Philippines Update: July 11, 2019

Philippines Update | July 11, 2019
Authors: Lilibeth Almonte-Arbez, Sarina Divan, Kim Yaeger, Elizabeth Crebassa-Magsaysay, Marc Mealy, Amb. Michael Michalak (ret.)
 
LOOKING AHEAD
 
 
July 31, 2019: 2019 Philippines Business Mission Planning Call #1
 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 
Duterte Pushes for Economic Zone Development in Rural Areas

On June 17, President Rodrigo Duterte signed Administrative Order No. 18 (AO 18), which encourages the development of special economic zones (ecozones) and infrastructure in rural areas of the Philippines. After it was published on June 22, AO 18 immediately took effect. Under this order, the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA), which oversees the development and management of special economic zones throughout the country, must stop accepting, processing, or evaluating applications to create ecozones in Metro Manila until the moratorium is lifted. Companies may, however, begin or continue operations in existing ecozones within Metro Manila. Ecozone applications already endorsed by PEZA and currently pending approval by the Office of the President are also excluded from the moratorium. According to PEZA, more than 130 submitted ecozone proposals pending PEZA endorsement will now be suspended, while 22 PEZA-approved proposals are not guaranteed to be approved by President Duterte.

AO 18 further mandates that that several Philippine government agencies actively promote human capital and infrastructure development, as well as the growth of ecozones, in the Philippine countryside. The agencies mentioned in the order include: Department of Information and Communications Technology, Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Transportation, Department of Public Works and Highways, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, and PEZA. By promoting economic progress and growth in rural regions, AO 18, demonstrates President Duterte’s commitment to his 0+10 Point Socioeconomic Agenda, which highlights rural development as a key priority of his administration.

For the full text of Administrative Order No. 18, please click here.

EEZ Deal between the Philippines and Indonesia Expected to Enter Force This Year

Following a meeting between the Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and Indonesian President Joko Widodo at the 34th ASEAN Summit in Bangkok on June 22nd, the two governments released a joint statement stating that domestic requirements for the landmark deal on the maritime boundary between the countries’ overlapping Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) have been completed. The countries’ EEZs overlap in the Mindanao and Celebes Seas, as well as the southern portion of the Philippine Sea. The deal, which delimits the EEZs, was signed in 2014, but negotiations between the two countries spanned two decades. While Indonesia’s parliament ratified the agreement on April 27, 2017, the deal awaited ratification by the Philippine Senate, which was achieved on June 3, 2019 in a vote of 20-0. Having met these domestic requirements, the agreement is now expected to enter into force this year, once the countries’ Foreign Ministers exchange the instruments of ratification.

According to Philippine Senator Loren Legarda, the chair of the Senate’s foreign relations committee, this agreement is an important milestone for Philippine law enforcement in understanding the bounds of their jurisdictions and delineates the rights of Philippine vessels and fisherman. This agreement also highlights maritime issues that both countries are currently tackling, such as illegal fishing, which Legarda mentioned. This notable development comes as the Philippines and Indonesia celebrate 70 years of bilateral relations and highlights the strength of the relationship between the two countries, which will be important in promoting prosperity and security in ASEAN. Further, this bilateral cooperation may serve as a model for other Asian countries in resolving similar maritime issues, particularly in line with the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

USAID launches RESPOND – a platform for policy advocacy

USAID launches RESPOND, which stands for Regulatory Reform Support Program for National Development. A five-year project running from April 16, 2019 to April 15, 2024, it seeks to improve regulatory quality that will lead to enhanced competitiveness and ultimately contribute to higher levels of investment and trade, inclusive growth and self-reliance in the Philippines. Program RESPOND will seek interventions that:

  1. Strengthen regulatory capacity and governance
  2. Supports reduction of barriers to entry by reducing regulatory burdens and transaction costs for business
  3. Extends technical assistance that strengthens regularity oversight that will strengthen the capacity of public officials to develop and implement quality regulations
  4. expand citizen engagement and the participation of civil society organizations through transparency and accountability mechanisms to advocate for fair and open regulation and a better business environment.

To implement the program, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) awarded a grant, through a Cooperative Agreement, to University of the Philippines Public Administration Research and Extension Services Foundation, Inc. (UPPAF), a partner foundation of the UP National College of Public Administration and Governance (NCPAG), to provide support for the implementation of RESPOND.

The Council has been invited as one of the private sector partners of RESPOND and views this program not only as a potential platform for advocacy on behalf of member companies but also a chance to partner with local Philippine organizations to advance principles like transparency and responsible regulation. Attached is a short description of the program and copy of the powerpoint presentation used during the launch.

 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 

Regional Affairs
Five MoUs signed at PHL-Indonesia investment summit
Duterte cites need to preserve China relations after collision
PHL looks to export Mirage G4, Vios to Jakarta to cut trade gap
More cross-border trade, transport links in BIMP sought
PH, Indonesia talk ways to reduce trade imbalance
EEZ deal with Indonesia to take effect this year
Fruit exports, auto parts imports seen key to South Korea FTA

National Affairs
Duterte forms council for maritime safety
14th-month pay, public service act, ‘Mega Cebu’ body among early bills
BI restricts special work permits to foreigners in 14 occupations
World Bank approves $300-M loan for 4Ps
DTI issues order limiting store signage to English, Filipino
Anti-red tape law generates few complaints
Duterte gives up on federalism
PDP-Laban rallies behind Velasco in speakership race
Manila Water inks deal with weather data provider

Customs
BoC tariff questioned by meat processors group
Duterte orders ‘freezing’ of Customs execs, employees amid corruption charges
PH fuel marking program implementing rules issued
USCG: 3 Philippines ports ‘significantly improved’
BOC issues rules on registration of customs brokers
Customs launches 6 computer systems to cut red tape, graft
PH Customs starts enforcing shorter goods lodgement declaration
PH exports rebound slightly, imports dip in April

Defense & Security
Air Force to get missiles this year
Security Consultations Put Russia-Philippines Military Ties into Focus
DND sets bidding for acquisition of more PH Navy vessels
What's in the First Israel-Philippines Counterterrorism Training Engagement?
Philippine Security Adviser Says Not Ruling Out Pressure From US Over Buying Russian Arms
PHL joins Moscow security meet, boosts ties with Russia

Economics
Government eyes interagency approach in master plan for 2022 exports targets
Moody’s sees economic growth likely muted in Q2
Election results point to policy continuity for Philippines — S&P
‘Hot money’ flows out for 3rd straight month in May
DTI counting on TRABAHO bill to expand supplier networks
Duterte bans new ecozones
BSP leaves policy rates untouched
5-month BOP surplus hits 8-year high at $5.2 billion
PHL growth forecast cut after weak Q1
Plan to raise minimum public float deferred

Energy
Southeast Asia’s Nuclear Energy Future in the Spotlight With Philippines Debate Revival
NGCP’s P9.7-B Taguig substation project OKd
DFA chief accepts Beijing’s terms as ‘superior’
DOE plans auction of renewable power
DOE mulls extension of FIT allocation for hydro
More investors keen on PH oil, gas exploration
DoST to build ship powered by renewables
Business groups ask Duterte to review Solar Para sa Bayan bill
DOE to reveal how oil firms adjust fuel prices
PH, 7 other countries form ‘Asian platform’ on energy efficiency collaboration

Financial Services
Outlook for PHL banks still stable
Foreign debt rises 1.9% in first quarter vs. end-2018
Calls for more loans for MSMEs in Philippines
Modern warehouses deemed vital to e-commerce
Philippines seen as fertile ground for green building industry
Dominguez orders PMO, PDIC to meet COA on speedy disposal of idle government assets
Central bank calls on financial institutions to sign up on cybersecurity sharing platform
Philippines Social Security System invests additional PHP7 billion with local wealth managers
Marawi bonds to be issued soon for large-scale rehab projects

Food & Agriculture
Dominguez says gov’t taking ‘close look’ at sugar import liberalization
DTI shuts door on hike of canned meat prices with 5% MDM tariff EO
PH signs P44-B agri project deal with Israel
Agriculture sector insider likely to replace Piñol
DA orders temporary ban of pigs, processed meat from Laos, North Korea
EO aims to accelerate farmers’ rainwater harvesting
Piñol resigns as agriculture secretary
PH tightens importation of plant-based feeds from ASF-hit nations
Farmers seek gov’t support to promote more agri products from Region 9

Health & Life Sciences
DOJ set to resume Dengvaxia hearings
Medical marijuana bill refiled at House
Recto to push for ‘One Town, One Doctor’ bill
UHC law a big leap towards reforming health care system: NEDA

ICT
Palace proclaims new IT economic zone in Bonifacio Global City
DICT, 2 firms sign pact to build common telco tower infrastructure
DICT eyes new election system
Malacañang directive stalls P34.2b worth of IT projects
National ID system target: 105 M Filipinos covered by 2022
Honasan takes oath as new DICT chief, attends Cabinet meeting
DICT hopes to complete ‘dark fiber’ linkup by early next year
Neda pushes innovation measure
The Philippines’ Department of Trade and Industry signs MoA on blockchain
DICT: Mobile number portability service to start next year

Infrastructure
House oversight panel seeks to find solutions to water shortage
DPWH sets early completion date of C-5 South Link
Over $200M Japan loan signed for Mindanao road projects
Transport terminals required to provide free internet, ‘sanitary’ toilet facilities
Govt studies P208-B proposal to build terminal 3 at Mactan-Cebu Intl Airport
Replacement of MRT 3 tracks expected in November
Philippines, ADB sign loan for Malolos-Clark Railway project
PH invests in infrastructure to lure businesses amid U.S.-China trade war
Infrastructure projects accelerated
Japan commits 1.3 trillion yen to help build railways in PH

Manufacturing
June manufacturing index subdued at 51.3
Factory activity bares ‘marginal’ growth

Travel & Tourism
Mimaropa arrivals rising only 10% despite tourism ‘jewels’
Underperforming Philippines Extends Tax Breaks to Attract Tourism Investors
Philippine President Duterte approves nearly 500 mln-U.S. dollar plan to keep Boracay island resort clean, safe
Guimaras emerging as major tourist destination in Visayas
Philippines Casino to Double Capacity as Tourism Climbs
DOT: ‘Keep tourism in check’
Positioning the Philippines as global diving destination

 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
Regional Affairs

Five MoUs signed at PHL-Indonesia investment summit Business World 9th Jul 2019
The Philippines-Indonesia Economic and Investment Summit saw the signing of five agreements in the tourism, agriculture and e-commerce industries, Philippine officials at the Jakarta embassy said. “Most of the business agreements are in MoU (memorandum of understanding) format and basically connecting companies/associations to further their partnership,” economic attaché Alexander J. Araque said in an e-mail in response to queries from BusinessWorld Friday. The Summit, organized by the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) and the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, marks the 70th anniversary of the two countries’ bilateral and diplomatic relations. It was attended by some 300 businessmen, government officials and diplomats.

Duterte cites need to preserve China relations after collision Business World 27th Jun 2019
AMID calls to keep Chinese from fishing in the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ), Malacañang said on Thursday that President Rodrigo R. Duterte will protect the country’s relationship with China, which is helping fund the “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure program. “He is protecting the interest of the Filipino people. The ‘Build, Build, Build’ Program is precisely designed to uplift our economy, and necessarily to uplift the lives of the Filipinos,” the President’s Spokesman Salvador S. Panelo said in a briefing at the Palace on Thursday when asked if the President is trying to protect his infrastructure program.

PHL looks to export Mirage G4, Vios to Jakarta to cut trade gap BusinessMirror 26th Jun 2019
The Philippines is eyeing to export Mitsubishi Mirage G4 and Toyota Vios, as well as automobile parts, to Indonesia to trim the trade gap between the two economies. On the sidelines of 34th Asean Summit last week, Indonesia agreed to import more agricultural products and automobile parts from the Philippines. The deal was reached after Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez raised before Indonesian Trade Minister Enggartiasto Lukita the widening trade gap between Manila and Jakarta. Lopez also noted Indonesia is one of the Southeast Asian powerhouses in vehicle production and that even the Philippines imports the Toyota Fortuner from it.

More cross-border trade, transport links in BIMP sought Asia Customs & Trade 25th Jun 2019
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is encouraging Brunei, Indonesia, and Malaysia to adopt a common set of standards for non-convention ship operations and to increase maritime and air linkages for greater mobility and cross-border trade in the sub-region. Duterte also asked Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad to speed up discussions on the barter trade system between the Philippines and Malaysia. “I earnestly ask His Excellency the Prime Minister of Malaysia for our two countries to fast track negotiations on the barter trade system as this promises livelihood and income to small communities along border areas,” Duterte said during his intervention at the recent 13th Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines–East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) Summit in Malaysia.

PH, Indonesia talk ways to reduce trade imbalance Asia Customs & Trade 25th Jun 2019
The Philippines is looking to bridge its trade gap with Indonesia by exporting more agricultural products and automobile parts, according to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). The Philippines, through Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, discussed trade opportunities with his Indonesian counterpart, Minister of Trade Enggartiasto Lukita. The ministers also agreed to organize a business matching session in Indonesia possibly around August or September 2019.

EEZ deal with Indonesia to take effect this year Business World 24th Jun 2019
THE agreement clarifying the Philippine maritime boundary with Indonesia where their exclusive economic zones (EEZs) overlap is expected to take effect within the year, following a meeting between President Rodrigo R. Duterte and Indonesian President Joko Widodo Saturday. The agreement, signed in May 2014, delimits the overlapping EEZs of both states. The Philippine Senate ratified the agreement on June 3. “Both leaders look forward to the entry into force of the agreement within this year, upon the formal exchange of the instruments of ratification by their respective Foreign Ministers,” the Philippine and Indonesian governments said in a joint statement, released by the Department of Foreign Affairs Sunday.

Fruit exports, auto parts imports seen key to South Korea FTA Business World 17th Jun 2019
THE Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said it will seek to balance of the interests of the agriculture industry, which wants to export more produce to South Korea, and the auto and parts industry, which might be disadvantaged by Seoul’s demands for lower tariffs for its products. The terms of the trade relationship are currently being worked out in negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with South Korea. “Initially, South Korea requested (lowering) certain tariff lines mostly on auto, auto parts. But then again the fact remains that we have local industries to protect,” Assistant Secretary of the Trade Department’s Industry Development and Trade Policy Group Allan B. Gepty said at the Tariff Commission hearing last week.

National Affairs

Duterte forms council for maritime safety The Manila Times Online 5th Jul 2019
President Rodrigo Duterte signed an executive order creating an inter-agency council on the International Maritime Organization (IMO) Member State Audit Scheme. The IMO in 2013 instituted the audit scheme covering the safety of life at sea, prevention of pollution from ships, standards of training, certification and watchkeeping for seafarers, load lines, tonnage measurement of ships, and regulations for preventing collisions at sea. Under Executive Order 84 issued by the President, the Philippines will undergo an audit scheme in 2021 and every seven years thereafter.

14th-month pay, public service act, ‘Mega Cebu’ body among early bills BusinessMirror 2nd Jul 2019
LAWMAKERS started filing their pet bills on Monday, as the term of the 18th Congress began, with Senate President Vicente Sotto III listing measures he will personally push, including a law mandating the grant of 14th-month pay to workers. In the House of Representatives, among the first bills filed were those increasing the minimum wage bill and repealing two key reforms enacted during the 17th Congress: the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law and the Rice Tariffication Law. The members of the 18th HOR also filed a divorce bill and another allowing medical marijuana.

BI restricts special work permits to foreigners in 14 occupations Business World 2nd Jul 2019
THE Bureau of Immigration (BI) said its new guidelines on granting temporary work permits to foreign nationals prioritizes 14 categories for the issue of Special Working Permits (SWPs), including athletes, performers, and persons with special abilities. In an interview with BusinessWorld on Monday, BI Spokesperson Dana Krizia M. Sandoval said that BI’s Operations Order No. JHM-2019-008 will specify which occupations are allowed to be issued SWPs, where previously there was no guidance. “One of the main differences is in the past, it is not clearly stated that foreign nationals cannot do blue collar jobs. In this one, it is clear that it’s only in these 14 categories that the BI can issue Special Work Permits to because in the past there was no restriction on the issuance of Special Work Permits,” she said.

World Bank approves $300-M loan for 4Ps The Manila Times Online 29th Jun 2019
The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors has approved a $300-million loan for the Philippines’ Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps). The bank said the money would finance cash transfers to poor families for a period of two years, combat malnutrition and promote early childhood development. The amount will also be used to provide technical assistance to the Philippine government to help strengthen the implementation of the program, and to have more efficient payment systems, monitoring and evaluation, and family development sessions.

DTI issues order limiting store signage to English, Filipino Business World 27th Jun 2019
THE Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said it issued an order to all businesses to restrict the language used in their signage and marketing materials to English or Filipino only. Secretary Ramon M. Lopez signed the order, citing the need for consumers to be guided properly in their buying decisions, the DTI said in a statement Thursday. Department Administrative Order (DAO) No. 19-09, Series of 2019 was issued on June 21 to “(enhance) the protection of consumers’ right to accessible information that can help them in making wise purchase decisions.” It also called use of other languages “unfair and discriminatory.”

Anti-red tape law generates few complaints The Manila Times Online 27th Jun 2019
The Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) on Monday said it received less than 200 complaints since President Rodrigo Duterte signed the Ease of Doing Business Law in May last year. ARTA Acting Officer in Charge Director General Ernesto Perez said in a news briefing that as of June 25, there were 166 complaints lodged before their office, with 52 percent already resolved. “In less than two months there are resolutions because whenever we are reminding the government agencies and our mandates under this law, within standard processing time, the responsible government employee would be prosecuted for violation and the penalties are hard,” he said.

Duterte gives up on federalism The Manila Times Online 26th Jun 2019
President Rodrigo Duterte had apparently given up on his promise to push for the country’s shift to a federal system of government. “If you do not want federalism, fine. But change the Constitution that would really change this nation,” Duterte said in a speech during the oath-taking of newly elected local officials in Malacañang. Duterte has been pushing for a federal system, saying it would decentralize the government and empower the regions. A recent survey, however, showed that charter change and federalism remain unpopular among Filipinos.

PDP-Laban rallies behind Velasco in speakership race BusinessMirror 25th Jun 2019
ONE month before the election of House speaker, President Duterte’s political party PDP-Laban is now strongly moving to regain the top post in the 18th Congress by solidifying its support behind one candidate. Following a caucus late Sunday in San Juan, the ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan or PDP-Laban solidified its support for the speakership bid of Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco. At least 30 party members signed a manifesto backing Velasco’s candidacy for the highest position in the House of Representatives.

Manila Water inks deal with weather data provider Business World 21st Jun 2019
MANILA Water Co., Inc. said it tapped Weather Solutions, Inc. as its exclusive weather data provider, a move seen to boost the efficiency of its dam operations and management. Under the agreement, Weather Solutions will provide Manila Water with forecasts on weather data for its source dams, monthly observed weather statistics report, El Niño and La Niña probability reports, severe rain alerts, as well as weather data analyses that would help the east zone water concessionaire in its business decisions.

Customs

BoC tariff questioned by meat processors group The Manila Times Online 8th Jul 2019
A group of meat processors has demanded the Bureau of Customs (BoC) to return the excessive amount of duties and taxes collected by the bureau from their importation of mechanically deboned meat (MDM). In a letter to BoC Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero, the Philippine Association of Meat Processors Inc. (Pampi) asked the agency to revert to the 5-percent tariff on MDM, the raw materials used to produce hotdogs, sausages and canned meat products.

Duterte orders ‘freezing’ of Customs execs, employees amid corruption charges GMA News Online 10th Jul 2019
President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the "freezing" of several high-ranking officials and employees of the Bureau of Customs amid alleged corruption anomalies, his spokesperson, Salvador Panelo said. In a statement issued Wednesday night, Panelo said the names of the involved Customs officials and employees would be disclosed "at the appropriate time, as they face administrative and criminal charges, for unlawful activities." "The President’s latest action underscores this administration’s zero tolerance on corruption among erring officials," Panelo said.

PH fuel marking program implementing rules issued Asia Customs & Trade 6th Jul 2019
The Philippine government has finally released implementing guidelines for the fuel marking program designed to curb oil smuggling and plug revenue losses arising from illegal importation or misdeclaration of petroleum products. Joint Circular (JC) No. 01-2019 gives customs and internal revenue officers police powers to search premises, vehicles or vessels when there is probable cause or verified information that adulterated or diluted fuel is produced or stored in the facility. JC 01-2019 implements the mandatory marking of refined, manufactured, or imported gasoline, diesel and kerosene in the Philippines, including those withdrawn from freeport zones to be introduced into the country, after taxes and duties have been paid.

USCG: 3 Philippines ports ‘significantly improved’ Asia Cargo News 1st Jul 2019
Three of the Philippine’s container ports have been judged significantly improved in the conduct of the United States Coast Guard’s International Port Security Program (IPSP) following a recent visit by the USCG. The three are the Subic Bay International Terminal Corporation (SBITC), Davao International Container Terminal (DICT) and the Manila International Container Terminal (MICT), the Philippines Department of Transportation (DOTr) said in a statement. “We appreciate the USCG team for the visit and the assessment, as this will give us the baseline for our security standards as maritime trading partners. We value all efforts that will further enhance our interdependence leading to mutual prosperity,” said transportation secretary Arthur Tugade.

BOC issues rules on registration of customs brokers Asia Customs & Trade 19th Jun 2019
The Philippine Bureau of Customs (BOC) has released guidelines on the registration of customs brokers and their representatives transacting with the customs agency. Customs Administrative Order (CAO) 05-2019, signed by Customs commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero on April 26 and Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III on May 6, contains many similar rules from previous regulations, including the need for customs brokers who lodge and process goods declaration at the BOC to register and obtain a Certificate of Registration (COR) from the customs bureau.

Customs launches 6 computer systems to cut red tape, graft BusinessMirror 18th Jun 2019
The Bureau of Customs (BOC) launched on Monday six computer information programs in line with its modernization efforts, a move that is also seen to enhance the ease of doing business with the bureau and all ports nationwide. During the BOC’s “Improved BOC: Seamless and Simplified” event on Monday at the Rizal Park Hotel, Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo B. Guerrero said the modernization of its computer systems, which aims to eliminate or lessen human interaction in line with BOC processes, is also meant to cut the avenues for corruption.

PH Customs starts enforcing shorter goods lodgement declaration Asia Customs & Trade 17th Jun 2019
The Philippine Bureau of Customs (BOC) has begun implementing on June 15 the seven-day period for lodgement of goods declaration. BOC spokesperson and Manila International Container Port (MICP) district collector Atty. Erastus Sandino Austria, in a text message to Asia Customs & Trade on June 14, said the customs bureau is implementingCustoms Memorandum Order (CMO) 27-2019, “as instructed by the commissioner.” He said stakeholders with questions on implementation, especially on the availment of the provisional goods declaration, may reach BOC “through the collection districts.”

PH exports rebound slightly, imports dip in April Asia Customs & Trade 14th Jun 2019
The Philippines’ merchandise trade in goods in April 2019 amounted to US$14.51 billion, a 1% decrease from the $14.66 billion external trade in the same month of the previous year, as exports recovered while imports declined. Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed imports dropped 1.9% to $9.01 billion in April 2019 from $9.18 billion in April 2018 due to the declines in five of the top 10 major import commodities. These were transport equipment (-27.7%); plastic in primary and non-primary form (-14.2%); iron and steel (-14.2%); industrial machinery and equipment (-10.6%); and telecommunication equipment and electrical machinery (-1%). This is the first decline in imports for this year.

Defense & Security

Air Force to get missiles this year The Manila Times Online 13th Jun 2019
The Philippine Air Force will get missiles this year with the expected delivery of a number of air-to-air missiles from Germany, the Department of National Defense (DND) said on Wednesday. DND spokesman Arsenio Andolong said the AIM-9 “Sidewinders” will be the primary armament for the Air Force’s FA-50 fighter jets. The missiles, with a cost of P1 billion, will give the Air Force more “fangs” in protecting the country’s airspace, he added.

Security Consultations Put Russia-Philippines Military Ties into Focus The Diplomat 2nd Jul 2019
Last month, the Philippines and Russia held another round of consultations between their national security establishments. The consultations spotlighted the ongoing status of a mechanism that is one of several that have emerged amid the boost for ties under Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s foreign policy.

DND sets bidding for acquisition of more PH Navy vessels Manila Bulletin News 24th Jun 2019
The Department of National Defense-Armed Forces of the Philippines (DND-AFP) is set to acquire two brand new landing dock vessels, an amphibious warfare ship with a well dock to transport and launch landing craft and amphibious vehicles, for the Philippine Navy (PN).

What's in the First Israel-Philippines Counterterrorism Training Engagement? The Diplomat 21st Jun 2019
This month, Israel and the Philippines look set to make progress on kicking off the first publicly-disclosed instance of counterterrorism training between the two sides held in the Philippines. The interaction is just one sign of a broader effort by both sides to deepen their defense ties in spite of the challenges that remain for wider ties.

Philippine Security Adviser Says Not Ruling Out Pressure From US Over Buying Russian Arms Sputnik 21st Jun 2019
Philippine National Security Adviser Gen. Hermogenes C. Esperon told Sputnik that he did not rule out that the United States might pressure the Philippines not to buy Russian arms, but stressed that Manila was striving to procure armament for its military modernisation program from various sources while avoiding a monopoly by a certain supplier.

PHL joins Moscow security meet, boosts ties with Russia BusinessMirror 13th Jun 2019
MOSCOW—The Philippines participated in the eighth Moscow Conference on International Security (MCIS) in April 2019...Among the topics discussed were modern military challenges and threats; countering terrorist threats; peacekeeping; military-to-military engagements; regional security in Asia, Africa and Latin America; and the situation in the Middle East—specifically the implications of defeating the Islamic State of Syria and Iraq or ISIS—as well as efforts in stabilizing the region.

Economics

Government eyes interagency approach in master plan for 2022 exports targets BusinessMirror 1st Jul 2019
THE government is now eyeing an interagency approach in crafting a more responsive master plan to achieve its 2022 exports targets.  Last week, President. Duterte issued Memorandum Circular No. 62 ordering concerned agencies to help the Export Development Council (EXDC) in improving the Philippine Export Development Plan (PEDP) 2018-2022.

Moody’s sees economic growth likely muted in Q2 Business World 27th Jun 2019
THE ECONOMY likely grew at a muted pace this quarter, a senior executive of Moody’s Investors Service said on Thursday, with the country’s socioeconomic planner saying nevertheless that the pace could still top those of the first quarter and last year’s second quarter. Moody’s also said it still sees Philippine gross domestic product growth at six percent — a projection first given in May that was down from 6.2% previously — saying that the government would be hard-put to catch up in its spending plan, especially for infrastructure, after the four-month delay in enactment of the 2019 national budget, which had also been slashed by P95.3 billion to P3.662 trillion.

Election results point to policy continuity for Philippines — S&P Business World 27th Jun 2019
THE Philippines is expected to enjoy a degree of policy continuity after administration allies confirmed broad support for the government, which is expected to help the country weather external risks, S&P Global Ratings said. “Elections in Indonesia and India returned incumbents to power while the Philippines ballot appeared to have cemented support for the current administration,” S&P said in its Credit Conditions Asia-Pacific: Return of Uncertainty report released Thursday.

‘Hot money’ flows out for 3rd straight month in May Business World 25th Jun 2019
MORE foreign capital went out of the Philippines in May for the third straight month, amid the escalating trade tensions between the United States and China, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) reported on Friday. Foreign portfolio investments — also known as hot money because of the ease by which these funds enter and leave the economy — saw a net outflow of $749.84 million in May. This was significantly more than the $206.25 million net outflow in May 2018, and the $298.83 million that left the country in April 2019. This brought the five-month tally to a $685.27 million net outflow, reversing the $813.81 million in net inbound capital logged during the same period in 2018.

DTI counting on TRABAHO bill to expand supplier networks Business World 24th Jun 2019
THE Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said it hopes the Tax Reform for Attracting Better and High-quality Opportunities (TRABAHO) bill will help develop supplier networks here to make economic zones more attractive for potential locators. DTI Undersecretary for Industry Development and Trade Promotion Group Ceferino S. Rodolfo said the bill, particularly the version approved by the House, provides for a 50% additional deduction on the increment of domestic input expense incurred in the taxable year — provided that the inputs are directly related to and actually used in the registered export activity.

Duterte bans new ecozones The Manila Times Online 23rd Jun 2019
As part of his administration’s effort to boost development of special economic zones (ecozones) in the countryside, President Rodrigo Duterte has banned the processing of applications for ecozones in Metro Manila. Duterte signed on June 17 Administrative Order (AO) 18, directing the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) to stop accepting, processing or evaluating applications for the creation of ecozones in Metro Manila.

BSP leaves policy rates untouched Business World 21st Jun 2019
THE Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) on Thursday kept rates unchanged on expectations of steady inflation and economic growth, and as it monitors the impact of recent monetary adjustments. The central bank’s policy-setting Monetary Board (MB) left the interest rate on the BSP’s overnight reverse repurchase (RRP) facility untouched at 4.5%, it announced after its review on Thursday. The interest rates on the overnight lending and deposit facilities were likewise held steady at five percent and four percent, respectively. Six out of the 10 economists polled by BusinessWorld earlier this week expected the central bank to hold fire.

5-month BOP surplus hits 8-year high at $5.2 billion BusinessMirror 20th Jun 2019
Confidence in the country’s external position continues to increase based on the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’s (BSP) latest report that the Philippines recorded a multibillion-dollar surplus in the first five months of the year. Data released by the BSP on Wednesday showed that the country’s balance of payments (BoP) from January to May hit a surplus of $5.19 billion, a reversal of the $2.1-billion deficit recorded by the Philippines a year ago.

Plan to raise minimum public float deferred Business World 17th Jun 2019
THE Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is deferring its plan to raise the minimum public ownership (MPO) of publicly listed companies, as it bids for more time to study the increase. SEC Chairperson Emilio B. Aquino said the commission will have strategic planning (strat plan) sessions starting this month to map out its priorities and key focus areas until 2025, which will include raising the public float of listed firms.

Energy

Southeast Asia’s Nuclear Energy Future in the Spotlight With Philippines Debate Revival The Diplomat 8th Jul 2019
Over the past few months, Philippine officials have been more publicly mentioning the idea of reviving nuclear power in the Southeast Asian state. While it is still early days and much remains to be worked out, the issue deserves attention amid the historical and contemporary context of nuclear power in the Philippines as well as the broader conversation about some Southeast Asian states considering nuclear power for their future energy needs to varying degrees.

NGCP’s P9.7-B Taguig substation project OKd Inquirer.Net 8th Jul 2019
National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) has secured regulators’ green light for its proposed P9.7-billion Taguig Extra High-Voltage (EHV) Substation Project, which is intended to accommodate supply inflows from any new power plants. The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) approved NGCP’s application for permission to build the project that would serve as another drawdown substation to decongest the San Jose EHV Substation and provide higher level of reliability to the Luzon Grid system.

DFA chief accepts Beijing’s terms as ‘superior’ Inquirer.net 8th Jul 2019
The Philippines has accepted the terms of reference proposed by China for an agreement on the joint exploration for oil and gas in the West Philippine Sea, according to Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. “I accepted China’s version of the Terms of Reference (TOR) as superior to our own. Everything going well,” Locsin posted on Twitter on Sunday. When retired diplomat and former ambassador to Europe Victoria Bataclan asked to see the draft, Locsin declined and said “it is not a draft. I accepted it so it is final.” Locsin did not say whether the TOR is the same as the “draft framework agreement” that Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV released last November during the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping. Locsin has never confirmed nor denied the veracity of the document, but Malacañang defended its acceptance “for review.” The TOR released by Trillanes contained a provision that all documents, data and information on the matter remain confidential until both parties decide otherwise.

DOE plans auction of renewable power philstar.com 3rd Jul 2019
The Department of Energy (DOE) is proposing to auction off 2,000 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy capacity to encourage developers to put up renewable energy (RE) projects, according to a top official of the agency...Under the government’s long–term renewable energy roadmap, RE installed capacity is seen to reach 20,000 MW by 2040.

DOE mulls extension of FIT allocation for hydro philstar.com 3rd Jul 2019
The Department of Energy (DOE) is looking to extend anew the deadline for the feed-in-tariff (FIT) allocation for run-of-river hydro due to slow take up for the technology. FIT for hydropower and biomass developers were extended until Dec. 31 from the original deadline on Dec. 31, 2017. Unlike solar and wind, the FIT allocation for biomass and run-of-river technologies remain undersubscribed three years after the program’s implementation.

More investors keen on PH oil, gas exploration Inquirer.Net 1st Jul 2019
The Philippines’ efforts to rev up the exploration for oil and gas in the country continue to attract interest from potential investors, the Department of Energy (DOE) said, despite the prevailing uncertainty due to the territorial dispute with China. The DOE said in a statement that it had so far received from 11 companies 21 requests for rights to look for petroleum reserves in portions of the Recto Bank—itself a subject of territorial disputes—as well as Sulu Sea, Palawan, Quezon, Albay and Mindoro.

DoST to build ship powered by renewables The Manila Times Online 26th Jun 2019
The Department of Science and Technology (DoST) is working on the construction of a hybrid trimaran, a ship designed to generate power from ocean waves, which is expected to be delivered in 2020.

Business groups ask Duterte to review Solar Para sa Bayan bill Inquirer.Net 26th Jun 2019
Several business groups on Wednesday asked President Rodrigo Duterte to review the Solar Para sa Bayan bill which was recently ratified in Congress. The groups said the franchise grant “will create an undue competitive edge in favor of SPB Corporation and put at a disadvantage other renewable energy companies now operating in our country.”

DOE to reveal how oil firms adjust fuel prices GMA News Online 25th Jun 2019
The Department of Energy (DOE) will implement a controversial circular requiring oil companies to “unbundle” or reveal the details of price adjustments on petroleum products, even without a court decision on the petition filed by oil companies to stop the government’s move.

PH, 7 other countries form ‘Asian platform’ on energy efficiency collaboration Manila Bulletin Business 24th Jun 2019
Energy service companies (ESCOs) from the Philippines, China, Japan, India, South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan have formalized “collaboration” for an Asian platform in the promotion of energy efficiency initiatives – including investment hunting as well as shoring up financing tracks for projects. These countries have essentially pioneered the setting up of the Asia Pacific ESCO Industry Alliance (APEIA).

Financial Services

Outlook for PHL banks still stable Business World 25th Jun 2019
THE local banking industry will continue to benefit from robust economic growth of the Philippines, debt watchers Moody’s Investors Service and S&P Global Ratings said. In a report, Moody’s said its outlook for the Philippine banking system remains “stable” for the next 12-18 months. “Among other factors that will underpin the credit profiles of banks in the country, robust economic growth will continue to support asset quality at current strong levels,” Moody’s said. The debt watcher projects the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth — which will remain among the highest in Asia — at six percent in 2019 and 6.2% in 2020, underpinned by “robust domestic consumption and an expansionary fiscal policy” despite the four-month delay in the enactment of the 2019 national budget.

Foreign debt rises 1.9% in first quarter vs. end-2018 Business World 17th Jun 2019
EXTERNAL debt rose 1.9% quarter-on-quarter to $80.4 billion in the first three months, equivalent to 24% of gross domestic product (GDP), according to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP). Year-on-year, external debt rose 9.9%, it said. External debt includes all types of loans taken on by Philippine residents from non-residents, following the residency criterion for international statistics. The increase in borrowings from overseas was mainly due to the national government’s raising of $1.5 billion from global bond issues, with net availments amounting to $1.8 billion. The proceeds funded the government’s general financing requirements and the totals also reflect audit adjustments, the central bank said.

Calls for more loans for MSMEs in Philippines Phnom Penh Post 9th Jul 2019
The array of small- and medium-scale businesses that contribute up to 62.5 per cent of employment and comprise 99.5 per cent of all businesses in the Philippines were getting only 9.2 per cent of loans and financing from the country’s major banks. These figures prompted the Union Bank of the Philippines to ask its fellow financial institutions to recognise the key role micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) play in the Philippine economy and allocate more of their money to help these MSMEs thrive, at least. To help MSMEs thrive, Unionbank is offering a digital platform, called UnionBank GlobalLInker, to allow entrepreneurs to promote their brands, products and services and get access to financial assistance and other solutions.

Modern warehouses deemed vital to e-commerce philstar.com 26th Jun 2019
Aside from office building projects, developers in Cebu are urged to build modern warehouses to support the province vibrant economic growth. Colliers International Philippines believes that building automated warehouse systems will ensure the smooth and cost-efficient system of transferring goods from factories to households in Cebu. “This is particularly important for Cebu developers as modern warehouses are crucial in supporting the growth of the region’s e-commerce,” said Collier’s latest market intelligence report. The significant growth of trading, eCommerce, import and export trade should be supported with modern facilities such as sophisticated warehouses. Colliers believes that developers need to upgrade their warehouses continuously to keep up with the needs of logistics tenants.

Philippines seen as fertile ground for green building industry philstar.com 25th Jun 2019
The International Finance Corp. (IFC), the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, is pushing for  the creation of a robust green buildings industry in the country because of mass market potential and the possibility of greater engagement with banks on green finance. In line with its ongoing efforts to groom the sector and ramp up investments in green buildings in the Philippines, IFC technical and business specialists introduced to bankers and property developers last week a so-called resilience tool that can help the financial sector assess the impact of climate and disaster risks to projects seeking green financing. Once it gains foothold, the tool can eventually be used by IFC as a precondition for making its investments through Philippine banks.

Dominguez orders PMO, PDIC to meet COA on speedy disposal of idle government assets Department of Finance 25th Jun 2019
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III has directed the Privatization Management Office (PMO), and the Philippine Deposit Insurance Corp. (PDIC) to discuss with state-run banks and the Commission on Audit (COA) ways to relax stringent auditing rules that have long hobbled government efforts to dispose of its idle assets. Dominguez said a COA circular requiring the sale of unproductive state assets at their appraised values has hampered, rather than facilitated, efforts by the government to dispose of these idle properties.

Central bank calls on financial institutions to sign up on cybersecurity sharing platform Business World 17th Jun 2019
To help strengthen the banking industry’s resilience to cyber attacks, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) has ordered BSP-supervised financial institutions (BSFIs) to participate in a cybersecurity sharing platform hosted by the Bankers Association of the Philippines (BAP). The memorandum further stated that through the database, BSFIs can raise “the level of situational awareness” as the latest tactics, techniques, and procedures of cyber threat actors that target financial institutions, including those in the dark web, will be shared.

Philippines Social Security System invests additional PHP7 billion with local wealth managers Hubbis 17th Jun 2019
Seeking to diversify its portfolio and boost returns, the Philippines state-run Social Security System (SSS) is investing PHP7 billion from its reserve fun in local wealth managers. SSS president and chief executive officer Aurora Ignacio said the pension fund has made deals with five local managers to invest the money in equity funds, balanced funds, and fixed-income funds. BPI Asset Management and Trust Corporation signed contracts to manage PHP3 billion in funds. PHP1 billion went to Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation, and ATRAM Trust, while another P1 billion each was entrusted to Metropolitan Bank and Trust and Philequity Management.

Marawi bonds to be issued soon for large-scale rehab projects Department of Finance 13th Jun 2019
The government is contemplating several features to make the ‘Marawi bonds’ attractive to investors in order to augment the massive funds necessary for the second, cash-intensive phase of the comprehensive rehabilitation plan for this city devastated by its 2017 siege by Islamic State (IS)-inspired terrorists. Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said the government will issue the Marawi bonds once the ongoing Bangon Marawi Comprehensive Rehabilitation and Recovery Program (BMCRRP) moves to the next phase of the rehabilitation plan, which involves building large-scale infrastructure projects.

Food & Agriculture

Dominguez says gov’t taking ‘close look’ at sugar import liberalization Business World 2nd Jul 2019
FINANCE Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said that the government is looking into liberalizing sugar imports because prices of the domestic product are uncompetitive. At a news conference for the Pre-State of the Nation Address (SONA) Economic and Infrastructure Forum at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City Monday, Mr. Dominguez said domestic prices are double the world market price, weighing on the competitiveness of the food processing industry.

DTI shuts door on hike of canned meat prices with 5% MDM tariff EO BusinessMirror 18th Jun 2019
IT is a win for the buying public. The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) will thumb down any and all appeals to increase canned meat prices following President Duterte’s decision to retain the 5-percent tariff on mechanically deboned meat (MDM). Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez said the DTI will block any petition to adjust upward the prices of canned meat listed under the suggested retail price (SRP) list. He argued that canned meat makers managed to keep prices stable even before, more so now that the 5-percent duty on MDM is retained.

PH signs P44-B agri project deal with Israel Philippine News Agency 10th Jul 2019
In a bid to strengthen the agriculture industry and support farmers, the Department of Agriculture (DA) closed a deal with the Israeli government for a PHP44-billion loan to complete the proposed solar power plant project. Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol and Israel Ambassador to the Philippines Rafael Harpaz on Tuesday signed the Implementing Agreement (IA) on Agricultural Cooperation at the DA Central Office in Quezon City. The IA on Agricultural Cooperation is the final output of a series of negotiations between Israel and Philippines which started during the visit of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte to Israel in 2018. The project will involve the establishment of 6,200 units of computerized Solar-Powered Irrigation Systems (SPIS) intended to irrigate 500,000 hectares of rice farms and other high-value agricultural products over the next three years.

Agriculture sector insider likely to replace Piñol Business World 1st Jul 2019
Someone already affiliated with the sector is likely to be appointed as the next Agriculture secretary, according to one of the President’s top economic managers. Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez, in a press briefing at the Pre-State of the Nation Address Economic and Infra Forum held in the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City on Monday, said President Rodrigo R. Duterte will most likely choose a new Department of Agriculture (DA) chief who “is very intimately familiar with the sector and somebody who has shown success in doing his job in that area.”

DA orders temporary ban of pigs, processed meat from Laos, North Korea ABS-CBN News 28th Jun 2019
The Department of Agriculture on Friday ordered a temporary ban on the importation of pigs and pork by-products including pig meat, skin and semen from Laos and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea or North Korea, in a bid to protect local swine population from the the African Swine Fever virus. The two separate memoranda signed by Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol ordered the ban of importation of domestic and wild pig and its by-products as well as the suspension of the process evaluation, and issuance of Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) import clearance of the said commodities.

EO aims to accelerate farmers’ rainwater harvesting Philippine News Agency 27th Jun 2019
A planned executive order (EO) seeks to help improve availability of water for growing crops and livestock nationwide. “We’re drafting that EO to accelerate use of rainwater harvesting in agricultural areas of the country,” Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM) Soil Conservation Management Division chief Samuel Contreras said. He said the EO’s issuance can help facilitate development of structures like small farm reservoirs where rainwater and runoff are collected which eventually will provide water to farmers when traditional supply is tight or unavailable. Collecting, storing and using rainwater also helps guard against over-extraction of groundwater which Contreras said must be conserved as much as possible.

Piñol resigns as agriculture secretary Philippine News Agency 27th Jun 2019
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol has offered to resign amid reports that President Rodrigo Duterte is no longer satisfied with his performance. Senator-elect Christopher “Bong” Go bared this before his scheduled oath-taking as senator in Malacañang on Thursday night. A copy of Piñol’s resignation letter, which Go read in a media interview, was later shared to members of the Malacañang Press Corps. Piñol recommended any of his three undersecretaries-- Undersecretaries Waldo Carpio (Undersecretary for Special Concerns and Legislative Liaison Officer), Ariel Cayanan (Undersecretary for Operations), and Francisco Villano (Undersecretary-designate for Finance) -- to replace him as Agriculture chief.

PH tightens importation of plant-based feeds from ASF-hit nations Rappler 25th Jun 2019
The Department of Agriculture says there are findings that African swine fever can be transmitted through plant-based feeds. The Department of Agriculture (DA) tightened the importation of plant-based feeds from countries infected by African swine fever (ASF). To be able to bring in plant-based feeds into the country, an independent third party surveyor will have to state the last outbreak date of ASF from the country of origin following the announcement of the World Organisation for Animal Health. There is no need to place imported feeds in quarantine if these came from non-Asian countries with a last outbreak date that is more than 2 months or 60 days ago from the date of arrival in the Philippines. But feeds coming from countries with a last outbreak date of less than two months or 60 days ago from the date of arrival will be subjected to quarantine.

Farmers seek gov’t support to promote more agri products from Region 9 Philippine Information Agency 18th Jun 2019
ZAMBOANGA CITY, June 17 (PIA) – Region 9 is abundant in a wide assortment of agricultural products, but farmers have been concerned on how to sell these products to more markets. Sabiniano Cantay, chairperson of the Zamboanga Peninsula Coffee Industry Cluster said “we have the products but we lack the buyers,” specifically referring to coffee. The Department of Trade and Industry-IX (DTI IX) through their Negosyo Centers has been able to assist the farmers and entrepreneurs in promoting their products. There were several trainings and seminars conducted by the DTI and other agencies to help the Micro Small Medium Enterprises (MSME) in introducing their products and how to sustain their business. DTI-IX Regional Director Sitti Amina Jain emphasized that more than the product, the farmers should also have knowledge in entrepreneurship. “The entrepreneurs should know their target consumers for them to sell their products,” she said. Top selling products from Region 9 are fish and processed fruit products. Chairpersons from different industry clusters in Zamboanga Peninsula raised their concerns on the support they need from the government in order to learn the process of selling their products and to help them facilitate the procedure faster in terms of the services they need from different government agencies. There are a lot of potential products in different provinces that may help the economy of Zamboanga Peninsula grow. Some government agencies especially the Department of Agriculture (DA) and Department of Science and Technology (DOST) have programs that can benefit the farmers in which they can produce unique products out of their raw materials and ingredients.

Health & Life Sciences

DOJ set to resume Dengvaxia hearings Manila Bulletin News 1st Jul 2019
The Department of Justice (DOJ) is set to resume next week the conduct of its preliminary investigation over the third batch of complaints concerning the deaths of 13 persons who received shots of the anti-dengue vaccine Dengvaxia. After more than a month, the panel of prosecutors chaired by Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Arnold Magpantay is scheduled to hold a hearing this July 11.The panel will determine on July 11 whether to submit the case for resolution. The complaints concern the deaths of 13 persons who got inoculated with the vaccine, namely, Senior Police Officer 2 Vicente Arugay Jr. and children Crezel Ann Joy Viaros, Adeline Castroverde, Wiljen Alcontin, Eleazar Brigoli Jr., Trishanne Asona, EJ Christian Apa, Joanina Cortes, Gladimier Juevesano, Kianah Mae Racuya, Shiela Mae Guerra, Gillian Vasquez, and Kristel Jean Magtira.

Medical marijuana bill refiled at House GMA News Online 1st Jul 2019
The measure seeking the legalization of medical marijuana has been refiled at the House of Representatives on Monday, the first day of the 18th Congress. Dr. Socorro Reyes, the policy adviser of Isabela Representative Antonio Albano, was among those who turned up early at the House to file the newly-elected congressman's bill, which was authored by his brother, former congressman and now Governor Rodolfo Albano III, in the previous Congress. A booth has been set up at the House's South Wing Lobby for lawmakers and their staff who want to file their bills and resolutions as early as the first day of the new Congress." The bill has been filed since 2014. So this is the fifth year, this is the third Congress. And I have with me the Philippine Cannabis Compassion Society (PCCS), parents and patients of those who need medical cannabis because they have been very sick and they have always looked forward getting medical marijuana for their illnesses," Reyes told reporters in an interview.

Recto to push for ‘One Town, One Doctor’ bill Manila Bulletin News 1st Jul 2019
Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph G. Recto Monday refiled his “One Town, One Doctor” bill, a novel scholarship program in which government finances the schooling of one medical student from a town – on the condition that when he becomes a doctor, he will serve his town for four years. Recto said the program addresses a key mandate of the Universal Health Care (UHC) Act. But sending more public doctors to rural areas—where latest data pegs an average one physician for every 33,000 inhabitants—is hobbled by a “range of disincentives” such as high cost of medical schooling, low pay, and absence of opportunities for further training, among others. Recto said this could be partially solved by setting up a “conveyor of talent” in which a town would never run out of local-born doctors who will serve his townmates.

UHC law a big leap towards reforming health care system: NEDA Philippine News Agency 18th Jun 2019
MANILA -- The country’s chief economist is pushing more reforms to ensure the smooth implementation of Universal Health Care (UHC) law, considered a big leap towards improving the country’s health care system. In an explainer, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia noted that while the law already provides the mechanisms to improve health care services in the country, the actual rollout by all those concerned is crucial, starting with agency budgets. “The DOH (Department of Health), for one, must efficiently utilize its budget to develop and strengthen health infrastructure and human resources,” Pernia, noting that the agency’s budget utilization rate was only 88 percent in 2017 based on the 2018 budget brochure of DOH. Pernia, also National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Director-General, said the function of local government units (LGUs) to provide health services, which was devolved through the Local Government Code of 1991, has not reflected in their health spending. The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said the health spending of LGUs comprised only 20 percent of overall government spending on health in 2017. “The enactment of the UHC law is a defining moment for the Philippine health system. We, at NEDA, are optimistic that its implementation will open the doors for more reforms that will improve the health of Filipino people,” Pernia said.

ICT

Palace proclaims new IT economic zone in Bonifacio Global City Business World 2nd Jul 2019
PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte issued proclamation designating as a special economic zone a building at the Bonifacio Global City in Taguig City, which will be known as BGC Corporate Center. The site was classified as an Information Technology Center. The proclamation signals movement in the ecozone approval process for the information technology industry, which the Philippine Economic Zone Authority said last week had about 22 pending proclamations from the Office of the President. Mr. Duterte signed on June 26 Proclamation No. 759, known as “Creating and designating a building and the parcel of land upon which it stands, located at Block 1, 30th Street, Corner 5th Avenue, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City, as a Special Economic Zone (Information Technology Center), pursuant to Republic Act No. 7916, as amended by Republic Act No. 8748.”

DICT, 2 firms sign pact to build common telco tower infrastructure BusinessMirror 28th Jun 2019
The Department of Information and Communications  (DICT) signed on Thursday a memorandum of agreement with common infrastructure providers Isoc Infrastructure Inc. and edotco Group Sdn. Bhd. that cements the start of works for their shared tower initiatives. Under the agreement, the ICT department shall assist Isoc and edotco with all regulatory and administrative requirements mandated under Republic Act 11032, or the Ease of Doing Business Act, and Republic Act 10844, or DICT Act of 2015 and in coordinating with other government agencies for matters that are covered by the aforementioned laws.

DICT eyes new election system The Manila Times Online 23rd Jun 2019
The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) presented new automated election concepts as it seeks to solve the transparency and over-voting issues encountered in previous polls. Leading the demonstration, acting DICT Secretary Eliseo Rio Jr. said while the automated election system provides fast results, it had long been proven to compromise transparency. “The system works. It is fast, but the cost of speed is we lost transparency. Transparency is one of the collateral damages,” he said.

Malacañang directive stalls P34.2b worth of IT projects Manila Standard 1st Jul 2019
Some P34.2 billion worth of business process outsourcing and information technology investments were stalled after Malacañang Palace issued Administrative Order No. 18 transferring new IT parks and centers outside Metro Manila. The Philippine Economic Zone Authority said over the weekend about 22 IT facilities with combined investments of P34.2 billion were still pending at the Office of the President despite securing approval from the Peza board.

National ID system target: 105 M Filipinos covered by 2022 Inquirer 1st Jul 2019
The government is targeting to have 105 million Filipinos enrolled in the national ID system once it is fully implemented in 2022, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary and National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) chief Ernesto M. Pernia said Monday. Speaking at the pre-State of the Nation Address (SONA) Economic and Infrastructure Forum at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) in Pasay City, Pernia said the government is currently in the process of procuring the technologies needed for the implementation of the national ID system or Philippine Identification System (PhilSys).

Honasan takes oath as new DICT chief, attends Cabinet meeting Inquirer 1st Jul 2019
Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan is the new Secretary of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT). “[Honasan took] his oath as DICT Secretary earlier. He is now in the Cabinet meeting,” Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea said.

DICT hopes to complete ‘dark fiber’ linkup by early next year Business World 25th Jun 2019
THE Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) is expecting to finish by early 2020 the first phase of the backbone facility for the National Broadband Plan, and around the same time see the completion of a feasibility study that will determine the next phases of the project. In a briefing Tuesday, DICT Undersecretary Denis F. Villorente said the process of tapping the dark fiber assets from the National Transmission Corp. (TransCo) and National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) will continue this year, making up Phase 1 of the project.

Neda pushes innovation measure The Manila Times Online 22nd Jun 2019
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said the Philippine Innovation Act, currently awaiting the President’s signature, will greatly help local entrepreneurs. “This Act champions the promotion of technological advancement so as to enhance the competitiveness of our Filipino MSMEs,” Pernia said in his speech yesterday at the European Innovation, Technology, and Science Center Foundation (EITSC) Forum in Makati city.

The Philippines’ Department of Trade and Industry signs MoA on blockchain OpenGov Asia 20th Jun 2019
The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with a US-based company that provides blockchain-based cloud data storage optimisation service on 19 June 2019. According to a recent press release, the MOA will enhance capacity building and institutional development of the effective use of blockchain technology in the Philippines. The partnership aims to promote the use of blockchain in facilitating ease of doing business and addressing cybersecurity issues in the country. Through this partnership, the government will be more equipped with information on the potentials and impact of blockchain technology in doing business in the Philippines.

DICT: Mobile number portability service to start next year The Manila Times Online 20th Jun 2019
TELCO subscribers may start applying for mobile number portability in January, the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) announced on Wednesday. According to Acting Information Secretary Eliseo Rio Jr., mobile-service providers have asked the government for a six-month adjustment period to create the platform and software needed to allow their subscribers to keep their numbers permanently.

Infrastructure

House oversight panel seeks to find solutions to water shortage BusinessMirror 24th Jun 2019
The leadership of the House of Representatives will open on Tuesday an oversight hearing to look into the impending water shortage as Angat Dam in Bulacan reaches critical level. Last week Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo called for an oversight hearing on the water shortage on Tuesday, before new members of the House of Representatives begin their term of office. Invited to the hearing are officials from the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage Systems (MWSS), National Water Resources Bureau, Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA), National Irrigation Authority, Departments of Agriculture, Budget and Management, Environment and Natural Resources and Public Works and Highways, the National Economic and Development Authority and water concessionaires Manila Water Co. Inc. (MWCI), and the Maynilad Water Services Inc. (MWSI).

DPWH sets early completion date of C-5 South Link BusinessMirror 21st Jun 2019
The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) said on Thursday it plans to complete the whole C-5 South Link earlier than the original target completion date with partial operations set to start next month. DPWH Secretary Mark A. Villar said the Metro Pacific Tollways South Corp. (MPT South), through Cavitex Infrastructure Corp., is implementing a 24/7 work schedule to complete the full alignment of 7.7 kilometers by 2021.

Over $200M Japan loan signed for Mindanao road projects Business World 19th Jun 2019
THE Philippines signed a $202.04 million loan agreement with Japan to fund the Road Network Development Project in Conflict-Affected Areas in Mindanao late Tuesday. “This involves the construction, rehabilitation and improvement of 176.6-kilometers of road, linking of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao to the trade centers of Mindanao,” Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said in a briefing to announce the signing at the Clark economic zone. The project involves the construction of access roads including the 19.8-kilometer Marawi Ring Road and the 23-kilometer the Marawi Trans-Central Road.

Transport terminals required to provide free internet, ‘sanitary’ toilet facilities Business World 19th Jun 2019
PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte has signed a measure requiring transport terminals to provide free internet services and clean restrooms, officials said. Mr. Duterte signed on April 17 Republic Act No. 11311, “An Act to Improve Land Transportation Terminals, Stations, Stops, Rest Areas and Roll-on/Roll-off Terminals.” The Palace released to reporters copies of the law on Wednesday. Section 3 of the law requires “the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), in coordination with the Department of Transportation (DoTr) and other concerned stakeholders, (to) ensure that free Internet is provided in transportation terminals, stations, stops, rest areas, and RO-RO terminals.”

Govt studies P208-B proposal to build terminal 3 at Mactan-Cebu Intl Airport BusinessMirror 17th Jun 2019
An unsolicited Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA) Terminal 3 project is now being evaluated by the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda), according to GMR Megawide Cebu Airport Corp. In a briefing in Cebu, GMR Chief Executive Adviser Andrew Acquaah-Harrison said the P208-billion extension involves the construction of a third terminal for the airport along with two runways and aircraft maintenance hangar.

Replacement of MRT 3 tracks expected in November Inquirer.Net 11th Jul 2019
The Department of Transportation (DOTr) said on Wednesday that it was looking at installing the new railway tracks for the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) 3 in November as part of an ongoing rehabilitation program. The over 4,000 pieces of railway tracks — measuring 18 meters each — arrived at the Port of Manila on Tuesday.

Philippines, ADB sign loan for Malolos-Clark Railway project Xinhua 11th Jul 2019
The Philippine government and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) signed on Thursday a 1.3-billion-U.S. dollar loan, the first tranche of a total of 2.75-billion-U.S. dollar loan, for the Malolos-Clark Railway Project. The Malolos-Clark railway is part of the Philippine government's North-South Commuter Railway project, which aims to link New Clark City to Calamba by 2025.

PH invests in infrastructure to lure businesses amid U.S.-China trade war Rappler 1st Jul 2019
The Philippine government is tidying up and making the country more enticing for businesses seeking to relocate operations and escape the bitter trade war of the United States and China. The Philippines is spending almost a trillion pesos for infrastructure in 2019 alone and will continue to spend even more in the coming years to attract investments.

Infrastructure projects accelerated Manila Bulletin News 1st Jul 2019
The Duterte administration on Monday signaled a determined push to accelerate its massive infrastructure program to be accomplished, or at least partially, by 2022, to address the worsening mobil­ity in Metro Manila and direct developments into the regions.

Japan commits 1.3 trillion yen to help build railways in PH Inquirer.Net 21st Jun 2019
The Japanese government through its aid arm Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) has pledged to lend 1.3 trillion yen (about P620 billion) to the Philippines to build more railways and ease traffic congestion...In a statement, Jica said the following projects were now using Jica financing: Light Rail Transit (LRT) Line 1 Cavite Extension; LRT Line 2 East Extension; Metro Manila Subway; Metro Rail Transit (MRT) Line 3 Rehabilitation; and North-South Commuter Railway.

Manufacturing

June manufacturing index subdued at 51.3 BusinessMirror 2nd Jul 2019
SLOWER demand hounded the manufacturing sector toward the end of 2019’s first half, leaving factories to stock up on inventories to yield a flat growth in June, a think tank said.  In its monthly release of the findings of the Philippines’s Purchasing Managers’ Index. IHS Markit said the country’s PMI rose slightly from 51.2 in May to 51.3 in June. According to the think tank, the latest figure signaled a “still subdued picture” for the manufacturing sector, with the reading among the lowest in the three-and-a-half- year history despite being highest since March.

Factory activity bares ‘marginal’ growth Business World 2nd Jul 2019
BUSINESS for manufacturers in the country improved just slightly in June, as a boost from “a solid rate of output expansion” was capped by “a softer increase in total new orders and the fastest drop in export sales” in the country’s three-and-a-half-year survey series, according to the latest Philippine monthly tracking IHS Markit conducts for Nikkei, Inc. The IHS Markit Philippines Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) edged up to 51.3 in June from 51.2 in March — marking a three-month high and the second straight month of increase coming from five consecutive months of contraction — although it was still lower than the year-ago’s 52.9.

Travel & Tourism

Mimaropa arrivals rising only 10% despite tourism ‘jewels’ BusinessMirror 18th Jun 2019
TOURIST arrivals in the Mimaropa (Occidental Mindoro, Oriental Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan) or Region 4B, are ptrojected to hit some 2.81 million this year. In a text message to the BusinessMirror, Tourism Regional Director for Mimaropa Danilo B. Intong said, “We are only targeting a 10-percent increase in 2019.” Last year, total tourist arrivals in the region—home to some of tourism’s “crown jewels”—reached some 2.55 million, according to a news statement from the Department of Tourism (DOT).

Underperforming Philippines Extends Tax Breaks to Attract Tourism Investors Skift 8th Jul 2019
The Philippines is extending tax incentives for another decade to help stimulate investments in its tourism enterprise zones to help it achieve an ambitious goal of luring 12 million foreign arrivals by 2022. The incentives were to have expired by the end of this year. The zones are designated and supervised by the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority. They include sites in destinations such as Cebu, Palawan, Manila, Bataan, Bohol, and Surigao del Norte.

Philippine President Duterte approves nearly 500 mln-U.S. dollar plan to keep Boracay island resort clean, safe South China Morning Post 2nd Jul 2019
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has approved a 25 billion-peso (about 489 million U.S. dollars) action plan to keep the world-famous Boracay resort in the central Philippines clean and safe after its six-month rehabilitation last year, Duterte's spokesperson Salvador Panelo said on Tuesday. Panelo said Duterte's approval of the Boracay Medium-Term Action Plan "will sustain the efforts of the government after its closure." Duterte publicly called Boracay a "cesspool" and ordered the immediate closure of the famous resort last year after seeing photos and videos of its poor sewerage system and algae-strewn waters. The popular Boracay island-beach resort, famous for powdery white sand, shallow azure water and spectacular sunsets, reopened in October last year. It is becoming one of the favorite beach destinations in the Philippines for foreign tourists.

Guimaras emerging as major tourist destination in Visayas philstar.com 28th Jun 2019
The province of Guimaras is gradually emerging as a tourist destination as its annual mango festival continues to lure domestic visitors. In a statement, the Department of Tourism (DOT) lauded the Guimaras provincial government’s sustainable tourism development program, as it strives for full recovery from the devastating oil spill off its coast over 13 years ago. Last year, Guimaras registered a total of 1.09 million tourists, generating P3.01 billion in tourism receipts. This was boosted by the domestic tourist market, with visitors from Iloilo, Bacolod, Cebu, Bohol and Aklan accounting for more than 70 percent of total arrivals.

Philippines Casino to Double Capacity as Tourism Climbs Bloomberg.com 26th Jun 2019
A year after taking over from his father as chief executive officer, Alliance Global Group Inc.’s Kevin Tan says tourism and consumer spending in the Philippines will drive growth as his real-estate-to-booze conglomerate doubles capacity at its Manila gambling resorts. Westside City, the group’s second casino complex in the capital, will also boost the share of revenue from gaming by almost half to 20% over five years, said Tan, 39. Resorts World Manila, Alliance’s first gaming property, is expanding this year and the second resort will begin opening in 2021, he said. The casino expansion along with a shift to premium products by Alliance’s distiller Emperador Inc. and a property boom have Tan expecting to increase profit by about 15% a year at each subsidiary over the next five years, he said. Consumer spending jumped more than 6% in the first quarter in the Philippines, where it accounts for more than three quarters of an economy that’s forecast to be one of Asia’s fastest growing this year.

DOT: ‘Keep tourism in check’ philstar.com 26th Jun 2019
While the Department of Tourism (DOT) welcomed the new Surfing Academy attraction in Cebu, it reiterated its call to keep optimum balance in tourism. DOT undersecretary for Tourism Development Planning Benito C. Bengzon Jr., said it is good for Bluewater Resorts Group to think of such attraction, as water sport activities are one of the priority products being pushed by the tourism administration under the leadership of secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat. However, Bengzon is reminding the management of Bluewater Resorts Group as well as the stakeholders in general to be mindful of the environment, as this another attraction would mean more visitors to the island. Although, the environmental consciousness among stakeholders and communities in general have significantly increased, especially after the Boracay Island closure, it is imperative that responsible tourism should be sustained.

Positioning the Philippines as global diving destination BusinessMirror 23rd Jun 2019
The Philippines is gaining popularity as one of the world’s best destinations for recreational and professional diving. To help further cement this reputation, the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) Philippines, marketing arm of the Department of Tourism (DOT), continues to exhaust aggressive efforts in promoting the Philippines as a diving destination.