Saturday, 24 November 2012

Philippines Set to Edge Mexico for Remittance-Olympics Bronze

Eric Bellman
Wall Street Journal

The Philippines’ globetrotting dream team of more than 8 million overseas workers is set to surpass team Mexico in the amount of money sent home—which would be the first time in 17 years.

The World Bank projects official remittances to the Philippines at just over $24 billion this year. That gives it a third-place bronze medal behind China and India, each projected to receive more than $65 billion, and just ahead of Mexico, whose migrant workers are projected to send home a bit under $24 billion.

Like its boxing sensation Manny Pacquiao, the Philippines punches way above its weight class. Its migrant workers remit close to 40% of what Indian and Chinese workers do, even though its population is less than 8%  of those Asian titans’.


Pinoys In Demand Among Big Oil Companies – Cuisia

Manila Bulletin

MANILA, Philippines--- Filipino workers are very much in demand among the big oil companies because of their skills and experience.

Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose L. Cuisia Jr. disclosed this following his visit to New Orleans to look into the conditions of Filipinos affected by the explosion and fire that hit an oil platform off the coast of Louisiana last November 16.

He said Filipino workers were cited for their safety-conscious attitude, work ethic, knowledge of their respective craft, ability to communicate well in English, and their overall attitude toward the work

“Many of these welders, fitters, and riggers have many years of experience and the companies they are employed in have expressed their satisfaction and admiration for their work ethics,” said Cuisia. “This is why the Filipino workers are highly valued and very well compensated.”

Special attention is now focused on Filipino workers who, unknown to many, played a crucial role in restoring oil production in the Gulf of Mexico in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina seven years ago.

Cuisia said that although Filipinos first set foot in Louisiana as early as the 1700s, it was only in 2005 that workers from the Philippines started making their presence felt in the offshore oil industry in the Gulf of Mexico.

It was Grand Isle Shipyard, Inc. (GSI), a highly diversified oilfield service company based in Galliano, Louisiana, who brought the Filipinos to the Gulf of Mexico following the destruction wrought by Katrina in August 2005.

In November 2005, when many of Louisiana’s oil platforms were destroyed by the typhoon, GIS hired an initial crew of 24 men from the Philippines and by early 2006, there were more than 350 Filipinos working in the Gulf of Mexico.

Cuisia said he was informed by GIS Operations Manager Mark Pregeant that Filipinos contributed over 500,000 man-hours throughout that six-month period to help restore oil production in the Gulf of Mexico

Pregeant told Cuisia that without the help of the Filipino oil workers there would have been “significant delays.”

Cuisia pointed out that Filipinos are not new to the oil and gas sector as they have been working in oil fields, refineries and offshore platforms in the Middle East, Africa, Europe and Australia as early as the 1970s.

Citing current available statistics provided by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, the Philippine envoy said as many as 40,000 Filipinos are working in the offshore oil and gas industry in various parts of the world as of November.

Almost 2,000 of them are working in the US, including Louisiana, which accounts for 23 percent of total US crude oil production.

In particular, Cuisia noted that the nine Filipinos, who figured in the explosion and fire that hit the oil platform they were working off the coast of Louisiana last week, belong to a pool of highly skilled workers with an average 10 years of experience working in various oil and gas sector projects overseas.

The accident left one Filipino worker dead, four others seriously injured, and one other missing. It has placed the spotlight on workers from the Philippines.

Meanwhile, Cuisia announced that the respective family members of the Filipino oil workers who were affected by the recent fire in the oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico are now en route to and are expected to arrive starting Thursday (Friday Manila time) in New Orleans.

Cuisia said the Philippine Consulate General in Chicago will be assisting family members of the lone fatality, the four seriously injured worker and the missing worker when they transit through O’Hare International Airport on their way to New Orleans.

In a report to Cuisia, Consul General Leo Herrera Lim of the Philippine Consulate General in Chicago said that there have been no changes in the conditions of the four Filipinos currently undergoing treatment for the serious burns they sustained in the incident.

Two remain in critical condition and the third is still serious, while the fourth is improving.

On the other hand, preparations for the repatriation of the remains of the lone fatality, Ellroy Corporal, 42, have started after these were turned over by the Coroner’s Officer to a local funeral home.

Cuisia also revealed that Black Elk, the Houston-based independent oil and gas firm that owns the ill-fated platform, suspended early this week the formal search and rescue efforts for missing worker Jerome Malagapo, 28, after more than 100 hours of operations that encompassed more than 1,400 square meters of waters in the Gulf of Mexico.

Black Elk said the search involved three commercial dive boats, search and rescue dogs, beach and near shore searches and several helicopter companies that fly in support of surface search efforts.

“We will continue to remain focused on the victims and their families, including those injured in the incident. An official investigation is underway and we will continue to cooperate with all authorities,” Black Elk said in a statement.

In New Orleans, investigators from the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement of the Department of Interior interviewed the three Filipinos survivors to determine the cause of the fire that struck their oil production platform. The three were accompanied by Welfare Officer Saul de Vries when they gave their testimonies to investigators.

Also, earlier this week, John Hoffman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Black Elk Energy, called Ambassador Cuisia to express his condolences and to assure the Embassy that the company will extend its assistance to the families of the affected workers who will start arriving in the US.

Friday, 23 November 2012

BIR Collection Topping P1 Trillion

Manila Bulletin

The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), the government’s main tax agency, said yesterday that its collection this year will exceed P1 trillion mark.

BIR Commissioner Kim S. Jacinto-Henares said that the agency is working hard to raise the needed P208-billion collection in the final two months of the year to meet the P1.066 trillion target for 2012.

“I’m confident that we will meet the P1 trillion mark, but when it comes to our full-year target, I can say that we’re working hard to achieve it,” Jacinto-Henares said.

As of October this year, the BIR collected P858.6 billion, higher by 13.45 percent compared with P756.7 billion in the same period last year.

The BIR’s end-October collection, however, was short by 3 percent against the P886,5 billion target for the period.

In November, the BIR is expected to raise P102.9 billion and another P76.6 billion in taxes in December.

Last month, the BIR also achieved its collection target by generating P86.1 billion in collection, short by P800 million against the P86.18-billion goal.

Year-on-year, the BIR October collection grew by 22.13 percent from P70.5 billion.

In October, collections from BIR operations reached P83 billion, an increase of 20 percent compared with the same month last year, also exceeding the P82.4-billion goal.

Meanwhile, collections from non-BIR operations increased by 140 percent to P3.15 billion from a year ago, but short by 17 percent compared with the target.

Collections by the Regional Offices amounted to P33 billion in October, higher by 39 percent compared with the same month last year, continuing with the trend of double-digit growth being registered by cluster for this year.

Regional Offices also exceeded its goal for the month by 14 percent.

Collections by the Large Taxpayer Service, meanwhile, reached P49.96 billion, an increase of 10 percent from a year ago.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

‘Hot’ money is good

John Mangun
Outside the Box
Business Mirror

THERE are two subjects that most people consider themselves knowledgeable about, if not an expert; the human body and money and finances. Just because a person owns a body and has some money in the pocket, does not make a person wise about either.

A person who does know about the body like a physician for example studies for years and never stops learning. The same is true in the financial world.

Take the way money moves around the world, and more specifically, the stock markets.

For the administration to take any sort of credit for the advancing prices on the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) only proves my point about “experts.” The correlation between increasing stock prices and a successful and growing economy is often not true.

Between 1962 and 1964, the US economy grew by an average of 4 percent each quarter. The New York stock market went down by 50 percent. Between 1975 and 1977, the market nearly doubled as US growth hit 4 percent. Since 2009, US stock prices have more than doubled and the US economy has been growing at 2.3 percent.

In 2010 the Stock Exchange of Venezuela rose 20 percent while the economy shrank by 4.4 percent. This year Venezuela is experiencing over 20-percent annual inflation. Its stock market is the best performing in the world. Why? Because inflation is running at over 20 percent. When inflation is high or a currency is devaluing, money runs to investments that have the chance of appreciating enough to offset inflationary pressures.

I think that some of my more “progressive” friends believe that businesses operate from the power of magical rainbows and dancing unicorns. Unfortunately, what keeps businesses thriving and economies growing is a constant supply of fresh capital. That is why a viable and vibrant stock exchange like the PSE is vital for economies to develop.

In the last year some P20 billion has been raised by smaller and larger companies through initial public offerings. Nearly an equal amount has been raised through “private placements” of stock to small very large investors, coming from both domestic and foreign sources.

All that money is used to expand and grow business and the PHL economy, and would not be as readily available without our stock market.

One of the silliest complaints from the “experts,” showing absolute ignorance of the financial markets, is how the stock market attracts “hot money.” Hot money are funds looking for a short-term return that also provides quick liquidity. We all have hot money investments. It is called a bank account.

Traditionally, foreign hot money has flowed into a country while seeking to take advantage of a quickly appreciating or depreciating currency as occurred during the 1997 Asian crisis. That will not happen in the Philippines, not with the Bangko Sentral holding $82 billion to stabilize the currency.

This foreign hot money does not come in and out as rapidly as the critics would claim. That is because to exchange dollars for pesos and then go back to dollars would mean an automatic loss of at least 2 percent, or about 80 centavos on the currency buy/sell spread.

One editorial in a local newspaper spoke of a $256 million outflow of portfolio investment from our stock market in October. That does not surprise me in the least. Including the mid-1990s stock market high, foreign investors have tended to buy near the top and sell near the bottom. And too bad for that foreign money that left in October since the market is already up 1.5 percent for November. And the dummies missed the 16-percent price gain in PNB and the 5-percent rise in Ayala Corp.

The editorial goes on to say that this hot money comes in and then leaves as soon as it makes a profit. So what? That is how a stock market should and does function. While hot money flows may not be an indicator of the quality of government economic policy (foreign direct investment measures that factor), it does attest to the quality of the financial and banking system. The PHL scores well in this regard. Further, hot money in the stock market shows, contrary to that same editorial, that the PSE and the regulatory environment, while not being five-star, does function effectively, comparable in comparison to many other global markets.

Foreign direct investment by definition must be cautious and long-term oriented. Hot money is a risk taker, looking at current conditions and more important, short-term national and global trends. Further, if those trends are not favorable, hot money will turn its back very quickly and walk away. Then you know you have a problem.

The overall trend of hot money investments here is favorable and should be further encouraged.

E-mail to, web site is, and Twitter @mangunonmarkets. PSE stock-market information and technical analysis tools provided by COL Financial Group Inc.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Pinoy to head biggest amusement association

Rio Rose Ribaya
Yahoo! Southeast Asia Newsroom

A Filipino businessman has been selected to head the largest amusement industry trade association in the world.

Enchanted Kingdom (EK) owner Mario Mamon is the first Asian ever chosen to head the US-based International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA).


Why invest in the Philippines?

Newest zip -- in Leyte

Monday, 19 November 2012

IMF chief lauds PH: It’s the only nation upgraded

By Michael Lim Ubac, Michelle V. Remo
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines—The Philippines is the only country in the world for which the International Monetary Fund has upgraded its economic growth forecast for 2012, according to visiting IMF managing director Christine Lagarde.

Compared with the once-powerhouse economies of Europe and the United States, which are now struggling, the Philippines is on the road to maintaining an average growth rate of 5 percent next year, Lagarde told a press briefing in Malacañang on Friday.


Sunday, 18 November 2012

The new airport will be in Kawit

Emil Jurado
Manila Standard

There has been a lot of speculation about the location of the new airport for Philippine Airlines.  What area would San Miguel and PAL president Ramon Ang choose? Will it be in Bulacan? Laguna?  The idea is that the new airport should be close to Metro Manila, for the benefit of passengers. Clark in Pampanga, two hours away from the metro, is just too far.

To my surprise, I learned that the new airport will be in Kawit, Cavite.  That is, if President Aquino will give his go signal.  The airline has been negotiating with the Remullas.  The runway would extend into the sea. This means reclamation, something within the power of the local government to approve and give permission to.

The Kawiteños are no doubt excited.  The move will give premium to Kawit properties.

Give it to Ang for thinking out of the box. Congratulations, Mon!