Philippines Update: Duterte Declares Martial Law in Mindanao Following Clashes in Marawi

Philippines Update | June 9
Authors: Shay Wester, Sunita Kapoor, Riley Smith, Ian Saccomanno, Hai Pham, Gaofan Zhang, Cameron Barkan, and Timotheus Tan
 
LOOKING AHEAD
 
 
July 25-27: 2017 Philippines Business Mission (Official Invitation Forthcoming)
 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

Duterte Declares Martial Law in Mindanao Following Clashes in Marawi
On May 23, President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law across the southern island of Mindanao after militants from the ISIS-linked Abu Sayyaf and Maute insurgent groups attacked and occupied the city of Marawi, the capital of Lanao del Sur province in northern Mindanao.  According to Secretary of National Defense Delfin Lorenzana, during the period of martial law the writ of habeas corpus will be suspended, curfews will be enforced, and checkpoints will be set up along roadways.  Duterte said the initial declaration would last only 60 days, but he also said he was prepared to extend it if the security situation in northern Mindanao did not improve.  The Government asserts that the clashes erupted after security forces attempted to serve a warrant of arrest for Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon, which intelligence indicated was in Marawi.  Government officials recently announced that in attempting to arrest Hapilon, they believe the security forces interrupted plans by Abu Sayyaf and the Maute group to take over the city and declare it an ISIS outpost in the Philippines.  On June 7, the death toll from the fighting reached just over 200, including 134 militants, 38 government troops, and 30 civilians, according to the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

The swift imposition of martial law across the island of Mindanao following the outbreak of fighting in Marawi raised concerns that an expansion of martial law across the whole of the country was imminent.  Duterte himself has said that he would expand martial law to the Visayas and Luzon if he believes there to be a terrorist presence in these areas.  However, the administration has thus far shown restraint in taking such action outside of Mindanao.  While it was made quickly, the martial law declaration in Mindanao appears to be an attempt by Duterte to replicate the level of control that he exercised over the security situation in Davao while he served as that city’s mayor for over 20 years.  The challenge that the administration faced is that the mechanisms to exert such control over a city are not necessarily scalable to the level of a province or a region, leaving martial law as an alternative.  Recent reports that some Maute militants may have slipped out of Marawi during the fighting, as well as the June 6 arrest of one of the group’s leaders in Davao City after he was reportedly sighted around Marawi, have likely only bolstered the view among those in the administration that a broader response to the fighting in Marawi was necessary.

Despite the concerns that the declaration of martial law have raised, the Philippines’ prospects for economic growth remain uninterrupted thus far, according to a report from Moody’s Investors Service.  This is largely due to the relatively low-levels of economic activity in many parts of Mindanao, even though spurring economic development and attracting increased investment to the island is a priority of the Duterte administration.  While it is home to 24% of the Philippines’ population, Mindanao contributed less than one percent of country’s total GDP growth in 2016, and so the imposition of martial law across the island has had a limited influence on the overall economy.  However, Moody’s also pointed out that prolonging or expanding the imposition of martial law could dampen business confidence in the economy and result in a reduction in foreign direct investment flows.

More analysis on this issue will be included in an upcoming Analytical Brief.

First Proposed Tax Reform Package Includes New Excise Tax on Sugar-sweetened Beverages
The Duterte administration’s proposed tax reform package, approved by the House of Representatives on 31 May 2017 and currently awaiting passage through the Senate, includes a new excise tax on sugar-sweetened beverages. The new tax, set at P10-per-litre for beverages containing purely locally produced sugar, is slated to be increased by 4 percent annually, although the Finance Undersecretary, Karl Kendrick T. Chua, indicated that the Department of Finance wanted the annual increment indexed to inflation. Exempted products include 100 percent natural fruit juices, 100 percent natural vegetable juices, yogurt and fruit flavored yogurt beverages, meal replacement beverages, weight loss product and all milk products including infant formula.

Income from the tax is expected to total P47 billion; economic managers will allocate 85 percent of the proceeds to priority projects identified by the Department of Budget and Management, while the remaining 15 percent will go to programs to aid sugar farmers. This proposed excise tax comes on after an attempt by the Sugar Regulatory Administration of the Philippines back in March to help local sugar producers by imposing restrictions on imports of High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS), an ingredient often less expensive then domestically produced sugar, used in the production of many sweetened beverages. The proposed import restrictions on HFCS were subsequently overturned by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), but the Government of the Philippines promised to use other policy tools to help support domestic sugar producers.

According to a Department of Finance price survey, consumer prices of sugar-sweetened beverages are expected to increase by between 2 percent, to as much as 140 percent, with soft drink and carbonated drinks prices rising by around 36 percent. The measure has received criticism from urban poor groups and consumers, who contend that it disproportionately targets low-income earners, who constitute 80 percent of the market for such products. In addition, the imposition of excise tax on a specific beverage, of which more than 80% products are foreign branded and/or manufactured by foreign invested enterprises may violate Philippines’ international commitments on “national treatment” between domestic and foreign products as well as the principle of non-discrimination between foreign and domestic investors. Many countries have eliminated their excise taxes on sweetened beverages due to negative economic impacts while failing to change consumers’ consumption habits. Among these countries are Denmark, Belgium, Ireland, Indonesia, Pakistan, South Africa, Zambia, Argentina, Egypt, and some states of the United States.

The latest text of the bill can be found here. The section on sugar sweetened beverages can be reviewed from pages 48-52.

The Council held a call on June 9 to discuss strategies for addressing the proposed excise tax on sugar-sweetened beverages with members. For more information or to provide further input on the issue, please contact Sunita Kapoor at skapoor@usasean.org and Riley Smith at rsmith@usasean.org.

Next Governor of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Named
On May 8, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte appointed Nestor Espenilla as the next Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) governor, to take office on July 3. Mr. Espenilla has worked for BSP for over 30 years in various roles leading up to his current position as Deputy Governor for Supervision and Examination. He is known for punishing banks that violated regulations. This included imposing some of the largest fines in Filipino history on banks that violated central bank policy. He was also well known to media and the Filipino people because he often functioned as a spokesman for the BSP’s positions and strategies. President Duterte’s choice of the long-serving technocrat seems to indicate prioritization of policy continuity and a smooth transition from the well regarded current governor, Amando Tetangco Jr. Mr. Espenilla favors the lowering of reserve requirements for banks and a shift towards the National Retail Payment System (NRPS), which hopes to emphasize e-commerce. He seeks a more inclusive financial system that will encourage lending to small businesses and increase the percentage of individuals with deposit accounts from 14 percent to a much higher percentage.

New Appointments for Secretary of Foreign Affairs and Secretary of Environment & Natural Resources
On May 10, President Duterte appointed close ally Senator Alan Peter Cayetano as Secretary of Foreign Affairs, replacing Acting Secretary Enrique Manalo.  Prior to Cayetano's appointment, Manalo replaced Perfecto Yasay, whose ad interim appointment was rejected by the Commission on Appointments (CA) due to issues surrounding his citizenship.  The third member of his family to be elected to Congress since 1998, Cayetano is a lawyer and former member of the House of Representatives who was first elected to the Senate 10 years ago.  Though he lost the race for Vice President last year when he ran as Duterte’s running mate, the latter has long signaled that Cayetano was his preferred choice for Secretary of Foreign Affairs.  The law imposes a one-year ban on losing candidates being appointed to government posts, but Duterte had already made clear his intention to tap Cayetano to lead the Department of Foreign Affairs even before the CA rejected Yasay's appointment.  Over the course of the year prior to his appointment, Cayetano chaired the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and has reportedly accompanied Duterte on all of his foreign trips as President.   

The week before Cayetano's appointment on May 3, Congress rejected the controversial appointment of Gina Lopez as Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources.  Lopez was previously bypassed by the CA on March 12 and was eventually rejected by Congress a day after the Congressional session resumed.  Gina Lopez, a well-known environmentalist, stirred up strong opposition to her appointment when she ordered the closure of 23 mining firms and cancelation of permit of about 75 mining companies.  At this time, President Duterte has designated a former Armed Forces chief, Roy Cimatu, as the new Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 
Regional Affairs
Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia team up in terror fight
Philippines temporarily bans workers from going to Qatar
S'pore inks bilateral pacts with navies of Thailand, Philippines
PH sets JEC meeting with Vietnam, Russia next week
Rodrigo Duterte Orders Fortification of All Philippine-Held South China Sea Islands

National Affairs
Speaker vows to defy Supreme Court
PH drops to 10th place as top host for multinationals
Duterte to critics: Martial law not meant to prolong my stay
End of Marawi siege eyed on Independence Day as Maute further weakens
300 lawyers seek joint session of Congress
Lawmakers question ‘factual basis’ of martial law before high court
Ominous signs of an Asian hub for IS in PH
Duterte streamlines all gov't agencies via PH Dev't Plan
There are 1,200 IS operatives in PH, says Indonesia
17th Congress ends session with 4 laws passed
Duterte wants ‘more time’ for martial law
Duterte moots nationwide martial law amid violence in Philippines' south-
Financial markets weather impact of martial law – ING
Maute group planned Marawi attack before army moved in
Philippine military to censor press and social media under martial law in Mindanao
Duterte declares martial law in Mindanao
Philippines’ Duterte declares martial law on Mindanao home island
Cayetano is new DFA chief; Año to head DILG
Charge Rodrigo Duterte With Mass Murder, Lawyer Tells The Hague
Duterte reappoints four bypassed Cabinet secretaries
Philippines and Communist Rebels Agree to a Temporary Cease-Fire
Corruption in Philippines courts a trade barrier – US
Know the President (2)
Know the President

Customs
BoC official breaks silence on P6.4-B shabu shipment
Importers of toxic materials charged
PHL cuts tariff for chipping potatoes
Draft PH order tackles storage of overstaying and abandoned goods
PH maritime sector could see foreign investment
Duterte modifies rates of import duty on various products

Defense & Security
Philippines to establish National Space Agency
Philippines second least peaceful nation in Asia-Pacific
Indonesian ISIS Fighters Enter Philippines  
Troops seize P79M in cash, checks
The Future of Asia 2017: Philippines rallies international support in terror fight
Southeast Asian nations step up cooperation as Islamic State threat mounts
U.S. gives Philippines anti-terror weapons
PH, U.S.: Military ties remain strong, fighting ISIS together
Duterte’s forces struggle to push back Islamist rebels in the southern Philippines
Duterte rejects second-hand boats, military equipment from US
Vietnam-Linked Hackers Likely Targeting Philippine Intel on South China Sea Dispute: FireEye
PH, Russia sign defense agreement, 9 other deals
US, Philippines scale back next month's military drills, no more 'war games'
Duterte revises defense purchases
PH use of military assets, units in HADR unique in ASEAN

Economics
PHL tagged among promising FDI sites
First year of CTRP to yield P285B revenue
DoF sees P1.16T net revenue from ‘Train’ bill by 2022
Flat 6% donor, estate tax gains groups’ support – DoF
Peso corrects vs dollar
Peso to climb further on weak US payrolls report
DoF insists on original tax reform scheme as gov’t pushes infrastructure
Gov’t makes full award of T-bills as demand pushes yields lower
Tax reform OK seen boost to credit rating
PHL still among fastest-growing economies on WB list
Final tax reform bill to raise P130 B in revenues
Moody’s: Tax reforms credit positive for PHL | BusinessMirror
Lower house of Philippine Congress approves tax reform bill
Tax reform package seen to boost Philippine credit ratings
NEDA launches PH development plan
Tax reform slaps more expenses on the poor
MBC cites winners, losers in tax reform
DBM chief allays fears over stalled CTRP passage
House approves first package of tax reform
Revised tax reform bill to benefit consumers
BIR off-track in P1.83-T collection goal
Martial law not seen derailing growth
Pernia: No 'build, build, build' without tax reform bill
Philippine economy to lead Southeast Asia growth, IMF says

Energy
Phoenix acquires Petronas Energy, enters LPG retail
Developers appeal FIT extension urgent to NREB, DOE
GBPC to expand in Luzon, Mindanao, and renewable energy
Gatchalian calls for periodic review by ERC of system losses suffered by power grid
AC Energy sees power supply remaining adequate until 2021
Why is the Philippines ignoring renewables policy potholes?
Renewable energy in small islands can help PH save P10 billion a year
Cusi courts ASEAN investors for power infra
Asean members pitch for nuclear energy
Ayala completes purchase of Chevron assets
Meralco rates go down by P1.43 per kWh this June
Cusi asks for third party to assess PH power sector
DOE creates inter-agency group for Marawi City facilities
PetroEnergy to seek new local oil, gas drill operations
‘US pullout from Paris climate deal troubles Philippines ’
WESM Mindanao to push through, DOE official says
Fuel marking eyed in 2018 Measure to stem up to P27B in revenue losses
Mining firm bags Sucat power plant
Meralco secures second partnership in Nigeria, expands to Indonesia
First Philippine Holdings to deploy solar, wind projects regardless of FIT
DOE opens ASEAN+3 energy forum, bares PH LNG plan
Outdated regulations hamper the Philippines' renewables progress: analyst
DOE clears 7 renewable energy projects

Financial Services
Who is new BSP governor Nestor Espenilla?
BSP, Indonesia's OJK formally start talks for bilateral banking deal
Manila, Jakarta taking initial steps to integration | BusinessMirror
Philippines, Indonesia agree to open up banking
Financial authority to kick off negotiations with Philippine central bank
BSP allows more micro-banking services
BSP liberalizes micro-banking functions
Top job at Philippine central bank goes to deputy governor-
More ASEAN banks eye PH investments
Business as usual for Mindanao banks
Philippines central bank bolsters finance sector against hacking, cybercrime
PHL banking sector to continue growing medium-term
Philippines: Insurers urged to develop cyber cover
An inclusive financial system is new BSP Governor Espenilla’s goal
FWD makes inroads in PH
Malaysia, Philippines allow greater access for their banks in both countries
Philippines: Regulatory changes to be implemented without burdening industry

Food & Agriculture
PH coco oil exports surge 73.2% in Jan-April
DTI supports industries on sugar tax position
Lopez to support food chamber position on excise tax
US recalls frozen tuna from PH, Vietnam after testing showed hepatitis A virus
Low income households hardest hit by higher tax on sugary beverages
DA plans to lease out land for agro-forestry
PH dominates SEAsia in GM corn production
Tax on sugar-laden drinks set
Maguindanao launches DA's farm assistance program
ASEAN agri-engineers offer modern farming aids to filipino farmers
Agri sector lost $4 billion to natural disasters in 10 years
Agriculture department to feature natural fiber in Asean
PHL agricultural trade up 13.6% to $4.554 billion in fourth quarter | BusinessMirror
DA task force sets inventory of rice stocks
DA prepares for El Niño
The price of rice, domestic production and imports
Rice self-sufficiency policy limits farm incomes -- OECD
Ending rice imports could raise prices, former Finance chiefs warn
Asian meat giant invests millions in Philippine farms
Philippine agriculture policy ‘counterproductive’, warns OECD
PIDS wants online repository for local food manufacturers | BusinessMirror
DOT accredits 14 more farms for agri-tourism destinations
Duterte: Govt must protect rice farmers
‘Made in PHL’ fiber, coco products show potential
Food processors back deregulation of SRP
Korea and Southeast Asia look to expand agricultural trade throughout the region
Agri dep’t to propose P213-B budget for 2018
Budget cut to impact on productivity, says DA
PHL dairy imports up 54% in 2016 | BusinessMirror
Philippines looks to Asia-Pacific partners to advance agriculture exports
22% tariff for Philippine tuna if GSP+ removed
Climate change gradually affects tilapia production

Health & Life Sciences
Philippines: Increased health risks feared among people displaced by Marawi fighting
QC aims to be global medical tourism destination by 2020
Baguio addresses proliferation of unlicensed water refilling stations
What PH can learn from medical tourism abroad
Malnutrition pulls down Philippines' ‘End of Childhood’ rank to 96th
Russia offers cheaper meds, pharma, healthcare to PH
Next miracle drug may come from PH seas, say scientists
PH an ‘underachiever’ in health care
Senate hears DoH proposal to amend Cheaper Medicines Law
Lawmakers, lawyer oppose Ubial’s appointment to DOH
DOH, WHO Launch Cooperation Strategies Toward a Healthy Philippines
Philippines Will Purchase Medical Support Ship from Indonesia
PH Red Cross launches humanitarian ship M/V Amazing Grace

ICT
ICT executive says globally competitive electronics professionals needed
PH lone Asean country with ‘no’ govt funding for telecom industry
Asia-Pacific upgrading internet connectivity-
Zamora buys PT&T for P800 M
Telcos cite need for gov’t support in network upgrade

Infrastructure
Asean backs Philippines infra program
Small entrepreneurs to benefit big time from infrastructure boost — ASEAN biz council
Major railways among projects for NEDA Board approval
NEDA urges private firms to look beyond BOT
Hybrid PPP scheme to speed up infra projects – DOF
Private sector seeks role as gov’t downplays PPP
‘Infra program at risk from stalled tax reform’
Gov’t to fund 66% of infra program with own funds
ASEAN infrastructure gap turns negatives into positives
Foreign investors see bright spot in infra
Duterte administration unveils plans for big-ticket infra projects
Metro Manila subway, Mindanao rail on Duterte's build list
‘Golden age of infrastructure’ key to high GDP growth–ADB

Manufacturing
DTI: Increase goods inventory in Mindanao
DBP expects higher lending for infrastructure in next five years
DTI seeks extra support for local manufacturing in view of CTRP
Philippines manufacturing PMI rises to 54.3 in May-
 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
Regional Affairs

Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia team up in terror fight Nikkei Asian Review 8th Jun 2017
The Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia will collaborate on air and marine defense in the wake of frequent terrorist attacks by extremists linked to the Islamic State group. Malaysian Defense Minister Hishammuddin Tun Hussein has said the three Southeast Asian countries will jointly defend the waters off the southern Philippine island of Mindanao starting June 19, and that they will join forces on air defense as well.

Philippines temporarily bans workers from going to Qatar BBC News 7th Jun 2017
The Philippines has temporarily banned its workers from travelling to Qatar after several Arab countries broke off diplomatic ties with the Gulf state. Qatar is being isolated by its neighbours who accuse it of supporting Islamist militants and Iran.

S'pore inks bilateral pacts with navies of Thailand, Philippines The Straits Times 17th May 2017
Singapore has signed two bilateral agreements with the navies of Thailand and the Philippines on the sidelines of the ongoing maritime defence trade fair, Imdex Asia, said the Ministry of Defence yesterday. These comprise a revised implementing arrangement with the Thai navy for mutual logistics support for naval ship visits, and a memorandum of understanding with the Philippine navy to share information on white shipping, which includes the deployment of an international liaison officer from the Philippine navy at the Republic of Singapore Navy's Information Fusion Centre.

PH sets JEC meeting with Vietnam, Russia next week Manila Bulletin News 21st Apr 2017
The Philippines will be meeting separately with Vietnam and Russia next week to discuss possible signing of Joint Economic Commission (JECs) agreement, Trade Undersecretary Ceferino Rodolfo said in a briefing Thursday. Rodolfo said a JEC with Vietnam is crucial for the country as it can take advantage of the ASEAN neighbor’s free trade agreement (FTA) with the European Union. He said the dialogue with Vietnam would focus on cooperation on how to facilitate Vietnam’s excess capacity in some critical products like garments, in anticipation of its trade deals. He added that the JEC with Vietnam would be aligned with the country’s VIP (Vietnam, Indonesia, and the Philippines) strategy in the region, aiming to boost economic cooperation with the three ASEAN member states, which account for half or up to two-thirds of the ASEAN market. On the other hand, the JEC with Russia focuses on cooperation in sectors of infrastructure, energy, high-technology industries, and aerospace. Rodolfo also said that Russia had committed to purchase USD2.5 billion worth of agricultural products from the Philippines. He added that the purchase deal is viable for agricultural products coming from Mindanao. Rodolfo said the country could take advantage of the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) with Russia through the Eurasian Economic Union. The trade official noted that the country’s GSP with Russia remained underutilized. But, with the economic cooperation between the two countries, the Philippines and Russia are seen to boost its investment and trade relations.

Rodrigo Duterte Orders Fortification of All Philippine-Held South China Sea Islands The Wall Street Journal 6th Apr 2017
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said he would stake his country’s claim to disputed islands in the South China Sea by ordering Filipino troops to occupy and fortify all ocean features controlled by Manila, a move that appeared to be aimed at China. The president, speaking Thursday during a visit to a west-Philippines island, struck a more assertive tone than he has in the past, one that risks upsetting his country’s newfound closeness with Beijing. “It looks like there’s a race to grab islands,” Mr. Duterte said. “What is ours now, we should get and make a strong point that it is ours.” Mr. Duterte said he had ordered the military to place the country’s national flag on all of the islands controlled by the Philippines, which he said numbered about nine or 10. “I must build bunkers there or houses and provisions for habitation,” he said. The president said he might also visit one of the islands, Pag-asa, to mark independence day in the Philippines on June 12. The Philippines is one of several claimants to islands and features in the South China Sea. Its claims compete with those of Beijing, which maintains that China has historical rights to almost the entire sea. Since taking office at the end of June, Mr. Duterte has sought to bring the Philippines closer to Beijing, winning billions of dollars in investment commitments from China. His welcoming stance is in contrast with previous administrations that had been wary of Beijing’s increasingly assertive territorial claims. Mr. Duterte made little of a ruling in favor of the Philippines last year by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, which said Beijing’s historic claims to most of the South China Sea have no legal basis. In recent weeks, however, he has faced increasing pressure at home to assert his country’s claims. “We tried to be friends with everybody but we have to maintain our jurisdiction now, at least the areas under our control,” Mr. Duterte said Thursday.

National Affairs

Speaker vows to defy Supreme Court Inquier.net 9th Jun 2017
Any order from the Supreme Court for a joint session of Congress to review the declaration of martial law in Mindanao will end up in shreds.

PH drops to 10th place as top host for multinationals The Manila Times 9th Jun 2017
The Philippines remains a promising host country for multinational enterprises (MNEs) for 2017 to 2019, according to a United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad) report. DESPITE dropping to 10th place from ninth in the latest Unctad investment report as a favored host to multinational enterprises (MNEs), the Philippines remains as the third largest recipient of foreign direct investment in Southeast Asia.

Duterte to critics: Martial law not meant to prolong my stay philstar.com 9th Jun 2017
President Duterte assured the public on Friday that he did not declare martial law in Mindanao to remain in power as he vowed to respect the Supreme Court’s decision on his declaration. Duterte said he is not proud of the martial law declaration and claimed that he would have resigned if one of his allies won as vice president. If (foreign affairs secretary and his runningmate Alan) Cayetano or (former senator) Bongbong (Marcos) won, I would have left my post,” the president said. “You keep on asking when this (martial law) will end. This is my answer to the doubting Thomases: There is no ambition to perpetuate (myself) in power,” he added. The president chided politicians whom he said did not do anything but hanker and ask when he would lift martial law. “I’m the second President to declare martial law. I am not proud of it. I am not happy because it indicates something that there is a trouble.” Duterte placed Mindanao under martial law on May 23 after Maute terrorists raided Marawi City, burned several buildings and kidnapped a number of civilians. The president vowed to comply with the Supreme Court’s decision on the martial law declaration, which is now facing legal challenges.

End of Marawi siege eyed on Independence Day as Maute further weakens philstar.com 9th Jun 2017
The Armed Forces announced gaining foothold in areas held by militants and is looking to free the besieged city of Marawi on June 12, a day marking Philippine independence from Spanish rule over a century ago. "The world of the terrorists inside the city is growing smaller by the day," military spokesman Brigadier General Restituto Padilla said in a press briefing Friday, the 18th day since Islamic militants plunged the lakeside town into chaos. Close to 200 people have been killed in the unprecedented attack on the largely Muslim city with a population of over 200,000. Thousands have fled their homes and sought refuge in neighboring towns. An undetermined number of militants remain stubbornly lodged in the heart of Marawi but Padilla said there are indications that enemy resistance has dwindled.

300 lawyers seek joint session of Congress The Manila Times 7th Jun 2017
Some 300 lawyers urged the Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday to compel the Senate and the House of Representatives to convene and vote jointly on President Rodrigo Duterte’s Proclamation 216 declaring martial law and suspending the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in Mindanao, following the siege in Marawi City.

Lawmakers question ‘factual basis’ of martial law before high court Business World 6th Jun 2017
SEVEN LAWMAKERS have challenged before the Supreme Court the “sufficiency of factual basis” of President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s Proclamation No. 216, declaring martial law and suspending the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in Mindanao.

Ominous signs of an Asian hub for IS in PH Manila Bulletin News 6th Jun 2017
Dozens of foreign jihadis have fought side-by-side with Islamic State sympathizers against security forces in the southern Philippines over the past week, evidence that the restive region is fast becoming an Asian hub for the ultra-radical group. A Philippines intelligence source said that of the 400-500 marauding fighters who overran Marawi City on the island of Mindanao last Tuesday, as many as 40 had recently come from overseas, including from countries in the Middle East.

Duterte streamlines all gov't agencies via PH Dev't Plan SunStar 5th Jun 2017
PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has signed Executive Order (EO) 27 mandating all government agencies and instrumentalities, including local government units (LGUs), to implement the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) and the Public Investment Program (PIP) starting this year until 2022. "The successful implementation of the PDP and PIP rests on the support of all the stakeholders," the President said in EO 27 signed on June 1.

There are 1,200 IS operatives in PH, says Indonesia Inquirer.net 4th Jun 2017
There are about 1,200 Islamic State (IS) group operatives in the Philippines, including foreigners of whom 40 are from Indonesia, the Indonesian defense minister told an international security forum Sunday. Speaking in Singapore amid a bloody standoff between Philippine troops and militants fighting under the IS flag in Marawi city, Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu called the militants “killing machines” and urged full-scale regional cooperation against them.

17th Congress ends session with 4 laws passed The Philippine Star 3rd Jun 2017
The first regular session of the 17th Congress ended last Wednesday after 10 months of work, which resulted in the enactment of only four bills into law. Foremost in the laws enacted was the 2017 General Appropriations Act or the national budget, which is considered the most important piece of legislation every year so its passage in Congress is expected. The three other laws were the postponement of the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections and the extension of the franchises of Smart Communications and GMA Network. Based on statistics of the Senate’s Legislative Bills and Index Service, a total of 1,487 bills were filed by the 24 senators since July last year, of which only 241 were acted on, meaning they were either taken up on first, second or third reading. Apart from the four bills already enacted into law, Pimentel pointed out that another six bills have been submitted to Malacañang for signing by the President. These are the Free Internet Access in Public Places Act (SBN 1277); Philippine Passport Act (SBN 1365); the bill that strengthens the Anti-Hospital Deposit Law (SBN 1353); the Free Higher Education for All Act (SBN 1304); the amendments to the Revised Penal Code (SBN 14); the amendments to the Anti-Money Laundering Act (SBN 1468).

Duterte wants ‘more time’ for martial law Business World 1st Jun 2017
PRESIDENT RODRIGO R. Duterte on Thursday appealed to Congress to “give him more time” should lawlessness in Mindanao persist when his martial law declaration in the entire southern region reaches the 60-day limit, around the time he is scheduled to deliver his State of the Nation Address. Mr. Duterte last week declared martial law in Mindanao amid deadly battles in Marawi City involving jihadist Maute militants reportedly attempting to establish a caliphate for the Islamic-State (IS).

Duterte moots nationwide martial law amid violence in Philippines' south- Nikkei Asian Review 1st Jun 2017
President Rodrigo Duterte has warned that he may declare martial law throughout the Philippines if terrorism spills beyond Mindanao, in the country's conflict-torn south. The Philippines' firebrand leader also signaled he will defy Congress and the Supreme Court if they invoke constitutional safeguards designed to thwart the rise of another dictatorship.

Financial markets weather impact of martial law – ING philstar.com 31st May 2017
Dutch financial giant ING Bank said the political impact on the financial markets is likely to remain low a week after President Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao as government forces continued to run after terrorists. Joey Cuyegkeng, senior economist at ING Bank Manila, said investors continued to focus on the country’s strong macroeconomic fundamentals.

Maute group planned Marawi attack before army moved in TODAYonline 31st May 2017
Materials recovered by the Philippine authorities in Marawi City revealed that the attack of the pro-Islamic State (IS) Maute group had been planned even before the government’s operation to arrest Abu Sayyaf senior leader Isnilon Hapilon.

Philippine military to censor press and social media under martial law in Mindanao The Straits Times 26th May 2017
MANILA (AFP) - The Philippine military said on Friday (May 26) it would censor the press and social media to protect "national security" across the southern third of the country that is under martial law, and warned violators would be arrested. President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law across the southern region of Mindanao on Tuesday (May 23) to combat what he says is the rising threat of Islamic militancy.

Duterte declares martial law in Mindanao philstar.com 23rd May 2017
MANILA, Philippines (Updated May 24, 12:23 a.m.) — President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao on Tuesday night in response to clashes in Marawi City that began on Tuesday afternoon. Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella, in a press conference in Moscow, said that details of martial law will be "forthcoming" and that it covers the whole island of Mindanao and island groups in the region.

Philippines’ Duterte declares martial law on Mindanao home island Financial Times 23rd May 2017
The Philippine president has imposed martial law in his home region and refused to rule out extending it across the country, raising fears about his authoritarian tendencies and Islamist militancy in the south. Rodrigo Duterte praised the use of similar special powers under the Ferdinand Marcos dictatorship and promised a crackdown of his own after Isis-aligned extremists battled security forces, took hostages and occupied part of Marawi city on the southern island of Mindanao.

Cayetano is new DFA chief; Año to head DILG Business World 11th May 2017
President Rodrigo R. Duterte appointed his running mate in the 2016 elections -- Senator Alan Peter S. Cayetano -- as secretary of Foreign Affairs. This announcement on Wednesday, May 10, comes a year after Election Day of 2016, and conforms with the year-long ban on defeated election candidates from appointment to public office. Mr. Cayetano was already being eyed by the President to be the country’s foreign affairs secretary after he lost in the vice-presidential race in the May 2016 elections. But Mr. Cayetano’s widely anticipated appointment as the country’s top diplomat became less than certain after Mr. Duterte said last March that the lawmaker may be needed more in the Senate than in the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA). Mr. Cayetano has been joining Mr. Duterte in his trips abroad and recently led the Philippines’ delegation in Geneva to defend the human rights situation under the Duterte administration before the United Nations. Mr. Duterte appointed Undersecretary and former Philippine ambassador to the United Kingdom Enrique A. Manalo as acting foreign affairs secretary after the bicameral Commission on Appointments (CA), in an unprecedented move, rejected the nomination of lawyer Perfecto R. Yasay, Jr. Mr. Duterte also named Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of staff Lt. Gen. Eduardo M. Año as the “next” secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG). Last month, Mr. Duterte appointed DILG Undersecretary Catalino S. Cuy as the agency’s officer-in-charge after Mr. Duterte fired Ismael D. Sueno following reports that the Office of the President received a confidential letter enumerating graft allegations against the dismissed official.

Charge Rodrigo Duterte With Mass Murder, Lawyer Tells The Hague The New York Times 24th Apr 2017
A Filipino lawyer asked the International Criminal Court in The Hague on Monday to charge President Rodrigo Duterte and 11 other Philippine officials with mass murder and crimes against humanity in the killings of thousands of people over three decades. The lawyer, Jude Josue Sabio, said in a 77-page complaint that Mr. Duterte was the “mastermind” of a campaign that has killed more than 9,400 people, mostly poor young men, since 1988, when Mr. Duterte was first elected mayor of Davao City in the southern Philippines. “The situation in the Philippines reveals a terrifying, gruesome and disastrous continuing commission of extrajudicial executions or mass murder from the time President Duterte was the mayor of Davao City,” the complaint says. Mr. Sabio represents two men who say they were paid assassins for Mr. Duterte when he was mayor of Davao City, but filed the case on his own. The court has the authority to accept cases brought by individuals as well as by nations and the United Nations Security Council. Mr. Duterte was elected president last year after pledging to kill criminals as part of what he called a war on drugs. Since taking office last June, he has repeatedly urged the police to kill suspects and has promised to protect or pardon police officers who are prosecuted. According to police statistics, more than 4,000 people have been killed by the police in antidrug operations or by vigilantes in drug-related cases since Mr. Duterte became president. Mr. Sabio’s complaint puts that number at more than 8,000. In addition, the complaint cites the killings of more than 1,400 people who Mr. Sabio and rights advocates say were killed over 28 years in Mr. Duterte’s anti-crime campaign in Davao City.

Duterte reappoints four bypassed Cabinet secretaries Manila Bulletin News 17th Apr 2017
President Rodrigo Duterte has reappointed four of his Cabinet secretaries bypassed by the Commission on Appointments (CA), the Office of the Executive Secretary (OES) said Monday (April 17) night. In a statement, OES said Duterte issued ad interim appointments to four members of his Cabinet including Environment Secretary Gina Lopez, Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial, Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo, and Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano. Official documents from the CA show that of the 41 Presidential appointees listed during the 17th Congress’ first regular session as of April 17, the four reappointed Cabinet members received their reappointment last March 16, 2017. CA majority leader and Isabela Rep. Rodolfo Albano lll earlier said that they would not be tackling the appointments of the four during their last plenary session on March 15, making them bypassed, but leaving their reappointment to Duterte.

Philippines and Communist Rebels Agree to a Temporary Cease-Fire The New York Times 5th Apr 2017
Negotiators representing the government of the Philippines and Communist rebels agreed to a temporary cease-fire on Wednesday, moving one step closer to ending one of Asia’s longest running insurgencies. The agreement was reached at peace talks in the Netherlands, two months after guerrillas killed three soldiers and nearly derailed the process. “We have already agreed on the final outcome of the talks: lasting peace and sustainable development,” said Jesus Dureza, the government negotiator. “This is not a case of one party giving in or giving up.” In addition, President Rodrigo Duterte, speaking before a gathering of prosecutors in Manila, invited Jose Maria Sison, the self-exiled Communist Party leader and Mr. Duterte’s former college professor, to return to the Philippines to seek treatment for an unspecified disease. Mr. Duterte abruptly ended negotiations in February after rebels killed and mutilated three soldiers. He has called on the rebels to release any troops they have in custody and cease collecting so-called revolutionary taxes, which for years have helped finance their insurgency. The rebel militia, known as the New People’s Army, said it would immediately comply with the agreed terms and free a police officer, and three soldiers seized in separate raids in the country’s South, according to Fidel Agcaoili, the Communists’ chief negotiator. In exchange, Mr. Agcaoili called on the army to withdraw from at least a dozen towns in the southern island of Mindanao, where recent clashes have erupted.

Corruption in Philippines courts a trade barrier – US philstar.com 4th Apr 2017
A report by the United States Trade Representative shows that the prevalence of corruption in the Philippines remains a significant barrier to trade with the US. The report says that despite firm commitment from the Bureau of Customs to use transaction values to assess duties on imports, it stil continues to use reference prices, which are well above transaction prices, for valuation of meat and poultry.

Know the President (2) Philippine Daily Inquirer 28th Mar 2017
As I wrote in this space last March 13, President Duterte is not anti-American. He is simply a nationalist espousing then President Carlos P. Garcia’s “Filipino First” policy. On those occasions when the President fired off seemingly anti-American tirades, I surmise that it was because he felt then, as he feels still, that US policies are at times stacked against Philippine interests. We are America’s friend and ally, are we not? So why are we not being treated like one? That is the question that begs an honest answer devoid of any Machiavellian ingredient. That said, let us take a quick look at the recent past to understand that this perceived radial shift in Philippine policy is not of the President’s but of America’s making. The President and I belong to what I call the “Hi, Joe” generation. World War II had just been won. The gratitude of Filipinos to America’s greatest generation was overflowing. When we were growing up, every white man that we met was American to us and we shouted in greeting: “Hi, Joe!” So what caused the President to distrust America? What drove him to conclude that America was not, after all, a fair and dependable ally? It all boils down to a bloody incident in Davao City when he was then its mayor: I call it “the Michael Meiring incident.”

Know the President Philippine Daily Inquirer 28th Mar 2017
Contrary to what many think or believe, President Duterte listens to advice. But it must be given in a manner that neither humiliates nor embarrasses him in public. Otherwise, one risks stirring a hornet’s nest. To paraphrase Philip Dormer Stanhope, Earl of Chesterfield, advice is seldom welcome because those who are perceived to need it the most like it the least. Though sometimes couched in diplomatic language usually suggesting moves intended to improve public service or enhance relations with other nations, advice usually carries with it a subtle hint that to ignore it might result in undesirable consequences. That is, of course, understandable because that is precisely what advice is for. Two persons, among others, whom the President holds in high esteem and whose counsel I know he would truly appreciate are Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno and Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III. This is because the President knows that these two paragons of competence and integrity could always draw from their wealth of experience, snippets of wisdom which could help him as he negotiates every zig and zag of every road on his way to a more responsive government and a better Philippines.

Customs

BoC official breaks silence on P6.4-B shabu shipment The Manila Times 5th Jun 2017
The embattled chief of the Bureau of Customs’ (BoC) Risk Management Office (RMO) broke his silence amid allegations that his office facilitated the entry of 605 kilos of the illegal drug shabu with a street value of P6.4 billion. Larribert Hilario, a lawyer and the acting chief of the RMO, explained on Monday that his office does not determine the parameters under which incoming shipment is to be granted immediate clearance (green), the importer is required to submit additional documents (yellow) or the shipment is subjected to complete inspection (red).

Importers of toxic materials charged Tempo 8th Jun 2017
The Bureau of Customs (BoC) has filed smuggling cases against several importers and brokers before the Department of Justice, officials said yesterday. The cases were filed through the Bureau’s Action Team Against Smugglers (BATAS), the BOC's newest program.The bureau filed the cases due to the importation of hazardous materials into the country in January 2017. The shipment arrived at the Port of Cebu from Korea. The shipment was declared to contain 2,500 metric tons of wood chips and 2,500 metric tons of recycled synthetic resins, but upon inspection the containers were found to be packed with plastic heterogeneous materials with an estimate value of R4.87 million.The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) prohibits the importation of such hazardous materials.

PHL cuts tariff for chipping potatoes BusinessMirror 7th Jun 2017
The government has slashed the tariff for fresh and chilled potatoes for chipping to 3 percent from 40 percent, according to a report from the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) of the United States Department of Agriculture. In a report, the FAS in Manila said the new tariff rate for in-quota chipping potatoes would take effect on June 17. Out-quota tariffs for fresh potatoes, however, will remain at 40 percent.

Draft PH order tackles storage of overstaying and abandoned goods PortCalls Asia 3rd Jun 2017
Rules on the temporary storage of imported goods declared overstaying or abandoned have been drafted by the Philippine Department of Finance (DOF) and Bureau of Customs (BOC).The proposed customs administrative order (CAO) will implement Section 307 of Republic Act No. 10863, otherwise known as the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA), and other related laws. Section 307 states that the customs commissioner must establish a system for the temporary storage of imports prior to goods declaration in case of abandoned or overstaying goods. Stakeholders have until June 8 to submit position papers on the draft CAO; the public hearing will be held on the same day.

PH maritime sector could see foreign investment The Manila Times 27th May 2017
Bill would open PH public utilities to foreign funding, including maritime transport Maritime transport companies in the Philippines could soon attract foreign investment, as a bill to ease restrictions and update statutory definitions of public utilities has advanced from the committee level at the House of Representatives.

Duterte modifies rates of import duty on various products The Philippine Daily Inquirer 22nd May 2017
President Rodrigo Duterte has signed several executive orders modifying the rates of import duty or tax on various products and equipment.

Defense & Security

Philippines to establish National Space Agency Good News Pilipinas 3rd Apr 2017
The Philippines is creating a national space agency to consolidate all space-related research and programs by various government agencies. The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) announced its intent to push for the coordinated space program in a bid to become South East Asia’s space technology hub. DOST Secretary Fortunato dela Peňa said the space program is a multi sectoral concern that needs central coordination and that legislative bills for its creation should be priority this year.

Philippines second least peaceful nation in Asia-Pacific philstar.com 7th Jun 2017
The Philippines remains among the least peaceful countries in the world, according to an annual peace index. The 2017 Global Peace Index ranked the Philippines 138th among 163 nations included in the report.

Indonesian ISIS Fighters Enter Philippines   Tempo 7th Jun 2017
The National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT) has detected the movements of the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) fighters from Indonesia to the Philippines through the former’s north borders. The police and National Armed Forces (TNI) are now handling the exit route, according to the BNPT spokesman Irfan Idris.

Troops seize P79M in cash, checks The Manila Times 7th Jun 2017
Troops seized P79 million worth of cash and checks from a house previously occupied by terrorists in Marawi City, where the Armed Forces and the police are flushing out members of the Islamic State (IS)-linked Maute group.

The Future of Asia 2017: Philippines rallies international support in terror fight Nikkei Asian Review 6th Jun 2017
Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Cayetano on Tuesday called for international support in fighting Islamic State-aligned militants who have laid siege to a city in Mindanao. Coordination has started among members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, he told the Nikkei Asian Review before delivering the closing speech at the 23rd International Conference on the Future of Asia.

Southeast Asian nations step up cooperation as Islamic State threat mounts Reuters 5th Jun 2017
Southeast Asian nations plan to use spy planes and drones to stem the movement of militants across their porous borders, defense officials said at the weekend, as concerns rise over the growing clout of Islamic State in the region. Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines said they will launch joint air patrols this month at their shared boundaries in the Sulu Sea, in addition to existing maritime patrols.

U.S. gives Philippines anti-terror weapons Rappler 5th Jun 2017
The United States on Monday, June 5, gave the Philippines hundreds of machine guns, pistols, and grenade launchers, which a local commander said would be used against terrorists battling troops in a southern city. The weapons, including machine guns capable of firing thousands of rounds a minute, were handed over at a ceremony in Manila that highlighted a decade-old American counter-terrorism assistance program to the Philippines worth about $150 million. "This equipment will enhance the [Philippine Marines'] counterterrorism capabilities, and help protect [troops] actively engaged in counterterrorism operations in the southern Philippines," a US embassy statement said. Philippine Marines chief Major General Emmanuel Salamat said at the ceremony troops would use the weapons in the ongoing battle against terrorists in the southern city of Marawi. Terrorists flying black Islamic State (ISIS) group flags rampaged through Marawi nearly two weeks ago, triggering clashes with troops and police that have left at least 178 people dead. In response to the violence, President Rodrigo Duterte quickly declared martial law in the southern region of Mindanao to quell what he said was a fast-growing threat from ISIS there. The Philippines and the United States have for decades been close allies, and they are bound by a 1951 mutual defense treaty to protect each other if attacked. The United States is the Philippines' biggest supplier of military hardware and arms. However Duterte, who took office last year, has sought to loosen the Philippines' ties with the United States while forging closer relations with China and Russia. Duterte has called for the withdrawal of American troops from his country while scaling down joint military exercises in response to US criticism of his deadly war on drugs.

PH, U.S.: Military ties remain strong, fighting ISIS together Rappler 4th Jun 2017
While President Rodrigo Duterte appears to have distanced himself from the United States and recalibrated toward China and Russia, Philippine and American officials emphasized that the two nations' military relationship remains the same. Speaking to participants of the Southeast Asia Young Leaders program here, the Commander of the US Pacific Command, Admiral Harry Harris, said nothing has changed under Trump's administration, adding that its "America First" policy is no different than individual ASEAN countries' priority of domestic issues. "I believe that we are in a very good place with regard to military to military activities in the Philippines," he said on Sunday, June 4. According to Harris, the US is very much involved in the Philippines' counterterrorism efforts against the Islamic State (ISIS). Philippine Undersecretary for Defense Policy Ricardo David echoed Harris' statements. "As far as the Philippines is concerned, I think we have good relations with the United States. The Balikatan just concluded. It will continue because this is a part of our Philippine alliance with the US. We have a Mutual Defense Treaty," David said. He also said Duterte's approach toward China does not mean the Philippines is moving further away from its longtime ally. The statements come as clashes in Marawi City, which started on May 23, continue between the military and local terrorist groups Abu Sayyaf and the Maute Group. Tim Huxley, executive director of IISS-Asia, told Rappler it is "necessary" for Manila to stay close to Washington. A day earlier, US Defense Secretary James Mattis also emphasized the US' commitment to the Philippines, reassuring the country of continuing partnership and support. – Rappler.com

Duterte’s forces struggle to push back Islamist rebels in the southern Philippines Washington Post 2nd Jun 2017
Ten days after President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law on the southern island of Mindanao to respond to an Islamist siege in Marawi, the capital of Mindanao’s Lanao del Sur province, much of the Philippine political establishment has rallied around him. But the military campaign itself has gone much less smoothly, with some local residents and observers questioning the government’s combat strategy and the credibility of its public communications. Steven Rood, a professor at Australian National University who has studied armed conflicts in the Philippines for years, said it is not surprising that the government has failed to control all of Mindanao, since militant Islamist and left-wing rebels have been active on the impoverished island for decades. But the new, more radical contingent involved in the May 23 attack caught the government unawares with its numbers and tactics, he said. “The Philippine military hasn’t really been trained for urban warfare, as they have been going against rebels in the hills for so long,” Rood said. “And they admit they simply don’t have the precision-guided munitions that would make aerial bombardment to take out particular houses feasible.” He added, “There have been slip-ups in the communication strategy, and they know it.”

Duterte rejects second-hand boats, military equipment from US Manila Bulletin News 2nd Jun 2017
President Duterte said he will no longer acquire second-hand military equipment from the United States (US) for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). Addressing troops of the army’s 102nd Infantry Brigade in Barangay Igsoon, Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay Friday afternoon, Duterte said government forces will win over terror groups in Marawi City using the best military equipment.

Vietnam-Linked Hackers Likely Targeting Philippine Intel on South China Sea Dispute: FireEye US News & World Report 25th May 2017
Hackers linked with the Vietnamese government are likely targeting Philippine government agencies to gather intelligence related to the maritime dispute in the South China Sea, cybersecurity company FireEye said on Thursday.

PH, Russia sign defense agreement, 9 other deals Rappler 25th May 2017
The Philippines and Russia sealed a total of 10 deals after President Rodrigo Duterte's visit to Moscow, including an agreement on defense cooperation. The signing of the deals by Philippine government officials took place on Wednesday, May 24, in Moscow, a day after Duterte flew back to the Philippines earlier than scheduled due to the Maute Group attacks in Marawi. At the time of the signing by Philippine Cabinet officials, the deals were already signed by the concerned Russian ministers. Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano led the signing ceremony in the presence of Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol, Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo, and Science and Technology Secretary Fortunato dela Peña.

US, Philippines scale back next month's military drills, no more 'war games' The Straits Times 24th Apr 2017
About 5,000 American and Philippine troops will hold humanitarian exercises next month instead of annual war games, scaling back military drills in response to President Rodrigo Duterte's disdain for their longstanding defence alliance. Troops taking part in "Balikatan" will simulate a response to a devastating super typhoon in the central Philippines, modelled on typhoon Haiyan in 2013, which killed at least 6,300 people and left more than 200,000 families homeless. "Balikatan is designed to meet current challenges facing the Philippines," US embassy press officer Molly Koscina said in a statement on Monday (April 24). Duterte has made no secret of his grudge against the United States and believes a US military presence of any kind in the Philippines puts his country at risk of being dragged into conflict. He has threatened to abrogate treaties with Washington, but has yet to follow up. The volatile leader has reached out to Russia and China and invited their warships to come to the Philippines for exercises too. He has taken issue with the US on its approach to the South China Sea and said Manila will never take part in joint patrols, to avoid provoking China. Balikatan, which means "shoulder-to-shoulder", has taken place on 32 occasions and every year since 2000, involving conventional warfare activities, as part of a mutual defence treaty between the two countries under a 1951 security pact. A Philippine army spokesman said the downsizing of the exercises was in response to Duterte's dislike of war games with Washington.

Duterte revises defense purchases Manila Bulletin News 14th Apr 2017
Defense contracts must now pass through regular government procurement laws, instead of just a special bids and awards committee. In a new presidential directive, President Duterte revoked an Arroyo-era Executive Order that established a single committee conducting public biddings for defense transactions due to the “unnecessary delays” in the procurement. “It has been observed that the implementation of EO No. 235 resulted in bureaucratic impediments and unnecessary delays in the procurement of important defense projects,” President Duterte’s Executive Order No. 18 read. “EO No. 235 (s. 2003) is hereby repealed. All other orders, rules, regulations and issuances, or parts thereof, which are inconsistent with this Order, are likewise hereby repealed or amended accordingly,” it added. The old EO, issued by then President Gloria Arroyo, limited the authority of the Secretary of National Defense to delegate approvals of procurement contracts and established a single Bids and Awards Committee to undertake public biddings for the military. Under the new EO, Duterte has directed the Secretary of Defense “to identify and institutionalize measures that will effectively monitor the operations of separate Bids and Awards Committees.” Such committees may be created to promote transparency, impartiality and accountability in procurement transactions, the President said. All defense procurement contracts, including those presently being processed and/or reviewed, shall also now be reviewed and processed in accordance with Republic Act No. 9184, or the Government Procurement Reform Act of 2003. The order, issued last April 7, takes effect upon publication in two newspapers.

PH use of military assets, units in HADR unique in ASEAN Update Philippines 3rd Apr 2017
Defense Assistant Secretary for Assessment and International Affairs Raymund Jose Quilop told Philippine News Agency that Philippines’ experience using military equipment and units in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) is being viewed as unique by other ASEAN members. He noted that though other ASEAN countries have their own disaster response teams, it is challenging for the civilian sector to tap into their military assets to use for disasters. “For us, it is very easy as the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), are both part of the Department of National Defense (DND),” Quilop said.

Economics

PHL tagged among promising FDI sites Business World 9th Jun 2017
The Philippines now figures as one of the world’s preferred sites for foreign direct investments (FDI), according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development’s (UNCTAD) World Investment Report 2017 that noted that growth of the country’s 2016 inflows was the sharpest among comparable Southeast Asian peers. “Top prospective destinations are still emerging markets and the United States,” read the annual report that was released yesterday. “The favorite FDI destinations remain the United States, China and India,” it added. “Top executives maintain their confidence in developing Asia’s economic performance and are also forecasting investments in the southeastern part of the region, with Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, Vietnam and Singapore -- in that order -- still figuring among the most promising host countries.” The Philippines’ net FDI inflows grew by 40.7% year on year to a record $7.933 billion in 2016, outstripping Singapore’s and Malaysia’s 20.8% and 14.7% annual increases, respectively, as well as Indonesia’s and Thailand’s respective drops of 81% and 63.5%, according to data of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP). But in nominal terms, Philippine net FDI inflows paled in comparison to Singapore’s $61.632 billion and Malaysia’s $12.571 billion, although they were more than double Indonesia’s $3.762 billion and Thailand’s $3.286 billion for the same year.

First year of CTRP to yield P285B revenue The Manila Times 8th Jun 2017
The government expects to generate P285.7 billion in net revenue for the first year of implementation of the Comprehensive Tax Reform Program (CTRP)’s five packages, documents released by the Department of Finance (DoF) on Wednesday showed. CTRP Package 1, which is included in the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (Train) bill that was passed by the Lower House of Congress last week, could potentially yield P133.8 billion in net revenue. The bill is now pending at the Senate for approval.

DoF sees P1.16T net revenue from ‘Train’ bill by 2022 The Manila Times 7th Jun 2017
The Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (Train) bill passed by the House of Representatives last week may generate potential net revenue for the government of P1.16 trillion over a five-year period from 2018 to 2022, computations by the Department of Finance (DoF) show.

Flat 6% donor, estate tax gains groups’ support – DoF The Manila Times 7th Jun 2017
THE plan to impose a flat 6 percent rate for donor’s and estate taxes as part of the Comprehensive Tax Reform Program (CTRP) has earned the support of two tax research groups, the Department of Finance (DoF) said Tuesday.

Peso corrects vs dollar Business World 7th Jun 2017
The peso dropped from a six-month high as it corrected versus the dollar. The local currency ended Tuesday’s session at P49.56 versus the dollar, sliding 15 centavos from its P49.40-to-a-dollar finish on Monday, which was its best showing since a P49.35-per-dollar close on Nov. 16, 2016.

Peso to climb further on weak US payrolls report Business World 7th Jun 2017
The local currency finished higher on Friday, closing at P49.55 against the greenback, sharply higher by 20 centavos from its P49.75 close in the previous session. Week on week, the local currency likewise gained 20 centavos from its P49.75-per-dollar finish last May 26.

DoF insists on original tax reform scheme as gov’t pushes infrastructure Business World 7th Jun 2017
The Department of Finance (DoF) will ask the Senate to hew the first tax reform package closer to the original proposal, even as the government will likely be assured that the measure in any form will yield funds needed for its planned P8-trillion infrastructure spending until 2022. The House and Senate versions of the tax reform package must be harmonized by the two chambers before a final version can be sent to Malacañang for signing into law. “We will convince them (Senate) to approve the DoF version,” Finance Undersecretary Karl Kendrick T. Chua said in an interview at the department’s headquarters in Manila yesterday. The first package will see raised excise tax rates on fuel and cars, an excise levy on sugar-sweetened drinks and less value-added tax exemptions offset revenues to be foregone from lower personal income tax and uniform estate and donor’s tax rates. The version which the House of Representatives last week approved on final reading, as House Bill No. 5636, cut projected net revenues from the first package by some P23.4 billion -- nearly 15% -- to P133.8 billion in the first year of implementation from the P157.2 billion estimated originally by the department. Both estimates include P43.8 billion in 2018 from provisions improving tax administration. HB 5636 will yield P1.163-trillion net revenues from 2018 to 2022, according to latest estimates which the department gave reporters yesterday, compared to P1.266 trillion under the original proposal that was submitted to both chambers of Congress in September last year.

Gov’t makes full award of T-bills as demand pushes yields lower Business World 6th Jun 2017
THE GOVERNMENT raised P15 billion from its offer of Treasury bills (T-bills) yesterday amid overwhelming demand, as investors scrambled to get hold of shorter-termed instruments in anticipation of a rate hike in the United States next week.

Tax reform OK seen boost to credit rating Business World 5th Jun 2017
APPROVAL by the House of Representatives of the first tax reform package will help the Philippines’ credit rating, Moody’s Investors Service said in a June 5 note, noting it will provide a fresh stream of funding and showed the government of President Rodrigo R. Duterte can put reforms in place despite persistent political controversies.

PHL still among fastest-growing economies on WB list Business World 5th Jun 2017
In its June 2017 Global Economic Prospects report, titled: “A fragile recovery,” the World Bank affirmed its outlook for the Philippines at 6.9% this year, cut the 2018 projection by 0.1 of a point to 6.9% and added 0.1 of a point to 6.8% for 2019.

Final tax reform bill to raise P130 B in revenues philstar.com 5th Jun 2017
The final version of the tax reform bill recently approved by the House of Representatives is seen to generate P130 billion in additional revenues for the government, the Department of Finance (DOF) said.

Moody’s: Tax reforms credit positive for PHL | BusinessMirror Business Mirror 5th Jun 2017
Sovereign ratings firm Moody’s Investors Service hinted broadly of another credit upgrade for the Philippines should the houses of Congress finally enact a plate full of reforms significantly ramping up the country’s ability to generate revenues.

Lower house of Philippine Congress approves tax reform bill Appsforpcdaily 2nd Jun 2017
The House of Representatives of the Philippines has today passed -after the second and third readings- the administration's tax reform package. The TRAIN bill seeks to lower personal income tax (PIT) rates while broadening the tax base through reforms in consumption taxes such as the Value Added Tax (VAT) and the excise taxes on automobiles and fuel.

Tax reform package seen to boost Philippine credit ratings ABS-CBN News 2nd Jun 2017
The passage of the Duterte administration's tax reform package will lift the Philippines' credit ratings, an analyst said Friday. The first tranche of the tax system overhaul, expected to raise P82 billion in annual revenues and boost President Rodrigo Duterte’s bid to build P8 trillion for infrastructure, passed the House of Representatives on Wednesday.

NEDA launches PH development plan Manila Bulletin Business 2nd Jun 2017
The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) launched the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2017-2022, the blueprint for the country’s development under the Duterte Administration, in Pasay City, yesterday. Socioeconomic Planning Secretary of Ernesto M. Pernia announced yesterday that President Rodrigo R. Duterte signed the PDP 2022 Thursday night. At yesterday’s event, over 300 people from the public and private sectors attended the event, titled Aksyon para sa AmBisyon: The Philippine Development Plan Expo.

Tax reform slaps more expenses on the poor The Manila Times 2nd Jun 2017
The poor and the middle class will spend more than the additional take-home pay that they are expected to earn under the Tax Reform, Acceleration on Inclusion (Train) bill passed by the House of Representatives on third reading on Wednesday night. Citing estimates from the Department of Finance, Rep. France Castro of Alliance of Concerned party-list noted that those earning P5,200 to P47,000 per month will also have to shell out additional P952 to P7,400 per month as a result of the Train bill, which hikes excise taxes on all fuels by P6 to P10 per liter, among other additional taxes.

MBC cites winners, losers in tax reform philstar.com 1st Jun 2017
The Makati Business Club (MBC) remains supportive of the first package of the government’s Comprehensive Tax Reform Program despite observations there is a need to recalibrate some of its provisions. “We support the tax reform of the government because that is needed by the DOF (Department of Finance). There may be some refinements needed in terms of some areas. There are five tranches, so perhaps just calibration,” MBC chair Edgar Chua told The STAR, without specifying on the measures.

DBM chief allays fears over stalled CTRP passage philstar.com 1st Jun 2017
Budget Sec. Benjamin Diokno countered yesterday the bleak assessment of Socio-Economic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia that the government’s ambitious infrastructure program may be in peril if Congress fails to pass the tax reform measure this year. According to Diokno, the executive branch is pinning its hope on the commitment of the House of Representatives that it will pass the measure before sine die adjournment this Friday.

House approves first package of tax reform The Manila Times 1st Jun 2017
A bill exempting workers earning P250,000 and below a year from income tax and hikes the excise tax on all kinds of fuel to P10 per liter from P6 passed third and final reading in the House of Representatives on Wednesday. The House, with 246 yes votes, nine no votes and one abstention, approved House Bill 5636 or the Tax Reform Acceleration and Inclusion (Train) bill.

Revised tax reform bill to benefit consumers philstar.com 1st Jun 2017
Despite an increase in excise tax on fuel, consumers could actually expect more purchasing power from the revised tax reform bill approved by the House of Representatives on Wednesday, an investment bank said. "We disagree with the consensus view among investors that the tax reform bill is negative to private consumption," Credit Suisse analyst Michael Wan said in a research note on Thursday.

BIR off-track in P1.83-T collection goal philstar.com 1st Jun 2017
MANILA, Philippines - The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) is currently off-track in achieving its P1.829-trillion revenue target for 2017 despite higher collections in the first four months, its chief said yesterday. On the sidelines of the Integrity Forum yesterday, BIR commissioner Caesar Dulay told reporters the bureau is “a little bit off” its path toward reaching its revenue goal for the year.

Martial law not seen derailing growth Business World 31st May 2017
Philippine troops escort rescued civilians at a village on the outskirts of Marawi on the southern island of Mindanao on May 31, 2017. AFP In a comment issued late Wednesday, the rating agency said the Philippine growth story will proceed uninterrupted despite terror attacks in Marawi City, which prompted President Rodrigo R. Duterte to place the entire Mindanao island under martial law for 60 days starting May 23.

Pernia: No 'build, build, build' without tax reform bill philstar.com 30th May 2017
The envisioned golden age of infrastructure under the Duterte administration may end up becoming a bronze age or even a dark age if Congress does not pass the proposed tax reform bill, an official warned Tuesday. Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said the non-passage of the tax reform measure, which has been certified as urgent by President Rodrigo Duterte, could limit the government’s capability to roll out key infrastructure projects.

Philippine economy to lead Southeast Asia growth, IMF says ABS-CBN News 19th Apr 2017
The Philippine economy will lead Southeast Asia in terms of growth in the next two years due to higher public spending and robust consumption, the International Monetary Fund said. Gross domestic product will likely grow 6.8 percent this year and 6.9 percent in 2018, outpacing second-placer Vietnam, and followed by Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia, the IMF said in a report Tuesday. Including other developing economies in Asia, the Philippines will grow faster than China, but will fall behind the region’s leader, India, the IMF said. “In these economies, the near-term pickup in growth is underpinned to a significant extent by stronger domestic demand and, in the Philippines, by higher public spending in particular,” the lender said. On Tuesday, President Rodrigo Duterte’s economic managers unveiled “Dutertenomics,” an ambitious plan to grow the economy by building P8-trillion in infrastructure. These include Mindanao’s first railway and a subway for Metro Manila, where chronic traffic jams result in daily economic losses of P2.4 billion according to a Japanese study. Economic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said the government was targeting growth of 6.5 to 7.5 percent this year and 7 to 8 percent next year. "One of the thrusts of the Philippine Development Plan is accelerating strategic infrastructure development. This is the bedrock of the Philippine Development Plan towards an economy that continues to grow and in an inclusive fashion," he said on Tuesday. First quarter GDP data will be released in May. The economy grew 6.9 percent in 2016.

Energy

Phoenix acquires Petronas Energy, enters LPG retail Power Philippines 26th May 2017
Phoenix acquires Petronas Energy, enters LPG retail. In a disclosure to the stock exchange, the acquisition will include the retailing of lubes and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) products from PEPI as per the board approved memorandum of understanding (MoU) with PDB (Netherlands) B.V.

Developers appeal FIT extension urgent to NREB, DOE Power Philippines 26th May 2017
Taking cues from the National Renewable Energy Board (NREB), the proposal from the developers to extend the deadline is yet to be reviewed as the FIT allocation for the aforementioned RE sources remain undersubscribed three years after the program’s implementation.

GBPC to expand in Luzon, Mindanao, and renewable energy Power Philippines 23rd May 2017
GBPC’s newly-appointed president Jaime Azurin said that the company’s main thrust is to expand to other regions and establish “green” power plants outside of its bunker and coal power plant portfolio. This will allow the company to reach its goal of around 1,500 to 2,000 MW in total capacity by 2022.

Gatchalian calls for periodic review by ERC of system losses suffered by power grid Business World 23rd May 2017
THE Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) must set up a mechanism that will allow a periodic review of how much power is lost when power suppliers bring electricity to end users, including households. It should also hasten its assessment of a program that will help the early implementation of a revised system loss caps or the allowed percentage of power supply that is lost in the delivery of electricity, the equivalent cost of which is added to consumers’ monthly bills.

AC Energy sees power supply remaining adequate until 2021 Business World 22nd May 2017
POWER SUPPLY will remain adequate between now and the next four years but beyond 2021, the country will be needing 700 megawatts (MW) more each year to meet the rising demand of a growing economy, the head of Ayala Corp.’s energy arm said.

Why is the Philippines ignoring renewables policy potholes? Asian Power 11th May 2017
Support has started on a policy level, but much of the groundwork remains undone. When the former director for the Philippine renewables development stepped up to a recent regional conference, it was a bittersweet moment: The country has started rallying behind renewable energy, with projects and investors lining up in response, but there are still major hurdles preventing the sector from truly taking off. Coal-fired power generation continues to be a preferred solution to the country’s energy needs, which are driven by strong economic growth, but the boons of renewable energy are becoming harder to ignore. The abolition of pass-through costs for fossil fuels, the scrapping of the “first to operate, first to bid” policy for energy developers and moving towards competitive selection are the key policy changes that the Philippines must undertake to help improve the renewables sector and Philippine energy situation, says Pete Maniego, former National Renewables Energy Board (NERB) director.

Renewable energy in small islands can help PH save P10 billion a year Power Philippines 9th May 2017
According to a new report from the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) and the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities (ICSC), investment in small island renewables in the country will require at least $1 billion from private investors in the short term. These costs will be balanced out by saving the $200 million a year.

Cusi courts ASEAN investors for power infra Manila Bulletin Business 30th Apr 2017
The energy sector of the Philippines will be in need of massive power infrastructure investments – and this is the pitch that Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi had set for investors in neighboring Southeast Asian region. The energy chief primarily courted businessmen in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on capital flow for power facilities and other energy investments that the Philippines would be requiring now and in the future. For greenfield power projects alone, Cusi has been reiterating the country’s need for capacity additions of 6,000 to 7,000 megawatts for the duration of the Duterte administration. And onward to 2030, that has to be ramped up to 30,000MW to fully underpin the envisioned path to industrialization of the growing economy.

Asean members pitch for nuclear energy The Manila Times 21st Apr 2017
A pre-feasibility study unveiled during the recently concluded 7th Annual Meeting of the Nuclear Energy Cooperation Sub-Sector Network (NEC-SSN) showed that many member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) are in favor of tapping nuclear energy for peaceful or commercial use. The three-day summit, which ended April 19 at the Sofitel Hotel, was hosted by the Philippines with the Department of Energy (DOE), headed by Secretary Alfonso Cusi, as the lead agency in facilitating the conference chaired by Malaysia. According to a department news release, a study conducted by Asean Center for Energy (ACE) Canada’s Nuclear and Radiological Program showed that nuclear energy is seen by Asean members as a long-term source of power.

Ayala completes purchase of Chevron assets Manila Standard 3rd Apr 2017
AC Energy Holdings Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of conglomerate Ayala Corp. and other members of an Indonesian consortium, completed the purchase and acquisition of Chevron’s geothermal assets and operations in West Java. Ayala Corp. said in a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange the acquisition was made through the joint venture company Star Energy Geothermal (Salak-Darajat) B.V. The consortium consists of AC Energy (with 19.8 percent economic stake), Star Energy Group Holdings Pte. Ltd., Star Energy Geothermal Pte. Ltd. and Electricity Generating Public Company Ltd. or Egco. The Indonesian assets and operations include Darajat and Salak geothermal fields in West Java, Indonesia, with a combined capacity of 637 megawatts of steam and power.

Meralco rates go down by P1.43 per kWh this June Power Philippines 8th Jun 2017
Meralco rates down by P1.43 per kWh this June. After last month’s rate decrease of P0.29 per kilowatt-hour (kWh), Meralco continues to cut back with a P1.43 per kWh reduction for June, the company said at a press briefing on Thursday.

Cusi asks for third party to assess PH power sector Power Philippines 8th Jun 2017
Energy Department Secretary Alfonso Cusi wants a third party to assess the audit in the power sector to address issues of competency and credibility. “We want the assessment to be made by a third party and we wanted to include that in our budget for 2018 so that we can have it auctioned and the third party can conduct the audit,” Cusi said.

DOE creates inter-agency group for Marawi City facilities Power Philippines 8th Jun 2017
Department of Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi has established an inter-agency group that will focus on the rehabilitation of Marawi City’s energy facilities as the power situation in the area has yet to normalize in Lanao del Sur amid the ongoing crisis.

PetroEnergy to seek new local oil, gas drill operations Power Philippines 7th Jun 2017
PETROENERGY RESOURCES CORP. IS IN TALKS OF PREPARATIONS FOR DRILLING ACTIVITIES AS THEY STUDY LOCAL OIL PROSPECTS ONCE THE INTERNATIONAL OIL MARKET IMPROVES.

DENR issued tree-cutting permit – Napocor The Manila Times 7th Jun 2017
The National Power Corporation (Napocor) on Monday clarified that it has only issued “land use permit” to the Angat Hydropower Corp. (AHC) for its implementation of the Angat Dam and Dyke Strengthening Project.

‘US pullout from Paris climate deal troubles Philippines ’ philstar.com 3rd Jun 2017
The decision of US President Donald Trump to pull the United States out of the Paris climate agreement could have an adverse effect on efforts to address climate change, the Climate Change Commission (CCC) said yesterday. In a statement, the climate body said the Philippines is “deeply troubled” by Trump’s move and urged him to reconsider his decision. 

WESM Mindanao to push through, DOE official says Power Philippines 1st Jun 2017
THE DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY WILL PUSH THROUGH WITH THE LAUNCH OF MINDANAO’S OWN WHOLESALE ELECTRICITY SPOT MARKET (WESM) NEXT MONTH TO ASSURE RELIABLE POWER SUPPLY.

Fuel marking eyed in 2018 Measure to stem up to P27B in revenue losses PortCalls Asia 1st Jun 2017
A mandatory fuel marking system may be implemented in the Philippines by the Bureau of Customs (BOC) by early next year to curb smuggling and misdeclaration of petroleum products which cost the government almost P27 billion in annual revenue losses, said the Department of Finance (DOF). The mandatory fuel marking system is part of Package One of the Comprehensive Tax Reform Program (CTRP) bill certified as urgent by President Rodrigo Duterte on May 29.

Mining firm bags Sucat power plant philstar.com 1st Jun 2017
A mining firm emerged the highest bidder for the purchase of the decommissioned 850-megawatt (MW) Sucat thermal power plant (STPP) in Muntinlupa City, state-run Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (PSALM) said yesterday. PSALM said Riverbend Consolidated Mining Corp. bested the offers of two other firms.

Meralco secures second partnership in Nigeria, expands to Indonesia Power Philippines 31st May 2017
Meralco secures second partnership in Nigeria, expands to Indonesia. Meralco sealed its second Nigerian partnership after Lagos-based Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company (PHED) offered a technical partnership with the local distribution utility.

First Philippine Holdings to deploy solar, wind projects regardless of FIT Power Philippines 31st May 2017
Solar and wind projects under the First Philippine Holdings will still proceed regardless of feed-in tariff (FIT) incentives, citing that the regime is just a transitory mechanism to encourage the early entry of renewables into the country’s power mix, company chairman and CEO Federico Lopez said in a statement on Monday.

DOE opens ASEAN+3 energy forum, bares PH LNG plan Philippine Information Agency 25th May 2017
PASAY CITY, May 25 (PIA) -- The Philippines played host to the 3-day 6th ASEAN+3 (China, Japan, Korea) Oil Market and Natural Gas Forum and Business Dialogue recently at the Sofitel Hotel as the country deals with increasing domestic demand for fuel amid the declining supply of indigenous natural gas.

Outdated regulations hamper the Philippines' renewables progress: analyst Asian Power 18th May 2017
Barriers to small island grid uptake of modern renewable energy power include outdated regulations that have not kept up with technology, according to the Institute of for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA). Indeed, the Philippines presents a prime example of how techno-economic change has outpaced government regulation. Under current regulation, for example, no incentives exist for island electric cooperatives (or those in SPUG areas) to procure cheaper sources because whatever the outcome, savings accrue exclusively to the missionary fund and none to the franchise ratepayers. This is a classic case of moral hazard. This system tends to be biased against renewable generation because franchise managers would rather stick with diesel generation they are used to, even though more expensive.

DOE clears 7 renewable energy projects philstar.com 23rd Apr 2017
Seven renewable energy projects were cleared to proceed undertaking grid impact studies as of March, latest data from the Department of Energy (DOE) showed. These projects are seen to generate 562 megawatts (MW) of power to the grid. The GIS is necessary in determining if the electricity to be generated by the power project can be absorbed by the grid. Three of the projects will harness wind resource and will be developed by Currimao Solar Energy Corp. These are the 150-MW Talisay Wind Power Project in Camarines Norte, the 140-MW Talim Wind Power Project in RIzal and the 80-MW Calatagan Wind Power Project in Batangas. The DOE also gave the go signal to conduct studies on three solar projects. Sindicatum C-Solar Power Inc. is working on the Capas Solar Power Plant located in Tarlac. It is estimated to have a capacity of 22 MW. Two solar farms are located in San Manuel, Pangasinan. Pilipinas Newton Energy Corp. and Pilipinas Einstein Energy Corp. will each work on 70-MW solar project. Meanwhile, Silay Global Energy Solutions is working on a 30-MW battery energy storage in Negros Occidental. Year-to-date, 22 projects have been cleared for the conduct of GIS.

Financial Services

Who is new BSP governor Nestor Espenilla? Rappler 5th Jun 2017
By choosing Nestor Espenilla Jr, a long-serving technocrat at the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) as the incoming governor for the next 6 years, President Rodrigo Duterte has essentially prioritized smooth transition and policy continuity at a powerful but independent body.

BSP, Indonesia's OJK formally start talks for bilateral banking deal GMA News Online 5th Jun 2017
The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) and Otoritas Jasa Keuangan (OJK) of Indonesia have inked a Letter of Intent (LOI) to formally start negotiations which would allow the entry of banks from one country to another.

Manila, Jakarta taking initial steps to integration | BusinessMirror Business Mirror 4th Jun 2017
IT is happening in small increments but the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) should soon begin bilateral discussions with its Indonesian counterpart on the entry of banks and financial institutions in each other’s jurisdiction. This was as marked by the signing of a letter of intent (LOI) between Manila and Jakarta over the weekend. Bangko Sentral Governor Amando M. Tetangco Jr. said the signing was another step forward in the larger goal of financial integration happening not just over the Philippines and Indonesia but across the Asean.

Philippines, Indonesia agree to open up banking Phil Star 3rd Jun 2017
The Philippines and Indonesia are set to ink an agreement this weekend to open up the banking industry aimed at greater financial integration and economic development among members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Financial authority to kick off negotiations with Philippine central bank The Jakarta Post 2nd Jun 2017
The Financial Services Authority (OJK) is set to sign a letter of intent (LoI) with Banko Sentral ng Pilipinas, the Philippine central bank, on Sunday, paving the way for lenders in the two countries to expand their cooperation.

BSP allows more micro-banking services philstar.com 1st Jun 2017
The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) is further expanding the scope of allowable activities in micro-banking offices to further push financial inclusion. BSP Deputy Governor Nestor Espenilla Jr. said the central bank is looking at allowing MBO to accept deposits from individual clients.

BSP liberalizes micro-banking functions The Manila Times 30th May 2017
Incoming Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Nestor Espenilla Jr. said the central bank will further liberalize micro-banking offices (MBOs) to operate as light branch with more functions beyond microlending. “It will move towards more liberalization. What will be liberalized? The functionality,” Espenilla said. MBOs provide a specified range of activities and services such as micro-deposits, micro-loans, microinsurance, foreign currency, bills payments, government pay-outs and e-money conversion.

Top job at Philippine central bank goes to deputy governor- Nikkei Asian Review 30th May 2017
In what is likely to be one of his most crucial appointments, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has chosen Nestor Espenilla as the next governor of the country's central bank, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez said on Monday night.

More ASEAN banks eye PH investments Manila Bulletin Business 28th May 2017
Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Deputy Governor Nestor A. Espenilla Jr. said banks from three ASEAN countries are keen on scouting for investment opportunities in the country. Espenilla said banks from Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia are eyeing investments in the country following agreements to explore the banking landscapes in the region.

Business as usual for Mindanao banks philstar.com 28th May 2017
Philippine banks are business as usual despite the decision of President Duterte to declare martial law in Mindanao early this week due to the attacks carried out by the Maute group in Marawi City.

Philippines central bank bolsters finance sector against hacking, cybercrime Oxford Business Group 26th May 2017
In late April the monetary board of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) ratified changes to existing regulations, mandating that banks and other financial institutions adopt multi-factor authentication (MFA) techniques for certain transactions. The measures are aimed at countering cyberattacks that target fund transfers, payments and other transactions through online channels. In addition, they are part of an ongoing programme undertaken by the BSP and the financial sector to increase bank and client security as the industry adopts EMV technology, the chip-based system developed by Europay, MasterCard and Visa.

PHL banking sector to continue growing medium-term GMA News Online 24th May 2017
The Philippine banking sector is expected to continue growing in the medium-term given the strong economic growth outlook of the country, BMI Research said in its report. "We continue to believe the outlook for the Philippines banking sector remains positive and there are few risks to financial stability over the medium-term," BMI, a Fitch company, said in its Asia Monitor: South East Asia Volume 2 Report.

Philippines: Insurers urged to develop cyber cover Asia Insurance Review 23rd May 2017
The Insurance Commission (IC) is urging the insurance industry to develop products protecting Filipinos from cyber risks, following the WannaCry ransomware attack earlier this month.

An inclusive financial system is new BSP Governor Espenilla’s goal Manila Bulletin News 13th May 2017
Incoming Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Nestor Espenilla will take the helm of the BSP while our banking sector continues to perform well and enjoy renewed global confidence.

FWD makes inroads in PH Business Inquirer 4th May 2017
Insurance newcomer FWD, the insurance arm of Hong Kong tycoon Richard Li, has made inroads into the Philippine market barely three years after setting up shop here.

Malaysia, Philippines allow greater access for their banks in both countries The Star Online 6th Apr 2017
Banks in Malaysia and the Philippines will now have better access to operate in each other’s countries and have improved flexibility in terms of banking activities, branches and other forms of delivery channels. This follows the conclusion of negotiations under the the Asean Banking Integration Framework (ABIF) between the central banks of Malaysia and the Philippines. The negotiations cover among others, the number of Qualified Asean Banks (QABs) to operate in each other’s countries, form of presence and operational flexibilities in the scope of banking activities, branches and other forms of delivery channels.

Philippines: Regulatory changes to be implemented without burdening industry Asia Insurance Review 30th Mar 2017
The Insurance Commission will look to improve the insurance regulatory framework in the Philippines through the revised RBC2 framework, without unduly imposing unnecessary burdens on the industry, Deputy Commissioner Ferdinand George A. Florendo said, highlighting some of the challenges in balancing the need for regulatory changes while taking into consideration industry feedback.

Food & Agriculture

PH coco oil exports surge 73.2% in Jan-April The Manila Times 9th Jun 2017
PHILIPPINE coconut oil exports surged by 73.2 percent in the first four months of the year purely on low base effects, despite the tight supply in raw material and tough competition in the international market, the United Coconut Association of the Philippines (UCAP) said Thursday.

DTI supports industries on sugar tax position Philippine News Agency 6th Jun 2017
The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) supports the position of industries that will be affected by sugar tax under the comprehensive tax reform package (CTRP), DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez said.

Lopez to support food chamber position on excise tax philstar.com 5th Jun 2017
Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez is willing to support the fight of food manufacturers against higher excise tax on sugar sweetened beverages (SSBs), but will no longer back other industry groups’ positions such as those from the business process outsourcing (BPO) and automotive sectors.

US recalls frozen tuna from PH, Vietnam after testing showed hepatitis A virus Inquirer.net 3rd Jun 2017
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says Hawaii-based Hilo Fish Company told the agency in May it had recalled yellowfin tuna that tested positive for the virus. Hilo says the fish was sourced from Sustainable Seafood Company in Vietnam and Santa Cruz Seafood Inc. in the Philippines.

Low income households hardest hit by higher tax on sugary beverages philstar.com 1st Jun 2017
Food manufacturers have expressed alarm over the potential impact on consumers of government’s move to increase the excise tax on sugar sweetened beverages (SSBs), saying those in the lower income bracket will likely take the hardest blow.  “Juan Dela Cruz will stomach most of the burden imposed by the SSB tax. The proposed model follows a one-size-fits-all mindset without due consideration for the common Filipino’s household budget for daily diet, including those that are considered pantawid gutom,” the Philippine Chamber of Food Manufacturers Inc. (PCFM) said.

DA plans to lease out land for agro-forestry philstar.com 1st Jun 2017
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol plans to lease out to private firms government-owned lands suitable for agro-forestry businesses. Piñol will seek President Duterte’s approval of the Bantay Kagubatan program, a joint project of the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) for the promotion of agro-forestry as a means of speeding up reforestation.

PH dominates SEAsia in GM corn production The Manila Times 20th May 2017
The Philippines continues to be the top producer of biotech crops in Southeast Asia as corn areas dedicated to genetically modified (GM) corn surged by almost a fifth last year, an industry report said. The International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA) reported that the country has outpaced Southeast Asia in terms of biotech or GM crop application, and ranking 12th biggest producer of such crops worldwide. The ISAAA was launched on May 4, 2017 in Beijing, China. ISAAA noted that around 185.1 million hectares of biotech crops were planted in 26 countries in Asia, Africa, Europe, and North and Latin America in 2016. Of this area, 812,000 hectares of biotech corn was planted in the Philippines, a 16 percent or 110,000 hectare increase from 702,000 in 2015.

Tax on sugar-laden drinks set Inquirer.net 11th May 2017
gar-sweetened drinks will soon be slapped a P10-a-liter excise tax as the House ways and means committee has included the measure in its revised substitute bill containing the first package of the Duterte administration’s comprehensive tax reform program. A copy of the revised bill that consolidated House Bill No. 4774 containing the Department of Finance’s proposal to bring down income tax rates while slapping additional taxes on consumption as well as other pending measures aimed at amending the Tax Code showed that sugar-sweetened beverages are to be levied P10 a liter of volume capacity in the first year of implementation.

Maguindanao launches DA's farm assistance program philstar.com 3rd May 2017
MAGUINDANAO, Philippines - President Rodrigo Duterte is keeping a promise to help Maguindanao’s marginalized farmers improve their productivity to hasten the restoration of normalcy in conflict-torn areas, officials said Tuesday. Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu and Agriculture Assistant Secretary Lerey Panes jointly launched in Buluan town Tuesday the implementation in the province of the Special Area for Agricultural Development (SAAD) program of the Department of Agriculture. The SAAD program is part of the Duterte administration’s effort to address poverty and underdevelopment in rural areas.

ASEAN agri-engineers offer modern farming aids to filipino farmers PIA.GOV.PH 2nd May 2017
ASEAN agri-engineers offer modern farming aids to filipino farmers LEGAZPI CITY, Apr. 28 (PIA) – Once again proving being one of the sought-after convention destinations in the country, the city of Legazpi has again hosted the week long “four-in-one” gathering of agricultural engineers from the Philippines and two other ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries. The series of conferences, held at the Legazpi City Convention Center on April 23-29, seeks to help enhance the productivity of Filipino farmers for the country to attain stable food security using modern and cost-effective machineries. Dr. Marife Pesino, president of the Philippine Society of Agricultural Engineers (PSAE), urges the participants including her counterparts from Indonesia and Malaysia to support Republic Act 10601 or the Agricultural and Fisheries Mechanization Law which pushes for utilization of such machineries.

Agri sector lost $4 billion to natural disasters in 10 years Business Mirror 25th Apr 2017
DAVAO CITY—The Philippine agriculture sector incurred as much as $4 billion in losses due to natural disasters, such as typhoons and drought, in the last decade, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Despite this, the FAO said in a statement that the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) has yet to acquire technology that would improve its weather-forecasting capability.

Agriculture department to feature natural fiber in Asean SunStar 25th Apr 2017
THE Philippines’ finest organic and artisanal agricultural products and natural fibers will be featured on the sidelines of the 30th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City on April 26 to 29 in an expo sponsored by the Department of Agriculture (DA). Manila will host the first summit of the 10 leaders of Southeast Asia as Chair of the Asean this year. The theme, “Partnering for Change Engaging the World," reflects the Philippine government’s advocacy to promote unity with and among ASEAN member states and its global partners. During the four-day Asean Summit, the DA will highlight indigenous, organic and artisanal local agricultural products ranging from fruits such as Guimaras mangoes, pili nuts from Bicol, pomelo from Davao, and vegetables from the Cordilleras.

PHL agricultural trade up 13.6% to $4.554 billion in fourth quarter | BusinessMirror Business Mirror 24th Apr 2017
The country’s external trade for agricultural commodities improved 13.6 percent to $4.554 billion in the fourth quarter of 2016, from $4.010 billion during the same period in 2015, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA). As a result, the country’s agricultural trade deficit in the fourth quarter last year shrank 10 percent to $1.686 billion against the $1.873 billion deficit recorded in the same period in 2015. The PSA attributed the improvement in our agricultural trade to higher agricultural commodities the Philippines exported during the October-to-December period.

DA task force sets inventory of rice stocks philstar.com 19th Apr 2017
MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Agriculture (DA) will lead the creation of a task force to look into the nationwide inventory of rice stocks to counter allegations of a current shortage and speculation of possible importation despite a bumper harvest. Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said he would write a memorandum to President Duterte suggesting the creation of an inter-agency task force that will inspect various rice warehouses. The decision came after the emergence of the rice shortage issue in the country, which Piñol said is artificial and meant to justify the need for importation when local farmers are enjoying a peak harvest season.

DA prepares for El Niño philstar.com 19th Apr 2017
MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Agriculture (DA) is adopting preparatory measures amid threat of another dry spell that may dampen productivity of the farming sector. Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said the department would lay down early preparatory measures to protect the Filipino farmers and fishermen from the ill-effects of a possible El Niño. According to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, climate model outlooks surveyed suggest that the likelihood of El Niño forming in 2017 has risen, pushing the bureau’s El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) status from “neutral” to “watch.” This means that the likelihood of El Niño developing in 2017 is approximately 50 percent.

The price of rice, domestic production and imports philstar.com 19th Apr 2017
Rice policy has once again come to the public consciousness. The President has unfortunately spoken against the importation of rice as an element of economic policy. Need for a liberal rice import policy. It would be a mistake to close the door against imports and to focus only on self-sufficiency in production. Self-sufficiency is not a feasible economic objective anymore given our land resources (limited for rice agriculture, but not for other high-valued commercial crops) and our very large population (100 million plus Filipinos which is still growing).

Rice self-sufficiency policy limits farm incomes -- OECD Business World 12th Apr 2017
THE Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is recommending that the Philippines seek to diversify its crops rather than pursue market-distorting policies such as rice self-sufficiency.

Ending rice imports could raise prices, former Finance chiefs warn philstar.com 11th Apr 2017
President Rodrigo Duterte should take back his decision to stop all rice imports and instead allow private traders to do the job or risk high food prices that will ultimately hit the poor, including farmers. This was the stance of the Foundation for Economic Freedom (FEF), a group of former Finance secretaries, which issued a statement on the matter Tuesday night.

Asian meat giant invests millions in Philippine farms GlobalMeatNews.com 11th Apr 2017
Charoen Pokphand Foods Philippines Corporation (CPF Philippines), a subsidiary of Thai food giant CPF, has invested 10 million pesos to bolster agriculture in the country. The Ps10m (approximately $200,000) cash stimulus was delivered to Emmanuel Pinol, secretary of state for the Philippines Department of Agriculture. It comes as the country’s controversial president Rodrigo Duterte aims to strengthen the competitiveness of the Philippines’ farming sector by improving sustainability, among other things. Under Duterte’s agricultural development policy, the president wants to see farmers improve their profitability and productivity and has committed funds to invest significantly in the country’s agriculture sector. Plans include buying modern farming technology and equipment to replace ageing machinery, as well investment in infrastructure to reduce logistics costs.

Philippine agriculture policy ‘counterproductive’, warns OECD Public Finance International 10th Apr 2017
OECD analysis found that government aid to the sector, in the form of subsidies or protective taxes on imports, was worth around 3.3% of GDP – almost five times the OECD average of 0.7%. However agricultural performance and productivity lags well behind that of other countries. Agriculture is one of the Philippine economy’s key sectors – accounting for one-third of employment and one-tenth of GDP, and providing a livelihood for one in three people – but the OECD said support for it had been misdirected, served to distort the market or triggered uncertainties. Two of the key aims of the government’s agricultural policy have been to alleviate poverty by ensuring a stable and affordable supply of food and to promote self-sufficiency, particularly in rice production. Policies to achieve this have included the government purchasing rice from producers at a good price, controlling imports and subsidising supplies, equipment and infrastructure such as irrigation systems. However, the OECD noted that price support for rice, which increases the cost for consumers, resulted in a 3.2 million rise in the number of undernourished people. Such policies have also prevented a shift towards more high value commodities, seen in other countries in the region, which would boost rural incomes and improve food security. As other nations have moved towards a bigger variety of crops offering higher returns while occupying less land , they have outdone the Philippines in terms of productivity.

PIDS wants online repository for local food manufacturers | BusinessMirror Business Mirror 9th Apr 2017
State-owned think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) urged the government to create a central online repository of technology information for food manufacturers nationwide. PIDS said this technology transfer can occur between large and small food small and medium  enterprises or two small SMEs. It can also occur between local and foreign firms. This, the study said, will not only address the lack of government support for technology transfers but also fragmented promotional activities of the government.

DOT accredits 14 more farms for agri-tourism destinations Business Mirror 8th Apr 2017
THE Department of Tourism (DOT) underscored the importance of agriculture and farming in making world-class dishes, as the second day of Madrid Fusión Manila 2017 (MFM 2017) went under way on Friday. Tourism Secretary Wanda Corazon T. Teo said: “The Philippines is blessed with abundant agriculture [produce], as well as vast greenery and pristine scenery, a perfect combination for gourmet, health relaxation and leisure activities.” This has given rise to agriculture or farm tourism, another profitable endeavor for tour operators and farmers, she said during the launch of the Calabarzon Farm Tourism Travel Guide on the sidelines of the MFM 2017 at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City. She said the DOT has long recognized the value-added potential of farm and traditional agricultural sites as income-generating tourist destinations. “The idea of farms as tourist spots is not new. Imagine harvesting fresh farm produce for lunch, while your young ones wet their feet in a watering hole nearby. This bucolic setting and green landscapes are the best elements for R&R.”

Duterte: Govt must protect rice farmers Business Mirror 5th Apr 2017
TALAVERA, Nueva Ecija—President Duterte on Wednesday said he is more partial to protecting Filipino farmers, and allow them to supply the rice requirement of the Philippines than import the staple. Duterte’s pronouncement came three months before the quantitative restriction (QR) on rice expires on June 30. The Philippine waiver on the special treatment on rice, which was approved by the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Council for Trade in Goods, has allowed Manila to implement the QR until this year. Upon the expiration of the waiver, and no later than June 30, Manila’s importation of rice shall be subject to ordinary customs duties in accordance with the WTO’s Agreement on Agriculture. In his speech, the President also said he fired Office of the Cabinet Secretary (OCS) Undersecretary Halmen A. Valdez over the importation of rice done by the private sector under the minimum access volume (MAV) scheme of the WTO.

‘Made in PHL’ fiber, coco products show potential Business Mirror 5th Apr 2017
REGULATORS appear to be using their coconuts in grappling with the “Made in the Philippines” tag on exports. At least for those in the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), they see the potentials of products from local fiber and the lowly coconut bearing the “Proudly Philippine-made” tag. For one, the DA is keen on capitalizing on the market opportunities for pineapple leaf fiber, which is currently used as an alternative to manufacture leather-based products. This is aside from also stepping up the local abaca production. The Department of Trade and Industry’s Export Marketing Bureau (EMB), tasked to push, promote and develop the country’s local exports globally, notes that the Philippines is actually a “champion” in both coconut production and exporting.

Food processors back deregulation of SRP philstar.com 5th Apr 2017
MANILA, Philippines - A group of food manufacturers has expressed support for the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI)’s plan to remove its approval process in setting the suggested retail prices (SRP) of basic necessities and prime commodities to reduce bureaucratic procedures. In a statement, Philippine Association of Meat Processors Inc. (PAMPI) president Felix Tiukinhoy Jr. said the group commends the move of Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez to deregulate the SRP scheme.

Korea and Southeast Asia look to expand agricultural trade throughout the region Far Eastern Agriculture 4th Apr 2017
The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Kim Jae-soo, invited ambassadors to Korea from Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia to its offices in Seoul on 31 March to touch upon the current status of trade in agricultural and food products among the countries. They talked about ways to further expand mutual cooperation across the sector. 'Southeast Asia is among the most beloved tourist sites for the Korean people. There's a growing number of tourists to Korea, too, traveling from the Philippines and Thailand,' said Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Kim Jae-soo. 'Amid these growing tourist activities, we hope to see more exchanges in the agricultural and food industries, as well,' the minister said.

Agri dep’t to propose P213-B budget for 2018 Business World 4th Apr 2017
THE Department of Agriculture (DA) on Monday said it has prepared a budget proposal of P213 billion for 2018 to fund its projects, which will focus on greater food security and productivity.

Budget cut to impact on productivity, says DA philstar.com 4th Apr 2017
MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Agriculture said a cut in its 2018 budget will likely affect productivity and delay the government’s efforts to achieve rice self-sufficiency in three years. Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said the proposed P213-billion budget allocation for 2018 might not be given and could be further reduced. The rice and corn program is among the priorities of the DA which will get the biggest chunk of the proposed budget. Other programs include mechanization, small scale irrigation and financing.

PHL dairy imports up 54% in 2016 | BusinessMirror Business Mirror 3rd Apr 2017
The country’s dairy imports in 2016 expanded by 54 percent to 2.77 million metric tons (MMT) in liquid milk equivalent (LME), from 1.79 MMT-LME recorded in 2015, according to the National Dairy Authority (NDA). The latest NDA data showed that the figure has surpassed the agency’s import forecast of 1.85 MMT-LME for 2016. The NDA said the value of the country’s milk imports last year reached $807.72 million (P38.358 billion), 16.3 percent higher than the 2015 record of $694.51 million (P31.60 billion). Of the dairy imports last year, NDA data showed that the bulk consisted of skimmed-milk powder at 1.43 MMT-LME valued at $349.71 million. Dairy products are currently the Philippines’s third-largest agricultural import after wheat and soybean meal.

Philippines looks to Asia-Pacific partners to advance agriculture exports Oxford Business Group 29th Mar 2017
Increased export opportunities in the region, notably to China and Australia, should help drive further growth in the Philippines’ agriculture industry, which expanded strongly last year after overcoming the impact of natural disasters.

22% tariff for Philippine tuna if GSP+ removed Business World 29th Mar 2017
PRICES of fish exports will likely increase significantly if the European Union (EU) carries out its threat to remove the Philippines from its Generalized Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+), making the country’s products less competitive. GSP+ removal will also have an adverse impact on the country’s fisherfolk as less-competitive prices will decrease the demand from importing countries, thereby increasing the supply of fish in the Philippines. “It’s a cascading effect. Fishermen will realize lower prices for their catch,” said Mr. Ingles. Meanwhile, the sardine industry is being threatened by over-fishing, according to Oceana Philippines.

Climate change gradually affects tilapia production Fish, Information, and Services 28th Mar 2017
A new report reveals that the major tilapia producing regions in the Philippines are now experiencing significant impacts from the progressing negative effects of climate change. Released by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the document states that the recurrent decline in farm productivity, mass mortality and fish kill is the result of extreme weather conditions. Farmers, weather scientists and agriculturists are preparing for what they see as the inevitable impact of a changing climate: prolonged dry season, increasing air and water temperatures, critical dry spell and drought, frequency of strong thunderstorms, and heavy rainfalls which induce flooding and overflows of aquaculture farms.

Health & Life Sciences

Philippines: Increased health risks feared among people displaced by Marawi fighting International Committee of the Red Cross 8th Jun 2017
Manila (ICRC) – The start of the rainy season in the Philippines may add burden to the thousands of people displaced by the fighting in Marawi City in Lanao del Sur, southern Philippines.

QC aims to be global medical tourism destination by 2020 News5 - InterAksyon 7th Jun 2017
MANILA – Quezon City is targeting to become one of the best medical tourism destinations in the world in three years, after Mayor Herbert Bautista signed the “QC Medical Tourism Vision 2020 Commitment” on Tuesday at the 1st Quezon City Medical Tourism Stakeholders Summit.

Baguio addresses proliferation of unlicensed water refilling stations Northbound Philippines News Online 6th Jun 2017
The committee on health and sanitation, ecology and environmental protection of the City Council is urging the executive branch of the local government to address the increasing number of water refilling stations who have no license to operate.

What PH can learn from medical tourism abroad ABS-CBN News 6th Jun 2017
MANILA – For Abrianna Kim, chief executive director of the Medical Tourism Association in Korea, the Philippines – specifically Quezon City – has a lot of potential when it comes to medical tourism.

Malnutrition pulls down Philippines' ‘End of Childhood’ rank to 96th philstar.com 2nd Jun 2017
The Philippines barely scraped into the top 100 countries for a child to grow up in, according to the 2017 End of Childhood Survey. The survey, conducted by international child welfare organization Save the Children, ranked the best and worst countries for children to be born in. Ranking 96th in a survey that covered 172 countries, the Philippines was behind neighbors Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia, and marginally above Indonesia, 101; Cambodia, 117; and Myanmar, 112.

Russia offers cheaper meds, pharma, healthcare to PH The Manila Times 29th May 2017
THE Russian government has offered to provide the Philippines cheaper medicines, other pharmaceutical products and healthcare solutions under business deals between the two countries, in addition to agreements previously signed by private businessmen, Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez said from Russia.

Next miracle drug may come from PH seas, say scientists Philippine Daily Inquirer 24th May 2017
The next miracle drug may come from the country’s seas, scientists here said last week. “There are so many potential drugs which can come from the ocean. This is precisely the next frontier which we feel pharmaceutical drug discovery efforts should look into,” said Dr. Aaron Joseph Villaraza, associate professor at the University of the Philippines Institute of Chemistry in Diliman. Speaking at the 39th Luzon session of the National Academy of Science and Technology here on May 16, Villaraza said medicines for pain relief or compounds used for cancer research had been synthesized from marine life found in the Philippines.

PH an ‘underachiever’ in health care The Manila Times 23rd May 2017
The Philippines was described as an “underachiever” in Asia in terms of access to and quality of health care for the treatment of preventable diseases, ranking 120th out of 195 countries reviewed, a study published on Friday said. The Healthcare Access and Quality Index, based on death rates for 32 diseases that can be avoided or effectively treated with proper medical care, also tracked progress in each nation compared to the benchmark year of 1990. A consortium of several hundred doctors around the world conducted the study, which was an extension of the Global Burden of Disease Study 2015 published by the prestigious British medical journal The Lancet. The study results were published online on Friday, and made available to the public through a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Senate hears DoH proposal to amend Cheaper Medicines Law Business World 17th May 2017
The Quality Affordable Medicines proposal being pushed by the DoH is in line with President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s pronouncements to promote generics and lower medicine prices. Consultations with the DoH and other parties will lead to a draft bill on the amendments. Generics-only prescription aims to ensure that consumers are given affordable choices. On the other hand, the creation of the Drug Price Regulatory Board is expected to lead to the regulation of drug-pricing among manufacturers. Health Secretary Paulyn Jean B. Rosell-Ubial, in her remarks to the Senate, cited in part new cancer treatments that she said are unaffordable, since they range from P540,000 to P1.94 million

Lawmakers, lawyer oppose Ubial’s appointment to DOH INQUIRER.net 17th May 2017
Health Secretary Paulyn Jean Rosell-Ubial turned emotional on Wednesday as she faced for the first time her confirmation hearing at the Commission on Appointments (CA). Three sworn oppositions — from Kabayan Partylist Rep. Harry Roque, ACTS OFW Partylist Rep. Aniceto Bertiz III and Atty. Restituto Mendoza— were submitted to the CA’s committee on health to block Ubial’s ad interim appointment. Ubial said that she had earned some “enemies” because of her “strict approach to governance.”

DOH, WHO Launch Cooperation Strategies Toward a Healthy Philippines WHO Western Pacific Region 11th May 2017
Dr Shin Young-soo, WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific, along with Dr Paulyn Jean Rosell-Ubial, Secretary of Health of the Philippines, launched the new Philippines–WHO Country Cooperation Strategy (CCS) 2017–2022 at the Davao Regional Medical Center, Tagum City, Davao del Norte today, jointly committing to the vision of All for Health Towards Health for All. The CCS sets the parameters of collaborative work of WHO and the Government of the Philippines over the next six years to realize the vision of the Philippine Health Agenda.

Philippines Will Purchase Medical Support Ship from Indonesia Tempo.co 11th May 2017
The Philippines Defense Ministry has considered buying a medical support ship from PT PAL Indonesia after it purchased two Strategic Sealift Vessels (SSVs) from the state-owned shipbuilder. PT PAL Indonesia General Manager of the merchant vessel division Satriyo Bintoro stated Thursday, May 11, that the Philippines had conducted an evaluation of the plan, including finalization of the specifications of the ship.

PH Red Cross launches humanitarian ship M/V Amazing Grace Inquirer.net 9th May 2017
The Philippine Red Cross officially commissioned on Monday, the M/V Amazing Grace, the country’s first and only humanitarian vessel which the organization will use as an ambulance and disaster response ship. According to the PRC Chair, Sen. Richard Gordon, the vessel will ensure that life-saving services and goods will reach affected population in the fastest possible time and in the most efficient manner possible.

ICT

ICT executive says globally competitive electronics professionals needed SunStar 29th May 2017
The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) is working on equipping electronics professionals, especially engineers, to become globally competitive.

PH lone Asean country with ‘no’ govt funding for telecom industry The Manila Times 30th Mar 2017
The Philippines is the only country in the Asean,region where the government does not provide any infrastructure funding support for the telecommunication or telecom sector, leaving subscribers and industry players alike at a severe disadvantage when compared to their regional counterparts. Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba of the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) reported at the recent Philippine Telecoms Summit that all other Asean countries have telecom networks that are either wholly-owned, partly financed or operated by their respective governments. It is only in the Philippines that broadband networks are constructed, owned and operated by private companies. This underscores the urgent need for a national broadband network (NBN) to deliver fast Internet service to far-flung areas.

Asia-Pacific upgrading internet connectivity- Nikkei Asian Review 6th Jun 2017
Asia-Pacific already boasts some of the fastest internet connectivity in the world and continues to improve as its economies digitize, according to a report by Akamai, a U.S.-based content delivery network and cloud provider.

Zamora buys PT&T for P800 M philstar.com 6th Jun 2017
Mining mogul Salvador “Buddy” Zamora II has reportedly acquired telecom firm Philippine Telegraph & Telephone Corp. (PTT) for roughly P800 million. Industry sources said Zamora, a business tycoon with investments in mining and transportation, quietly acquired the company last month although it is not yet clear what he plans to do with his new venture.

Telcos cite need for gov’t support in network upgrade Philstar 2nd Apr 2017
Local telecommunication companies have underscored the urgent need for government support in the deployment of infrastructure, most especially in rural and far-flung areas which pose significant business viability concerns, an industry regulator said. National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba said unlike in other ASEAN countries, the Philippines remains the only nation where the telco industry is not dominated by state-owned firms.

Infrastructure

Asean backs Philippines infra program philstar.com 28th Apr 2017
The Philippines has taken the limelight in Southeast Asia not only as the host of the ASEAN Summit this year, but also as a center of infrastructure development in the region given the government’s aggressive infrastructure push. The country’s lead infrastructure agencies said in a press briefing yesterday their respective infrastructure development programs have garnered strong interest from other members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. The Duterte administration recently unveiled a three-year rolling infrastructure program amounting to P3.6 trillion from 2018 to 2020 to usher in what is touted as the country’s “golden age” of infrastructure.

Small entrepreneurs to benefit big time from infrastructure boost — ASEAN biz council GMA News Online 27th Apr 2017
Micro and small entrepreneurs are to benefit the most from government's ambitious infrastructure spending plan and the boost to tourism industry it may bring, according to the head of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Business Council (ABAC). "We have seen from the very successful countries in ASEAN that the moment you create infrastructure – roads, ports, airports – the entrepreneurs start to happen ..." ABAC Chairperson Joey Concepcion said during a press conference at the ASEAN International Media Center in Pasay City. "When you bring about a robust tourism sector, obviously, your biggest beneficiary there will be your micro and small entrepreneurs," he said.

Major railways among projects for NEDA Board approval Business World 3rd Jun 2017
AT LEAST three railway lines worth billions of pesos will be among 12 projects that will be submitted for National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board approval later this month, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia said on Friday, explaining that the list will include both new projects and old ones with modified funding schemes or designs.

NEDA urges private firms to look beyond BOT philstar.com 1st Jun 2017
The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) urged the private sector to consider participating in government projects beyond the build-operate-transfer (BOT) mode as the administration increasingly veers away from pursuing big-ticket projects through the public-private partnership (PPP) scheme. In a presentation made during the general membership meeting of the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP), NEDA Undersecretary Rolando Tungpalan said the government’s shift to the use of official development assistance (ODA) and general appropriations (GAA) for funding large projects in its ambitious infrastructure program is ultimately meant to speed up the delivery of projects while addressing bottlenecks in the PPP program.

Hybrid PPP scheme to speed up infra projects – DOF philstar.com 1st Jun 2017
The preferred hybrid public-private partnership (PPP) scheme of the Duterte administration is designed to speed up the implementation of the government’s big ticket infrastructure projects, according to the Department of Finance (DOF). In an interview, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez defended the planned hybrid PPP mode of the government from criticisms.

Private sector seeks role as gov’t downplays PPP Business World 31st May 2017
The Department of Transportation opted to handle the development of the Clark International Airport -- previously in the PPP pipeline in the Aquino administration -- to avoid the risk of "delays". The public-private partnership (PPP) scheme -- the centerpiece infrastructure program of the previous administration that capitalized on the private sector’s expertise and resources -- has taken a back seat under the administration of President Rodrigo R. Duterte.

‘Infra program at risk from stalled tax reform’ philstar.com 31st May 2017
MANILA, Philippines - The envisioned golden age of infrastructure under the Duterte administration may end up becoming the “bronze age” even or  “dark age” if Congress does not pass the proposed tax reform bill, a Cabinet official said yesterday. Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said the non-passage of the tax reform measure, which has been certified as urgent by President Duterte, could limit the government’s capability to roll out key infrastructure projects. 

Gov’t to fund 66% of infra program with own funds Business World 31st May 2017
National Economic and Development Authority Undersecretary Rolando G. Tungpalan said that about two-thirds of the government’s medium-term infrastructure spending will be sourced from government funds, with the remainder split between overseas long-term loans and public-private concessions. In his presentation, Mr. Tungpalan noted that about 66% of the P8.4 trillion infrastructure spending program under the 2017-2022 Public Investment Program, will be implemented with funding from the general appropriations act. “The remaining projects will be carried out through PPP (public-private partnership) at 18% and ODA (official development assistance) at 15%,” he said. “These are the numbers that are contained in the Public Investment Program in the medium term,” he said in a speech during the Management Association of the Philippines membership meeting yesterday. Mr. Tungpalan however declined to disclose the list of new projects by mode of funding, saying that the list has yet to be finalized. He said that projects that needs to be started immediately should be funded by the government, while those projects with a potentially high return may be attractive to private concessionaires, making a PPP more likely. In the case of the Mindanao railway project, Mr. Tungpalan said: “Depending on the demand, it is more advantageous for government with access to long-term ODA financing to build the railway. Eventually as demand catches up, you can see whether it becomes attractive for PPP to enter.” The county’s economic managers said earlier that the administration will pursue a “hybrid PPP,” under which some infrastructure projects will be funded by the government to facilitate the immediate start of construction, and partly funded by ODA loans. The PPP component will come later when the operations and maintenance of the project are contracted out.

ASEAN infrastructure gap turns negatives into positives Times of Malta 23rd May 2017
If a spending deficit of $1.2 trillion in six key Asian economies and a rising tide of protectionist rhetoric in Europe don’t seem the most promising combination of business prospects, think again.

Foreign investors see bright spot in infra Business Inquirer 13th May 2017
Bo Lundqvist, president of the Nordic Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (NordCham Philippines), said in the group’s 2017 Country Report that the current administration’s 10-point agenda “presents tremendous opportunities for stronger Nordic-Philippine economic ties, specifically in the sectors of infrastructure development, ICT, energy, healthcare, and education.”

Duterte administration unveils plans for big-ticket infra projects philstar.com 18th Apr 2017
The Duterte administration will oversee a big push in infrastructure projects among which are a subway system in Metro Manila and a railway system in Mindanao, officials announced Tuesday. President Rodrigo Duterte's economic managers presented the administration’s socioeconomic agenda in a forum in Pasay City. They said the agenda aims to accelerate poverty reduction and transform the Philippines into a high- to middle-income country by 2022. They said the economic policies of the government, which they dubbed as “Dutertenomics,” have a 10-point socioeconomic agenda, which primarily aims to reduce poverty from 21.6 percent in 2015 to 13 to 15 percent by 2022. Officials added that the economic policies were supportive of the broader 10-point reform strategy of the president.

Metro Manila subway, Mindanao rail on Duterte's build list ABS-CBN News 18th Apr 2017
President Rodrigo Duterte will oversee the construction of the first subway system in the capital and the first railway in Mindanao, as part of a broad infrastructure overhaul designed to sustain robust economic growth, officials said Tuesday. “Build build build” is the cornerstone of “Dutertenomics,” which the President’s economic managers pitched as an audacious plan to transform the Philippines into a high middle-income economy by the end of his term in 2022. Duterte and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe are expected to sign an agreement for the P227-billion subway this year. Construction will be finished by 2024, two years after Duterte's term expires, said Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade. The 25-kilometer subway system will connect Quezon City to Taguig, with projected travel time at 31 minutes. It will serve around 350,000 passengers per day in its opening year, Tugade said. Traffic congestion in Metro Manila, home to roughly a tenth of the country’s 100 million people, results in daily economic losses of P2.4 billion and the Duterte government has made solving it a priority. The 2,000-kilometer Mindanao Railway will be the first of its kind in the south. The first phase, which will connect Tagum, Davao Del Norte to Davao City and to Digos, Davao del Sur will be completed in 2021, he said. Also in the pipeline, according to Tugade, are the north and south branches of the Philippine National Railway. The PNR North Railway will reduce travel time from Manila to Clark to less than an hour and is expected to be completed in 2021, he said. This project will also support the development of Clark International Airport as an alternative to the congested Ninoy Aquino International Airport. The government is spending 5.3 percent of the country’s gross domestic product in 2017 to finance the building, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez said. This will be raised to 7.1 percent by 2022. This is higher than the 2.6 percent annual average of the past six administrations in the last 50 years, he said.

‘Golden age of infrastructure’ key to high GDP growth–ADB BusinessMirror 6th Apr 2017
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) on Thursday urged the Duterte administration to deliver on its promise of ushering in the “golden age of infrastructure” in the country, so that GDP could grow by at least 7 percent. Based on the ADB’s latest Asian Development Outlook (ADO) report, Philippine economy will expand by 6.4 percent this year and 6.6 percent next  year. These projections, however, are lower than the 7-percent to 8-percent GDP growth target of the Duterte administration for 2017 and 2018. The Manila-based multilateral development bank said the Philippines is the only country in Southeast Asia that could grow slower this year. “The government’s infrastructure investment is actually the cornerstone of the economic prospect in the Philippines,” ADB Philippine Country Office economist Aekapol Chongvilaivan said in a news briefing at the ADB headquarters in Manila.

Manufacturing

DTI: Increase goods inventory in Mindanao The Manila Times 7th Jun 2017
The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is in close talks with manufacturers and distributors of basic goods to increase their inventory of goods in Mindanao. In a press briefing Tuesday, Consumer Protection and Advocacy Bureau (CPAB) Officer-in-Charge Lilian Salonga said the DTI had installed an alert system on supply of goods in Mindanao in order to ensure that supply of basic commodities would be adequate.

DBP expects higher lending for infrastructure in next five years Business World 7th Jun 2017
STATE-RUN Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) sees infrastructure projects taking up at least 90% of its total loan portfolio in the next five years, its chief executive said, with the lender to ride on the government’s goal to spend more on the sector.

DTI seeks extra support for local manufacturing in view of CTRP The Manila Times 3rd Jun 2017
The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is asking for extra support to local manufacturing, specifically  medium-duty passenger vehicles, in view of the passage of the first tax reform package. Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez  said the added support may be considered for local manufacturers now that the House of Representatives has approved on final reading the Tax Reform Acceleration and Inclusion bill, the first in a series of tax reforms that will lower personal income taxes while raising excise tax on oil and vehicles, expanding the value-added tax base, and imposing tax on sweetened beverage and lotto winnings.

Philippines manufacturing PMI rises to 54.3 in May- Nikkei Asian Review 1st Jun 2017
The Nikkei Philippines Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index, or PMI, rose to 54.3 in May from 53.3 in April. A reading above 50 indicates economic expansion, while a reading below 50 points toward contraction.