A joint venture between the state-run Philippine National Oil Co. (PNOC) and a private sector group that includes businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan is set to build a $2.4-billion liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal in Limay, Bataan, that will also serve as a special economic zone.

Dubbed “Energy City,” the proposed project will be bankrolled by a consortium that includes Pangilinan, the Gregorio Araneta Inc. holding firm, and Japanese industrial giant Mitsui and Osaka Gas. The facility will be built on a nearly 500-hectare property owned by PNOC near the existing refinery of Petron Corporation.

Once fully operational, the facility will host a 1,600-megawatt power plant that will be powered by LNG—the output of which will be sold under an offtake deal with Meralco as well as the power-intensive industrial players expected to locate their operations in the integrated special economic zone.

“Energy City will provide long-term energy security for the Philippines, providing the cornerstone for a clean and cost-efficient source of fuel,” according to briefing materials on the project obtained by the Inquirer.

Negotiations are ongoing between PNOC and the private sector proponents, although the Energy City proposal was first brought before the government agency as early as a decade ago during the term of President Arroyo.

The proposal is banking on the environmental benefits of using LNG—a clean-burning source of electricity—for the power plants whose total capacity can be scaled up to 2,000 MW once demand from the growing Philippine economy increases.

Proponents are also betting that the project’s proposed location inside a cove in Bataan across Manila Bay will make it an ideal site for the LNG facility while giving prospective locators easy access to the capital city. The site, which is protected from rougher waters of the South China Sea, also makes it ideal for handling the fuel shipped in from overseas via LNG tankers.

“The concept for Energy City is an integrated LNG import terminal, LNG storage facility, re-gasification plant, power generation facility, co-located industrial operations and a countrywide natural gas distribution network,” the briefing documents said.

In their negotiations with Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi and PNOC chief Ruben Lista, the proponents, which include businessman and Araneta Properties chair Gregorio Araneta III, have indicated that the project could start immediately and that funding was ready once regulatory approval has been received.

The first phase of the multibillion-dollar energy project will be ready for operations by 2020, the documents showed, adding that the facility was “consistent with the PNOC mandate to ensure stable power supply in order to sustain the growth of the economy and the well-being of the nation.”

PNOC, Private Sector Consortium Lay Project Groundwork

(c) Daxim L. Lucas – Reporter



The first-quarter GDP growth was next to China’s 6.9 percent and surpassed the rate of growth in most of the emerging Asian economies, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia said in a press conference.

However, the first-quarter figure was below the 6.8 percent a year ago and the 6.6 percent a quarter ago. It was also the slowest growth since the 6.3 percent posted in the fourth quarter of 2015, Philippine Statistics Authority data showed.

“Our first-quarter performance bodes well for the economy as it is broadly in line with our target of 6.5-7.5 percent for this year. It is, however, lower than expected, and for this we were somewhat downcast because we were expecting something around the midpoint of (the target) growth range,” said Pernia, who also heads state planning agency National Economic and Development Authority.

Pernia blamed “base effects,” pointing out that “growth last year was high due to election spending, the impact of which has already dissipated.”

PSA data showed that the increase in government spending on public goods and services slowed to 0.2 percent year-on-year in the first quarter from 11.8-percent jump a year ago.

According to Pernia, “the changing of the guard in the government and reorientation of programs take time to settle, and this slowed government spending for the quarter.”

“Note, however, that this was better than during the previous administration where government consumption spending and public construction contracted by about 15 percent and 37 percent, respectively. Of course, this could also mean we have benefited from reforms that have been put in place by the previous administration. This further demonstrates the strategy of the Duterte administration, which is to sustain good practices of previous administrations, and improve upon or correct those that require correction or improvement,” Pernia said.

Neda Undersecretary Rosemarie G. Edillon said public construction was expected to catch up in the next few quarters as the government was scheduled to roll out more infrastructure projects under its “build, build, build” mantra launched last month.

The government plans to roll out more than P3.6 trillion worth of infrastructure projects from 2018 until 2020 while also jacking up to 75 from 55 the number of so-called flagship, “game-changing” projects that the administration aims to start and complete before 2022.

A total of P8 trillion to P9 trillion will be spent by the Duterte administration in the next six years to build vital infrastructure such that the share of infrastructure spending to GDP will rise from 5.3 percent this year to 7.4 percent in 2022.

Also, the Neda chief said the “pretty high” rate of increase in prices of basic goods during the first three months tempered economic growth.

Based on PSA data, household expenditure grew 5.7 percent in the first three months, slower than the 7.1-percent growth recorded in 2016.

Inflation averaged 3.1 percent in the first quarter, a little past the midpoint of the government’s 2-4 percent target range for 2017. In contrast, the average inflation rates in the past two years were below 2 percent.

“Incidentally, the main factor bringing up inflation had to do with food prices, including rice. That’s why we have to be very careful about having enough buffer stock of rice especially during the lean months,” the Neda chief said.

“With improving global demand, growth in exports was robust. Exports of goods grew by 22.3 percent, the fastest since the third quarter of 2010, and exports of services grew steadily by 14.3 percent in the first quarter of the year,” Pernia noted.

“On the supply side, agriculture made a great comeback with 4.9-percent growth rate after several quarters of negative growth or decline, contraction of the agriculture sector. The services sector continued to be the main driver of growth as it grew by 6.8 percent. The 6.1-percent growth in industry also remained respectable with the boost in manufacturing, although tempered by the slowdown in construction and utilities, and decline in mining and quarrying production,” Pernia added.

For the remainder of the year, Pernia said “the domestic economy is poised to maintain its growth momentum with the recovery of external trade and private sector’s steadfast optimism.”

“The government has also been busy laying down a strong foundation for sustainable and equitable growth with an ambitious infrastructure program, among the many reforms and programs contained in the Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022, among which are infrastructure spending and as well as other government programs, including investment in human capital,” Pernia said, referring to the Duterte administration’s medium-term socioeconomic blueprint.

Still, Pernia said the economy should be shielded from external downside risks such as market volatility from continuing US interest rate normalization, geopolitical tensions, as well as looming protectionism in the West.

Other risks to economic growth include a possible El Niño, according to Pernia, which could be countered by continuous production support for farmers, timely importation of rice as well as distribution of seeds.

For outgoing Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Amando M. Tetangco Jr., “the outlook for growth remains strong, even as the first-quarter outturn is slower than what the market anticipated.”

“The BSP will continue to provide an operating environment that would support non-inflationary domestic demand. As in the past, we will continue to calibrate our policy levers so these provide the appropriate incentive structure for businesses to plan with risk-adjusted returns in mind,” Tetangco said in a text message to reporters.

“It’s (first-quarter GDP growth was) lower than expected although it remains robust. What is good is that exports have started to recover and contribute to overall output growth in support of domestic demand. The challenge is to further strengthen infrastructure spending to help boost jobs and increase income as well as extend urbanization and economic activities in key areas from Luzon to Visayas and Mindanao. Hence, legislative action on the tax reform package is critical so that infrastructure and economic activities are sustained with actual public revenues. Productivity and efficiency enhancements are critical today to ensure our competitiveness and sustain the growth momentum,” BSP Deputy Governor Diwa C. Guinigundo said in a separate text message. Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III, meanwhile, remained optimistic that the full-year growth target remained achievable.

“GDP expansion in the year’s first three months illustrates that growth remains steady and could gain momentum for the rest of the year partly as a result of this administration’s ‘Dutertenomics’ strategy to stimulate economic activity and achieve financial inclusion for all Filipinos in the long haul via an aggressive expenditure program on infrastructure, human capital formation and social protection,” Dominguez said in a statement.

“Solid macroeconomic fundamentals plus strong domestic consumption and investment sentiment have enabled, and will continue to enable, our country to sustain its pace as one of the world’s fastest-growing economies on the Duterte watch despite the ever-changing global market conditions,” Dominguez added.

Moving forward, Dominguez said “we hope our legislators could help Malacañang sustain the growth momentum this year and onwards by acting soon enough on the first package of the comprehensive tax reform program that is now pending in the Congress, as it will help guarantee a steady revenue stream for the Duterte administration’s high—and inclusive—growth agenda.”

(c) Ben O. de Vera

IN THE KNOW: Anti-Distracted Driving Law

Republic Act No. 10913 or the Anti-Distracted Driving Law, which takes effect on May 18, defines distracted driving as the driver’s use of mobile communication, electronic entertainment and computing devices or gadgets while the vehicle is in motion or stopped momentarily for a red light or at an intersection.


  • Public and private vehicles
  • Wheeled agricultural machinery
  • Construction equipment

Other forms of transportation, human-powered or pulled by an animal, operated or driven in public thoroughfares, highways or streets, such as bicycles, pedicabs, trolleys, habal-habal, kuliglig, wagons, carriages and carts

Prohibited acts

  • Make or receive calls
  • Write, send, read text-based communications
  • Play games
  • Watch movies
  • Perform calculations
  • Read e-books
  • Composing message
  • Surfing or browsing the internet


  • Motorist using devices to make or take emergency calls to authorities in case of crime, accidents, bomb or terrorist threat, fire or explosion, instances needing immediate medical attention or if personal safety and security is compromised.

Allowed acts

  • Use of hands-free function and applications as long as gadgets do not interfere with the driver’s line of sight.
  • Use of navigational apps that should be set to the preferred destination before the driver’s departure. Such gadgets should be installed in parts of a vehicle that will not obstruct the driver’s view.


  • P5,000 fine on first offense
  • P10,000 fine on second offense
  • P15,000 fine with three month suspension of driver’s license on third offense
  • P20,000 and revocation of driver’s license for violations beyond third offense

Source: DOTC

Philippine Daily Inquirer / 01:32 AM May 18, 2017

Read more: https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/897447/in-the-know-anti-distracted-driving-law#ixzz4hNqxhMDS
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Motorists texting while driving to be apprehended, fined starting May 18

Motorists texting, receiving or making a call using their mobile phones and playing mobile games will be apprehended and fined as law enforcers start to enforce the Anti-Distracted Driving Act on May 18.

Section 4 of Republic Act 10913 says distracted driving is when a motorist is using his/her mobile phone or gadgets while the vehicle is moving or temporarily stopped at a red light.

The law covers private and public vehicles and even those with diplomatic plates.

Other acts of distracted driving under the new law include:

  • Using mobile communications device to write, send, or read text-based communications or to make or receive calls and other similar acts
  • Using an electronic entertainment or computing device to play games, watch movies, surf the internet, compose messages, read e-books, perform calculations, and other similar act

The Anti-Distracted Driving Act, which was passed into law on July 21, 2016, will take effect on May 18 after its implementing rules and regulations were published in newspapers last May 3.

The law, meanwhile, says motorists are still allowed to use mobile devices provided that it is done hands-free.

Under Section 5 of RA 10913, “the operation of a mobile communications device is not considered to be distracted driving if done using the aid of hands-free function or similar device such as but not limited to, a speaker phone, earphones, and microphones or other similar devices which allow a person to make and receive calls without having to hold communications device: provided that the placement of the mobile communication device or hands-free device does not interfere with the line of sight of the driver.”

Exempted from the coverage of the new law are motorists using mobile phones for making emergency calls to a law enforcement agency, health care provider, fire department or other emergency services, agencies or entities.

Also exempted are motorists using mobile phones while operating an emergency vehicle such as an ambulance, a fire truck, and other vehicles providing emergency assistance, in the course and scope of his or her duties.

Motorists caught in violation of the new law shall be fined:

  • P5,000 for the first offense
  • P10,000 for the second offense
  • P15,000 and suspension of driver’s license for three months for the third offense
  • P20,000 fine and revocation of driver’s license for the fourth offense

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), the Philippine National Police (PNP) and other concerned government agencies are mandated to enforce the law, while the Land Transportation Office shall assist in its effective implementation. ALG, GMA News

Published May 16, 2017 10:00am



SUBIC BAY FREEPORT—The much-anticipated “Summer Siren” beach festival, touted by organizers as one of the country’s most exciting destination festivals, is scheduled to be the culminating event in the tourism repertoire of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) this summer.

The three-day festival—set from  May 12 to 14—is expected to be the biggest entertainment fare here before the summer break officially closes with the opening on classes on June 5.

The event will transform Subic’s waterfront strip “into a giant entertainment park with beach, music and arts theme,” said SBMA Administrator Wilma Eisma, as she announced the event in a briefing last week.

She said festival organizers have agreed with partner resorts in the area to put up a series of themed pool parties, art workshops and fitness activities by the shore, and evening concerts featuring some of the country’s biggest rock, alternative and pop acts.

The featured artists will include Ron Poe, Quest, Ronthug, Ace Ramos, Borhuh, David Ardiente, DJ Highrise, Up Dharma Down  and Gab and John of Urbandub.

“This brings the Subic summer experience to a whole new level,” Eisma said. “We’re very much excited because this has been one of the entertainment concepts for Subic that we really like to push.”

This year’s staging of the Summer Siren Festival is expected to open the floodgates of fun along the waterfront area here and provide a whole new experience to summer visitors in this premier tourist mecca.

Eisma said the SBMA, along with the Subic Bay Freeport Chamber of Commerce (SBFCC) and the Subic Bay Hotels, Attractions and Tourism Stakeholders Visitors Board (SBHATSVB), will sponsor the event.

The festival was previously staged at beach venues in Zambales, but the SBMA and festival organizer Travel Factor signed a memorandum of agreement last week to bring it to the free port.

Eisma said the event will certainly push the already-high number of visitors in the Subic Bay Freeport to record-breaking figures.

Noting Subic has previously been named by the Department of Tourism as the No. 1 tourist destination in Central Luzon, she said the Summer Siren spectacle “would push Subic’s tourism ranking even a notch higher.”

Eisma also said the SBMA will be implementing strict security measures to keep the Summer Siren Festival “drug-free and safe for everybody”

May 8, 2017

(c) Henry Empeño



2017/05/08 21:51:43


Taipei, May 8 (CNA) The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said Monday it has no idea when a plan to give Filipino tourists visa-free treatment will be implemented after a media outlet in Manila said it might be delayed for a month or two.

The ministry said on April 12 that it would allow visitors from the Philippines to enter Taiwan without a visa beginning June 1 on a one-year trial basis.

On Monday, however, the ministry would not confirm that date, saying instead that it submitted a proposal on the program to the Executive Yuan, but the Executive Yuan has yet to approve it.

When the green light is given, the ministry will work with other related government agencies to develop a more detailed plan and make public when it will take effect, it said.

Angelito Banayo, chairman and CEO of the Manila Economic and Cultural Office, said he was told by Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry that the visa-free treatment “might be postponed for a month or two, “due to “technical problems,” according to a report by Manila-based ABS-CBN News.

The April 12 press conference was held by Tourism Bureau Director-General Chou Yung-hui (周永暉) and Chen Hwa-yue (陳華玉), head of the MOFA’s Bureau of Consular Affairs.

(c) Ku Chuan and Kuo Chung-han


The port operations of International Container Terminal Services Inc. (ICTSI) in Subic Bay Freeport now match the productivity of flagship Manila International Container Terminal (MICT), suggesting the emergence of this freeport as a key international gateway.

ICTSI reported on Monday that two Panamax quay cranes at Subic Bay Freeport’s New Container Terminal (NCT) 1 recently handled close to 400 twenty foot equivalent units (TEUs), with each crane averaging 40 and 33 moves per hour, respectively.

The productivity levels were achieved during the inaugural port call of Evergreen Marine Corp.’s 1,440-TEU boxship Cape Fulmar. This marked the debut of Evergreen’s South Korea-Taiwan-Philippines service, a new route to facilitate improving regional trade between the three economies.

The service plies the ports of Incheon and Kwang Yang, South Korea; Kaohsiung, Taiwan; and Batangas, Manila and Subic Bay, Philippines. Aside from Cape Fulmar, 1,440-TEU boxship Cape Faro is also chartered to the weekly service.

“It was a great effort and a big win for ICTSI’s Subic operations. This goes to show that Subic is at par with the productivity levels in MICT. We are continuously working on improving our services to attract more shipping lines, and for northern and central Luzon businesses to use the container terminals in Subic,” said Roberto Locsin, Subic Bay International Terminal Corp. (SBITC) president.

“As a national port operator, ICTSI ensures that each Philippine marine terminal under its helm remains competitive. Subic, in particular, was developed not only for the industrial locators of the Freeport but for the local markets in Luzon north of Metro Manila,” Locsin said.

MICT primarily serves the Metro Manila market and its adjacent markets, where most of the economic activities of the country happen being the country’s capital.

“Metro Manila as a market will continue to grow,” Locsin said. “But, as the northern and central Luzon countryside develops driven by industrial centers like Subic, Clark, Bataan and Tarlac also continuing to grow, the Subic Bay Freeport is that gateway ready to link its products to global markets. We have the equipment and facilities. We carry ICTSI’s brand of service and efficiency,” he added.

ICTSI has set up shop in Subic in anticipation of growing local markets north of Metro Manila. In 2007, under the Subic Port Development Plan, the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority awarded SBITC the concession for NCT 1. In 2011, under the plan’s second phase, another ICTSI subsidiary, ICTSI Subic Inc., was awarded the concession to operate NCT 2.

Increasing volumes in Subic enabled ICTSI to streamline and consolidate the operations of NCT 1 and 2. The merged operation has been serving the growing markets of the region, alongside the continued support to facilitate the “box” or container market of Metro Manila.

Philippine Daily Inquirer / 05:29 PM May 08, 2017

(c) Doris Dumlao-Abadilla – Reporter / @philbizwatcher



YOKOHAMA – The Philippines is “the top economic performer” in the region and the Duterte administration does not pose political risks that might make the country less attractive for investments, according to the ASEAN +3 Macroeconomic Research Office (AMRO).

The Singapore-based international group, which released here yesterday its inaugural flagship report on the economic outlook for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), China, Japan and South Korea, is projecting regional gross domestic product to grow at 5.2 percent this year, with inflation under control despite global economic uncertainty.

AMRO chief economist Hoe Ee Khor, in a briefing on the report, was asked if there were factors that could alter the group’s projections for the Philippines.

“The Philippines is the top performer (in the region),” he said. “It is a very attractive destination for investments.”

Asked if he saw political risks from the new government of Rodrigo Duterte, Khor replied, “So far, not much… growth will continue.”

The risks for the country are mainly external, Khor said as he noted that the economy is heavily dependent on overseas workers’ remittances and business process outsourcing. Global economic growth has slowed down, protectionism is on the rise and US President Donald Trump has vowed to bring back American jobs and “buy American.”

“But we’re pretty confident that growth can be sustained at a high level,” Khor said as he pointed out that the Philippines has built strong buffers and the country’s financial reserves are “relatively high.”

Inflation is picking up and the current account deficit may be a cause for concern, he said, “but this is a good current account deficit because it’s sustained by investments.”

Khor noted that the Duterte administration has sustained sound economic policies of the past and international credit rating agencies have maintained the country’s investment grade.

Risks, challenges for Asean + 3

The AMRO inaugural report is being released 20 years after the region was hit by the financial crisis. Khor said the crisis “shaped the trajectory” of regional growth.

He said growth never fully recovered, and one reason “is that the public sector got clobbered.”

This year, however, AMRO sees the economic outlook for ASEAN + 3 improving with a recovery in global trade and investment fueled by domestic demand. Regional integration is also benefiting individual economies, the group reported.

Khor stressed that “you can never be too complacent.” AMRO is urging governments to give priority to financial stability in balancing efforts for economic growth.

AMRO was created after the Asian financial crisis. Khor said the crisis led to reforms that imposed discipline in monetary policies, strengthened regulatory frameworks, built up reserves buffers, encouraged flexible exchange rates and fiscal consolidation and promoted reforms in the corporate and financial sectors.

The improved macroeconomic management and stronger foundations allowed ASEAN + 3 to survive the global financial crisis “relatively unscathed,” according to the AMRO report.

From 2007, the region also benefited from heightened regional economic integration, AMRO noted. Enhanced regional cooperation will improve resilience to shocks and pave the way for sustained relatively strong growth, it added.

Among the risks cited by AMRO for the region are trade protectionism, heightened financial volatility and tightening global financial conditions as well as inflation.

Khor, however, downplayed the impact of Trump’s promises to impose protectionist policies.

“We haven’t seen a lot of protectionist moves yet,” Khor said.

As long as such moves are “not too drastic” and regional economies remain open, integrated and vigilant, he said growth could be sustained.

Updated May 5, 2017

(c) Ana Marie Pamintuan


SUBIC BAY FREEPORT: The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) administrator said the agency has approved the development of a $798 milion solar farm and industrial estate at Redondo Peninsula so that more manufacturing companies and light to heavy industries can locate here.

SBMA Administrator Wilma Eisma, speaking to members of media, announced that the project proposed by Singaporean-based Dynamic Konstruct International ECO Builders Corp. (Dkiebc) will rise on a 982-hectare property inside the Subic Bay Freeport Zone.

It is the agency’s answer to the inquiry of investors looking for thousands of hectares of flat land for manufacturing and light to heavy industries inside the Freeport.

Eisma said that when fully realized, the proposed solar farm and industrial city will generate about 50,000 new jobs.

“When the Subic Naval Base closed down in 1992, we were all so depressed at the loss of 35,000 jobs generated by the US Navy,” she said adding “the SBMA has long surpassed those numbers with the active workforce within the Freeport now pegged at 115,272 as of February 2017.”

The SBMA has been conferring with neighboring local government units of late to identify more areas suitable for the development of industrial estates that will be under the Subic Bay Freeport’s tax- and duty-free regime.

The SBMA administrator also clarified that out of the $798-million investment commitment, Dkiebc will spend about $300 million for the proposed 402-hectare solar farm, designed to produce 200 megawatts of green energy to primarily supply the proposed 580-hectare industrial city.

The industrial city project will include commercial buildings, factories, warehouses, utilities for water and electricity, fire and law enforcement facilities, and sanitation and landfill facilities.

Likewise, the solar farm will primarily benefit the investors and locators of the industrial city with green and low-cost energy supply and reduce the risk of exposure to the spot market.

TMT on May 3, 2017 Regions



Subic Bay Freeport — Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) Administrator Atty. Wilma Eisma reported significant gains in trade and investments in this Freeport during her State of the Freeport Address (SOFA) at the Subic Bay Exhibition and Convention Center (SBECC) on Monday.

“Take into account earnings last year, what we have accomplished last year can certain be improved upon or learned from,” she said.

She stressed that Subic Bay Freeport has earned P676,346,130 in the first quarter of 2016, while this year’s first quarter revenue rose by 7.59 percent to P727,676,474.73.

She added that the Freeport has a net income of P46,768,716.47 during the first quarter of this year, a 148.69 percent increase from last year’s P18,805,859.72.

She also announced that the total cash and investments made by the Subic Bay Freeport is P4,573,536,715.35, a 24.84 percent increase from last year’s P3,663,556,564.35, while debts decreased by 8.79 percent, from 7,284,520,865.20 last year to P6,644,026,284.10 this year.

Eisma also pointed out that Key Performance Indicators such as the number of investments, new locators, import value and export value all rose significantly for Subic Bay Freeport.

“The number of total new investments here have slightly increased by one percent, from last year’s P1,406,476,765 to P1,420,747,404 this year.”

“We also have 47 new locators this first quarter, while our import and export value increased. Last year’s import value was at US$653,825,044, now we have US$2,754,275,198, a huge 321 percent increase,” Eisma said.

Meanwhile, last year’s export value of US$406,093,208 has increased by ten percent, pushing the figures to US$536,363,345.

Companies such as Datian Subic Corp. and Toyota Subic who located in Subic Freeport this first quarter has been a major factor in the increase of the stats aforementioned, along with the approval of Dynamik Konstruk Corp.’s P42-billion investment for industrial park development and renewable energy project.

“The SBMA has also given the go-signal for ship to ship transfer of liquefied natural gas (LNG-STS) by Teekay Swan’s and JOVO’s Ship-to-Ship which is expected to earn an annual port revenue of P200M,” Eisma said.

Another billion-peso investment is the DM Leisure Corp.’s PHP4.6-billion golf course and leisure complex project.

(c) Jonas Reyes