Saturday, 5 July 2008

Hanjin Misamis project still on

Guv spurns columnist on Hanjin claim
By Mark D. Francisco

MISAMIS Oriental Governor Oscar Moreno rejected Philippine Star columnist Jarius Bondoc's opinion piece alleging that Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction Corporation had pulled out all its equipment "with not a single nail or brick left behind" from the shipyard construction site inside the Phividec Industrial Estate.

"Is Jarius Bondoc the spokesperson of Hanjin Heavy Industries?" Moreno retorted, when asked of his comment on the columnist’s claim.

Arroyo Watch: Sun.Star blog on President Arroyo

“He (Bondoc) is just writing from his armchairs in Makati and hadn't seen the actual shipyard construction site for himself,” said Moreno.

In a July 2 commentary entitled “Hanjin quit Misamis for good,” Bondoc wrote that Hanjin’s pull-out from Misamis Oriental was permanent and that Malacañang has tried to conceal it.

“The last word from the Palace — obfuscation as usual — was that the wrangling between the company and two town mayors had been settled. In truth, Hanjin in late May hauled off all its equipment and personnel from what should have been a 441-hectare $2-billion (P90-billion) facility,” the columnist said.

The town mayors that he referred to are Villanueva’s Juliette Uy and Tagoloan’s Paulino Emano. Both denied they had tried to extort Hanjin.

Moreno said Bondoc was “entitled to his own opinion. That article reflects his opinion on the matter and should not be considered as factual.”

As a proof that Hanjin was coming back, the governor pointed to the memorandum of understanding (MOU) between Hanjin and Phividec, which provides that the project was still in effect until September. The MOU has not been rescinded, he added.

“In addition, Hanjin’s equipments are still within the Phividec area,” he said.

Provincial engineers, he added, are even assisting Phividec to speed up its commitment with Hanjin in relocating affected residents so that the project can proceed unimpeded.

Friday, 4 July 2008

First container vessel from Subic named today

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo leads the naming ceremony for the M/V Argolikos, the first ship to be built in the Subic Freeport Zone held Friday (July 4) at Green Beach, Redondo Peninsula, Sitio Agusahun, Brgy. Cawag, Subic Bay Freeport Zone. Behind the President in photo is Mr. Nam Ho Cho, chairman of HHIC. (Edwin Paril-OPS/NIB Photo)

Speech of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
Hanjin Subic Shipyard, Redondo Peninsula, Subic Freeport Zone Zambales

Thank you, Secretary Pamintuan, for your introduction. Other Cabinet members, Chairman Nam Ho Cho and the other officials of Hanjin, Chairman Papadimitriou and your beloved parents and the other officials and guests. Our friends from Greece, our Father of Subic, Senator Richard Gordon, Governor Deloso and Governor Tet Garcia, Congressman Magsaysay. and Congressman Monico Fuentabella, Mayor Jeffrey D. Khonghun and the other officials of Subic, the host municipality, Chairman Salonga, Administrator Arreza and the other officials of Subic, not to mention, our very, very proud work force that we all proud to have. Ambassador Hong Jeong-KI of South Korea and the Charge d’ Affaires of the Greek Embassy, Philippine Ambassador to Greece, Bobbi Tiglao, Mr., Shim. I had mentioned already our Cabinet members, Peter Favila and Cerge Remonde, our beloved countrymen especially the proud people of Zambales and Subic, ladies and gentlemen.

Congratulations to Hanjin for this milestone achievement in shipbuilding. Congratulations too to the Dioryx Maritime Corporation — the first shipping firm to buy the first ship from Hanjin Philippines, the largest ship in the Philippines and the first of six ships which have a total of half a billion of dollars worth. Thank you very much and congratulations. Oh, $1.2 billions for the six ships, wonderful!

Congratulations to the workers of Hanjin for your superior Filipinos here. And congratulations to the Filipino people for having the fourth largest shipyard in the world, we are very proud of that.

This very first ship that sails out of Hanjin’s Shipyard, the largest ship ever built in the Philippines, M/V Argolikos, is a marvelous showcase of sound engineering and design, completed six months ahead of schedule. This 41,000-ton container carrier brings pride to its creator. It brings pride to us as the host of its creation. M/V Argolikos shows off to the whole world the excellence of the Filipino workforce in building vessels sailing the seven seas. Noong araw, kilala ang ating mga Filipino dahil magagaling na mga seamen, ngayon, kilala na rin, dahil magagaling sa paggawa ng mga seacraft.

Kaya, lalung-lalo na, congratulations sa lahat ng mga manggagawang Pilipino na nakaparte sa paglikha nitong higanteng barko. And we thank Hanjin Philippines and the Dioryx Maritime Corporation for giving us this opportunity. I remember three years ago, almost to the same date, July 2005, when Congressman Monico Fuentabella of Negros, of Bacolod, brought Mr. Shim to me in Malacañang to tell me Hanjin is going to put up a $1-billion dollar investment to the Philippines. I said, wow, that’s fantastic! And not very long after, we were here groundbreaking the $ 1.7-billion Hanjin Shipyard.

A massive boost to the Philippines’ bid to be the best value for investment in Asia. So today, we see the first fruit of Hanjin’s investment in this shipyard. And we are elated and proud. Hanjin is helping secure our country’s place as an attractive investment destination. It is a display of our countrymen’s skills and work ethic. Hindi lang kayo magagaling, masisipag at may malasakit. And we are happy to hear that, at the end of the day, Hanjin will have created at least 21,000 new jobs here.

We join Hanjin in looking forward to the five other ships of Dioryx that will be built here. One is being built -- we look forward to its christening also this coming November -- and we look forward to ask other vessels for other international companies.

Our vision, as Armand Arreza said, there are three ship building or ship-related establishments here in Subic. Our vision is to develop the Clark-Subic corridor into the most competitive international service and logistics center in the region. The Clark-Subic corridor is at the northern edge of the super region that we call Luzon Urban Beltway, which extends all the way from Subic-Clark through Metro Manila through Calabarzon to Batangas Port. The economic activity along this beltway generates 55 percent of national economic production. And, therefore, the biggest challenge of this beltway is to remain competitive.

The Clark-Subic corridor literally opened a few months ago when we inaugurated the Subic-Clark Expressway. Businesses can now optimize the services of the Clark International Airport and this beautiful Subic International Airport linked by a half-hour drive like similar seaport-airport tandems across the Southeast-Asian region. And to our friends here, our Korean friends here, KAMSAHAMNIDA for keeping faith in our country and our people. May ships built in this shipyard -- and hopefully, very soon also in the shipyard of Mindanao from Hanjin – shall sail over the seven seas of the world for many years. Thank you for your investment in Asia. Mabuhay ang Hanjin! Mabuhay ang Dioryx! Mabuhay ang Pilipinas! Maraming salamat sa inyo.

Government statement on inflation figures

Statement of Cabinet Secretary Ricardo Saludo: High inflation shows need for cooperation to hold down prices

The Arroyo Administration achieved the lowest annual average inflation of 5.5 percent till 2007, compared with previous administrations since 1986 but unbridled global oil and food price spikes have bring back double-digit inflation, last seen a decade ago.

The current surge underscores the importance of ongoing government-sectoral cooperation to curb price hikes.

The DOTC (Department of Transportation and Communications) and the DOE (Department of Energy) have worked with transport groups to crack down on kotong and colorum (that have been) hurting jeepneys, and have offered P500M in loans to convert diesel engines into more economical LPG (Liquefied Petroleum Gas) motors.

The DA (Department of Agriculture) is working with farmers, local governments and lending bodies to boost rice production through FIELDS (fertilizers, irrigation, seeds, etc.) initiative.

The P4B in oil VAT (value-added tax) is providing P2B assistance to poor power consumers, P1B in student scholarships and loans, along with engine and light bulb conversion funds; plus Pantawid Pamilya cash aid and low-cost medicines and health insurance give further relief to the indigent.

We must join hands to rein in prices.

Statement of Deputy Spokesman Lorelei Fajardo

The inflation rate increase is spurred by the continuing rise in the cost of fuel in the world market.

The increase in fuel prices has impacted heavily on our economy. The BSP (Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas) is presently studying options that will help curb the rise in inflation.

In the meantime, we urge all sectors of society to help in the government’s effort to conserve on fuel.

Also, we urge our food manufacturing sector to be sensitive to our consuming public. Price increases in food may seem to be the order of the day, but the government will not tolerate hoarders and vultures who will prey on our consumers.

We must work together as a people if we are to overcome this economic turmoil we are presently riding.

Government will and is committed to seek ways to soften the impact of inflation and the continuing rise in fuel costs.

We must, however, contribute by conserving and ensuring that our manufacturers and traders do not take advantage of the situation and cause further inflationary activities such as hoarding and overpricing.

No domestic unrest seen inspite of inflation


High inflation ... is not likely to spur street protests and political unrest.

In a May interview with Roberto Herrera-Lim, Southeast Asian analyst of Eurasia, which measures political, economic, security, and social risks, he said that the rice situation will "not create domestic unrest because the population probably understands that this is a global phenomenon."

He added that the government's effort to keep rice prices more affordable to the poor is a valid social response since this was "a very severe and largely unexpected price shock." He, however, said subsidies should just be for the short term. "Once rice prices have stabilized—which will likely be at a higher level compared to what we're used to—then the government must ease back on using this rather blunt tool of NFA-subsidized purchases and find a longer-term solution to the problem of food supply."

Ernesto Pernia, economist from the University of the Philippines, agrees. "Filipinos are naturally resilient and are not violent people. They will not agitate openly, that's why you don't see food riots as what you see in other countries."

Pernia, however, scored the subsidies as a political strategy in preparation for the 2010 elections.

"The government needs to do a balancing act, but its perspective is limited to short-term," said

"We have to watch out for the effect of the subsidies to our fiscal position. The impact of populist moves will not be felt immediately. Perhaps the new administration [in 2010] will bear the brunt." Pernia added.

Inflation rate peaks at 11.4%; forecast to decline after Q3

The year-on-year headline inflation rate in the Philippines jumped to a double-digit figure of 11.4 percent in June from 9.5 percent in May. This was the highest rate since May 1994 (11.5%). Except for the fuel, light and water (FLW) index, all the commodity groups recorded higher annual inflation rates during the month. Inflation a year ago was 2.3 percent.

Similarly, annual inflation rate in the National Capital Region (NCR) advanced by 0.9 percentage point, to 9.2 percent in June from 8.3 percent in May brought about by the higher annual price increases in all the commodity groups except for clothing and FLW items.

In Areas Outside the National Capital Region (AONCR), annual inflation picked up to 12.3 percent in June from 10.1 percent in May as all the commodity groups posted higher annual inflation rates.

Excluding selected food and energy items, core inflation further climbed to 6.6 percent in June from 6.2 percent in May.


Inflation Expected to Decline Over the Next Two Years

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas indicated recently that inflation will reach double-digits beginning in June this year. This forecast is fully consistent with the BSP’s view of a hump-shaped path for inflation in 2008 and 2009. The BSP's emerging baseline forecasts, which reflect more recent data on inflation and output, suggest that average inflation in 2008 will reach 7.0-9.0 percent, which is above the Government’s target. However, for 2009, average inflation is projected to decline to 4.0-6.0 percent. The peak of the inflation path is expected to occur in the third quarter of 2008, to be followed by a steady decline towards single-digit levels in 2009. In the absence of persistent sharp surges in oil prices, base effects should produce lower inflation rates next year and beyond. Meanwhile, favorable projections for global and domestic agricultural output should help to stabilize food prices. The slowdown in global economic activity is also expected to contribute to moderating demand for oil and food products, which should enable an easing in imported commodity prices.

Nevertheless, the Monetary Board believes that there are already indications that supply-driven pressures are beginning to feed into demand. With the early evidence of second-round effects, the Monetary Board has acted to promptly rein in inflationary expectations and address risks to inflation in 2009, since monetary policy affects economic variables with a time lag.

Consistent with its primary mandate to maintain price stability, the BSP remains committed to pursuing the necessary monetary action to address the risks to inflation and inflation expectations and ensure the achievement of the BSP’s price stability objective.

Bright idea: Pinoys re-invent lighting technology


We can only wonder if Thomas Edison is clapping in his grave--in case he's heard about what Filipino inventor Eric G. Ngo and his partners did to lighting technology.

Ngo did not re-invent the lightbulb, but he did upgrade conventional lighting system technology to the needs of the 21st century. For this accomplishment, he was awarded the Gold Medal for Outstanding Invention by the United Nations-World Intellectual Property Organization in 2006.

Ngo is among four Filipino inventors--all of them WIPO winners--being honored in an ongoing exhibit (until the end of July) at the International Property Office along Buendia Avenue in Makati City. The exhibit seeks not only to showcase the brilliance, creativity and resourcefulness of the Filipino Inventor but also to underscore the economic and social importance of Intellectual Property.


Sea travel banned with storm warning no 1

BusinessWorld Online

ALL TYPES of sea vessels will no longer be allowed to travel during a storm signal 1 warning, according to a directive issued by the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG).

Public storm signal 1 was raised in Metro Manila at the time when the 23,800-ton M/V Princess of the Stars, owned by Sulpicio Lines, Inc., carrying more than 850 passengers sailed from the Manila North Harbor on June 20 en route to Cebu. Storm signal 3 was then raised in Cebu.

The ferry capsized off Sibuyan island in Romblon province on June 21 due to huge waves spawned by typhoon Frank (international code name: Fensheng).

PCG Spokesman Armand A. Balilo yesterday announced in a briefing that Rear Admiral Wilfredo G. Tamayo, PCG commander, issued the policy after President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo ordered the agency to review maritime guidelines restricting the movement of vessels in extreme weather conditions.

"No vessel of any type or tonnage shall be allowed to sail except to take shelter... when public storm signal number 1 or higher is hoisted within its point of origin, the intended route and point of destination," the directive read.

"Responsibility and discretion on how to seek shelter and ensure the safety of the ship is left to the shipowner and master of the vessel. Vessels are allowed to leave port only to take shelter and shall depart without passengers and cargo on board," the policy further read.

Under a memorandum circular issued by the PCG on June 2007, vessels of any size are prohibited to travel during storm signals 3 and 4.

Mr. Balilo said they will implement the latest directive on an "interim period" pending the review of maritime guidelines.

Alliance Global to build hotel near NAIA-3

BusinessWorld Online

THE ALLIANCE Global Group, Inc. is building the country’s first all-suites hotel worth P3.8 billion at its residential project in Taguig City to take advantage of a surge in tourist arrivals with the opening of Terminal 3 of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

The group’s tourism arm, Travellers International Hotel Group, Inc., will build Maxim’s Hotel together with Star Cruises Ltd., which is also Alliance Global’s partner for its stake in Pagcor’s Manila Bay Tourism City project.

"Maxim’s Hotel, the country’s first all-suites luxury hotel, will be rushed to give these tourists a memorable and positive business experience here in our country," Alliance Global Chairman Andrew Tan said in a statement yesterday.

Alliance Global will build Maxim’s Hotel in Newport City across the NAIA Terminal 3.

Maxim’s Hotel is a luxury hotel brand of the Genting Group, a sister company of Hong Kong-listed Star Cruises Ltd.

Alliance Global is tapping the expertise of Gettys Chicago to design the interiors of Maxim’s Hotel suites.

Gettys has completed interiors for more than 500 luxury hotel and five-star resort projects in the Americas and the Carribean region, including The Ritz-Carlton Chicago and the Hilton Grand Vacation Club in Hawaii.

Gettys Chicago is also the appointed interior designer of the grand lobby of Megaworld’s One Central residential condominium project in Makati City.

Maxim’s Hotel in Newport City will feature 158 king and junior suites, about a dozen deluxe suites and one presidential suite from the fourth to eighth floors.

A personal butler will serve all the suites, which start at a floor area of about 50 square meters for the king suite and a spacious 100 to 150 square meters for the junior suites.

Three private villa residences with individual pools are planned for the fourth floor. The same floor will host a pool for the exclusive use of hotel guests.

The hotel will be built on a one-hectare lot beside a lagoon, near the entrance to Newport City in Villamor Airbase. It will have a gross floor area of more than 20,000 square meters.

The lower floors of the hotel will be allocated to the Newport Entertainment and Commercial Center.

The mall will feature signature brands on the ground floor, a performance stage on the second level and four cinemas on the third floor.

Newport City is a 25-hectare residential, commercial and office development of Alliance Global’s property arm, Megaworld Corp.

At full development, the project will feature residential condominiums, shopping malls, restaurant strips and business process outsourcing (BPO) office condominiums.

SMC, Kuok forge $ 1-B agri venture

The Manila Bulletin


Food and beverage giant San Miguel Corporation teams up with the Kuok Group of Companies to invest $ 1 billion to develop at least one million hectares of agricultural land as part of the government’s food security program.

With President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo as witness, SMC chairman Eduardo Cojuangco Jr. and business tycoon and philanthropist Robert Kuok signed yesterday a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to launch the "Feeding Our Future" project which will allow for a sustainable, adequate supply of grains, sugar, other basic food staples.

The national government, through the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), and National Power Corporation (Napocor), will identify, evaluate and review government land suitable for food production.

Cojuangco said that the government has actually identified three million hectares that are potentially suitable for the project which SMC and Kuok plans to finance at the rate of $ 1,000 per hectare.

Target crops of the project include sugar, and grains such as rice and corn. The DAR, which will provide technical assistance, will determine which crops are suitable for the different lands identified, which will then be tilled by tenant-farmers.

"As the largest food company that already has ongoing agricultural and raw material sourcing programs in several provinces throughout the Philippines, we are stepping up our efforts to assist government in developing solutions for the short-term problem of insufficient food production and the long haul issue of food security," he said.

SMC and the Kuok Group will provide financial, technical expertise for the development and cultivation of the government land, and guarantee to buy all food products under the terms and conditions of the definitive agreements executed by all the parties. The land will continue to be owned by the government.

The Kuok group will not only provide financial muscle but also technical expertise since it controls Wilmar International which is the region’s largest palm and grains firm with plantations in Indonesia and Malaysia, said SMC president Ramon Ang.

Ang noted that the project will not only provide food for Filipinos, but also much needed jobs in the countryside which is a key to poverty alleviation.

He added that this will be a 50-50 partnership between SMC and Kuok with each providing half of the 30 percent equity portion of the $ 1 billion investment.

The balance of 70 percent will be raised from the market, said Ang who noted that there is a lot of cheap financing available for food projects and SMC and Kuok’s names will make it even easier to raise it. He said they are initially looking at going to market with 25 year bonds.

"As two of the country’s leading corporations, we are duty-bound to act and do our share to help the Philippine government address the problems arising from the escalation of food prices worldwide," said Ang.

He noted that "food security is a global issue. But here in the Philippines, we are feeling the effects even more. Food prices have reached record levels. This is why many lower income families are no longer able to afford the kind of nutrition they need."

Kuok Group Chairman Robert Kuok, explains: "There are many factors that have led to the present crisis. Urbanization, changing diets in emerging economies, the use of crops to produce alternative fuels, the global rise in population, and climate change, have all put tremendous pressure on farm lands and are changing the face of farming."

The skyrocketing prices of fossil fuels, which affects not only farming but also the transportation of goods, as well as the rise in prices of fertilizers, have also had a major impact on food supply and food prices, Kuok added.With "Feeding Our Future", the two companies and the national government are hoping to cushion the impact of the food crisis and establish long-term, sustainable food supply for a greater number of Filipinos.

Thursday, 3 July 2008

President Arroyo condoles with sea disaster bereaved

SPECIAL MASS—President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo attends a special Mass for the victims of ill-fated M/V Princes of the Stars (July 2, 2008) at the Cebu City Disaster Action Center, Cebu City Sports Complex, Cebu City. (Marcelino Pascua-OPS/NIB Photo)

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo condoles with Andria Peyngco Torres whose loved one was among those who died with the sinking of the M/V Princess of the Stars at the Cebu City Sports Complex in Cebu City. (Marcelino Pascua-OPS/NIB Photo)

‘Northrail project still on’

The Philippine Star

The $503-million North Luzon Railways project will continue to use funds from the Chinese government regardless of the issues concerning its contractors, Malacañang clarified Wednesday.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said new North Luzon Railways Corp. (Northrail) chairman and chief executive officer Edgardo Pamintuan told him there was no move on the part of the Philippine government to discontinue the project.

"This is a very important project," Ermita said. "The President wants to push through with it and it was committed by her and the Chinese government."

Ermita said the action of the Chinese government must be distinguished from that of the private Chinese contractor.

"Yes, it’s (the project’s) still a go," he said.

"The government, the leadership of the Chinese government, committed to the President that they are still interested in helping us push through with the Northrail project."

Ermita declined to provide other details about the reported exit of the contractor and its possible replacement.

"I know nothing about these details," he said. "Only Secretary Pamintuan can explain these. The way Ed Pamintuan told me, it was never the intention of the President to discontinue the Northrail project."

Apparently, the Chinese contractor pulled out from the project for some still unexplained reasons, which raised concerns that the financing from China would be discontinued.

Based on the contract, the loan from the Chinese government carries a stipulation that Chinese contractors would be tapped to undertake the project’s construction.

China assured the government yesterday that it continues to support the Northrail project despite reports that the Philippine government had canceled it.

"Such reports regarding the Northrail project do not tally with the facts," the Chinese embassy said in a statement.

"The Chinese government, the Exim Bank of China and the Chinese Embassy in the Philippines have consistently supported the Northrail project and will continue to push forward the project as always."

The state-owned China National Machinery and Equipment Group (CNMEG) is still working on the Northrail project, the Chinese embassy said.

‘China must explain’

On the other hand, Pamintuan wants Chinese officials to explain why the CNMEG had abandoned the railway project that would link Metro Manila with the Clark Special Economic Zone.

CNMEG’s technical and survey teams left about a month ago despite the claim of Transportation Undersecretary Guiling Mamondiong that it remains the project’s contractor, he said.

Pamintuan told The STAR he would also look into reports that some $125.75 million of the $400-million loan from China had been advanced and spent.

"We are not abandoning the Northrail project, but there should be an explanation why the Chinese contractor (CNMEG) demobilized from the project area," he said.

Pamintuan said Mrs. Arroyo did not cancel the government’s contract with China for construction of the railway, as she cannot do it unilaterally.

"But we’d like to know why the Chinese contractor left without formal notice," he said.

Pamintuan said Mrs. Arroyo had called him up to inform him that she had already signed his appointment as chairman and chief executive officer of Northrail, although he had not yet received his appointment papers as of yesterday.

Officer-in-charge Gina Hota was head of Northrail after the resignation of Arsenio Bartolome.

He will meet on Thursday with Northrail officials to find out how much of the $400-million loan from the Chinese Export-Import Bank had actually been used, Pamintuan said.

Last November, Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr. sought a Senate inquiry, in aid of legislation, into the alleged "onerous terms and conditions imposed on the Philippine government in the contract to build the railways project funded by China."

Pamintuan took note of Pimentel’s report that the amount of $125.75 million had been advanced for the Northrail project.

Reacting to Pamintuan’s statements, Mamondiong said the government is still talking to CNMEG as the contractor for the project. "We’re now discussing with them on how to best implement the project," he said.

Mamondiong also said that China has not backed out from financing the project, although Pamintuan, in an interview here last Monday, said Mrs. Arroyo was considering new financiers.

Pamintuan cited suggestions to take in Kuwaiti and Indian investors.

However, Mamondiong said Northrail is still working with CNMEG on the design of the railway as the clearing of the railway’s right-of-way was already done.

"As soon the railway’s design is completed, we will start the actual construction," he said.

On Aug. 20, 2003, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the Department of Finance and the Export-Import Bank of China for the use of $400 million for the construction of the Northrail project Phase 1, stretching 32 kilometers from Caloocan City to Malolos, Bulacan.

On Feb. 26, 2004, the Chinese and Philippine governments signed in Manila the $400-million loan agreement.

Pimentel had claimed that the loan was allegedly contracted without the approval of the Monetary Board as required by the Constitution.

He had also questioned the awarding of the project to CNMEG without bidding, contrary to the provisions of Republic Act 9184, the Government Procurement Reform Act.

Captain of 'Princess' defied warning not to sail, says Sulpicio official


The port captain of Sulpicio Lines at the Manila North Harbor admitted before an inquiry board that the captain of the ill-fated M/V Princess of the Stars already knew that Typhoon Frank was already intensifying even before the ferry left Manila for Cebu on June 20.

Capt. Benjamin Eugenio of Sulpicio Lines testified before the Board of Marine Inquiry (BMI) that three hours before the vessel sailed on the night of June 20, they already had an advisory from weather bureau, PAGASA, warning of strong storm warning signals along the ferry’s route.

The advisory said Romblon was already under Signal Number 2, while Masbate was under Signal Number 3.

Eugenio said he already warned Capt. Florencio Marimon of the ill-fated ferry against sailing, but the ferry's captain said he could still manage.

"He said, 'we can still do it but with caution'," said Eugenio.

The vessel began to sail at exactly 8 p.m. from Manila.

Eugenio said that at around 11 p.m. Friday, they got hold of the latest weather bulletin indicating that typhoon Frank will hit the path of M/V Princess of the Stars.

He then called the ship, which was then between Cavite and Batangas.

"[He said] that 'we can still proceed as planned'," said Eugenio.

After that, Sulpicio Lines reportedly did not check on the vessel the rest of Friday night.

When the port captain returned to work 6 a.m. Saturday, he could not contact the M/V Princess of the Stars anymore. It sank around noon.

The BMI said that if the vessel's captain received the latest report Friday night, then the tragedy could not have taken place.

"If he received the 10 p.m. [Friday] report, he would not have gone to Romblon," said Commodore Amado Romillo of the BMI.

Counsels of Sulpicio Lines, meanwhile, refused to answer queries from the media after Eugenio’s testimony.

"Lets wait for the investigation to be completed," said lawyer Arthur Lim, legal counsel for Sulpicio Lines.

Philippines is ‘hottest real-estate market’ in Southeast Asia, CBRE tells HK expo

By Rizal Raoul Reyes
The Business Mirror

COMMERCIAL real-estate services leader CB Richard Ellis (CBRE) has described the Philippines as the “hottest” real-estate hub in Southeast Asia.

Venue for the tribute was the recently held SMART Investment and International Property Expo, one of the largest and longest-running real-estate expositions in Asia, at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.

CBRE Philippines general manager Trent Frankum spoke on the topic, “The Philippines: The Hottest Market in Southeast Asia,” on the second day of the expo, which showcased global real-estate market opportunities and featured property experts and investors from global companies headquartered in Asia, Australia and the UK.

“Investment opportunities in tourism, infrastructure, mining and real estate remain high in the Philippines,” said Frankum. “Foreign investors are looking at the positive effects of the stable Philippine peso, increasing tourist arrivals, the BPO [business-process outsourcing] boom, and the positive effect of overseas Filipino worker dollar remittances into the country.”

Last year tourist arrivals broke the 2-million mark for the first time since 2004, with arrivals rising to 3.091 million. CBRE expects new markets, such as Russia, Middle East, China and Korea, to help in sustaining tourism growth. CBRE is also projecting arrivals to increase to 3.4 million this year and generate $5.8 billion in international tourism receipts.

According to Frankum, hotel-room occupancy rates rose to 73.06 percent in 2007 from 71.95 percent in 2006. “New hotel and resort developments are currently in strategic business locations such as Makati City, Fort Bonifacio and the Bay Area, as well as top tourist destinations such as Cebu and Boracay, further enhancing industry prospects,” Frankum said.

New development projects include the $153-million Kingdom Hotel, a combined hotel and residential condominium that will rise in Makati City.

“We expect 18,143 units to be provided from 28 upcoming residential condominiums in Makati targeted for completion between 2008 and 2013. Likewise, in Fort Bonifacio, 11,652 units are expected to come on the market from 33 residential condominiums being constructed from 2008 to 2012.”

Meanwhile, the offshoring and outsourcing (O&O) boom in the Philippines has created new opportunities for the real-estate market, Frankum stressed. “Major investors and businesses are looking at the Philippines because it is one of the largest English-speaking nations in the world and has 33.5 million Filipinos in the work force,” Frankum noted.

As a result, major multinational BPO operators are currently expanding their presence in the Philippines, Frankum further said. As an example, he cited Accenture, which has already leased 1.3 million square feet. Other companies like TeleTech have built facilities outside Metro Manila. All of Teletech’s six facilities are located outside the Philippine capital.

In addition, major financial companies such as HSBC, Citigroup and JPMorgan have been expanding Philippine sites of their respective customer-support operations. HSBC currently has four locations, which total 859,200 square feet, and plans to open more sites.

Citigroup and JPMorgan, on the other hand, have 214,812 and 107,400 square feet of space leased, respectively. “Third-party BPOs are not stopping in their expansion, with a handful such as Convergys, IBM, Sykes, TeleTech and PeopleSupport already pursuing and have secured more sites in the country,” Frankum said.

Other major O&O service providers continue to develop sites in Metro Manila and Metro Cebu. According to CBRE research, a total of 731,871 square meters of property in Metro Manila has been earmarked for new O&O facilities this year, with 189,614 square meters already precommitted before commencing construction. “Offshoring and outsourcing will continue to drive demand for real estate, particularly in the office-space market,” Frankum said.

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Philippine Central Bank sees steady inflation decline after Q3


The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas said on Wednesday it expects inflation to reach double-digit levels starting in June, but sees its steady decline after the third quarter.

Inflation is expected to slow towards single-digit levels in 2009 after peaking in the third quarter this year, the BSP said in a statement.

The BSP said earlier this week it expected annual inflation in June to come in between 10.4 percent and 11.2 percent, with the upper end of the range representing the highest rate since May 1994.

Video: President Arroyo attends Mass and visits site of sunken ship


PGMA conducts aerial inspection of Sibuyan Is. where M/V Princess capsized with 800 PX on board

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo today flew over the capsized M/V Princess of the Stars off Sibuyan Island in Romblon on board the Presidential chopper, Press Secretary Jesus Dureza said today.

After her aerial inspection of the capsized vessel she landed on Sibuyan Island and attended a memorial Mass for the victims of the Ill-fated ship.

After the Mass, the President heard the woes and concerns of local officials and residents.

The President directed Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap to stay behind in the Island to provide assistance to typhoon Frank victims there.

Meanwhile Jesus Dureza in a statement regarding the case filed against PAGASA said “All parties are free to pursue their own courses of action. They will all be resolved by the proper forum. In our briefing here in Iloilo, Task Force Head Len Bautista reported that Sulpicio vessel was the lone ship that did not seek shelter when the event happened. Electronic trackers which monitored several vessels in the vicinity took prudent steps by steering towards sheltered spots to weather the storm. Sulpicio did not but went on its normal course. The rest is history.”

Arroyo reminds govt agencies to update one another on status of relief work

ILOILO INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT – President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo today reminded government agencies involved in rescue and relief work that they are mandated to compare notes on the status and progress of their relief operations every six hours to ensure proper coordination.

The President issued the reminder when she noted the wide variance in the estimated of the damage wrought by “Typhoon” Frank on school buildings and other government properties as presented by the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) and the Department of Education (DepEd).

In the absence of DepEd Secretary Jesli Lapus, a DepEd undersecretary reported that eight school districts in Iloilo suffered P679 million worth of damage. He added that the damage estimate was now “slightly higher” because reports from Region VI had just been updated, from P70 million damage to P237 million.

Asked about the discrepancy, the NDCC and the DepEd official replied that the DepEd collated the figures only yesterday.

The President lamented that “we always have different (figures) on DepE.”

The DepEd undersecretary promised the President that henceforth his department would “harmonize” its figures with those of the NDCC. He pointed out that DepEd had released P30 million for Region VI.

The President also reminded the DepEd that “double-shifting” has been a government policy since 2005.

“It is 2008 now… You have instructions. You have to exact compliance… If they don’t comply, there will be (classroom) shortage on the ground,” the President lamented.

This, when the DepEd reported that double-shifting of classes is enforced mostly in the metropolis.

President Arroyo orders DBM to release P1.8 billion typhoon rehab funds

ILOILO – President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo today urged the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to immediately release rehabilitation funds for infrastructure destroyed by super typhoon Frank following a “performance evaluation” of all affected national government infra projects.

The President issued the instruction to Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya Jr. during the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) cluster meeting of the Cabinet at the Conference Room of the Iloilo International Airport here.

“Nonoy, could you release the money immediately,” the President asked Andaya who proposed the performance evaluation.

President Arroyo’s instruction came after Public Works Secretary Hermogenes Ebdane reported that 35 bridges have been destroyed by Frank and that “some have to be reconstructed.”

A total of P1.8 billion would be needed to reconstruct the Frank-damaged bridges, according to Ebdane who further reported that he had already requested the DBM to release P800 million “to make the road net passable.”

Told that the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) had “timely” help from the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) in the fixing of Region VI roads and bridges, the President revealed that she had given instructions to MMDA head Bayani Fernando to help out in the rehab efforts “before we left (for the United States).”

“You are working on that mission, ‘no, Bayani?” the President asked Fernando who also attended the Cabinet meeting here.

Arroyo mobililizes all available air/sea carriers for relief distribution

ILOILO INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT – First, the presidential choppers. Now the presidential yacht.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo today ordered the use of the presidential yacht, ‘Ang Pangulo,’ for the distribution of relief goods to the typhoon-devastated areas around here.

The President ordered the use of the yacht during the Cabinet meeting that she presided this afternoon at the Conference Room here, what “with a lot of relief goods coming from all over…”

The President revealed that from Day One of the relief and rescue operations, the presidential choppers have in fact been utilized for flying relief goods. There are seven presidential choppers, according to a “bluebird” or a pilot of the Presidential Airlift Wing (PAW).

The President’s ordered the use of her official yacht as part of the rescue and relief efforts after reports that relief goods are piling up in the metropolis and need transport for distribution to the affected population.

The piling up of relief goods was revealed to mediamen by Defense Chief Gilberto Teodoro while waiting for the President’s arrival here. He would later report to the President during the Cabinet meeting that he had requested Transportation Secretary Leandro Mendoza to study the shortest and most cost-effective transports – both seacraft and aircraft -- and routes to bring the waiting relief goods to the waiting typhoon victims.

Mendoza, for his part, reported to the President that he had already called on the private cargo carriers and even the RORO operators (roll-on, roll-off) to help in the transport of relief goods.

Meanwhile, the Department of National Defense (DND) report on typhoon Frank revealed that the helicopters from the US Navy ships Stockton and Ronald Reagan have so far helped transport relief goods via 270 sorties now totaling 320 flying hours. The two ships’ choppers have so far lifted 432,463 kilos of relief goods, according to the DND report read by Armed Forces vice chief Cardozo Luna.

Meanwhile, the 3rd Infantry (Spearhead) Division of the Philippine Army (PA) revealed in its Disaster, Rescue & Relief Operations in Panay Island report that US Navy aircraft helped it in 115 of its total of 176 relief operations. The USN’s 115 operations with the 3rd ID consists of 69 operations to Aklan, 31 around Iloilo, nine to Capiz, and six to Antique.

Govt, Sulpicio to refloat sunken ship


The government task force for the sunken M/V Princess of the Stars and ship owner Sulpicio Lines, Inc., have agreed to refloat the ill-fated ferry instead of cutting through it to retrieve dead passengers and the highly toxic endosulfan shipment, an official said Wednesday.

"We have made a decision that we want to just refloat the vessel," Transportation and Communications Undersecretary Elena Bautista told ANC's "News at 8" newscast.

Bautista said after careful study of the sunken ship's situation, with its chemical cargoes, they have realized that cutting through the vesel's hull and resuming diving operations have "too many risks involved."

She said Sulpicio Lines will start looking for salvage companies that specialize in refloating sunken vessels.

"Once they have decided who to engage, the next step is to [float] the vessel [up]. It's the best way to all the bodies out and the cargo and danger and goods inside," Bautista said.

Hundreds of passengers of the sunken ship remain missing. Divers had seen dozens more bloated bodies floating inside the sunken ship.

The decision to refloat the sunken ship was arrived at during the Cabinet meeting presided by President Arroyo in Iloilo province on Tuesday.

Race against time

Bautista on Tuesday said she would present Mrs. Arroyo the option of refloating the sunken ship. She had said that there are too many dangers involved in cutting through the ship, especially with the presence of a 10-metric ton endosulfan owned by the Del Monte Philippines, Inc.

She said the government is practically "racing against time" because of the toxic chemical shipment inside the ferry, which may leak and spread in the waters of Romblon anytime.

Bautista had said that refloating a vessel may take months. She cited the bombed SuperFerry 14, which was refloated after six months.

Meanwhile, Bautista said the government has ordered the Sulpicio Lines to fully disclose all of the chemical cargoes that sank with the ill-fated ship.

The order came after the National Disaster Coordinating Council received information of another chemical shipment of the Bayer CropScience Philippines inside the sunken ferry.

Bautista said the finished products of Bayer Philippines, which include Antracol WP70, Tamaron 600SL, Trap 70WP, and Fuerza GR3, may also be dangerous because they are "are very soluble in water."

Low chemical content

Reyanldo Cutanda, Bayer's corporate communication manager, had made clarifications that the finished products are for "crop protection" and have very low chemical contents.

The finished products weigh over 600 kilograms, but Bayer Philippines said "the active [chemical] ingredient in the cargo is estimated at 100 kilograms."

Bayer Philippines said the products cannot harm marine and human life around Romblon waters even if they are dissolved by water.

The company had also assured that the products are "packed and sealed in waterproof aluminum pouches, co-ex bottles, PE liners and polypropylene outer bags and loaded in a 10-foot sealed container van."

The vessel, with 864 passengers and crew onboard, capsized after encountering huge waves said to be the side of "buildings" off San Fernando town in Bohol at the height of a typhoon on June 21.

Monday, 30 June 2008

Pacquiao smashes his way to 4th world title

By Ronnie Nathanielsz
The Manila Standard

MANNY Pacquiao secured his place among the world’s boxing legends with a ninth-round knockout of Mexican-American David Diaz at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas Sunday morning.

Pacquiao, described by boxing writers as the “Mexecutioner” because of his demolition of Mexican legends Marco Antonio Barrera, Erik Morales, and Juan Manuel Marquez—and pretenders like undefeated Jorge Solis, Hector Velasquez, Emmanuel Lucero and Gabriel Mira—lived up to his billing by outclassing Diaz.

The Filipino fighter’s speed didn’t suffer at all despite moving up to 135 pounds, especially against the much slower Diaz, who himself admitted he didn’t see the left hook that dropped him in the ninth round after the Pacman set him up with a right straight.

Pacquiao, with a record of 47 wins, three losses and two draws, won a guaranteed $3 million from the fight that secured his fourth world title from a fourth weight division, making him the first Filipino and Asian to do so.

Diaz took in his biggest ever paycheck of $850,000.

Pacquiao said it hadn’t been easy moving up in weight after the fight.

“I was lucky that God gave me the strength,” he said, adding he felt “stronger at 135 pounds. It would be better to stay at 135, or I can fight at 140 pounds.”

He unleashed combinations that emphasized his speed from the opening bell. He showed excellent footwork, new-found weapons in the hook and the uppercut, and a right straight that went with his powerful left.

Pacquiao followed his trainer Freddie Roach’s fight plan throughout and refused to let Diaz pin him against the ropes. Instead, he kept the fight in the center of the ring, where he bludgeoned Diaz with shots to the head and body.

He ripped into the 1996 Olympian round after round. He inflicted a cut across the bridge of the lightweight champion’s nose and then opened up a gash on his right eyebrow, prompting referee Vic Drakulich to have the ringside physician take a look at it twice.

Instructed by assistant trainer Buboy Fernandez to feint with the right and then throw an uppercut, Pacquiao hurt Diaz in Round 8. When Diaz went to his corner at the end of the round, he was seen shaking his head.

By this time Pacquiao seemed to have sensed that the fight had been taken out of the game Diaz.

He rocked him with a right and then threw a right straight, and as the 135-pound champion moved forward, he cracked him with a left straight that sent Diaz crashing to the canvas.

Drakulich counted him out at 2:24 of Round 9.

(President Arroyo praised Pacquiao’s triumph.

“Manny once again showed the sterling quality of the Filipino at his best,” she said in a statement from San Francisco sent by Press Secretary Jesus Dureza.

“We rejoice with the whole nation in his victory,” she said.

Dureza said Mrs. Arroyo had watched the fight while waiting for her flight to Manila, where she is expected to land around 5 this morning.)

“Did anybody get the number off of that truck?” Diaz said.

“Today is the day that we lost. Tomorrow is another day. He’s fast. The speed was the difference in the fight. I have all of the respect for him.”

Pacquiao said he hadn’t been worried about taking the punches of the naturally heavier Diaz, though he credited the Mexican-American with being “the toughest opponent I ever had.

“I was surprised that he took a lot of strong punches, power punches and still stood up,” he said.

Later on he conceded: “He did hurt me one time during the fight.”

Diaz said his tactic of trying to wear Pacquiao down was working. “But he caught me with a good shot and that’s the way it goes. Sometimes you got to go out and say he was the better man tonight.”

He said he didn’t see the punch that decked him.

“I was thinking he doesn’t hit that hard, and then I was on the floor and I looked up and said what the heck. My hat’s off to him. He is a great, great fighter and more than what I expected. You got to tip your hat off to him and say you are f-king good, and that’s what Manny was.” With Roy Pelovello

Skyway project builder gets P14-B funding; photo updates

Click here for photo updates from


5 banks OK 10-year loan facility
By Doris Dumlao
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines--A syndicate of five banks agreed to provide a P14-billion loan facility to Citra Metro Manila Skyway Corp. to expand its elevated tollway from Bicutan to Alabang and refinance old debts.

The members of the loan consortium are Philippine National Bank, Allied Banking Corp., Land Bank of the Philippines, Union Bank of the Philippines and East West Bank, PNB president Omar Mier said last week.

"We're already at the documentation stage," Mier said.

The credit facility will have a 10-year maturity and is expected to be disbursed by July.

Mier said the syndicate was now only ironing out some technical concerns on documentation by one of the creditors.

PNB and Allied Bank, both owned by tobacco and beer magnate Lucio Tan and which are set to merge this third quarter, will provide about half of the fresh credit facility.

Mier said PNB would provide P5.1 billion while Allied Bank would lend P2.5 billion to Citra.

Roughly half of the proceeds from the P14-billion facility will be used as capital for the tollway expansion while the balance will be used to take out and replace older and more expensive debt.

Asked what made the creditors more confident in opening a large credit line for Citra, Mier said: "All it needed really was to restructure the cash flow. You have a waterfall of payments whereby senior lenders (will be paid off) first, then the preferred shareholders. And the cash flow is strong enough to service them all. Eventually, everyone will be paid off."

With the decline in interest rates over the years, the availment of a new loan to replace existing debts is expected to trim the toll road company's interest expenses and free up more money to boost its operations.

The Skyway project is a joint venture between the Citra Group of Indonesia and the state-controlled Philippine National Construction Corp. The first phase of the 35-kilometer elevated toll road, with a cost of more than $500 million, was built along the South Luzon Expressway.

The PNCC is the franchise holder of the North and South Luzon Expressways while the Citra Group is the biggest private sector toll road developer in Indonesia.

The Skyway project was done on a build-transfer-operate basis wherein Citra financed the design and construction of the toll road, after which it will transfer ownership of the toll road to the government. The government then allows Citra to recover its investment and generate some profits through the collection of tolls from motorists using the skyway.

About four years ago, creditor-banks rejected Citra's proposal to restructure debts for 15 years. While Citra could service its obligations to its creditors, the Skyway developer sought the restructuring to accelerate the payment of dividends to shareholders using the amount otherwise earmarked for principal debt repayments.

Video presidential arrival at NAIA 3 and sending off relief goods
(includes updates on salvage operations)

For the latest Philippine news stories and videos, visit GMANews.TV

NAIA 3 update photos: arrival of PR 105 from San Francisco

Here are fresh shots of the arrival with President Gloria Arroyo.

(Type "NAIA T3 opening" to search.)

President Arroyo arrives via NAIA 3 and conducts inspection

Back from US visit, Arroyo goes straight to work

By Lira Dalangin-Fernandez
First Posted 03:14:00 06/30/2008

MANILA, Philippines—President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo returned to the country early dawn Monday from the United States and went straight to work, landing at the newly-opened Terminal 3 of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) to inspect its facilities and then proceeding to Villamor Airbase to send off cargo planes carrying relief items for the victims of typhoon Frank.

The President and her party, which includes Cabinet officials, arrived at 2:40 a.m. aboard a Philippine Airlines flight PR 105 from San Francisco.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said the President's landing at Terminal 3 was a "dry run" in preparation for its opening after the legal aspects have been resolved.

"The President wants to see the area, wants to have a feel that in case the legal systems are finished (then it can be operated)," Ermita said in an interview with reporters.

Arroyo home from US visit, lands at NAIA3

President Arroyo and her official party on Monday arrived from their 10-day visit to the United States at the newly opened Terminal 3 of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Pasay City.

It was almost 3 a.m. when Philippine Airlines flight PR 105 touched down at the NAIA and deplaned its passengers on Terminal 3 as the inaugural arrival flight on the brand new international passenger terminal.

The inaugural flight was timed to coincide with the arrival of the President, the flight’s most prominent passenger, as she capped her working visit to the US.

Upon deplaning, the President was accorded arrival honors at the foyer where she was greeted by top government officials and well-wishers of private
passengers who shared the flight with her.

The President then inspected the different facilities of the arrival area of the new terminal, as she went through the regular process arriving travelers go through at the airport. From the foyer, she went to the immigration section, from which she went to check out baggage from the carousel which was rushed in time for the inaugural arrival.

The President was supposed to check her own luggage out of the new carousel but her aides took care of it instead.

After that, she witnessed the other passengers go through the same process, showing at times some irritation and questions about the processes of the
airport as she went around the new arrival area.

The President then inspected the terminal’s waiting area for well-wishers of passengers which features a spacious waiting area with booths for food
and duty-free shopping.

Not so fast

The inaugural, however, does not signal the actual start of operations of the airport.

NAIA3 task force chief Mike Defensor said they can start the operations for domestic travel with PAL Express and Cebu Pacific in as early as two weeks, while airport general manager Alfonso Cusi said it may take three.

International travel may start in six months time. However, government has yet to hear from both flag carrier PAL and the Allied Airlines which groups foreign carriers currently using Terminal 1 which of them will use the new terminal.

If PAL sticks it out with Terminal 2, then the allied carriers will get Terminal 3.

Legal questions

The opening, however, is not without legal questions.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said the government cannot take full ownership of the new terminal unless it has satisfied the Supreme Court's requirement of compensation for PIATCO, the contractor in the nullified contract for Terminal 3.

Cusi said they really intend to operate the airport as the P3-billion proferred amount of the airport that needs to be paid out to PIATCO before the government can take full control of the airport.

However, this amount being a proferred amount, is not yet a final value, which means the government may still owe PIATCO more depending on the final determination of the new terminal’s value.

Defensor on the other hand maintained they can now operate the airport so long as government does not not exercise “acts of ownership” over the airport. Defensor could not go into the nitty gritty of this matter but gave an assurance that no matter how complicated this maybe---it will not stand in the way of the government operating the airport.

Defensor noted, in its decision nullifying the NAIA3 contract awarded to PIATCO, the Court did not specificy or define what are acts of ownership are over the airport.

Defensor, however, also disclosed that common friends and some congressmen have sent feelers from PIATCO on a possible amicable settlement of the ownership dispute. RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Sunday, 29 June 2008

Photo update: South Luzon Expressway


MIAA: PR 105 from San Francisco to arrive at NAIA Terminal 3

ABS-CBN News Online
June 29, 2008

The Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) on Sunday advised relatives and friends of passengers on board Philippine Airlines (PAL) flight PR 105 arriving Manila on Monday morning to pick up their passengers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3, not at Terminal 2 where PAL flights operate.

President Arroyo and her party, coming from a ten-day working visit at the United States, are in the flight, coming from San Francisco, California.

PAL flights usually originate or depart from Terminal 2, also known as Centennial Terminal, which PAL exclusively leases.

In a statement, General Manager Alfonso Cusi advised relatives and friends picking up passengers from the said flight, which will arrive at around 2:30 a.m. Monday, to proceed to the NAIA Terminal 3, located along Andrews Avenue, Villamor Airbase compound in Pasay.

"Well-wishers can proceed directly to NAIA Terminal 3 arrival lobby. The usual security inspections will be in place," MIAA said.

"Everyone is encouraged to cooperate with our security teams manning the entrances to the Terminal 3 compound," the agency added.

The MIAA added that inquiries pertaining to the arrival of PR 105 may also be directed to the Flight Information Section at telephone numbers (02) 8771109 locals 2069, 2070, 2071, or 2079, or send text messages through 0917-8396242 (0917-TEXNAIA).

Finishing touches on NAIA 3 rushed for Arroyo return


MANILA, Philippines - Workers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3 are rushing to put the finishing touches on the airport in time for President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's return on Monday.

A Malacañang statement Saturday said preparations focused on air-conditioning, X-ray machines, security arrangements, the paging system, ramp, television camera and other requirements.

The presidential delegation is due to arrive aboard a commercial Philippine Airlines flight PR-105 between 4:30 and 5 a.m. on Monday.

Earlier, Mrs Arroyo said she wants the NAIA-3 operating by June 30. She created a task force led by defeated senatorial candidate Michael Defensor to rush preparations to open NAIA-3.

Upon her arrival, Mrs Arroyo plans to cross over to the nearby Villamor Air Base to send off three planes carrying relief goods for victims of typhoon "Frank."

She shall enter through Bay 116 of Terminal 3 where she will get arrival honors from the PAF Honor Guards.

As of Saturday, airport authorities said they had simulated the arrival of a 747 at Terminal 3, the Palace statement said.

Bearings for the conveyor belt of Carousel 7 and possibly also Carousel 6 have been installed in time for the first batch of luggage to be unloaded from the commercial flight.

On the other hand, the PAL flight carrying the presidential delegation will inform passengers they will be landing at NAIA-3 instead of NAIA-2.

Representatives from the Bureau of Customs (BOC) and the Bureau of Immigration (BI) also started installing their computers in the arrival area as early as midweek.

Manila International Airport Authority deputy for security Angel Atutubo requested BOC to install and man some 20 counters to hasten processing.

The immigration bureau pledged to send eight to 10 personnel to man four counters.- GMANews.TV