PIDS in the News Archived (June 2016)

Despite the significant gains in primary education participation rates, learning gaps remain high among primary and secondary level students.
Increased government spending in education, as well as the implementation of the K to 12 program are important education sector reforms that set the stage for improved access and better education outcomes for the Filipino youth.
However, while these reforms are significant, much is still needed to be done in improving learning outcomes for primary and secondary learners in the Philippines.
On May 24, 2016, the Department of Education (DepEd), Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) and Innovations for Poverty Action Philippines hosted a policy forum on Evidence in the Education Sector at the PIDS Conference Room in Centris, Quezon City, to disseminate among key decision-makers how impact evaluation and evidence can be useful in achieving improved learning outcomes.
Around 60 participants attended the forum from various government agencies, international organizations, academe and non-government organizations.
In his keynote speech, DepEd Assistant Sec. Elvin Ivan Uy stressed that education should enable each person to maximize their potential.
He highlighted the need to actively promote the use of evidence within DepEd and that the agency itself should be an active producer of evidence.
Meanwhile, NEDA deputy director-general Rosemarie Edillon mentioned the pivotal role of evidence in policy-making at the national level.
She maintained that each evaluation should address present and future needs in the education sector.
Roundtable discussions as well as panel presentations on topics such as stakeholders in evaluation, enabling learning, and secondary and technical-vocational education comprised the policy forum.

Author:
Date: June 01, 2016
Source: The Daily Tribune

By Rene Acosta, David Cagahastian, Manuel T. Cayon, Rea Cu, Jovee Marie N. dela Cruz, Lenie Lectura, Recto Mercene, Claudeth Mocon-Ciriaco, Jonathan L. Mayuga, Cai U. Ordinario, Mary Grace Padin and Joel R. San Juan

People and vehicles navigate through neck-deep waters in the aftermath of Typhoon Ondoy in Marikina City.

MANILA and Davao City"Two names make many people cringe in fear: Ondoy and Yolanda. These are the names of supertyphoons that brought misery, even nearly seven years after Typhoon Ondoy
(international code name Ketsana) brought parts of Metro Manila under water.

After the heat, however, weathermen like Anthony Lucero are saying the country is facing a wet season under La Nia.

Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administrations (Pagasa) Lucero said there is a 50-percent chance of La Nias developing after the onslaught of El Nio in the country.''

We will know for sure in July, said Lucero, Pagasas climate monitoring and prediction section chief.
La Nia is characterized by the cooler temperature in the Equatorial Pacific and is associated with above-normal rainfall levels. The expert said in three out of four cases where a strong El Nino occurs, La Nia follows.

This means there is a strong possibility that La Nia may occur after El Nio, Lucero said in a phone interview. El Nio, to note, is marked by unusually warm weather and could eventually lead to drought.

Impact

WEATHER changes impact more the poor, especially those in rural areas.

While Cid Terosa of the University of Asia and the Pacific (UA and P) School of Economics said La Nia would not be enough to dampen overall GDP, it can impoverish many in the rural areas.

La Nia will lower the contribution of agriculture to GDP growth even more, Terosa, UA and P senior economist, told the BusinessMirror.

He noted that from 2011 to 2015, the contribution of agriculture to GDP growth was below 0.5 percent.

Terosa said the country should expect about 1-percentage-point increase in the poverty rate if La Nia hits the country.
However, Alvin Ang of the Ateneo de Manila University said, The impact wont be so much on agriculture but will be more on the infrastructure and agriculture support. Ang, who teaches Economics at Ateneo, explained typhoons could boost government spending in La Nia-affected areas.

Offhand, the rains are welcome to replenish the catch basins as long as no significant storm will occur, Ang told the BusinessMirror. Nonetheless, government, particularly LGUs [local government units], must fully survey their areas to ensure that whatever damage comes will be minimized.

Spending

ACCORDING to Communications Secretary Herminio B. Coloma Jr., the government is implementing a comprehensive program on mitigating the harmful effects of the possible onset of the La Nia scenario as part of its overall strategy on climate-change resiliency.

This covers agriculture, flood control and disaster risk-reduction measures at the grassroots level, Coloma said.

Under the 2016 national budget, a total of P129 billion has been allocated for disaster risk-reduction programs. This amount is 4.3 percent of the total budget for 2016.

Of this amount, P59 billion will go to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to construct and maintain 1,090 structures nationwide. About P503.8 million will go to the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) to repair and construct 66 flood and drainage structures in Metro Manila.

Other portions of the budget are also appropriated for measures that can indirectly provide relief to possible victims of the La Nia phenomenon.

The administration of President Aquino also embarked on a greening program which reforested 683,483 hectares of land during the past six years, aside from allocating at least P129 billion to directly address the possible effects of the La Nia phenomenon expected this year.

According to figures from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), some 683,483 hectares of land were reforested from 2011 to 2013, or more than 250 percent more than the reforested land during the 10 years of the Arroyo administration.

The national greening program will be allotted P8.2 billion to buy 415.46 million seedlings, which will be planted over 246,524 hectares of land; while P397 million will be spent for the training of local government officials under the geohazard assessment program, which will come up with geohazard maps detailing the risk assessments and educate barangays on the use of these maps.

NDRRMC

THE National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) announced it is stepping up its preparations for the rainy season, wary the La Nia may bring monsoon rains that could trigger Ondoy-like flooding in Metro Manila.

NDRRMC Spokesman Romina Marasigan said this early they have been coordinating with the local disaster offices around the country, reminding them to step up and revisit their respective disaster-preparedness plans for the rainy season and even for other calamities.

At the same time, the NDRRMC is using the coordinative effort to determine and identify the gaps in all of the disaster plans of the local, provincial and regional disaster offices and assist them in fixing them or ask them to make readjustments as needed.

Our coordination with local disaster offices and even officials is continuing in order to make sure that they are ready and prepared for the rainy season, including against typhoons and even possible flooding, Marasigan said.

She said a full council meeting has been scheduled in the middle of June to assess the preparation and readiness of the government for the rainy season and La Nia, with the possibility of stronger typhoons as scenarios.

Initially, part of the disaster-preparedness plans has been the initiation of flood-control measures, particularly in Metro Manila, wherein silted creeks and waterways were cleaned and de-clogged of trash and other debris.

Around the country, equipment and supplies have been moved and prepositioned for humanitarian assistance and disaster response, while additional evacuation centers were put up, cleaned and identified.

These [steps would] ensure we will have effective response once strong typhoons struck and the possibility of flooding occurs, Marasigan said, adding the NDRRMC is also communicating and coordinating with other agencies of the government without letup for the preparation.

Chiefs review

THE incoming chief of the countrys two disaster-response agencies said he would review the current direction of the disaster preparations and forecasting with focus on plucking out the best highlights during the worse disasters that ravaged the country so far.

Retired Brig. Gen. Ricardo Jalad, named to head the NDRRMC, said he would be interested to look at why the Army seemed to be the last recourse and resort during calamities.

Its the experience of the Army that it is usually the one that eventually does most of the operations to reach the affected places and conduct rescue, Jalad said. Its also the same with the nongovernmental organizations that are also the first responders, rather than the government.

According to him, what is usually lost during disasters are the capability cooperation and coordination of government agencies.

Jalad said this commonly happens because the rescuers and many government personnel have become victims themselves.

When asked why it was usually the Army that could act quickly, Jalad said it is because of our location away from disasters.

He said he would also study the practice of the Compostela Valley provincial government when it would move its rescue and disaster teams away from the path of the typhoon, for instance, to enable them to move easily and quickly to the ground zero of the disaster.

Jalad said he would use the strength and capability of the two disaster agencies under him, the NDRRMC and the Office of Civil Defense, of which he is the executive director.

For now, the directions of the two agencies are to improve capabilities of rescue and disaster teams, and to strengthen the coordination among government agencies.

Jalad was the commander of the 2nd Mechanized Brigade stationed in Iligan City when Typhoon Sendong struck northern Mindanao in 2011 and killed or sent missing almost 2,000 residents. Iligan City was one of the hardest hit by that typhoon.

Jalad was later assigned as the commander of the 5th Infantry Division in Isabela.

MMDA skeptical

HOWEVER, an official of the MMDA expressed doubts the metropolis is ready for another Ondoy-like disaster.

Bal Melgar, MMDA Flood Control and Sewerage Office chief, said the agency is exerting all efforts not to let another type of disaster become a bitter lesson for urban dwellers.

Melgar said the agencys flood-control team continuously cleaned, desilted and dredged rivers, canals, ponds, creeks, esteros and other major waterways all over the metropolis. He said there are 273 creeks and rivers they focused their energy into.

Melgar noted that uncontrolled dumping of waste was one of the aggravating factors during the massive flooding brought by Ondoy in 2009.
The cleanup of waterways aimed to maximize Metro Manilas waterways being able to convey bigger volumes of flood waters, he explained.

Melgar also assured that all 54 MMDA pumping stations are fully functional. Each engine, he said, is capable of pumping 350 drums of flood water per second.

These pumping stations are vital for flood mitigation because Manilas elevation is only a little higher than the main sea level, he explained.

Melgar pointed out there is a design capacity within the flood-control structures, enabling the excess waters to overflow and cause flood when they reach their limit.

Our flood-control structures have a design capacity that can only accommodate a certain rainfall intensity, he explained. But the MMDA has yet to use the newly installed pump engines.

Melgar reiterated his call for households to adhere to the door-to-door garbage- collection scheme where they can only take out their refuse when the garbage trucks arrive.

The MMDA said that the majority of the more than 8,000 metric tons of garbage collected in Metro Manila on a daily basis is comprised of plastic.

Local initiative

AN official of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) believes LGUs could be more prepared against rain-induced disasters, such as flood and landslide, if their respective personnel use geohazard maps.

Director Leo Jasareno of the DENRs Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) said if properly used, the geohazard maps will help LGUs minimize casualties and make communities more resilient to natural calamities.

The geohazard maps, at 1:10,000, are in place for rain-induced floods and landslides, according to Jasareno.

As the records will show, based on the most recent strong typhoons like Lando, the level of preparedness of LGUs has been demonstrated, Jasareno said. Iyong acid test ng LGUs during the past big typhoon incidents shows that they have shown preparedness.

According to Jasareno, Central Luzon is still the most flood-prone regions in the country. Nueva Ecija, Pampanga and Bulacan are among the most vulnerable.

In general, the entire Central Luzon is the most flood-prone, he said, citing the National Capital Region (NCR) as one of these areas.

Some parts of Isabela, including Ilagan, which is attributable to the overflow of the Cagayan River, are also prone to massive flooding, as is Mindoro Oriental.

In Mindanao, Jasareno cited Maguindanao, Agusan del Norte and Butuan. Towns in Southeastern Mindanao should also be ready for potential landslide events, Jasareno said.

Prone to landslides are towns in the eastern seaboards from Nueva Vizcaya, Aurora and Quezon in the Cordillera region, including Benguet and Southern Leyte.

Market readiness

ACCORDING to the Department of Finance (DOF), the insurance industry has evolved and learned from the bitter lessons brought by Ondoy and Yolanda.

Finance Undersecretary Gil S. Beltran noted that interest rates had minimal or no movement after Ondoy and Yolanda hit the country. Time deposit and lending rates decreased, according to Beltran, undersecretary on policy development and management services group.

Interest rates barely moved after Ondoy and Yolanda, he told the BusinessMirror. Beltran explained that in 2014 after Yolanda, time-deposit rates even declined from 1.5 percent in November 2013 to 1.1 percent the next year.

He said lending rates also declined from 5.7 percent to 5.6 percent early the next year.

Beltran also explained that after the country experienced the typhoons, the volume of loans being borrowed increased from 7.6 percent in November 2013 to 8.9 percent by December of that year. This was partly due to the increase in number of people needing financial services or assistance after the calamity.

If at all, loan volumes rose by 8.9 percent in December 2013, from 7.6 percent in November, when the typhoon struck, he said.

Beltran said the insurance industry is better prepared now compared to when Ondoy and Yolanda hit, in the sense that there is an increase in the coverage of microinsurance among the Filipino people.

According to him, there are now 37.5 million Filipinos covered by microinsurance, compared with the 20 million covered before Yolanda in 2013 and the 3.1 million in 2009 for Ondoy.

The continued developments in microinsurance and the broadening of its coverage in the country also better prepared the industry. It was also noted that the efforts of the Insurance Commission in fostering the developments for microinsurance aided in the preparation against problems La Nia can bring.

Power sector

ENERGY stakeholders, meanwhile, are set to hold meetings with owners and operators of power plants, particularly hydro, to discuss the measures that would be put in place to prepare for the rainy season.

There are coordination meetings scheduled with plant operators of hydro, Energy Assistant Secretary Patrick Aquino said.

The National Power Corp. (NPC), which manages 17 large dams, including Angat, and 11 watersheds in the country, has launched an information, education campaign (IEC) in preparation for La Nia.

Actually, we were already coordinating with the communities where the dams are nearby located to help them prepare for La Nia, NPC President Gladys Cruz-Santa Rita said.

She said the IEC focuses on flood forecasting and warning system for dam operation.

Aside from IEC, the NPC is currently conducting preventive maintenance of rainfall and water-level equipment to ensure efficient data gathering during events of severe weather disturbance.

It also regularly conducts dam-safety inspections to ensure stability and integrity of dam and appurtenant structures.

The NPC has also put in place emergency action plans with the coordination of the local government units.

Meanwhile, the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) declared it is fully prepared for La Nia. The utility firm said it continues to invest heavily on weather- and storm-resiliency projects for improved resiliency.

In particular, Meralco is currently replacing its wood posts to concrete or steel.

It has been advised already that we are bracing for La Nia, anticipating severe weather conditions, including strong typhoons, Meralco Spokesman Joe Zaldarriaga said. Patuloy ang investments namin sa aming distribution facilities, making sure we are ready to face any type of weather condition.

Customs

FOR the Bureau of Customs (BOC), Commissioner Alberto Lina said there is a need for the agency to hire a meteorologist to alert them of incoming typhoons and prepare them for possible disruptions of port operations in the country.
So that if there would be a typhoon, whether there is a Customs district there or not, we would know, Lina said in justifying the need for a meteorologist.

Lina admitted that knowing the changes in the weather is crucial in the agencys day-to-day operations.

However, he said currently there is a shortage of meteorologists in the country, as some of the experienced weather analysts from the Pagasa have sought greener pasture.

If there is heavy flooding, we have no [revenue] collection [because there is no operation so we are] affected, Lina lamented.

The hiring of meteorologists is being done even by some private logistics firms and airlines, he said.

Since the BOC is in the logistics, Lina explained, it is but logical for the agency to get a weather expert to advise them and help them plan early if there is an approaching bad weather.

Lina pointed out that monitoring the weather is very important and that even in some advanced countries, the first thing that people watch on television when they wake up in the morning is the weather channel.

While disaster preparedness is beyond the BoCs initial scope, the agency can assist in expediting the logistical requirements of goods intended for those affected by calamities.

During the onslaught of Yolanda, the BoC issued a memorandum enjoining all personnel to consolidate all efforts in the solicitation of relief goods they intend to donate.

The agency also tasked the General Services Division and the Customs Police Division to ensure the proper security, storage and movement of goods within the BOC compound at the Port Area.

Foreign aid

DEPARTMENT of Foreign Affairs (Dfa) Spokesman Charles Jose said that in the aftermath of Yolanda, the Philippine government further developed its disaster risk-reduction management system, which includes its capability to process and efficiently implement foreign aid.

The DFA, as a member-agency of the response cluster of the NDRRMC, is the lead agency of the International Humanitarian Assistance Cluster (IHAC).

The IHACs core members include the DFA, the OCD, the departments of Education, Finance, Health, National Defense, Social Welfare and Transportation and Communications. It also has the BoC, Burea of Immigration and officials of the Armed Forces of the Philippines as members.

The IHAC aims to ensure efficient and effective implementation of rules and regulations attendant to international humanitarian assistance.

Since its inception in the fourth quarter of 2014, Jose said IHAC has met seven times to draft the guidelines, which are being subject to finalization.

The policies of these guidelines were developed in the aftermath of Yolanda and are primarily geared toward natural disasters, Jose said.

The guidelines that govern IHAC cover the three components of IHAC, namely, international humanitarian workers, financial donations and relief goods and equipment.

These guidelines primarily aim to provide coordination between the various agencies involved in IHAC, according to Jose.

Lawmakers speak

A lawmaker on Wednesday said the negative impacts of La Nia can be addressed through proper land-use planning.

House Committee on Agrarian Reform Chairman and Liberal Party Rep. Teddy Baguilat of Ifugao said the government should ensure all establishments are not located in hazardous areas.
Both El Nio and La Nia are disastrous consequences of climate change, Baguilat said. The negative impacts can be mitigated if we have proper land-use planning to ensure that residential and commercial establishments are not located in hazardous areas.

He cited the need to pass the National Land Use Act, which he said will also protect critical watersheds from being degraded further.

Watersheds are important in minimizing erosions and landslides, which La Nia can engender.

The proposed act provide for a rational, holistic and just allocation, utilization, management and development of the countrys land resources to ensure their optimum use consistent with the principle of sustainable development.

House Committee on Climate Change Chairman and Party-list Rep. Rodel Batocabe of Ako Bicol said there must be a paradigm shift in the countrys policy on treating La Nia or El Nio.

These phenomena are the new normal which must be addressed continuously through continuing programs and appropriations, Batocabe said. It is not enough that we just merely tag programs and projects as climate-change projects.

Currently, Batocabe said the budget for the various climate-change mitigation and adaptation programs of the government, particularly those aimed at ensuring food security, was included in the 2016 General Appropriations Act.

The Pagasa has warned that climate change might affect food production in the country as the dry and wet spells brought about by El Nio and La Nia will greatly and directly impact the agricultural production.

The Joint House Special Committees on Food Security and Climate Change, citing Thelma Cinco, head of Pagasas impact assessment and applications section, said the country will experience an average of 19 weather disturbances yearly, especially during the last quarter of 2016.

According to Pagasas Lucero, if La Nia does develop, the Philippines would feel its full impact by November to February 2017. He identified 10 provinces lying along the eastern coast of the country as the most vulnerable during this period.

The weather agency is working with our regular budget, he said, adding Pagasa also received about P450 million as replenishment for its quick-response fund.

Such fund, however, has already been fully utilized for rehabilitation efforts after Lando and Nona, as well as El Nio, he said.

The decision to implement other interventions, as well as the request for additional budget, may be left to the next administration, DA Field Operations Service Director Christopher Morales told the BusinessMirror.

Roehlano M. Briones of the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (Pids), meanwhile, said the next administration need not worry as despite El Nios wrath, the economy grew.

Even after El Nio had a large local effect in the agriculture sector and area, nakita mo naman buong economy nag-grow 6.9 percent year-on-year on quarter one, Briones, Pids senior fellow, told the BusinessMirror. So even at its worst, GDP as a whole, maaaring not that strong ang impact [of La Nia]. The worst case will be well have a similar contraction of agricultural GDP because of the La Nia.

Briones further explained that after recovering under a rainy season, magkakaroon ng continued contraction.

Im not that pessimistic kasi flooding I think is more of an urban problem compared to the impact [of La Nia] on agriculture, he said. It takes a lot of flooding to seriously damage a rice crop kasi its really a water-intensive crop.//

Author: Rene Acost et al.
Date: June 01, 2016
Source: Business Mirror

Two public water and sanitation programs failed to meet targets after five years of implementation, according to an impact evaluation report released by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS).
The paper, titled Results of the Process and Impact Evaluation for Selected Government Water Supply and Sanitation Programs, was authored by PIDS consultants Alma D. Porciuncula and Doreen Carla E. Erfe and Senior Research Fellow Adoracion M. Navarro.
The report said Presidents Priority Program for Water Supply (P3W) and Sagana at Ligtas na Tubig Para sa Lahat (Salintubig) Program barely progressed and provided safe-water supply to only 8.7 percent and 14 percent of their target populations, respectively.
The underachievement of targets may have been a result of weaknesses in the institutional framework, capacity and governance constraints as discussed above, but there were also fundamental gaps in the program implementation, the authors said.
They said among the reasons for the underachievement of the two projects include the low grant resources extended for water supply.

The authors also said funds were also diverted to municipalities that are not considered waterless, placing further strain on program resources.

They said the 10-percent counterpart fund from local government units (LGUs) may not have been used for the programs.

The authors noted that there was no clear strategy and action plan for sanitation. The implementing partners of the P3W and Salintubig did not provide assistance to LGUs and monitor their sanitation initiatives.

Despite the low achievement of the programs in terms of graduation targets, the grants nonetheless benefitted more than 3 million people, the authors said.

It is fair to assume that without the grant programs, these people would have been left unserved for an indefinite period, given the low propensity of the LGUs to invest in water-supply projects, they added.

To cover more households, the authors recommended the continuation of the program, but they pushed for putting an emphasis on better resource allocation and criteria for prioritizing beneficiaries.

The authors also called for the identification of investment requirements of a validated list of beneficiaries and the setting of realistic targets, based on the grant resources that can be supported by the government.

The report said LGUs should be allowed to use the grant funds to leverage loan funds, other grants or private equity to put up a bigger system.

It also urged the design of a subprogram for sanitation via a sanitation road map.

From 2011 to 2016, only 39 municipalities have reportedly graduated from the P3W and 410 of the 449 target municipalities remained waterless.

Under the Salintubig, only a total of 62 of the 455 municipalities have reportedly graduated as of June 2015.//


Author: Cai Ordinario
Date: June 05, 2016
Source: Business Mirror

Despite the significant gains in primary education participation rates, learning gaps remain high among primary and secondary level students.

Increased government spending in education, as well as the implementation of the K to 12 program are important education sector reforms that set the stage for improved access and better education outcomes for the Filipino youth.

However, while these reforms are significant, much is still needed to be done in improving learning outcomes for primary and secondary learners in the Philippines.

On May 24, 2016, the Department of Education (DepEd), Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) and Innovations for Poverty Action Philippines hosted a policy forum on Evidence in the Education Sector at the PIDS Conference Room in Centris, Quezon City, to disseminate among key decision-makers how impact evaluation and evidence can be useful in achieving improved learning outcomes.

Around 60 participants attended the forum from various government agencies, international organizations, academe and non-government organizations.

In his keynote speech, DepEd Assistant Sec. Elvin Ivan Uy stressed that education should enable each person to maximize their potential.

He highlighted the need to actively promote the use of evidence within DepEd and that the agency itself should be an active producer of evidence.

Meanwhile, NEDA deputy director-general Rosemarie Edillon mentioned the pivotal role of evidence in policy-making at the national level.

She maintained that each evaluation should address present and future needs in the education sector.
Roundtable discussions as well as panel presentations on topics such as stakeholders in evaluation, enabling learning, and secondary and technical-vocational education comprised the policy forum.

Author:
Date: June 01, 2016
Source: The Daily Tribune

MANILA, Philippines - The rural banking industry is concerned that the unreliable infrastructure and support of the telecommunications companies (telcos) will stand in the way of financial inclusion.

They said their march towards financial inclusiveness is hampered by frequent service downtime yet expensive service that increases reputational risks.

Connectivity and network issues are huge and expensive problems, Tanya Hotchkiss, executive vice president of Cantilan Bank, said in a presentation during the 63rd national convention of the Rural Bankers Association of the Philippines (RBAP) held recently in Cebu City.

Aside from reputation risk increases when telco infrastructure is unreliable, studies show that most e-money agents reported incidents of service downtime with a frequency of one to three times a week. The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) defines e-money as monetary value that is digitally stored in a designated electronic account, and may be remotely accessed through an instrument or device such as mobile phone or prepaid card ... and is electronically transferable to other electronic wallets or deposit accounts.

E-money agents are basically cash-in, cash-out centers servicing rural folk through mobile money services.

Reports indicate that downtime averages 82 business days, or 658 business hours downtime in one year.

A recent study by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) show that the quality of the national Internet backbone is so bad that 70 percent of domestic internet traffic runs through Hong Kong. The lack of a national broadband policy makes internet services expensive yet slow.

Banks will become better banks, if telcos become better telcos, Hotchkiss said.

The bank executive called for improved regulatory environment and increased competition in informational and communications technology (ICT) industry.

Rural banks admit that the rate of financial inclusion come hand in hand with embracing digitalization, mobile phone banking, mobile and electronic wallet services/digital payments.

Remittances and money transfers becomes convenient and inexpensive, either person to government (P2G) and government to person (G2P) payment services from civil registry, land registry, professional license renewal, pension, social security benefits, government loan payments, and the conditional cash transfer (CCT) program.

The PIDS study asserts that there is a direct relationship between increased ICT access and economic growth. A World Bank study likewise concluded that for every 10-percent increase in high-speed Internet connection, economic growth increases by 1.3 percent.

Hotchkiss said that convincing the rural banking public about mobile banking was a challenge for countryside bankers.

The challenge becomes even more complicated when the dreadful telco duopoly infrastructure, sometimes functions as a monopoly.

The Philippines connection speed, according to the Akamais State of the Internet Report on Asia Pacific, is at 2.8 megabits per second (Mbps), the second lowest in terms of average connection speed. The global average is 5.2 Mbps.

Roughly 12 million Filipinos work in the agricultural sector, or 34-percent of the total labor force. But nearly 40-percent of poverty incidence were registered with the rural sector.

Rural banks are well positioned to maximize the empowering capacity of the internet and mobile technology. They are recognized as among the primary engines of sustainable and equitable economic growth. Hotchkiss quoted studies showing there are 100 million mobile phones subscribers with an annual growth rate of 3.5 percent. Smart phone penetration reached 40 percent last year.

A large percentage of the unbanked population own mobile phones, and 60-percent of unbanked have come form of savings.

Three out of the 10 adults save in banks.

Only 4.4-percent of Filipinos who have loans borrow from banks, while 62 percent borrow from family and friends, and two percent from informal lenders.

Forty-one percent of the unbanked towns in the countryside are in Mindanao.//

Author: Ted Torres
Date: June 07, 2016
Source: Philippine Star

Information and communication technology (ICT) services in the country remain one of the most expensive in the Asia-Pacific Region.

Worse, Internet speed is not proportional to the costs.

A recent study by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) concluded that this problem is primarily caused by the lack of comprehensive policies on ICT development, which, in turn, results in unequal distribution of digital dividends or the development effects of ICT.

The study, authored by PIDS senior fellows Jose Ramon Albert and Ramonette Serafica, and former PIDS research analyst Beverly T. Lumbera, asserts that there is a direct relationship between increased ICT access and economic growth.

A World Bank study likewise concluded that for every 10-percent increase in high-speed Internet connection, economic growth increases by 1.3 percent.

ICT, especially the Internet, promotes inclusion. Micro and small firms can connect with potential buyers in another country through Internet and social media. They can also gain knowledge and skills to trust a new business partner based on information gained from the Internet, the PIDS paper said.
Thus, the authors argue that for the Philippines to sustain its good economic performance and boost its growth, government must invest in building a reliable, accessible, and affordable ICT infrastructure.
Maximizing the benefits from ICT, according to them, requires formulating and implementing policies that would boost ICT development, promote competition, and further interconnectedness.

According to the International Telecommunication Unions (ITU) ICT development index, the Philippines placed fifth among countries across Southeast Asia in terms of the number of people who have access to the Internet.
Internet access or Internet penetration has grown the most in the last six years, from nine percent in 2009 to 25 percent in 2010.

By 2014, the Philippines is expected to have 40-percent Internet penetration.

The Philippines improved its performance ranking in the global ICT ranking from 105th in 2014 to 98th in 2015. This can be attributed to the increase in access to mobile phones and broadband subscription services. However, policymakers should look beyond widening access, the authors said.

The Philippines connection speed according to the Akamais State of the Internet Report on Asia Pacific is at 2.8 megabits per second (Mbps), the second lowest in terms of average connection speed. The global average is 5.2 Mbps.

To maximize digital dividends, the authors urge policymakers to target ICT development, widen access, and promote competition and further interconnectedness.

Part of ICT development should improve regulations regarding Internet exchanges. Telecommunication companies exact fees to let other companies pass through their physical networks; in turn, this racks up the costs of providing connection, they explained.
The authors lamented the fact that despite the high cost paid by consumers for poor quality connection, there is little action from government.

Effective implementation of rules and regulations is also lacking; thus, telecommunication companies have gotten away with providing a lot less speed than advertised.

With the passage of the Philippine Competition Act, the authors are hoping that these would give regulators more legal ammunition to address anticompetitive practices and bad performance, and hold telecommunication companies accountable.

The responsibilities lies with the National Telecommunications Commission and the Department of Trade and Industry. They need to reform some regulations and rectify penalties that are no longer effective to prompt better competitive practices, the paper suggested.
Other policies being monitored include the Data Privacy Act of 2012, which covers the protection of personal privacy and data, cybersecurity, and digital literacy. The paper noted that access is a good priority, but making sure access remains open and safe is equally critical.

The authors noted that the quality of the national Internet backbone is so bad that 70 percent of domestic Internet traffic runs through Hong Kong. The lack of a national broadband policy makes Internet services expensive yet slow.

Meanwhile, the foreign equity restriction of 40 percent dissuades capital and expertise from coming into the country to help improve the ICT sector.
In conclusion, the authors emphasized that the government and the private sector have to work together to address the bottlenecks that impede ICT development.//

Author:
Date: June 07, 2016
Source: The Daily Tribune

The Philippines has concluded its elections with Rodrigo Duterte coming from out of nowhere only to gallop passed better known political figures and snatch the presidency. Duterte was a long-serving mayor of Davao City and, except for a brief tenure as a member of the House of Representatives, has not been a national political figure. Unlike other candidates who have long cherished the job, Duterte didnt appear to harbour presidential ambitions until only a few months before the national elections in May 2016.
A simple, powerful packaging of his persona as a stern problem solver and man of action created a strong connection with an electorate that has felt helpless in the face of issues of peace and order, poverty, income inequality and state neglect. This effective campaign catapulted him to the presidency.
A successful outsider challenge to the status quo may have seemed unlikely. The outgoing president Benigno Aquino can point to a sterling economic performance on his watch: an average GDP growth of almost 6 per cent during his six-year term (better than the other ASEAN countries), low inflation, macroeconomic stability, investment-grade credit ratings, a stable banking industry and prospects of higher growth in the immediate future.
Aquinos main contribution lies in demonstrating that investor-friendly, market-enhancing economic policies and improvements in the governance framework lead to higher growth. The shedding of the Philippines reputation as the sick man of Asia can largely be credited to his administration of the economy.
But the economy remains stuck with deep-seated problems of high incidences of poverty and high levels of income inequality. A large segment of the well-educated workforce cant find quality jobs domestically and many are employed overseas. Economic growth needs to be more inclusive. Growth is important, and so are the economic policies that create it. But growth is meaningless unless poor and disadvantaged citizens are able to cross over the poverty divide. The twin challenges of growth and equity will be major issues for the new administration.
What are the key economic challenges facing the incoming Duterte administration? And what policy responses to these challenges need to be prioritised?
The president-elect and his economic advisers immediately presented an eight-point economic agenda that will define the countrys policy space over the next six years. It consists of macroeconomic policies aimed at promoting economic stability, increased tax collection, better infrastructure, fostering an attractive investment climate, boosting support services to small farmers, improving land administration and management, basic and higher education, and implementing conditional cash transfers. A close economic adviser hastily added federalism and reproductive health to the list.
The new administration is almost sure to get full legislative support for its economic agenda and associated policies, a key requirement for delivering electoral promises in a tripartite democratic government. A coalition-building exercise has begun in the House of Representatives to foster legislative support for the eight-point agenda. Senators, meanwhile, are still in the process of sizing each other up before they choose the next Senate President.
On its surface the eight-point economic agenda is generally fine, although some will perhaps take reproductive health and federalism as contentious issues. The eight-point plan does not depart from the policy goals identified by past administrations and it contains no surprises. It is tempting to think that in order to attain the new administrations economic goals, economic policies will be as market-friendly as the previous administrations. But it is too early to say.
The challenge lies in fleshing out the specific economic policies needed to implement the eight-point economic agenda. In the first place, the public needs clear policy statements and policy coherence from its newly elected leaders. A campaign promise to reduce personal and corporate income taxes is simplistic but popular. Any proposal to reduce taxes should be part of a well-studied, comprehensive overhaul of the Philippines outdated tax system. Providing private tax relief should be balanced against the need for ample fiscal space to produce the public goods needed by society more broadly.
Dutertes campaign promises of subsidies, doubling salaries of particular groups in the bureaucracy, expanding the coverage of conditional cash transfers, fixing labour regulations, and making rice importation a government monopoly " all promises that have been made without the benefit of sufficient empirical study " should be given a sober reality check. Somebody has to pay the cost of providing all those goodies. Is the taxpaying public able and willing to bear the cost?
Past administrations have tried and failed to address several factors that have constrained the realisation of the Philippine economys full growth and employment potential. These include the constitutional provision that limits foreign direct investment in the economy, the countrys weak regulatory frameworks, widespread corruption in the police and judiciary, and insufficient peace and order. The new Duterte administration enters office with an overwhelming mandate from the electorate. This is precious political capital that can and should be used to intensify market-friendly economic policy reforms and deal with those critical development constraints. It is time for the tough guy president to make some tough policy choices.//

Gilberto M. Llanto is President of the Philippine Institute for Development Studies.


Author: Gilberto Llanto
Date: June 06, 2016
Source: East Asia Forum

ADOPTING a federal form of government may help improve the development of agriculture, though funding for non-performing regions must be addressed, experts said.
[Federalism] will promote a more inclusive type of governance because our current type is limiting, research fellow Roehlano M. Briones of the Philippine Institute for Development Studies said in a phone interview.

Devolving authority and increasing self-government would open up opportunities to forward-looking individuals who may be lesser known but competent to implement agricultural projects, Mr. Briones said.

Among the legislative priorities of the incoming Duterte administration is the convening of a Constitutional Convention in line with the President-elects campaign advocacy of federalism.

Also sought for comment, Rolando T. Dy, executive director of the Center for Food and AgriBusiness of the University of Asia and the Pacific, said he is in favor of a federal form of government as it can resolve the issues of and strengthen agriculture for more inclusive growth in the rural areas.

Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority show rural poverty incidence in 2009 rising at about 36.7% for farmers and 41.4% for fishers, as compared with 35% and 37% , respectively in 2003.

Mr. Dy pointed out that weaknesses in the agricultural sector include farm productivity, limited farm diversification, and weak value-adding that can be addressed by infrastructure investments and private sector involvement.
Guillermo H. A. Santos, president of the non-profit Center for Philippine Futuristics Studies and Management, Inc., said in an interview that a federal government can bring about cost-effective governance, better division of taxation, and... weak provinces merg[ing] with the bigger provinces so there are economies of scale, all of which may prompt reforms.

But Mr. Santos added that shifting to a federal form of government may take time.

Fermin D. Adriano, Ph.D. Development Studies professor at the University of the Philippines-Los Baos, said adopting a federal government does not automatically guarantee agricultural development.

Mr. Adriano, who is also a World Bank consultant on Mindanao peace and development issues, said the financial resources of each state should be taken into account.

What about the non-performing regions? Where will they get their funds? he said in a phone interview, noting that some 60% of the countrys gross domestic product is contributed by the National Capital Region and Regions III (Central Luzon) and IV-A (Calabarzon).

Boosting agriculture still boils down to whether the agriculture sector is part of the federal state leaders strategic platform, Mr. Adriano added.//

Author: Janina C. Lim
Date: June 06, 2016
Source: Business World

By Rene Acosta, David Cagahastian, Manuel T. Cayon, Rea Cu, Jovee Marie N. dela Cruz, Lenie Lectura, Recto Mercene, Claudeth Mocon-Ciriaco, Jonathan L. Mayuga, Cai U. Ordinario, Mary Grace Padin and Joel R. San Juan

People and vehicles navigate through neck-deep waters in the aftermath of Typhoon Ondoy in Marikina City.

MANILA and Davao City"Two names make many people cringe in fear: Ondoy and Yolanda. These are the names of supertyphoons that brought misery, even nearly seven years after Typhoon Ondoy
(international code name Ketsana) brought parts of Metro Manila under water.

After the heat, however, weathermen like Anthony Lucero are saying the country is facing a wet season under La Nia.

Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administrations (Pagasa) Lucero said there is a 50-percent chance of La Nias developing after the onslaught of El Nio in the country.''

We will know for sure in July, said Lucero, Pagasas climate monitoring and prediction section chief.
La Nia is characterized by the cooler temperature in the Equatorial Pacific and is associated with above-normal rainfall levels. The expert said in three out of four cases where a strong El Nino occurs, La Nia follows.

This means there is a strong possibility that La Nia may occur after El Nio, Lucero said in a phone interview. El Nio, to note, is marked by unusually warm weather and could eventually lead to drought.

Impact

WEATHER changes impact more the poor, especially those in rural areas.

While Cid Terosa of the University of Asia and the Pacific (UA and P) School of Economics said La Nia would not be enough to dampen overall GDP, it can impoverish many in the rural areas.

La Nia will lower the contribution of agriculture to GDP growth even more, Terosa, UA and P senior economist, told the BusinessMirror.

He noted that from 2011 to 2015, the contribution of agriculture to GDP growth was below 0.5 percent.

Terosa said the country should expect about 1-percentage-point increase in the poverty rate if La Nia hits the country.
However, Alvin Ang of the Ateneo de Manila University said, The impact wont be so much on agriculture but will be more on the infrastructure and agriculture support. Ang, who teaches Economics at Ateneo, explained typhoons could boost government spending in La Nia-affected areas.

Offhand, the rains are welcome to replenish the catch basins as long as no significant storm will occur, Ang told the BusinessMirror. Nonetheless, government, particularly LGUs [local government units], must fully survey their areas to ensure that whatever damage comes will be minimized.

Spending

ACCORDING to Communications Secretary Herminio B. Coloma Jr., the government is implementing a comprehensive program on mitigating the harmful effects of the possible onset of the La Nia scenario as part of its overall strategy on climate-change resiliency.

This covers agriculture, flood control and disaster risk-reduction measures at the grassroots level, Coloma said.

Under the 2016 national budget, a total of P129 billion has been allocated for disaster risk-reduction programs. This amount is 4.3 percent of the total budget for 2016.

Of this amount, P59 billion will go to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to construct and maintain 1,090 structures nationwide. About P503.8 million will go to the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) to repair and construct 66 flood and drainage structures in Metro Manila.

Other portions of the budget are also appropriated for measures that can indirectly provide relief to possible victims of the La Nia phenomenon.

The administration of President Aquino also embarked on a greening program which reforested 683,483 hectares of land during the past six years, aside from allocating at least P129 billion to directly address the possible effects of the La Nia phenomenon expected this year.

According to figures from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), some 683,483 hectares of land were reforested from 2011 to 2013, or more than 250 percent more than the reforested land during the 10 years of the Arroyo administration.

The national greening program will be allotted P8.2 billion to buy 415.46 million seedlings, which will be planted over 246,524 hectares of land; while P397 million will be spent for the training of local government officials under the geohazard assessment program, which will come up with geohazard maps detailing the risk assessments and educate barangays on the use of these maps.

NDRRMC

THE National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) announced it is stepping up its preparations for the rainy season, wary the La Nia may bring monsoon rains that could trigger Ondoy-like flooding in Metro Manila.

NDRRMC Spokesman Romina Marasigan said this early they have been coordinating with the local disaster offices around the country, reminding them to step up and revisit their respective disaster-preparedness plans for the rainy season and even for other calamities.

At the same time, the NDRRMC is using the coordinative effort to determine and identify the gaps in all of the disaster plans of the local, provincial and regional disaster offices and assist them in fixing them or ask them to make readjustments as needed.

Our coordination with local disaster offices and even officials is continuing in order to make sure that they are ready and prepared for the rainy season, including against typhoons and even possible flooding, Marasigan said.

She said a full council meeting has been scheduled in the middle of June to assess the preparation and readiness of the government for the rainy season and La Nia, with the possibility of stronger typhoons as scenarios.

Initially, part of the disaster-preparedness plans has been the initiation of flood-control measures, particularly in Metro Manila, wherein silted creeks and waterways were cleaned and de-clogged of trash and other debris.

Around the country, equipment and supplies have been moved and prepositioned for humanitarian assistance and disaster response, while additional evacuation centers were put up, cleaned and identified.

These [steps would] ensure we will have effective response once strong typhoons struck and the possibility of flooding occurs, Marasigan said, adding the NDRRMC is also communicating and coordinating with other agencies of the government without letup for the preparation.

Chiefs review

THE incoming chief of the countrys two disaster-response agencies said he would review the current direction of the disaster preparations and forecasting with focus on plucking out the best highlights during the worse disasters that ravaged the country so far.

Retired Brig. Gen. Ricardo Jalad, named to head the NDRRMC, said he would be interested to look at why the Army seemed to be the last recourse and resort during calamities.

Its the experience of the Army that it is usually the one that eventually does most of the operations to reach the affected places and conduct rescue, Jalad said. Its also the same with the nongovernmental organizations that are also the first responders, rather than the government.

According to him, what is usually lost during disasters are the capability cooperation and coordination of government agencies.

Jalad said this commonly happens because the rescuers and many government personnel have become victims themselves.

When asked why it was usually the Army that could act quickly, Jalad said it is because of our location away from disasters.

He said he would also study the practice of the Compostela Valley provincial government when it would move its rescue and disaster teams away from the path of the typhoon, for instance, to enable them to move easily and quickly to the ground zero of the disaster.

Jalad said he would use the strength and capability of the two disaster agencies under him, the NDRRMC and the Office of Civil Defense, of which he is the executive director.

For now, the directions of the two agencies are to improve capabilities of rescue and disaster teams, and to strengthen the coordination among government agencies.

Jalad was the commander of the 2nd Mechanized Brigade stationed in Iligan City when Typhoon Sendong struck northern Mindanao in 2011 and killed or sent missing almost 2,000 residents. Iligan City was one of the hardest hit by that typhoon.

Jalad was later assigned as the commander of the 5th Infantry Division in Isabela.

MMDA skeptical

HOWEVER, an official of the MMDA expressed doubts the metropolis is ready for another Ondoy-like disaster.

Bal Melgar, MMDA Flood Control and Sewerage Office chief, said the agency is exerting all efforts not to let another type of disaster become a bitter lesson for urban dwellers.

Melgar said the agencys flood-control team continuously cleaned, desilted and dredged rivers, canals, ponds, creeks, esteros and other major waterways all over the metropolis. He said there are 273 creeks and rivers they focused their energy into.

Melgar noted that uncontrolled dumping of waste was one of the aggravating factors during the massive flooding brought by Ondoy in 2009.
The cleanup of waterways aimed to maximize Metro Manilas waterways being able to convey bigger volumes of flood waters, he explained.

Melgar also assured that all 54 MMDA pumping stations are fully functional. Each engine, he said, is capable of pumping 350 drums of flood water per second.

These pumping stations are vital for flood mitigation because Manilas elevation is only a little higher than the main sea level, he explained.

Melgar pointed out there is a design capacity within the flood-control structures, enabling the excess waters to overflow and cause flood when they reach their limit.

Our flood-control structures have a design capacity that can only accommodate a certain rainfall intensity, he explained. But the MMDA has yet to use the newly installed pump engines.

Melgar reiterated his call for households to adhere to the door-to-door garbage- collection scheme where they can only take out their refuse when the garbage trucks arrive.

The MMDA said that the majority of the more than 8,000 metric tons of garbage collected in Metro Manila on a daily basis is comprised of plastic.

Local initiative

AN official of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) believes LGUs could be more prepared against rain-induced disasters, such as flood and landslide, if their respective personnel use geohazard maps.

Director Leo Jasareno of the DENRs Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) said if properly used, the geohazard maps will help LGUs minimize casualties and make communities more resilient to natural calamities.

The geohazard maps, at 1:10,000, are in place for rain-induced floods and landslides, according to Jasareno.

As the records will show, based on the most recent strong typhoons like Lando, the level of preparedness of LGUs has been demonstrated, Jasareno said. Iyong acid test ng LGUs during the past big typhoon incidents shows that they have shown preparedness.

According to Jasareno, Central Luzon is still the most flood-prone regions in the country. Nueva Ecija, Pampanga and Bulacan are among the most vulnerable.

In general, the entire Central Luzon is the most flood-prone, he said, citing the National Capital Region (NCR) as one of these areas.

Some parts of Isabela, including Ilagan, which is attributable to the overflow of the Cagayan River, are also prone to massive flooding, as is Mindoro Oriental.

In Mindanao, Jasareno cited Maguindanao, Agusan del Norte and Butuan. Towns in Southeastern Mindanao should also be ready for potential landslide events, Jasareno said.

Prone to landslides are towns in the eastern seaboards from Nueva Vizcaya, Aurora and Quezon in the Cordillera region, including Benguet and Southern Leyte.

Market readiness

ACCORDING to the Department of Finance (DOF), the insurance industry has evolved and learned from the bitter lessons brought by Ondoy and Yolanda.

Finance Undersecretary Gil S. Beltran noted that interest rates had minimal or no movement after Ondoy and Yolanda hit the country. Time deposit and lending rates decreased, according to Beltran, undersecretary on policy development and management services group.

Interest rates barely moved after Ondoy and Yolanda, he told the BusinessMirror. Beltran explained that in 2014 after Yolanda, time-deposit rates even declined from 1.5 percent in November 2013 to 1.1 percent the next year.

He said lending rates also declined from 5.7 percent to 5.6 percent early the next year.

Beltran also explained that after the country experienced the typhoons, the volume of loans being borrowed increased from 7.6 percent in November 2013 to 8.9 percent by December of that year. This was partly due to the increase in number of people needing financial services or assistance after the calamity.

If at all, loan volumes rose by 8.9 percent in December 2013, from 7.6 percent in November, when the typhoon struck, he said.

Beltran said the insurance industry is better prepared now compared to when Ondoy and Yolanda hit, in the sense that there is an increase in the coverage of microinsurance among the Filipino people.

According to him, there are now 37.5 million Filipinos covered by microinsurance, compared with the 20 million covered before Yolanda in 2013 and the 3.1 million in 2009 for Ondoy.

The continued developments in microinsurance and the broadening of its coverage in the country also better prepared the industry. It was also noted that the efforts of the Insurance Commission in fostering the developments for microinsurance aided in the preparation against problems La Nia can bring.

Power sector

ENERGY stakeholders, meanwhile, are set to hold meetings with owners and operators of power plants, particularly hydro, to discuss the measures that would be put in place to prepare for the rainy season.

There are coordination meetings scheduled with plant operators of hydro, Energy Assistant Secretary Patrick Aquino said.

The National Power Corp. (NPC), which manages 17 large dams, including Angat, and 11 watersheds in the country, has launched an information, education campaign (IEC) in preparation for La Nia.

Actually, we were already coordinating with the communities where the dams are nearby located to help them prepare for La Nia, NPC President Gladys Cruz-Santa Rita said.

She said the IEC focuses on flood forecasting and warning system for dam operation.

Aside from IEC, the NPC is currently conducting preventive maintenance of rainfall and water-level equipment to ensure efficient data gathering during events of severe weather disturbance.

It also regularly conducts dam-safety inspections to ensure stability and integrity of dam and appurtenant structures.

The NPC has also put in place emergency action plans with the coordination of the local government units.

Meanwhile, the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) declared it is fully prepared for La Nia. The utility firm said it continues to invest heavily on weather- and storm-resiliency projects for improved resiliency.

In particular, Meralco is currently replacing its wood posts to concrete or steel.

It has been advised already that we are bracing for La Nia, anticipating severe weather conditions, including strong typhoons, Meralco Spokesman Joe Zaldarriaga said. Patuloy ang investments namin sa aming distribution facilities, making sure we are ready to face any type of weather condition.

Customs

FOR the Bureau of Customs (BOC), Commissioner Alberto Lina said there is a need for the agency to hire a meteorologist to alert them of incoming typhoons and prepare them for possible disruptions of port operations in the country.
So that if there would be a typhoon, whether there is a Customs district there or not, we would know, Lina said in justifying the need for a meteorologist.

Lina admitted that knowing the changes in the weather is crucial in the agencys day-to-day operations.

However, he said currently there is a shortage of meteorologists in the country, as some of the experienced weather analysts from the Pagasa have sought greener pasture.

If there is heavy flooding, we have no [revenue] collection [because there is no operation so we are] affected, Lina lamented.

The hiring of meteorologists is being done even by some private logistics firms and airlines, he said.

Since the BOC is in the logistics, Lina explained, it is but logical for the agency to get a weather expert to advise them and help them plan early if there is an approaching bad weather.

Lina pointed out that monitoring the weather is very important and that even in some advanced countries, the first thing that people watch on television when they wake up in the morning is the weather channel.

While disaster preparedness is beyond the BoCs initial scope, the agency can assist in expediting the logistical requirements of goods intended for those affected by calamities.

During the onslaught of Yolanda, the BoC issued a memorandum enjoining all personnel to consolidate all efforts in the solicitation of relief goods they intend to donate.

The agency also tasked the General Services Division and the Customs Police Division to ensure the proper security, storage and movement of goods within the BOC compound at the Port Area.

Foreign aid

DEPARTMENT of Foreign Affairs (Dfa) Spokesman Charles Jose said that in the aftermath of Yolanda, the Philippine government further developed its disaster risk-reduction management system, which includes its capability to process and efficiently implement foreign aid.

The DFA, as a member-agency of the response cluster of the NDRRMC, is the lead agency of the International Humanitarian Assistance Cluster (IHAC).

The IHACs core members include the DFA, the OCD, the departments of Education, Finance, Health, National Defense, Social Welfare and Transportation and Communications. It also has the BoC, Burea of Immigration and officials of the Armed Forces of the Philippines as members.

The IHAC aims to ensure efficient and effective implementation of rules and regulations attendant to international humanitarian assistance.

Since its inception in the fourth quarter of 2014, Jose said IHAC has met seven times to draft the guidelines, which are being subject to finalization.

The policies of these guidelines were developed in the aftermath of Yolanda and are primarily geared toward natural disasters, Jose said.

The guidelines that govern IHAC cover the three components of IHAC, namely, international humanitarian workers, financial donations and relief goods and equipment.

These guidelines primarily aim to provide coordination between the various agencies involved in IHAC, according to Jose.

Lawmakers speak

A lawmaker on Wednesday said the negative impacts of La Nia can be addressed through proper land-use planning.

House Committee on Agrarian Reform Chairman and Liberal Party Rep. Teddy Baguilat of Ifugao said the government should ensure all establishments are not located in hazardous areas.
Both El Nio and La Nia are disastrous consequences of climate change, Baguilat said. The negative impacts can be mitigated if we have proper land-use planning to ensure that residential and commercial establishments are not located in hazardous areas.

He cited the need to pass the National Land Use Act, which he said will also protect critical watersheds from being degraded further.

Watersheds are important in minimizing erosions and landslides, which La Nia can engender.

The proposed act provide for a rational, holistic and just allocation, utilization, management and development of the countrys land resources to ensure their optimum use consistent with the principle of sustainable development.

House Committee on Climate Change Chairman and Party-list Rep. Rodel Batocabe of Ako Bicol said there must be a paradigm shift in the countrys policy on treating La Nia or El Nio.

These phenomena are the new normal which must be addressed continuously through continuing programs and appropriations, Batocabe said. It is not enough that we just merely tag programs and projects as climate-change projects.

Currently, Batocabe said the budget for the various climate-change mitigation and adaptation programs of the government, particularly those aimed at ensuring food security, was included in the 2016 General Appropriations Act.

The Pagasa has warned that climate change might affect food production in the country as the dry and wet spells brought about by El Nio and La Nia will greatly and directly impact the agricultural production.

The Joint House Special Committees on Food Security and Climate Change, citing Thelma Cinco, head of Pagasas impact assessment and applications section, said the country will experience an average of 19 weather disturbances yearly, especially during the last quarter of 2016.

According to Pagasas Lucero, if La Nia does develop, the Philippines would feel its full impact by November to February 2017. He identified 10 provinces lying along the eastern coast of the country as the most vulnerable during this period.

The weather agency is working with our regular budget, he said, adding Pagasa also received about P450 million as replenishment for its quick-response fund.

Such fund, however, has already been fully utilized for rehabilitation efforts after Lando and Nona, as well as El Nio, he said.

The decision to implement other interventions, as well as the request for additional budget, may be left to the next administration, DA Field Operations Service Director Christopher Morales told the BusinessMirror.

Roehlano M. Briones of the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (Pids), meanwhile, said the next administration need not worry as despite El Nios wrath, the economy grew.

Even after El Nio had a large local effect in the agriculture sector and area, nakita mo naman buong economy nag-grow 6.9 percent year-on-year on quarter one, Briones, Pids senior fellow, told the BusinessMirror. So even at its worst, GDP as a whole, maaaring not that strong ang impact [of La Nia]. The worst case will be well have a similar contraction of agricultural GDP because of the La Nia.

Briones further explained that after recovering under a rainy season, magkakaroon ng continued contraction.

Im not that pessimistic kasi flooding I think is more of an urban problem compared to the impact [of La Nia] on agriculture, he said. It takes a lot of flooding to seriously damage a rice crop kasi its really a water-intensive crop.//

Author: Rene Acost et al.
Date: June 01, 2016
Source: Business Mirror

THE government has to invest in building a reliable, accessible, and affordable infrastructure on information and communication technology (ICT) to sustain an improved economic performance and boost its growth.
This, according to a recent study conducted by government think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (Pids).
The study, authored by Pids senior fellows Jose Ramon Albert and Ramonette Serafica, and former research analyst Beverly Lumbera, also showed the lack of a national broadband policy makes Internet services in the country expensive yet slow.
"Internet services in the country have remained one of the most expensive in the Asia-Pacific Region. Worse, Internet speed is not proportional to the costs," the study revealed.
This problem is primarily caused by the lack of comprehensive policies on ICT development, which, in turn, results in unequal distribution of digital dividends or the development effects of ICT.
There is a direct relationship between increased ICT access and economic growth, the study said, confirming a World Bank study that showed for every 10-percent increase in high-speed Internet connection, economic growth increases by 1.3 percent.
"ICT, especially the Internet, promotes inclusion. Micro and small firms can connect with potential buyers in another country through Internet and social media. They can also gain knowledge and skills to trust a new business partner based on information gained from the Internet," the study said.
According to the International Telecommunication Union's ICT development index, the Philippines placed fifth among countries across Southeast Asia in terms of the number of people who have access to the Internet.
Internet access or Internet penetration has grown the most in the last six years, from 9 percent in 2009 to 25 percent in 2010. By 2014, the Philippines is expected to have 40-percent Internet penetration.
As this developed, the authors recommended that policymakers have to target ICT development, widen access, and promote competition and further interconnectedness.
"Part of ICT development should improve regulations regarding Internet exchanges. Telecommunication companies exact fees to let other companies pass through their physical networks; in turn, this racks up the costs of providing connection," they explained.
The authors also lamented the fact that despite the high cost paid by consumers for poor quality connection, there is little action from government. Effective implementation of rules and regulations is also lacking; thus, telecommunication companies have gotten away with providing a lot less speed than advertised.
"The responsibilities lies with the National Telecommunications Commission and the Department of Trade and Industry. They need to reform some regulations and rectify penalties that are no longer effective to prompt better competitive practices," the paper suggested.//

Author: Nelson C. Bagaforo
Date: June 06, 2016
Source: Sun Star Cebu

Two public water and sanitation programs failed to meet targets after five years of implementation, according to an impact evaluation report released by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS).

The paper, titled Results of the Process and Impact Evaluation for Selected Government Water Supply and Sanitation Programs, was authored by PIDS consultants Alma D. Porciuncula and Doreen Carla E. Erfe and Senior Research Fellow Adoracion M. Navarro.

The report said Presidents Priority Program for Water Supply (P3W) and Sagana at Ligtas na Tubig Para sa Lahat (Salintubig) Program barely progressed and provided safe-water supply to only 8.7 percent and 14 percent of their target populations, respectively.

The underachievement of targets may have been a result of weaknesses in the institutional framework, capacity and governance constraints as discussed above, but there were also fundamental gaps in the program implementation, the authors said.
They said among the reasons for the underachievement of the two projects include the low grant resources extended for water supply.

The authors also said funds were also diverted to municipalities that are not considered waterless, placing further strain on program resources.

They said the 10-percent counterpart fund from local government units (LGUs) may not have been used for the programs.

The authors noted that there was no clear strategy and action plan for sanitation. The implementing partners of the P3W and Salintubig did not provide assistance to LGUs and monitor their sanitation initiatives.

Despite the low achievement of the programs in terms of graduation targets, the grants nonetheless benefitted more than 3 million people, the authors said.

It is fair to assume that without the grant programs, these people would have been left unserved for an indefinite period, given the low propensity of the LGUs to invest in water-supply projects, they added.

To cover more households, the authors recommended the continuation of the program, but they pushed for putting an emphasis on better resource allocation and criteria for prioritizing beneficiaries.

The authors also called for the identification of investment requirements of a validated list of beneficiaries and the setting of realistic targets, based on the grant resources that can be supported by the government.

The report said LGUs should be allowed to use the grant funds to leverage loan funds, other grants or private equity to put up a bigger system.

It also urged the design of a subprogram for sanitation via a sanitation road map.

From 2011 to 2016, only 39 municipalities have reportedly graduated from the P3W and 410 of the 449 target municipalities remained waterless.

Under the Salintubig, only a total of 62 of the 455 municipalities have reportedly graduated as of June 2015.//

Author: Cai Ordinario
Date: June 05, 2016
Source: Business Mirror

QUEZON CITY, June 2 - Despite the significant gains in primary education participation rates, learning gaps remain high among primary and secondary level students. Increased government spending in education, as well as the implementation of the K to 12 program are important education sector reforms that set the stage for improved access and better education outcomes for the Filipino youth. However, while these reforms are significant, much is still needed to be done in improving learning outcomes for primary and secondary learners in the Philippines.

On May 24, 2016, the Department of Education (DepEd), Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), and Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) Philippines hosted a policy forum on "Evidence in the Education Sector" at the PIDS Conference Room in Centris, Quezon City, to disseminate among key decisionmakers how impact evaluation and evidence can be useful in achieving improved learning outcomes.

Around 60 participants attended the forum from various government agencies, international organizations, academe, and nongovernment organizations.

In his keynote speech, DepEd Assistant Secretary Elvin Ivan Uy stressed that education should enable each person to maximize their potential. He highlighted the need to actively promote the use of evidence within DepEd and that the agency itself should be an active producer of evidence. Meanwhile, NEDA Deputy Director-General Rosemarie Edillon mentioned the pivotal role of evidence in policymaking at the national level. She maintained that each evaluation should address present and future needs in the education sector.

Roundtable discussions as well as panel presentations on topics such as stakeholders in evaluation, enabling learning, and secondary and technical-vocational education comprised the policy forum. Dr. Gilberto Llanto, in identifying champions in impact evaluations, with panel members Dr. Vicente Paqueo, visiting research fellow at PIDS, and Mr. Roger Masapol, director of the DepEd Planning Service, highlighted important issues such as the usefulness of impact evaluations in preserving effective programs, the need for greater appreciation of evaluations among all levels in government, and the value of having data publicly available.

IPA Philippines Country Director Nassreena Sampaco-Baddiri moderated the panel discussion on enabling learning where Dr. Aniceto Orbeta, Jr., PIDS senior research fellow, and Assistant Secretary Uy of DepEd presented some critical issues in achieving improved education quality. Discussions were centered on the importance of context of the education system, the possibility of having complementary programs for better outcomes, the role of programs (and evaluation of these programs) in learning, and the need to consider noncognitive competencies.

A panel discussion on technical-vocational education was moderated by NEDA Deputy Director-General Rolando Tungpalan and included presentations from Dr. Emily Beam of the National University of Singapore and Director Catherine Galapon from Technical Education and Skills Development Authority. Key topics include the role of education in building skills, employment, and better quality of life, as well as the value of testing different interventions in order to understand what works and what doesn't work.

PIDS President Gilberto Llanto emphasized that the use of evidence generated by rigorous evaluations will definitely play a significant role in moving the country forward, especially in vital sectors such as education. His closing statement, "The unexamined policy intervention is not worth implementing," captures the importance of evaluations in a nutshell. (PIDS)

Author:
Date: June 02, 2016
Source: PIA

The Department of Energy (DOE) and the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) advised against repealing the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (Epira) of 2001. Instead, they called for improvements in the implementation of energy deregulation.
Energy Secretary Zenaida Monsada said Monday on the sidelines of a forum on better efficiency in government services that the Epira was working through improved investments in power generation and relatively stable power prices.
The argument that Epira should make power available begs the question, what is affordable? Should it go back to pre-Epira days, should the price be artificially low, even if it cannot be sustained, or [determined] via market forces to reflect the true price? Monsada said. Right now, we are continuing efforts together with energy stakeholders to further bring down power prices through better efficiencies.
Among the proposed improvements are improving power plant operations and making facility owners more responsible for replacement power whenever their generation units shut down unexpectedly, as well as making the energy spot market operate more independently.
Separately, PIDS said that calls to repeal Epira were ill-advised.
The think tank said in a study that the nationalization years were marked by inefficiencies and fiscal problems that were borne by the whole country, not just electricity consumers.
In contrast, production efficiency gains were achieved through the reduction of system losses after Epira.
What needs to be done is to find ways of improving its implementation. We must recognize that the evolution in the governance structure of the industry is still unfinished, the PIDS study said.
The electricity spot market has to be governed by an independent market operator; regulatory capacity has to be strengthened; and the energy department needs to beef up its planning function, it added.//

Author: Riza T. Olchondra
Date: June 14, 2016
Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer

INFORMATION and communications technology (ICT) services in the country remain one of the most expensive in the Asia-Pacific region. Worse, Internet speed is not proportional to the costs.
A recent study by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) concluded that this problem is primarily caused by the lack of comprehensive policies on ICT development, which, in turn, results in unequal distribution of digital dividends or the development effects of ICT.
The study, authored by PIDS senior fellows Jose Ramon Albert and Ramonette Serafica, and former PIDS research analyst Beverly T. Lumbera, asserts there is a direct relationship between increased ICT access and economic growth. A World Bank study, likewise, concluded that for every 10-percent increase in high-speed Internet connection, economic growth increases by 1.3 percent.
ICT, especially the Internet, promotes inclusion. Micro and small firms can connect with potential buyers in another country through Internet and social media. They can also gain knowledge and skills to trust a new business partner based on information gained from the Internet, the PIDS paper stated.
Thus, the authors argue that for the Philippines to sustain its good economic performance and boost its growth, the government must invest in building a reliable, accessible and affordable ICT infrastructure. Maximizing the benefits from ICT, according to them, requires formulating and implementing policies that would boost ICT development, promote competition and further interconnectedness.
According to the International Telecommunication Unions ICT development index, the Philippines placed fifth among countries across Southeast Asia in terms of the number of people who have access to the Internet. Internet access or Internet penetration has grown the most in the last six years, from 9 percent in 2009 to 25 percent in 2010. By 2014, the Philippines is expected to have 40-percent Internet penetration.
The Philippines improved its performance ranking in the global ICT ranking from 105th in 2014 to 98th in 2015. This can be attributed to the increase in access to mobile phones and broadband subscription services. However, policy-makers should look beyond widening access, the authors said.
The Philippiness connection speed, according to the Akamais State of the Internet Report on Asia Pacific, is at 2.8 megabits per second (Mbps), the second-lowest in terms of average connection speed. The global average is 5.2 Mps.
To maximize digital dividends, the authors urge policy-makers to target ICT development, widen access, and promote competition and further interconnectedness.
Part of ICT development should improve regulations regarding Internet exchanges. Telecommunication companies exact fees to let other companies pass through their physical networks; in turn, this racks up the costs of providing connection, they explained.
The authors lamented the fact that despite the high cost paid by consumers for poor quality connection, there is little action from the government. Effective implementation of rules and regulations is also lacking; thus, telecommunication companies have gotten away with providing a lot less speed than advertised.
With the passage of the Philippine Competition Act, the authors are hoping that these would give regulators more legal ammunition to address anticompetitive practices and bad performance, and hold telecommunication companies accountable.
The responsibilities lie with the National Telecommunications Commission and the Department of Trade and Industry, the paper suggested. They need to reform some regulations and rectify penalties that are no longer effective to prompt better competitive practices.
Other policies being monitored include the Data Privacy Act of 2012, which covers the protection of personal privacy and data, cyber security and digital literacy. The paper noted that access is a good priority, but making sure access remains open and safe is equally critical.
The authors noted that the quality of the national Internet backbone is so bad that 70 percent of domestic Internet traffic runs through Hong Kong. The lack of a national broadband policy makes Internet services expensive, yet slow. Meanwhile, the foreign-equity restriction of 40 percent dissuades capital and expertise from coming into the country to help improve the ICT sector.
In conclusion, the authors emphasized that the government and the private sector have to work together to address the bottlenecks that impede ICT development.//

Author:
Date: June 13, 2016
Source: Business World

PRESIDENT-elect Rodrigo Duterte must harness his formidable political capital to address structural bottlenecks in the country, including limitations on foreign direct investments, weak regulatory frameworks, widespread corruption and public security threats, a top economist said.
Gilberto Llanto, president of think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies, said in a June 6 commentary that these were some of the factors that have constrained the Philippines from realizing its full potential.
[There] is precious political capital that can and should be used to intensify market-friendly economic policy reforms and deal with those critical development constraints. It is time for the tough guy president to make some tough policy choices, Llanto said.
He said Dutertes eight-point economic agenda was generally fine but contained no surprises.
The economist also noted Dutertes campaign promise to reduce personal and corporate income taxes was simplistic but popular. Any proposal to reduce taxes, he said, should be part of a well-studied, comprehensive overhaul of the Philippines outdated tax system.
In the meantime, Llanto said the sterling economic performance of the country is a feather to outgoing President Aquinos cap.
Aquinos main contribution lies in demonstrating that investor-friendly, market-enhancing economic policies and improvements in the governance framework lead to higher growth. The shedding of the Philippines reputation as the sick man of Asia can largely be credited to his administration of the economy, Llanto said.
However, Llanto noted deep-seated problems of poverty and high levels of income inequality remained.//

Author: Doris Dumlao-Abadilla
Date: June 13, 2016
Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer

Development literature found that rural poverty can be traced to low income due to low farm productivity, poor agriculture diversification and limited off-farm and non-farm jobs.

A study by the Philippines Institute of Development Studies or PIDS (Briones, 2016) calculated that Philippine rural poverty in 2012 was 35% of population versus urban poverty of 12%. I use 40% as a working number. Rural poverty rates in the ASEAN are much lower: Indonesia, 13.9% in 2013; Thailand, 13.8% in 2014; and Vietnam, 17.4% in 2010 (World Bank).

Agriculture workers accounted for 30.9% of all workers and had a poverty incidence of 42.2% also in 2012. Let us discuss this crop by crop, or sector by sector (see Table 1).

Rice (palay). Palay workers have the lowest poverty incidence at 30.2% in 2012. This is in part due to the fact that 67% of the rice harvested areas are irrigated while only 33% are rainfed. Irrigated rice produces almost 40% more farm yield (4.24 tons per hectare) than rainfed (3.04 tons per hectare). Rice yield is second lowest to Thailand. However, the latter produces large volumes of Thai jasmine rice (also known as Thai Hom Mali rice) which commands more than double the world prices. Thailand accounts for about half of the world export of aromatic rice, and a third of its total rice export, according to the Web site,www.ifama.org.

Corn workers have a high poverty incidence of 56.6% mainly because of very low white corn yield (1.65 tons per hectare) which is only 40% that of yellow corn (4.09 tons per hectare). Overall, corn yield is lowest in the ASEAN.

Coconut workers have above average poverty incidence at 40%. The Philippine yield is lowest in the ASEAN. More than 95% of the coconut trees have poor genetics, a large part are senile, and most are not intercropped.

As a result, coconut is only a secondary source of income for many rural families.
Vegetable workers have relatively lower poverty at 35% but average yield is still lowest in the ASEAN.

Farmworkers comprise the largest rural poverty group at 28.8%, and have poverty incidence of 49.6%. We take five representative crops: sugarcane, banana, coffee, rubber, and cassava. Except for banana, they all have farm yields lower than ASEAN peers. Sugarcane yield is not that disparate, but cassava, coffee and rubber yields are dismal.

Other subsectors. It is not identified in the PIDS report, but this is likely the fisheries subsector. It comprises 18% of the rural poor with a poverty incidence of 36.3% in 2012 (see Table 2).


What conclusions can be drawn?

Rural poverty is driven, in part, by farm productivity. Philippine productivity lags behind those of the ASEAN peers across many crops.

Strategically, there is a convergence of good farm yields among the three ASEAN countries. What does this imply? Agriculture research, development and extension systems are, perhaps, better than that of the Philippines. There is continuity in the bureaucracy that helps in policy and program implementation.

There is need to revisit the Local Government Code of 1991, and analyze if the devolution to municipal mayors is the most robust system, or making the province as the locus of agriculture planning and extension as a better option. Moreover, it is imperative to increase the agriculture budget (within absorptive capacity) and devise a sound allocation of resources for making crop value chain corridors competitive.//

Reference: Briones, Roehlano (2016). Growing Inclusive Businesses in the Philippines: The Roles of government Policies and Programs. PIDS Discussion Paper No. 2016-06

(The article reflects the personal opinion of the author and does not reflect the official stand of the Management Association of the Philippines or the M.A.P.)

Rolando T. Dy is the Vice-Chair of the M.A.P. AgriBusiness and Countryside Development Committee, and the Executive Director of the Center for Food and AgriBusiness of the University of Asia and the Pacific.

map@map.org.ph
rdyster@gmail.com
http://map.org.ph



Author: Rolando T. Dy,
Date: June 21, 2016
Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer

The challenges identified in the governments Health Facilities Enhancement Program (HFEP) should be addressed to speed up the construction and equipping of health facilities (hospitals and health centers) which in turn can have a far greater impact for the benefit of Filipinos especially the poor, a report released by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) said.

The PIDS policy note " Do capital investments in health increase local service utilization? " said while HFEP has been found to have a positive impact on the utilization of local health services, its implementation has been highly problematic.

One of the problems identified is the inadequacy of HFEP funding that necessitated local governments to contribute their own funds to complete the construction of facilities, the report said.

Another problem is prolonged construction (average of three to four years) due to lack of budget, the need to delay construction so as not to disrupt hospital and rural health unit (RHU) operations, or delays on the part of the contractors as they are involved in multiple projects, it added.

The PIDS study said about 71.4 percent of the 260 HFEP infrastructure projects were completed as of December 2015. Of the completed projects, 90.9 percent are functional.

The report said despite the immense difficulties in implementing HFEP, it is clear that the utilization of services provided by recipient health facilities increased.

Unequivocally, those hospitals and infirmaries that received HFEP investments showed higher volume of services than those that did not, the paper said.

Moreover, the volume of services was higher after the completion of the HFEP projects compared to before and during HFEP. Thus, this descriptive analysis shows that HFEP had a demonstrable impact in increasing the volume of services in hospitals and infirmaries, although the results were less clear for RHUs and city health offices (CHOs), it added.

The HFEP was implemented by the Aquino administration starting 2010 to address the major shortcoming in the Philippine healthcare system, since the stock of hospitals and health centers in the Philippines has barely increased and kept pace with population growth for nearly a generation since the 1970s.

The policy note cited data from the Department of Healths Bureau of Health Facilities Development which showed that from 2010 to 2014, HFEP funded a total of 1,199 hospitals and infirmaries with an aggregate infrastructure funding of P11.7 billion, and a total of 2,968 RHUs and CHOs with an aggregate infrastructure funding of P5.2 billion.

Total HFEP infrastructure funding for the period reached P16.9 billion, or roughly P3.4 billion a year.

However, the average funding per health facility is small: only P9.8 million per hospital/infirmary and P1.8 million per RHU/CHO, the paper said.

The report said for the same period, HFEP funded the purchase of medical equipment for a total of 1,092 hospitals and infirmaries at an aggregate cost of P6.3 billion, and a total of 3,154 RHUs and CHOs at an aggregate cost of P2.9 billion.

HFEP medical equipment funding for the period reached P9.2 billion, or roughly P1.8 billion a year.//

Author: Angela Celis
Date: June 20, 2016
Source: Malaya

ALLEN S. QUIMPO is more at home in another house. But, instead of mature lawmakers, the former chairman of the House Committee on Education is rubbing elbows with millennials as president of Northwestern Visayan Colleges, a private tertiary-educational institution.
The three-term representative has also been at home with the roll out of the Enhanced Basic Education Act, a law known for rolling out the K to 12 Program.
According to Quimpo, on a national scale, private schools are more ready with the full implementation of Republic Act (RA) 10533.
Ang public school kasi, kahit na basic infrastructure, the buildings, hindi pa kumpleto, he told the
BusinessMirror. Indeed, Quimpo is echoing an Asian Development Bank (ADB) data four years ago that forecast some 10,000 classrooms in existing private junior high schools (JHSs) likely to be available for the senior high-school (SHS) program this school year (SY).
This year is a crucial point in RA 10533, which extends the basic education cycle to include two additional years at the secondary level. A report by the Commission on Higher Education (ChEd) last year said the SHS will be rolled out nationwide beginning with Grade 11 this year, followed by Grade 12 in 2017.
According to the ADB report cited by the Philippine Institute on Development Studies (Pids), the rollout of the SHS would see a scarcity in the supply of classrooms even in private schools by about 9,000.
Meanwhile, if the Department of Education [DepEd] were to provide the places needed to accommodate all the students who are projected to enter public SHSs, it has to build close to 27,000 new classrooms by SY [school year] 2016-2017 and an additional 23,812 classrooms by SY 2017-2018, Pids Senior Research Fellow Rosario G. Manasan wrote in her report.
The addition of two years in the secondary high school, however, was just one of the plans when Quimpo was with other lawmakers still working out what is now known as the K to 12 Program.
Options
ACCORDING to Quimpo, lawmakers had two options prior to RA 10533, one of which was adding the additional years in tertiary education.
Nonetheless, he admits the push for the adding two years was strong.
Kasi ang demand ng international [market] talagang kulang tayo ng two years, Quimpo said, who added he prefers the current SHS. He explained this preference is also due to the fact that 85 percent of the countrys schools are privately owned.
Saka walang mandate yung gobyerno to provide scholarship sa college, Quimpo said. Kung mayroon man kokonti lang, between 10 percent to 15 percent.
He said he prefers the SHS because the government is mandated to provide financial support to the education sector.
Meron na tayong constitution na free elementary and high school so pag dinagdagan mo yung high school ng two years free pa rin, Quimpo said. Although gagastos pa rin ang parents ng baon, transportation, among others, at least yung tuition nila may mando.
Subsidy
QUIMPO said the subsidy given to students is more or less rational.
Quimpo added that in urban areas, like in Manila, is between P21,000 and P23,000 per student a year. That, however, is P9,000 less than what parents want, because the actual cost of a subsidy should be around P32,000 per student.
He said for provincial schools, like in Northwestern Visayas Colleges (NVC), the subsidy is around P17,005 per student.
That works for us because, for us in NVC, our cost per student is only around P10,000, Quimpo said. So with the P17,005, we can afford to give everything for free: entrance fee, miscellaneous, pati tuition. Iniisip ko nga pati libro [be given for free].
He explained the subsidy is secured by private schools through the DepEds Government Assistance to Students and Teachers in Private Education (Gastpe) program, which is enshrined as RA 6728 and amended as RA 8545.
Contracting
THE educational service contracting (ESC) scheme is a program provided for by RA 8545, or the Expanded Gastpe. Its main objective is to decongest public secondary schools by contracting the excess capacities of private high schools through the provision of subsidies for students who, otherwise, would have gone to the public high schools, according to a briefer by the DepEd.
According to the DepEd, the ESC was identified as a strategy in the 1987 to 1992 Philippine Development Plan, in providing equitable access to education.
From just P5 million in 1986, the ESC budget amounted to 3.61 billion in 2011 and 2012. The program could be regarded as the first public-private partnership in the countrys education sector.
According to Quimpo, the subsidy is given to a student who reaches Grade 7, amounting to P7,005. The same amount is given when a student reaches Grade 8. A yearly P6,500 subsidy is given to a student who reaches Grade 9 and Grade 10. At Grade 11, the student subsidy hits P7,005.However, Quimpo said this amount is the limit the government can subsidize even if the tuition is P30,000 or more. With support from Michea David and Cyril Razon.
To be continued

Author: von Max de Leon und Dennis Estopace
Date: June 19, 2016
Source: Business Mirror

President-elect Rodrigo Duterte was reported to have said he would abolish the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), Bureau of Customs, and the Land Transportation Office once he steps in as President, due to rampant corruption in these agencies (GMA News 05.16.16). Kim Henares was deeply hurt (Pinoy News 05.24.2016). Why, she has been incumbent President Benigno S. C. Aquino IIIs top performer for revenue generation in his now-ending six-year term.

I know BIR Commissioner Kim Henares already has a reputation for being fiercely dedicated to her duties, but those involved can attest that all our work paid off. Tax collections have never been more efficient, said Aquino.

For example, in 2012, we breached the P1-trillion mark for the first time. Collections from the arrears management program have also drastically increased: from P2.3 billion in 2013 to P8.4 billion in 2015. All this has led to increased fiscal space for our administration and even our successors, he added (Philippine News 05.26.2016).

BIR Collections were P1.335 billion in CY 2014, 91.65% of goal, and an increase of 9.71% over 2013. About 58.79% of grand total was contributed by company and corporate enterprise, and 18.52% was from individual income taxes and withholding taxes on wages. Combined, income taxes paid by companies and individuals (except capital gains taxes and other taxes withheld at source like bank deposits and government securities) were 77.81% of total collections (computed from Table 4 Comparative Internal Revenue Collections and Goals by Type on BIR Web site).

Taxes on net income and profit have been paid by 753,000+ corporate taxpayers and 15.345+ million individual taxpayers as of December 2014. (BIR tables for 2015 are only for the first semester, but interpolation shows that 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 keep the same growth in collection at 9.71%+ increase per year. Growth in number of registered taxpayers is steady at 8.2% from CY 2013 to CY2014 and 8.21% 1st Sem. CY 2015 from 1st Sem. 2014 (Ibid.).

Looking good, Kim, but you are just not his type. One consolation is that perhaps its not you, but you know, tax cuts are a very popular issue, and very effective for campaigns and popularity surveys. Candidates in the immediate past election have all somehow baited votes with promised income tax cuts. In fact before that, many politicians have proposed these, even during the term of President Aquino.

Dr. Rosario Manasan of the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) assessed the various bills filed in Congress to reduce income tax rates relative to neighbors in the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN). She said that the Philippiness top marginal personal income-tax rate of 32% is higher than the Asean member-states except for the 35% in Thailand and Vietnam (Business Mirror 03.16.2016). In Vietnam, Malaysia, and Thailand, workers earning the same annual income only pay 20%, 11% and 10% respectively (Tax News, 08.19.2014).

Last year, the Aquino government rejected a bill filed in the House of Representatives to reduce the taxes paid by fixed-income earners, saying the administration could not risk losing the gains of the robust economy. Kim Henares estimated that the government would suffer at least P29 billion in lost revenues (Philippine Star, 09.04.2015). In an earlier reaction to then proposed tax cuts, the Department of Finance estimated that the government would stand to lose at least P43 billion in revenue for the three years to 2017 (Tax News, Ibid.)

In exchange for the lawmakers plan to reduce income taxes, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima proposed to increase the value-added tax (VAT) from the current 12% to 14% and reduce exemptions (The Philippine Star, Ibid.). BIR Commissioner Henares agreed that income tax rates can be lowered if the Bank Secrecy Law will be lifted, perchance to find other sources of revenue for the BIR (The Philippine Star 09.15.2015). Always a quid pro quo.

But thats the way it is, Dr. Manasan said in the PIDs study.

The government should look for new revenue measures to compensate for the projected revenue loss that will arise as a result of the implementation of any of the various proposals to restructure the personal income tax (Business Mirror, Ibid.).

Yet she stressed that the Philippines has not adjusted its personal income-tax system since 1998, and there is that phenomenon of bracket creep, defined as the non-indexation to inflation of personal income-tax brackets. This bracket creep occurs when employees income increases over time as a result of inflation, pushing them to pay higher taxes, (while) their purchasing power remains the same (Ibid.).

Incoming Finance Minister Carlos Dominguez has looked at the proposed reform package too-late submitted by outgoing Finance Minister Cesar Purisima last month which recommended a decrease of the income tax rate to 25% and the tandem recovery scheme of expanding levy coverage plus raising the Value Added Tax rate (VAT) from 12% to 14% (BusinessWorld 06.06.2016).

Dominguez agrees with the reduction of income taxes to the mid-20% level to provide taxpayers with more money to spend and encourage business activity in the Philippines (Ibid.). He calls this a long-term investment to prod consumption, not a revenue-erosion sacrifice. Despite an expected budget deficit from decreased tax revenues and increased government spending for stepped-up infrastructure projects, increased borrowing (estimated up to 3% of GDP target) will sustain expected GDP growth to the targeted 8% in the Duterte term.

Dominguez says no to an increase in VAT because this punishes all and is anti-poor, though incoming Budget Chief Benjamin Diokno said lower income tax rates may have to come with a corresponding increase in VAT to as much as 15% from the 12% currently, in order to offset revenues to be foregone (BusinessWorld 06.14.2016).

Tax cuts always come with passionate pros and cons, and a lot of bargained-for quid pro quos. Yet supply-side economists of the 1980s espoused and proposed this to governments, with the best success stories of tax cuts in the terms of US President Ronald Reagan and his Reaganomics and George W. Bush who hotly pursued tax cuts alongside deficit spending to spur growth.

But in January 2012, the US economy plunged into an unprecedented $15-trillion deficit (The Economics Book, London, 2012).

Economists William G. Gale and Andrew A. Samwick of the US Ivy-league Dartmouth College and the National Economic Research warn: Tax rate cuts may encourage individuals to work, save, and invest, but if the tax cuts are not financed by immediate spending cuts they will likely also result in an increased federal budget deficit, which in the long-term will reduce national saving and raise interest rates. Base-broadening measures can eliminate the effect of tax rate cuts on budget deficits, but at the same time they also reduce the impact on labor supply, saving, and investment and thus reduce the direct impact on growth (Effects of Income Tax Changes on Economic Growth, September 2014).

Dont take it personally, Kim Henares, that you did not elicit that wolf-whistle to appreciate your charming personality as tax-vixen for the past six years of torrid tax collection.//

Amelia H. C. Ylagan is a Doctor of Business Administration from the University of the Philippines.

ahcylagan@yahoo.com

Author: Amelia H. C. Ylagan
Date: June 19, 2016
Source: Business World

FILIPINOS will witness today the inauguration of President-elect Rodrigo R. Duterte as the 16th chief executive of the Philippines.

Helping in the quest of the former Davao City mayor for change is a new a economic team that will inherit from the Aquino administration an economy that grew by an average of 6.2 percent from 2011 to 2015, according to data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA). Former Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan said this was remarkable, as this was achieved without resorting to unsustainable borrowings and short-lived portfolio capital.

The increase in the price of consumer goods in recent years had also been tame, according to PSA data. Inflation last year averaged only 1.4 percent, and indications point to the possibility that the rate will not breach 2 percent this year, barring major typhoons or calamities.

However, the new Cabinet will also inherit a deluge of concerns that include traffic congestions; rising cases of criminality and drug abuse; peace and order in the southern tip of the archipelago; jobless growth; poor Internet connectivity; and poverty.
His vow to squarely address these concerns propelled Mr. Duterte to the presidency. Keeping in mind his promise to the nation, the new Philippine President immediately assembled an economic team to help him resolve problems that have hounded the country for decades.

Before they even formally assumed office, the new Presidents economic team has already earned praises from business groups, such as the Employers Confederation of the Philippines. Businessmen said President Duterte has a good economic team, one that is capable of doing the technical work for him.

CARLOS G. DOMINGUEZ
Secretary, Department of Finance (DOF)

Dominguez was hesitant to accept the position of the Duterte administrations finance chief. In fact, he had initially rejected the new Presidents offer to join his Cabinet.
Lawyer Salvador Panelo, who earlier served as spokesman of Mr. Duterte, said Dominguez declined the offer because of his previous business commitments. The new finance secretary owns the Marco Polo Hotel, and has several other business interests in Davao City. He had also served in the Cabinets of former Presidents Corazon C. Aquino and Fidel V. Ramos.

Dominguez helped craft Mr. Dutertes 10-point socioeconomic agenda, which was presented to the media during the recently concluded Davao Business Summit. The summit, which was the brainchild of Dominguez, aimed to solicit the business communitys inputs to the new administrations economic plan.

The finance chief told businessmen that the new administration will review the countrys tax system. Dominguez said the Duterte administration is keen on lowering the income-tax rate so Filipino workers could have more disposable income. The new administration will also look into cutting corporate tax rates, which remain one of the highest in Asean.

We will definitely review the tax system, initially to update the income-tax brackets and eventually to lower corporate and individual tax rates, Dominguez said in his speech during the Davao Business Summit.

The new finance chief said the Duterte administration will move away from the chronic underspending seen in recent years. Aside from hiking infrastructure spending, Dominguez said the new government will invest heavily in building up the nations human capital.

The DOF should play a role in making our growth more inclusive. This can be achieved by: rethinking our investments incentives; reconfiguring our taxation system to build a robust middle class; and reinventing our trade and tariff policies, so that we may take advantage of free trade without sacrificing the development of our industries, Dominguez said.

He said part of the economic teams plan is to develop rural areas and modernize the farm sector. Farming should no longer be the poverty trap it has been for generations.

To make it easier for businessmen to set up shop in the country, Dominguez said the new administration is bent on reforming the bureaucracy. He said reforming the bureaucracy will also make the government more responsive to the needs of its citizens.

AMANDO M. TETANGCO JR.
Governor, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP)

The BSP is set to continue setting a cap on the growth of key goods and commodities in the country, as well as help alleviate poverty through financial inclusion.

Two-term BSP chief Tetangco said the countrys central monetary authority will remain committed to maintaining a low and stable growth of prices in the country.

From the perspective of the BSP, we will continue pursuing our mandate of maintaining an operating environment of low and stable prices and financial stability, Tetangco told the BusinessMirror.

We will also be mindful of external developments, as we always have been. We also remain committed to improving financial inclusion, which we see will contribute to poverty alleviation and reducing inequality, he added.
Inflation, or the rate of growth of key consumer goods in the country, has been within target for six consecutive years"from 2009 to 2014. The central bank missed its target last year, however, due to low prices of oil in the global market.

Inflation in 2015 hit 1.4 percent, falling short of the governments target for that year at 2 percent to 4 percent. For this year, inflation for the first five months of the year averaged 1.3 percent, but central bank officials have earlier expressed confidence that it will return to normal levels toward the end of the year. This is premised on expectations that oil prices will rise, along with key food items, due to La Nia.

Tetangco said the BSP welcomes Dutertes economic agenda, saying it has been received well by local markets. But, he said markets will see how this will be implemented.

The incoming administrations 10-point program reflects a coherent plan that puts emphasis on the most critical aspects of the economy that should sustain our economy on a positive upward trajectory, Tetangco said.

It has been well-received by the market, as it also evokes continuity in core economic policies. What is crucial now is the implementation. And that is what the markets will be watchful of, he added.

BENJAMIN E. DIOKNO
Secretary, Department of Budget and Management (DBM)

Incoming Budget Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno said he will review the budget proposal for 2017, which will be submitted to Congress by the Duterte administration sometime in August, to ensure that it is responsive to the programs of the incoming administration.

To be reviewed is the proposal already prepared by former Budget Secretary Florencio B. Abad.

Diokno said it might take more than 30 days for the agency to review the budget proposal already prepared by the DBM. However, he said there would still be time to enact the General Appropriations Act before the start of the 2017 fiscal year without resorting to a reenacted budget.

Under the Constitution, the President should submit to Congress within 30 days from the opening of every regular session his proposed general appropriations bill, indicating the budget for expenditures and sources of financing.

Budget Undersecretary Richard E. Moya earlier said the DBM was finalizing the proposal and had already finished all the technical aspects of budget prepration. But, he said, the incoming Duterte administration is free to revise the proposal.

The review to be undertaken by Diokno would dwell on the budgets for President Dutertes pronounced policies, such as the reevaluation of the Conditional Cash-Transfer Program, although the total proposed amount of P3.3 trillion as national budget for 2017 is unlikely to be modified.

Diokno had earlier declared that he is willing to widen the budget deficit to enable the government to raise infrastructure spending to as much as 7 percent of GDP.
Before his appointment as budget chief of the Duterte administration, Diokno had been vocal about raising the value-added tax rate to 15 percent so the government could have more funds to undertake infrastructure projects.

ERNESTO M. PERNIA
Secretary, Socioeconomic Planning

SOCIOEconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia has not formally laid out his agenda in his first 100 days in office, but he has made it clear that population control will be one of the major development priorities of the new administration.

Pernia said the Duterte administration aims to highlight the importance of the reproductive-health law. He said this will allow the country and individual Filipino households to make greater investments in child care and overall human capital.

To the extent that economic development is of, by and for the people, population must be at the center of any development plan, strategy and policy, Pernia said.

He also said increasing investments in human capital will help the country break the intergenerational transmission of poverty.

Poverty in the Philippines, according to economists such as those at state-owned Philippine Institute for Development Studies, can be transient or chronic.

Transient poverty is experienced by Filipinos who become poor due to shocks, such as sudden unemployment, disability, sickness, disasters and other similar unforeseen events.

Chronic poverty, meanwhile, is experienced by Filipinos whose parents were born poor and become and stay poor throughout their lives. This is the kind that causes intergenerational poverty, when being poor is passed on to the next generation.

Breaking this vicious cycle is the aim of the next administration through a focus on human capital through reproductive health.

Step up implementation of the Philippine reproductive-health law to enable couples, especially the poor, to have informed choice on the number and spacing of children they can properly care and provide for, stated the 10th socioeconomic agenda of the Duterte administration.

From 1985 to 2009, Pernia earlier said families with more children saw higher poverty incidence compared to those with smaller family households. Poverty incidence of those with only one child was at 19 percent in 1985 and at 2.9 percent in 2009.

In contrast, Pernia said the poverty incidence of households with nine or more children was at 59.9 percent in 1985 and at 46.4 percent in 2009.

Without family planning and reproductive-health interventions, Pernia said there would also be an increase in the number of poor people, as evidenced by the 2006 and 2009 numbers.

In 2009 there were 23.1 million poor Filipinos and 3.9 million families, more than the 19.8 million poor Filipinos in 2003, or 3.3 million households.
RAMON M. LOPEZ
Secretary, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI)

The new trade secretary said he intends to continue providing support to the countrys micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs). Lopez said his team is currently finding more ways to help MSMEs so they could create more jobs.

Lopez said his agenda will center on the vow of President Duterte to cut poverty in the Philippines and achieve inclusive growth.

We will support these interventions to grow MSMEs, and build a conducive climate for business. But were brainstorming further on what kind of intervention we need to create that climate, he said earlier.

We want to improve the presence of MSME goods in the domestic market, Lopez added.

He said he is keen on taking full advantage of the countrys free-trade agreements via the Asean and two bilateral agreements. Lopez said he wants more MSMEs to have access to export markets.

Prior to his appointment as DTI chief, Lopez served as executive director of entrepreneurship-advocacy group GoNegosyo. He was also vice president and executive assistant to the president and CEO of RFM Corp.

ARTHUR P. TUGADE
Secretary, Department of Transportation

The new transportation chief has waged war against congestion on all fronts, laying out battle plans for rails, air hubs, seaports and roads.

In his first three months in office, Tugade said he will focus on addressing the regulatory and infrastructure woes that have plagued the sector for years now.

Emergency powers, he added, are needed to mitigate on the short run the transport problems in the capital.

It is a critical success factor. We can get that for a maximum of two years. If, after two years, and I havent done anything to solve the traffic congestion, kick me out of my post, he said. Nothing in the emergency powers is capricious.

Tugade believes the he can get Congress to see the sound rationale behind that power. Still, whether lawmakers approve quickly is a matter of their discretion.

I believe that we have a lot of comrades that will give attention to this crisis in transportation, he said.

Still, it having no such power, in the meantime, will not stop Tugade from improving the transport sector during his honeymoon period.

First, he said, he will address the need to settle the issue on rail procurement, ferry construction, and the installation of Internet connectivity in transport hubs, such as airports and seaports.
He will also refuse to handle the issue with old jeepneys with kid gloves.

Tugade added that he will not only focus on transport development in Metro Manila, he will spread it to other key cities, as well.

And although he has a lot of plans to lessen congestion in all fronts, he said commuters cannot expect immediate relief from all the stress that comes with traveling.

In a problem created by decades of nonmanagement and neglect, dont expect to be comfortable in 100 days, but we will give it keen attention, Tugade said.

ALFONSO G. CUSI
Secretary, Department of Energy (DOE)

The new DOE chief vowed to continue some programs initiated by former Energy Secretary Zenaida Y. Monsada.

Continuity of programs, replied Cusi, when asked in an ambush interview about his agenda during his first 100 days as DOE secretary. He did not say which existing programs would be continued, but he hinted that all other programs would need to be discussed internally.

Aayusin muna namin dito, said Cusi before his separate meetings with the National Electrification Administration, National Power Corp., Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp., and Philippine Electricity Market Corp. started.

One thing is sure, though, Cusi said he would include on his agenda to keep power rates affordable to consumers. Were looking at it from the perspective of the consumer. I am here to lead based on the perspective of the consumer.

Cusi, who is new in the energy sector, said he would closely assess the people working in the agency before he decides whether to replace them. Parang basketball team iyan, eh. Titignan mo muna baka hindi naman kailangan palitan, he said.

Nonetheless, he has lined up a few people whom he would bring with him when he assumes the DOE chief post.

We still need to assess, but no surprises, Cusi added.

Cusi is the choice of President Duterte as energy secretary.

Cusi, a former Manila International Airport Authority general manager, served as chief of the Philippine Ports Authority and Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines during the Arroyo administration.

Earlier, Cusi said he will strive to do my best to help the Duterte administration achieve electrification of the entire country, ensure reliable, steady and affordable power supply, and work toward greater energy self-sufficiency as part of its agenda of sustained economic growth, social progress and political stability in the next six years.




EMMANUEL F. PI'OL
Secretary, Department of Agriculture (DA)

For the new DA chief, there is a need to go back to basics, and ensure that the agency would prioritize President Dutertes vow of providing affordable food to Filipinos.

In his first 100 days in office, Piol said DA officials and employees will be oriented on the road map set by the next administration for the agriculture sector.

Farmers affected by El Nio will be enlisted in a cash-for-work program. They will also be provided with seeds, fertilizers and other farm inputs. Fishermen will be given fishing boats and nets.

The new Cabinet official also plans to conduct a nationwide inspection of irrigation services, dredging of silted dams and provision of shallow-tube wells to secure sufficient water supply for the next rice-cropping season.

In preparation for a possible La Nia, he said the Philippine Crop Insurance Corp. will be directed to provide insurance to farmers in high-risk areas.

The National Food Authority will also be directed to preposition sufficient rice and food supplies in areas expected to be affected by La Nia, he added.

The DA, he said, will also immediately launch projects, such as the creation of a Color-coded Agricultural Guide Map and a National Food Consumption Quantification Survey.

The DA is also expected to launch Pagkain Para sa Masa, a project that will establish arrozcaldo-feeding stations for street dwellers in Metro Manila; and Bantay Dagat, a project that will engage the Badjaos in cleaning coastal waters.

He said the DA, together with the DOH, DSWD and the Department of Education, will implement a community-based milk-feeding program, particularly in areas where farmers are involved in dairy production.

Project-management teams will also be organized in coordination with the local government units of the countrys 10 poorest provinces, to ensure that the DAs food-production program would also result in poverty alleviation, he said.

House agenda

Incoming House Speaker Pantaleon D. Alvarez of Davao del Norte said the 17th Congress will prioritize the amendment of the 1987 Constitution, the Juvenile Justice Welfare Act and the revival of death penalty.

Revising the present Constitution will be the first legislative item in the 17th Congress. We will change the form of the government from republican to federal, Alvarez said.

He said he is also open to suggestions to amending the economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution.

When you revise the Constitution you have to change everything, we need to tackle everything, either in constitutional convention or constitutional assembly, he said.
Alvarez added that the 17th Congress will prioritize the revival of the death penalty to address the increasing drug-related crimes in the country.

He said the next Congress will also amend the Juvenile Justice Welfare Act, or the so-called Pangilinan law.

Alvarez said the next Congress will restore a previous law wherein the minimum age of criminal responsibility was 9.

The previous law provided that a child 9 years of age or under at the time of the offense will be exempt from criminal liability, and will be committed to the care of his or her father or mother, or nearest relative or family friend in the discretion of the court and subject to its supervision.

Alvarez also said he is open to the proposal granting Mr. Duterte emergency powers to solve traffic problems in Metro Manila.

Last week former President and now Lakas Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo of Pampanga said she would file a bill granting President Duterte emergency powers when the 17th Congress opens its session in July.

Meanwhile, Alvarez said he would ask President Duterte to immediately convene the Legislative-Executive Advisory Council (Ledac) to identify the 17th Congress and Duterte administration economic and legislative agenda.

Alvarez said the council is mandated to determine and recommend socioeconomic development goals and to integrate the legislative agenda with the national development plan.

As soon as President Duterte takes over and calls for the first Cabinet meeting, we will request the Ledac, he said.

We still dont have an economic agenda for the 17th Congress; I am still waiting for the guidance of the Executive branch. I want to wait for the Ledac meeting to identify our priorities, he added.

Inauguration

After President Duterte takes his oath of office and the traditional turnover ceremonies in Malacaang, Communications Secretary Herminio B. Coloma Jr. said he will meet with outgoing President Aquino.

After the meeting, Mr. Aquino will ride the presidential car back to his residence in Quezon City, as is customary for outgoing presidents at the end of their terms.

Supreme Court Associate Justice Bienvenido L. Reyes, an Aquino appointee but Mr. Dutertes fraternity brother, will administer the oath of office to the incoming President.

Officials of the Duterte administration said only 627 persons were invited to the inauguration, in line with the new Presidents propensity to keep ceremonies simple, or do away with them altogether.

The presidential inauguration, however, will be separate from the inauguration of Vice President Maria Leonor G. Robredo of the Liberal Party.

At the inauguration, Mr. Duterte is expected to deliver a short speech addressing the nation regarding his policies as President.

After the presidential inauguration, a simple reception for afternoon snacks, catered by Via Mare restaurant, will be served to the guests.

The menu would feature only five local dishes: lumpiang ubod (spring rolls with coconut); pan de sal with kesong puti (white cheese made from unskimmed carabaos milk); and Vigan longganisa (sausage from Northern Ilocandia) grilled on the spot; monggo soup mixed with smoked fish; and alugbati (malabar spinach) in demitasse cups, fried saba (Carbava banana) slices and durian tartlet.

For drinks, guests will have a choice between homegrown delights pine-mango cooler and dalandan juice.//

Author: Lenie Lectura, et al.
Date: June 29, 2016
Source: Business Mirror

The burgeoning of urban slums in cities nationwide can be addressed by the national government through the issuance of an executive order (EO), according to the World Bank.

In a policy paper, the World Bank said an EO can be issued by the president to create a task force to resolve land-proclamation issues.

The World Bank said the Presidential Interagency Task Force should include the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority and concerned cities that have problems with proclamations of land.

Proclamations of government lands have remained problematic for a long time, owing to the mandated bureaucratic process and weak due diligence in land investigation work before issuance. This constrains the availability of government lands for ISFs [informal- settler families, or squatters], the World Bank said.

There seems to be no easy resolution in sight, in the absence of a concerted effort to exhaust all means possible in addressing the problems through the joint action of all agencies concerned, it added.

The task force must resolve and decide on all issues affecting implementation of proclamations that cannot be resolved at the operational level.

The World Bank said it must also call other government agencies and institutions to support the implementation of proclamations and serve as an oversight body in the implementation of proclamations and projects.

The task force must also review, assess and recommend options to improve the mechanics and procedures in pre- and postproclamation processes of affected agencies.

[The task force can also] investigate and recommend to the president the filing of appropriate cases pertaining to causes of delay or nonimplementation of proclamations/projects; and identify and recommend areas for the issuance of presidential proclamations, the bank added.

The World Bank said there is no exact estimate of how many squatters are currently living in Metro Manila. However, it could be anywhere from over 250,000 to 3 million.

The Washington-based lender added that the estimates range from over 250,000 families to approximately 600,000 families in Metro Manila alone.

The bank said this translates to about one out of every four people in Metro Manila residing in squatter areas with no security of tenure.

As the number of ISFs grows, the absolute number of poor families also increases, causing urbanization of poverty, the World Bank added.

In 2011 the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) said not all households living in slums are income-poor and only 32 percent of the slum population are poor, based on the national poverty line of P20,688 per capita per year.

The bulk, or around 68 percent, live above the poverty line and can spend between $2 and $4 per day, but reside in poor living environments. These households are usually headed by minimum-salaried or -wage earners, as well as casual workers, who continue living in slums for lack of any better choice.

Further, because they are minimum-wage earners, they also cannot afford the traveling cost of living in less-expensive peri-urban regions for work and income-earning opportunities in urban centers.

In addition, PIDS said that not all those who are poor live in slum settlements but are scattered around the city in places that have similar physical environment as the slums and are bereft of quality and sufficient infrastructure facilities and secure tenures.//

Author: Cai Ordinario
Date: June 27, 2016
Source: Business Mirror

Third of a series

AFTER winning any presidential election, wooing investors is usually the tougher part for any incoming CEO of the land.

But this wasnt the case for President Aquino, whose call for good governance six years ago resonated with investors at a time that the nation needed relief from corruption concerns during the nine-year Macapagal-Arroyo administration and the short-lived Estrada presidency.
With Aquinos good-governance-is-good-economics mantra, the Philippines was able to shed off the Sick Man of Asia stigma. He led the country to the sweet spot of high-growth, low-inflation environment. For the first time in history, Philippine sovereign debt"which had long been considered junk, acquired an investment grade status, beating Indonesia in getting the imprimatur from all three major global rating debt watchdogs, Moodys, S and P and Fitch.
The investment grade status achieved during the Aquino regime made it possible for Philippine corporations to tap offshore capital markets at record-low borrowing costs. Under Aquinos leadership, the country also significantly improved its global competitiveness rankings and clawed its way back on the global spotlight.
Turnaround story
As a result, investors who had bet on the turnaround story made a lot of easy money in the last six years. The Philippine Stock Exchange index reached multiple highs, more than doubling its level before the Aquino regime and outperforming many peer markets. Last year, the PSEi closed at 6,952.08, a far cry from the 3,052.68 finish in 2009. The President is now ending his term with the local stock barometer at 7,500 levels, transcending initial election uncertainties.
A high bar has been set and the numbers speak for themselves. The trend gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate under the Aquino administration (2010 to 2016) improved to over 6 percent, led by the rebound in the industrial sector and the resilient services sector.
For equity investors, such a growth trajectory is important as a backdrop to support growth in corporate earnings. Aided mainly by what some analysts describe as legacy spending ahead of the elections, Philippine GDP grew by 6.9 percent year-on-year in the first quarter of 2016, giving the country the bragging right as having the fastest economy in Asia, edging out China.
Of course, the Aquino government could not have done it without a benign global environment. After the Wall Street-epicentered global financial crisis, central banks across the globe led by the US Federal Reserve started injecting more liquidity into financial systems.
The main achievement of President Aquino was to maximize the benefits of the QE program of the Federal Reserve, which released massive amounts of US dollar and boosting liquidity in the global financial system. With the liquidity, the economic team was able to refinance and swap our near-maturity debt at that time and stretch out the payments, ultimately helping us achieve investment grade, said Jose Mari Lacson, deputy head of research at BPI Securities.
Global limelight
We have also seen bigger foreign direct investment inflows into the country, albeit the share is still much smaller than what what other neighbors in the region are getting. We have seen property developers launch new industrial estates to cater to foreign investors in search of manufacturing hubs.
To date, the domestic economy continues to rely on remittances from overseas Filipino workers although receipts from the booming business process outsourcing are expected to become the more dominant driver soon. Meanwhile, tourism has emerged as a new driver during the Aquino regime, which successfully launched the more fun in the Philippines campaign and also hosted major international events that put the country in the global limelight such as the Asian Development Bank annual meetings (2012), World Economic Forum East Asia Summit (2014) and Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (2015) meetings.
Gilbert Llanto, president of think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), said the outgoing President could point to a sterling economic performance on his watch alongside low inflation, macroeconomic stability, investment grade credit ratings, a stable banking industry and prospects of higher growth in the immediate future.
Aquinos main contribution lies in demonstrating that investor-friendly, market-enhancing economic policies and improvements in the governance framework lead to higher growth, Llanto said.
Diversify
Meanwhile, abundant liquidity and record low borrowing costs have also made corporate Philippines more outward looking. Many conglomerates have become more confident to expand and diversify, not just domestically but also in offshore markets.
The image of the Philippines has completely changed, said former World Bank country director Matoo Konishi. Its now what it was 20 years ago. This new image comes from hard work done by the President and Cabinet members and also civil society organizations and the private sector really pressing integrity, good governance and service to the people.
Aquinos infrastructure building program using the public-private partnership (PPP) framework also excited investors, although some were eventually disappointed with the pace of execution.
Although much has been achieved during Aquinos term, many challenges remain.
PIDS Llanto noted that deep seated problems of the high incidence of poverty and high levels of income inequality remained. A large segment of the well-educated workforce cant find quality jobs domestically and many are employed overseas. Economic growth needs to be more inclusive. Growth is important, and so are the economic policies that create it. But growth is meaningless unless poor and disadvantaged citizens are able to cross over the poverty divide, the economist said.
BPI Securities Lacson said the government failed to anticipate the effects and manage the unprecedented growth that came with the liquidity boost.
Slow execution of transportation infrastructure strategy placed a great burden on labor and business cost, he said.//

Author: Doris Dumlao-Abadilla
Date: June 22, 2016
Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer

Filipinos are all gung ho over what lies ahead in terms of Internet connectivity in this country.

Why shouldnt they? After all, the countrys two largest wireless internet service providers have both laid out ambitious plans to improve their respective services following their acquisition from the San Miguel Corp. (SMC) group of the 700 megahertz spectrum that will help them significantly improve internet speed, quality and coverage, provide better indoor coverage, and enable faster rollout in rural areas.

PLDT chief executive officer Manuel V. Pangilinan has said that his long-held goal of providing #InternetForAll will no longer be a dream, but a reality following the approval of the agreement PLDT and Smart signed with Globe Telecon to jointly use the 700 MHz band they acquired from SMC last May 30.

Pangilinan explained that for years, PLDT and Smart have pursued this dream and that with recent developments, we are yet another step closer to providing faster, more reliable and affordable internet services.

Within a week of the joint use agreement, PLDT/Smart and Globe already harnessed their newly acquired 700 MHz band as both separately announced their initial rollout plans for the high-speed mobile infrastructure in their respective LTE-based wireless and fixed broadband networks.

Smart deployed its first 700-MHz base station in Tanay, Rizal, and then its second at the Ecoland in Matina, Davao City. A download speed of 101 mbps was achieved in both sites.

PLDT announced that before the year is over, 360 cell sites in Manila, Cebu and Davao would be outfitted with equipment using the 700 MHz spectrum.

Meanwhile, Globe senior vice president Joel Agustin said his company set up its first site near the Hardin ng Bougainvillea at the UP campus in Quezon City, with a download speed of 66 to 100 mbps. He revealed they would roll out the 700 MHz band in 200 sites before end-2016.

To ease apprehensions the 700 MHz band would benefit only those with high-end mobile devices, such as tablets with 4G and LTE (long term evolution) capabilities and LTE-capable smartphones, Pangilinan said even while they are accelerating the rollout of their 4G/LTE service this year using the 700 MHz spectrum and other frequencies, they are, at the same time, holding talks with device manufacturers to make affordable handsets and tablets compatible with the 700 MHz band available to the public as early as possible.

As if these good news werent enough, PLDT and Globe subsequently inked a bilateral internet protocol (IP) peering agreement on sharing each others online content. This would allow their respective internet subscribers to download and upload local content faster and cheaper.

With this content-sharing agreement, content and applications hosted by the PLDT Group that are being accessed by Globe customers will be treated as local content, and will no longer be routed overseas and vice versa. This will put an end to the previous setup that entailed additional IP transit costs plus data transmission delays in downloading sites.

Under this IP peering deal, PLDT and Globe will both provide its subscribers with a three gigabits per second speed (Gbps) per month free traffic threshold.

PLDT legal and regulatory group chief Ray Espinosa further revealed they are looking at a complementary effective measure on local caching, wherein they would work with the likes of Facebook, Google and Youtube for storing of popular internet content in the Philippines so that Filipinos can access these online data more quickly.

Espinosa said caching is needed because about 90 percent of internet content that are popular among Filipinos comes from overseas. This is also why PLDT is building more state-of-the-art data centers, he added.

For his part, Globe chief technology officer Gil Genio said that with an effective domestic internet peering in place, Globe customers will gain direct access to content and applications hosted by PLDT data centers and vice-versa, and that this agreement will redound to a better experience on internet services benefitting customers of both parties and the country as a whole.

A recent study by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) explains the direct relation between digital interconnectivity and economic growth, noting that only a fast-track upgrade of our national information and communications technology (ICT) network would lead to a faster and more affordable internet services, which, in turn, could sustain and boost our countrys growth streak.

Citing a World Bank study, the authors said every 10-percent increase in high-speed internet connection corresponds to a 1.3-percent rise in economic growth. They called on the government to invest in building a reliable, accessible and affordable ICT infrastructure across the country.

With their new radio frequency acquisitions, PLDT and Globe are ramping up their capital expenditure.

PLDTs Smart intends to fire up 360 cell sites with 700-MHz technology by end-2016, while Globe plans to deploy 200 cell sites for this.

PLDT is spending P5 billion more for this LTE upgrade on top of its 2016 capex of P43 billion to transform its network into the countrys most extensive and data-capable infrastructure, Pangilinan has said.

Acquiring the additional frequencies on the 700 MHz band is important not only because it allows Smart and Globe to provide high-speed internet covering long distances, but also because radio frequency is the highway of the wireless internet. The more highways an operator can use, the more data traffic that its network can handle, company officials explained.

To keep the field open for competition, PLDT/Smart and Globe are returning to the government several frequency bands held by their companies and some of those they got from SMC. These include parts of the 700, 850, 2500 and 3500 MHz bands. Such returned frequencies and the others still held by the government would be assigned to a new telecom player who would want to enter the market.

Meanwhile, because the 700 MHz spectrum covers larger areas than higher frequency bands, cellphone signals can now extent to unserviced areas like hard-to-reach rural communities without the need to build additional cell towers. This translates into savings for telcos that they can pass on to their consumers by lowering rates for broadband services.

Transferring these frequencies to PLDT/Smart and Globe should be done fast and without delay, however.

A joint study done by the Boston Consulting Corp. and GSMA (Groupe Speciale Mobile Association), which represents mobile operators worldwide, showed that losses in the Asia-Pacific region accruing from delays in the allocation of the 700 MHz band by just one year could reach $40 billion (representing additional gross domestic product growth) and another $70 billion in indirect losses in the next three subsequent years.

Using the 700 MHz band would also generate significant socioeconomic benefits for the region, the study said. It also estimates that by 2020, digital dividends for the Asia-Pacific from the use of the 700 MHz band would lead to a GDP increase of more than $1 trillion combined, growth in tax revenues of $215 billion, 1.4 million new businesses and 2.7 million new jobs.//

For comments, e-mail at philstarhiddenagenda@yahoo.com

Author: Mary Ann L. Reyes
Date: June 22, 2016
Source: Philippine Star

The benchmark Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) surged close to the 8,000-point level in morning trades as a send-off to former President Aquino and to welcome President Rodrigo R. Duterte.
The PSEi easily broke past the 7,900 line, marking at least 13 percent in year-to-date gains. At the noon break, the index stood at 7,974.54, 176.01 points [2.26 percent], up over the previous day and nearly 15 percent on the year-to-date, A and A Securities Inc. research and marketing head Justino Calaycay Jr. said.
However, the market gave up all gains in the afternoon trades. The main index ended 2.28 points, or 0.03 percent lower, at 7,796.25 after surging to an intraday high of 7,980.75.
The markets optimism on Thursday apparently spilled over to businessmen and economists following Mr. Dutertes inaugural speech, where he vowed to cut red tape and honor contracts.
The instruction to ease regulations is an excellent one. People have been looking for this"to be burdened less by unnecessary rules and regulations. This is most welcome, National Competitiveness Council Private Sector Cochairman Guillermo M. Luz said.
Honoring government contracts is also a welcome move. This will reassure investors and encourage them to look at the Philippines on a long-term basis, Luz added.
Makati Business Club Executive Director Peter V. Perfecto and Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) President Perry Lim Pe echoed Luzs sentiments.
We laud Mr. Dutertes first order to all Cabinet secretaries to reduce requirements and processing time of all applications across agencies; and remove redundancies in these requirements; and to respect the sanctity of contracts, Perfecto said.
Pe said putting in place measures to facilitate doing business in the Philippines has always been the advocacy of MAP.
The ease of doing business is our MAP theme and advocacy, so thats why we are so happy. Honoring contracts is much applauded. President Rody clearly shows leadership, Pe said.
The Presidents promise to cut red tape and fulfill government contracts were part of the wish list presented by the business sector to his economic team during a business summit in Davao last month.
LGUs role
Local economists also welcomed the Presidents directives to cut red tape and honor contracts, saying it will boost investor confidence and economic growth.
Ateneo de Manila University EagleWatch Senior Fellow Dr. Alvin Ang said this will put pressure not only on national agencies but also on local government units (LGUs) to step up their efforts to streamline the bureaucracy.
While national agencies handle the permits and documents needed by large firms to operate, Ang said LGUs are the ones that usually issue business permits to small firms.
The message is not just for the national [agencies] but the whole bureaucracy and its going to pressure, particularly the local governments, to deliver, Ang said.
By stressing the need to cut red tape, Dr. Victor Abola of the University of Asia and the Pacific (UA and P) said the President is following the law which mandates LGUs to act on applications for permits within two weeks or not longer than 14 days.
Anti-Red Tape Act of 2007, or Republic Act 9485, provides that all requests and applications must be acted upon by government offices and employees no longer than five working days for simple transactions and 10 working days for complex transactions.
Abola said if there is any violation of the law, he believes the President will not think twice about filing administrative cases against erring public servants.
He is definitely a strong President; that is one thing. Agencies could not afford to be wishy-washy because Mr. Duterte walks his talk and his talk is fairly straightforward, simple and straightforward, Abola said.
I have become more optimistic than before the elections, to be honest. [Because] I saw that he was toning down his [campaign] rhetoric early on, he added.
Biggest beneficiary
While all sectors stand to benefit from the cutting of red tape, Philippine Institute for Development Studiessenior fellow Adoracion Navarro said the energy sector will benefit the most from streamlining government regulations.
Navarro said she and her team of researchers are currently doing a study on renewable energy. Their preliminary findings indicated that companies have cited as a major concern the numerous permits they need to secure for their ventures.
UA and P School of Economics Dean Cid Terosa also said the Presidents pronouncements are consistent with his aim to further the countrys economic success.
I think those directives were really consistent with his sense of urgency of removing any obstacle to further economic growth and development. I felt the same urgency with which he announced that he will eliminate criminality and drugs in a matter of months, so I think those directives are consistent with the sense of urgency to act, Terosa said.
Navarro said the Presidents promise to honor contracts is a welcome directive, as this would increase businessmens confidence in partnering with the government.
This, Navarro said, also implies that both the government and private sector will now be more vigilant in making their contracts and partnerships withstand legal scrutiny.
I hope all the executing agencies, when they enter into a contract or even that stage when they review contracts or even at the stage when they prepare projects during the project development stage, will ensure that the arrangements will really stand legal scrutiny, she said.
Ang said the markets sentiment on the President seemed positive, given that the stock market was already up 2.25 percent even before he made his inaugural speech.
Terosa said this may be because the President has already emphasized a sense of urgency during his pronouncements before, during and after the campaign.
This sense of urgency is something that has been lacking in the Philippines. It gives you confidence that this man knows what we need to do. This sense of urgency is what businessmen and investors would like to see.//

Author: VG Cabuag, Cai U. Ordinario and Catherine N. Pillas
Date: June 30, 2016
Source: Business Mirror

The benchmark Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) surged close to the 8,000-point level in morning trades as a send-off to former President Aquino and to welcome President Rodrigo R. Duterte.

The PSEi easily broke past the 7,900 line, marking at least 13 percent in year-to-date gains. At the noon break, the index stood at 7,974.54, 176.01 points [2.26 percent], up over the previous day and nearly 15 percent on the year-to-date, A and A Securities Inc. research and marketing head Justino Calaycay Jr. said.

However, the market gave up all gains in the afternoon trades. The main index ended 2.28 points, or 0.03 percent lower, at 7,796.25 after surging to an intraday high of 7,980.75.

The markets optimism on Thursday apparently spilled over to businessmen and economists following Mr. Dutertes inaugural speech, where he vowed to cut red tape and honor contracts.
The instruction to ease regulations is an excellent one. People have been looking for this"to be burdened less by unnecessary rules and regulations. This is most welcome, National Competitiveness Council Private Sector Cochairman Guillermo M. Luz said.

Honoring government contracts is also a welcome move. This will reassure investors and encourage them to look at the Philippines on a long-term basis, Luz added.

Makati Business Club Executive Director Peter V. Perfecto and Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) President Perry Lim Pe echoed Luzs sentiments.

We laud Mr. Dutertes first order to all Cabinet secretaries to reduce requirements and processing time of all applications across agencies; and remove redundancies in these requirements; and to respect the sanctity of contracts, Perfecto said.

Pe said putting in place measures to facilitate doing business in the Philippines has always been the advocacy of MAP.

The ease of doing business is our MAP theme and advocacy, so thats why we are so happy. Honoring contracts is much applauded. President Rody clearly shows leadership, Pe said.

The Presidents promise to cut red tape and fulfill government contracts were part of the wish list presented by the business sector to his economic team during a business summit in Davao last month.

LGUs role

Local economists also welcomed the Presidents directives to cut red tape and honor contracts, saying it will boost investor confidence and economic growth.

Ateneo de Manila University EagleWatch Senior Fellow Dr. Alvin Ang said this will put pressure not only on national agencies but also on local government units (LGUs) to step up their efforts to streamline the bureaucracy.




While national agencies handle the permits and documents needed by large firms to operate, Ang said LGUs are the ones that usually issue business permits to small firms.

The message is not just for the national [agencies] but the whole bureaucracy and its going to pressure, particularly the local governments, to deliver, Ang said.

By stressing the need to cut red tape, Dr. Victor Abola of the University of Asia and the Pacific (UA and P) said the President is following the law which mandates LGUs to act on applications for permits within two weeks or not longer than 14 days.

Anti-Red Tape Act of 2007, or Republic Act 9485, provides that all requests and applications must be acted upon by government offices and employees no longer than five working days for simple transactions and 10 working days for complex transactions.

Abola said if there is any violation of the law, he believes the President will not think twice about filing administrative cases against erring public servants.

He is definitely a strong President; that is one thing. Agencies could not afford to be wishy-washy because Mr. Duterte walks his talk and his talk is fairly straightforward, simple and straightforward, Abola said.
I have become more optimistic than before the elections, to be honest. [Because] I saw that he was toning down his [campaign] rhetoric early on, he added.
Biggest beneficiary
While all sectors stand to benefit from the cutting of red tape, Philippine Institute for Development Studiessenior fellow Adoracion Navarro said the energy sector will benefit the most from streamlining government regulations.
Navarro said she and her team of researchers are currently doing a study on renewable energy. Their preliminary findings indicated that companies have cited as a major concern the numerous permits they need to secure for their ventures.
UA and P School of Economics Dean Cid Terosa also said the Presidents pronouncements are consistent with his aim to further the countrys economic success.
I think those directives were really consistent with his sense of urgency of removing any obstacle to further economic growth and development. I felt the same urgency with which he announced that he will eliminate criminality and drugs in a matter of months, so I think those directives are consistent with the sense of urgency to act, Terosa said.
Navarro said the Presidents promise to honor contracts is a welcome directive, as this would increase businessmens confidence in partnering with the government.
This, Navarro said, also implies that both the government and private sector will now be more vigilant in making their contracts and partnerships withstand legal scrutiny.
I hope all the executing agencies, when they enter into a contract or even that stage when they review contracts or even at the stage when they prepare projects during the project development stage, will ensure that the arrangements will really stand legal scrutiny, she said.
Ang said the markets sentiment on the President seemed positive, given that the stock market was already up 2.25 percent even before he made his inaugural speech.
Terosa said this may be because the President has already emphasized a sense of urgency during his pronouncements before, during and after the campaign.
This sense of urgency is something that has been lacking in the Philippines. It gives you confidence that this man knows what we need to do. This sense of urgency is what businessmen and investors would like to see.//

Author: VG Cabuag, Cai U. Ordinario and Catherine N. Pillas
Date: June 30, 2016
Source: Business Mirror