Thursday, 24 March 2011

Ayala eyes 2 Cagayan wind farms

by Alena Mae S. Flores
Manila Standard

Ayala Corp., which has just gone into the renewable energy business, will participate in the new projects of NorthWind Power Development Corp. in Aparri and Pamplona towns in Cagayan province.

NorthWind chairman Ferdinand Dumlao told reporters the company was confident of putting up new projects with the recent partnership with the Ayala conglomerate.

Michigan Power Inc., a wholly-owned unit of Ayala, last week acquired a 50-percent stake in NorthWind for P512 million, plus an additional payment depending on certain performance indicators.

“Like any developer, we are awaiting the approval of the feed-in tariff. The development of our expansion projects hinges upon approval of a viable feed-in tariff, which we hope that the petition will be filed on or before March 31 by the National Renewable Energy Board with the endorsement of the Energy Department,” Dumlao said.

NorthWind’s units are building new projects. Northpoint Wind Power Corp. will develop a 40-megawatt wind project along the shoreline of Barangay Dodan, Aparri in Cagayan province.

Northpoint is expected to spend around $95 million for the Aparri wind project. The project consists of about 20 to 25 wind turbines that will provide power to electric cooperatives in Cagayan.

NorthEast Wind Systems Corp., meanwhile, will construct the 40-MW wind farm in Pamplona, Cagayan.

The Pamplona wind project may consist of 16 turbines with a capacity of 1.65 MW each. NorthEast, which plans to sell its electricity to the Luzon grid, expects the project to be operational on or before 2015.

Dumlao said the new projects faced “certain constraints,” depending on the feed-in tariff, or higher power rates applicable to renewable energy, and the upgrade of transmission facilities where the projects are located.

Feed-in tariff is the electricity charged to every renewable energy source and guarantees payment to renewable energy developers.

“For example for Cagayan, if we have a financial closing by September, two years from now or by 2013, the transmission facilities should be in place,” Dumlao said.

He said National Grid Corporation of the Philippines, which operates the country’s transmission highway, had not made a commitment to put up the transmission facilities.

“They should have a firm commitment because we have to deliver that power [to consumers]. And we need that for the banks,” Dumlao said.

Gutsy Azkals salvage draw vs Palestinians

Manila Bulletin

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Azkals withstood the aggressive stand of the fancied Palestinian side to salvage a scoreless draw and keep their bid alive in the Asian Football Confederation Challenge Cup group stage Wednesday at the Thuwanna Stadium in Rangoon, Myanmar.

Putting up a Spartan-like defense, the Azkals thwarted everything the Al-Fursans threw at them, with goalkeeper Neil Etheridge protecting the goalmouth valiantly as the Filipinos forged a draw for the second straight game.

Chieffy Caligdong and newcomer Yannick Tuason showed offensive and defensive brilliance but the end result left the Azkals’ fate hanging in the balance entering their final match opposite Bangladesh Friday in the same venue.

A victory, though, could have led the Azkals to a safer position.

For blowing away a won game that resulted in a 1-1 draw against Myanmar last Monday, the Azkals remained at second with two points, but could end up at third should Myanmar beat Bangladesh in the second game which was being played at presstime in the same venue. If Myanmar prevailed last night, it will tie Palestine on top with similar four points.

The Azkals will need to beat Bangladesh at all cost Friday at 5 p.m. (Manila time) to stay in the race.

The top two teams at the end of the single round group elims will advance to the main draw next year.

The Azkals made several last ditch efforts to break the ice even in the injury time but their efforts went to naught as the taller Palestinians proved to be tough nut to crack.

Filipino-British Rob Gier nearly scored off a free kick but was frustrated by goalkeeper Abdullah Saidawi.

Caligdong, who scored a goal in the Azkals’ 2-0 win against Mongolia in the pre-qualifying in Bacolod City last Feb., also tried, but his shot from outside the box in the 85th went straight into the hands of Saidawi.

Tuason, a member of the University of Santo Tomas football team who subbed for Simon Greatwich, showed his potential when he blocked a flowing shot by Ashraf Nu'man in the 67th.

The Palestinians got the better of the Azkals in the first half by making several attempts. They hit the crossbar twice.

Another scoring opportunity came for Palestine when Simon Greatwich was booked for a yellow card in the 35th for diving inside the box, but the shot was blocked by the solid Filipino wall.

It was rugged first half as Chieffy Caligdong, went down at least twice against taller Palestinians, who put premium on defense by having five midfielders in a 4-2-3-1 formation.

Japan loses; China wins

Business Mirror

The first effect of the Japanese disaster has hit the shores of the Philippines. And it is not a tsunami or radiation.

From the Inquirer: “The expansion of the Philippine National Railways’ [PNR] capacity is now in question following likely delays in the delivery of trains donated from Japan, which is still reeling from the recent earthquake and tsunami that killed thousands of people and caused billions of dollars in damage.”

This donation of railcars has been of interest to me since it was first revealed, as I find using the train to get to Makati from south of Manila is very efficient and cost-effective. It is a good deal for the PNR and for commuters.

With all the experts speaking of the fallout from the Japanese disaster from financial gurus to scientists, one subject that has not come up very often is the effect on China.

While China’s influence and power in Asia and the world grew in the last decade, Japan, although a diminishing power, could never be discounted. Japan always has stood as somewhat of a counterbalance to China in Asia. Japan is still America’s strongest Asian ally. Japan is still a very larger holder of US government debt. Japanese companies are major investors around Asia, greater than China. And one must never forget that Japan and China have been enemies, very bitter enemies at times, going back a long way.

While Asian neighbors (and enemies) have long memories, the Japanese earthquake may not only have altered the geology of Japan and Asia, but may also alter the geo-political aspects of the region.

Japan will find a way to rebuild. Resilience is a critical component of the Japanese psyche. However, there has been some talk about an assistance program funded initially by other nations. The US is not in a financial condition that would allow it to create and lead a massive, formal financial plan similar to what it did for Europe after World War II. The only real player who has the ready cash to loan Japan is China. So far, China has been a very minor participant in the ongoing relief efforts.

Even as China is being called the next global leader and potential superpower, it still acts as a second-rate, developing nation. Maybe that is because it is still being ruled by men who are a product of the old “Third World” China.

Nevertheless, there is no denying that there will at least be a power vacuum in Asia as Japan gets itself back on its feet. Japan’s misfortunate should be beneficial to China if it properly and wisely tries to take advantage of the situation. As one commentator, Nicholas Kronos from the US, put it, “Undoubtedly this disaster has knee-capped our loyal ally Japan’s regional power for some time to come and perhaps permanently. China enjoys the best position to move into the resulting vacuum and exploit Japan’s hobbling.”

As much as China would like to be taken seriously on the world’s stage, in truth, China often acts like the drunken loudmouth bully in a karaoke joint whom everyone would like to punch and throw out but is just too darn big.

China in many ways is like the thug who made his money breaking the rules and wants to shed the mob image but cannot help himself from buying all that gold bling-bling and fancy watches.

And China has broken the rules—from using prison labor to manufacture goods for export to ignoring all modern environmental standards to a complete disregard for product-safety standards that are commonplace everywhere else.

In the British Financial Times newspaper, China “expert” Martin Wolf wrote an article titled “How China Should Rule the World.” His assumption is that, eventually, China will accomplish what the title says and he offers how China can accomplish its global dominance objective. “How should China achieve its aim? Broadly, it would be best achieved via further development of the rules-governed, institutionally-based global system.” That statement shows Wolf’s ignorance of China. Rules-governed? Not a chance. This is China.

Read this: “China is the natural successor of the US as guardian of the open-trading system. It is important, for this reason, that China abide by all the rules and principles of the system. It has a rising interest in protecting its own intellectual property and, for this reason, a matching interest in ensuring its own adherence to these rules.” Are we talking about the same China? Why would China give up a multibillion-dollar business of counterfeiting goods? Wolf is totally unrealistic.

When he addresses Chinese trade imbalances, Wolf moves to the realm of fantasy. “China itself recognizes that the outcome [of high trade surpluses] has proved domestically destabilizing.” Then he asserts that China intends to grow the domestic economy by stimulating consumer demand for local goods and increasing imports. He then cites recent numbers to show “imports will grow faster than exports this year.” Foolish. The only reason Chinese import percentages are up is that exports to the US are down due to the financial crisis.

Wolf’s overall thesis is that China will change its behavior to be more in line with global standards of conduct as it moves farther into global dominance because it is in China’s best interest. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

China has achieved its economic success by following its own path of conduct, regardless of the rules. Why would anyone believe that would change?

Having said all that, China is now even more the prevailing force in Asia, for good or ill, and it must be dealt with in light of the situation facing the future of Japan.

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G.I.R. hits $64B in February

Business Mirror

THE country’s gross international reserves, or GIR, an indicator of capacity to pay foreign loans and trade-related foreign obligations, stood still higher in February at $64 billion.

A little under $2 billion was added during the month as the stock of foreign currency made up mostly of the US dollar, the Japanese yen and the euro increased from January GIR of $62.1 billion.

“International reserves continue to grow and as of end-February reached $64 billion, a new record high,” Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Amando M. Tetangco Jr. said at the annual convention of the Chamber of Thrift Banks held at the Dusit Hotel in Makati City.

Tetangco said such reserves provide the economy with sufficient cushion against possible external strains such as the relative scarcity of global credit due to risk-averse investors, among other reasons.

He previously estimated the reserves would reach $68 billion to $70 billion by year’s end as foreign capital continues to flow inward, global trade grows and the remittances of overseas Filipinos prove resilient in the face of increased global difficulties.

At the sidelines of chamber activities, Emilio Neri Jr., economist at the Bank of the Philippine Islands, said the Philippines has effectively become a net exporter of foreign capital in 2010 as its foreign-exchange reserves grew larger than its foreign debt.

“This year the Philippines is expected to remain a net exporter of capital still,” he said.

Records show that at end-2010 the country’s foreign debt totaled only $59.8 billion, while its foreign-exchange reserves already stood at $62 billion.

This much foreign currency in the financial system was also seen to help the peso to strengthen to P41 or P42 per dollar during the year, and Neri was optimistic the peso would likely strengthen to P42 per dollar by year’s end.

In addition, Neri said domestic interest rates were not likely to move up significantly during the year because the system is considered very liquid.

As fund managers endeavor to create more wealth than was possible in the recent past, consumer lending was seen to accelerate, helping push the economy forward, Neri said.

Filipinos and Japanese heading to Philippines to escape radiation threat

MANILA: More and more Filipinos and Japanese nationals are heading to the Philippines to escape the threat of radiation contamination in Japan.

Aside from Filipinos living in Japan, around a thousand Japanese nationals have been arriving in Manila's airports daily amid the nuclear threat in Japan.


Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Exports in 2010 break all previous records, registers 33.7% growth

Manila Bulletin

MANILA, Philippines – The Export Development Council (EDC) has revealed that exports in 2010 broke all previous records by staging a spectacular come-back, reflecting the recovery of major markets and posting the highest ever export revenues since 11 years ago.

In its preliminary assessment, EDC noted a major change in the sources of growth for the sale of Philippine goods - from its old trading partners in Europe and the United States to closer countries in the Asian region.

The report described as unprecedented the 33.7 percent growth in export revenues of $51.39 billion last year, breaching the peak record in 2007 at $50.27 billion. It was also the highest in the past 11 years.

"The growth was a reflection of the recovery of the economies of (some of the) Philippines' major markets, notably the United States, Japan, Hong Kong and the continued growth of China," the report said.

Banner holder in overturning a two-year losing streak into a winning sector in only a year was the electronics industry, which growth jumped by 44.1 percent over the previous year record with $31.08 in earnings.

Behind the spectacular change of fortune, the Semiconductor and Electronics Industries in the Philippines (SEIPI) reported to the EDC that the recovery was fuelled by heavy investments by individual manufacturers during the year under review.

SEIPI member companies injected a total of $2.32 billion in new technologies and production facilities last year, also a record high in the industry's history.

Electronics products make up the country's top exports, contributing more than half (59.89%) of total export earnings last year.

Also staging an impressive performance was the garments and textile industry, which, after many years of stagnation and decline, staged an 11.9 percent growth in 2010 on sales of $1.68 billion.

The third billion dollar industry, food, made an eleventh hour dash last December but its double digit growth that month was not enough to cover minimal growth in previous months. (EHL)

Prospering from misfortune

John Mangun
Business Mirror

The human toll of the disaster that struck Japan is still unknown. Estimates of the dead and injured are certainly not complete. Yet, perhaps, more important in the long term is the economic effects not only on Japan but on Asia.

We tend to view events like this disaster outside of the context of the current world that surrounds the occurrence. Say, for example, you drop and shatter one of your drinking glasses. Your immediate concern is to make sure you and everyone else are not cut by the broken glass. Then you need to clean up the mess. If the glass contained the last of your bottle of brandy, then you think about replenishing your stock of liquor. But after all of that is done, the problem has been solved.

Then a week later when you entertain guests, you suddenly realize that you are one glass short. And now you have to buy a whole set of glasses, otherwise a single oddball glass looks kind of silly.

Events have multiple effects; some may not be apparent until much later.

I spoke last week how the age demographics of Japan is going to affect their rebuilding effort. A conscious decision by the Japanese people in the 1970s and 1980s to limit marriage and family size may now be a great impediment to rebuilding their nation. Two e-mail I received accused me of merely repeating the “propaganda” of the Catholic Church about “reproductive health.” How foolish. The discussion was about consequences of a nation’s action. Simply, too few children can be just as disastrous as too many.

Many foreign “experts” tell us that had the Philippines limited population growth 20 years ago, we might now have streets paved with gold and every one would be riding in new Mercedes. Perhaps. But Japan tells an interesting postwar story.

Japan had reached an unheard-of annual growth rate of 10 percent by the 1960s, then 5 percent in the 1970s, and 4 percent in the 1980s. At the end of the 1980s, Japan seemed poised to economically surpass America. In 1960, when Japan was trying to beat West Germany as the world’s second-largest economy, 49 percent of the people were under 25. Then suddenly, Japan changed and now only 23 percent of Japan’s population is under 25.

Eight of the 10 largest companies in the world were Japanese in 1988. This year Japan does not have a single company in the top 20, and only six in the top 100. In 1969 the population growth rate was 2 percent, falling to 0.74 percent in 1976. Perhaps, the children who were not born in the 1970s left a shortage 20 years later of qualified people to continue to manage and prosper Japanese corporations. Who knows? But it is something to think about.

Asian cultures are supposed to be much more forward thinking that the West. I wonder.

China, too, has a demographics problem, thanks to their one-child policy. However, the greater issue with China is its “at-all-cost” move to industrialization.

China is America’s banker. Soon, America may well be China’s farmer.

China is facing a double problem of environmental degradation and rapid industrialization, both affecting its ability to feed its people.

This from the Washington Post: “Since 1950, some 24,000 villages in the northwestern part of the country have been totally or partially abandoned as sand dunes encroach on cropland. And with millions of Chinese farmers drilling wells to expand their harvests, water tables are falling under much of the North China Plain, which produces half of the nation’s wheat and a third of its corn,”

Further, “Chinese agriculture is also losing irrigation water to cities and factories. Cropland is being sacrificed for residential and industrial construction, including highways and parking lots that accommodate China’s voracious demand for automobiles. In 2009 automobile sales in China totaled just below 14 million, surpassing those in the United States for the first time. For every 1 million cars added to this fleet, at least 50,000 acres are paved over.”

Here is where it gets interesting. “In 1995 China produced and consumed 14 million tons of soybeans. By 2010 China was still producing 14 million tons of soy annually, but consuming 69 million tons.” China needs 80 million tons of grain each year to meet just 20 percent of its needs and the largest grain exporter in the world, the US, sells 90 million tons of grain each year. China may be sending back the US debt it holds in return for food.

Back to my silly broken-glass story. Clean up the mess and treat yourself to a new set of fine crystal. While the Philippine government frets about losing a portion of its exports market because of Japan’s problems and fears a mass exodus of workers from Japan, put in a larger context, there may be a beneficial upside.

As I wrote last week, “It is estimated by the UN Population Division that Japan will need to ‘import’ 1 million workers per year over the next two decades to supplement its labor force.” That has got to be good for the Philippines, regardless of our growth rate. We should be working to take advantage of this in light of the tremendous Japanese rebuilding effort right now.

While Chinese industrialization is a major problem for their country, it can be a boom for the Philippines. Chinese industrialization is not going to stop and their need for metals is unstoppable, metals that the Philippines has in rich abundance. This government needs to get its act together right now to provide sustainable, wealth creating mineral- extraction development.

I know it is all urban myth and nonsense about the Chinese word for crisis—weiji—actually meaning “danger” plus “opportunity.” But it makes a great story. And the truth is that out of every crisis comes opportunity for someone.

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Planned Parenthood is anti-Asian

Want to Stop Abortion (not to mention Racism and Bigotry)? Defund Planned Parenthood!
By Steven W. Mosher 2011 (v13)

We've all seen the tapes. Planned Parenthood employees have recently been caught on video engaging in illegal activities: collaborating with the sex trafficking of minors, covering up statutory rape, and even coaching minor girls to avoid disclosing the age of the adult men who got them pregnant.

We also know that Planned Parenthood is — first, last, and always — an abortion organization. Its abortionists committed 337 thousand abortions in 2009, or more than one in every four abortions performed in the U.S. over the course of that same year. Of every 100 pregnant women who walk into a Planned Parenthood clinic, 98 leave with empty wombs.

Finally, we know that Planned Parenthood's abortion business is very, very lucrative. The organization does a billion dollars worth of “business” each year. Abortions alone account for over a third of this revenue, even though only one in 10 patients come for an abortion. Another third comes from you and me in the form of government grants and contracts. As a result of this profiteering, the organization has built up nearly one billion in assets, making it one of the wealthiest “nonprofits” in American history, even as it has made the rest of us poorer by eliminating millions of people from our population. 1

But what you may not know is that the Planned Parenthood Federation of America is a big player in the international population control movement in its own right. Each year the organization sends tens of millions of dollars overseas to fund abortion campaign, not to mention lobby for the legalization of abortion in countries with pro-life laws, such as the Philippines.

In this the organization continues to follow in the footsteps of its founder, Margaret Sanger, who had little but contempt for the “Asiatic races,” as she and her eugenicist friends called them. During her lifetime, she proposed that their numbers be drastically reduced. But Sanger's preferences went beyond race. In her 1922 book “Pivot of Civilization” she unabashedly called for the extirpation of “weeds … overrunning the human garden;” for the segregation of “morons, misfits, and the maladjusted;” and for the sterilization of “genetically inferior races.” It was later that she singled out the Chinese, writing in her autobiography about “the incessant fertility of [the Chinese] millions spread like a plague.”

There can be no doubt that Sanger would have been wildly enthusiastic over China's one-child policy, for her “Code to Stop Overproduction of Children,” published in 1934, decreed that “no woman shall have a legal right to bear a child without a permit … no permit shall be valid for more than one child.” As for China's selective elimination of handicapped and abandoned babies, she would have been delighted that Beijing had heeded her decades-long call for exactly such eugenicist policies.

Sanger was not one for subtlety in such matters. She bluntly defined “birth control,” a term she coined, as “the process of weeding out the unfit” aimed at “the creation of a superman.” She often opined that “the most merciful thing that the large family does to one its infant members is to kill it,” and that “all our problems are the result of overbreeding among the working class.” That is you and me, folks.

Sanger frequently featured racists and eugenicists in her magazine, the Birth Control Review. Contributor Lothrop Stoddard, who also served on Sanger's board of directors, wrote in “The Rising Tide of Color Against White World-Supremacy” that “We must resolutely oppose both Asiatic permeation of white race-areas and Asiatic inundation of those non-white, but equally non-Asiatic regions inhabited by the really inferior races.” Each issue of the Birth Control Review was packed with such ideas.

But Sanger was not content merely to publish racist propaganda; the magazine also made concrete policy proposals, such as the creation of “moron communities,” the forced production of children by the “fit,” and the compulsory sterilization and even elimination of the “unfit.”

Sanger's own racist views were scarcely less opprobrious. In 1939 she and Clarence Gamble made an infamous proposal called “Birth Control and the Negro,” which asserted that “the poorer areas, particularly in the South … are producing alarmingly more than their share of future generations.” Her “religion of birth control” would, she wrote, “ease the financial load of caring for with public funds … children destined to become a burden to themselves, to their family, and ultimately to the nation.”

War with Germany, combined with lurid tales of how the Nazis were putting her theories about “human weeds” and “genetically inferior races” into practice, panicked Sanger into changing her organization's name and rhetoric. “Birth control,” with its undertone of coercion, became “family planning.” The “unfit” and the “dysgenic” became merely “the poor.” The American Birth Control League became the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

Following Sanger's death in 1966, Planned Parenthood felt so confident that it had safely buried her past that it began boasting about “the legacy of Margaret Sanger.” And it began handing out cutely named Maggie Awards to innocents who often had no inkling of her real views. The first recipient was Martin Luther King — who clearly had no idea that Sanger had inaugurated a project to set his people free — from their progeny. “We do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population and the Minister is the man who can straighten out that idea if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members,” Sanger had earlier written Gamble.

The good news is that Sanger's — and Planned Parenthood's — patina of respectability has finally worn off.

It is time to cut this racist, money-grubbing, abortion-minded organization out of the federal budget forever.


1 For more details, see the Defunding Planned Parenthood Fact Sheet developed by the Chiaroscuro Foundation.