Today's Top Stories

  • Italpinas - CDO's Environmental Ally

    Italpinas - CDO's Environmental Ally

    In celebration of the Arbor Day, Cagayan de Oro's very own green developer Italpinas Development Corporation(IDC™)  once again participated in a Narra tree planting activity last July 4, together with Cagayan De Oro City Local Environment and Natural Resources Office (CLENRO), and Damiani Property Management and Services, Inc., the official leasing and property management partner of IDC’s Primavera projects in the city.      "Let’s be good stewards of the Earth. All of us must work hand in hand to revitalize our ecosystem and dwindling natural resources. We should always keep in mind our responsibility to safeguard our natural environment against further destruction," said Frances Mae R. Galvez, IDC Brand Manager.      The Narra-Tree (Pterocarpus indicus / Red Sandalwood tree) is a national symbol of the Philippines and could be found in the deeper and middle regions of South East Asia and the Philippines. It is known for its color and resistance to fungi and insects. The wood has a pleasant, long persistent cedar-smell. However, nowadays, the Philippines have only small portions of the Narra tree planted in its forest.  The Narra tree planting activities is just one of the many tree planting activities that IDC participates on.       IDC has been committed to environmental sustainability, not only through its elegant passive green design solutions, but also through its commitment to serve its community and making its environment greener. As a designer and developer of buildings, IDC makes it a to keep in mind the value of consuming less in terms of ecological footprint. It’s latest development, Città Bella at Primavera City will continue to contain sustainable features such as passive cooling technology using shadow and sunlight control, wind cooling and shape performance which are green features that trademark of IDC developments.       Awarded by the prestigious International Property Awards as Mixed-use Development Asia Pacific 2017, the Primavera City complex will become one of Uptown, Cagayan de Oro’s dominant green landmark.

    July 22, 2019

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  • Cenyu Whole Foods introduces Cuchara Verde

    Cenyu Whole Foods introduces Cuchara Verde

    HEALTHY and homegrown. Ain’t that an ideal combination when it comes to dining? Yet there ís surely one resto in uptown CDO that fits exactly that description. Located at the west wing in the ground level of SM City Cagayan de Oro, Cuchara Verde serves healthy gourmet food that is sourced locally and responsibly.      Of course, we all know that Cuchara Verde means Green Spoon which loosely translates to clean eating. Indeed it is. All of the chicken and egg ingredients concocted at Cuchara Verde come from its sister company, Cenyu Whole Foods, which has been known to produce quality Probio Chicken & Eggs for the past ten years in this part of Northern Mindanao.      Cuchara Verde offers popular comfort foods you already know and love like Fried Chicken and Chickan Inasal as well as other non-chicken options like the Beef Taco Quesadilla (A Must Try!!!), Beef Kare Kare, Gambas Al Ajilio, Fresh Lumpia and Seafood Marinara Pasta. They also offer some unique eats that are sure to blow your mind like their Chicken Tikka Masala, Grass-Fed Lamb Stew, Creamy Spinach & Egg Skillet, Asian Quinoa Salad and Beef and Lamb Burger.      For desserts, they serve Superscoops Vegan Ice Cream, Fogcity Creamery Artisan Ice Cream, Picole healthy pops, Frozen Brazo and some occasional cakes and native desserts. For drinks, they got pour over brewed coffee with options for Don, Hazelnut or Moreno; as well as craft teas (creamy caramel, fitspiration, beauty sleep, chocolate rooibos, vanilla rose and sunset brew). They are the only restaurant to offer drinks like Zevia, Sparkling Water and other Zero Calorie and Zero Harmful Ingredient Drinks. They even serve Kombucha and Kefir, which they make in-house, to aid digestion after that healthy meal.      Cuchara Verde assures its valued dining clients that they serve only foods that have no preservatives, minimally processed, responsibly sourced and tapping local suppliers as much as possible. It is open during mall hours which is from 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. daily.      Cuchara Verde takes its inspiration from Cenyu Whole Foods, a Whole Food Store & Cafe that sell Cenyu Probio Chicken and Eggs as well as other healthy and clean whole foods sourced from around the country.      Cenyu Probio Chicken and Eggs was founded ten years ago with a simple experimentation of replacing harmful antibiotics with beneficial probiotics to raise chickens. Probiotics has been proven through various research and studies to promote strong immunity, healthy gut and liver, excellent digestion and balance nutrition in raising chicken and eggs. Grown slower and harvested longer. It takes 38 to 45 days for Cenyu Probio Chicken to achieve a live weight of 1.5kg. Premium quality meat ia achieved naturally. Fed with responsibly sourced grains, legumes and supplemented daily with natural based vitamins and probiotics, Cenyu Probio Chicken and Eggs is, by far, the healthiest source of protein one can find.      Cenyu Whole Foods has a Flagship outlet along 9th-16th Streets in Nazareth, this city. Aside from its own brand and other selected products, Cenyu Whole Foods also serves breakfast such as The Big Breakfast Plate, Probio Chicken Longganisa Plate, Probio Chicken Adobo Flakes Plate,  Probio Roasted Chicken Plate and Probio Chicken Sandwich. These selections along with their Probio Chicken and Eggs are available for delivery daily through Streetby.      It is open from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. all week from Monday to Sunday.

    July 22, 2019

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  • Cebu Pacific interested in Cebu-Mati flights

    Cebu Pacific interested in Cebu-Mati flights

    MATI City — Budget airline Cebu Pacific is interested in launching flights between Cebu and Mati City once the latter’s airport opens for commercial operations, according to Mati Mayor Michelle N. Rabat.      “Cebu Pacific ang nakakita ng (has seen the) potential ng ating (of our) Mati as a tourist destination,” she told the media on Thursday, noting that the carrier has expressed intent to serve the Cebu-Mati route.      Negotiations over land ownership issues on the airport’s site has started, said the mayor, whose clan is among those involved in the talks.      “We have yet to settle the issue of the land where the airport is built. I don’t want it to sound biased but it is owned by the Rabat-Rocamora, our families,” said Ms. Rabat, adding that “some documents” have gone missing.      The airport was built in the early 1980s under then Davao Oriental governor Francisco G. Rabat, the incumbent mayor’s father.      “We will try to settle that, to pacify the families (and tell them that there is a) commitment that eventually bibilhin yan (it will be paid for), but for now, allow us to develop so we can open it,” Ms. Rabat said.      She further explained that the national government, specifically the Department of Transportation, could not step in for rehabilitation if they do not have the pertinent documents on the project.      One of the main improvement works needed is an expansion of the existing 1,625-meter runway to accommodate bigger aircraft.      A P200-million fund from the national budget, through the Department of Tourism, has already been allocated for the runway.      Ms. Rabat said they are aiming to reach a settlement within the year, with support from the Davao Oriental provincial government.      “Hopefully we will be able to hit the target,at nakatutok din ang gobernador dito sa project na ito (the governor is also focusing on this project),” she said.      Gov. Nelson L. Dayanghirang earlier said the airport’s opening is one of his priorities to boost, not just tourism but the overall investment climate in the province.      “Both the provincial and the (Mati) city government believe that the reopening of the airport will bring more opportunities for the growth,” said Mr. Dayanghirang said earlier this month.      Davao Oriental’s popular tourist destinations include the Dahican Beach in Mati, the UNESCO World Heritage Site Mt. Hamiguitan, and Aliwagwag Falls, among others.      Mr. Dayanghirang said the provincial government is also working on the construction of an inland resort as well as an 800-person capacity convention center.

    July 22, 2019

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  • Xavier Ateneo:  Nothing Final Yet on Proposed Main Campus Transfer to Manresa

    Xavier Ateneo: Nothing Final Yet on Proposed Main Campus Transfer to Manresa

    Top officials of the Jesuit university in Cagayan de Oro clarified over the weekend that nothing has been set in stone about the planned transfer of its main campus to Uptown Cagayan de Oro. In a series of consultations with various stakeholders over the weekend, Xavier University (Ateneo de Cagayan) clarified that a number of requisites have to be complied with before the institution can proceed with detailed plans for the proposal. “Xavier University is governed by two systems of laws,” said Fr. Roberto C. Yap, S.J., Xavier Ateneo president during his presentation to the alumni last July 20. “As a Filipino non-stock, non-profit educational foundation, we are governed by Civil Law sanctioning our Board of Trustees as the final approving authority, and they have consented to proceed with the project.” “However, we are also governed by Canon Law and Jesuit Law as a Jesuit Institute of Learning so we require the permission of the Father General to proceed,” Yap noted. Rev. Fr. Arturo Sosa, S.J. as the Superior General of the Society of Jesus (the official title of the leader of the Society of Jesus, the Roman Catholic religious order better known as the Jesuits), is generally addressed as Father General. In a letter to Xavier Ateneo dated 26 March 2019, Sosa was positive about the project’s outlook. “In general, the plan seems reasonable, and some initial legwork has been done.  Thus, I would be open to this alienation and eventual transfer,” Sosa wrote. “However, given the magnitude of this undertaking, involving such an enormous amount of money, I ask that more in-depth and extensive discernment and consultation be done before approving this request.” “Dialogue with the faculty, staff, students, and parents of XU, and even representatives from the alumni would be important. Should serious questions be raised in this process, they should likewise be addressed. I would like to see that the objections and alternative solutions are sufficiently addressed,” Sosa added. “My hope is that this would make this project even stronger, with greater and more solid support from major stakeholders.” So far, XU has conducted consultations with parents of grade school, junior and senior high school students, college students and their leaders, faculty, deans and chairs, college alumni and had good discussions and sharing.  Most of the participants have emerged from the consultations, excited and enthusiastic about the proposed project. Another consultation was held Saturday afternoon with the College of Agriculture alumni (Aggies) focused more on the proposed transfer of the college to El Gaucho in Upper Puerto. Another is scheduled on July 22 with local and national government and civic leaders.  “The consultations aim to present the proposed project, raise concerns, address issues, and generate possible solutions,” Yap said. “The consultations will ensure a forward-looking and comprehensive master plan.” The President’s Council and XU Board of Trustees have been working to flesh out the master plan for its Campus of the Future during the past three years, primarily to examine how the university’s real estate assets could be used in the service of its vision and mission as a Jesuit educational institution. After considering several national real-estate players, the Board chose property developer Cebu Landmasters Inc. (CLI) as its partner in developing the proposals for this new campus project. CLI was recently recognized as the Best Developer in the Philippines by Property Guru Philippines Property Awards. However, Yap said the consultations only started this year since Xavier Ateneo has a  non-disclosure agreement with CLI. “We could not go around and discuss it publicly when it was still in the conceptual planning stage,” he explained. As a publicly listed company, CLI was mandated to disclose the proposed project to the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) this July when the stakeholders' consultations began.  CLI's disclosure immediately led to a social media buzz about the project’s possible impacts on the downtown campus, Manresa campus and the College of Agriculture. “This is not all for Xavier. Primarily it will be for Xavier’s Campus of the Future but we also have a commitment to the city,” Yap stressed. “XU is always in the service of Cagayan de Oro and this should lead to further infrastructure development which would uplift the city,” he added. XU is considering moving most of its operations out from its 6-hectare main campus near Plaza Divisoria to provide a better learning environment for its college students. The current campus is deemed congested; too noisy from outside traffic and from activities in the covered courts and football field; and at risk of flooding. The planned campus of the future in its Manresa Campus will feature well-designed school buildings and administration facilities catering to several academic and technical courses such as Agriculture, Arts & Sciences, Business & Management, Computer Studies, Education, Engineering, and Nursing. The campus will also be adaptable to future developments in academic disciplines and technological innovations. Main master plan elements include an abundance of open spaces and greeneries – a main plaza, interconnected courtyards, sports facilities, an amphitheater, and a University Forum which will incorporate a museum, theatre, and  gallery. The state-of-the-art Manresa Town Campus of the Future will provide innovative spaces for learning, pioneering research, artistic expression, whole-person formation and experiencing excellence. The new main campus will retain the 25-hectare forest reserve in Manresa. It will be near XU’s 12-hectare basic education campus at Pueblo de Oro, allowing integration of campuses for greater efficiency and modernization. The College of Agriculture facilities including its demonstration farms, workshops, field laboratories at Manresa are to be moved and upgraded to XU’s 104-hectare property in Bugo/Upper Puerto known as El Gaucho. To finance the construction of the new campus, the proposed Master Plan envisions the sale of around 14 of the 63-hectare Manresa property to CLI. CLI plans to develop a township project (working name Manresa Town) which will integrate complementary commercial, residential, office, and leisure uses. XU is also proposing to sell around 4 of its 6-hectare property in Divisoria that CLI plans to develop into downtown CDO’s Central Business District (working name Xavier City), with XU’s Church of the Immaculate Conception at its heart. “We are not leaving Divisoria,” Yap stressed. “Xavier Ateneo will continue to be present in downtown Divisoria with the University Church and a redesigned campus for the XU School of Medicine, College of Law and most of its graduate programs.” Should the new campus project be approved by the Jesuit authorities, it is expected to be developed over an 8- to 10- year period. The new campus is proposed to be named Masterson Campus in honor of the late Jesuit visionary Fr. William Masterson SJ who foresaw the potential of Manresa in the 1960s. This proposed master plan for a Campus of the Future is in line with the Jesuit university’s strategic plan to be the best university in Mindanao and among the best in the Philippines especially as Xavier Ateneo moves forward to celebrating its centennial in 2033, Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam. ∎  

    July 22, 2019

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Cebu Pacific interested in Cebu-Mati flights

July 22, 2019

Corporate

By: CARMELITO Q. FRANCISCO, Correspondent, MATI City — Budget airline Cebu Pacific is interested in launching flights between Cebu and Mati City once the latter’s airport opens for commercial operations, according to Mati Mayor Michelle N. Rabat.      “Cebu Pacific ang nakakita ng (has seen the) potential ng ating (of our) Mati as a tourist destination,” she told the media on Thursday, noting that the carrier has expressed intent to serve the Cebu-Mati route.      Negotiations over land ownership issues on the airport’s site has started, said the mayor, whose clan is among those involved in the talks.      “We have yet to settle the issue of the land where the airport is built. I don’t want it to sound biased but it is owned by the Rabat-Rocamora, our families,” said Ms. Rabat, adding that “some documents” have gone missing.      The airport was built in the early 1980s under then Davao Oriental governor Francisco G. Rabat, the incumbent mayor’s father.      “We will try to settle that, to pacify the families (and tell them that there is a) commitment that eventually bibilhin yan (it will be paid for), but for now, allow us to develop so we can open it,” Ms. Rabat said.      She further explained that the national government, specifically the Department of Transportation, could not step in for rehabilitation if they do not have the pertinent documents on the project.      One of the main improvement works needed is an expansion of the existing 1,625-meter runway to accommodate bigger aircraft.      A P200-million fund from the national budget, through the Department of Tourism, has already been allocated for the runway.      Ms. Rabat said they are aiming to reach a settlement within the year, with support from the Davao Oriental provincial government.      “Hopefully we will be able to hit the target,at nakatutok din ang gobernador dito sa project na ito (the governor is also focusing on this project),” she said.      Gov. Nelson L. Dayanghirang earlier said the airport’s opening is one of his priorities to boost, not just tourism but the overall investment climate in the province.      “Both the provincial and the (Mati) city government believe that the reopening of the airport will bring more opportunities for the growth,” said Mr. Dayanghirang said earlier this month.      Davao Oriental’s popular tourist destinations include the Dahican Beach in Mati, the UNESCO World Heritage Site Mt. Hamiguitan, and Aliwagwag Falls, among others.      Mr. Dayanghirang said the provincial government is also working on the construction of an inland resort as well as an 800-person capacity convention center.

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Converge to bring fixed broadband to the Visayas, Mindanao by 2021

July 10, 2019

Corporate

By: , CONVERGE ICT Solutions, Inc. said its fixed broadband service may arrive in the Visayas and Mindanao regions by 2021 as it aims to start within the year the buildout of its fiber backbone outside Luzon.      In a media roundtable interview in Pasig City Thursday, the fiber broadband provider said it is currently evaluating bid submissions from submarine cable companies to expand its fiber reach in the Visayas and Mindanao regions.      “Siguro ’yung VisMin is not going to happen in the next 24 months. Kasi it takes about 24 months to build eh (Maybe going to VisMin won’t happen in the next 24 months because it takes about 24 months to build),” Converge Chief Operating Officer Jesus C. Romero said.      “We’ll start that hopefully soon. Then after that, we can operate,” he added.      Mr. Romero said the company is now waiting for the “best and final offer” of about three foreign bidders that will build its interisland fiber network in the Visayas and Mindanao regions.      “The bidders have to give their best and final offer. After those are submitted, we will have to choose which one. After we choose, then we award, then we start to mobilize,” he said, adding the completion of this process “has to be” within the year.      Converge currently has its fiber laid out in most of Luzon, covering almost all of Metro Manila and continuously expanding to Bicol and Benguet.      Earlier reports revealed that the company, owned by Pampanga-based businessman Dennis Anthony H. Uy, has secured a $250.4-million equity funding from United States-based private equity firm Warburg Pincus.      While Mr. Romero did not confirm the deal, he said Converge is always seeking to find funding for its expansion plans. These include the backbone rollout and acquisition of transmission and last mile equipment to make its services available to more areas across the country.      “The company has always said we’re looking for ways to fund expansion,” he said. “When you look at (the company’s) potential spending to fuel growth, you have cash flow, you can avail of debt, or you can try to raise money from equity infusion.”      Mr. Romero said the company is continually focusing on its fixed fiber broadband and doesn’t plan to tap the mobile telecommunications market as it sees a huge potential in the “underserved market” of the broadband segment.      “I think ’yang mobile, pagdating ng third mobile player, market share grab na lang ’yan eh (I think for mobile, when the third player arrives, it will all be market share grabbing)… Maganda rin na doon ka na lang sa (It’s better to be in the business of) something that’s growing, something that’s underserved, rather than trying to kill each other on a mature market,” he said.      Converge said last year it is pricing its expansion at $1.8 billion in the next five years, which will cover extending its broadband network to Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.

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Allianz Sees Continuous Growth in Insurance Market in PH, Rest of Asia

July 6, 2019

Corporate

By: , While insurance penetration (premiums as a percentage of GDP) fell by 5.4% in Asia (ex-cluding Japan), the Philippines along with Vietnam, Laos, Sri Lanka, and India registered double-digit growths. This is according to the Allianz Global Insurance Report prepared by Allianz Research. Allianz Research is projecting a 9.4% growth per annum over the next decade in Asia, ex-cluding Japan. Around 60% additional premiums are expected to be generated in the re-gion. In the Philippines, a market growth of 12.3% is foreseen (13.5 in life and 8.3 in p&c).  “Allianz’ strong performance in the Philippines reflects the country’s economic growth and strong macroeconomic fundamentals, and we are looking to leverage on the continuous ex-pansion of economic activity in the country,” said Alexander Grenz, newly appointed presi-dent and chief executive officer of Allianz PNB Life. Premiums in the Philippines grew by 17.7% in 2018, way above the regional average. In fact, 2018 marked the best year since 2013. Life insurance, which accounts for more than 70% of the premium pool (without health), had a growth rate of 20.4%. It grew almost twice as fast as property-casualty (+11.1%).  For 2019, Allianz Research foresees a slowdown to around 10% premium growth, still well above regional or global averages. It noted that the Philippines’ insurance market has still plenty of room to grow: Premiums per capita stood at Php3,000.00 in 2018 (at par with neighboring Indonesia), penetration at 1.9%; it is, for example, already 3.7% in China. In-surance premiums in property-casualty and life are expected to grow by 14% this year and 12.3% over the next decade. Allianz PNB Life is still the fastest-growing life insurance company in the Philippines, ac-cording to the report of the Insurance Commission. Its premium income grew by 69% in 2018 and its annualized premium income for 2018 stood at a historic high. Grenz, who previously served as the chief operating officer of Allianz PNB Life, said that as today’s business environment goes through rapid changes, the company is hands-on to build a more diverse business model. “We all know how fast-paced the insurance industry is; the pressure and expectations are high from all sides ‐ our customers, our investors, our regulators, and among ourselves. Late last year, for instance, we have seen changes in reserve requirements for banks to ad-dress the spike in inflation. This resulted in liquidity shortage in the Bancassurance indus-try. Even though we are still performing better compared to our competitors, we definitely need to catch up in the second half of the year,” Grenz said. Grenz has more than 15 years of experience in global Insurance and Asset Management. He has a multinational track record in the areas of Finance, Insurance and Asset Manage-ment and has held various executive positions for Allianz in different countries. As he heads Allianz PNB Life, Grenz said he plans to focus on simplifying insurance for the customers. “Simplification of insurance will be our priority. We will simplify the language of insurance to make it understandable to more customers and make it easy to access with the superior technology Allianz can provide,” he explained.  Grenz is, likewise, moving to tap Allianz’s global investment fund managers from PIMCO and Allianz Global Investments (AGI) to provide superior technical solutions and investment strategies.  “Our goal is to have a well-defined output that should create value for our customers. It’s the customers’ perception, which counts and defines our success. With PIMCO and AGI, cus-tomers are assured they have access to superior product solutions and technical advise,” he said. Furthermore, Grenz is steering the company toward a digital future. Recently, the company opened its Allianz Digital Studio, which will pioneer the next-generation of innovation and solutions and make the delivery of insurance products and services faster and more effi-cient for both its internal and external customers.  “Our digital and customer-centric initiatives in the pipeline are geared toward enhancing the Allianz customer experience and differentiate us in the market,” he concluded. # About Allianz in Asia Asia is one of the core growth regions for Allianz, characterized by a rich diversity of cul-tures, languages and customs. Allianz has been present in the region since 1910, when it first provided fire and marine insurance in the coastal cities of China. Today, Allianz is ac-tive in 14 markets in the region, offering its core businesses of property and casualty insur-ance, life, protection and health solutions, as well as asset management. With its more than 32,000 staff, Allianz serves the needs of over 18 million customers in the region across mul-tiple distribution channels and digital platforms.   About Allianz The Allianz Group is one of the world's leading insurers and asset managers with more than 92 million retail and corporate customers. Allianz customers benefit from a broad range of personal and corporate insurance services, ranging from property, life and health insurance to assistance services to credit insurance and global business insurance. Allianz is one of the world’s largest investors, managing around 673 billion euros on behalf of its insurance customers. Furthermore our asset managers PIMCO and Allianz Global Investors manage more than 1.4 trillion euros of third-party assets.  Thanks to our systematic integration of ecological and social criteria in our business pro-cesses and investment decisions, we hold the leading position for insurers in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index. In 2018, over 142,000 employees in more than 80 countries achieved total revenues of 131 billion euros and an operating profit of 11.5 billion euros for the group. These assessments are, as always, subject to the disclaimer provided below.   Cautionary note regarding forward-looking statements The statements contained herein may include prospects, statements of future expectations and other forward-looking statements that are based on management's current views and assumptions and involve known and unknown risks and uncertainties. Actual results, per-formance or events may differ materially from those expressed or implied in such forward-looking statements. Such deviations may arise due to, without limitation, (i) changes of the general economic conditions and competitive situation, particularly in the Allianz Group's core business and core markets, (ii) performance of financial markets (particularly market volatility, liquidity and credit events), (iii) frequency and severity of insured loss events, including from nat-ural catastrophes, and the development of loss expenses, (iv) mortality and morbidity levels and trends, (v) persistency levels, (vi) particularly in the banking business, the ex-tent of credit defaults, (vii) interest rate levels, (viii) currency exchange rates including the EUR/USD  exchange rate, (ix) changes in laws and regulations, including tax regula-tions, (x) the impact of acquisitions, including related integration issues, and reorganiza-tion measures, and (xi) general competitive factors, in each case on a local, regional, na-tional and/or global basis. Many of these factors may be more likely to occur, or more pronounced, as a result of terrorist activities and their consequences.   No duty to update The company assumes no obligation to update any information or forward-looking state-ment contained herein, save for any information required to be disclosed by law.   Privacy Note Allianz SE is committed to protecting your personal data. Find out more in our Privacy Statement.  

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DICT to issue permits for new cell sites within 3 mos

July 1, 2019

Corporate

By: , THE Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) targets to issue permits to tower building companies in three months or less to green light the construction of new cell sites.      "Our target is that we will have all the permits by two months or three months. We will really be more efficient in coming up with towers faster,” DICT Acting Secretary Eliseo Rio Jr. said in a press conference on Thursday.      Rio said a task force was created to establish a one-stop shop that will process the issuance of permits to the tower providers.      The task force is composed of agencies related with the release of the permits such as the Department of the Interior and Local Government, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Health, Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), among others.      The DICT has signed a memorandum of agreement with ISOC Infrastructures Inc. and Malaysia-based edotco Group Sdn Bhd to expedite the process of securing permits for the common towers that will be shared to telcos to further improve the delivery of communication services in the country.      "The MOA binds the DICT to facilitate getting of permits for the common tower to set up," Rio said.      Globe Telecom recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with ISOC and edotco to build 150 cell sites in the Calabarzon Region.      According to the MOU, ISOC and edotco will build and co-own the towers, which will be leased by Globe. These may eventually be leased out to other telcos such as PLDT Inc. and Mislatel.      The DICT expects the initial set of common towers to be constructed within the next five months.      “Maybe, the initial timeline for the first 150 towers, is from today to maybe two to three months for permits, then another two months for construction, maybe five months,”      A total of 2,500 sites were identified by the DICT as the location for the cell towers.      The department aims to build at least 50,000 cell towers within the next seven to 10 years through partnerships among the telcos and the tower providers. (PNA)

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GSIS bent on selling Manila North Harbor property

July 1, 2019

Banking & Finance

By: , The Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) has reiterated its plan to sell its 672,645-square meter property at the Manila North Harbor, which the International Container Terminal Services, Inc. (ICTSI) is currently occupying.      “As a government entity that exists to ensure the integrity of the funds of its members, GSIS is determined to sell it through public bidding upon the approval of the Board,” GSIS President and General Manager (PGM) Jesus Clint Aranas said.      According to him, the market value of the property is approximately Php33.632 billion based on the zonal valuation as of 9 May 2019 and as reflected in the GSIS books as of 20 May 2019.      Enrique Razon, president and chairman of ICTSI, reportedly said earlier that GSIS has only a “naked title” with no right to use the property.      “That does not preclude GSIS from disposing of the property,” Aranas asserted.      Meanwhile, the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) has committed to donate a five-hectare resettlement site under a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the National Housing Authority (NHA), LGU Manila, ICTSI, and Manila North Harbor Port, Inc. However, the ocular inspection report of NHA reveals that the proposed relocation site infringes on another GSIS property occupied by informal settlers and allocated for socialized housing pursuant to E.O. 108, series of 2002 with an area of 1.2 hectares of which belongs to GSIS.      For its part, GSIS emphasized that “no entity can commit, offer, or convey any property which it does not own.”      GSIS was never consulted and neither did it approve or consent to such donation or commitment on the overlapping portion which is registered and owned by GSIS.      GSIS likewise demanded that the MOU be rescinded, modified, or revised to exclude the overlapping portion of GSIS-owned property from the five hectares that is committed by PPA under the MOU.      The PPA (under its present General Manager Jay Daniel Santiago) and through its Legal Department, in a reply to GSIS’s demand to PPA to rescind, modify, or revise the MOU last 4 March 2019, did not directly address GSIS’s demand but instead questioned the validity of the 43-year-old title and asserted that PPA owns the North Harbor Property, despite the property being registered under the name of GSIS.      PGM Aranas cited, however, the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel, which ruled in 2015 that the validity of the title registered under the name of GSIS may only be questioned in a direct attack filed before a regular court.      Meanwhile, GSIS has invited ICTSI to discuss the use and rental of the disputed property.  But ICTSI referred GSIS’s letter to PPA and deemed that “it may not be useful to sit down with GSIS without the participation of PPA.”      As to the issue of the overlapping GSIS property under the MOU, despite efforts to obtain a certified true copy of the proposed MOU and the 26 February 2019 Minutes of the Congressional Hearing and signing ceremony of the MOU, GSIS has not received such copy to this day.      PPA has also begged off from attending a meeting called by the Inter-Agency Committee for the Disposition of the Parola Estate and instead requested the Committee that a separate meeting be scheduled with PPA, NHA, LGU Manila, and the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) only to discuss the MOU, without any mention of GSIS.       The GSIS was also informed by the Inter-Agency Committee that it will now be excluded from subsequent committee meetings since the Inter-Agency Committee no longer has jurisdiction over the disposition of lands owned by GSIS and other Government-Owned and -Controlled Corporations (GOCCs) citing Section 5 II (d) of R.A. 11201 (Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development Act).       Notwithstanding, PGM Aranas maintains that the state pension fund will take appropriate legal measures to protect the interest of GSIS and its members.

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Inflation seen to settle back to target levels

June 7, 2019

Banking & Finance

By: , THE Philippines’ inflation rate is expected to return to its deceleration mode in the coming months after an uptick to 3.2 percent last May from only three percent last April.  In a report, Michael L. Ricafort, Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) Economics & Industry Research Division head, attributed the rise of domestic inflation rate to the impact of a weaker peso on imports in the early part of May, higher global oil prices and the dry season, which affected some agricultural products and the operations of hydropower plants. “However, these were offset/mitigated by increased rice imports with the Rice Tariffication Law and other non-monetary measures to increase food/rice supply to lower prices and better manage inflation since the latter part of 2018,” he said. Ricafort expects the resumption of slowdown of inflation rates in the coming months, with the decline forecast to be faster due to elevated inflation rate last year. He said that a one-percent level inflation rate in the third quarter or early fourth quarter is even possible. Last year, inflation peaked at 6.7 percent in September and October. Ricafort said adequate rice supply due to larger imports and higher harvest during the summer is expected to further ease inflation rate in the coming months since rice accounts for around 10 percent of the inflation index. “Further easing in local monetary policy by way of another cut in policy rates remains possible as early as the next rate-setting meeting in June 20, 2019 (or in subsequent months),” he said. He added that possible reduction in the Federal Reserve’s key rates this year is also a plus on the BSP policy rates. Also, ANZ Research forecasts average inflation in the Philippines this 2019 to be at the mid-point of the government’s two to four percent target band despite the marginal uptick last May. The economic research firm traced the higher inflation rate last month partly to the El Niño but pointed out that “weaker demand pressures and a high base effect will likely keep annual inflation in check.” “As such, we continue to expect headline inflation around the mid-point of the target band,” it said but added that “impact of the El Niño poses a key risk to the inflation outlook." Relatively, ING Bank Manila senior economist Nicholas Mapa said food inflation will be a key factor in the country’ headline inflation for the remainder of the year, but believes the final numbers will still remain within government's target. He added that this development will be closely monitored by the BSP vis-à-vis their decisions on the policy rates. (PNA)

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BSP forecasts May inflation at 2.8%-3.6%

June 5, 2019

Banking & Finance

By: , HIGHER jeepney fare in the Visayas, as well as upticks on selected food items are seen as risks to the May inflation, which the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) projected to stay between 2.8 percent and 3.6 percent. “Positive base effects” may also contribute to the “temporary price pressures” in the fifth month of the year, the central bank said in a statement released Friday. This as the rate of price increases continues to decline after peaking at 6.7 percent in September and October last year. Domestic inflation rate in May 2018 rose to 4.5 percent from 4.3 percent in the previous month. Average inflation last year exceeded the government’s 2 percent to 4 percent target band from 2018 to 2020 after it hit 5.2 percent. Amid the upside risks seen for the month, the BSP said lower prices of rice and domestic oil, along with the cut in power rates, are seen to counter price pressures. “Looking ahead, the BSP will continue to be watchful of evolving price trends to ensure that the monetary policy stance remains consistent with remaining price stability,” it said. The continued deceleration of inflation has led the BSP’s policy-making Monetary Board to slash the central bank’s key policy rates by 25 basis points early last month and analysts project more cuts in the coming months as inflation is seen to continue its downtrend. (PNA)

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OCD-10 urges LGUs to be ready for disasters

June 24, 2019

Economy

By: GERRY LEE GORIT, MAMBAJAO, Camiguin – To ensure the safety of residents during earthquakes, the local government units must see to it that they are prepared for any disaster that might occur in their area, the Office of Civil Defense-10 (OCD-10) said. Aside from regular earthquake drills that would remind people how to react in case there is a tremor, OCD-10 regional director Rosauro Arnel Gonzales Jr. said the LGUs must also put in place disaster management mechanism, most especially in the training and deployment of responders and procurement of equipment. He said residents might have already been trained on the basic duck-hold-cover move, but to save lives, the local officials must also be equipped to handle disaster response.“The community might tell us that, ‘we are ready,’ but how secure is the government in responding to disasters, especially if there are people affected or there are casualties?” Gonzales told the participants of the regional level of the National Simultaneous Earthquake Drill (NSED) held at Mambajao town, Camiguin Thursday afternoon, June 20. “In this drill, we’d like to showcase the various responses of the government, from the local chief executives up to the barangay, and the different agencies who provided the necessary responders,” he said. During the drill, different scenarios resulting from an earthquake were being played out by both actual responders such as the provincial and municipal disaster risk reduction and management personnel, Bureau of Fire Protection firefighters and the Department of Health medical staff to community members acting as displaced residents and victims of tsunami, fire, and collapsed buildings. Mambajao mayor and Camiguin governor-elect Jurdin Jesus Romualdo said he sees the need for an exercise like the NSED to constantly raise the people’s awareness since the island-province, which had its share of volcanic eruptions in the past decades, is prone to floods, landslides, earthquakes, and tsunamis.  The eruptions that caused earthquake and other calamities in Camiguin occurred in 1871 to 1875 and in 1948 to 1951. Romualdo also recalled how in 2001 Typhoon Nanang devastated the province causing a massive landslide in Barangay Hubangon, Mahinog town that left 64 villagers dead and 117 more missing. He said the typhoon isolated the island for about two weeks as government agencies and even the Armed Forces and the National Police responders could not land at Camiguin due to bad weather. “We were on our own and the heavy rains, inclement weather made it difficult for help to come,” he added. He said it was local government’s initiative that the people’s cooperation that Camiguin was able to withstand the calamity that struck them. Romualdo described Typhoon Nanang as “the worst crisis that we had in Camiguin in recent history.” He said Camiguin should be ready for any eventuality at all times, and in fact, the local government has published a handbook on disaster management that will guide the Camiguingnons in the event of calamities. Col. Surki Sereñas, police regional spokesperson who was also one of the NSED evaluators, said the simulation was very organized with responders acting quickly to tend to the affected persons. Based on the OCD-10 data, about 3,000 persons participated in the regional NSED held in this province, many of them students, community members, and local government workers.

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Mindanao’s youth IP leaders vow support for EO 70

June 19, 2019

Economy

By: , YOUNG indigenous peoples (IP) leaders from across Mindanao threw their support behind the implementation of the Duterte Administration’s “Whole-Of-Nation” Approach under Executive Order No. 70 creating the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF ELCAC). The more than 200 participants to the Mindanao Indigenous Peoples’ Youth Assembly committed to helping the national government implement the initiative which primarily aims to address the decades-long communist rebellion in the country. “We, the representatives of this assembly, declare our full and unequivocal support to the national government’s Whole-Of-Nation Approach, which is a centerpiece of the Duterte Administration’s Peace and Development Agenda,” the delegates said in a resolution passed on June 15. “We believe that this approach is the best solution to the communist insurgency that has ravaged our communities, and provide us, the youth, the opportunity to work hand in hand with the government to achieve this goal.” They pledged not to be used and abused by the communist insurgents, and will utilize our voices to speak out and convince members of our communities not to support the organization’s distorted ideology,” the resolution added. President Rodrigo Duterte has formed NTF ELCAC to work out a mechanism to help end the decades-old communist insurgency, and institutionalize a “whole-of-nation approach” in attaining an “inclusive and sustainable peace." The Whole-Of-Nation Approach mandates all concerned agencies of government to work in a holistic and integrated manner to deliver much-needed services to underdeveloped, conflict-affected communities. Through its Sectoral Unification, Capacity Building and Empowerment Cluster with the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) as a member, the NTF-ELCAC has started to engage various peace stakeholders to jumpstart the process. The approach will utilize localized peace engagements wherein local government units and other community members situated in conflict-affected areas will take the lead in providing solutions to best resolve the nation’s insurgency problem. In the same resolution, the youth leaders also urged President Duterte to declare the full implementation of RA 8371 or the Indigenous Peoples Rights Acts (IPRA) as part of the national government’s policy agenda in his upcoming State of the Nation Address (SONA). “Through this declaration, we envision the IPRA’s full implementation to significantly impact on the lives of our indigenous peoples, specifically by allowing us to completely enjoy the four bundle of rights as stated in the IPRA,” the resolution said. According to Dante Tumanding, political officer of the Mindanao Indigenous Peoples Youth Organization (MIPYO), they can contribute a lot to the Whole-Of-Nation approach. “We are the frontlines and are the first ones affected whenever there is armed conflict in our communities,” Tumanding said. This is the reason, Tumanding said, why the conduct of the peace assembly, organized by OPAPP in collaboration with MIPYO, is both timely and relevant. “We wanted to equip our youth IP leaders across Mindanao with the skills and knowledge they will need to support the implementation of EO 70,” he said. (OPAPRU PR) 

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DOST gears up for Marawi IDPs’ livelihood programs

June 7, 2019

Economy

By: LEAntonio/PIA, MARAWI CITY -- The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) has intensified its efforts in providing livelihood programs for the internally displaced persons (IDPs) of this city. Dr. Rowena Cristina Guevara, undersecretary for Research and Development said during the project launching of Livelihood Program for Rehabilitation and Reconstruction of Marawi by DOST’s Industrial Technology Development Institute (ITDI) that the agency would provide them support until they can recover. “Hangga't hindi sila nakakabangon, tutulong kami (Until they can recover, we will help them),” Guevara said. Guevara also emphasized that the agency has been providing a series of training and hands-on programs to the IDPs through its different offices. DOST-ITDI has been providing technologies and training on personal care products, charcoal briquetting, herbal processing and essential oil extraction aimed at improving the quality of life of the IDPs by utilizing indigenous resources for their sustainable livelihood. In partnership with the SMILES Foundation, the DOST also supported the IDPs in Butig with a corn mill facility. The Bayabao Poblacion Farmers Cooperative here has already harvested 2,400 kilos from its 40-hectare corn plantation, earning P26,400 per cycle. Other projects implemented by the SMILES-DOST partnership include “Do-It-Yourself (DIY)” bamboo shelter production for Butig, Lanao del Sur and Innovation Support System and Management Strategies to Vegetable Production to Farmers in Pantar, Lanao del Norte. DOST has also partnered with the Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology (MSU-IIT) to revive the handloom weaving industry in Marawi through the Maranao Collectible, a group of internally displaced women and men who create heirloom “langkit” weaving. The DOST will provide training and necessary materials and handlooms. “We are thankful to DOST, because the funding for the loans will provide more opportunities for Maranao weavers,” said Prof. Darwin Manubag of MSU-IIT. The DOST provides the technology while its partner organizations assist in the implementation of the projects to the grassroots. Being a member-agency of the Task Force Bangon Marawi’s  (TFBm) Subcommittee on Business and Livelihood, DOST commits itself to provide sustainable livelihood to the IDPs. (LEAntonio/PIA)

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Bukidnon promotes town’s ethnic thanksgiving fest

June 5, 2019

Economy

By: MEL MADERA, PNA, MALAYBALAY City – The Sangguniang Panlalawigan (Provincial Board) of Bukidnon has recognized the celebration of SunggodTeKamanga, an annual festival in the municipality of Quezon, which located south of the province. During its regular session Tuesday, the provincial lawmakers unanimously approved a resolution that seeks to support, preserve, recognize and promote SunggodTeKamanga--a thanksgiving festival of the tribes living in Quezon town. “The two-day SunggodTeKamanga is being held every 3rd Monday and Tuesday of February annually,” said Provincial Board Member Benito Baguio, the resolution's principal author. “SunggodTeKamanga is a traditional ethnic celebration showcasing their simple and primitive way of life focusing mainly on pre- and post-farming activities and survival skills of the dominant ethnic groups such as Manobo-Pulangihon who live near Pulangi river, and Manobo-Matigsalug that inhabit the highland areas,” Baguio explained. Baguio said the festival is celebrated through tribal rituals, songs, dances and the popular ethnic sports of the tribes commonly seen during their merry-making and tribal gatherings. He said that since its existence in 2009, SunggodTeKamanga has been continuously attracting and drawing tourists. Baguio said the festival's recognition was necessary so that it can be incorporated into the list of provincial and regional festivals in Northern Mindanao. Quezon is a 1st class municipality composed of 31 barangays. According to the 2015 census, it has a population of 104,116 people. (PNA)

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PPI at 55: Building Better Communities

July 1, 2019

Motoring

By: , This year marks the 55th anniversary of the Philippine Press Institute (PPI), also known as the national association of newspapers. This milestone serves as a testament to the enduring two-pronged vision of PPI: 1) To defend press freedom; and 2) to promote ethical standards within the ranks of its member-publications. “We do not only celebrate its longevity but remind ourselves of its relevance and mandate,” said Alfonso Pedroche, outgoing PPI chairman-president and retired former editor-in-chief of Pilipino Star Ngayon.   As in previous years, PPI is holding yet another edition of the  National Press Forum on July 4 and 5 in Manila, not only in celebration of its founding but, more importantly, to bring together the members in a once-a-year opportunity to engage in meaningful discussion on an issue that matters to the public and all of the Philippine media.  The publishers and editors from the member-newspapers will be joined by guests from the academe, government, embassies, and civil society organizations. The theme for this year is “Governance, Media, and Democracy: Building Better Communities”, around which the PPI aims to have a discussion that, among others, will highlight the role of media in both local and national affairs as the fourth estate and watchdog.  “Building Better Communities” is the slogan for PPI’s flagship program which is civic journalism. “We couldn’t stress enough the role of the print media.  PPI in fact has been a witness and participant in the evolving media landscapes which also saw the growth of community press since the inception of the organization fifty-five years ago,” said PPI executive director Ariel Sebellino.  He also attested that newspapers have survived the tests of time. Alex Pal, a publisher of a Dumaguete-based community newspaper and PPI vice-chairman said that it is even more challenging for a small paper to sustain its operations despite difficult times.  “The last time they said print was dying, we’re still here, active in our role as catalysts for change and a platform for civic engagement.”  His weekly newspaper MetroPost is a finalist in this year’s Civic Journalism Community Press Awards. The PPI Board took note of this year’s conference theme as timely and relevant “as we also try to have an insightful look at a new system of government that has been a subject of discourse for the longest time”. Senator Aquilino ‘Nene’ Pimentel, Jr., considered as the father of local government code and a staunch advocate of federalism will share his take on it.  Atty. Christian Monsod will discuss the (proposed) Puno Federalism in relation to preserving democracy and promoting press freedom.  “Social justice and economy are just two of the major shortcomings of the Puno Constitution,” said Monsod in response to the PPI invitation.  Atty. Erwin Caliba will talk about autonomy as a mechanism to address exclusion of minorities.  Atty. Cheryl Daytec-Yañgot, a staunch advocate of IP issues, will react to all three presentations.   This year’s event is being supported again by Nickel Asia Corporation as its principal partner for the conference and awards, and in part by Kusog Bikolandia and Hanns Seidel Foundation as major sponsors, SM Investments Corporation as minor sponsor, Smart Communications, PAGCOR, Ayala Corporation, Land Bank of the Philippines, San Miguel Corporation, PAGLAS Group, McDonald’s, PCSO, and Hotel Jen. PPI’s current program partners, led by Nickel Asia Corporation will take center stage in the Industry Forum as they talk about “engaging communities” in relation to their programs and advocacies in the communities they serve. The Civic Journalism Community Press Awards, now on its 23nd season will highlight the two-day event.  There are six dailies and 7 weeklies vying for five major categories, namely: best in photojournalism, best in environmental reporting, best in business and economic reporting, best editorial page, and best edited paper. The finalists are: Baguio Chronicle, MetroPost, The Mindanao Cross, The Bohol Chronicle, BusinessWeek Mindanao, Herald Express, and Northern Forum for the weekly category; and  Sun.Star Baguio, Cebu Daily News, Sun.Star Davao, Sun.Star Pampanga, Sun.Star Cebu, and Edge Davao for the daily category. The awards program, the only one of its kind by far, is being managed by the Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication (AIJC) and supported by Nickel Asia Corporation (NAC).

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