May 21, 2019

THE Northern Luzon Expressway (NLEx) Corp. said on Monday it had signed an agreement with Sta. Clara International Corp. to expand the Subic Freeport Expressway (SFEx).

In a statement, NLEx Corp. said the deal for the P1.6-billion project — signed by NLEx Corp. President and General Manager Luigi Bautista and Chief Operating Officer Raul Ignacio, and Sta. Clara International Chairman and Managing Director Nicandro G. Linao — involved building two additional expressway lanes, two new bridges at Jadjad and Argonaut, and a tunnel.

The project aims “to better accommodate the growing number of vehicles going in and out of the Subic Bay Freeport,” it added.

Expressway-standard LED lights will also be installed to keep the Subic expressway safe and convenient for motorists, particularly those driving at night.

The project “is seen to improve traffic in the area and promote road safety, as the new lanes will segregate northbound and southbound motorists along separate carriageways,” NLEx Corp. explained.

“It will also complement the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority’s (SBMA) infrastructure development program, which includes the improvement of airport and seaport, the widening of roads, and the construction of an SBMA Corporate Center,” it added.

For 2019, NLEx Corp. is looking to generate P16 billion in revenues after posting P12 billion last year.

The company’s net income grew by 24 percent to P5.7 billion last year from P4.6 billion in 2017, mainly due to higher vehicular traffic in NLEx and the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway.


(c) Eireene Jairee Gomez




May 15, 2019

My life was in a financial mess despite having sufficient knowledge about finance. Eventually, I realized that money is more about behavior and less about skills.

When I gave my life to Jesus many years ago and began to read the Bible, many things changed for the better for me, foremost are my finances.

Our attitude about money is established in our heart. How we handle our money is a heart issue. The challenge for most people is the heart is attached to the head, and the head is not thinking the way the Bible teaches about money. So what does the Bible have to say about money?

People get surprised whenever I tell them just how much the Bible has to say about finances. There are more than 2,350 verses on how to handle money and possessions. Jesus spoke more about money than any other subject—more than faith and more than prayers. It is not because money and possessions are more important, it’s just that the Lord truly knows who we are. I eventually realized that the Bible is not just a book of devotions, it is also a book of instructions. Instructions to what? Instructions to righteous living.

Many years ago, I started asking: What is my financial plan? Do I know where every peso is spent? Do I want finances to continue to be a source of conflict in my life? What should I do with my debt? What are my financial goals? So, I created five categories and started living by a simple plan. So here are my top five:

1) Work well

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ (Colossians 3:23-24, ESV). In Scripture, hard work and diligence is encouraged. The Bible will make you reveal that the Lord despises laziness. My friend and mentor Dodong Cacanando once told me that work is from the Lord. The most important question you can ask yourself every day as you begin your work is: “For whom do I work?”

2) Be generous

The basic level of giving is the tithe. Tithing lets us know how we are doing with our attitude about money. If you don’t trust God with your money, then you will trust in your money. I like what Winston Churchill said, “We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give.” When you live a life of generosity, you will realize that you are not a slave to your money.

3) Save diligently

“Precious treasure and oil are in a wise man’s dwelling, but a foolish man devours it (Proverbs 21:20, ESV).” Saving is making provisions for tomorrow. The most effective way to save is to do it every time you receive income. Save for both long-term and short-term. Long-term savings are intended to fund long-term needs such as retirement or for the college education of your kids. Short-term savings should be in an account that is easily accessible for your usual monthly expenses as well as your emergency funds.

4) Be wise in spending

We often hear this and yet ignore this simple and yet truly important financial wisdom: Spend less than you make! You will never be free from the money trap if you don’t spend less than you make. Dave Ramsey says, “Ninety percent of people in our culture buy things they can’t afford.” The most helpful tool to keep you from spending more than you make is called a budget (or your cash flow). John Maxwell has the best quote on budgeting: “A budget is people telling their money where to go instead of wondering where it went.”

5) Invest wisely

The best advice I have received when it comes to investing is to diversify. Ecclesiastes 11:2, NLT says, “But divide your investments among many places, for you do not know what risks might lie ahead.” Never risk money you can’t afford to lose. It is probably not a good idea to make uninformed or hasty investment decisions. Make sure you invest early, wisely and regularly. Another important tip is this: “Never invest in something you do not understand.”

Join me and the Philippines’ leading finance and investment experts at #iCON2019 this May 25. Details and registration via

Randell Tiongson is registered financial planner of RFP Philippines. He is a best-selling author, columnist and speaker on personal finance. To learn more about personal-financial planning, attend the 76th RFP program this July 2019. To inquire, e-mail or text <name><e-mail> <RFP> at 0917-9689774.
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(c) Randell Tiongson

Public Advisory: Apostille Convention on Authentication of Documents Takes Effect in PH on 14 May 2019

May 7, 2019


The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA)—Office of Consular Affairs wishes to inform the public that it will no longer issue Authentication Certificates from 14 May 2019. Instead, the DFA will affix an Apostille to documents for use abroad as proof of authentication for use in Apostille-contracting parties.

After authentication by the DFA, there is no more need for authentication (legalization) by the concerned Foreign Embassies or Consulates General if the country or territory of destination of the authenticated document is already a member of the Apostille Convention.

Public documents executed in Apostille-contracting countries and territories (except for Austria, Finland, Germany and Greece) to be used in the Philippines no longer have to be authenticated by the Philippine Embassy or Consulate General once Apostillized.

However, in countries and territories which are not Apostille-contracting parties, the previous process of authentication applies.  Documents still have to be authenticated by the Philippine Embassy or Consulate General before they can be used in the Philippines.  Also, there is still a need for authentication (legalization) by the concerned Foreign Embassies or Consulates General if the country of destination of the authenticated document is not yet a member of the Apostille Convention.

Authentication fees will remain at PhP100 (regular processing) and PhP200 (expedited processing) per document.



April 17, 2019,

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT — The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) has appealed for the participation of volunteers from the Subic Bay area in the 30th Southeast Asian Games that the Philippines will host late this year.

Wilma Eisma, chairman and administrator of SBMA, made the call for volunteers after the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (PHISGOC) announced the need for some 12,000 volunteers for the regional sports spectacle to be held in November 30 to December 10.

According to the PHISGOC, the volunteers will be mobilized for the Games in Metro Manila, Subic, Clark Freeport, and other venues to help run the country’s hosting of the 56 sports and 529 events in this year’s sports meet.

“Once more tapping the wellspring of volunteerism that helped make Subic a model for military base conversion,” said Wilma Eisma, chairman and administrator of SBMA.

Eisma also urged local youth to take the opportunity to serve and be part of history.

“Make a difference and be a hero,” Eisma said in a call broadcast over social media.

“Come show your ‘malasakit’ (concern) once again. Be a SEA Games volunteer and give yourself the chance to serve the country and be part of history,” she added.

Eisma said she has called for volunteers to show their “malasakit” for Subic in so many occasions in the past.

“Today, I am calling on you again to join the SBMA team and help make the 30th SEA Games successful,” she said.

Out of the 56 sports slated in the 2019 SEA Games, several will be hosted in Subic.

These are duathlon, triathlon, pencak silat, sepak takraw, chess, table tennis, muay thai, karatedo, vovinam, obstacle sports, modern-date pentathlon, beach volleyball, beach handball, and all water sports: sailing, wind surfing, and traditional boat race.

PHISGOC said around PHP100 million to PHP150 million will be allotted to the volunteer program from the PHP5-billion SEA Games budget of the national government.

The volunteers will be provided with uniforms, transportation, allowance and meals for an eight-hour shift.

Eisma said that those interested to join the SEA Games volunteer program in Subic may apply online at Applicants must be at least 18 years old.

Recruitment of volunteers will be conducted from April to July, with the online registration starting on May 15.

 Training of volunteers will be held from August to October. (PNA)


(c) Malou Dungog



Philippine News Agency Logo

March 19, 2019

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT — The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) has started the implementation of a PHP530-million infrastructure program in an effort to upgrade the facilities in this freeport.

SBMA chairman and administrator Wilma T. Eisma said several rehabilitation projects that include the repair of roads and other related facilities are now ongoing or in the initial stages of preparation.

“More projects will be underway soon, so I ask Subic stakeholders, as well as visitors to the Freeport, to please bear with us on the temporary inconveniences like traffic jams, and a little noise and dust pollution because of the ongoing road projects,” she said.

“We’re doing this to improve the core business infrastructure here and to sustain the attractiveness of the Subic Bay Freeport as a globally-competitive trade and tourism center,” she added.

Eisma said most of the road rehabilitation projects are funded under the national government’s “Build, Build, Build” program.

“This was the first time that a massive road rehabilitation program is undertaken ever since Subic became a free port zone in 1992,” she noted.

Eisma said the agency was able to first secure from the national government a PHP500-million fund for the Subic Bay International Airport (SBIA) rehabilitation program in 2017 and this was followed in 2018 by a PHP530-million fund for road rehabilitation.

She added that the SBMA Board of Directors has approved and awarded two new major rehabilitation projects: the PHP76-million road rehabilitation project proposed in 2016, and the PHP18-million drainage improvement project along Argonaut Highway-George Dewey Complex.

Meanwhile, Eisma said three other major projects are now up for bidding, namely, the Naval Supply Depot (NSD) Road Rehabilitation Project Phase 2, Road Rehabilitation Project 2018, and Road Rehabilitation Project 2019.

She said the 2018 road rehabilitation package is budgeted at PHP299 million and will include improvements at the Malawaan Park parking area, road ramp along Dewey Avenue, as well as repair of Waterfront Road, road to the New Container Terminal, Rizal Highway and Maritan Highway, as well as several roads in residential areas.

On the other hand, the 2019 road rehabilitation package has a budget of PHP253 million.

This will consist of repairs along main roads like Argonaut Highway, San Bernardino Road, roads to Leyte Wharf and Sattler Pier duct banks, Rizal Highway, Boton Highway, Binictican Drive, and the approaches to Kalaklan Bridge and 14th Street Bridge.

On the other hand, the NSD Road Rehabilitation Project Phase 2, with a budget of PHP85 million, consists of repairs of roads leading to the NSD Compound where most of grain and bulk shipments are done.

Eisma cited the importance of repair projects as some of the US Navy-built roads have deteriorated over the years. (PNA)


(c) Malou Dungog


February 21, 2019

Subic Bay Freeport—The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority is pressing for the expansion of Subic Bay Freeport boundaries with vigorous legislative help from its first chief executive, Senator Richard Gordon.

SBMA Chairman and Administrator Wilma T. Eisma said that Gordon, who was SBMA chairman from 1992 to 1998, had filed Senate Bill 2207 to expand the area of the Subic Bay Freeport, as well as that of the neighboring Clark Freeport.

Under the proposed measure, some parts of Zambales and Bataan provinces, along with areas in Olongapo City, will be made an adjunct of the Subic Bay Freeport under a phased expansion program.

Eisma said that in consultation with neighboring local government units last year, the SBMA has received pledges of about 21,000 hectares of expansion areas for future investment projects.

These included 9,000 hectares in San Antonio; 10,000 hectares in San Marcelino; 600 hectares in Subic; 500 hectares in Castillejos; and 900 hectares in Olongapo City, all in Zambales; as well as 505 hectares in Hermosa, Bataan.

“We want these areas to be utilized as economic zones because we’re already running out of space in the Subic Bay Freeport,” Eisma said.

The proposed expansion, she added, “will sustain the growth of the Subic Freeport, attract more investments, and generate jobs for residents from nearby communities and other areas.”

In filing the bill, Gordon said that there was a need to update Republic Act 7227 or the Bases Conversion and Development Act of 1992, to further strengthen the free ports.

He said that once enacted, the proposed measure will also give the expanded territories the same tax incentives as those in Subic Freeport and Clark Freeport so that they can attract investments projects.

Senate Bill 2207 also seeks to increase the area of the Clark Special Economic Zone from the current 4,400 hectares to 35,400 hectares and mandates Subic and Clark authorities to frame a master plan for the phased expansion.

(c) Butch Gunio


image001 (1)

The firm filed a financial rehabilitation plan before the Olongapo City Regional Trial Court Branch 72.

(The Philippine Star) – February 17, 2019

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT, Philippines — Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction Philippines stopped its operations at this freeport on Friday, displacing around 3,000 workers.

Hanjin, the world’s fifth largest shipyard and biggest investor here, had earlier declared bankruptcy, saying it owes some $400 million from Philippine banks aside from $900 million in debts from lenders in South Korea.

The firm filed a financial rehabilitation plan before the Olongapo City Regional Trial Court Branch 72.

Last month, the court granted its petition for receivership and placed the South Korean shipbuilding firm under corporate rehabilitation.

Stefani Saño, former board member and senior deputy administrator for investment and business group of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority, was appointed by the court as the rehabilitation receiver.

Saño said he drafted a plan that would have allowed Hanjin to complete the six vessels still on its books while searching for an investor.

However, he resigned last week amid complaints from creditors.

At its peak, Hanjin employed up to 30,000 Filipinos. The number of Filipino workers dropped to around 20,000 in 2017.

Last year, 18 Hanjin contractors and subcontractors filed notices of retrenchments and reduction of workdays.

Thousands of jobs were offered to affected workers at a job fair held here last week.


(c) Bebot Sison Jr.


February 14, 2019

THE SUBIC BAY Metropolitan Authority is looking to expand its area by about 21,000 hectares, taking in land from municipalities in Zambales and Bataan.

In a statement on Wednesday, the SBMA said these include 9,000 hectares in San Antonio; 10,000 hectares in San Marcelino; 500-600 hectares in Subic; 500 hectares in Castillejos, all in Zambales; 900 hectares in Olongapo City; as well as 505 hectares in Hermosa, Bataan.

“We want these areas to be utilized as economic zones because we’re already running out of space in the Subic Bay Freeport,” SBMA quoted Chairman and Administrator Wilma T. Eisma as saying in the statement.

The proposed expansion, she added, “will sustain the growth of the Subic Freeport, attract more investments, and generate jobs for residents from nearby communities and other areas.”

SBMA’s expansion is to be effected via a Senate bill now up for plenary action that was filed by Senator Richard J. Gordon.

The bill, which proposes to amend Republic Act No. 7227, or the Bases Conversion and Development Act of 1992, also seeks to increase the area of the Clark Special Economic Zone from the current 4,400 hectares to 35,400 hectares and authorizes the Subic and Clark authorities to draft master plans for their expansion.

If the proposed bill is approved, projects set in expanded areas will enjoy the same tax incentives as those in Subic and Clark freeports so that they can attract investments.

Congress is currently in the process of revising tax incentives to make them more time-bound and performance-based, and to remove redundant perks.

Currently, businesses within these economic zones enjoy a five percent rate of tax on gross income earned in lieu of all other national and local taxes.

The national government currently receives three percent from the gross income tax collected from Subic locators, while the SBMA gets two percent which it then distributes to the eight local governments whose areas include parts of the freeport and special economic zone.

Meanwhile, one percent of the five percent gross income tax collected in Clark and other special economic zones is remitted to the national government; one percent goes to the provincial government; one percent to municipalities or cities; and two percent to the governing bodies of the ecozones.


(c) Janina C. Lim


February 11, 2019

SENATOR Richard J. Gordon, who chairs the chamber’s committee on government corporations and public enterprises, sponsored to the plenary a bill seeking to increase the powers of the Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA).

Senate Bill No. 2207 amends the charter of BCDA under Republic Act 7277, as amended by R.A. No. 9400 and revises the allocation of income on taxes earned within the Subic Special Economic Zone and Clark Special Economic Zone.

Currently, businesses within the country’s economic zones enjoy a 5% gross income earned tax in lieu of all other national and local taxes.

Under the bill, the collections from the 5% tax on gross income earned by business enterprises within the Subic Special Economic Zone will share out as follows: 2% to the national government, 1% to the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) and 2% to the SBMA for distribution to the local government units (LGUs).

At present, the national government gets 3% from the gross income tax collection from the Subic Special Economic Zones, and the SBMA receives 2% for distribution to the LGUs.

Meanwhile, 1% of the 5% gross income tax earned in the Clark and other Special Economic Zones (CSEZ) will be remitted to the national government, 1% to the provincial government, 1% to municipalities or cities, and 2% to the governing body of the [CSEZ].

Under the law, the allocation of gross income tax earned in the CSEZ are as follows: 3% to the national government and 2% to the municipality or city where the business is located.

“With this bill, we revitalize and spread the blessings of the Subic experience to neighboring communities who are willing to share the same culture of hard work, the same vision of prosperity and development, and the same willingness to work hard to make it happen,” Mr. Gordon said in a statement on Monday.

“We also hope to further strengthen Subic’s equally successful neighbor, Clark Special Economic Zone by expanding its scope and fine-tuning policies that will further its growth,” he added.

The bill also seeks to expand the territory of the Subic and Clark economic zones.

The bill also requires the SBMA Board of Directors to provide a Master Plan for the phased expansion of the freeport zone every two years in Olongapo City, Zambales and Dinalupihan, Hermosa and Morong, Bataan.

Under the bill the SBMA will also be given additional power to inspect and register leisure ships and pleasure yachts as well as to create an ecology center to issue environmental compliance certificates for non-environmentally critical projects.

Other proposed powers also allow SBMA to reclaim land within the special economic zones and to undertake and regulate the operations of land transportation, toll roads, shipping, port terminal services, and other related businesses.


(c) Camille A. Aguinaldo


January 28, 2019


Bangko Sentral chief, however, admits lingering concerns, external risks remain

Last year’s high inflation episode will be a thing of the past with the rate of increase in consumer prices this year and next year expected to return within the government’s target band, according to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP).

“Average inflation rose quickly above the government target in 2018. In response, the BSP raised its policy rate decisively four times by a cumulative 175 basis points beginning in May 2018 to rein in inflation expectations and prevent sustained supply-side price pressures from driving further second-round effects,” BSP Governor Nestor A. Espenilla Jr. said in a speech read for him by officer in charge and Deputy Governor Chuchi G. Fonacier during the BSP’s annual reception for the banking community Friday night.

New or higher excise taxes slapped on consumption, skyrocketing global oil prices during the third quarter of 2018, as well as food supply bottlenecks, especially rice, pushed inflation or the rate of increase in prices of basic commodities to a 10-year high of 5.2 percent last year.

Elevated inflation was partly blamed for slowing economic growth to a three-year low of 6.2 percent in 2018.

Moving forward, the BSP’s latest forecasts “indicate that inflation will return to the 2-4 percent target this year and in 2020,” Espenilla said.

The BSP chief nonetheless said that they “approach the year with utmost vigilance and prudence, mindful of the unfolding global economic landscape.”

“There are still significant lingering concerns and imminent risks particularly on the external front. But we cannot allow these headwinds from deflecting us from our deep financial reform agenda,” Espenilla said.

Also, he said, “there is the challenge of keeping an eye out for signs of excessive credit and leverage in the financial system.”

“While we continue to see the Philippine banking system as currently being in a position of relative strength, we need to push for necessary financial sector reforms to propel us toward a more sound, stable and inclusive financial system,” according to Espenilla.


(c) Ben O. de Vera
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