Today's Top Stories

  • Normin tourism suffers  P1-B losses from Covid

    Normin tourism suffers P1-B losses from Covid

     NORTHERN Mindanao's tourism sector has been one of the hardest-hit by the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic, with losses reaching as high as more than P1 billion.     This assessment was made by the National Economic and Development Authority in Region 10 (NEDA-10) on Friday, based on the tourism outputs the region reported in the previous year.     NEDA-10 director Myla Fe Cariño said that between March 15 to April 30, the estimated losses to the tourism sector could reach P905,313,492 from domestic tourists, and P61,184,124 from foreign visitors, totaling to P966,497,616.     But since the extension of general community quarantine (GCQ) in different cities and provinces in the region, NEDA-10 estimates that from March 15 to May 15, the region will have recorded losses of up to P1,354,811,064 from domestic tourists, and P85,705,045 from foreign tourists, for a total of P1,440,516,109.     "This was also based on our previous data, which estimates that local tourists usually spend P2,117 per day, and the foreigners spend PHP5,497 daily," Cariño said.     Even after the quarantine is lifted in the region, she said the tourism industry will still have to cope with the losses while adjusting to the "new normal" arrangements.     "Based on the national survey, only 24 percent have expressed to travel to go on vacation, while 74 percent are not going. Other than that, hotels and resorts need to reconfigure their accommodation to comply with DOH (Department of Health) protocols, which means all rooms are only for single occupancy. Can you imagine if there is a family of four on vacation?" Cariño said.     Cariño said the economy can only fully recover when Covid-19 vaccines are already available.     Lanex Bregonos, owner of Zyll's Airlines Booking Office here, said that since the community quarantine was imposed on March 15, his airplane ticket sales are virtually non-existent.     "I am currently making ends meet with my savings, I am waiting for the reopening of flights even just for domestic destinations," he said, saying he has no alternative means of income as of the moment. (PNA)

    May 18, 2020

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  • Davao Region posts lower  fish production in 2019

    Davao Region posts lower fish production in 2019

    DAVAO City -- Fish catch in Davao Region decreased by 7.2 percent, or 48,245.89 metric tons (MT) in 2019 from 51,983.43 MT in 2018, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).     The region’s fish catch last year was the lowest since 2015, when it recorded a production of 59,498.46 MT.     Of the total regional fisheries output last year, 49.8 percent came from aquaculture, 45 percent from municipal fisheries (marine and inland), and 5.2 percent from commercial fisheries.     Commercial fishing reported the biggest decline in production at 28.8-percent, from 3,498.54 MT in 2018 to 2,490.76 MT in 2019.     The biggest chunk in commercial fishing came from Davao City, comprising 50.8-percent. Davao Oriental followed with 37.0 percent, Davao Occidental with 8.6-percent, and Davao del Sur with 2.6-percent.     The PSA said the provinces of Davao del Norte and Davao de Oro have no commercial fishing operations.     It added the region’s commercial species with most volume of production in 2019 were yellowfin tuna estimated at 910.57 MT; roundscad, 299.28 MT; big-eye tuna, 268.92 MT; frigate tuna, 224.96 MT.     The municipal fisheries of Davao Region posted 21,704.67 MT, a reduction of 6.1 percent from 23,120.86 MT in 2018. Of this total, 98.1 percent came from marine fisheries and the rest inland fisheries.     In terms of municipal fisheries production, Davao Oriental accounted for 42.1-percent; Davao Occidental, 39.3 percent; Davao del Sur, 9.6 percent; Davao del Norte and Davao de Oro shared 3.8-percent a piece; and Davao City, 1.5-percent.     Marine municipal fisheries production likewise declined, registering a production of 21,455.32 MT in 2019 or a decrease of 6.2 percent from 22,876.92 MT in 2018.     Aquaculture declined by 5.2-percent, registering a production of 24,050.46 MT in 2019 from 25,364.03 MT in 2018.     In aquaculture production Davao del Sur showed a substantial contribution with 46.7 percent, followed by Davao Occidental, 25.3 percent, Davao del Norte, 12.3 percent, Davao City, 8.5-percent, and Davao Oriental, 4.8-percent.

    May 18, 2020

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  • PCG probes oil spill at CDO port

    PCG probes oil spill at CDO port

    THE Philippine Coast Guard in Northern Mindanao (PCG-NM) on Friday began investigating the oil spill that occurred on the seaport of Barangay Macabalan, this city.     The oil spill was first reported to authorities by crews of the ships docked at the Macabalan port Thursday morning, said Ensign Jerich Ybañez, PCG-NM spokesperson.     “As soon as we got the information, we then referred it to our MEPU (Marine Environmental Protection Unit) which responded right away,” Ybañez said.     He said the MEPU contained the spill by retrieving the oil through absorbent pads and cordoning the area with “spill boom,” a floating barrier used to contain an oil spill.     As of Friday, the oil spill has already been contained as the PCG is now determining who was responsible for dumping the substance into the sea, he said.     “We have collected samples from the oil spill. As of the moment, we have yet to pinpoint (the culprit) but we are conducting an investigation,” Ybañez said.     He said they are now tracing the source of the spill through the samples they have gathered from the sea and from the shipping lines docked at the port.     Since Thursday, the PCG-NM has collected about 210 liters of concentrated and diluted oil from the spill, he said.     At the Macabalan port where a team from the PCG-NM was conducting the clean-up, ships coming mostly from Vietnam can be seen unloading tons of imported rice onto waiting cargo trucks.     “There is a ‘footprint’ and we are going to take the ‘footprint’ of what we have collected. From there, we will know where the oil came from,” he said, adding that once they have traced the oil spill to a particular ship, they will then prepare a complaint with the imposition of sanctions and penalties to follow.     He also said that it was good that his team was able to contain the spill immediately, as they have also coordinated with the Philippine Ports Authority and other agencies so they can prepare for any eventualities.     Commander Jonie Belarmino, head of the PCG’s MEPU in Northern Mindanao, said the oil spill could have an adverse effect on the marine life such as fish, corals, and mangroves if it was not contained.     He also said that the spill has reached a stretch one nautical mile or 1.852 kilometers when it was first reported.     “There was a possibility that it could escalate. So far, we have contained it through the use of the spill boom to prevent it from further spreading,” he said.     Belarmino appealed to shipping line operators to be mindful of their actions that could impact the environment such as discharging wastes in bodies of water.     “Ship operator and seafarers are all aware that disposing of oil into the sea is strictly prohibited. It is our responsibility to take care of our oceans,” he said. (PNA)

    May 18, 2020

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  • Adidas reopens 3 Mindanao stores

    Adidas reopens 3 Mindanao stores

    HARD hit, like many businesses are, by the COVID-19 pandemic, Adidas Philippines is slowly, steadily getting back into action.     This developed following the reopening of the company’s three stores:  Ayala Centrio Cagayan de Oro, Gaisano Mall of Digos, and SM Cagayan de Oro Uptown.     The shoe and apparel brand stressed that these reopening are “in line with local government guidance and in collaboration with our retail partners”.     Cagayan de Oro and Digos are among the areas that transitioned to general  community quarantine on May 1, as they are classified as moderate-risk locales, according to Mindanao Daily.     Majoirty of the physical retail arm of Adidas remains closed in the country. However, “our .com is now able to resume operations to fulfill and deliver your orders,” the statement continued.     The company also announced that their online store is now running with a “skeletal team”. However, this team is working within regulated hours and under proper health guidelines.     Earlier, in March 18, the brand had announced that deliveries and fulfillment of their online store would be indefinitely suspended until clearance for normal operations would be given.     This month, it was able to hold a successful online drop of the Yeezy Boost 380 Mist. Tomorrow, May 9, 11 a.m., the Yeezy 700 V3 will go on sale.     “We appreciate your patience with us during these times and we thank you for continuing to look out for each other, our families, and the teams around us,” finished Adidas' statement.

    May 18, 2020

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Aboitiz bats for more infrastructure spend

May 18, 2020

Corporate

By: , ABOITIZ InfraCapital has urged for increase in infrastructure spending, whether funded by government or private sector, saying infrastructure will rebuild the battered domestic economy.     Cosette V. Canilao, Aboitiz InfraCapital President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), said that Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs), in particular, can help fill in gaps brought about by funding reallocations amid the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.     “We understand that the government earmarked funding from other programs, including infrastructure projects, to address the COVID-19 impact. The private sector through PPP, could take up the void that the reallocation from infrastructure projects has created,” Canilao explained.     For Aboitiz InfraCapital’s common tower project, discussions with partners Globe Telecom, Smart Telecom, and Dito Telecommunity on the first batch of towers are still ongoing.     “The current crisis has clearly proven the urgent need for digital infrastructure to support better telecommunication services, and the Aboitiz Group is ready to provide this through our common tower project,” she noted.     On-the-ground activities such as site surveys and site acquisitions are expected to resume once the Luzon and local ECQs are lifted.     Aboitiz InfraCapital also said it is ready to resume discussions with the government for its airport bids (Bohol-Panglao International Airport, Laguindingan Airport, and Ninoy Aquino International Airport [NAIA] as part of the NAIA Consortium), post-ECQ.     “We remain keen on the airport projects as we believe that these are vital in reviving the economy. As with all of the Aboitiz Group’s projects and businesses, we are as¬sessing COVID-19’s impact on our proposals,” Canilao noted.     The government and the private sector need to work more closely together in putting in place programs that would revive the travel and tourism industry, as it is one of the hardest-hit sectors in light of the current COVID-19 crisis.     Aboitiz InfraCapital is also open to discussing with the government its unsolicited proposal along with the Ayala Group and Unisys, for a National Identification Card (ID) system previously submitted to the PSA in 2018. The urgent need for a National ID system became even more ap¬parent under the present conditions to help hasten COVID-19 aid distribution.

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PAL cancels flights till end May

May 18, 2020

Corporate

By: , IN the wake of the government’s extended lockdown, Philippine Airlines (PAL) the other night announced that all domestic flights to and from its hubs in Manila, Cebu and Clark will remain cancelled up to May 31, 2020.     However, the flag carrier is evaluating the possibility of flying international routes, as well as domestic routes, to and from its Davao hub, in coordination with concerned government authorities.     “We will announce any planned flights once these are finalized,” according to PAL’s statement. The continued pause in the airline’s Manila, Cebu and Clark hub operations is in compliance with the Philippine government’s declaration of the Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine and related local restrictions from May 16 to 31.     “We are in the process of notifying affected passengers by e-mail,” according to PAL.     The current ticket of passengers booked on a cancelled flight remains valid, the flag carrier clarified.     Starting June 1, 2020 onwards, PAL plans to operate reduced number of weekly flights on most domestic routes and on selected international routes.     However, this will still depend on COVID-19 conditions, such as community quarantine restrictions, travel bans imposed by various governments and their impact on passenger demand and the public health and safety situation in each of the countries that PAL serves.     The airline will announce the list of operating flights and routes for June 2020, once the details are finalized.     PAL will continue to operate occasional special flights to repatriate stranded passengers and to transport urgent cargo such as medical equipment and supplies to help sustain critical supply chains across the Philippines and on selected international routes.

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Ayala Corp. income down 17% as lockdown hits businesses

May 18, 2020

Corporate

By: , EARNINGS of Ayala Corp. (AC) dropped 17% to P6.7 billion in the first quarter as the coronavirus pandemic dragged its property, banking and industrial segments.     In a stock exchange disclosure on Wednesday, the listed conglomerate said its consolidated revenues fell 11% to P61.72 billion in the first three months of the year, reflecting the impact of government lockdowns across its business units.     If it were to isolate the estimated impact of the coronavirus crisis, AC said its net income would have been flat due to the P1 billion divestment gains from merging AC Education and iPeople last year.     The company’s costs and expenses during the period fell 10% to P45.64 billion. Capital expenditures for parent-only businesses stood at P6.9 billion.     By business segment, real estate arm Ayala Land, Inc. posted the largest profit drop of 41% to P4.3 billion. This is attributable to the 38% lower property development revenues at P17.2 billion due to the eruption of Taal volcano in January. Leasing revenues from shopping centers and hotels also fell 9% and 17% to P4.6 billion and P1.6 billion, respectively, because of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in mid-March.     Banking unit Bank of the Philippine Islands booked 5% lower net earnings at P6.4 billion, traceable to its aggressive provisioning during the period. The company posted P4.2 billion in loan-loss provisions as it expected an increase in non-performing loans because of the pandemic.     Profits of telecommunications arm Globe Telecom, Inc. slipped 2% to P6.6 billion due to higher depreciation from network investments and an increase in non-operating charges. Its capital expenditures rose 22% to P10.7 billion to support higher demand for data-related services.     Power segment AC Energy Philippines, Inc. swung to a profit  of P1.96 billion from a net loss of P2 million last year. This was driven by the P1.3-billion pre-operating revenues from its Mindanao-based subsidiary GN Power Kauswagan Ltd. Co., on top of the recovery of costs it incurred from adjustments in the construction and operations of its power plants.     Water unit Manila Water Co., Inc. posted a 4% net income growth to P1.3 billion due to non-recurring events of paying a regulatory penalty and waiving water bills last year. Its revenues rose 9% partly due to higher billed volumes.     Industrial segment led by AC Industrials saw a net loss of P564 million on the back of a global slowdown. Integrated Micro-Electronics, Inc. booked a net loss of P235 million, largely due to the lockdown of its facilities in China in February. AC Motors posted a net loss of P204 million, mostly due to the closure of its Honda Car Philippines facility in Laguna.     “While the outlook for the business environment has fundamentally changed as a result of this crisis, we take comfort in the fact that we have always maintained a strong balance sheet that provides us with flexibility as we navigate the uncertainties,” Ayala President and Chief Operating Officer Fernando Zobel de Ayala said in a statement.     “[W]e have put in place a health protocol to ensure the re-entry of our workforce in a safe and productive way… We believe this is a critical step as our businesses readjust to this new environment,” Ayala Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala added.

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Teleconsultation comes to the aid of non-Covid patients

May 16, 2020

Corporate

By: , [14 May 2020] CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY—While most businesses are shuttered, and office employees are working from home, the medical community must work hard to stay open to patients yet be tightly guarded by Covid-19 restrictions. The challenge for doctors is how to continue treating their patients even though their clinics are closed.  How can they “meet up” with patients without exposing themselves and their families to the risk of infection? Technology provides a solution: teleconsultation.  It minimizes the need to travel and face to face contact, thus protecting both the patients and health professionals from exposure to health risks.  For the first time in her 30-year practice, Dr. Corazon Mata attends to patients remotely. She is in charge of the obstetrics and gynecology hotline for the Telekonsulta Service of the Northern Mindanao Medical Center (NMMC).  Every day, she fields queries from ob-gyn patients all over Region 10, which covers the provinces of Misamis Oriental, Misamis Occidental, Bukidnon, Camiguin and Lanao del Norte. With the rapid spread of Covid, other health cases have been overshadowed, with many hospitals like NMMC recording a significant drop in patient consultations at the emergency room and out-patient clinics. The NMMC is a tertiary public hospital and one of the Covid referral centers in the region of 5 million. “This is the main reason we decided to start the NMMC Telekonsulta Service,” says Dr. Aris Austria, Telekonsulta project leader. “We were concerned particularly for our patients with chronic conditions requiring long-term medical care. Every healthcare facility should not focus only on handling the Covid-19 crisis but also consider minimizing ‘collateral damage’ on non-Covid patients.”  The NMMC Telekonsulta Service targets noncritical cases and aims to provide a venue for patients to directly consult medical professionals through their mobile phones.  Smart Communications partnered with the hospital by providing them with LTE phones capable of unlimited texts and calls to all networks and data connection. Each phone was assigned to doctors handling a specific field of specialization, such as pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, surgery or internal medicine. Since the start of the project in late March, the NMMC doctors have collectively handled more than 400 consultations, sent out almost 200 electronic prescriptions and facilitated around 50 referrals. They have also set appointments for actual clinic consultations for cases where a clinic visit is absolutely necessary. “A good part of diagnosing a patient is doing a complete physical,” says Dr. Ramon Yap, an internist-gastroenterologist. “But I believe the majority of patients can be safely managed through teleconsultation, albeit some patients may really have to be seen by a doctor in a clinic or referred to an appropriate institution like NMMC.” The experience is new to his 17-year practice, but he says doctors have to adapt. “The threat to the doctors is very real. We also have to think about protecting ourselves and our families, aside from trying to give comfort and healing to our patients. The limited resources that we have in our locality has made the practice of medicine very daunting and probably even unsettling.” As of the first week of April, the Department of Health (DOH) Region 10 had identified more than 4,000 persons under monitoring and around 300 under investigation. With more cases of Covid-19 positive patients and new admissions of suspected cases, the region’s health officials are not letting their guard down. The doctors admit that there are limitations to what they can perform without a face-to-face interaction, but they are finding ways to cope with this. Dr. Austria, a pediatrician, reports that teleconsultation has necessitated more parental engagement. He tells parents, “listen to the child’s breathing, feel their skin or pulse, touch the tummy, and describe what you find.” It is not the ideal way of examination, he concedes, so doctors should be cautious in utilizing information drawn from a teleconsultation to diagnose a patient’s condition. Pediatrics has the highest number of consultations. Dr. Jannie Lyne Palisbo, whose clinic is closed, is grateful that she can continue to treat her patients from home. “It is reassuring to both the patient and us physicians,” she says. Dr. Austria opines, “Teleconsultation should remain an option for patients under any circumstances that call for it, to hasten medical interventions, and to keep NMMC accessible to all the people in Region 10.”  With doctors and patients engaged in a back-and-forth exchange of information during teleconsultation, he appreciates that Smart ensures unhampered communications. The unlimited texts and calls are “a huge advantage,” enabling doctors to attend to as many patients as possible, he adds. Dr. Peter Quiaoit, NMMC medical training officer, also thanked Smart for making the out-patient department services “a phone call away” in the time of crisis.  “Smart is committed to providing innovative communications solutions that help fight the Covid pandemic.  The NMMC has taken a new path, using technology to enable their doctors to treat patients despite the current restrictions.  That’s why we are quite happy to support their initiative,” said Mon Isberto, Smart public affairs head. This being the institution’s first time to implement teleconsultation, the Telekonsulta team faced a lot of challenges, including a lack of proper guidelines or standard operating procedures, especially in consideration of patients’ informed consent and data privacy. Dr. Austria adds, “We also lacked essential materials, gadgets and enough volunteers to keep teleconsultation running. However, with support from our hospital administration and private companies like Smart, we were able to set it up eventually.” With the proper equipment and appropriate systems in place, teleconsultation will surely be part of the future of medical practice. As access to the internet and data-capable phones increases, there will be huge improvements in teleconsultation results, lowering the risk of misdiagnosis. With the Covid-19 pandemic far from over, and the risks remaining for even longer, interventions such as this will become part of the new normal, and technology will play a huge part.

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Finance chief sees '20 deficit to be around P1-T

May 15, 2020

Banking & Finance

By: , GOVERNMENT expenditures for coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) is expected to increase the budget deficit to around PHP1 trillion this 2020.     This was disclosed by Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III Wednesday but assured the public that the government was in a good financial position even before the pandemic hit.     The inter-agency Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC) has set a 3.2-percent budget deficit cap for this year amounting to PHP677.6 billion.     Dominguez said there are lots of numbers that economic managers are currently looking at, but cited “the first number you have to figure out (is) what exactly is going to be our deficit for the year.”     “And our estimate is about a trillion pesos, around a trillion,” he said.     Dominguez said the government’s four-pillar Covid-19 response is being funded by the tax collections, the dividends from government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs), and loans, among others.     He said that although collections of taxes have been delayed due to postponement of filing of income tax returns (ITR) and other related documents because of the quarantine period, the government will still be able to collect these.     He added the government was able to receive record-high PHP120 billion dividends from GOCCs, and this will be a plus for the Covid-19 response program.     The government has signed several loan agreements with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the World Bank (WB), among others.     These include the loan pact with ADB that allows the Duterte government to access up to USD1.5 billion in budgetary support for Covid-19 programs and the USD100-million loan from the WB.     Dominguez said they are also in discussions with the governments of Japan, Korea, China, and France for “project-based bilateral financing.”     He declined to give specifics on where the government’s Covid-19 response financing currently is since they are still awaiting the reports until end-April, but vowed to disclose this once the data is available.     “We are exactly where we want to be,” he added.     Meanwhile, Dominguez said Finance officials “are willing to look” at the Corporate Income Tax and Incentives Rationalization Act (CITIRA) that Senators plan to pass to help companies recover from the economic impact of the global pandemic.     CITIRA is part of the government’s tax reform program that aims to correct the country’s tax system.     Dominguez earlier said Senate Bill No. 1357, or the CITIRA, targets to make incentives given to companies more targeted, which will allow the country to be more competitive in the region.     If this bill is approved this year, the special tax rate on gross income will be increased immediately this year from the present five percent to eight percent then to nine percent next year, and to 10 percent by 2022.     On Wednesday, Dominguez said they are “willing to look at it (CITIRA) and most likely cut it further more quickly than originally planned.” (PNA)

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PH banking system resilient vs. impact of health crisis

May 15, 2020

Banking & Finance

By: , REFORMS instituted in the past serve as buffers for the Philippine banking system vis-à-vis the impact of the global pandemic caused by the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Benjamin Diokno said.     In a briefing aired over the central bank’s Facebook page Thursday, Diokno said the domestic banking system and the Philippine economy in general is facing the pandemic “from a position of strength.”     He said the domestic financial system is the country’s first line of defense against the pandemic, and the banking industry is up for this task since it remains adequately capitalized with total banking assets accounting for 81.7 percent of the financial system’s resources as of last February.     “Reforms have been put in place to maintain sufficient buffers in times of crisis and ensure business continuity to serve financial consumers and to keep the economy going,” he said.     The sector’s overall loan quality “was satisfactory”, with a non-performing loan (NPL) ratio of 2.1 percent, he said.     Deposits remain the banks’ main funding source with a share of 85.2 percent of the total.     Capital adequacy ratio (CAR), a gauge of banks’ financial strength, of universal and commercial banks (U/KBs), stood at 15.4 percent on a solo basis, and 16 percent on consolidated basis as of end-2019.     These are higher than BSP’s 10-percent minimum threshold and Bank of International Settlements’ (BIS) 8-percent minimum requirement.     Total portfolio grew by 10.2 percent year-on-year as of last February.     “I believe the banking system is now benefiting from prudential reforms carried out during the last 20 years. Moving forward, the BSP will continue to pursue proactive measures aimed at further strengthening the banking system,” Diokno said. (PNA)

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Bank lending expands faster in March

May 15, 2020

Banking & Finance

By: , OUTSTANDING LOANS disbursed by universal and commercial banks rose by 12.9% in March, faster than the downward-revised 12% pace in February, according to data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP).     Inclusive of reverse repurchase agreements, lending rose by 14%, quicker than the upward-revised 11.3% logged in the prior month.     Data showed the rise in production loans, which made up 87.6% of the total credit, continued to be the main driver of growth. Lending to the sector grew quicker at a pace of 12% from the 9.4% seen in February.     The sustained increase in production loans is attributable to an increase in credit for real estate activities (21.8%); information and communication (20.8%); financial and insurance activities (17.2%); wholesale and retail trade, repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles (6.8%); and electricity, gas, steam and air-conditioning supply (7.7%).     Other sectors also saw rise in loans except for manufacturing (-0.4%) and mining and quarrying (-5.3%), the BSP said.     On the other hand, growth of loans disbursed for households eased to 22.9% from the upward-revised 37.7% logged in February. This was mainly due to the slower expansion in credit card and motor vehicle loans during the month.     UnionBank of the Philippines, Inc. Chief Economist Ruben Carlo O. Asuncion attributed the pickup in lending to the market’s reaction after the easing moves done by the central bank since 2019.     “Since last year, we know that the BSP has been on an easing stance. RRP (reverse repurchase rate) cuts were made including other liquidity measures such as the RRR reduction. The market has been responding and liquidity in the market has been ample and growing,” Mr. Asuncion said in an e-mail.     In 2019, the BSP slashed rates by a total of 75 basis points (bps) before opting for a pause. By yearend, the overnight reverse repurchase rate was at four percent while lending and deposit rates were at 4.5% and 3.5%, respectively.     Meanwhile, reserve requirement ratios (RRR) were slashed by a total of 400 bps last year, which reduced the RRR of big banks as well as thrift and rural banks to 14%, four percent, and three percent as of end-2019.     BSP Governor Benjamin E. Diokno has said monetary policy tends to work with a lag of about three to nine months.     For this year, the BSP has been aggressive as it seeks to curtail the impact of the virus on the economy. It has cut rates by a total of 125 bps thus far which reduced overnight reverse repurchase, deposit and lending rates to record lows of 2.75%, 3.25% and 2.25%, respectively.     The BSP has likewise reduced RRR of universal and commercial banks by another 200 bps to 12%.     In the coming months, the lockdown measures may dent lending growth, according to Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. Chief Economist Michael L. Ricafort.     “Bank loans could start to slow down in April and May 2020 and could even potentially contract in Q2 2020 together with the broader economy, depending on how long the lockdown would last,” Mr. Ricafort said.

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PCCI asks financial institutions to extend loan maturity for biz

May 12, 2020

Banking & Finance

By: , THE country’s largest business organization, the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), is asking banks and other financial institutions to extend loan maturity for enterprises for at least one year for them to be able to recover from the impact of the community quarantine due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) outbreak.     In a statement Monday, PCCI said the extension should include loans due between March 16, 2020 to December 31, 2020.     PCCI President Benedicto Yujuico said the business group’s members have a growing concern on their “deteriorating cash positions and diminishing ability to avoid massive lay-offs” as most businesses are closed during the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) that started in mid-March.     “The ECQ has brought substantially all businesses to a sudden and unexpected stop. Many are now facing economic distress, forcing them to resort to drastic cost-cutting, lay-offs, and pay cuts.  Even as the government slowly relaxes the quarantine measures, we expect that the effects of this crisis will continue to be felt and that businesses will continue to struggle through the end of 2020,” Yujuico said.     He added a loan extension for at least a year will go a long way to preserve employment and averting permanent closure of businesses, which are clients and partners of banks and the non-bank financial institutions (NBFIs).     “Without the support of Philippine banks and other NBFIs, many businesses will likely be forced to shut down,” the PCCI chief added.     Metro Manila, Central Luzon, and Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, and Quezon) regions, where a large percentage of businesses are located, have been placed under ECQ for two months. (PNA)

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SMC to buy 4 million kilos of surplus corn from DA, to utilize its Petron stations as outlets for farm produce

April 26, 2020

Economy

By: , San Miguel Corporation (SMC) is teaming up with the Department of Agriculture (DA) to mass purchase agricultural produce, starting with four million kilos of surplus corn, to provide a lifeline to farmers and help secure the country’s food supply in the midst of COVID-19.     The surplus corn is enough to produce feeds for over 7 million live broilers that can eventually feed 4 million families in one day.     SMC is also in talks with the DA to utilize strategic Petron stations nationwide as outlets for government’s “Kadiwa ni Ani at Kita” rolling store program, to make farm produce such as fruits and vegetables accessible to consumers. The program is the market system project of the DA that links local farmers to consumers to ensure the sale of agricultural produce at reasonable prices.     “Through this program with the Agricultural department, we will be able to keep our farmers afloat as we navigate these uncertain times. At the same time, we also help people stay safe, healthy and nourished by providing them a convenient way to buy fresh fruits and vegetables from our local farmers,” SMC president and COO Ramon S. Ang said.     Petron stations that will be initially tapped as venues for Kadiwa stores are Filinvest, Dasmarinas/Edsa and Katipunan/La Vista. The company said that more gas stations will be added in the coming days. Currently, SMC’s Petron stations also serve as sites for SMC’s Manukang Bayan refrigerated vans, which bring fresh chicken and other refrigerated and canned meats closer to consumers.     He thanked the DA for offering its network of corn and cassava farmers to supply its San Miguel Foods, Inc. with raw materials for continuous food production.     “We thank the DA for helping us identify possible sources of corn and cassava and farmers who are in need of help. By helping them, we will also ensure that we get the needed raw material supplies for our various food products,” he said     Among these are some 25,000 hectares of corn farms in Cagayan, where much of the surplus corn will come from. The company is also looking to the DA to link it with cooperative heads in Tuguegarao for sourcing of cassava.     SMC said it will buy the produce at pre-agreed prices and volume, as part of a long-term partnership.     The company has also reiterated its call to farmers nationwide to supply rice, corn, cassava, sweet potato, coconut oil and other farm products that will be bought at guaranteed prices for the farmers benefit.      Ang emphasized the need to sustain economic activity in the food value chain, which includes agricultural products suppliers, processing, and shipping to retailers.      SMC has assured a stable food supply for at least six months even beyond the ECQ with the 24/7 operation of its food facilities. SMC’s food facilities can produce a daily output of 1.96 million kilograms of fresh meats (poultry, beef, and pork); 524,000 kilograms of processed meats (canned meat, nuggets, and hotdogs); and 2.11 million kilograms of flour/baked goods (flour, biscuits, pandesal, and nutribuns).     It also continues to donate food products, rice, and flour to vulnerable communities in support of the government’s Covid-19 relief efforts.

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Food rationing starts in Davao City

March 25, 2020

Economy

By: Che Palicte, PNA, DAVAO CITY – The city government rolled out food rations to some 50,000 families beginning Monday (March 23), as part of the aid package for those affected by the restrictive measures adopted to prevent the spread of the 2019 coronavirus disease (Covid-19).      Mayor Sara Duterte said those who qualify to receive the food rations are the indigents and out-of-work head of a family, contractual workers whose no pay and out-of-work head of a family, self-employed and out-of-work head of a family, and low-income head of family with significant loss or reduction of income.      “To those who are not residents of this city, do not worry because we [mayors in Davao Region] agreed to give food rations in our respective constituents,” Duterte assured.      She added that in order to avail of the relief goods, ration cards are distributed through the City Social Services and Development Office (CSSDO) and the barangay leaders.      “During the distribution of the relief goods, we still have to observe social distancing,” she said, adding that a system will be in place to ensure the smooth distribution of the rations.      Mayor Sara said barangay chairpersons distributing the ration cards are monitored by team leaders consisting of the members of the City Council to ensure that the rationing is properly implemented, as well as to manage the issues in the barangays.      The mayor also called on members of the private sector that are providing relief goods to coordinate with Task Force Davao to avoid crowding or worse, chaos.      "We are prohibiting the private sector from giving relief goods directly to the people because this will cause chaos; this will be disorganized, and this will cause people to gather around," she said.      “Rest assured that your donations will reach the people. We do this to avoid mass gathering,” Duterte added. (PNA)

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Go hits irresponsible media accusations

March 25, 2020

Economy

By: , SENATOR BONG GO, in a message yesterday, lashed out at some print media outfits for coming out with a story that criticized his visit to Butuan City last March 14. The news report, he said, was very irresponsible.        “Sa aking pagbisita po sa Butuan City noong March 14, nais ko pong klaruhin muli ang mga pangyayari:       - Totoo na dumaan ako sa isang Evacuation Center para dalawin ang mga nasunugan, magbigay ng tulong, pakinggan ang kanilang mga hinaing, maghanap ng solusyon sa kanilang pang araw-araw na mga problema, at mag-iwan ng ngiti sa oras ng kanilang pagdadalamhati.       - WALANG MASS GATHERING NA SADYANG INORGANISA. Evacuation Center po ang pinuntahan ko. Doon na po sila pansamantalang nakatira bago pa ako dumating. Hindi ko sila sinadya na itipon sa lugar na iyon.       - Sa kooperasyon ng mga pulis at pati na rin ng mga evacuees, ipinaliwanag ko na kahit gusto ko man sila yakapin, kamayan, kamustahin, at lapitan, sinigurado ko na kaming galing Maynila ay NAKA-DISTANSYA sa mga taga Butuan City para rin po sa kaligtasan ng lahat kahit na wala naman kaming sakit. May barriers pa nga pong inilagay.       - Sinigurado ko po na ang tulong at serbisyong ibinigay namin ay sa pamamaraan na HINDI MAKAKASAMA sa kanilang kalusugan at mananatiling ligtas sila sa anumang karamdaman.       - Pinayuhan ko rin ang local officials at national agencies na MADALIIN ANG PAGBIGAY NG TULONG lalo na ng tirahan sa mga nawalan ng bahay dahil paano naman po sila susunod sa “Social Distancing measures” kung wala naman silang ibang matitirhan kundi doon sa evacuation center na kumpol-kumpol sila.       Para sa inyong kaalaman, March 9 nangyari ang sunog sa Butuan City. 444 na pamilya o 2,292 na indibidwal ang apektado at humingi ng tulong sa atin. March 12, nagpa-test kami ni Pangulong Duterte para malaman kung infected kami ng COVID-19. March 13 lumabas ang resulta at sinabing negatibo kami sa sakit at pwede kaming magserbisyo sa publiko. March 15 naman magiging epektibo ang “Community Quarantine” sa Metro Manila base sa inanunsyo ng Pangulo noong March 12 sa kanyang presscon.       Dahil dito, nagdesisyon ako na pumuntang Butuan City ng March 14 — isang araw matapos sinabing negatibo ako sa COVID-19, at isang araw bago ipagbawal ang paglipad mula Maynila — para magpadala ng sarili kong tulong sa mga nasunugan.       Hindi ko matiis na hindi tumulong sa kapwa. Ipinangako ko ito sa taumbayan na kahit saan man, basta kaya ng oras at katawan ko, pupuntahan ko kayo. Hindi ko po makakaya na ipagpaliban o ipagkait sa kanila ang tulong na kanilang hinihingi mula sa atin.       Nagpapasalamat po ako sa mga iba’t ibang ahensya ng gobyerno na sumaklolo sa hinaing ng mga biktima ng sunog at pati na rin sa mga LGUs na nagbigay rin ng tulong. Napaka-importante po ang pagtutulungan ng national government at mga LGUs sa panahon ng sakuna. Isa po ito sa aking prayoridad bilang isang Senador at public servant.       Nagpapasalamat rin ako sa mga artista na sumama sa akin at kusang nagsakripisyo para pasayahin ang ating mga kababayang nangangailangan. Sila Robin Padilla, Philip Salvador, at Victor Neri ay tumugon sa tawag dahil alam nila na sa kanilang sariling paraan ay nabigyan nila ng saya at pag-asa ang kanilang kapwa. Si Robin, tumakas pa ng bahay para iparamdam ang kanyang pagmamalasakit.       Sa mga bumabatikos, tumulong nalang sana kayo. Hindi po nakakain ang inyong batikos. Hindi rin iyan nakakatulong sa mga naghihirap. Dumadagdag rin lang kayo sa problema. Puro dada, wala namang nagawa.       Wala po kaming ibang interes kundi tumulong at alagaan ang kapakanan ng bawat Pilipino. Hindi po kami takot mamatay. As always, I will continue to serve and I will die serving the Filipino people.      Now more than ever, we, as elected officials should do everything we can to be of service to the Filipino people. The government as a whole should still do its job in a manner that will not put the health of others at risk. Hindi pwedeng ipagpaliban ang tulong sa kapwa Pilipino, tuloy-tuloy dapat ang serbisyo.

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PH Saves Billions with NGCP's Financing Grid Expansion

November 22, 2019

Economy

By: , As it strives to become the strongest power grid in Southeast Asia, the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) has so far invested P151 billion in the Philippines’s aging transmission system. A total of 5,626 transmission structures, 2,472 circuit-kilometers of transmission lines, 18 new substations, 63 upgraded substations, and an additional 15,634 MVA of transformer capacity has been installed in the past 10 years.      Being the country’s sole transmission service provider, NGCP lays the highways where reliable and sustainable power flows from generating plants to distribution utilities, industries, businesses, and households. Tasked with operating, maintaining, and expanding the power grid, NGCP is dedicated to improving the country’s transmission network. Better power transmission for the nation      The company completed 109 projects which include the Lumban-Bay 230kV Transmission Line Project which provided maximum dispatch of power plants from South Luzon to the Load Center; San Esteban – Laoag 230kV Transmission Line Project which accommodated the renewal energy power plants in Northern Luzon; Luzon Voltage Improvement Projects which provided additional MegaVolt Ampere Reactive (MVAR) capacity to improve power quality; Bataan Grid Reinforcement Project which accommodated a 600MW Coal Power Plant in Bataan;  Santiago-Tuguegarao 230kV Transmission line project, ensuring a more reliable and better quality of power transmission services for power consumers in Isabela, Cagayan, Kalinga, Apayao; and the Typhoon Nina Rehabilitation Project which upgraded the wind rating of transmission towers in Bicol region to withstand super typhoon winds of up to 300 kph.      In Mindanao, the company completed, among others, the Balo-i-Villanueva (Kirahon)-Maramag-Bunawan 230kV Transmission Line, the first 230kV transmission line in the region that connects the northern and southern Mindanao; the Aurora-Polanco 138kV Transmission Line which improved the reliability and power quality in Zamboanga del Norte; the Matanao-Culaman (Malita) 230kV Line which accommodated a new generating capacity in the Davao Occidental; the General Santos-Tacurong 138kV Transmission Line which catered the load growth and provided reliable transmission facility in SOCCSKSARGEN region; the Matanao-General Santos 138kV Line which provided N-1 to the existing line; and various substations such as Toril Substation and Opol Substation.            For the Visayas, NGCP energized the submarine portion of the Cebu-Negros-Panay 230kV Backbone Stage 1 which provided an additional transfer capacity between Negros and Panay; the Ormoc-Babatngon 138kV Transmission Line, reinforcing power transmission delivery in the Leyte and Samar provinces; the Southern Panay 138kV Backbone which addressed the load growth in the Panay area; the Calong-Calong-Toledo-Colon-Cebu 138kV Transmission Line, constructed to provide N-1 provision to the existing 138kV transmission corridor in Cebu; and the Bohol 138kV Backbone Line which provided a more stable and reliable transmission network in Bohol. More in the pipeline      NGCP’s Transmission Development Plan (TDP) details these priority projects to improve transmission backbones and alternative transmission corridors, and to develop resiliency policies for power transmission facilities.      The company is set to complete more projects in the coming years, among which are: the 500kV Substation Projects (Taguig and Marilao) and 230kV Substation Projects (Pasay, Navotas, and Antipolo) to cater to the load growth of Metro Manila; the Cebu – Bohol 230kV Interconnection Project to accommodate the load growth and provide reliability of Bohol Island; the Nabas-Caticlan-Boracay Interconnection Project to accommodate the load growth and provide reliability of the Boracay Island; the Visayas Voltage Improvement Project to improve the power quality in Visayas; the Mindanao 230kV backbone project to upgrade the region’s transmission capacity and secure the reliability of power transmission services throughout the island; the Mindanao Substation Upgrading Project to increase the substation capacity and improve power quality; and the Kabacan 138kV Substation Project which will contribute to power reliability in South Western Mindanao area.      An estimated total investment worth P463 billion is programmed for the next ten years. Mindanao-Visayas Interconnection      NGCP is on-track to complete the Mindanao-Visayas Interconnection Project (MVIP), considered as the largest energy infrastructure in the history of the country.       “We are dedicated to completing the MVIP by December 2020 not only because we committed this, but also because interconnection among the three main grids is long overdue. The interconnection of Visayas and Mindanao was first proposed by government in 1984; but it was private entity NGCP which brought the government’s decades old plan from the feasibility stage to the implementation and completion stage,” stated NGCP.      “Our projects, which will be worth PhP188 billion by end of 2019, and those in the pipeline, are meticulously planned by our engineers and updated year after year with careful consideration for the needs of every single area in the country,” NGCP noted.      NGCP is a Filipino-led, privately owned company in charge of operating, maintaining, and developing the country’s power grid, led by majority shareholders Henry Sy, Jr. and Robert Coyiuto, Jr.

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Suzuki Introduces New Online Auto Loan Feature

May 18, 2020

Motoring

By: , Suzuki Philippines Inc. (SPH), the pioneer compact car distributor in the country, brings good news to its avid customers and to those looking into purchasing their own automobile with the new Auto Loan feature found on their official website. With this new addition to one of its many available services, getting a new car is now a few clicks away!      SPH just launched a new feature on their website allowing customers to be able to apply for auto loans online. In partnership with banks including Bank of Commerce, Bank of the Philippine Islands, Chinabank Savings, East West Bank, Maybank, PS Bank, RCBC, Robinsons Bank, UCPB, and Yulon Finance, the Auto Loan Feature directs customers to their preferred bank’s website page dedicated for auto loans. Once accomplished by interested patrons, their bank of choice will be able to review and grant them the loans if eligible as they are in operation.      This new online service presented by Suzuki Philippines is an effort to provide ways to serve its customers by being reachable amid the current situation in the country brought upon by the COVID-19 pandemic. The decision to launch the online Auto Loan service with the help of dependable financial institutions is rooted from the realization that during this time of uncertainty, consumers are longing for a sense of security and reliability, more than just the product itself. SPH believes that their vehicles across different segments may provide this longing by staying committed in championing the Suzuki Way of Life! to the Filipino people and relentlessly finding solutions especially when people are now more than ever, highly concerned about where to tunnel their investments that will prove to be beneficiary to them even after these challenging times.

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Kawasaki Joins the Fight Against Covid-19 by Producing Medical Face Shields for Donation

May 18, 2020

Motoring

By: , Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KHI) has begun manufacturing medical face shields and gowns at our Kobe and Harima factories, and has been donating them to medical facilities since the 20th of April.     Up to 500 medical face shields can be made per day using the transparent pattern film used for steel processing, and up to 1,400 medical gowns can be produced per day based on the guidelines by Osaka University Hospital. We have been donating the supplies to Kawasaki Hospital (Kobe City) since 20th April, and plan to supply to other prefectural hospitals as well through the Hyogo Prefecture Hospital Bureau.     KHI would like to express their appreciation for the medical staff who have been devoting themselves on the frontlines. By utilizing their design, production and quality control techniques to efficiently produce medical face shields and gowns for donation to medical institutions, they hope to contribute to the prevention of the spread of COVID-19.     KHI also reaches out to those who have lost loved ones to COVID-19. They sincerely hope that those currently suffering from the virus will recover quickly, and that the spread of COVID-19 will end as soon as possible.

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VP Robredo Receives Suzuki Motorcycle Service Units for Healthcare Workers

May 2, 2020

Motoring

By: , Suzuki Philippines, Inc. - one of the country's top motorcycle manufacturers shares help to those fighting the COVID19 battle at the front - the nurses and medical personnel by lending motorcycles as their transport service. This is in partnership with the Office of the Vice President's (OVP) Angat Buhay Program which is a flagship anti-poverty campaign relying on private partnerships in implementing its activities seeking to help people from the marginalized sector and recently to support our frontliners in the fight against COVID19. The units were turned over and received by Vice President Leni Robredo herself on April 23, 2020.  Suzuki lends 10 units of the Raider J Crossover to serve Angat Buhay's Free Dorm for Healthcare Workers hospitals' staff. Two of these - the Teacher's Village Dorm and Holy Family School in Maginhawa; will benefit from this initiative from Suzuki. Tenants of these dorms are working at East Avenue Medical Center, Philippine Children's Medical Center, Philippine Lung Center, National Kidney and Transplant Institute and Philippine Heart Center. The Raider J Crossover is Suzuki's latest bike launched in February and the brand believes that it is the fitting ride for the frontliners, it is efficient and economical. More than that, since social distancing is a top priority nowadays, a solo ride on a motorcycle now provides one of the best means of transportation. "We are one with the whole nation in this fight against COVID19. We hope that these motorcycles help our frontliners in their commute to their respective medical facilities efficiently and safely. We will heal and overcome this together as one team Suzuki," Mr. Akira Utsumi said in a statement. "Thank you so much Suzuki Philippines for lending these units to us. These motorcycles will go a long way in helping our medical dormers," said Vice President Leni Robredo.  

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The Ford Ranger: Built To Last During Tough Times

May 2, 2020

Motoring

By: , MANILA, Philippines, 28 April 2020 – In times of uncertainties during natural calamities and pandemic crises, Filipinos are known for their resilience, strength and unwavering toughness even in the most trying times, rising above all odds and challenges.     This is why pickup trucks such as the Ford Ranger have become a popular choice among Filipinos who look for a tough and reliable vehicle for their needs. Built purposeful, the Ford Ranger has a durable design, proven performance, and segment-leading technologies to help get the job done.      Time-tested utilitarian characteristics give the Ford Ranger the ultimate edge as your daily workhorse. Its generous cargo space tied with 1.3 tons maximum payload capacity and impressive 800mm water wading capability with 230mm high ground clearance enable you to carry numerous back-breaking loads while effortlessly carving through obstacles both on and off-road. It features a Tailgate Lift Assist that makes lifting and lowering the tailgate easier when loading and unloading cargo.      A truck bed full of supplies and equipment demands a tremendous amount of power to effectively reach its destination. The Ford Ranger is equipped with the 2.0L Bi-Turbo Diesel engine capable of generating 213PS and 500Nm of torque coupled with 10-speed automatic transmission, delivering more than enough power to move heavy loads while remaining exceptionally fuel-efficient.     The Ford Ranger is also packed with advanced features to ensure maximum safety and convenience for drivers and passengers on-board. With the Autonomous Emergency Braking with pedestrian detection, pedestrians and vehicles near you are detected and alerts you with an audible and visual warning. The Ford Ranger also features Active Park Assist and rearview camera and sensors to ease your worries away during parking.     Enhanced Ranger lineup      At the start of the year, Ford Philippines introduced a series of enhancements to its entire Ford Ranger lineup to give customers more value in their pickup truck without any price increase.     The Ford Ranger XLS and XLT variants now come with a new 8-inch LCD touchscreen radio with Apple Carplay and Android Auto Capability. Perfect for customers with workhorse and utility needs, the Ranger XLS and XLT variants are equipped with a selection of features that combine powerful performance with work-ready capability.     Meanwhile, Ranger Wildtrak 4x2 variants now have a new wheel design and LED headlamps. The Wildtrak 4x4 also has a new wheel design and LED headlamps with the addition of a high-mount USB feature to support various dashcam models. The Ranger Wildtrak combines iconic Ranger design qualities, powerful performance, and advanced technologies to suit work and play needs.      Finally, the Ranger Raptor now comes with a camera-based Autonomous Emergency Braking with pedestrian detection, lane keeping aid, high-mount USB, and LED headlamps, enhancing the Raptor’s driver-assist technologies that make it a high-performance but safe and reliable pickup truck.     The new Ford Ranger FX4 is the latest addition to the Ranger portfolio, boasting of a bold design inside out and features that help widen the appeal of the Ranger among customers seeking for a versatile and capable pickup truck.       To know more about the Ford Ranger, visit www.ford.com.ph/trucks/ranger.

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