Philippines Update: Philippines to Develop Manufacturing Sector to Boost Jobs

Top Story of the Week: Philippines to develop manufacturing sector to boost jobs

LOOKING AHEAD:

TOP STORIES:
  • President Obama is scheduled to visit Manila on October 11 and 12 and is, “very much looking forward” to the first Philippine trip by a US president since George Bush visited Manila in 2003. Obama will also make stops in Brunei, Malaysia and Indonesia on the trip to attend the US-ASEAN Summit and APEC.
  • Japanese investment in the Philippines has diversified into sectors such as medical devices and prefabricated housing as anti-Japan sentiment in China leads Japanese businesses to look to ASEAN countries for new opportunities.
  • Philippine Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan expressed support for government plans to support growth in the manufacturing sector as unemployment ticked up to 7.3 percent amidst strong economic growth. Secretary Balisacan stated that manufacturing, “…generates jobs in the sector itself, as well as in several other backward-linked and forward-linked sectors.”
IN THIS UPDATE:
National Affairs
+ Pacquiao wants P2.2-B Tax Assessment cancelled
+ Rebels attack Cotabato
+ Philippines heads UN body on status of women
+ Ex-Chief Justice Puno: Pork is evil
+ ‘Not inclusive growth, only exclusive growth’
+ WB cites window of opportunity to achieve inclusive growth here
 
Defense and Security
+ Obama ‘looking forward’ to trip to PH, says US envoy
+ Obama’s visit to the PH, Southeast Asia
+ PHIBLEX 14 kicks off with opening ceremony
 
Election News
+ Undermining the vote
+ Philippine opposition leaders charged with plunder might change political landscape
 
Energy
+ British firms to check out opportunities in power, renewable energy in Philippines
+ Biggest US trade mission to visit Philippines with an eye on energy, environment
Financial Services
+ Filipinos need to be bolder — Ayala
+ New PPP players sought by government
+ Philippines to develop manufacturing sector to boost jobs
+ Philippines Is Ready for Fed Taper With Tools to Curb Outflows
+ Industry plan vital in solving job lack
+ Philippine central bank says seeks $3.5 bln capital increase
+ BSP pushes for charter revision, seeks additional P150-B capital infusion
 
Food & Agriculture
+ First batch of durian shipped to Singapore
 
Health & Life Sciences
+ Bishops still obsessing on RH fight
 
ICT
+ Ayalas’ BPO arm buys N2SP Tunisie, firms up presence in European market
+ PH trade mission on UK, Northern Europe rounds
+ Leyte government supports development of ICT industry in Eastern Visayas
 
Infrastructure
+ Government awards P16-M contract for Batangas port study
+ Gov’t eyes air talks with France
+ DOJ: Philippine National Railroad’s $6.77-M deal with South Korean firm void
+ With Aquino in Zamboanga, LRT-1 project delayed further
+ Bid for P35-B road project pushed back
+ Japanese firms moving from China for Southeast Asia

National Affairs
 
Pacquiao wants P2.2-B Tax Assessment cancelled Manila Bulletin 24 Sep 2013
Boxing great and Sarangani Rep. Manny Pacquiao has asked the Court of Tax Appeals (CTA) to cancel the more than R2.2 billion worth of deficiency taxes being imposed on him by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR). The BIR assessment covered Pacquiao’s alleged unpaid income taxes from his five title bouts in 2008 and 2009 in the United States as well as R32 million in deficiency value-added tax (VAT) as endorser of various products. Pacquiao paid the CTA last Aug. 1 an unprecedented R11 million in filing fee for it to hear the case. His wife, Sarangani Vice Governor Jinkee Pacquiao, was belatedly included by the BIR in the tax assessment. Through the Romulo Mabanta, Buenaventura, Sayoc, de los Angeles law firm, Pacquiao invariably described the BIR assessment as “arbitrary,” “bloated,” and “excessive.”
 
Rebels attack Cotabato Manila Standard Today 24 Sep 2013
A day after President Benigno Aquino III left Zamboanga City feeling confident that the standoff between rebels belonging to the Nur Misuari faction of the Moro National Liberation Front and government forces was nearing its end, a firefight erupted in Midsayap, Cotabato between at least 150 Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and government troops that left three dead and five wounded. Earlier reports also said the rebels held hostage 15 civilians consisting of 11 farmers and four schoolteachers from Malingao Elementary School, but later released them. But Capt. Tony Bulao, spokesman of the 602nd Infantry Brigade based in North Cotabato, said there are nine teachers who are still being held by the BIFF, bringing the actual total number of hostages to 24. Bulao said the BIFF launched simultaneous attacks in barangays Polongoguen, Polomoguen and Milangao at around 7 a.m. on Monday. They retreated when the soldiers arrived and engaged them in a firefight. “We have a soldier killed in action and another one wounded. There were two killed and four wounded on the BIFF side” Bulao said.
 
Philippines heads UN body on status of women The Philippine Star 23 Sep 2013
The Philippines has assumed chairmanship of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. Philippine Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the UN Libran Cabactulan has assumed the chairmanship of the Bureau for the 58th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women, a move that is seen as the international community’s recognition of the Philippines’ leadership. The Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) is the principal global policy-making body dedicated exclusively to gender equality and advancement of women. Every year, representatives of member states gather at UN headquarters in New York to evaluate progress on gender equality, identify challenges, set global standards and formulate concrete policies to promote gender equality and women's empowerment worldwide. In a statement, Cabactulan said that the Philippines is thankful for the “confidence placed by the international community” in an important UN body.
 
Ex-Chief Justice Puno: Pork is evil Inquirer News 23 Sep 2013
Retired Chief Justice Reynato Puno has denounced the pork barrel system as an “evil” that people should fight to abolish. Speaking on Saturday before a gathering of Methodist Churches at the Good Samaritan Church in Quezon City, Puno lashed out at the P10-billion pork barrel scam, saying it “could well develop to be the worst to hit the government as billions of pesos misused by our public officials can still be unearthed by the Commission on Audit (COA).” “However you look at it, the pork barrel scandal is all about abuse in the exercise of the powers of government, especially the legislative power over the money of the people,” he said. The retired Chief Justice was referring to the controversy involving the alleged diversion of the congressional Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), or pork barrel, to bogus nongovernment organizations (NGOs) in schemes involving lawmakers and detained businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles. “The pork barrel is an evil practice and it is our duty to fight evil by engaging it and not running away from it, not escaping from it,” he said. “The fight against evil requires that we not only start the fight but we finish the fight. The fight against evil demands a period. The fight cannot be postponed by a comma, cannot be suspended by a ceasefire. Evil deserves but one end—defeat,” he added.
 
‘Not inclusive growth, only exclusive growth’ The Philippine Star 15 Sep 2013
A businessman watching the testimony of whistleblower Benhur Luy angrily commented to me, “This is not inclusive growth, this is exclusive growth for just a few!” Truly, this pork barrel scandal has taken a life of its own, with the depth and reach of the corruption so mind-boggling it makes one recoil especially with revelations that the P900 million Malampaya funds intended for the victims of typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng went to bogus NGOs. We’ve heard about the corruption in the police, the military and other sectors but this could be the worst of the worst. A report came out recently that we are one of the most “socialized” countries in the world with numerous civil society organizations. But now it seems we nave a lot of fake NGOs, with a few exceptions considered to be legitimate. The Philippines has been posting impressive economic growth with the figures going above 7 percent in the first half of this year, but now we can only agree that growth has not been inclusive. According to an economic report, 76 percent of the GDP increase last year came from the collective increase in the income of the country’s 50 richest families and individuals. Forbes also said that the combined wealth of these families pegged at $65.8 billion is equivalent to over 25 percent of the country’s total GDP of $250.2 billion in 2012. Do we wonder then why there is so much anger most especially from the working class who have no choice but to pay their taxes?
 
WB cites window of opportunity to achieve inclusive growth here Manila Bulletin 13 Sep 2013
The Philippines is in a unique window of opportunity to accelerate reforms that will create more and better jobs for Filipinos on the back of the country’s strong economic fundamentals, political stability and a popular government. In a briefing, Karl Chua, World Bank, Philippine senior economist said that the foundation needed for the Philippines to achieve more inclusive growth is in place, but the country is still facing a widening unemployment and underemployment. In its latest report, World Bank estimated that the number of Filipinos who are either unemployment or underemployment would reach around 12.4 million in 2016 from 10 million in 2012. “Higher growth can provide more Filipino workers with good jobs. With sustained gross domestic product growth of 7 percent per year and the removal of constraints in fast-growing sectors, the formal sector will be able to provide good jobs to around two million people in the next four years or around double the current figure,” Chua said.
 
Defense and Security
 
Obama ‘looking forward’ to trip to PH, says US envoy Inquirer Global Nation 24 Sep 2013
President Barack Obama is “very much looking forward” to his first trip to the Philippines, an opportunity to discuss the wide-ranging relationship between the United States and the Philippines with President Benigno Aquino III, according to the US ambassador in Manila. US Ambassador to the Philippines Harry Thomas Jr. said that Obama’s visit to Manila on the second week of October was “being finalized,” as of Tuesday, as he cited the close working relationship between the US President and Aquino. Obama is slated for a two-day visit in Manila on Oct. 11 and 12, the first for a US President since his predecessor George W. Bush held a whirlwind nine-hour visit here in October 2003. The visit is part of a four-city swing through Southeast Asia, a trip that will also bring him to Brunei, Malaysia and Indonesia, where he had spent a few years growing up.
 
Obama’s visit to the PH, Southeast Asia Rappler 22 Sep 2013
United States President Barack Obama is scheduled to visit the Philippines this October as part of his trip to Southeast Asia to attend the APEC Summit, the ASEAN-US Summit and the East Asia Summit (EAS). His attendance to the EAS is part of his government’s commitment to rebalance to Asia. This rebalance policy aims to ensure that the US will still play a role in regional affairs even as China rises and the regional security environment changes to accommodate that rise. The rebalance policy has three aspects. First, its diplomatic aspect emphasizes the presence and participation of US senior officials in ASEAN and other regional forums including the ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting Plus (ADMM Plus), the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), and the EAS. Part of this commitment has been the signing of the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation that enabled the US to participate in the EAS, the opening of a permanent mission to ASEAN headed by an ambassador, and greater engagement with Myanmar and other countries in ASEAN.
 
PHIBLEX 14 kicks off with opening ceremony DVID 20 Sep 2013
The Philippine and U.S. Marine Corps kicked off bilateral Amphibious Landing Exercise 2014 with an opening ceremony at Naval Station Leovigildo Gantioqui, San Antonio, Zambales, Republic of the Philippines, Sept. 18. PHIBLEX 14 is an annual, bilateral training exercise that enhances security and stability within the region while also helping to prepare for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions. “Our two countries have a long and shared history across the Asia-Pacific region,” said Brig. Gen. Paul J. Kennedy, commanding general of the 3d Marine Expeditionary Brigade. “Every year we continue to reinforce this bond with exercises such as PHIBLEX, which are designed to strengthen interoperability, defense, disaster relief and counter-terrorism.” The exercise contributes to the historically strong ties between the Republic of the Philippines and U.S. and is primarily focused on improving interoperability and readiness of both forces.
 
Election News
 
Undermining the vote The Philippine Star 19 Sep 2013
Election violence tends to intensify in local races, and the barangay polls are as local as they get. Late last month an election officer was shot dead in Gapan, Nueva Ecija. Officials of the Commission on Elections said it had been established that the ambush of election officer Arsenio Reyes Jr. was related to the Oct. 28 barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan polls. Reyes reportedly rejected a request of a prospective candidate to register elsewhere as a voter. You wonder what it is about positions in the barangay that candidates are prepared to murder anyone who gets in their way. It can’t be the work; barangay personnel have numerous responsibilities including preventing squatting, assisting victims of domestic violence and supporting the police in maintaining peace and order.
 
Philippine opposition leaders charged with plunder might change political landscape The Philippine Star 17 Sep 2013
Three top leaders of the political opposition in the Philippines were charged Monday with plunder, the highest form of corruption under Philippine laws, a development that could alter the political landscape in the country in the run-up to the presidential elections in 2016. Two of those charged in the Office of the Ombudsman - Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon Revilla - are potential candidates for president when the term of incumbent President Benigno Aquino III ends three years from now. The Philippine Constitution provides for a single six-year term for a president. The Ombudsman is the government agency tasked with prosecuting corruption charges involving government officials. After conducting a preliminary investigation, the Ombudsman will file the case at the Sandiganbayan, a special court tasked to handle graft cases filed against public officials. The third opposition leader sued for plunder is former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile. At 89, Enrile, a veteran legislator and still a senator, does not have any presidential ambition but is one of the three "godfathers" of the opposition alliance along with Vice President Jejomar Binay and former President and now Manila Mayor Joseph Ejercito Estrada.
 
 
Energy
 
British firms to check out opportunities in power, renewable energy in Philippines Business Mirror 23 Sep 2013
Six United Kingdom-based firms are keen on investing in the power and renewable-energy sectors in the Philippines. In a statement, the UK Embassy in Manila said the firms will be joining the British trade delegation that is arriving in the country to explore opportunities in the Philippines’s power and renewable-energy sectors. The six UK-based firms are Arup, CiDRA Corporate Services, Gilbert Gilkes & Gordon, Lloyd’s Register, Lucy Switchgear and Tsors Ltd. The trade mission organized by the British Embassy through the UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) will be here from September 25 to 27. “The Philippines has been steadily growing and making its mark in the international scene, including in energy. This trade mission will be instrumental for UK companies to assess the market in various aspects of energy development and power generation. This is just one of the many activities we have lined up to boost bilateral trade and investment between our two countries. Our trade missions are part of the action plan to double trade in the next five years, as mentioned by our Trade Minister Lord Green during his visit to Manila last week,” Iain Mansfield, director of UKTI in Manila, said.
 
Biggest US trade mission to visit Philippines with an eye on energy, environment Inter-Aksyon 18 Sep 2013
The US Embassy in Manila said the largest American business mission to the Philippines in recent years will be in town to explore partnerships in the energy and environment sectors. Fourteen US firms “will hold business-to-business meetings with potential distributors and customers, along with discussions with Philippine government officials” in Manila on September 19-20, the embassy said in a statement.
 
 
Financial Services
 
Filipinos need to be bolder — Ayala Rappler 24 Sep 2013
The chairman of the country's oldest conglomerates urged government officials and businessmen to be "bolder" in undertaking reforms and pursuing long-term and capital-intensive projects that help reduce poverty. At the Philippine economic forum on September 17, Ayala Corporation chairman Jaime Zobel de Ayala stressed that the macroeconomic and fiscal environment that the Aquino administration was able to provide businesses now is "extraordinary." "Interest rates are at their lowest level in a long time. That has allowed private sector institutions to grow capital…and be much more productive. The investment environment is better than ever before…The framework for us to work from a business perspective is an extraordinary one," he told an audience of over 1,200 in Pasay City. He urged both public and private sectors to take advantage of this position since the country's current track of development opens the Philippines to "tremendous opportunities." Taking advantage of these entail not only thinking out of the box but thinking big. "The only point that I want to make is that all of us, both government and the private sector, have to be a lot bolder now," he stressed. "I sometimes get the feeling that we still consider ourselves a poor country. I don't think so. I think we're a wealthy country with tremendous opportunity and it needs a mental attitude that is aggressive, that is bigger in its way of thinking," Zobel said.
 
New PPP players sought by government Business World Online 24 Sep 2013
The government is looking to entice a new group of players -- insurers -- to join its vaunted public-private partnership program. “We have to develop infrastructure as an asset class that market players can invest in,” Finance Secretary Cesar V. Purisima said following last week’s government briefing on the economy. “This is why we have been working to boost the capitalization of insurance companies, because their money is the better match for infrastructure projects,” Mr. Purisima added. While the insurance sector has held key roles in funding infrastructure development in other countries, here it is still not the first choice among project proponents. Those who may be interested, meanwhile, have no formal system to find partners. Industry officials noted that they need investments to park the premiums they collect.
 
Philippines to develop manufacturing sector to boost jobs Sun Star 23 Sep 2013
THE country will further develop the manufacturing and other labor-intensive sectors in an effort to create more job opportunities. Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan underscored this initiative following the release of data showing that the Philippine unemployment rate rose slightly to 7.3 percent in July 2013 from last year's 7 percent despite the 620,000 new jobs created. While positive growth in agriculture employment was encouraging, Balisacan said this was accompanied by job losses in manufacturing and accommodation and food services sectors. He noted these are crucial employment-generating sectors in an emerging economy like the Philippines. "This is why it is necessary to accelerate the revival of the manufacturing subsector... It generates jobs in the sector itself, as well as in several other backward-linked and forward-linked sectors," he said.
 
Philippines Is Ready for Fed Taper With Tools to Curb Outflows Bloomberg 22 Sep 2013
The Philippines is prepared for a possible tapering of the Federal Reserve’s record stimulus with policy measures to deal with capital outflows, central bank Deputy Governor Diwa Guinigundo said. “We can ride out any turbulence, as we have policy tools in our hand that we can deploy anytime,” Guinigundo said in a briefing in Manila Sept. 21. The measures include boosting dollar and peso liquidity, careful surveillance of risk, use of forward guidance, tapping currency-swap agreements, and possible tightening of monetary policy, he said.
 
Industry plan vital in solving job lack Business Mirror 22 Sep 2013
Experts from state-run think tank Philippine Institute of Development Studies (PIDS) and the World Bank (WB) believe a comprehensive industry road map will help address the lack of jobs for Filipinos. In a statement, PIDS Vice President Rafaelita Aldaba called for the crafting of a comprehensive industry road map that will link all sectors, including agriculture and services. Aldaba said the comprehensive road map would be able to complement improved government policies and other measures such as competitive exchange rates. “We need to improve the competitiveness of industries,” she said. “Structural transformation would require rebuilding capacity, a shift to high value-added activities and deeper participation in regional production networks.” The WB added that what is important is that these efforts should be a collective one, which would involve the government, private sector and other stakeholders.Karl Kendrick Chua, WB senior country economist, said transforming the Philippine economy to yield more and better jobs would be the challenge for everyone.“A broad coalition would be needed to tackle these issues. Instead of tackling policy reforms one by one, the government, business and labor, with the support of civil society, need to work together to come up with a package of reforms in creating more and better jobs in the Philippines,” Chua said.
 
Philippine central bank says seeks $3.5 bln capital increase Reuters 21 Sep 2013
The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) also asked for tax exemptions to further boost its finances in the bill submitted to Congress this week, said Vicente Aquino, deputy BSP governor for resource management, as the monetary authority continued to post losses for more than three years running."What image will the Philippines have if the BSP is financially weak? It will not be able to perform its constitutional and legal mandate to promote price stability," Aquino told reporters, adding the capital hike will enhance the central bank's administrative and fiscal autonomy.The BSP recorded a net loss of 19.2 billion pesos in the first half, substantially narrower than a net loss of nearly 50 billion pesos in the same period a year earlier, after it introduced measures aimed at narrowing access to its short-term special deposit account (SDA) facility that attracted huge funds and contributed to its financial losses.
 
BSP pushes for charter revision, seeks additional P150-B capital infusion Business Mirror 21 Sep 2013
THE Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) said on Saturday that it is keenly pushing for the amendments in the two-decade-old central bank charter, with key provisions including the request for an additional P150-billion capital infusion from the national government to effectively carry out its monetary mandate. BSP Deputy Governor for Resource Management Sector Vicente Aquino said the passage of the central bank charter amendatory bill in the Senate and House of Representatives will allow for the recapitalization of the BSP and would enhance the capability of the Philippines’s central monetary authority to ride out any pressures or volatilities that may arise from domestic and foreign developments, and protect price stability in the country.
 
Food & Agriculture
 
First batch of durian shipped to Singapore Business World Online22 Sep 2013
The Philippines made a first durian shipment to Singapore last week, with more fruit exports planned in the near future in the government’s efforts to find more markets for local produce. “We have exported 500 kilos of durian to Singapore... The shipment was made last Sept. 18 and arrived there Thursday,” Leandro H. Gazmin, director of the Agriculture department’s Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Service, told reporters last Friday, at the sidelines of the launch of the agency’s four-day Durian Festival at the Quezon Memorial Circle in Quezon City. “This is the first time we’re exporting the fruit there,” Mr. Gazmin noted. Candelario “Larry” B. Miculob, director of the Mindanao Fruit Industry Development Council, said that the fruit was exported fresh, according to the request of the Singaporean firms. “They wanted the whole fruit,” Mr. Miculob said. Mr. Gazmin said that the export deal was made during the International Food Exposition (IFEX) Philippines event held by the government in May. “Basically, when we were in IFEX, we established the market linkage. The DTI (Department of Trade and Industry) brought the [Singaporean] group here and then the DA (Department of Agriculture) brought them to Davao,” he explained.
 
Health & Life Sciences
 
Bishops still obsessing on RH fight Manila Bulletin 24 Sep 2013
Expect no let up from bishops in the fight against the Reproductive Health (RH) Law. Bishop Deogracias Iniguez, chairman of the Public Affairs Committee of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), said they’ll continue to fight the measure convinced the recent statements of Pope Francis do not prevent them from doing so. “We continue our fight against RH. He does not forbid us to fight against issues,” the retired Kalookan prelate said in an interview. Iniguez was referring to the publication of an interview in which the Pontiff said the Catholic Church should not be obsessed with teachings on abortion, contraception and homosexuality but should become more merciful. Iniguez and Malolos Bishop Jose Oliveros said the Pontiff’s statement is more of a call for the Church to be more loving to the poor and compassionate to sinners. “The Pope observes is that issues may be distracting us from loving the poor. We pay heed to that,” said Iniguez. “What the Pope was referring to is in the forum of individual conscience. We must have compassion for sinners and for those who err,” Oliveros said. The Malolos prelate said they’ll continue to oppose RH as it is a moral issue.
 
ICT
 
Ayalas’ BPO arm buys N2SP Tunisie, firms up presence in European market Inquirer Business 22 Sep 2013
The Ayalas’ business process outsourcing (BPO) arm has expanded its global footprint by completing the acquisition of N2SP Tunisie, a Tunisia-based company servicing European customers. Ayala Corp. announced on Sunday that Stream Global Services Inc., an investee company of its BPO investment arm LiveIT Investments Ltd., had completed the acquisition of N2SP, a company providing a range of services primarily through chat and email capabilities, including hotline maintenance and technical support, customer service and back office activities. “This acquisition provides Stream with an enhanced presence in the European market and additional expertise in chat and email service offerings,” Stream chair and CEO Kathy Marinello said in a press statement. The terms of the deal were not disclosed. Stream is a leading customer relationship management BPO company with over 39,000 employees supporting 35 languages across 56 service centers in 23 countries. It provides sales, customer care, and technical support services to Fortune 1000 companies.
 
PH trade mission on UK, Northern Europe rounds Inquirer Business 22 Sep 2013
Philippine trade officials and business leaders will be in Europe next month to try to translate marketing and promotions efforts into new investment pledges and partnerships. Trade Undersecretary Ponciano Manalo told reporters that a high-level business delegation would be in London (hosted by UK Trade Minister Lord Stephen Green) on Oct. 2 and 3. There will also be trips to Scandinavian countries and other sites in Europe with Philippine Economic Zone Authority (Peza) director general Lilia de Lima joining the rounds. “The focus is investment. We will have a big delegation going there,” Manalo said. “Europe is undergoing financial difficulty but that doesn’t last forever. So we want to establish ourselves early,” he added. About 23 firms and/or industries are expected to be represented. Officials of the IT and Business Process Association of the Philippines (ITBAP); oil firm Shell; banks HSBC, Standard Chartered Bank, China Bank, and Planters Development Bank (through its chair, Ambassador Jesus Tambunting); British American Tobacco; Unilever; and airline firms will likely join, Manalo said.
 
Leyte government supports development of ICT industry in Eastern Visayas Philippine Information Agency 18 Sep 2013
The governor of Leyte has expressed full support for the development of the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) industry in the province. Leyte Governor Leopoldo Dominico L. Petilla's was a guest during the Kapihan Forum conducted recently by the Information and Communication Technology Office-Department of Science and Technology (ICTO-DOST) at the Tacloban Rotary Club Conference Hall. Petilla said even during the time of his brother, former governor and now Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho L. Petilla, the province made some initiatives in the industry. As proof, an ICT Park was established in Pawing, Palo, Leyte offering ICT jobs to ICT talents in the region. Being an IT businessman himself, Petilla sees Leyte to be a good venue for IT investors to put up their businesses since the province has been awarded the Seal of Good Housekeeping and was judged as the Most Business Friendly Province in the Philippines three times.
 
Infrastructure
 
Government awards P16-M contract for Batangas port study Rappler 23 Sep 2013
The Philippine Ports Authority tapped a joint venture to study how to maximize use of the Batangas port as part of efforts to decongest the Port of Manila. The joint venture between Science & Vision for Tech Inc. and Syconsult Inc. won the P16.27-million contract for the feasibility study. It will commence its review of the performances of the Manila and Batangas ports, and determine how to best utilize the latter so it can be a major terminal for cargo shipments. It will focus on a proposal of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to divert cargo shipments to Batangas and Subic. "It's a way to go forward. While our move is to decongest Metro Manila, we should study how to properly divert cargoes to Subic and Batangas," PPA general manager Juan Sta. Ana said. The Science & Vision-Syconsult jv was awarded the contract after fulfilling technical and financial requirements. PPA's bids and awards committee said the bidding was held on August 2.
 
Gov’t eyes air talks with France Inquirer Business 22 Sep 2013
The Philippines wants to start air talks with France in early 2014 as part of efforts to revise outdated air service agreements and as local airlines seek to expand to the continent after the lifting two months ago of a ban on Philippine carriers, a government official said. Civil Aeronautics Board executive director Carmelo Arcilla said discussions on gaining expanded seat entitlements were expected to be held by January 2014. The plan comes as the Philippines completed a successful round of air talks with Italy at the start of this month. Under that deal, the Philippines got 14 flight entitlements from Italy, replacing a previous agreement dated 1969, which provided for only one flight entitlement. Getting more seats to Europe would immediately benefit flag carrier Philippine Airlines, which announced earlier that it would start a nonstop Manila to London service in November. PAL also plans to fly to Paris, Rome and Amsterdam. The need for new air talks come as demand for services to the said routes rises. Local airlines also seek new routes for their expanding fleets.
 
DOJ: Philippine National Railroad’s $6.77-M deal with South Korean firm void Business Mirror 22 Sep 2013
The Department of Justice has cast doubt on the validity of the $6.77-million contract that the Philippine National Railways entered into with a South Korean firm in 2009 for the supply of materials needed for the repair of its south line without the conduct of a public bidding. In an eight-page legal opinion, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima re-minded PNR General Manager Junio Ragragio that competitive bidding is a mandatory requirement under Republic Act 9184, or the Government Procurement Reform Act, and that direct contracting may only be resorted to on several conditions provided for by law. “A contract granted without the competitive bidding required by law is void, and the party to whom it is awarded cannot benefit from it,” de Lima said. Ragragio earlier sought the DOJ’s legal opinion on the validity of the supply contract entered into by the former PNR management with Pandrol Korean Ltd. on May 21, 2009 for the purchase of rail fastening, clips and insulators for the repair of the PNR south line. The request for the DOJ’s legal position was made in connection with the memorandum issued by its resident auditor Marilyn Balbin on March 12, 2010, directing the PNR to comply with the provisions of RA 9184 in all its procurement activities.
 
With Aquino in Zamboanga, LRT-1 project delayed further Rappler 20 Sep 2013
The re-auction of the P59.20 billion LRT-1 Cavite rail extension will have to wait as the transportation department needs the go- signal from the highest social and economic development planning and policy coordinating body. At the Economic briefing, Department of Transportation and Communication Secretary Joseph Emlio Abaya announced that re- bidding for the rail project will be moved to January or February next year. The rail extension project is one of the big ticket projects under the public-private partnership (PPP) scheme that the Aquino administration wanted to award this 2013. On the sidelines of the briefing, Abaya explained that the new terms of agreement for the rail project has yet to be approved by National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board before it can be re-auctioned. “That’s flexibility between January and February because we need to go to NEDA to talk about changes we are proposing,” he said. NEDA, however, Abaya stressed has not been able to convene as the board is busy with the Zamboanga crisis. President Aquino chairs the NEDA board.
 
Bid for P35-B road project pushed back Inquirer Business 19 Sep 2013
Bidding for the P35.4-billion Cavite-Laguna Expressway project has been pushed back to early next year as prospective bidders sought more time to prepare their qualification documents. The Department of Public Works and Highways, which is implementing the 47-kilometer expressway project, said the submission of prequalification documents, originally set on Sept. 23, has been moved to Oct. 23. The opening will also be held sometime in 2014, Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson said in a text message Thursday. According to the extension order from the DPWH, contained in a supplemental bid bulletin released this week, the move was “in response to the request of several prospective bidders for more time to prepare the qualification documents.”
 
 
Japanese firms moving from China for Southeast Asia Manila Bulletin 13 Sep 2013
Japanese investment in China is falling amid political tensions between the nations, a trend that means Beijing could be missing out on a fresh wave of overseas expansion by Japanese companies. Japanese businesses are turning their attention instead to Southeast Asia, signing a number of deals in recent months to purchase insurance firms, banks and factories. In part, the shift reflects rising wage costs in China. Some Japanese firms say they also are concerned about anti-Japanese sentiment. They point to mob violence a year ago against Japanese businesses in China, as tensions rose over a group of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea. Japan’s government is encouraging the trend toward Southeast Asia. Tokyo is using billions of dollars of development aid to fund projects involving Japanese firms, including industrial parks in Vietnam and Myanmar, a railway in Cambodia and an airport in Laos. Japan’s government also is helping Japanese firms find local partners in countries such as Myanmar, Vietnam and Indonesia. In the Philippines, Japanese investments have diversified recently to sectors such as medical devices and prefabricated housing.