Philippines Update: June 12, 2019

Philippines Update | June 12, 2019
Authors: Lilibeth Almonte-Arbez, Sarina Divan, Kim Yaeger
 
LOOKING AHEAD
 
 

June 13: Philippines General Membership Meeting

June 26: Philippines Quarterly Committee Call

 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

DICT requests information (RFI) for a Philippines Cyber Training Facility Project worth US$5.5M

The Philippine Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) held a Request for Information (RFI) for its Cyber Training Facility Project on June 3, 2019. Companies must respond to the RFI on or before the June 24, 2019, (Philippine time) 5:00 P.M.

The project is Phase II of the DICT’s National Cybersecurity Plan. The projected budget for this Plan is US$5.5 million which includes civil works to convert a 250sqm floor area to three laboratories and two training rooms. The project must be a turn key solution composed of:

  1. Cyber Range: must include red (offensive), blue (defensive) and white (policy creation) teams and pre-created scenarios.
  2. Malware / Forensic Laboratory: computer, network and mobile forensic tools, advanced malware tools, malware management system, trainings.
  3. ICT Equipment Testing and Certification Laboratory: DICT will employ the common criteria to determine compliance of suppliers, before ICT equipment may be procured by Government agencies. The laboratory will be able to conduct conformity assessment tests and must include: a) certification scheme setup, b) test laboratory, c) education and training, d) technical consultancy for product evaluation, and e) support, expertise and technology transfer.
  4. Training Rooms: Two training rooms, one for 50 students and another for 25.

The following were further clarified during the RFI Q&A Session:

  • Proponents must provide complete training modules and not just construction of training facilities.
  • Provision for the IT network must be separate from the main network of the DICT.
  • The budget includes three years of support.
  • The RFI is part of the Cybersecurity Bureau’s market research and reference for pricing. Input will be useful for the creation of the final TOR (terms of reference).

Assistant Secretary Allan Cabanlong has indicated that they might separate the bid for the ICT Equipment Testing and Certification Laboratory because there are only a handful of companies who could offer this.

Philippines Strengthens Ties with Japan, Signing US$5.5 Billion in Business Deals

    During President Rodrigo Duterte’s visit to Japan in May, the Philippines and Japan signed 26 business agreements, worth a total of US$5.5 billion (₱288.8 billion). Of the 26 agreements, 16 are letters of intent for Japanese and Filipino companies to do business with each other and 7 are cooperation agreements between the government and business entities. According to Malacañang, these deals are expected to produce over 82,000 jobs in the Philippines. These agreements span across a variety of industries, including technology, manufacturing, and retail. Japan is an important trading partner of the Philippines and a major source of foreign direct investments in the country. According to President Duterte, the Philippines can serve as a key manufacturing base in ASEAN for Japanese companies, especially given the preferential tariff agreements the Philippines has with ASEAN, the European Union, and the Americas. Duterte also promised Japanese investors a stable, competitive, and corruption-free business environment in the Philippines.

    The Philippines recently received a long-term sovereign credit rating of “BBB+” from “BBB,” bringing it a step closer to a single “A” grade from S&P Global Ratings. Citing above-average growth and strong external and fiscal position which have boosted the country’s economic profile, S&P also assigned a “stable” outlook to the rating, which means it expects to maintain its grade in the next six months to two years as the economy is likely to remain strong over the medium term. It affirmed its “A-2” short-term rating on the country but revised the transfer and convertibility assessment higher to “A-” from “BBB+”.

     

    Philippine government agencies urged to ensure use of licensed software

    The Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) has urged government agencies to help prevent copyright infringement by using licensed software. IPOPHL Director General Josephine Santiago issued a statement in response to the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) that urges the Philippines to implement effective policies against unlicensed software. Unlicensed software could compromise data security so government agencies must allocate a budget for the procurement of licensed software that may be used by their offices, Santiago stated. IPOPHL aims to promote the use of licensed software by “all sector of society.” These new efforts will ensure greater data security, which would be especially beneficial to tech companies looking to expand to the Philippines.

    The United States Trade Representative (USTR) report emphasized the importance of governments legitimizing their activities “to set an example of respecting IP for private enterprises.” The rate of unlicensed software in the Philippines has declined from 70% in 2011 to 64% in 2017, although it remains higher than the 57 percent Asia Pacific region average and 37 percent worldwide average according to the Business Software Alliance. Alongside the Philippines, other Southeast Asian nations like Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam also do not have effective policies in place to ensure the use of licensed software according to the USTR. The Philippines remains outside of the 2019 Special 301 Watchlist of the USTR for the sixth consecutive year due to the country's creation of an IP Academy to develop IP education incorporating international aspects, the adoption of a multidisciplinary approach to addressing IP issues and its strong anti-camcording legislation.

     
    ADVOCACY UPDATE
     
     

    Interested members are encouraged to respond to the Philippines’ DICT Request for Information for its Cyber Training Facility Project.  The project, Phase II of the DICT’s National Cybersecurity Plan, is worth US$5.5M. The project budget includes civil works to convert a 250sqm floor area to three laboratories and two training rooms. The facility would house training and certification programs that would provide the necessary skills for military, government, and CII security personnel to effectively identify, protect, detect, respond and recover when cyber threats occur in their organization. The facility would also house the ICT Testing Lab and the Digital Forensics and Reverse Malware Lab. The Cyber Training Facility is part of the 2019 Projects of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Cybersecurity and Enabling Technologies and the Cyber Security Bureau.

    Companies must respond to the RFI on or before the June 24, 2019, (Philippine time) 5:00 P.M. This is an opportunity to provide expert technical opinion and indicate if the budget is sufficient for what DICT wants to accomplish.   Responses must be in printed and digital (USB) copies hand delivered to the DICT Cybersecurity Bureau (49 Don A. Roces Avenue, Diliman, Quezon City) in a sealed envelope addressed to Assistant Secretary Allan Cabanlong.

    Questions may be referred to Elizabeth Crébassa-Magsaysay at em.crebassa@usasean.org or Lilibeth Almonte-Arbez at lalmonte@usasean.org. The U.S. Commercial Service Philippines Contacts may also be reached for more information: John Giray: John.Giray@trade.gov, Yna Quiambao: Yna.Quiambao@trade.gov, Dey Robles: Dey.Robles@trade.gov.

     
    IN THIS UPDATE
     
     
    Multilateral Trade Agreements
    Voting 20-0, Senate okays PHL-Indonesia EEZ pact
    Ways the G-20 can take a lead on anti-corruption

    Regional Affairs
    PH, Japan ink P288.9B in business deals
    Senate OKs PH-Indonesia EEZ pact
    PH, Japan bare 26 business deals amounting to ₱288-B
    Joint Force Commander Visit Highlights Brunei-Philippines Military Relations

    National Affairs
    Duterte concedes on federalism – Go
    Philippines to tighten rules for foreigners as more Chinese pour in
    PH ready to cooperate with US – Duterte
    Fewer Pinoys looking for jobs in April–PSA
    Tugade says emergency powers up to senators
    Senate approves higher taxes on cigarettes, tobacco products
    PCG acquires more vessels, equipment
    The Public Service Act and provincial tourism
    Philippines ships 69 containers of dumped rubbish back to Canada
    Trabaho bill threatens PH electronics industry’s existence
    New 'sin' tax for cigarettes not enough to fund universal healthcare – DOF
    Gordon: Excise tax hike may displace tobacco farmers
    Palace certifies ‘urgent’ higher tobacco tax bill
    House to back Senate sin tax bill
    Duterte signs ‘Sagip Saka Act’
    ADB extends fresh $300-million loan for ‘high-quality’ secondary education
    Marawi rehab effort left over P4billion unspent in 2018 | BusinessWorld
    Anti-‘endo’ bill up for Duterte’s signature after House adopts Senate version

    Customs
    DOF eyes TradeNet inclusion of five govt agencies to boost EODB drive
    Shorter period for goods lodgement declaration in force by June 15
    PH, South Korea start FTA talks
    Truckers’ registration at PH Customs on hold; goods lodgement declaration order moved to June 15
    Customs: Tapioca starch, not shabu, was auctioned off
    Lacson hits BOC, PDEA for questionable auction of intercepted ‘shabu’
    Here’s everything you need to know about Canada leaving a bunch of trash in the Philippines

    Defense & Security
    US to launch new program to fight extremism in Philippines
    Philippines backs U.S. moves vs China buildup in South China Sea
    US looking forward to possible arms deal with Philippines
    US to sell surveillance drones to Philippines, South China Sea allies
    Philippines Navy to get three more multi-purpose attack vessels
    PAF awaits delivery of Super Tucano planes, Black Hawk choppers
    3 more missile-armed MPACs to arrive this August
    U.S. to sell 34 surveillance drones to allies in South China Sea region
    Boeing’s Insitu to Supply ScanEagle UAVs to Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam
    Israel-Philippines Military Ties in Focus with Counterterrorism Training Talk
    South Korea-Philippines Defense Ties in the Headlines with Expected Vessel Arrival
    Philippine Naval Modernization in the Headlines With First South Korea Frigate Launch

    Economics
    Philippines exports return to growth in April 
    Japan loan signing set for Mindanao highway development project | BusinessWorld
    Foreign direct investments fall in March
    Peso to move sideways vs dollar on soft US jobs data, trade issues | BusinessWorld
    SSS hires fund managers for P7B in investments | BusinessWorld
    BSP’s not worried by inflation uptick
    GSIS plans to sell Port Area property
    Gatchalian to Duterte admin: Don’t omit key economic reform bills
    NEDA: El Niño affected GDP
    HMO industry income jumped 63% to P1.65 billion in 2018–IC chief
    I.M.D. competitiveness ranking: PHL climbs 4 notches to 46th slot
    PHL improves edge, but still lags in Asia | BusinessWorld
    Expected infrastructure spending pickup next semester to fuel growth | BusinessWorld
    Foreign Investment Law update urgent–Win
    PHL’s banana exports tripled in Q1 on higher demand in key markets
    Just 1 more rate cut seen in 2019
    IMF flags gaps in state spending practices | BusinessWorld
    PHL growth outlook eases with rest of the world | BusinessWorld

    Energy
    DOE awaits ERC list of power supply deals requiring CSP
    Oil firms announce cut in fuel pump prices
    Meralco to push coal-fired, RE projects
    DOE temporarily suspends int’l petroleum contracting roadshows
    Tax perks for electric vehicles readied
    Typhoon-proof wind turbines to help Philippines keep lights on
    Renewable energy to grow 11.2% a year
    LPG prices also to be cut this June
    French firm to scale up PH solar investments
    Waste-to-energy plant in B.C. to handle disputed garbage from Philippines
    Philippines renewables to grow 11 percent by 2030
    EDC seeks perks on geothermal projects

    Financial Services
    Cashalo introduces pre-approved digital credit feature for Cashacart clients
    House okays financial consumer protection bill
    World Bank exec lauds PHL’s ‘proactive, forward-looking’ tax reform program
    DOF thanks Congress for approving 'sin' tax reform bill
    DOF aims to complete e-invoicing by 2022
    LGUs losing P30.5-B revenues to outdated real property valuation
    Philippines' $10 billion e-commerce stokes digital payments push
    Rating hike a strong push for TRABAHO bill

    Food & Agriculture
    Piñol to seek Duterte’s nod for 3-month pork import ban
    Taal Lake fish cage operators told to harvest tilapia now to avoid loss
    Sweet problem: Bumper harvest brings down mango farm-gate price
    FDA orders seizure of all pork products from countries affected with African Swine Fever | BusinessWorld
    Latest PSA data reveal continuous drop in rice price
    PHL hog raisers, DA seek 2-month imports halt as buffer vs ASF
    Fishing boat activity rises January-April; alert up

    Health & Life Sciences
    Court junks Sanofi, Zuellig bid to dismiss Dengvaxia raps
    Health care spending seen lagging economic growth
    Higher alcohol, tobacco taxes to fund Universal Health Care programs in the Philippines
    Duque: More time needed for implementing rules on Universal Health Care 

    ICT
    DICT hopes to give Mislatel permit to operate this month | BusinessWorld
    Senate passes bill vs bank hackers
    Data privacy protection fines levied so far: The lessons businesses can learn
    UBX looking to launch stablecoin
    PHL digital economy to expand 12-fold to P1.9 trillion in 2030–Hinrich
    CIT shift means 80% operating cost hike
    Information dept issues common-tower rules
    DICT: Huawei issue to have little impact
    LTO chief cites tech-driven push to improve services
    Firms urged to use only licensed software

    Infrastructure
    PHL, Japan to hold 8th high-level infrastructure meeting in New Clark City
    Duterte vows 5-minute travel between Cubao, Makati | Philstar.com

    Legislation
    Urban agri bill hurdles 3rd and final reading
    ‘Red tape a bane’ 1 year after EODB law’s OK
    Tobacco tax certified urgent; ‘bloody’ debate seen
    Duterte signs Magna Carta of the Poor bill in bid to reduce poverty
    House passes coconut trust fund bill on third reading | BusinessWorld
    Senate body nearly adopts House mining tax version | BusinessWorld
    Employers warn anti-‘endo’ bill will discourage investment, hiring | BusinessWorld
    DoF, DILG move to ensure local fees ‘just’ | BusinessWorld
    BIR to finalize rules governing tax amnesty this month | BusinessWorld
    House prods Senate on 11 priority measures
    Ecozones see growth as ‘Trabaho’ bill founders

    Manufacturing
    Tariff Commission sees decision on cement duties next month | BusinessWorld
    DTI notes export bright spot in gifts, decor, houseware | BusinessWorld

    Market Regulation
    Back to square one for Public Service Act amendment
    Employers close ranks versus total abolition of legitimate job contracting

    Travel & Tourism
    10-year extension of Tieza tax perks to yield P222 billion investments
    Philippines to bid for hosting rights to world tourism conference in 2021
    Tourism perks to spur hotel development outside Metro Manila
    Duterte urges Japan travel leaders to invest in Philippines
    DOF: Tieza gave P123-million tax holidays from 2015 to 2017
    Increased number of Singaporean tourists once Immigration bottleneck solved, says Tourism sec-gen | Malay Mail
    Tourism Ministry moots easing visa-on-arrival application for China tourists
    Extended TIEZA tax perks to create 160K jobs, P222-B investments
    Davao City eyes boost in trade, tourism ties with ASEAN cities
    DOT urges hotels to conform to Asean tourism standards | Philstar.com
     
    ARTICLE CLIPS
     
     
    Multilateral Trade Agreements

    Voting 20-0, Senate okays PHL-Indonesia EEZ pact BusinessMirror 4th Jun 2019
    Senators unanimously approved on Monday Senate Resolution 1048 concurring with the ratification of the Philippines-Indonesia Agreement on the delimitation of the exclusive economic  zone (EEZ) boundary. This, even as Senate President Vicente Sotto III prodded President Duterte to look into the plight of Filipino fishermen currently detained in Indonesia and direct concerned authorities to pursue efforts to resolve their cases.

    Ways the G-20 can take a lead on anti-corruption BusinessMirror 28th May 2019
    Almost two-thirds of the world’s population—some 4.7 billion people—live in a country represented at the annual G-20 summit, which this year takes place in Osaka, Japan, on June 28 and 29. G-20 economies control 85 percent of global gross domestic product (GDP) and over 75 percent of global trade. Although there have recently been doubts about the ability of the G-20 to find common ground in an age of increasing  trade wars, isolationism and protectionism, the group’s global reach still makes it an important forum for shaping policy.

    Regional Affairs

    PH, Japan ink P288.9B in business deals The Manila Times Online 30th May 2019
    Business deals worth nearly P300 billion were signed on Wednesday as President Rodrigo Duterte marked the start of a three-day visit to Japan. The 26 agreements, worth a total of P288.8 billion, are expected to result in the creation of 82,737 jobs.

    Senate OKs PH-Indonesia EEZ pact The Manila Times Online 30th May 2019
    The Senate, as a treaty-ratifying body, on Tuesday approved on second reading an agreement on the division of the overlapping Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of the Philippines and Indonesia...The Philippines and Indonesia have overlapping EEZs in Mindanao Sea and Celebes Sea and in the southern section of the Philippine Sea in the Pacific Ocean. The two countries held a series of negotiations to delimit their overlapping EEZs. After more than 20 years, the Philippines and Indonesia reached an equitable solution and agreed on a single EEZ boundary line to delimit the overlapping EEZs. Both countries acknowledged that extensive overlapping claims forestalled development while maritime boundaries remained unsettled, Legarda said... “This agreement is a significant contribution to the best practices and efforts towards building a peaceful regional community, which we are all aiming for as one Association of Southeast Asian Nations,” the senator added.

    PH, Japan bare 26 business deals amounting to ₱288-B CNN Philippines 29th May 2019
    The Philippines and Japan have announced 26 deals amounting to ₱288.8 billion in estimated investments during President Rodrigo Duterte's visit to the East Asian country. The agreements are expected to give jobs to 82,737 Filipinos, information relayed by Malacanang showed Tuesday. Seven deals are government agreements with business entities, while 16 are letters of intent of Filipino and Japanese firms doing business with each other.

    Joint Force Commander Visit Highlights Brunei-Philippines Military Relations The Diplomat 5th Jun 2019
    Last week, Brunei’s military joint force commander paid a visit to the Philippines. Though the scheduled trip was just one manifestation of the security relationship between the two Southeast Asian states, it nonetheless highlighted some of the ongoing activity within this dimension of ties.

    National Affairs

    Duterte concedes on federalism – Go The Manila Times Online 11th Jun 2019
    President Rodrigo Duterte has conceded that the shift to a federal system of government might not happen under his watch, according to Senator-elect Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go.... For now, Go said the Duterte government would prioritize its campaign to promote federalism.

    Philippines to tighten rules for foreigners as more Chinese pour in The Straits Times 11th Jun 2019
    The Philippines will tighten rules for foreign workers as more Chinese nationals enter the South-east Asian nation to take up jobs. Along with a permit from the Labour Department, foreign workers will now also need a working visa and a tax number, President Rodrigo Duterte's spokesman Salvador Panelo said in a statement on Tuesday (June 11).

    PH ready to cooperate with US – Duterte The Manila Times Online 9th Jun 2019
    Amid the trade war between the United States and China, President Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday said the Philippines was “ready to cooperate” with the former on its new policies, but would never go to war against the latter... “So, we are ready to cooperate. This I have to say, I will not go to war with anybody, against China because that will be the end of the world. It will really kill mankind, or at least it will dry up this region. Tsaka hindi natin kaya ang (Also we cannot win over) China. And besides, China is good. Well, America has been helpful,” he said.

    Fewer Pinoys looking for jobs in April–PSA BusinessMirror 6th Jun 2019
    THERE was a decline in the number of Filipinos looking for jobs and better employment opportunities, according to the preliminary data released by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) on Wednesday. In a briefing, National Statistician Claire Dennis S. Mapa said there was a 74,000 decrease in the number of unemployed Filipinos and 1.226 million in the number of the underemployed. However, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia said despite the good numbers from the April Labor Force Survey (LFS), the Philippines cannot rest on its laurels. Efforts to improve the labor market must continue in order to meet the government’s targets.

    Tugade says emergency powers up to senators MSN 3rd Jun 2019
    The Department of Transportation (DOTr) will leave it up to the new batch of senators whether or not to grant President Duterte emergency powers to solve the traffic congestion in Metro Manila, an official said yesterday... The DOTr had asked Congress to grant the Duterte administration emergency powers for three years to address the traffic problem.

    Senate approves higher taxes on cigarettes, tobacco products Rappler 3rd Jun 2019
    Voting 20-0, the Senate on Monday, June 3, passed on third and final reading the bill increasing excise taxes on cigarettes, in a bid to reduce smoking and raise funding for the universal health care program. Senate Bill 2233 proposes a starting tax rate of P45 in 2020 or in the first year of implementation. This would be followed by a series of annual P5 increases until the rate reaches P60 in 2023. The current cigarette tax is P35 per pack. Starting 2024, a 5% increase would be imposed annually... A revenue of P15 billion is expected next year and P140 billion until 2023.

    PCG acquires more vessels, equipment The Manila Times Online 31st May 2019
    The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) on Thursday presented its newly acquired vessels, jet skis and vehicles that will be used to boost maritime security and beef up its capacity to respond to disasters. PCG Commandant Adm. Elson Hermogino led the blessing and launching of the 10 multi-role response vessels, 40 12-meter rigid hull inflatable boats from Japan, four 24-meter fast patrol boats from France, 180 units of Toyota Hi-lux vehicles, 20 aluminum boats, and 20 personal watercraft or jet skis that were acquired for P1.6 billion.

    The Public Service Act and provincial tourism Business World 31st May 2019
    One of the oldest laws in the Philippines yet having a huge and restrictive impact on the modern economy is Commonwealth Act 146 or the Public Service Act (PSA), which was approved on November 7, 1936, or nearly 83 years ago. That law lists five sectors as “public utilities,” and hence, foreign capital is restricted, if not prohibited... When there is restriction, there is limited or no competition and thus, consumers are penalized with the limited choices. The solution is to expand competition, and one proposed legislation is amending the PSA and removing for now sectors (d) and (e), telecommunications and transportation.

    Philippines ships 69 containers of dumped rubbish back to Canada Aljazeera 31st May 2019
    A cargo ship carrying tonnes of rubbish dumped in the Philippines by Canada more than five years ago, causing a festering diplomatic row, has left the Southeast Asian country, as nations in the region increasingly reject serving as dumpsites for wealthier states. The 69 shipping containers of rotting waste were loaded onto the M/V Bavaria at Subic Bay port in the early hours of Friday, before embarking on a 20-day journey to Vancouver, in southwestern Canada.

    Trabaho bill threatens PH electronics industry’s existence Inquirer.net 31st May 2019
    Electronics manufacturers, the country’s largest exporters, fear that the industry “might dwindle and eventually disappear” in the long term if the Trabaho bill gets passed in its current form... Although the bill failed to pass in the 17th Congress, Lachica claimed that some companies—which he refused to name—had decided to shift a total of $1 billion worth of expansion plans elsewhere last year because of the tax package.

    New 'sin' tax for cigarettes not enough to fund universal healthcare – DOF CNN Philippines 30th May 2019
    The Department of Finance (DOF) wants the Senate to approve higher taxes on alcoholic drinks to raise more funding, now that the additional duties proposed for cigarettes turned out lower than expected. Finance Undersecretary Karl Kendrick Chua said Senate Bill 2233, or the new bill that will further raise the excise taxes on tobacco products, will only generate ₱15 billion once implemented. The DOF has endorsed higher taxes on cigarettes to deter smoking and to fund a projected ₱62-billion funding gap as the government rolls out the Universal Healthcare Act.

    Gordon: Excise tax hike may displace tobacco farmers Inquirer.net 29th May 2019
    Sen. Richard Gordon on Tuesday raised his concern over the possible effects of increasing the excise tax on cigarettes to tobacco farmers. Citing data from the National Tobacco Administration, Gordon said there was a decrease in the number of tobacco farmers in the Philippines, particularly in the Ilocos Region, from 2015 to 2017. This, Gordon said, should be taken into consideration as further increasing taxes on tobacco products would mean less demand and possible displacement for the farmers.

    Duterte signs ‘Sagip Saka Act’ The Manila Times 28th May 2019
    President Rodrigo Duterte has signed a law instituting the farmers and fisherfolk enterprise development program of the Department of Agriculture. Duterte signed Republic Act 11321 or the “Sagip Saka Act” on April 17, copies of which were given to members of the media more than a month later. Under the new measure, the Philippines will “strengthen its farmers and fisherfolk enterprise development by establishing a comprehensive approach in the formulation and implementation of enterprise development initiatives, consolidation of the roles of different government agencies involved in farmers and fisherfolk enterprise development and intensifying the building of entrepreneurship culture among farmers and fisherfolk.”

    ADB extends fresh $300-million loan for ‘high-quality’ secondary education BusinessMirror 28th May 2019
    The national government has obtained a new loan from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to help students perform better in the National Achievement Test (NAT) and assessments for vocational and livelihood courses after high school. In a news statement issued on Monday, the ADB said it has extended a $300-million loan to finance the Secondary Education Support Program, which is expected to contribute to the government’s aim of reducing poverty to 14 percent by 2022 from the current 21 percent.

    Marawi rehab effort left over P4billion unspent in 2018 | BusinessWorld Business World 28th May 2019
    OVER P4 billion in funding was left unutilized in 2018 for the rehabilitation of Marawi City due to the absence of rebuilding proposals from various agencies, an official overseeing the city’s reconstruction said. The P10 billion rebuilding fund paid out P5.624 billion, leaving a remaining balance of P4.375 billion, Secretary Eduardo D. del Rosario, who chairs Task Force Bangon Marawi, said, adding that the rebuilding effort was hindered by the failure of agencies to submit project proposals. “Whenever we meet, we asked the implementing agencies to submit their proposals to the Office of Civil Defense for funding,” Mr. Del Rosario told a House committee hearing.

    Anti-‘endo’ bill up for Duterte’s signature after House adopts Senate version The Manila Times Online 28th May 2019
    The ban against contractualization will soon become law once President Rodrigo Duterte affixes his signature to the Senate bill, which the House of Representatives formally adopted on Tuesday. The House adoption of Senate Bill (SB) 1826 or the proposed Security of Tenure Act, which the senators approved on third and final reading, eliminated the need to convene for a bicameral conference committee.

    Customs

    DOF eyes TradeNet inclusion of five govt agencies to boost EODB drive BusinessMirror 27th May 2019
    The Department of Finance (DOF) is eyeing to link at least five government agencies under the TradeNet platform on or before the end of 2019, as the government aims to strengthen the Ease of Doing Business (EODB) in the country. Finance Undersecretary Gil S. Beltran told reporters that the government wants at least five more agencies to be using the TradeNet platform this year, as it envisions to connect all 76 government agencies under the platform by 2022.

    Shorter period for goods lodgement declaration in force by June 15 Asia Customs & Trade 7th Jun 2019
    The Philippine Bureau of Customs (BOC) will implement on June 15 the requirement to lodge goods declaration within seven days from the previous 15 days. Customs Memorandum Order (CMO) No. 27-2019, dated June 3 and signed June 4 by Customs commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero, implements the shortened period for lodging the goods declaration. The new order also provides instructions for the provisional goods declaration, as requested by stakeholders when they agreed to the new policy’s implementation.

    PH, South Korea start FTA talks Asia Customs & Trade 4th Jun 2019
    The Philippines and South Korea have officially launched negotiations for a free trade agreement (FTA) to promote stronger bilateral relations. Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez and South Korea’s Minister for Trade, Industry and Energy Yoo Myung-hee headed the launch of negotiations on the PH-ROK Free Trade Agreement on June 3, 2019. At the event, both countries recognized the potential to advance economic relations “by enhancing trade and investment flow between them through removal of impediments to closer trade and creation of business and investment opportunities.”

    Truckers’ registration at PH Customs on hold; goods lodgement declaration order moved to June 15 Asia Customs & Trade 31st May 2019
    The Philippine Bureau of Customs (BOC) has placed on hold its order requiring the registration of all truckers carrying import and export goods. At the same time, the agency pushed to June 15 implementation of a shorter period for goods lodgement declaration, according to information gathered by PortCalls from the office of Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero. Both orders were supposed to be implemented on June 1.

    Customs: Tapioca starch, not shabu, was auctioned off cnn 31st May 2019
    The Bureau of Customs (BOC) on Friday said it did not put a shabu shipment up for auction in response to a privilege speech by Senator Panfilo "Ping" Lacson. "As far as the BOC is concerned, what was auctioned in April 2019 was tapioca starch which is highly perishable in nature," the BOC said in a statement. A May 25 media release from the bureau, however, said that "instead of immediately seizing the illegal shipment," authorities conducted a public bidding, "hoping to draw out possible members of the drug syndicates who may be interested in bidding on the drug shipment."

    Lacson hits BOC, PDEA for questionable auction of intercepted ‘shabu’ Manila Bulletin News 30th May 2019
    The country’s illegal drugs problem remains an unstoppable multi-billion-peso gravy train as the Bureau of Customs (BOC) and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) circumvented the law by auctioning off P1 billion worth of smuggled ‘’shabu’’ (crystal meth) last April 22. What the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (Republic Act 10863) allows is that seized illegal drugs must be burned and not offered for sale in a public auction, Senator Panfilo M. Lacson in a privilege speech at the Senate session hall.

    Defense & Security

    US to launch new program to fight extremism in Philippines Fox News 4th Jun 2019
    U.S. and Philippine officials on Tuesday discussed a new program to thwart efforts by Muslim extremists to recruit and mobilize followers in the country's south after a bloody siege by jihadists aligned with the Islamic State group. The three-year program involves helping local officials identify issues that foster extremism and find ways to address them, said U.S. Assistant Secretary Denise Natali of the State Department's Bureau of Conflict & Stabilization Operations.

    Philippines backs U.S. moves vs China buildup in South China Sea Rappler 4th Jun 2019
    The Philippines supports any United States action in the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea) that would maintain stability in the region amid the continued military buildup of China in the area, President Rodrigo Duterte's spokesman said on Tuesday, June 4... Panelo said in a Palace briefing: “The Philippines would want stability in this part of the world, in that part of the world. The Philippine position is that every country has a right to use the waters in the South China Sea as well as the airspace. And we want peace and quiet in that area. So anything that will provide such kind of atmosphere, we are for it.”

    US looking forward to possible arms deal with Philippines philstar.com 4th Jun 2019
    The United States is open to selling military equipment to the Philippines as it rolls out a new policy on foreign military sales. Andrea Thompson, US Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs, confirmed that there has been an increase in arms spending of Southeast Asian countries. Thompson met with her ASEAN counterparts at the sidelines of the 2019 Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, including Philippine Defense Undersecretary Ricardo David.... Despite Duterte's position against purchasing weapons from the US, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. still prefers long-time ally US to re-arm the Philippine military.

    US to sell surveillance drones to Philippines, South China Sea allies ABS-CBN News 3rd Jun 2019
    The Trump administration has moved ahead with a surveillance drone sale to 4 US allies in the South China Sea region as acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said Washington will no longer "tiptoe" around Chinese behavior in Asia. The drones would afford greater intelligence gathering capabilities potentially curbing Chinese activity in the region....The Pentagon announced on Friday it would sell 34 ScanEagle drones, made by Boeing Co. to the governments of Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam for a total of $47 million.

    Philippines Navy to get three more multi-purpose attack vessels Naval Technology 6th Jun 2019
    The Philippines Navy (PN) is reportedly set to receive three additional multi-purpose attack craft (MPACs). Speaking to the Philippine News Agency (PNA), PN spokesperson captain Jonathan Zata stated that the MPACs will be fitted with Rafael Advanced Defense’s Spike extended range (ER) surface-to-surface missile system. The craft will also feature remotely controlled .50 calibre machine guns and are designed to travel at a speed of up to 45k.

    PAF awaits delivery of Super Tucano planes, Black Hawk choppers Inquirer.Net 5th Jun 2019
    The Philippine Air Force continues to expand and grow its fleet as it awaits the delivery of six A-29 Super Tucano light attack aircraft and 16 Sikorsky S-70i Black Hawk combat utility helicopters between this year and 2021. The 16 Sikorsky S-70i Black Hawk helicopters will likely be delivered in batches starting third quarter of 2020 and will be completed in 2021, said Jacob Sifers, regional business development manager of Lockheed Martin Global Inc.

    3 more missile-armed MPACs to arrive this August Philippines News Agency 4th Jun 2019
    The Philippine Navy (PN) is expected to take possession of three additional multi-purpose attack craft (MPACs) armed with the Rafael Advanced Defense Ltd. Spike-ER (extended range) surface-to-surface missile system by August this year. This was bared by Navy spokesperson Captain Jonathan Zata when sought for an update regarding the fast and hard-hitting boats Monday afternoon. "The three MPACs being constructed are still with the builder and will still undergo the systems integration phase in one of the facilities in Subic. Based from the approved contract, the delivery date is on August 2019," he said in a message to the Philippine News Agency.

    U.S. to sell 34 surveillance drones to allies in South China Sea region Reuters 4th Jun 2019
    The Trump administration has moved ahead with a surveillance drone sale to four U.S. allies in the South China Sea region as acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said Washington will no longer “tiptoe” around Chinese behavior in Asia... The Pentagon announced on Friday it would sell 34 ScanEagle drones, made by Boeing Co. to the governments of Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam for a total of $47 million.

    Boeing’s Insitu to Supply ScanEagle UAVs to Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam Defense World 4th Jun 2019
    Boeing subsidiary Insitu Inc is awarded $47,930,791 contract for 34 ScanEagle unmanned air vehicles for the governments of Malaysia (12); Indonesia (8); Philippines (8); and Vietnam (6).

    Israel-Philippines Military Ties in Focus with Counterterrorism Training Talk The Diplomat 4th Jun 2019
    Last week, indications surfaced that Israel and the Philippines would move forward with more counterterrorism collaboration. While the development is in line with current trends, the suggestion of future prospects nonetheless once again put the spotlight on the ongoing defense ties between the two countries.

    South Korea-Philippines Defense Ties in the Headlines with Expected Vessel Arrival The Diplomat 28th May 2019
    The focus on the ship’s pending arrival put the focus on the ongoing activity in the security aspect of relations between the two countries. Last week, the Philippine navy chief offered an update on the arrival of a vessel that South Korea had donated to Manila. While this is only one manifestation of relations between the two countries, it nonetheless put the spotlight on the ongoing activity in the defense aspect of the relationship between them.

    Philippine Naval Modernization in the Headlines With First South Korea Frigate Launch The Diplomat 24th May 2019
    This week, twin ceremonies were held with respect to two frigates that the Philippines had purchased from South Korea. The ongoing progress once again spotlighted a significant capability for Manila’s defense modernization amid wider security challenges that it continues to face. As I have noted before in these pages, one of the key contemporary developments in Philippine military modernization was Manila’s purchase of two frigates from South Korea back in 2016. The Philippines and South Korean shipbuilder Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) had signed a contract for two missile-armed frigates for $337 million, which constituted one of the biggest line items in Manila’s ongoing military modernization.

    Economics

    Philippines exports return to growth in April  Financial Times 11th Jun 2019
    Exports from the Philippines returned to growth on April, following four months of declines, boosted by higher shipments of electronics and fresh fruits. Data published by the Philippines Statistics Authority on Tuesday showed that export values squeaked 0.4 per cent higher during the month, compared to a year ago. In March, exports had shrunk by 2.5 per cent year on year.

    Japan loan signing set for Mindanao highway development project | BusinessWorld Business World 10th Jun 2019
    THE Department of Finance (DoF) expects to sign a $202.04-million loan agreement with Japan for the Road Network Development Project in Conflict-Affected Areas. The signing is expected to take place during a meeting between Japanese and Philippine officials in New Clark City. It will be the eighth session of the high-level joint committee since March 2017. The project involves building, rehabilitating and improving the 178.43-kilometer road network in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and its neighboring regions, which is aimed to boost Mindanao’s economy and help alleviate poverty in conflict-affected areas.

    Foreign direct investments fall in March Business World 10th Jun 2019
    Foreign direct investments (FDI) declined to a four-month low in March, dragged by lower equity capital flows amid global uncertainties, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) reported on Monday. FDI net inflows dropped 13.9% to $586 million in March from the $681 million recorded in the same month last year, central bank data showed. This was the lowest net inflow in four months or since November 2018’s $535 million.

    Peso to move sideways vs dollar on soft US jobs data, trade issues | BusinessWorld Business World 10th Jun 2019
    THE PESO is seen to move sideways against the dollar this week following weaker-than-expected jobs data in the United States as well as positive developments in Washington’s trade issues. The local unit closed last week at P52.04 versus the greenback, 30 centavos weaker than Thursday’s P51.74-per-dollar finish. Week on week, however, the peso still strengthened from its P52.16-per-dollar close last May 31.

    SSS hires fund managers for P7B in investments | BusinessWorld Business World 10th Jun 2019
    THE Social Security System (SSS) has hired local fund managers to manage P7 billion of its Investment Reserve Fund (IRF) over two years to boost its financial standing, it said in a statement over the weekend. SSS President and CEO Aurora C. Ignacio said the pension fund allocated the total equally to three Balanced Fund mandates, three Pure Equity Fund mandates, and one Pure Fixed Income Fund mandate.

    BSP’s not worried by inflation uptick BusinessMirror 6th Jun 2019
    THE Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) showed no worry on Wednesday, after the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported an uptick in inflation for the first time in six months. Inflation took a 3.2-percent print in May—an uptick from the 3 percent in the previous month but lower than the 4.6 percent in the previous year. The data showed that inflation snapped its six-month declining trend in May.

    GSIS plans to sell Port Area property BusinessMirror 5th Jun 2019
    Do you have P33.63 billion to invest? If so, you may want to buy the Government Service Insurance System’s (GSIS) Port Area property. State-run GSIS said it would sell its nonperforming assets in Port Area, including the lot being occupied by the Manila International Container Terminal (MICT). GSIS President and General Manager Jesus Clint Aranas said they would pursue the sale of their Port Area properties after the Department of Finance (DOF) released its latest zonal valuations.

    Gatchalian to Duterte admin: Don’t omit key economic reform bills BusinessMirror 4th Jun 2019
    The Duterte administration was asked to step up efforts to frontload key economic reforms, even as the Philippines got a good rating in the latest Competitiveness Report. Sen. Sherwin T. Gatchalian, chairman of the Senate Committee on Economic Affairs, cited the country’s improved ranking in the 2019 Institute for Management Development (IMD) Competitiveness Report as “a testament that the Duterte administration is on the right track in terms of achieving sustainable growth, generating jobs and, ultimately, increasing the welfare of its citizens.”

    NEDA: El Niño affected GDP The Manila Times Online 30th May 2019
    The country’s growth slowed a bit in the first semester of 2019 because of the effects of El Niño, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said on Wednesday. NEDA Undersecretary Adoracion Navarro said the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) dipped by 0.21 percentage point because of the drought and dry spell that hit several provinces... El Niño also greatly affected staple food, high value crops, fishes and livestock, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said.

    HMO industry income jumped 63% to P1.65 billion in 2018–IC chief BusinessMirror 29th May 2019
    The local Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) industry composed of 29 major players has reported total net income P1.65 billion for 2018, representing a 63-percent jump compared to the P1.01 billion recorded in 2017, according to the Insurance Commission (IC). In a news statement issued on Tuesday, Insurance Commissioner Dennis B. Funa attributed the growth to the increase in revenues for the year primarily from the payment of membership fees. The IC pointed out that Medicard Philippines Inc. reported the highest net income amounting to P706.31 million for the year.

    I.M.D. competitiveness ranking: PHL climbs 4 notches to 46th slot BusinessMirror 29th May 2019
    THE Philippines climbed four notches to 46th among 63 economies in the IMD World Competitiveness Ranking 2019 on improvements in economic performance, government and business efficiency and infrastructure buildup. In the 2019 cycle of the IMD World Competitiveness Ranking, the Philippines jumped to 46th, from 50th in the 2018 edition. However, when pitted against regional neighbors, the country placed 13th among 14 Asia-Pacific economies included in the study.

    PHL improves edge, but still lags in Asia | BusinessWorld Business World 28th May 2019
    THE PHILIPPINES has “partially recovered” in terms of global competitiveness, according to an annual report of the research group of Switzerland-based business school International Institute for Management Development (IMD) that put the country up four notches on improvements across four key factors after a nine-step fall last year. But the improvement was not enough to lift the country from near the bottom in Asia and the Pacific. IMD’s 2019 World Competitiveness Report placed the Philippines 46th out of 63 economies, up from 50th spot in the previous report.

    Expected infrastructure spending pickup next semester to fuel growth | BusinessWorld Business World 28th May 2019
    THE PHILIPPINE ECONOMY can expect to benefit from revived infrastructure spending in the latter half of this year after a four-month delay in enactment of the P3.662-trillion national budget weighed on “fiscal impulse” this semester, S&P Global Ratings said in a report e-mailed to journalists on Tuesday that tagged the impact of Sino-US trade tensions and potential price pressures from a prolonged El Niño episode and oil prices as key risks to the country’s growth prospects. HSBC Private Banking said separately on Tuesday that the second half should see infrastructure spending pick up, but still kept its earlier projection that overall economic growth will slow this year from 2018.

    Foreign Investment Law update urgent–Win BusinessMirror 28th May 2019
    THE chairman of the Senate Committee on Economic Affairs is moving to update the 28-year-old Foreign Investment  Law, aiming to lure more foreign direct investments (FDI) into the country to create more jobs. Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian, in filing the remedial legislation embodied in Senate Bill 2227, sought to amend certain provisions of the 1991 Foreign Investment Law embodied in Republic Act 7042, in a bid to “take advantage of global and regional economic dynamics.”

    PHL’s banana exports tripled in Q1 on higher demand in key markets BusinessMirror 23rd May 2019
    PHILIPPINE banana exports in the first quarter tripled to 1.05 million metric tons (MMT), fueled by record-high purchases by China which accounted for more than a third of the total imports, preliminary data from the government showed. The country’s total shipments of the tropical fruit in the January-to-March period rose by 200.72 percent from the 349,213.540 MT recorded in the same period last year, according to Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) data obtained by the BusinessMirror.

    Just 1 more rate cut seen in 2019 BusinessMirror 23rd May 2019
    THE Philippines is due for only one more rate cut for this year, an international research group predicted on Wednesday, as it described the current leadership in the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) as a “pro-growth” thinker. Fitch Solutions, the research arm of the Fitch Group, said the BSP will likely pull off another 25-basis-point cut in September as the country’s economic growth and global markets give it scope to further ease their monetary settings. The BSP in May cut its main policy rate by 25 basis points on the back of easing inflationary pressures.

    IMF flags gaps in state spending practices | BusinessWorld Business World 23rd May 2019
    THE GOVERNMENT is on the right track in ramping up spending, especially on infrastructure, but much remains to be done to improve project planning and implementation, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said in a May 16 report that was e-mailed to journalists on Wednesday. The technical assistance report — which resulted from an Aug. 9-22, 2018 mission in the country from the IMF’s Fiscal Affairs Department that was requested by Philippine authorities — gauged public investment management practices against 15 indicators, namely: fiscal target and rules, national and sectoral planning, coordination among entities, project appraisal, alternative infrastructure financing, multi-year budgeting, budget comprehensiveness and unity, budgeting for investment, maintenance funding, project selection, procurement, availability of funding, portfolio management and oversight, project management and monitoring of assets.

    PHL growth outlook eases with rest of the world | BusinessWorld Business World 23rd May 2019
    SIMMERING trade tensions between the world’s two biggest economies, the United States and China, will weigh on global economic prospects, the United Nations (UN) and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) reported on Wednesday — a factor that led Fitch Solutions Macro Research to slash its own gross domestic product (GDP) growth projection for the Philippines in particular for this year. Fitch Solutions said in a May 21 note, titled “Philippine stimulus to only partially offset external drags,” that it expects the country’s GDP expansion to “fall below the government’s 6-7% annual expansion target in 2019, growing by 5.9% (down from a previous 6.1% projection) before rebounding modestly to 6.3% in 2020.” GDP expanded by 6.2% last year, marking the slowest pace in four years.

    Energy

    DOE awaits ERC list of power supply deals requiring CSP BusinessMirror 29th May 2019
    ENERGY regulators are keen on fulfilling their mandate to institutionalize the Competitive Selection Process (CSP) for power supply contracts—as a recent Supreme Court ruling reminded them—and are holding meetings on the matter, a Department of Energy (DOE) official said. Energy Assistant Secretary Redentor Delola said the DOE is waiting for the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to send a list of power supply contracts that need to undergo the CSP as ordered by the high court.

    Oil firms announce cut in fuel pump prices BusinessMirror 28th May 2019
    PetrO Gazz, PTT Philippines and Eastern Petroleum Corp. said on Monday that they will implement a P0.35 per liter price cut in gasoline and diesel by P0.45 per liter effective 6 a.m. on Tuesday. Phoenix Petroleum had already implemented its price rollback on Sunday morning. Seaoil Philippines also reduced pump prices at 12:01 a.m. of Monday. Aside from the price rollback in gasoline and diesel, Seaoil also reduced kerosene price by P0.60 per liter.

    Meralco to push coal-fired, RE projects Manila Bulletin Business 30th May 2019
    Giant distribution utility Manila Electric Company (Meralco) has formally transitioned to a new leadership. Espinosa said that despite the recent Supreme Court (SC) ruling that would require Meralco to start from scratch when it comes to securing power deals for its Atimonan project, the company would still attempt to pursue the US$3-billion coal project through it power generation arm Meralco Powergen Corp. To recall, SC ruled that “all deals or PSAs submitted by distribution utilities or the power companies to the ERC, must undergo a competitive selection process. This means that all DUs like Meralco should enter into a competitive selection process (CSP) before awarding its PSAs to generation companies. Meanwhile, Espinosa said Meralco is in discussion with “less than a dozen” renewable energy (RE) proponents as part of its efforts to somehow reduce its dependence on coal.

    DOE temporarily suspends int’l petroleum contracting roadshows Manila Bulletin Business 30th May 2019
    The Department of Energy (DOE) will not proceed for now on its next three-country swing of roadshows for the country’s petroleum contracting round – the sorties prospectively targeting investors in Canada, United Arab Emirates and Argentina. In the United States, Marcos noted they had discussions with several firms and they are counting on these firms to really advance on their interests when the submission of tenders would fall due in August 19 this year. And in the “area nomination scheme”, interested parties can submit tenders year-round, but this will be subject to a Swiss challenge process based on the terms set forth by the DOE. These companies have either sought area clearances and have submitted letters of interest (LOI) on targeted area nominations; some have viewed and purchased technical data sets including those on seismic lines and well listings; while the rest have made courtesy visits and one-on-one meetings with relevant DOE officials.

    Tax perks for electric vehicles readied Inquirer.Net 30th May 2019
    The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) expects to finish within the year an incentive package for electric vehicle manufacturers, a top official said. Trade and Industry Undersecretary Rafaelita Aldaba told reporters on Wednesday that the package could include a temporary zero tariff for vehicle importers who plan to eventually manufacture in the country. The short period of time for the incentive, she said, would be given for the market to form a base, after which the government could grant incentives to the assembly of electric vehicles. Eventually, the goal is to manufacture in the country. However, she clarified that companies were not expected to do the entire vehicle here, but to at least use some locally available products like electronic parts.

    Typhoon-proof wind turbines to help Philippines keep lights on Nikkei Asian Review 28th May 2019
    The Philippines frequently finds itself in the path of powerful typhoons, and a Japanese startup is working on wind power equipment that can stand up to the storms. Challenergy, the startup, is betting there will be high demand for typhoon-proof turbines on remote Philippine islands that often take direct hits and lack sufficient power infrastructure. "So far, the company looks promising with good potential to succeed," said Gregg Ilag, an energy analyst at Daiwa Securities in Manila. "Wind turbines that can withstand and generate power during Category 5 typhoons are a new technology."

    Renewable energy to grow 11.2% a year Inquirer.Net 27th May 2019
    Power generation capacity in the Philippines based on renewable sources other than hydro is expected to see a double-digit annual growth over the next 12 years, driven by the continued growth in the economy and the population. The London-based firm said investments in renewables were being driven by rising electricity consumption, which is expected at 6.5 percent CAGR to reach 173,000 gigawatt-hours in 2030 from 81,7000 gWh in 2018.

    LPG prices also to be cut this June Manila Bulletin Business 27th May 2019
    As of this writing, the oil companies that already cut pump prices included Seaoil Philippines, Phoenix Petroleum, Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corporation and PetroGazz; while the rest of the industry players are expected to follow. Beyond these petroleum commodities, the Department of Energy (DOE) is anticipating that the price of cooking fuel liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) will also go down this June although it was still assessing the scale of cost reduction. The benchmark applied on LPG cost movements hinges on the Saudi Aramco contract prices, which is also generally applied as reference for Asian LPG markets. Domestically, LPG prices move on a monthly basis. Prices in the world market softened in the latter part of trading days last week, and that warranted the bigger-than-anticipated price rollbacks in oil products this week.

    French firm to scale up PH solar investments Manila Bulletin Business 27th May 2019
    French multinational electric utility firm Engie will scale up its solar installations in the Philippines, with a grander aim of becoming one of the major players of this flourishing sector in the country. “We are basically looking to expand our RE (renewable energy) portfolio asset with our partners as investors,” Bert Deprest, head of Renewable Energy Solutions of Engie Southeast Asia, has indicated.

    Waste-to-energy plant in B.C. to handle disputed garbage from Philippines CTVNews 24th May 2019
    About 1,500 tonnes of garbage that is being sent back to Canada from the Philippines will be taken to a facility in Burnaby, B.C., that turns waste into electricity. Earlier this week, the Philippines rejected Canada's late-June timeline for repatriating its garbage and was moving forward with plans to ship it back to Canada itself. Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo told a media briefing in Manila on Thursday that Canada's timeline isn't good enough and that the Philippine government will have 69 containers of mislabelled Canadian trash shipped across the Pacific no later than next week. Canada and the Philippines have battled since 2014 about what to do with the contents. The Philippines has recently recalled its ambassador and consuls general until Canada deals with the waste.

    Philippines renewables to grow 11 percent by 2030 Smart Energy International 23rd May 2019
    Non-hydro renewable capacity in the Philippines is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11% by 2030, according to the latest report by research agency GlobalData. The agency’s latest report, indicates that the country’s economic growth will result in a rise in electricity consumption from the current 81.7 terawatt hour (TWh) to 173.9TWh by 2030. GlobalData analyst Harshavardhan Reddy Nagatham said: “Growing population is driving electricity consumption in the Philippines. As a result, new investment in capacity addition is urgently needed.

    EDC seeks perks on geothermal projects Manila Standard 23rd May 2019
    Geothermal leader Energy Development Corp. urged the government to grant incentives to the development of geothermal energy to provide not only clean and reliable power but also jobs and livelihood to local communities. “The Philippines has vast geothermal potential. To spur the development of this untapped geothermal potential, we urge the government to incentivize the development of geothermal,” EDC president Richard Tantoco said. Tantoco said geothermal is “the holy grail of renewable energy” being the cleanest, most reliable and readily available. 

    Financial Services

    Cashalo introduces pre-approved digital credit feature for Cashacart clients Business World 28th May 2019
    MOBILE LENDING platform Cashalo launched an in-app feature granting clients pre-approved digital credit, in line with its push for responsible financial behavior among Filipinos. In a statement, financial technology (fintech) firm Cashalo introduced a pre-approved digital credit feature on its consumer basket financing product Cashacart, providing a credit limit to clients in order for them to know how much and over what period of time they are required to repay the borrowed funds.

    House okays financial consumer protection bill Business World 28th May 2019
    THE HOUSE of Representatives approved on third and final reading on Monday a bill providing a framework for regulating financial products and services for consumer protection. House Bill 9054 or the “Act Providing for the Protection of Financial Consumers” received 164 affirmative votes and zero negatives or abstention. The bill aims to ensure that appropriate mechanisms are in place for the protection of financial consumers under conditions of transparency, fair and sound market conduct, and rational and effective handling of consumer disputes.

    World Bank exec lauds PHL’s ‘proactive, forward-looking’ tax reform program Department of Finance 6th Jun 2019
    A top World Bank official has lauded the Duterte administration for implementing a “proactive and forward-looking” comprehensive tax reform program (CTRP) that aims to raise enough funding for two priority programs—public infrastructure and social services—that lay the foundation for long-term, high growth.

    DOF thanks Congress for approving 'sin' tax reform bill Department of Finance 5th Jun 2019
    Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III has thanked the Senate and the House of Representatives for passing this week a new “sin” tax reform bill that provides substantially higher excise tax rates on tobacco products, which would be earmarked primarily to augment the huge funding needed for the Universal Health Care (UHC) program that would benefit mostly poor and low-income Filipino families. Senate Bill (SB) No. 2233, which was approved unanimously by senators on third and final reading on Tuesday, provides for a unitary P45 excise tax increase per pack on tobacco products in 2020, followed by a series of P5 hikes until the rate reaches P60 in 2023, and a 5 percent annual increase thereafter.

    DOF aims to complete e-invoicing by 2022 Department of Finance 4th Jun 2019
    The Department of Finance (DOF) aims to complete the full shift to an electronic invoicing system by December 2022 as part of the digital transformation in tax administration that the Duterte administration wants to embark on so the government could provide better and faster services to taxpayers.

    LGUs losing P30.5-B revenues to outdated real property valuation Department of Finance 3rd Jun 2019
    Provinces and cities are losing an estimated P30.5 billion in total foregone revenues as a result of outdated real property values, underscoring the need for valuation reforms in the real property sector, according to the Department of Finance (DOF). Such reforms in the real property tax system constitute Package 3 of the Duterte administration’s comprehensive tax reform program (CTRP). Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said these reforms will further invigorate the real estate market, bring in more investments, and generate additional revenues for local government units (LGUs).

    Philippines' $10 billion e-commerce stokes digital payments push Bloomberg 30th May 2019
    The Philippines’ e-commerce gross merchandise value (GMV) could surge to $10 billion a year, padding the profits of Alibaba-backed Lazada and Shopee, both of which dominate the nation’s B2C marketplace. Rapid proliferation of online purchases is likely to support a regulatory push to convert 20% of the country’s retail transactions to digital. While the Philippines' e-commerce market penetration is among Southeast Asia's lowest, their internet economy has great growth potential given the large population of young tech-savvy internet users.

    Rating hike a strong push for TRABAHO bill Journal Online 27th May 2019
    Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III has expressed the hope that Standard & Poor’s recent upgrade of the Philippines’ credit rating to ‘BBB+’ would convince lawmakers to pass the bill that aims to reform the corporate income tax system as well as the rest of the proposed Comprehensive Tax Reform Program packages, considering that congressional passage of the first law overhauling taxation was among the top factors cited by the debt watcher in assigning the country’s highest investment grade ever.

    Food & Agriculture

    Piñol to seek Duterte’s nod for 3-month pork import ban BusinessMirror 6th Jun 2019
    AGRICULTURE Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol will propose to President Duterte on Monday a three-month import moratorium on pork and pork products from countries that are at high risk for African swine fever. This means that they have not reported any ASF outbreak, but are at risk because they are contiguous with infected territories. Piñol said the proposal of the Department of Agriculture (DA) is a preventive measure aimed at ensuring stable food prices, as a decimated domestic hog population could accelerate inflation.

    Taal Lake fish cage operators told to harvest tilapia now to avoid loss BusinessMirror 5th Jun 2019
    Fish cage operators in Taal Lake were advised by experts to harvest tilapia now as the level of dissolved oxygen continues to go down, threatening to cause extensive damage to the aquaculture sector in the area. “We are still monitoring because the fish kill is still going on in some areas,” said Elmer Bascos, Batangas Provincial Environment and Natural Resource Officer (Penro) and concurrent Protected Area Superintendent (PASu) of the Taal Volcano Protected Landscape.

    Sweet problem: Bumper harvest brings down mango farm-gate price BusinessMirror 4th Jun 2019
    The country has an estimated mango surplus of at least 2 million kilograms that has prompted the Department of Agriculture (DA) to undertake a massive marketing campaign to aid farmers from falling farm-gate prices. Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol called an emergency meeting on Monday with mango industry stakeholders, including farmers and processors, to discuss the ongoing oversupply in the market.

    FDA orders seizure of all pork products from countries affected with African Swine Fever | BusinessWorld Business World 29th May 2019
    THE Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said it has ordered the recall and seizure of pork meat products imported from countries affected by African Swine Fever (ASF). The order covers products which are for distribution, offered for sale, transfer, or donation. “Pursuant to the FDA Order No. 2018-133 dated 24 September 2018 and FDA Order No. 2019-045 dated 27 May 2019, all importers, distributors, retail outlets, and other dealers of processed pork meat products, are hereby ordered to immediately recall all pork meat products imported from countries suspected to be affected by the African Swine Fever (ASF) virus as identified in the aforementioned Orders,” FDA said through the FDA Order 2019-046 given to reporters on Tuesday.

    Latest PSA data reveal continuous drop in rice price BusinessMirror 28th May 2019
    The uptick in average farm-gate price of palay was abruptly cut in mid-May as nationwide quotation fell slightly to P18.35 per kilogram from previous week’s level, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported. In its weekly price monitoring report, the PSA noted that the average farm-gate price of palay in the second week of May was 0.54 percent lower than the P18.45 per kilogram recorded in the first week of the month.

    PHL hog raisers, DA seek 2-month imports halt as buffer vs ASF BusinessMirror 28th May 2019
    FILIPINO hog raisers will appeal to President Duterte to impose a two-month moratorium on the importation of meat and meat products from “high-risk” countries, or those near countries struck by African swine fever (ASF), to protect the local industry from the fatal pig disease. Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol said the two-month suspension would give the government sufficient time to improve its quarantine measures, which he admitted has lapses in averting the possible entry of ASF virus to the country.

    Fishing boat activity rises January-April; alert up BusinessMirror 23rd May 2019
    COMMERCIAL fishing boats detected in municipal waters increased by nearly a third in the first four months of the year, according to data released by Oceana Philippines on Wednesday. Oceana Philippines data showed there were a total of 18,564 commercial in the January-to-April period this year from the 14,089 commercial vessels detected in the same period last year. This represented an increase of 31.76 percent.

    Health & Life Sciences

    Court junks Sanofi, Zuellig bid to dismiss Dengvaxia raps BusinessMirror 23rd May 2019
    THE Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Quezon City has denied the motions filed by the officers of Sanofi Pasteur Inc. (SPI)  and Zuellig Pharma Corp. seeking the dismissal of the damage suit filed against them over the deaths of children inoculated with the controversial Dengvaxia vaccine. A resolution issued by QC RTC Branch 226 Presiding Judge Manuel Sta. Cruz Jr., held that the complaint filed by the heirs of Abbie Hedia sufficiently state a cause of action against the officers of the two companies to proceed with the trial of the case.

    Health care spending seen lagging economic growth Business World 10th Jun 2019
    HEALTH CARE expenditure in the Philippines is not keeping up with economic growth, according to a consultant engaged by the European Union to monitor programs supported by the bloc. “Despite the steady growth of GDP and overall government and private spending on health, there is no major increase of THE (total health expenditure) as percentage of GDP,” said Giovanni Cascone of IBF International Consulting, who prepared a report on two Philippine health programs supported financially by the EU. During his presentation at the Manila Hotel on Monday, Mr. Cascone added that health funding as a share of GDP increased to 4.5% in 2017 from 4.2% in 2010.

    Higher alcohol, tobacco taxes to fund Universal Health Care programs in the Philippines The Middle East North Africa Financial Network, Inc. (MENAFN) 10th Jun 2019
    More than being a means to raise funds, Duque said increased alcohol and tobacco taxes are a health measure which would keep Filipinos especially the youth away from smoking and drinking alcohol. Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III on Friday stressed the importance of passing the pending sin tax bills in the Senate to ensure sufficient funding for the Universal Health Care (UHC) program and improve health condition in the country.

    Duque: More time needed for implementing rules on Universal Health Care  CNN 10th Jun 2019
    The Universal Health Care law, applauded by advocates as a major reform that will ease Filipinos' financial burden, is expected to take effect next year. But the Department of Health (DOH) faces difficulty in coming up with the law's implementing rules and regulations (IRR). "It looks like many gray areas are surfacing from the provisions of the law. We would need more time to put clarity to these rather vague if not fuzzy provisions of the law," Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said at a joint press conference with the  Department of Finance (DOF) Friday.

    ICT

    DICT hopes to give Mislatel permit to operate this month | BusinessWorld Business World 10th Jun 2019
    THE Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) said it is targeting to award the Mislatel consortium with its frequencies and permit to operate by the end of this month, as the incoming third telecommunications player expects to begin operations by 2020. DICT Acting Secretary Eliseo M. Rio, Jr. said the Mislatel consortium is in the process of securing the go signal from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). After getting the SEC’s nod, only then can the DICT award the certificate of public convenience and necessity (CPCN) to the group.

    Senate passes bill vs bank hackers The Manila Times Online 5th Jun 2019
    The Senate has approved on third and final reading a measure that seeks to classify the hacking of bank systems as economic sabotage, punishable by life imprisonment and a fine of up to P5 million... The rapid development of information technology, and the economic impact of financial fraud and crimes committed through the use of electronic devices and gadgets necessitate the need to provide more teeth to RA 8484, Escudero said.

    Data privacy protection fines levied so far: The lessons businesses can learn BusinessMirror 4th Jun 2019
    After one year of enforcement of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), businesses can learn much from how the provisions of the regulation have been applied and how organizations have been fined. Enforcement of the  GDPR went into effect on May 25, 2018. In the approximate span of one year since that date, European data protection authorities confirm that almost 90,000 separate data breach notifications have been received. Note, that’s just the notifications received from organization’s attempting to comply with the GDPR. Those same data protection authorities report that during the same year almost 145,000 complaints and inquiries have been reported by concerned citizens.

    UBX looking to launch stablecoin Business World 28th May 2019
    UBX, the newly launched financial technology (fintech) platform of UnionBank of the Philippines, Inc., is eyeing to launch stablecoins. “We have BSP (Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas) approval to launch stablecoin,” UnionBank President and Chief Executive Officer Edwin R. Bautista told reporters on Monday at the launch of UBX. “We will eventually link i2i Philippines to similar clearing systems in other countries. All you have to do is to move tokens across the different platforms,” Mr. Bautista added.

    PHL digital economy to expand 12-fold to P1.9 trillion in 2030–Hinrich BusinessMirror 31st May 2019
    The country’s digital economy could expand 12-fold to P1.9 trillion by 2030 if the government would hike investments in information and communications technology (ICT), and ease border frictions to facilitate greater trade within the Asia-Pacific region, according to the Hinrich Foundation (HF). In its study, titled “The Data Revolution: How the Philippines Can Capture the Digital Trade Opportunity at Home and Abroad,” the HF estimated that the country’s digital economy today is valued at about P160 billion.

    CIT shift means 80% operating cost hike BusinessMirror 31st May 2019
    Semiconductor firms on Thursday said their operating cost will increase by as much as 80 percent if they are stripped of their tax incentives under the government’s rationalization plan. In a news briefing, Semiconductor and Electronics Industries in the Philippines Foundation Inc. (Seipi) President Danilo C. Lachica said industry players prefer to pay higher tax on gross income than to transition to corporate income tax (CIT).

    Information dept issues common-tower rules The Manila Times Online 25th May 2019
    The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) released on Friday the rules on the rollout of common tower, pushing forward its plan to pursue the tower-sharing market in the country. Amid the government’s vision to increase the number of cell sites in the country, the DICT said at least 2,500 common towers identified in DICT-owned and other government agencies’ properties, and areas named by existing telcos PLDT Inc. and Globe Telecom will be initially built or converted by independent tower companies (ITCs).

    DICT: Huawei issue to have little impact The Manila Times Online 24th May 2019
    THE Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) on Thursday shrugged off worries about rising tensions between the United States and China-based Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd., saying they only had minimal impact on the local telecommunications sector. “Local telcos have made pronouncements that they will diversify in their present and future procurements of equipment to make their networks more robust and future-proof,” the department said in a statement.

    LTO chief cites tech-driven push to improve services BusinessMirror 23rd May 2019
    The chief of the Land Transportation Office (LTO) said on Wednesday that technological innovation is necessary for the agency to streamline and hasten most of its processes, as he enumerated several IT-driven services that his office has implemented in the past few years. LTO chief Edgar C. Galvante said the introduction and adoption of technology into the LTO’s system helped “the agency maximize the use of technology to make services faster, more efficient, convenient and comfortable, and more importantly, to check corruption.”

    Firms urged to use only licensed software Business World 23rd May 2019
    Companies are urged to use only licensed software in their businesses, as doing otherwise will have harmful effects on the economic growth of the country. In a statement by The Software Alliance (BSA) over the weekend, the Philippines’ Optical Media Board (OMB) pushed corporations to uphold the country’s intellectual property laws by dismissing the practice of using pirated software for businesses.

    Infrastructure

    PHL, Japan to hold 8th high-level infrastructure meeting in New Clark City BusinessMirror 10th Jun 2019
    Officials from the Philippines and Japan would meet again this month for a high-level discussion on the progress of Japan-funded infrastructure projects under the government’s “Build, Build, Build” (BBB) program and other areas of economic cooperation between Manila and Tokyo. The 8th Japan-Philippines Joint Committee on Infrastructure Development and Economic Cooperation scheduled on June 18 will be held at the New Clark City in Pampanga, the Department of Finance said on Sunday.

    Duterte vows 5-minute travel between Cubao, Makati | Philstar.com philstar.com 9th Jun 2019
    President Duterte vowed to work on cutting the travel time along EDSA, particularly between Cubao and Makati, from over one hour to only five minutes by the end of the year... Duterte said it was good he went to China to attend the Belt and Road Forum, where he talked with Chinese President Xi Jinping on infrastructure projects under the government’s Build Build Build program. The Department of Public Works and Highways earlier said that major infrastructure projects are underway to help decongest traffic in the metropolis, among them the Metro Manila Skyway Stage 3 (MMSS3) and North and South Luzon Expressways connector road project. The MMSS3 viaduct will connect the two expressways and is projected to decongest EDSA and other main roads by as many as 50,000 cars.

    Legislation

    Urban agri bill hurdles 3rd and final reading BusinessMirror 4th Jun 2019
    The House of Representatives has endorsed for Senate approval a measure promoting integrated urban agricultural development in all metropolitan areas nationwide to address food-security issues. The lower chamber—voting 170-0 without abstention—approved on third and final reading House Bill 9105, or the proposed “Integrated Urban Agriculture Act.”

    ‘Red tape a bane’ 1 year after EODB law’s OK BusinessMirror 29th May 2019
    ONE year after President Duterte signed the Ease of Doing Business (EODB) law, the government still has a lot of work to do to cut red tape in the bureaucracy and make transactions easier, according to business executives. Business leaders polled by the BusinessMirror said the EODB law has yet to make an impact on their operations because its implementing rules and regulations (IRR) are not yet promulgated. As far as transactions with the government are concerned, they remain too burdensome.

    Tobacco tax certified urgent; ‘bloody’ debate seen BusinessMirror 29th May 2019
    SENATORS see a tough task ahead in passing the final reconciled version of a controversial revenue measure increasing the excise tax on tobacco products, even if its passage was certified urgent by Malacañang on Tuesday. Still, Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri told reporters they are aiming for a plenary vote on the Palace-endorsed “sin” tax bill early next week, as Congress is set to adjourn anew, going on recess from June 8 to July 21.

    Duterte signs Magna Carta of the Poor bill in bid to reduce poverty BusinessMirror 28th May 2019
    President Duterte has finally signed the Magna Carta of the Poor in a bid to institutionalize long-term strategies in poverty reduction. The President signed Republic Act 11291 on April 12, a few days before he inked the bill institutionalizing the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), the government’s key measures to effectively combat poverty in the country. The passage of the Magna Carta of the Poor seeks to uplift the quality of standard of living and quality of life of the marginalized and provide them opportunities for growth development through the help of both the government and the private sector

    House passes coconut trust fund bill on third reading | BusinessWorld Business World 28th May 2019
    THE House of Representatives approved on third and final reading Monday a refiled bill creating the Coconut Industry Trust Fund, which Malacañang had vetoed. House Bill 9197 received 159 affirmative votes, five negative votes, and zero abstentions. The Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Trust Fund Act is the refiled version of the vetoed House Bill 5745, whose counterpart measure is Senate Bill No. 1233. The original legislation sought to put the P100-billion coconut levy assets into a trust fund to be used for coconut farmers and the coconut industry.

    Senate body nearly adopts House mining tax version | BusinessWorld Business World 28th May 2019
    THE SENATE Committee on Ways and Means on Tuesday minimized differences with the House of Representatives’ version of a proposal to increase the government’s share in mining revenues in a bid to fast-track final legislative approval. Committee Chairman Senator Juan Edgardo M. Angara sponsored Senate Bill No. 2235, or “An Act Establishing the Fiscal Regime for the Mining Industry,” which proposed to reduce the royalty fee on large-scale mining within mineral reserves to three percent of gross output from five percent currently and introduce a 1-5% margin-based royalty on those outside mineral reserves.

    Employers warn anti-‘endo’ bill will discourage investment, hiring | BusinessWorld Business World 28th May 2019
    EMPLOYERS warned that the Security of Tenure Bill (SoT) will dampen investment and increase unemployment if enacted, ahead of the bicameral conference committee session to reconcile the House and Senate versions of the bill later this week. At the Employers Confederation of the Philippines’ (ECoP) 40th annual conference, ECoP Chair Edgardo G. Lacson said: “For regulations to provide punitive sanctions, we believe that these are disincentives to investment. No investor in their right mind will do business in a country where they are intimidated and threatened to be put in jail should they be found non-compliant, especially with the kind of labor inspectorate and labor justice system we have right now.

    DoF, DILG move to ensure local fees ‘just’ | BusinessWorld Business World 28th May 2019
    THE DEPARTMENTS of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and of Finance (DoF) are requiring local government units (LGUs) to make sure that their fees and charges are “just and reasonable” and do not impede the conduct of business. Both departments have issued a still-unnumbered joint memorandum circular (JMC), which takes effect immediately, “for the guidance of LGUs to ensure uniform procedure in setting reasonable fees and charges, as authorized by Republic Act No. 7160, or the Local Government Code of 1991, and in order to achieve a balance between recovering cost and ensuring ease of doing business in compliance with RA 11032, or the Ease of Doing business and Efficient Government Service Delivery Act of 2018.

    BIR to finalize rules governing tax amnesty this month | BusinessWorld Business World 28th May 2019
    THE Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) is set to finalize the revenue regulations (RR) covering the tax amnesty this month after making the rounds of public consultations. “The BIR conducted public consultations to discuss the proposed Revenue Regulations (RR) to implement the provisions of Republic Act (RA) 11213 relative to the Estate Tax Amnesty,” the BIR said in a statement on Monday.

    House prods Senate on 11 priority measures BusinessMirror 23rd May 2019
    THE leadership of the House of Representatives is making a last-ditch effort to push for the passage of 11 economic priority measures of the Duterte administration in the last few days of the 17th Congress. In a letter sent to Senate President Vicente Sotto III dated May 21, Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo said the House is now awaiting Senate action on 11 priority measures that have been passed by the House but still pending in the upper chamber.

    Ecozones see growth as ‘Trabaho’ bill founders BusinessMirror 23rd May 2019
    ECONOMIC zone developers are eyeing to expand business in the Philippines over the next months, as they take advantage of the looming non-passage of the Tax Reform for Attracting Better and High-Quality Opportunities (Trabaho) bill. This could be crucial to the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (Peza) that is trying to rebound from a 41-percent decline in investment approvals last year. Business activities in economic zones endured slowdowns that were blamed on the uncertainties brought about by the Trabaho bill, which the government said would rationalize the existing fiscal incentives to business. Among those seen most affected by such proposed rationalization are investors in economic zones.

    Manufacturing

    Tariff Commission sees decision on cement duties next month | BusinessWorld Business World 23rd May 2019
    THE Tariff Commission will decide next month on the need to protect domestic cement manufacturers through the imposition of an increased safeguard duty on imported cement. In a phone interview on Wednesday, Tariff Commissioner Ernesto L. Albano said the decision will be issued in June as the commission seeks more information from stakeholders. Mr. Albano added that the commission will take into account in its decision the reported surge of imported cement during the first quarter of the year, during which the provisional duty was implemented. Manufacturers have sought a higher safeguard duty on imports, citing “serious injury” due to influx of foreign cement in the market.

    DTI notes export bright spot in gifts, decor, houseware | BusinessWorld Business World 23rd May 2019
    GIFTS, décor and houseware (GDH) exports in 2018 grew 23.9% amid an overall decline across many exports, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said, adding that it hopes to focus on the sector to generate more growth. In statement Wednesday, the DTI said GDH shipments totaled $206.34 million in 2018 from $166.54 million a year earlier. “The continuous growth of the country’s GDH sector is largely boosted by the collaborative efforts of government and private sector stakeholders to further push the competitiveness of the industry through various initiatives such as industry policy interventions, product development, strengthening the supply chain, and promotion activities,” the DTI said.

    Market Regulation

    Back to square one for Public Service Act amendment Business World 31st May 2019
    It's back to square one for the bill amending the 82-year-old Public Service Act (PSA) to lift foreign ownership limits in certain sectors as it will fail to secure final approval with two session days left for the 17th Congress to wrap up its business.

    Employers close ranks versus total abolition of legitimate job contracting Manila Bulletin Business 28th May 2019
    Employers yesterday close ranks to come up with a more balanced policies on security of tenure of employees as they expressed apprehension over the passage of Senate Bill No. 1826 also known as the Security of Tenure or Anti-Endo Bill, which they said will abolish even legitimate job contracting in the country. The 40th National Conference of Employers, which opened yesterday at Grand Ballroom Marriott Hotel, has issued Conference Resolutions with security of tenure topping the list of their concerns... Already, ECOP in a message to their members has expressed reservation over the passage of Senate Bill No. 1826 also known as the Security of Tenure Bill or the Anti-Endo Bill. The Senate voted 15-0 to approve the bill on third and final reading last Wednesday, 22 of May 2019.

    Travel & Tourism

    10-year extension of Tieza tax perks to yield P222 billion investments BusinessMirror 28th May 2019
    SOME P222 billion in capital investments in the tourism sector are projected for the next 10 years with the recent enactment of a law extending fiscal incentives to locators in tourism enterprise zones (TEZs). This was disclosed by Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (Tieza) Chief Operating Officer Pocholo Paragas after the agency received news that President Duterte had finally signed into law Republic Act 11262 on April 10, 2019. The law amends Sections 85 and 103 of Republic Act  9593, or the Tourism Act of 2009, and gives Tieza “sole and exclusive jurisdiction to grant incentives…” to TEZ locators for another 10 years, or until December 31, 2029. It was published in the Official Gazette on the same day and is now considered in effect. Aside from the P222 billion of investments estimated to be pumped into the local tourism sector, Paragas said the “extension of the availment of the fiscal incentives until 2029 is projected to generate…160,000 direct and indirect employment opportunities in the next 10 years.”

    Philippines to bid for hosting rights to world tourism conference in 2021 Business World 10th Jun 2019
    THE Philippines will be bidding to host the next United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) General Assembly in 2021, with other Asian countries expressing support for the bid. In a statement Monday, the Department of Tourism (DoT) said that the Philippines will bid to host the event, held every two years, garnering the support of the Joint Meeting of the United Nations World Tourism Organization Commission on Asia and the Pacific (CAP) and the Commission on South Asia (CSA). “The bid is timed with the celebration of the quincentennial (500th year) of the world’s first circumnavigation” which reached Cebu in 1521 prior to completing the return voyage to Spain, the DoT said. This year’s 23rd UNWTO General Assembly will take place on Sept. 9-13 in Russia. At that conference the host for the 24th UNWTO General Assembly will be announced. Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said hosting will give the Philippines the opportunity to show off the sustainability of its tourism programs. “The Philippines is excited to host the UNWTO General Assembly in 2021, primarily to showcase the country’s sustainable tourism programs and actions and secondly, to give importance to the nation’s significant role in world maritime history and to draw highlight to our country’s discovery,” she said. During the UNWTO meeting in Bhutan on June 4, the Philippines was chosen as member of the Committee on Tourism and Sustainability and Committee on Statistics and the Tourism Satellite Account. — Gillian M. Cortez

    Tourism perks to spur hotel development outside Metro Manila philstar.com 3rd Jun 2019
    The extension of the grant of incentives to tourism enterprise zones (TEZs) for another 10 years is seen to drive the development of hotels outside Metro Manila, a property consultancy firm said. “This should entice more investments into the leisure sector resulting in more hotels especially in key areas outside Manila,” Colliers International Philippines Research Manager Joey Roi Bondoc told The Star. President Duterte recently signed Republic Act 11262, which extends the granting of incentives to TEZs for another 10 years until 2029 by the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA). Bondoc said the new law should also result in the entry of more foreign brands and refurbishment of existing accommodation facilities.

    Duterte urges Japan travel leaders to invest in Philippines philstar.com 31st May 2019
    President Duterte is urging Japanese businessmen to build resorts in the Philippines in anticipation of the surge in visitors seen to take advantage of additional flights between Japan and the Philippines. Duterte issued the invitation during his meeting with leaders of Japan’s travel industry last Wednesday, according to a statement by the Department of Tourism (DOT). The department noted that inbound traffic from Japan is expected to rise with Philippine Airlines’ introduction of Chitose-Manila thrice weekly flights last December, Japan Airlines’ daily service linking Haneda with Manila since February and the upcoming Osaka-Manila flights of Air Asia and Narita-Clark flights of Cebu Pacific.

    DOF: Tieza gave P123-million tax holidays from 2015 to 2017 BusinessMirror 30th May 2019
    The Tourism and Infrastructure Enterprise Zone Authority (Tieza) extended some P122.8 million in income-tax holidays (ITH) from 2015 to 2017 to locators in tourism enterprise zones (TEZs).This was according to data released by the Department of Finance, in lieu of estimates on possible forgone revenues from the extension of Tieza’s mandate to grant fiscal incentives to TEZ locators until December 31, 2029. Tieza projects P222 billion in capital investments to pour in from 2019 to 2029 with the extension of the tax incentives for another 10 years.

    Increased number of Singaporean tourists once Immigration bottleneck solved, says Tourism sec-gen | Malay Mail Malay Mail 29th May 2019
    The Tourism Ministry is expecting a further increase in tourists from Singapore to Malaysia once the issues surrounding the entry points have been rectified. Currently tourists coming into Malaysia have to queue in the same line with workers coming back into the country, but the Immigration Department is currently working to allow tourists and workers to queue up in their respective lines, making the entrance process into Malaysia much smoother and less of a hassle.

    Tourism Ministry moots easing visa-on-arrival application for China tourists Malay Mail 29th May 2019
    The Tourism Ministry has submitted its proposal for loosening visa-on-arrival (VOA) applications for China tourists to the Cabinet, seeking to tap into a profitable market. Director-general Datuk Musa Yusof said the ministry has also requested the Immigration Department to allocate additional entry points for VOA facilities throughout the country that will be announced at a later date. They have also asked the Home Ministry to consider including Brunei as one of the regional countries where Chinese tourists can obtain VOAs.

    Extended TIEZA tax perks to create 160K jobs, P222-B investments Philippine News Agency 28th May 2019
    The 10-year extension of tax perks for tourism enterprise zones (TEZs) is seen to generate more than 160,000 jobs and at least PHP222 billion in capital investments, following the signing into law of Republic Act 11262. Pocholo Paragas, the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority Chief Operating Officer, also believes that these incentives will attract investments, generate employment, and promote inclusive growth for their country.

    Davao City eyes boost in trade, tourism ties with ASEAN cities The Philippines News Agency 27th May 2019
    The Davao City government is eyeing more international trade and tourism activities to showcase Davao City’s products. DCIPC is the prime marketing arm of the city government in generating investments and promoting the city as today’s best investment destination in the Philippines. Lemuel Ortonio, the chief of the Davao City Investment and Promotions Center said they plan to do more trade and tourism roadshows between Davao and Korea after the successful three-day roadshow held recently in South Korean capital.

    DOT urges hotels to conform to Asean tourism standards | Philstar.com philstar.com 24th May 2019
    To showcase the prevalence of quality accommodation facilities in the country, the Department of Tourism (DOT) is calling on hotels to join the ASEAN Tourism Standards Awards 2020. Hotels are invited to submit applications for categories such as the green hotel award, meeting incentives and exhibitions (MICE) venue hotel category, clean tourist city and sustainable tourism award. The ASEAN tourism standards were created by the 10 ASEAN member countries aimed at standardizing tourism services essential for enhancing quality of tourism products and services as well as promoting responsible management among tourism businesses and stakeholders in the region.