore, Owings and Merrill), a design group that is responsible for a big percentage of large-scale projects all over the world. With this in mind, I was expecting a world-class design and was so excited to see it notwithstanding the political turmoil that dogged it. In fact, it was exactly during that time that I began feeling a bit embarrassed about our airport, especially after coming from a beautiful airport abroad. I shrank whenever I landed on Terminal 1 because of its poor condition due to lack of maintenance and upgrading efforts. I couldn’t help but wonder why the government didn’t do anything to give it a bit of a face-lift. After all, it is the first thing that any visitor of our country will see, and we are all familiar with the truism regarding first impressions.

It was a good thing that I was asked by my client to go to Cebu to visit the job site of a building project I have there. They booked me on Cebu Pacific, and I was pleasantly surprised to find out that all Cebu Pacific flights are being serviced in the new terminal, which gave me a chance to see the newly operational structure.

The overall massing of the building can be appreciated upon approach. The main structure is basically very straightforward and linear, composed of a series of gable roofs that collectively form a rhythmic nature. It is supported by steel columns which are hidden behind a curtain glass wall that runs the entire length of the building between the roof structure and a heavy base, making it appear as if the roof is hovering above the entire building.

As with most airports, the departure hall is on the upper level accessed via a ramp-cum-flyover, while the arrivals section is on the lower one. Upon entry to the departure hall, a cathedral-height ceiling that follows the shape of the gable-roofed exterior looms above polished granite floors. It has a good balance of solid and void of heaviness and lightness, as achieved by the combination of the metal ceiling planks and translucent polycarbonate diffusers that run along the entire length of the evenly distributed skylight strips. These strips allow the interiors to be bathed in natural light. These, in combination with transom windows and the façade curtain walls, achieve a very lofty space that project a very welcoming ambiance.

The most interesting design features of the lobby are the structural supports of the roof. Though the ceiling is very rectilinear and regular in shape, the columns that carry it are diagonally placed and clustered in groups of four. These aluminum-clad diagonal columns push each other at the base, achieving a perfect balance in terms of structural loads. Aesthetically, the diagonals and the regular interval of the columns’ placement give the otherwise regularly shaped interior a certain twist.

With a total floor area of 240,000 square meters, I was able to pass two of its eight remote gates. The waiting areas, though low in terms of headroom clearance, also has a nice ambiance because of the natural light that the curtain wall allows to enter. Full views of the planes taking off and landing entertain the passengers while waiting. To board the plane, the passengers descend a ramp to the bridge going to the plane, whose diagonal form is maintained even at the exterior side.

Designed to accommodate 13 million passengers annually, I am sure that this investment will go a long way in terms of projecting a global image for our country. Global consultants were commissioned, elegant materials were used, and strong-willed political leaders were what it took to get this airport up and running. I just hope that the Manila International Airport Authority maintains this multibillion-peso structure well so that it will be able to serve its purpose as our country’s façade for a while. At least for the next couple of decades, or when the need for a new airport arises.

President mobilizes govt agencies to assist victims of typhoon ‘Nina’

NEW YORK (via PLDT) - President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has mobilized all the agencies of the government to look after the welfare of the victims of Typhoon “Nina” that has left six people dead and a wide swath of destruction in Central and Southern Philippines over the weekend.

The President directed all these agencies to support the efforts of local government units (LGUs) in the evacuation to safety of residents in the areas threatened by landslides and flooding.

She offered her condolences to the families of those who died in the wake of the typhoon, even as she commended government agencies and private civic groups for their speedy response to the appeal for assistance of the victims.

The series of presidential directives were announced here by Deputy Presidential Spokesman and NDCC deputy executive director Anthony Golez.

Golez said the President ordered the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to see to it that houses damaged by the howler are repaired immediately under the Emergency Shelter Assistance program.

He said the President also ordered the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to clear roads of debris to ensure that vital assistance reaches the typhoon-affected areas.

Reports reaching the President here said six persons died, including a 13-year old boy; one remains missing, and about 2,000 displaced by the typhoon.

Ferry services were also suspended as the typhoon pelted Central Philippines with heavy rains, rescuers said.

Citicorp exec: financial turmoil shows Arroyo was right in instituting tough reforms

NEW YORK CITY (via PLDT) – With the tough economic reforms instituted by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo firmly in place, the Philippines will be able to breeze through the fallout of the current US financial turmoil, Citicorp CEO Bill Rhodes said today.

Described as a man in the midst of the US financial turmoil being the head of one of America’s major financial services companies, Rhodes said that the unprecedented financial crunch roiling the US economy showed that President Arroyo was right in instituting tough economic and financial reforms.

In praising the Philippine leader, the Citicorp CEO said President Arroyo possessed the “toughness of a leader who can probably do what is necessary to stem the tide (of the US financial problem) if it will reach the Philippines.”

Press Secretary Jesus Dureza narrated what transpired during the 45-minute meeting between Rhodes and the President at the Plaza Hotel in New York City.

Rhodes “congratulated the President for putting in place reforms, even as he pointed out that these reforms will still be put to a test,” Dureza said.

He added that Rhodes expressed confidence in the “toughness” of the President to implement “even unpopular decisions” needed to “get the Philippines through the situation.”

The Citicorp executive warned that the fallout from the US financial turmoil will be long-term and that all countries have to take stock of the situation, Dureza said.

“He has prescriptions for the Philippines and the President listened because he has been advising the President even before in various meetings in the past,” Dureza said.

The prescription for RP: Watch inflation as it is going to have a long-term effect in the face of the continuing volatility in the global market amid an impending shift from financials to commodities.

Dureza said the meeting between the President and Rhodes was rich with “insights on inside stories and how it can play out even in politics.”

Basically, Rhodes briefed the President on what is happening now in the US. He described the US as “presently in the eye of a storm. There is calm now but the worst is yet to come,” Dureza quoted Rhodes as saying.

The financial world received another jolt last week with the announcement that Lehman Brothers had gone bankrupt. The 150-year-old financial institution has been an innovator in global finance and served the financial needs of corporations, governments, institutional clients and high net-worth individuals worldwide.

Earlier, the financial troubles of Merryll Lynch and its subsequent takeover by the US government also created a searing impact on what used to be the world’s strongest economy.

Taiwanese businessmen pledge over $1 billion

Jessica Anne D. Hermosa
BusinessWorld Online

TAIWANESE FIRMS have pledged $1.159 billion worth of multi-year investments in the Philippines’ electronics, manufacturing, and power industries, the Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO) said in a statement yesterday.

The five-year rent holiday awarded to locators in the Clark and Subic special economic zones investing at least $25 million for high-technology industries has increased investors’ interest, the statement quoted Dita Angara-Mathay, MECO director for commercial affairs, as saying.

Bulk of the projected amount will flow into the power-generation sector, with Formosa Heavy Industries and Redondo Peninsula Energy Inc. investing a total of $1.12 billion in separate projects. Taiwan-based Formosa Heavy Industries will spend $700 million to build coal-fired plants in Toledo, Cebu and La Paz, Iloilo, with production capacities of 246 megawatts and 140 megawatts, respectively. Construction, which began last January, should be completed by 2010, MECO said.

Redondo Peninsula Energy Inc., a joint venture between Aboitiz Power and Taiwan Cogeneration Corp., is building a 300-megawatt coal-fired plant in Luzon worth $420 million. The first phase of the project is scheduled to be completed by 2011.

A total of $32 million will be invested in the electronics industry, MECO added. Great-Sun Optoelectronics, a maker of flat LCD screens, pledged to bring in $30 million over the next three years, while RayShine Photonics pledged $2 million to build a manufacturing plant for light-emitting diodes, a part used for LCD screens.

MECO also said that manufacturing firms Fwu Kuang Enterprises Co. Ltd. and South Forest Co. Ltd. will invest a total of $7 million.

Fwu Kuang Enterprises will be intially investing $5 million to build a factory for screws. It will be raising its investments to $10 million in the next three years, MECO said, adding that the firm has signed a five-year lease agreement to locate to a 2.5-hectare area in Clark.

South Forest will build a $2-million wood processing plant in San Franciso, Agusan del Sur.

There are 190 Taiwanese firms operating in the country’s economic zones, MECO said.

Still, central bank data shows actual investments from Taiwan amounting to only $6.54 million in the first half. Taiwan had invested $90,000 last year, almost 90% less than the $1.02 million in 2006.

US firm wins Clark airport project

Paolo Luis G. Montecillo with a report from Rey Garcia in Clark
BusinessWorld Online

A US-BASED FIRM has been declared the conditional winner for the contract to build and operate the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport Passenger Terminal 2 in Clark Freeport, Pampanga.

Clark International Airport Corp. (CIAC) Chief Executive Victor Jose I. Luciano said Admiral Energy LLC was the only firm out of three bidders which passed the eligibility, technical and financial requirements.

The two others were local firms Philippine Regional Investment Development Corp. and Synergy International Resources Group Co. Ltd.

Admiral Energy, represented by Atty. Raul Correa, offered a P108-million upfront payment within 10 calendar days, a minimum guaranteed annual payment of P261 million, and a total proposed investment of P12.4 billion, almost double the floor price of P6.4 billion.

"We will start building the terminal immediately after the actual awarding of the project," Mr. Correa told BusinessWorld. "We have to meet the timetable set by President [Gloria Macapagal] Arroyo to finish by 2010."

Mr. Luciano said Admiral Energy would still undergo post-eligibility checks over the next week or so.

"If they pass the post-qualification, they will be awarded the project," he added.

Construction is expected to start about a month after the post-qualification is done. The project will be a joint venture with CIAC.

Clark is being groomed as the next "premiere gateway" to the Philippines, outside of the Manila international airport system which consists of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport terminals 1, 2, and 3, and the Manila Domestic Airport.

Air transport officials have said the Clark airport system can be better than Manila’s since the former’s two parallel runways allow two aircraft to take off and land simultaneously.

Clark is expected to decongest the Manila airport system where NAIA-3, which opened in the third week of July, is the only one running below capacity. Excluding the new terminal, officials said Manila has been serving about 20 million passengers a year, above the designed annual capacity of 18 million passengers.

The new Clark terminal, which will complement an existing two million passengers per year facility, is expected to begin operations in 2010.

Officials said the facility was expected to service a potential market of around eight million passengers from northern and Central Luzon, and even Manila.