Philippines Update: Aquino To Push For 10 Economic Bills In New Congress

Top Story of the Week: Aquino to push for 10 economic bills in new Congress

TOP STORIES

  • The World Bank and the IMF have both praised the continued economic success of the Philippines and predicted that the economy will grow by 7 percent in 2013.  Both organizations recognized the government for its sound management of the public finances in addition to its emphasis on addressing poverty and the widening income gap. President Benigno Aquino also approved a P2.3 trillion budget for 2014 that will seek to further address these issues.
  • Ambassador Philip S. Goldberg, State Department’s Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of Intelligence and Research  has been nominated as the next US Ambassador to the Philippines.
  • The United States and the Philippines are negotiating an agreement that will allow it to position military equipment and rotate personnel in the Philippines while avoiding the controversial issue of reestablishing military basis. Part of this military relationship has involved regular short-term visits by American military forces for joint training, humanitarian work and disaster response. The arrangement under negotiation now would allow American forces to visit for longer periods of time and be stationed on Philippine military bases. It would also allow American military equipment to be based in the Philippines, officials said.
  • Infrastructure spending was up 35.66% annually as of May as the government disbursements continued to improve, the Budget department yesterday said. The department, in a statement, said infrastructure expenditures reached P104.6 billion in the first five months of the year, up from the P77.1 billion recorded a year earlier.
IN THIS UPDATE:
National Affairs
+9 economic measures prioritized
+Ownership rules up for comments
+Aquino to push for 10 economic bills in new Congress
+World Bank exec praises Philippines' macroeconomic policies
+IMF raises growth forecast for Philippines but study shows income gap widens
+Philippines President Benigno Aquino approves P2.3 trillion budget for 2014
+Despite PNoy's aversion, Speaker files Cha-cha resolution
+Budget up for Aquino‘s OK
+Palace: Cha-cha dead during P-Noy’s term
+PH plans to lift millions out of poverty
+A call for judicial reforms
+The state of our nation
Infrastructure
+GSIS plans more infra investments
+Gov’t to build P4B NAIA 3 annex
+P403 B allotted for infra in 2014
+PHL sets sights on luring more European tourists as EU lifts air ban on PAL
+EU partially lifts ban on Philippine carriers
+Infrastructure spending up
+Water firms wallow in P34-billion profit
+Clark said to be no substitute for Naia
+Gov’t sets aside P2B for dev’t of airports

Energy
+Chevron eyes more Geothermal projects
+DOJ to resolve price-manipulation case vs Chevron
+LNG terminal project set
 
Health & Life Sciences
+Philippines has highest number of female smokers in ASEAN
+Philippines has highest number of female smokers in ASEAN

 Manufacturing & Retail
+Gov't game plan to revive manufacturing ready, up for implementation in 2014

ICT
+National Broadband plans’ advantage cited
Defense & Security
+The Philippines Buys Italian To Confront China
+2 firms want to join bidding for P3.4-B helicopter deal
+More Patrol Boats for Coast Guard
+U.S. Negotiates Expanded Military Role in Philippines
+The Philippines Buys Italian To Confront China
+Japan vows to help Philippines amid China sea row
+Manila plans air, naval bases at Subic with access for U.S., officials say
+Philippines may get chance to study new military equipment if it allows US to use its facilities
+Philippines Exploring Allowing U.S. and Japan More Use of Bases
+CARAT Philippines Supports Strong and Enduring Maritime Relationship
+PAF eyes Gripin as next generation of fighter planes for its modernization
+Phl-US joint Naval exercise ends
+Philippines to Buy Two Maestrale Frigates from Italy
+19th CARAT Philippines Closes On Board USS Fitzgerald
+PH, US end naval exercises near disputed sea
+Philippines To Buy 2 Maestrale Frigates From Italy
+Greater access for US military in PHL still under negotiation — PHL envoy
+Del Rosario at EU: 'Peaceful' efforts to end sea row 'unsuccessful'
+Philippine Navy's newest warship heads for Hawaii

Financial Services
+BOI finalizes 2013 IPP, tightens guidelines
+World Bank releases $300M support for Philippines
+1Sem BOI investments reach P202B
+ADB projects in the Philippines rated below average
 
Customs
+Business leaders write Noy: Overhaul customs, develop ports
+WTO chides PHL for imposing trade restrictions
 
Food & Agriculture
+Gov’t lines up PPP projects in agriculture
+Kraft Foods Phl now known as Mondelez Phl
+Agriculture, big business and inclusive growth
+Philippines keen on keeping quantitative restriction on rice

National Affairs
9 economic measures prioritized Malaya Business 16 Jul 2013
Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima is pushing for the inclusion of nine economic measures in the list of priority bills to be discussed in the next meeting of the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council. Purisima pitched these nine measures at the cabinet meeting yesterday, in answer to key economic concerns of the government and the private sector. The meeting will result in a list of measures which the executive branch will propose for legislative action at the start of the 16th Congress on July 22, which coincides with President Benigno Aquino III’s State of the Nation Address. The priority measures presented by the Economic Development Cluster are: the Amendments for the Build-Operate–Transfer Law or RA 7718; the Rationalization of the Mining Fiscal Regime; the Rationalization of the Fiscal Incentives Law; and the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act.
 
Ownership rules up for comments Business World 14 Jul 2013
Draft rules allowing foreign ownership of rural banks have been forwarded by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) to the industry for comment. “We gave, two days ago, an exposure draft,” central bank Deputy Governor Nestor A. Espenilla, Jr. said last Friday, adding: “We’re ... now giving them until mid-August to give their feedback as we’re trying to keep to the 90-day deadline for the IRR (implementing rules and regulations).” He declined to elaborate on the details but said the IRR would focus on the law’s “operational” aspects. “The idea there is how to get strategic partners. Investors will not necessarily bring in the money, but the know-how,” Mr. Espenilla said.
 
Aquino to push for 10 economic bills in new Congress PhilStar 15 Jul 2013
President Benigno S. Aquino III will propose at least 10 bills to answer key economic concerns of both the government and the private sector when a new Congress opens this month, a senior government official said today. Department of Finance (DOF) Secretary Cesar Purisima said that the economic bills include Amendments for the Build-Operate- Transfer Law or Republic Act No. 7718, the Rationalization of the Mining Fiscal Regime, the Rationalization of the Fiscal Incentives Law, the Tax Incentives Monitoring and Transparency Act (TIMTA) and the Customs Modernization and Tariff ACT (CMTA). Other measures to be pushed were Amendments to the BSP (Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas) Charter; and further Amendments to the Anti- Money Laundering Act; the Removal of Investment Restrictions in Specific Laws cited in the Foreign Investment Negative List (FINL); Amendments to RA 8974 otherwise known as the Act to Facilitate the Acquisition of Right-of-Way, Site or Location for National Government Infrastructure Projects and For Other Purposes and Amendments to the Cabotage Law.
 
World Bank exec praises Philippines' macroeconomic policies ABS-CBN 12 Jul 2013
A regional official of the World Bank on Friday described the Philippines' macroeconomic policies as "sound," commending in particular the government plan to expand its poverty intervention program that directly gives cash assistance to poor families. Axel van Trotsenburg, World Bank vice president for East Asia and Pacific, said proof of the government's successful implementation of its macroeconomic policies, "including keeping good control of public indebtedness," is the market's positive reaction and the investment grade ratings the country received from two credit ratings agencies.
 
IMF raises growth forecast for Philippines but study shows income gap widens PhilStar 11 Jul 2013
The International Monetary Fund ( IMF) has again raised its growth forecast for the Philippines this year to 7 percent, which is the high-end of the 6-7 percent growth forecast of the government for 2013. In media briefing on Wednesday, Shanaka Peiris, IMF's resident representative for the country, said that the Philippine economy relied heavily on domestic demand rather than export revenues that fuel the economies of neighbors like Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore.
 
Philippines President Benigno Aquino approves P2.3 trillion budget for 2014 Gulf News 12 Jul 2013
President Benigno Aquino has approved a proposed P2.3 trillion (Dh191.6 billion) budget for 2014, including higher amounts of grants for the poor. The grants are being funded by the World Bank, to bridge the gap between the rich and the poor, prompting analysts to call for a long-term industrialization plan for real development and poverty reduction. The government’s proposed budget has a high component of poverty reduction, apart from development, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said. Last year, Congress approved the allotment of P44.25 billion (Dh3.68 billion) conditional cash transfer (CCT) programme of the government for 3.5 million households in the 2013 budget.
 
Despite PNoy's aversion, Speaker files Cha-cha resolution Inter Aksyon 9 Jul 2013
Despite President Benigno Aquino III’s repeated rejection of Charter change, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. has filed a resolution that seeks to amend the “restrictive” economic provisions of the Constitution through simple legislation. Belmonte has filed a concurrent resolution, a “Resolution of Both Houses Proposing Amendments to Certain Economic Provisions of the 1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines, Particularly on Articles II, XII and XVI.” The articles he wants changed deal with national territory (Article II), national economy and patrimony (Article XII) and general provisions (Article XVI).

Budget up for Aquino‘s OK Business World 7 Jul 2013
The proposed 2014 budget will be presented to President Benigno S. C. Aquino III today, with the chief executive expected to scrutinize allotments based on his administration’s agenda of inclusive growth. “He (Mr. Aquino) will want to see if the budget reflects the framework that will guide his next three years, which is inclusive development,” Budget Secretary Florencio B. Abad said in a text message during the weekend. “It has two dimensions -- rapid and sustained growth and poverty reduction,” he added. Mr. Abad expressed hope that the proposal -- finalized last week by his department and economic managers -- would pass muster.
 
Palace: Cha-cha dead during P-Noy’s term PhilStar 7 Jul 2013
For the nth and probably the last time, President Aquino said yesterday any effort to have the Constitution amended during his administration is dead. In an interview over radio dzRB, deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said there is no solid justification for constitutional amendments – even a limited one – under the current administration. While the previous administration had been preoccupied with changing the Constitution purportedly to make it more investor-friendly, the Aquino leadership sees no need for such an initiative.

PH plans to lift millions out of poverty Rappler 5 Jul 2013
The government is aiming to lift more than 10 million people out of poverty in less than two years, and make an enduring impact on lessening one of Asia's worst rich-poor divides. The government of President Benigno Aquino III has set a target of cutting the number of people living in poverty to 16.6% by the end of 2015, down from 27.9% last year, Socio-Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said on Friday, July 5. "It's a big challenge. We just don't have the luxury of time and the luxury of resources to waste," Balisacan told reporters. The ambitious goal is set ahead of when Aquino is required to stand down in in mid-2016 after a 6-year term. It comes after stunning economic growth, credit rating upgrades and record stock market highs in the first half of Aquino's term failed to make a dent on crushing poverty.
 
A call for judicial reforms PhilStar 7 Jul 2013
The business sector is obviously very happy with the performance of the P-Noy government. A letter to the President by the 13 biggest business groups in the country said: “Since 2010, the Philippines has seen a resurgence in confidence, both in economic terms and in terms of governance, led by your administration’s reforms towards a more transparent, fair and inclusive nation. The impressive economic growth rates, achievement of investment grade ratings, improving national competitiveness, and a palpable optimism and vigilance against corruption within the people are testaments to your leadership and the management of your Cabinet.” This is not surprising considering that in the last three years, many businesses have had record profits, the stock market index has dramatically gone up, crony capitalism eliminated and investments — domestic and foreign — have been increasing every year.
 
New US Ambassador nominated PhilStar 30 Jun 2013
Our source in Washington informed us that the new nominee for the position of US Ambassador to the Philippines is the State Department’s Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of Intelligence and Research – Ambassador Philip S. Goldberg. The US Embassy In Manila refused to comment but the US Senate is expected to start his confirmation hearings sometime before the end of August. Young, single and of Jewish descent, Goldberg – a native of Boston, Massachusetts – is a career member of the US Senior Foreign Service and has served as Deputy Chief of Mission in Santiago, Chile and Chief of Mission in Kosovo before becoming US Ambassador to Bolivia in 2006.
 
The state of our nation PhilStar 28 Jun 2013
Last June 19, Francis Estrada, former president of the Asian Institute of Management (AIM), spoke before the Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines (FINEX). It was vintage Francis… incisive and to the point. He talked about the Philippines today… what is right with it… what are the challenges. I have served in a board of judges with Francis to help select the Employer of the Year some years ago. I respected his insights during our discussions. Going through the text of his Finex speech, I think Francis has pre-empted P-Noy’s SONA, assuming P-Noy’s Palace staff is capable of such analysis. I will liberally pick up whole chunks from Francis’s speech because that is the only way the reader can appreciate his message.

Customs
Business leaders write Noy: Overhaul customs, develop ports PhilStar 4 Jul 2013
International and local business leaders drew eight recommendations to President Benigno Aquino III to facilitate inclusive growth within his term, including an overhaul of the Bureau of Customs as well as the country's gateways. "It is imperative to overhaul the Bureau of Customs and to create an oversight body with private sector representations," heads of 14 business groups including Makati Business Club president Ramon del Rosario Jr., Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry acting president Antonio Lopa and the American Chamber of Commerce president Rhicke Jennings said in the letter received by the Office of the President last June 21. The letter said that the estimated P100 billion lost from smuggling can instead be used for social programs and infrastructure. "Smuggling continues to derail your efforts on revenue collection and job generation," it says.
 
WTO chides PHL for imposing trade restrictions Business Mirror 25 Jun 2013
The Philippines and other developing countries that belong to the so-called Group of 20 (G-20) have implemented more than 100 measures that restrict trade over the past seven months to protect their domestic sectors, the World Trade Organization (WTO) revealed. The WTO quickly issued a warning that this could hurt the operations of exporters who depend on imported raw materials in the manufacture of their products. In a report released by WTO Director General Pascal Lamy on June 17, some G-20 countries were found to be employing trade restrictions even as they actively negotiate for the dismantling of multilateral trade barriers. “The most frequent measures taken during this period were the initiation of trade-remedy actions, in particular of anti-dumping investigations, followed by tariff increases,” the report read.
 
Defense & Security
The Philippines Buys Italian To Confront China Strategy Page 12 Jul 2013
The Philippines has decided to buy two newly built Italian two Maestrale class frigates for $208 million each. Italy has some older Maestrales for sale at a much lower price but the Filipino navy is full of second hand ships and the government wants some new ones to help persuade China to back off from claiming many shoals and uninhabited islands off the Filipino coast. The Maestrales are 3,100 ton ships each armed with four anti-ship missiles, short range anti-aircraft missiles, a 127mm gun, two autocannon for defense against missiles and eight torpedo tubes.
 
2 firms want to join bidding for P3.4-B helicopter deal Phil Star 15 Jul 2013
Two companies have so far expressed interest to join the bidding for the government’s purchase of eight Philippine Air Force attack helicopters worth P3.4 billion. Defense department records show that as of Thursday, AugustaWestland and Eurocopter have bought the bidding documents for the project. It remains uncertain though if the two firms would join the bidding slated on July 24. There were past instances when parties who purchased bid documents did not submit offers. Other companies could still buy bid documents ahead of the opening of bids. AugustaWestland, an Anglo-Italian firm owned by Italy’s Finmeccanica, had supplied various air assets to the military.
 
More Patrol Boats for Coast Guard Defense Studies 12 Jul 2013
Aside from the 15 patrol boats it expects to get from Japan and France in late 2014 or early 2015, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) plans to acquire a 52-meter vessel from an unnamed country, the PCG announced Tuesday. Cmdr. Armand Balilo, also chief of the PCG public affairs office, said the vessel would be “second-hand but in very good condition.” “The project has been approved for negotiation by the DOTC. But there’s no timetable yet for the purchase of the patrol boat,” he said. The Coast Guard is a Department of Transportation and Communications-attached agenc
 
U.S. Negotiates Expanded Military Role in Philippines NYT 12 Jul 2013
The United States is negotiating an agreement to allow it to position military equipment and rotating personnel in the Philippines while avoiding the controversial issue of re-establishing American bases in the country, according to officials from both countries. The negotiations for increased military access by the United States take place against the backdrop of simmering tensions between the Philippines and China over areas in the South China Sea claimed by both countries. The Philippines, which has a small navy and air force, is relying on support from the United States to modernize its military and upgrade its capabilities.

The Philippines Buys Italian To Confront China Strategy Page 12 Jul 2013
The Philippines has decided to buy two newly built Italian two Maestrale class frigates for $208 million each. Italy has some older Maestrales for sale at a much lower price but the Filipino navy is full of second hand ships and the government wants some new ones to help persuade China to back off from claiming many shoals and uninhabited islands off the Filipino coast. The Maestrales are 3,100 ton ships each armed with four anti-ship missiles, short range anti-aircraft missiles, a 127mm gun, two autocannon for defense against missiles and eight torpedo tubes. Two helicopters can be carried. These ships are well equipped for anti-submarine operations.
 
Japan vows to help Philippines amid China sea row Manilla Bulletin 27 Jun 2013
Japan pledged Thursday to help the Philippines defend its "remote islands", as both governments expressed concern over China's robust moves to stake its claims to disputed Asian waters. Japanese Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera said China's contentious claim to nearly all of the South China Sea and its territorial dispute with Japan in the East China Sea were discussed during top-level talks in Manila. "We agreed that we will further co-operate in terms of the defence of remote islands... the defence of territorial seas as well as protection of maritime interests," Onodera told a joint news conference.
 
Manila plans air, naval bases at Subic with access for U.S., officials say Thomson Reuters 27 Jun 2013
The Philippine military has revived plans to build new air and naval bases at Subic Bay, a former U.S. naval base that American forces could use to counter China's creeping presence in the disputed South China Sea, senior navy officials said. The proposed bases in the Philippines, a close U.S. ally, coincides with a resurgence of U.S. warships, planes and personnel in the region as Washington turns its attention to a newly assertive China and shifts its foreign, economic and security policy towards Asia. The bases would allow the Philippines to station warships and fighter jets just 124 nautical miles from Scarborough Shoal, a contentious area of the South China Sea now controlled by China after a tense standoff last year. The Philippine navy, whose resources and battle capabilities are no match for China's growing naval might, has yet to formally present its 10-billion-peso base development plan to President Benigno Aquino.
 
Philippines may get chance to study new military equipment if it allows US to use its facilities InterAksyon 28 Jun 2013
The Philippines may get the chance to study and check out new military equipment from the United States--including planes that detect submarines using magnetic technology--under a proposed agreement allowing the US wider access to facilities at home. Under the proposed "access agreement," "new military technology" from US may set foot on Philippine soil, Defense Chief Voltaire Gazmin said on Friday, supporting the government's proposal. “'Yung eroplano nila, for example, ‘yung P3 Orion, wala tayo nun. Baka pagkanag-refuel ‘yung kanilang jets na makabago e mabibigyan tayo ng pagkakataong mapag-aralan at makita ‘yung mga ganung technology,” he said. (The Philippines doesn't have a P3 Orion. But if it is allowed to refuel in the country, we might have the chance to study it and see how it works.) Gazmin was prompted to raise this possibility after defending the "access agreement" between the Philippines and the United States, which he said was needed so that the country can increase its allies and defend itself against China.

Philippines Exploring Allowing U.S. and Japan More Use of Bases USNI 1 Jul 2013
The Philippines plan to give greater access to U.S. and Japanese allies to military bases including the former U.S. Naval Station Subic Bay, Philippine defense officials said Thursday in a report in Reuters. The report comes in tandem with reports, the military is preparing a proposal to expand leftover U.S. bases after the Pentagons removed its forces in 1992. According to the report, Philippine naval leaders are preparing a $230 million plan to base development bases as hedges against increased Chinese expansion into the South China Sea.

CARAT Philippines Supports Strong and Enduring Maritime Relationship CPF 27 Jun 2013
The 19th annual Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) Philippines exercise commenced with an opening ceremony in Subic Bay, June 27. Continuing through July 2, CARAT Philippines 2013 consists of seven days of shore-based and at-sea training events designed to address shared maritime security priorities, develop relationships, and enhance interoperability among participating forces. "For the past 19 years, CARAT Philippines has played a major role in the strong and enduring relationship between our naval forces," said Rear Adm. Tom Carney, commander, Task Force 73 and commander, Naval Forces CARAT.
 
PAF eyes Gripin as next generation of fighter planes for its modernization – Phillipines News Agency 2 Jul 2013
Swedish-made supersonic Gripen plane is emerging as the next generation of jet fighter aircraft being considered by the Philippine Air Force (PAF) for its long-overdue modernization program. A random interview conducted by Philippines News Agency on Tuesday indicated that PAF pilots prefer the Gripen jet-fighters to other types (of fighter planes) because of its lower cost, yet armed with sophisticated latest stand-off long-range anti-ship weapons and air-to-air missiles. These are highly accurate weapons that can be unleashed even if the target is 80 kilometers away. The air-to-air missiles can be fired beyond visual range of the pilot.
 
Phl-US joint Naval exercise ends philstar.com 3 Jul 2013
The week-long Philippine-US joint Naval exercise ended with a closing ceremony on board the guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) on Tuesday. During the exercise, called the 19th Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT), US Sailors and Marines trained with their counterparts in the Philippine Navy, Coast Guard and Marine Corps in a series of shore-based and at sea events. Shore-based training events covered several naval competencies, including jungle warfare and marksmanship; tactical combat casualty care; riverine small boat operations; visit, board, search and seizure; and diving and salvage.
 
Philippines to Buy Two Maestrale Frigates from Italy Defense Studies 4 Jul 2013
The Philippines is set to buy two Maestrale-class frigates from Italy, a defense official said Wednesday, as the Asian nation races to upgrade its military amid mounting territorial disputes with China. The frigates, along with 12 FA-50 fighter aircraft, are the most significant items on the government’s P75-billion ($1.7-billion) military modernization budget over the next five years, Defense Undersecretary Fernando Manalo said.
 
19th CARAT Philippines Closes On Board USS Fitzgerald CPF 3 Jul 2013
The 19th annual Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) Philippines ended with a closing ceremony on board the guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62), July 2. During the six-day exercise, U.S. Sailors and Marines trained with their counterparts in the Philippine navy, coast guard and marine corps in a series of shore-based and at sea events. CARAT is a bilateral naval exercise series between the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and the armed forces of nine partner nations in South and Southeast Asia.
 
PH, US end naval exercises near disputed sea Inquirer 5 Jul 2013
The Philippine-US joint military exercise, Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training, concluded on Tuesday after six days of a series of shore-based and at sea events. The ceremony was held on board the guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62), the United States Embassy said in a statement. Shore-based training events covered several naval competencies, including jungle warfare and marksmanship; tactical combat casualty care; riverine small boat operations; visit, board, search and seizure; and diving and salvage. In the exercises 60 nautical miles east of Panatag, an area claimed both by China and Philippines, the Fitzgerald conducted maneuvering, communications and gunnery exercises with the Philippine Navy flagship BRP Gregorio del Pilar (PF 15) and the Philippine coast guard salvage and rescue vessel BRP Edsa (SARV 02).
 
Philippines To Buy 2 Maestrale Frigates From Italy Defense News Jul 2013
he Philippines is set to buy two Maestrale-class frigates from Italy, a defense official said Wednesday, as the Asian nation races to upgrade its military amid mounting territorial disputes with China. The frigates, along with 12 FA-50 fighter aircraft, are the most significant items on the government’s 75 billion peso (US $1.7 billion) military modernization budget over the next five years, Defense Undersecretary Fernando Manalo said. “We are modernizing not because we want to go to war with China,” he told a news conference. He said the government had a sworn obligation to defend the “West Philippine Sea,” using the government’s preferred term for Philippine-claimed areas in the South China Sea.
 
Greater access for US military in PHL still under negotiation — PHL envoy GMA News 8 Jul 2013
Negotiations are still ongoing between the United States and the Philippines regarding the proposed pact that will allow American forces access to local military bases, Philippine Ambassador to Washington Jose Cuisia said Monday. Interviewed at the press introduction of the delegates to the 2nd Filipino-American Youth Leadership Program (FYLPro) in Manila, Cuisia stressed that the talks are taking time to make sure the accord would conform to the country's Constitution.
 
Philippine Navy's newest warship heads for Hawaii IHS Jane's 9 Jul 2013
After becoming, in June 2013, the first Filipino warship to transit the Panama Canal, the Philippine Navy's (PN's) newest acquisition BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PF-16) resumed its voyage home on 5 July, departing San Diego, California, and sailing for its next port-of-call in Hawaii, officials announced. BRP Ramon Alcaraz left the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Charleston, South Carolina, on 10 June 2013 to begin its journey to the Philippines. (US Coast Guard) Ramon Alcaraz , formerly the US Coast Guard's cutter USCGC Dallas , had stopped in San Diego on 28 June for a planned port call to refuel and restock during its transit to the Philippines from the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Charleston, South Carolina
 
Del Rosario at EU: 'Peaceful' efforts to end sea row 'unsuccessful' PhilStar 10 Jul 2013
Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario on Tuesday reported to officials of the European Union in Brussels, Belgium that the Philippines' "peaceful" approach to settle disputes with China have failed. "The Philippines undertook many efforts to peacefully engage China and settle these disputes. However, these were unsuccessful," Del Rosario said, explaining the overlapping disputes at sea with China as the major claimant.

Chinese vessels back again in Scarborough The Daily Tribune 9 Jul 2013
Two Chinese vessels have been spotted again in the Philippine-claimed Scarborough Shoal days after it was reported that the ships have left the area, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said yesterday. “Yesterday, we received a report from the Philippine Navy confirming that Chinese ships are back in Bajo de Masinloc,” Foreign Affairs spokesman Raul Hernandez said, referring the shoal’s Philippine name. Chinese vessels, he added, have never actually left the area as they have been sighted to have been coming in and out of the shoal, where the two Asian nations figure in a dangerous standoff last year.
 
Energy
Chevron eyes more Geothermal projects Manila Bulletin 3 Jul 2013
American firm Chevron, via its Filipinized corporate vehicle Philippine Geothermal Production Company, Inc. (PGPC) which is majority owned by the Sy Group, has indicated further investments in geothermal resource exploration and developments in the country. In a statement to the media, PGPC president Antonio Yee noted that their company is encouraged to inject fresh investments following the issuance of their new service contracts (SCs) by the Department of Energy (DOE). “With the fresh service contracts, we renew our commitment to deliver clean geothermal energy and strengthen our position to enhance the value of Tiwi and MakBan (Makiling-Banahaw) by implementing resource development projects over the next years.” PGPC has not given specific investment figures it will have for Tiwi-MakBan. The company is supplying the steam requirements for the electricity generation of the two plants owned by the Aboitiz Group.
 
DOJ to resolve price-manipulation case vs Chevron Business Mirror 25 Jun 2013
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said on Tuesday her office will resolve the complaint filed by a local fuel distributor against officials of Chevron Philippines Inc., producer of Caltex petroleum products, for alleged price manipulation. “Since it’s a petition for review, the same will be handled and resolved by the Office of the Secretary,” she said. “But, of course, we will request for inputs and applicable studies from the Office for Competition, which has expertise on the matter,” de Lima added. De Lima agreed that the complaint filed by the Petroleum Distributors and Services Corp. (PDSC) could be a test case to the DOJ’s powers to prosecute cases of oil cartelization. In its complaint, PDSC accused Chevron of creating and operating its own service stations in the metropolis called Caltex Coco, which supposedly controls and manipulates prices of fuel and oil products. PDSC, a dealer of Caltex products for over 20 years, has been engaged in retailing fuel products for almost 50 years.
 
LNG terminal project set Inquirer 21 Jun 2013
Royal Dutch Shell has committed to push through with its planned liquefied natural gas (LNG) import terminal project in Batangas, which could provide gas to power generation facilities with a combined capacity of as much as 2,000 megawatts. Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho L. Petilla announced this Friday prior to a briefing with Shell officials, stressing the significance of this infrastructure in improving the country’s current energy mix. Aware of the risks the Dutch firm is facing with this project, Petilla said, the government was fully supporting the LNG import terminal project.
 
Financial Services
World Bank releases $300M support for Philippines Times Union 12 Jul 2013
The World Bank has released a $300 million development loan to the Philippines to support the government's poverty reduction efforts. Axel van Trotsenburg, the bank's vice president for East Asia and the Pacific, told a news conference Friday that the Philippines' robust economic growth will boost efforts to create more jobs and cut poverty. He said the bank has transferred $300 million to support reforms that will accelerate growth, create more jobs and reduce poverty. He said poverty reduction requires a long-term commitment and that turning "high growth into inclusive growth is increasingly important for the Philippines."
 
1Sem BOI investments reach P202B Manila Bulletin 8 Jul 2013
The Board of Investments (BOI)has registered P201.9 billion in new investments in the first semester this year or 22 percent higher than the P165.51 billion in the same period last year with the energy sector accounting for the bulk of the newly approved projects. Trade and Industry Secretary Gregory L. Domingo, who is also BOI chairman, told reporters that the new investments represent the combined project cost of 154 projects that were approved by the BOI in the January-June period this year. These projects are also expected to generate 19,064 jobs once they are in full commercial operation.
 
ADB projects in the Philippines rated below average Business Mirror 1 Jul 2013
Unresolved issues related to concessions with rice-exporting countries continue to get in the way of the Philippines’s bid to secure approval for the extension of a World Trade Organization (WTO) scheme that shields the country from a possible deluge of cheap imported rice to the detriment of local farmers. Agriculture Assistant Secretary Romeo Recide told the BusinessMirror the Philippines will again appeal to the WTO’s Council for Trade in Goods the country’s request for the extension of the quantitative restriction (QR) on rice in October. Manila has been seeking approval of its request for about a year now.
 
Food & Agriculture
Gov’t lines up PPP projects in agriculture Inquirer Business 15 Jul 2013
The Department of Agriculture has lined up two major public-private partnership projects that involve post-harvest facilities for corn and perishable produce. Zenaida M. Villegas, director of the DA’s Project Development Service, said in an interview that Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala had been apprised of and had accepted the proposal for a P298-million grains central project that was meant to rehabilitate and upgrade existing corn trading and processing centers across the nation. Villegas said the DA was expected to refer the corn depot project to the National Economic and Development Authority within the month.
 
BOI finalizes 2013 IPP, tightens guidelines Manila Bulletin 1 Jul 2013
The 2013 Investment Priorities Plan (IPP) has been finalized with tightened specific guidelines to ensure only deserving projects will get government tax and fiscal incentives, said Adrian S. Cristobal, Trade and Industry Undersecretary for Industry and Policy Planning Group. “We’ll be sending it (2013 IPP) out soon to Malacañang,” Cristobal told reporters. The 2013 IPP, which is formulated by an interagency committee led by the Board of Investments (BOI), is quite delayed already. Under the law, the annual IPP should have been out by March 30. The IPP is an annual list of preferred economic activities that are eligible for government tax and fiscal incentives, particularly income tax holiday of a maximum of eight years.
 
Kraft Foods Phl now known as Mondelez Phl PhilStar 3 Jul 2013
Kraft Foods (Philippines) Inc. has changed its name to Mondelez Philippines Inc. (MPI). Mondelez Philippines is part of Mondelez International, a new company created following the split of Kraft Foods Limited in October 2012. Mondelez International holds number one or two market share positions in Asia Pacific across several categories, including biscuits and chocolate and with an array of iconic brands such as Oreo biscuits, Cadbury Dairy Milk chocolates, Halls candy, and Tiger Energy biscuits. Asia Pacific currently accounts for 15 percent of Mondelez International’s $35-billion business, with about three-quarters of its annual revenue generated in the fast-growing biscuits, chocolate and gum and candy categories.
 
Agriculture, big business and inclusive growth Inquirer Business 11 Jul 2013
Last July 3, the Alyansa Agrikultura received an invitation to meet the Secretaries of the Economic Development Cluster. The objective was to discuss issues and proposed measures for the next three years of the Aquino administration. This was a followup to the June 19 letter to the President signed by 13 organizations, mostly representing big businesses. Alyansa Agrikultura, which represented small agribusiness, farmers and fisherfolk was included.
 
Philippines keen on keeping quantitative restriction on rice Business Mirror 2 Jul 2013
Unresolved issues related to concessions with rice-exporting countries continue to get in the way of the Philippines’s bid to secure approval for the extension of a World Trade Organization (WTO) scheme that shields the country from a possible deluge of cheap imported rice to the detriment of local farmers. Agriculture Assistant Secretary Romeo Recide told the BusinessMirror the Philippines will again appeal to the WTO’s Council for Trade in Goods the country’s request for the extension of the quantitative restriction (QR) on rice in October. Manila has been seeking approval of its request for about a year now.
 
Health & Life Sciences
Philippines has highest number of female smokers in ASEAN Inter Aksyon 11 Jul 2013
The Philippines has the highest number of female smokers among the 10 member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations(ASEAN, according to the 2012 survey conducted by the Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA). This was confirmed in an interview by SEATCA director Bungon Ritthiphakdee, who is here for the two-day ASEAN smoke-free cities regional conference to strengthen the smoking ban policies. The conference ended Wednesday. In said study, of the 600 million population in the ASEAN, 127 million are smokers, majority of whom are Indonesians. The Philippines ranked second in the number of smokers, Vietnam came in third.
 
Philippines has highest number of female smokers in ASEAN Inter Aksyon 11 Jul 2013
The Philippines has the highest number of female smokers among the 10 member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations(ASEAN, according to the 2012 survey conducted by the Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA). This was confirmed in an interview by SEATCA director Bungon Ritthiphakdee, who is here for the two-day ASEAN smoke-free cities regional conference to strengthen the smoking ban policies. The conference ended Wednesday. In said study, of the 600 million population in the ASEAN, 127 million are smokers, majority of whom are Indonesians.

ICT
National Broadband plans’ advantage cited Manila Bulletin 3 Jul 2013
A research by the United Nations’ International Telecommunication Union (UN – ITU) has found that countries with National Broadband Plans have improved their competitiveness and delivery of social services. The study was made by the ITU in partnership with the Broadband Commission for Digital Development and network equipment maker Cisco Systems. Based on the research titled “Planning for Progress: Why National Broadband Plans Matter,” countries with a National Broadband Plan have fixed broadband penetration that is 8.7 percent higher on average than countries without plans.
 
Infrastructure
GSIS plans more infra investments Business Inquirer 16 Jul 2013
State pension fund Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) is eyeing increased investments in the infrastructure sector to improve returns as well as support the administration’s big-ticket projects. “We are looking at some of the public private partnerships (PPP),” GSIS President and General Manager Robert G. Vergara said. “We are looking at some of the bigger ones (to be developed jointly) with other groups,” he added. “Where we are invited, and if it suits our return expectations, or if we are invited to join consortia where we feel we have value to add, we will participate,” he said at a press conference Monday.
 
Gov’t to build P4B NAIA 3 annex Malaya Business 15 Jul 2013
The Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) is planning to build a P4-billion domestic terminal annex of Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3 to address the growing number domestic passengers. Jose Angel A. Honrado, MIAA general manager, said the government is currently conducting a feasibility study on the viability of building a 3.3-hectare domestic terminal to accommodate domestic passengers at NAIA Terminal 3 and fully develop the terminal for international passengers. “We’re still in the feasibility study stage but we hope to finish this by the end of the year so we can start construction by next year, and complete (the project) in two years,” Honrado said. The government plans to transfer the domestic passengers of Cebu Pacific Airways, to fulfil the 13 million international passenger for terminal 3.
 
P403 B allotted for infra in 2014 PhilStar 10 Jul 2013
The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) is proposing about P403 billion for infrastructure projects in 2014 to boost the country’s competitiveness, spur investments, create jobs and improve the economy. Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said they are also proposing P607 billion for infrastructure spending in 2015 and P834 billion in 2016. He said the budget increase would result in a five percent infrastructure spending to gross domestic product (GDP) ratio and increase revenue effort to 17.1 percent by 2016. “That is what’s being proposed to President Aquino. We hope he will approve this because it is what the investors want, the gap that must have a solution for them to come in,” Abad told The STAR. The Philippines is reported to be lagging behind its neighbors in terms of infrastructure funding.
 
PHL sets sights on luring more European tourists as EU lifts air ban on PAL GMA Network 11 Jul 2013
Now that flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) can again fly passengers to and from Europe, Manila needs super campaigns and better tourism infrastructure to set the tone for growing the number of arrivals to the country, particularly from the tourist-rich European Community. This is a paradigm shift for the Philippines, home to Asia's first airline, after the European Union on Wednesday revealed that regulators have lifted the three-year ban on direct flights from Manila on improved international safety standards. Expectations of an over 8.5-percent increase in arrivals from the EU member states practically melted overnight with the direct Manila-to-Europe links restored.
 
EU partially lifts ban on Philippine carriers USA Today 12 Jul 2013
The European Union has partially lifted a ban on the entry of Philippine planes after aviation authorities in Manila addressed safety concerns, removing an obstacle to a robust flow of tourists and trade between Europe and the Southeast Asian nation, officials said Wednesday. EU Ambassador to Manila Guy Ledoux said that the decision, which takes effect on Friday, will allow flag carrier Philippine Airlines to resume flights to Europe. More safety improvements will have to be made for other Philippine carriers, like budget airline Cebu Pacific Air, to follow, he said.
 
Infrastructure spending up Business World 2 Jul 2013
Infrastructure spending was up 35.66% annually as of May as the government disbursements continued to improve, the Budget department yesterday said. The department, in a statement, said infrastructure expenditures reached P104.6 billion in the first five months of the year, up from the P77.1 billion recorded a year earlier. It accounted for 35.21% of the full-year infrastructure spending program of P297.1 billion, higher than the 25.85% level hit in the comparable 2012 period. The infrastructure spending target for that year was P298.2 billion. “
 
Gov’t sets aside P2B for dev’t of airports Inquirer 23 Jun 2013
The government has earmarked about P2 billion over the next two years to redevelop and redesignate airports in Cavite and Cagayan de Oro to decongest the country’s main gateway, Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) in Metro Manila. Transportation Secretary Joseph Abaya said the plan would be implemented in two stages, starting with the relocation of an air force base in Sangley Point, Cavite to Lumbia Airport in Cagayan de Oro. With Sangley Point freed up, the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) may redevelop the area into a general aviation services hub for Metro Manila. The main hub for general aviation services—which include flying schools and corporate flights—is currently located at the Naia complex, which borders the cities of Pasay and Parañaque.
 
Clark said to be no substitute for Naia Inquirer 21 Jun 2013
Clark International Airport can not be considered a viable gateway to Manila, at least not in the near future, according to Standard Chartered Bank. In a research paper, the British bank said that, despite its strong potential, available land for expansion and concrete development plans, Clark International Airport (CIA) may not be a feasible substitute for Ninoy Aquino International Airport in the medium term due to the lack of efficient transportation connectivity. “We do not think the minimum three- to four-hour drive from CIA to Manila city center is acceptable to the majority of travelers, and building a high-speed rail system to link the two is financially demanding and clearly not on the government’s radar,” Standard Chartered said.
 
Water firms wallow in P34-billion profit Manila Standard 3 Jul 2013
Private concessionaires Manila Water Co. and Maynilad Water Systems Inc. stand to earn a staggering P76.5 billion and P75.92 billion in profits respectively over the next 25 years if they are allowed to continue passing on their income taxes, operating expenses and maintenance costs to the public, a civil society group projected Tuesday. The Water for the People Network said Manila Water and Maynilad had already earned profits of P16.9 billion and P17.1 billion or a total of P34 billion, as a result of these pass-on charges from 2007 to 2011, and they stand to earn much more, according to the business plans they submitted to the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System, said Sonny Africa, the group’s lead convenor. 
 
Manufacturing & Retail
Gov't game plan to revive manufacturing ready, up for implementation in 2014 Inter Aksyon 30 Jun 2013
The manufacturing roadmap jointly formulated by the government and the private sector will be made public next month, with its initial phase to be implemented next year, according to a draft plan presented recently. During the recent Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc (PhilExport) general membership meeting, Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) vice president Rafaelita M. Aldaba discussed the draft Comprehensive Manufacturing Industry Roadmap, which identifies “various strategies and measures that will make the country’s manufacturing sector competitive in the short-, medium- and long-run.”