PHILIPPINE REAL ESTATE and RELATED NEWS in and around the country . . .
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Robinsons Land allows clients to see condo projects virtually

Vol. XXI, No. 235 [ BusinessWorld Online ]
Tuesday, July 1, 2008 | MANILA, PHILIPPINES

GOKONGWEI-OWNED property developer Robinsons Land Corp. is giving prospective clients a virtual walk-through of its condominium projects as it tries to expand its market.

Instead of being shown model units of an unfinished condominium, clients are led to a virtual showroom that features head-mounted displays and joysticks. Flexible payment schemes are then introduced using its property investment calculator dubbed Realty Check.

Raoul E. Littaua, senior vice-president of Robinsons Land’s residential buildings division, said the virtual realty campaign seeks to encourage more interaction with its market by letting guests experience firsthand a walk-through of the company’s condominium projects.

"Virtual Realty serves as a convenient tool for us to feature Robinsons Land condominium units," he said in a statement.

He added that through the Realty Check feature, interested buyers may gauge the investment options by using the booth’s Flash-based calculator, which gives condominium choices based on buyers’ resources and preferred locations.

"We want to change the landscape of real estate exhibits and take advantage of technology to bring informative and empowering exhibits to the market," Mr. Littaua said.

Through the Virtual Realty booth, prospective buyers or investors have a chance to see condominium units of Robinsons Land’s three real estate properties, namely Sonata Private Residences in Ortigas Center, Pasig; Woodsville Viverde Mansions in Parañaque; and the Trion Towers located at the corner of 8th Avenue and McKinley Parkway in Taguig.

Reservation fees for condominium units in all projects cost P50,000.

Mr. Littaua said six more real estate projects would be featured in the Virtual Realty scheme in the next quarter.

"We have plans of showcasing not only condominium units, but also the amenities available for each of the projects — viewers would be able to experience walking through our gardens and lounging through our pools," he said in an interview.

He added that they were looking at including provincial projects in the simulation by next year.

Asked whether the US recession has an impact on the business, Mr. Littaua said: "We have had a cut on American buyers, but with the local market, there has been no problem."

He added that the company remains strong, with a five-year turnover period — three years for construction and another two years before the units are sold out.

Mall exhibits featuring the Virtual Realty booths will start on July 4 at the Atrium at Robinsons Galleria in Pasig City.

A listed company, Robinsons Land is the Gokongwei group’s corporate vehicle in the property sector.

The company has a diversified portfolio in the housing sector that caters to the upscale, mid-market and mass housing. It has a broad range of residential housing development, including socialized and low-cost housing provided under government programs that encourage home ownership.

Robinsons Land claims to be the country’s largest domestic hotel owner. It owns the Crowne Plaza, Manila Midtown Hotel and Cebu Midtown Hotel.

It also develops and operates the Robinsons shopping complexes, and has embarked on high-rise development with the Robinsons-PCI Bank Tower. — Jhoanna Frances S. Valdez

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No legal hindrance to operate Terminal 3

Vol. XXI, No. 235 [ BusinessWorld Online ]
Tuesday, July 1, 2008 | MANILA, PHILIPPINES

PENDING LEGAL issues will not prevent the opening of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 (NAIA-3), officials yesterday said, even as the court has yet to decide how much the government should pay its builder, Philippine International Air Terminals Co., Inc. (Piatco).

In a chance interview before the arrival of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo from her US trip, Manila International Airport Authority General Manager Alfonso G. Cusi said the government can operate the terminal as it had paid the P3 billion proffered to Piatco as ordered by the court.

"We are here to operate the terminal. We have had this [terminal] for so long already and we need it. We already paid the proffered amount. What amount is acceptable, the court has to decide that. We cannot keep this [NAIA-3] idle," he said.

Officials said NAIA-3, mothballed for years due to legal controversies, will be open for domestic flights in two to three weeks. It is expected to serve international flights in six to nine months.

Michael T. Defensor, head of Task Force NAIA-3, said the government can start operations of the terminal as long as it does not perform "acts of ownership."

"It is a complicated legal situation but the bottom line is there should be no acts of ownership. It was not defined by court. As of now, we have not violated any order of the court and we don’t plan to violate any. The order is vague. It said we can do whatever for the opening and we are doing that now," he said.

The building of NAIA-3, designed to handle 13 million passengers per year, was awarded to Piatco in 1997. But in May 2002, the Supreme Court voided Piatco’s contract, saying it was tainted with irregularities. The government seized the facility in 2004. Piatco has claimed that the government owes it $565 million for taking over the facility.

In 2006, the government paid P3 billion in initial compensation to Piatco in exchange for the government authority over the 182,500-square meter terminal.

Stakeholders are still awaiting the final valuation of the NAIA-3, which is being appraised by DG Jones and Partners.

Mrs. Arroyo yesterday returned after a week-long trip to the US and was one of the first passengers to use the terminal. She arrived at 2:40 a.m. with around 400 other passengers of Philippine Airlines flight PR 105 from San Francisco, California. — Alexis Douglas B. Romero

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NBI raids 4 construction, architectural firms on piracy

07/01/2008 [ tribune.net.ph ]

Agents of the National Bureau of Investigation’s Anti-Fraud and Computer Crimes Division (NBI-AFCCD) recently swooped down on four construction and architectural firms for allegedly using illegal copies of Autodesk software in their business operations.

The four companies raided were Centrex Corporation and/or Centrex House located at No. 206 M.H. del Pilar Street, corner Shaw Boulevard, Mandaluyong City; DQA Design & Planning, Inc. located at Unit 2103, 88 Corporate Center, No. 141 Valero Street, Makati City; Marksteel Construction Corporation located at No. 617 Komprey Street, Barangay Ramon Cruz, GMA, Cavite and; E.I. Construction & Development Corporation located at No. 2247 Alexander corner Ford Street, San Isidro, Makati City.

The raid was conducted on the basis of search warrants issued by the Manila City Regional Trial Court.

During the operation, the agents confiscated a total of 50 desktop computers and two laptop units loaded with pirated AutoCAD, Studio Max and Architectural desktop as well as seven unlicensed CD installers of AutoCAD software amounting to 19.6 million pesos. All these software are owned by Autodesk, a software publisher known for its design software. The firms that were raided allegedly use the software in their business operations particularly in the delivery of its services to clients.

Last March, the NBI also conducted an operation against three construction and architectural firms located in Makati City for using pirated software. A total of 26 computers and one CPU loaded with unlicensed Autodesk software were confiscated from Thunderbird Poro Development Ventures Inc., Japanese Architectural Office and Lycopodium (Philippines) Pty. Ltd.

Software piracy is a violation of the Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines and is punishable of up to 9 years imprisonment and a fine of up to P1.5 million.

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Metro Pacific recapitalizes to fund new businesses

By Zinnia B. Dela Peña
Tuesday, July 1, 2008 [ philstar.com ]

Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC), the local flagship of Hong Kong-based conglomerate First Pacific Co. Ltd., unveiled yesterday a recapitalization plan that involves an increase in its authorized capital stock to P12 billion from P4.6 billion and the conversion of existing advances into equity in Maynilad Water Services Inc., Makati Medical Center and Davao Doctors Hospital.

Manuel V. Pangilinan, chairman of MPIC, said the recapitalization plan will set the stage for future fund-raising activities for the company’s planned foray into infrastructure, agriculture, mining, port operations and healthcare.

The plan is expected to raise MPIC’s shareholders equity to P13 billion from P5.4 billion as of end-December last year. It is also expected to result in the improvement of the firm’s net asset value per share by 11 percent to P1.84.

Pangilinan said the increase in capitalization will boost foreign participation in the company with the creation of preferred shares.

MPIC president Jose Ma. K. Lim said the new capitalization will comprise 11.95 billion common shares with a par value of P1 and five billion preferred shares with a par value of P0.01 each.

The minimum subscription for the increase in capital will come from the conversion of MPIC’s P2.03 billion worth of notes held by Metro Pacific Holdings Inc. (MPHI) equivalent to 1.89 billion shares.

Under the plan, MPIC will issue up to 1.57 billion new common shares to MPHI at P2 each share to settle advances made by MPHI to acquire 34 percent of Davao Doctors and First Pacific’s 10.3-percent stake in Maynilad.

Lim said MPIC’s ownership in DMCI-MPIC Water Co. (Bidco) , the consortium that won the bid to acquire 84 percent of Maynilad, the water concessionaire of the western part of Metro Manila, will increase from 20.8 percent to 55.3 percent through the conversion of First Pacific’s notes valued at $57 million, and the acquisition of Ashmore Investment Management Ltd.’s 24.2-percent interest in Bidco for $140 million. Both transactions are expected to be closed in July.

Funding for the acquisition of Ashmore’s stake in Bidco will come from First Pacific, which intends to settle this through the issuance of 2.22 billion new common shares to MPHI equivalent to $100 million. The remaining $40 million will be settled by way of shareholder advances.

When completed, the acquisitions will result in a 51-percent economic interest in Maynilad, with DMCI owning 45 percent.

“With Maynilad poised to implement its service improvement program which will raise the service quality within its west zone concession as well as to grow its customer base, Maynilad will deliver greater profits this year and the years to come. The acquisition will allow MPIC to consolidate a proportionately greater share of Maynilad’s profits,” Pangilinan said.

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BSP forecasts inflation rate to hit 11% in June

07/01/2008 [ tribune.net.ph ]

The weakening peso is contributing to the further rise in prices, with the inflation rate expected to hit double-digit for the first time in June after many years.

The peso lost an average of 14 centavos against the US dollar to 44.896 from 44.756 on Friday.

Deputy BSP Gov. Armando Suratos said the BSP forecast inflation in June to range from 10.4 percent up to 11.2 percent.

Suratos said the now weaker peso has made the importation of a number of commodities more expensive than ever and adds to the impact of three others on prices as a whole.

Such other factors include the continued surge in world oil prices translating to higher prices at the pump, the wage and cost of living adjustments and the increase in the price of the staple rice and vegetables.

Data showed the peso falling steadily from a position of strength in January this year when it averaged P40.93.81 per dollar to P44.256 in June thus far.

The weakened peso now requires importers to raise more local currency than before to purchase the same amount of foreign goods.

Inflation was earlier expected to range in double digits between June up to at least September or longer than originally believed. Ruben Hortelano

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Government, airlines to map out action plan for RP

By Mary Ann Ll. Reyes
Tuesday, July 1, 2008 [ philstar.com ]

Government and the local aviation sector are set to negotiate on an action plan to allow the Philippines to reap the full benefits of the opening up of the Clark to Hong Kong route to local carriers.

In an interview, Cebu Pacific president Lance Gokongwei told The STAR that while the recent air talks between the Philippines and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) have resulted in an increase in passenger capacity from zero to 6,400 passengers per week in the Clark-to-Hong Kong route, the company still has to review its plans as far as flying from that part of the country.

However, Gokongwei emphasized that the opening up of the route is a good benefit for the Philippines.

Previously, only foreign airlines such as Hongkong Airlines were allowed to fly out of Clark. “This agreement gives reciprocal rights for local carriers. This is a good step forward because local carriers were at a disadvantage,” he said.

But Gokongwei said mounting flights from Clark to Hong Kong will not be immediate. “We have to review our plans,” he pointed out.

For his part, Philippine Airlines (PAL) assistant vice president for government affairs Jocen Perez de Tagle, who was part of the air talks, said that although this route has been opened up to local carriers, it may take some time before they actually avail of it.

He explained that government agencies, including the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) and other support agencies such as the Clark International Airport Corp. and the Clark Development Corp., and the local aviation sector will have to negotiate on how to first develop Clark as a viable route for Philippine carriers.

The negotiations, he said, will include making available property for local carriers where they can put up their own support facilities for the flights, including maintainance and catering services. “It might take a year or more before we can actually fly out of Clark,” he revealed.

“We first want to build a base, a network of three or four routes. We also would like to have aircrafts that will be stationed in Clark instead of flying them first from Manila,” he added.

De Tagle said PAL cannot fly immediately to Clark even if it wants to, until the support services are in place. “But we are working on it. We have plans to invest as much as $50 million to do all this. What is important though is that the Philippines has the rights to fly out of Clark,” he explained.

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600-hectare freeport industrial park project in Zambales bared

[ Manila Bulletin Online ] July 1, 2008
By FRED ROXAS

Locators in park will be limited to light, non-polluting industries

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT, Zambales – The provincial government of Zambales is set to open a 600-hectare Freeport industrial park which is envisioned to spur economic development in the province.

Zambales Gov. Amor Deloso said that property developer Imagine Realty Corp. had presented a plan to develop a vast, idle government property located in Redondo Peninsula, Barangay Cawag, Subic, as site for Freeport industrial park.

"Zambales will soon have its own Freeport industrial park which will be designed to create more jobs and alleviate poverty in the province," Deloso said.

He said that the land-use plan would be focused on "sustainable development" as the proposed "mix use" of the industrial park would be limited to light and non-polluting industries such as electronic and garment factories, research and IT training hub, and call centers.

"The province will not allow heavy or polluting industries in the area," Deloso said.

Deloso said that Subic town, being a contiguous community of Subic Freeport, has already been declared as part of the Subic Special Economic and Freeport Zone through Republic Act 7227, otherwise known as the Bases Conversion Law.

He said that like Subic Freeport, the Zambales industrial park will be developed into a self-sustaining, industrial, commercial, financial and investment hub.

Imagine Realty Corporation president Roberto Aventajado said that there is good potential of developing the property into a Freeport industrial park with complementary seaport and other infrastructure facilities.

Aventajado, who is chairman of the Philippine Olympic Committee, has been involved in marketing Subic and Clark as haven for foreign and local investments.

"Our company is currently in alliance with international investors that can pursue full development of the Zambales Industrial Park," Aventajado said.

He also said that the company would shoulder the cost for the conduct of a more detailed study and evaluation of the development potential of the Zambales industrial park. The study and evaluation are expected to be completed in 30 days, he said.

"Our proposal would be mutually beneficial, especially for a more progressive economic development of Zambales province," he said.

Aventajado also said that under the plan, the Zambales Industrial Park would be built near its other project, the 500hectare Neocove resort, which is scheduled to break ground in October.

He said that Neocove will be developed by consortium of South Korean investors with committed investments of $ 250 million in a world-class golf course and resort.

The Zambales Industrial Park is some five kilometers from $ 1.6-billion Hanjin shipyard.
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Pangasinan Capitol building inaugurated

By Eva Visperas
Tuesday, July 1, 2008 [ philstar.com ]

LINGAYEN, Pangasinan – Exactly one year after he assumed his post, the provincial Capitol building was inaugurated with new and elegant looks, similar to the interior design of Malacañang Palace.

Gov. Amado Espino Jr. led the soft opening and inauguration yesterday of the neo-classical Capitol Building, which is said to be one of the most, if not the most elegant Capitol buildings in the country.

“I hope this will serve as a lasting legacy for future generations and make every Pangasinense proud of his province,” Espino said.

The building stands majestically in front of the historic Lingayen Gulf.

Espino Jr. said for the first time, all the elected provincial officials, from him and the Sangguniang Panlalawigan members led by the vice governor, will now be housed in the same building.

“That gives us an ambience of belonging and working together as one family,” he said.

“I thought I was in Malacañang,” said Police Superintendent Harris Fama who was present during the inauguration.

The province has already spent P35 million which also includes the rehabilitation of other buildings within the Capitol complex.

Espino also broke tradition when he now holds office at the Provincial Capitol Building, instead of the adjacent Urduja House where past governors held office. He said the Urduja House is the official residence of the governor and it’s right and fitting that he holds office daily at the refurbished Capitol building.

The Capitol building was erected in 1918 by the provincial board led by Gov. Daniel Maramba, Segundo Estaris and Victor Tomelden as members, J.W. Crow as treasurer, Chas Dandors as district engineer and Ralph Harrington Doane as consulting architect.

It was reconstructed in 1949 by the provincial board led by Gov. Enrique Braganza, Vicente Soliven and Miguel de Vera as members. A.F. Buenaventura as provincial treasurer and V.B. Oledan as district engineer.

Espino’s predecessor, then governor Victor Agbayani, also had it rehabilitated but Espino decided to refurbish it in a way befitting its grandeur and its great heritage value.

Also, Espino said there were some structural defects like leaking roofs.

“We wanted it to be like little Malacañang or the old Congress. Its craftsmanship is excellent,” he said.

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Angara hails GMA for developing Aurora

Tuesday, July 1, 2008 [ philstar.com ]

BALER, Aurora – Sen. Edgardo Angara yesterday hailed President Arroyo, who defeated him in the 1998 vice presidential race, for being a growth catalyst in the province, a feat 10 other presidents before her failed to advance.

Speaking during the sixth anniversary of the Philippine-Spanish Friendship Day, the senator from Baler virtually took a dig at past presidents for failing to take the cue from former Commonwealth President Manuel Quezon in triggering the growth and development of the province.

Angara recalled that when Quezon was still president, his close friends often asked him why he would not initiate the beautification and development of his own birthplace.

Angara said that Quezon would often tell them he left the task of developing his own province to the hands of his successors. He said several presidents had replaced Quezon yet no one prioritized the development of Aurora except President Arroyo.

“Sampu na po ang naging pangulo buhat ke Pangulong Quezon. Pero ito pong ating panauhing pandangal ang katangi-tanging tumulong sa Baler at sa buong Aurora (Ten presidents had come and gone since Quezon. But our guest of honor is the only one who helped Baler and the whole of Aurora),” he said, referring to Mrs. Arroyo as the crowd applauded.

Angara credited the President for signing into law RA 9490 creating the Aurora Special Economic Zone (ASEZ) and for funding support for the Pantabangan-Canili and the Baler-Casiguran Roads.

He said that because of Mrs. Arroyo’s support, the province will have a modern hospital and a branch of the University of the Philippines (UP) within the next couple of years.

President Arroyo, in a subsequent speech, returned the compliment by saying he (Angara) was her mentor when she was still a neophyte senator. – -Manny Galvez

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Desilting Gugu Creek priority of province

Tuesday, July 01, 2008 [ manilatimes.net ]

BACOLOR, Pampanga: The provincial government is rushing the desilting of Gugu Creek in this lahar-buried town to save tributary barangays from massive flooding this rainy season.

Provincial capitol authorities have urged barangay officials in barangays Cabalantian, Mesalipit, Talba and Tinajero in the mobilization of resources in Gugu creek’s desilting project. Chief Jomar Hizon of Cabalantian offered the services of his two dump trucks and three backhoes while the provincial government will continue to provide fuel and lubricants needed by the heavy machineries.

Other barangay officials, on the other hand, will provide food supplies and other needs of the heavy equipment operators.

Gov. Ed Panlilio, chairman of Task Force Gugu, ordered recently the immediate desilting of Gugu Creek. Desilting operations are being undertaken through pooled resources from regional agencies, local governments, civil societies and other stakeholders.

The Department of Public Works and Highways provided equipment and the technical description of the area during the initial stage of the desilting efforts. Barangay Chairman Jomar Hizon of Cabalantian also volunteered backhoes. The Capitol has released an initial funding of P700,000 for fuel needs while civil society groups monitored the progress of the undertaking.

The establishment of a one-kilometer dike on the eastern bank and an 800-meter long similar structure on the west side represented the first phase of the desilting work. At present, the dikes are about two meters in height, but will have to be raised to four meters with a top surface width of 8 to 10 meters. The dikes serve as alternative farm to market roads for the people of Sto. Tomas and Minalin in order to gain access to commerce in Bacolor.

In April of this year, the desilting of the Gugu Creek was stopped when Mayor Romeo Dungca of Bacolor refused to cooperate, did not allow quarry operators to enter their designated areas along Gugu, and caused negotiations with the mayor failed.--Mark Louie P. Roxas

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BoI ‘forgets’ about mass-shelter requirement on realty developers

06/30/2008 [ tribune.net.ph ]

After giving away tax “freebies” to more than 100 mass housing projects in the last two years, the Board of Investments (BoI) suddenly recalled a law that requires developers of mass housing projects to set aside at least 20 percent of their total project costs to build houses for those who could only afford units at P300,000 and below.

Under Republic Act 7279 or otherwise known as the Urban Development and Housing Act of 1992, balanced housing development program shall include a system to be specified in the framework plan whereby developers of proposed subdivision projects shall be required to develop an area for socialized housing equivalent to at least 20 percent of the total subdivision area or total subdivision project cost, at the option of the developer, within the same city or municipality, whenever feasible, and in accordance with the standards set by the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board and other existing laws.

Despite the explanations made by the BoI that all mass housing projects approved for fiscal incentives are required to engage in socialized housing, no registrations that were previously approved have mentioned anything about their plans to also venture in socialized housing.

It was only recently that the BoI stated that there is an existing policy and even highlighted this under the 2008 Investment Priorities Plan.

Prior to the BoI’s announcement that socialized housing project is a prerequisite to the availment of tax perks, developers were rushing to register their mass housing activities mostly high-rise, located in prime areas and costing as much as P3 million per unit, without specific plans to engage in socialized housing.

Earlier, Trade and Industry secretary and BoI head Peter Favila argued that mass housing projects are further encouraged to make housing affordable to low-income earners such as the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who were considered as the biggest dollar contributors of the country.

Favila earlier reasoned out that around 50 percent of house and lot buyers in the country are OFWs whom de considered as low-income earners.

According to the 2004 to 2010 Medium Term Philippine Development Plan, the country’s population will need 3.756 million units of housing. The government’s housing target for the period is set at 1.145 million units.

The shortfall was the main reason why the BoI provides attractive package of incentives to encourage businessmen to invest in mass housing projects. “The government by its own is trying to provide the right business environment to encourage mass housing.”

Apparently, all mass housing projects approved by the BoI for the last two years, including those listed in the first half of 2008, despite of the existing law, missed the bigger part intended for the homeless.

Low-cost housing is a housing program for low- to middle-income groups subsidized by the private sector as business ventures with price ranges from P301,000 to P3 million, while socialized housing covers houses and lots undertaken by government or the private sector for underprivileged and homeless citizens priced at P300,000 and below.

The BoI further added the agency is “now reiterating that it is one of the new general requirements of the BoI for availment of income tax holiday among other incentives in the IPP.” Ayen Infante

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SM Prime may downsize some mall projects

By Zinnia B. Dela Peña
Monday, June 30, 2008 [ philstar.com ]

Shopping mall giant SM Prime Holdings Inc. may downsize some of its mall projects as consumers hold back on spending amid tough economic conditions, marked by soaring prices of oil, food and other necessities.

SM Prime president Hans Sy said the company may not spend the entire P6 billion budget allotted this year given the prevailing economic downturn. He said the construction of new malls would continue although there might be a need to reconfigure retail space in view of the difficult business environment.

Sy also noted the rising prices of construction materials like steel and cement.

This year, SM Prime is expected to open three new shopping malls to bring its total branch network to 33. These new malls are SM City Marikina, SM City Baliuag in Bulacan and SM Supercenter Rosales in Pangasinan.

SM Marikina will provide an additional 122,000 square meters of gross leasable space, SM Rosales (31,000 square meters) and SM Baliuag (61,000 square meters).

SM Prime is also expanding SM Megamall and SM City Fairveiw.

By year-end, total gross floor area will reach 4.2 million square meters.

The P6-billion capital budget does not include plans to expand SM’s presence in China with the acquisition of three new malls in Xiamen, Jinjiang and Chengdu.

SM Prime recently raised P3 billion through the issuance of fixed-rate debt notes with maturities of five years, seven years and 10 years from issue date. The issue was oversubscribed, attracting 16 primary institutional lenders

The amount raised will be used for ongoing capital expenditure and general corporate requirements.

SM Prime earlier reported that its first quarter earnings rose seven percent to P1.6 billion on gross revenues of P3.82 billion.

Rental revenue from all SM malls, which accounted for 85 percent of total revenue, increased by 10 percent to P3.26 billion from the previous level’s P2.96 billion.

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BOI cautioned against double registration

Monday, June 30, 2008 [ manilatimes.net ]

NEXT to sham mass housing projects, the Department of Finance has cautioned the Board of Investments (BOI) against double registration of some businesses located in Freeport zones.

A finance official said that aside from duty exemptions on all their importations, some enterprises also enjoyed the tax incentives and other perks given by the BOI.

Under the law, businesses located at Freeport zones enjoy duty exemptions while BOI-registered firms are given income tax holidays. Republic Act 9400 prohibits double registration.

The official said the quick passage of the fiscal incentives rationalization bill, which aims to remove redundant tax breaks investors enjoy, is necessary to minimize if not eliminate double registration.

Last week, the same finance official said the BOI should desist from granting tax incentives to condominium projects as this results in more government revenues lost.

The Arroyo adaministration is hard-pressed scrounging for revenues to finance its plan to jack up spending aimed at cushioning the impact of high inflation and an economic slowdown. -- Chino S. Leyco

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Gov’t plans removing tariff on cement anew

By Ayen Infante
06/30/2008 [ tribune.net.ph ]

The Cabinet-level Committee on Tariff and Related Matters (CTRM) is again considering to allow the entry of tariff-free imported cement to curve the continued increase of cement prices in the local market.

A top government official privy to the CTRM talks said the proposal was raised during its last meeting as an option to provide temporary relief to consumers.

The high price of local cement is still an ongoing concern that is now being reviewed in the CTRM that was last convened on June 18.

Duty imposed on cement coming from Association of Southeast Asian countries is currently at three percent, a rate that will continue until 2010, while cement imported outside of the Asean but from countries covered by the most favored nation (MFN) scheme carries a rate of five percent.

Apart from this, the CTRM is also considering imposing a strategy similar to a benchmarking mechanism applied on oil product prices based on the prevailing price of cement in major Asean cement-producing countries.

Such a scheme, however, may not be feasible since cement is not an internationally traded commodity. “One way, however, is through our trade offices based in Asean, to be used in extablishing benchmark prices,” the official said.

The source added the decision of the CTRM was in light of three resolutions in Congress that were meant to address the high prices of cement.

“We have to harmonize this study with the resolutions being undertaken by Congress,” he said.

On fiscal incentives that may be granted to cement projects, the official said the Department of Trade and Industry is keeping its hands open to include or not the industry in the Investment Priorities Plan.

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Group seeks relocation of piggeries in Porac

Monday, June 30, 2008 [ sunstar.com.ph ]

PORAC -- A group is calling for the relocation of piggeries in a village here.

The group that calls itself as Kruzada para sa Kalinisan at Kaayusan, Inc. (KKK) even vowed to gather 2,000 people to oust hog raisers from Barangay Sta. Cruz here.

In a public information and consultative meeting over the weekend, KKK urged local residents and government officials to help put a stop to the alleged "foul-smell and possible harmful effects of piggeries."

It claimed to be an advocacy group that has been calling for the observance of environmental and health standards for pig farms.

KKK president Joyce Velasquez said they have been complaining the foul smell and pollution brought about by piggeries here since 2003. However, she said most of their complaints fell on deaf ears.

"During the start of our campaign in the past, we were able to create multi-party monitoring teams to watch over and monitor farm standards and we were also able to get notice of violation against those who do not follow the rules. But we are already tired of seeing the same problems emerge over and over again," Velasquez said.

She said there were instances when they discover farms that have overflowing lagoons for storing waste. Some, she said, even lack mortality pits for dead pigs.

"This lack of responsibility on the part of the piggery owner results in the foul odor that is emitted in the air," Velasquez said, adding that the piggeries pose health risks to local residents here.

"These (piggeries) are near residential areas, the solution that we see now is relocation," she said.

The piggery owners and operators are opposed to the idea.

Johnson Dycaico, a piggery owner, said that it is unfair to generalize the accusation of sanitary violations against piggery farms.

"We have an environmental compliance certificate and we follow all the rules and regulations set forth by the DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources)," he said.

Dycaico's farm alone hosts around 4,000 heads, but his farm, he said, is well equipped to handle the sanitary requirements needed for such number of pigs.

"We have quarterly inspections aside from the barangay permits issued by officials here," Dycaico added.

However, Velasquez's group is unconvinced. She said there was a previous proposal of the Municipal Government to relocate the piggeries in 10 years time.

"Ten years is such a long time, we will not allow the air we breathe and the water we drink to get polluted before these piggeries relocate," Velasquez said.

When asked where the piggeries might be relocated in case they leave Barangay Sta Cruz, Velasquez replied: "That is their problem."

Recently, businessman Ruperto Cruz, who has been developing a nearby golf course for Koreans, expressed the same concern against the long-existing piggeries, saying the pig farms give a negative effect on businesses and potential investors.

Piggery business started in Eastern villages of Porac in the 1970s. Small and big farms established their base of operations in Barangays Manibaug Libutad, Manibaug Paralaya, and Sinura. It was found out that there are around five piggeries in Barangay Sta. Cruz alone. (IOF)

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Lopez group keen on SCTEx

Monday, June 30, 2008 [ manilatimes.net ]
By Darwin G. Amojelar, Reporter

FIRST Philippine Holdings Corp. wants a 10-year contract for the operation and maintenance (O&M) of the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEx), despite lower vehicle traffic on its initial operations.

“Yes. Well its logical to extend the contract. [But] it all depends on the BCDA [Bases Conversion Development Authority]. It’s their call to extend the contract,” Oscar Lopez, First Holdings chairman told The Manila Times on the sidelines of the ABS-CBN Corp. stockholders’ meeting last week.

Last year, BCDA awarded the O&M contract for SCTEx to a joint venture of three companies composed of First Holdings, Egis Road Operation, and Tollways Management Corp.

The contract stipulates a six-month period, renewable for a maximum of another six months. The services include functional requirements for the efficient operation of the toll road, such as toll collection, traffic safety and security management, road maintenance, including greenery and landscaping, management services, and all necessary support services.

Lopez said vehicle traffic at SCTEx is light, but the volume is expected to pick up. “It [SCTEx] will save you time whether you are going south or north. Unfortunately the one going north is not yet open,” he said.

SCTEx is known as the country’s longest expressway, and is envisioned to transform the surrounding into a super region that would attract investors worldwide through the integration of all economic activities in the Subic Freeport and Special Economic Zone the Clark Special Economic Zone, and the Central Techno Park in Tarlac.

The 93.77-kilometer, four-lane highway is divided into two major sections. The first section, the Subic-Clark stretch is 50.5 kilometers long, while the Clark-Tarlac section measures 43.27 kilometers.

Narciso Abaya, BCDA president and chief executive officer, admitted in a telephone interview that the projected revenue at the SCTEx has fallen short by 25 percent, adding the actual daily average revenue is P550,000.

“We expect higher revenue[s] next month, once the Package 2 is finally open to the public,” he said.

Abaya said the toll operator charges P2.20 per kilometer for class A vehicles, P4 for class B, and P6 for class C.

“We are up beat on the initial traffic. Initially its low but, based on our study, we only achieved 75 percent,” he said.

The SCTEx started commercial operations on April 28.

The construction of the SCTEx was funded by a P21-billion loan from the Japanese government through the Japan Bank for International Cooperation. The BCDA also secured a standby P2.5-billion credit facility from local banks to ensure construction of the project.

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CA places Rizal land under CARP

By Mike Frialde
Monday, June 30, 2008 [ philstar.com ]

Ruling that it no longer operates as a livestock farm, the Court of Appeals has reaffirmed its earlier decision ordering 162.7 hectares of a 316.04-hectare property owned by Milestone Farms Inc. in Baras, Rizal to be placed under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).

In a 17-page ruling penned by Associate Justice Noel Tijam, the appellate court’s Special Former Seventeenth Division denied the motion for reconsideration filed by Milestone seeking a reversal of its 2006 decision declaring the 162.7 hectares as CARP land.

“In fine, since the evidence clearly showed that the 162.7-hectare portion is no longer used as a livestock farm, the reason for the exemption no longer exists. Accordingly, logic and the CARL (Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Laws under Republic Act 6657) dictate that the land, now classified as agricultural, should be placed under CARP,” the CA said.

Records show that in 1993, Milestone applied for CARP exemption for its 316.04-hectare property in Pinugay, Baras town, arguing that the land was devoted to livestock, poultry and swine raising.

It revised its application for exemption to conform to the provisions of the Department of Agrarian Reform’s (DAR) Administrative Order No. 9, which prescribed rules for exemption or exclusion.

On June 27, 1994, DAR regional director Percival Dalugdug issued an order exempting the entire property from CARP.

However, acting on a motion for reconsideration filed by the Southern Pinugay Farmers Multi-Purpose Cooperative, then DAR Secretary Ernesto Garilao modified Dalugdug’s exemption and declared that only 240.97 hectares should be excluded, with the remaining 75.06 hectares be placed under CARP.

On appeal, the Office of the President initially reinstated Dalugdug’s order on Feb. 4, 2000, but then later reversed itself and adopted Garilao’s Jan. 21, 1997 ruling as it granted the separate motions filed by the Samahang Anak-Pawis ng Lagundi, the Pinugay Farmers Association and the DAR’s Bureau of Agrarian Legal Assistance.

Milestone then filed an appeal with the CA, which in a decision on April 29, 2005, reinstated the 2000 ruling of the Office of the President “without prejudice to the outcome of the continuing review and verification proceedings which the DAR, through the proper Municipal Agrarian Reform Officer (MARO), may undertake.”

Several farmers’ groups then filed motions seeking a reconsideration of the CA decision, arguing that while Milestone wanted to exempt its 316.04-hectare property from CARP, it had developed a large portion into a leisure-residential-commercial estate known as the “Palo Alto Leisure and Sports Complex.”

The farmers’ groups added that the government had built irrigation systems and farm-to-market roads in the area.

Acting on the motions, the CA issued an amended decision on Oct. 4, 2006 based on the report submitted by DAR, through the MARO of Pinugay, Baras, Rizal, that “there is no existing livestock farm on the remaining 162.7 hectares and the said area had never been in possession nor control of Milestone Farms Inc.”

The CA noted that Milestone did not deny the DAR’s findings that the 162.7-hectare portion “is no longer devoted to livestock raising.”

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Northern Mindanao luring students from South Korea

Vol. XXI, No. 234 [ Business World Online ]
Monday, June 30, 2008 | MANILA, PHILIPPINES

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY — An agreement signed last week by a major Korean tourism firm, a local school and a South Korean university is expected to boost Northern Mindanao’s tourism education.

On Tuesday last week, South Korea’s I.F. Koresco Corp., Liceo de Cagayan University and Tamna University on Jeju Island signed an academic exchange program that could bring to this Mindanao region as many as 100 Korean students per semester. There are also provisions for faculty exchange and research collaboration.

"Through this exchange program, we could help in terms of student activities and, as we begin, we believe that we can get great results," said Ko Suk Koo, chairman for I.F. Koresco Corp., which operates the city’s Hotel Koresco.

Mr. Koo signed the exchange agreement with Tamna University president Yang Chang Sik and Mariano M. Llerin, president of Liceo de Cagayan University.

Tourism regional director Catalino E. Chan III said the program creates a multiplier effect, especially since parents, relatives and friends of Korean students studying here are expected to visit them.

Mr. Sik said they are offering three scholarships for qualified students of Liceo de Cagayan University to study in Tamna University.

Studying in Tamna University, Mr. Sik said, can cost a regular student about $3,000 per semester. He said they would support students from the Philippines through full scholarships or via discounted fees.

The Korean university, which was established in December 1997, specializes in air service management, hotel management, as well as tourism industry and policy administration.

Tamna University also has a "Department of Golf System," Mr. Sik said. Jeju Island hosts 25 golf courses, which will increase to 41 by the end of the decade.

"For a start, there will be four students who will be coming here per year to enroll through the exchange program," Mr. Sik said.

"We need to see the facilities and programs, and if the condition is right, we’re planning to send in up to 100 students per semester," he added.

Mr. Sik said Tamna University will also absorb any student-exchange graduate who is fluent in English and who will qualify to teach this language in the university.

Mr. Koo said his own company is willing to hire eligible students who would graduate from the program. — Geefe P. Alba

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Housing accounts moved to BFS are loans undertaken by NHMFC, says official

PIA Press Release
2008/06/28

by Prix D Banzon

Davao City (28 June) -- The housing accounts that were moved to Bahay Financial Services, Incorporated (BFS) are the housing loans undertaken by the National Home Mortage Finance Corporation (NHMFC) for the period 1987 to 1996. There were about 20,000 accounts and 6,000 of these are now under the BFS.

NHMFC head of Davao Regional Office-Mindanao Division Jose Macuto in a telephone interview said this housing loans are covered under the low cost housing where package ranges from P150,000 to P236,000. Monthly amortization is about P1,400 for the P150,000 and P2,370 for P236,000.

Macuto said these housing loan accounts in Davao City are mostly found in NHA Bangkal, NHA Kadayawan, NGA Ma-a, NHA R Castillo, Hillside Subdivision, Margarita Subdivision, El Riso Subdivision, Jolibelle, Jade Valley, Country Homes, Emibille, Tierra Verde, Davao Empress, Landmark, Villa Corazon, South Villa Heights.

The other accounts are found in Tagum City and in Digos City. He said the remaining 12,500 active accounts regularly pay their amortization to their office where their monthly collection totaled to P17 million.

The borrowers also pay their amortization to collecting banks namely Development Bank of the Philippine and the Philippine National Bank. Macuto clarified that these accounts were never been under the Social Security System, Pag-IBIG Fund of the Government Service System.

It may be recalled that NHMFC borrowed money from SSS, Pag-IBIG and GSIS to finance their housing program of about P42 billion. The three financial institutions are still to recover the money that NHMFC borrowed from them.

BFS corporate communication development head, Atty Gerald Paez in an interview after a consultative meeting on Thursday in Davao City said most of the accounts transferred were highly delinquent meaning walang bayad for 15 years or kung nagbayad man about one year only.

There are also those moderately delinquent and low delinquent borrowers and Paez said they do apply scheme on case to case basis. The BFS is a multi-national service mortgage company that offers to affected borrowers one-time payoff scheme or restructured financing scheme.

They also offer customize settlement terms, he said. Paez said their office do a remedial management where they apply scheme on how to manage delinquent account. During the consultative meeting there were several issues raised and most of them said that the borrowers are hard up to pay the amortization.

Although there is a perception that many of the borrowers have the capacity to pay based on the income tax return, some still claim they cannot, he said. He said if the homeowner dos not have the capacity to pay, the property will be reverted back to the NHMFC under the social putback provision.

He said about 52,000 housing accounts nationwide are covered under BFS, the collection arm of Balikatan. Of this figure, 36,000 are from Luzon, and 16,000 in Mindanao. In Mindanao half or 6,000 are in Davao. (PIA)

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‘Philconstruct 2008’ one world-class show

Sunday, June 29, 2008 [ manilatimes.net ]

More than 1,000 manufacturers from around the world will showcase the latest construction products, services and technologies in the construction industry’s largest annual international event, the 18th Philippine International Construction Equipment & Building Materials Exhibition & Technology Forum incorporating HVAC/R Philippines ’08, Mining Asia ’08 and Modern Home Expo ’08 on November 13 to 16, 2008 at the newly constructed SMX Convention Center located beside the Mall of Asia. Philconstruct 2008 features more than 25,000 sq. meters of indoor and outdoor exhibition space showcasing the newest products, ideas, technologies from more than 800 exhibiting companies, the biggest exhibition of its kind ever put together in Philippine soil generating over $50-million worth of business and investments annually. “Philconstruct is one of the few trade shows around the world that has been selected by the prestigious CONEXPO organizers to partner with and featured at their mega shows in China and the United States,” said Anthony Fernandez, who heads First Balfour and president of the Philippine Constructors Association (PCA), organizer of the show. “By partnering with PCA, we can make a significant contribution towards your product exposure and business success.”

Over 50,000 registered trade buyers from all over the country and around the region are expected to visit the show. Philconstruct is truly the country’s no. 1 exhibition and business conference.

PCA, being the core source and voice of the industry, will be working very closely with the Philippine Mine Safety & Environment Association, the Philippine Society of Ventilating, Air-Conditioning & Refrigerating Engineers and the Philippine Institute of Interior Designers to ensure the success of all its participants and an overall boost for the construction industry.

”At this early stage, over 700 booths and 100 commercial construction equipment will be on display both indoor and outdoor; representing products and services from 25 countries and product representations from China, Germany, Italy, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, United States and the United Kingdom,” said Levy Espiritu, president of First Datem, Philconstruct chairman and PCA 1st vice-president. He added, “Seventy percent of the space were taken up by stalwart supporters who are coming back to build stronger partnerships and business ties while garnering more trade opportunities with industry players. There is no doubt that top-line trade buyers only come to Philconstruct.”

For more information, please contact our Event Manager: Global-Link MP Events International Inc. at Units 1003-04, Antel 2000 Corporate Center, 121 Valero Street, Salcedo Village, Makati City, Philippines 1227 Ctc: Ms. Jing Lagandaon at Tel : (632) 750-8588 / 887-1304 Fax: (632) 750-8585 E-mail: info@globallinkph.com

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Reforestation efforts of Puerto Princesa cited

[ Manila Bulletin Online ] June 29, 2008
By BRENDA P. TUAZON


Former President Joseph Estrada cited yesterday the successful reforestation initiative to protect the environment and natural resources being implemented by the people of Puerto Princesa City in Palawan led by Mayor Edward Hagedorn.

Estrada said if adopted nationwide, it will spell the big difference between food security and food shortage that will benefit or harm future generations.

Speaking before a big crowd during a tree-planting ceremony that included local officials and representatives from non-government organizations (NGOs) highlighting the month-long celebration of Palawan’s Feast of Forest Month, Estrada said the reforestation efforts of Hagedorn and the people of Palawan "deserve the nation’s accolade for making this country a better place to live in."

"The reforestation efforts of Mayor Hagedorn and the people of Palawan continue to underline the urgent need for reforestation and protecting the country’s natural resources and environment that have become most compelling," Estrada said.

The opposition leader said that Palawan’s successful experience in promoting and protecting the environment has made the province as "the last real frontier in this country" and cited the preservation of its subterranean river that was nominated as one of the seven natural wonders of the world along with the Chocolate Hills in Bohol.

"In planting trees and protecting our natural resources, we are planting the future because future generations will benefit and be served by the seeds we are now planting, while in failing to implement such an effort, future generations may not forgive the shortcomings of both government and society before them," Estrada said.

"Maybe the multi-billion dollar anomalies, extra-judicial killings, deprivation of human rights, rigged presidential elections, and humongous foreign debt can be forgiven by our children’s children and grandchildren, but certainly future generations cannot forgive us for bequeathing to them a garbage-filled and pollution-rich country with depleted forests and natural resources," he said.

By neglect, he said, the present generation is not only devastating the environment, "but compromising the future of coming generations by depleting our forests, our oceans, our mangroves, and the rest of our natural resources and environment."

"Food security and food sufficiency will continue to escape us if we do not stop exploiting our natural resources without an agenda of reforestation and protecting our environment," he said.

Estrada said the rice and problem are "dangerously early warning signs."

He described as unfortunate the full attention that the government is giving to high-technology projects such as the allegedly anoumalous National Broadband Network, Cyber-Education Program, Super Regions, and CyberCorridors projects costing millions of dollars that can be allotted to food security endeavors.
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Manila Water project to benefit San Mateo folk

[ Manila Bulletin Online ] June 29, 2008

Some 42,000 residents are expected to benefit from continuous water supply once Manila Water’s on-going P320-million water supply project in San Mateo, Rizal is completed.

The project, dubbed as Sto. Niño-Silangan Water Supply Project, is divided into two phases. Phase 1 will serve Barangays Gulod Malaya, Sto. Nino and portion of Silangan, and Phase 2, will serve the rest of Silangan and the elevated areas of Parang, Marikina.

The project involves the construction of a pumping station and reservoirs and the laying of 25 kilometers of water pipes, including mainlines.

This will benefit residents of 12 subdivisions occupying a total land area of 27 hectares.

Started in October 2007, the water project is expected to provide 15 to 20 million liters per day, which is enough for the needs of the more than 13,000 households.
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New tax perk not retroactive to start of the year

Vol. XXI, No. 233-A [ Business World Online ]
Saturday, June 28, 2008 | MANILA, PHILIPPINES

Minimum wage earners cannot claim a full year’s benefit from a new law exempting them from income taxes, with the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) on Friday announcing that the perk will only take effect starting next month.

The law, which also provides an increase in personal and additional exemptions for individual taxpayers, is not retroactive to January 1 this year, BIR deputy commissioner Nelson M. Aspe said in a statement.

He said Republic Act 9504, signed by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo earlier this month, will only take effect on July 6, or 15 days after its publication in at least two newspapers of general circulation.

As such, only half the total amount for personal and additional deductions can be availed of for purposes of computing the income tax for calendar year 2008. Starting January 2009, individual taxpayers can avail of the full exemption benefits and additional deductions.

"The BIR is doing its best under its resources to draw up revenue guidelines as fast as it can; it is wary about numerous and critical questions that are in store for [clarification] under the new law," Mr. Aspe said.

The tax bureau will conduct a public hearing in July 1 regarding proposed revenue regulations. Mr. Aspe said that the public hearing was "extremely important" if "hassle-free procedures" are to be put in place.

The law formalizes the income tax exemption of minimum wage earners in the private and public sectors. Their income tax exemption extends to wage and work-related benefits such as holiday, overtime, night shift differential, and hazard pay.

Income outside that of compensation remains taxable.

The BIR said more than half a million minimum wage earners in both the private and public sectors will be freed from paying income taxes.

"The key challenge for the BIR and the government is to keep the measure revenue-neutral, considering current pressures brought about by the global economic slowdown and high oil and food prices," Mr. Aspe said.

Tax exemptions under the new law will result to an additional take-home pay of P34 per day or P750 per month for minimum wage earners.

Personal exemptions of single taxpayers will go up to P50,000 from P20,000-32,000 currently. The deduction for each qualified dependent not exceeding four, will be raised to P25,000 from P8,000.

While this will cost the government around P14.25 billion in foregone revenues, the law imposes optional standard deductions (OSD) that are expected to generate P15.03 billion to make the scheme revenue-neutral.

The OSD rate will be raised to 40% of gross sales or gross receipts from 10% currently. The BIR said the OSD is expected to encourage businesses in the underground economy to operate "above-ground".

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Outsourcing firms should rethink strategies for ‘Generation Y’ customers

Outsourcing firms need to think of new strategies to reach out to the "next generation of customers," as the younger generation is expected to dominate the customer base of companies in the next few years.

Steve Michaud, vice-president for Asia Pacific and the Middle East for Singapore-based Aspect Global Services, said "Generation Y," or those between 13 to 31 years old, has become the target of marketers and considered the most influential generation for retailers in the region.

"They are all about information and they are working at a lightning pace. Their spending power continues to grow," Mr. Michaud yesterday said during the 3rd Annual Customer Contact Asia Pacific Summit at the Crowne Plaza Hotel.

Mr. Michaud said that while the next generation of customers is expected to propel the business process outsourcing industry’s growth, he said their needs constantly evolve.

Outsourcing firms, therefore should monitor quality assurance to achieve the results they want for their customers. "What you were willing to accept a few years ago, you don’t want to accept this time," Mr. Michaud said.

He suggested that outsourcing companies should "fundamentally rethink marketing, sales and product strategies."

While the younger generation mostly have access to the Internet, he said contact centers should upgrade their systems and go beyond the operations of voice-based transactions.

He noted that the younger generation prefers to use short message service or text, instant messengers, blogs and paperless transactions, and contact centers therefore should be more "customer-reactive."

Harold Jose James-Pardo, director for operations of WinSource Philippines, said, "We see many customers communicating other than standard voice. We have to have value-added in communications. There is a very wide avenue to this."

Mr. Michaud noted that about 70 million comprise Generation Y and make up 21% of the total population in the region, adding that their spending is projected to reach $2.45 trillion by 2015.

He added that this generation is expected to increase twice the rate of the population in 2010 and would likely reach 32% by 2020.

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DOF, DTI agree on incentives for foreign investors

By Iris C. Gonzales
Saturday, June 28, 2008 [ philstar.com ]

The Department of Finance (DOF) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) have now agreed on the provisions that would comprise the government’s revised fiscal incentives program for local and foreign investors.

A ranking finance official said the two agencies — which have been previously at loggerheads on the issue of fiscal incentives — have already agreed on a gradual phase out of income tax holiday (ITH) instead of immediately removing this particular incentive.

The source said the gradual phase-out of the ITH would be implemented through a so-called sunset provision in the proposed fiscal incentives bill.

This means that the ITH would only be removed after five years or after the country’s infrastructure investments reach five percent of gross domestic product from 2.7 percent at present or whichever comes first, the finance official said.

Before the tax holiday is phased out, this would be granted only to exporters or to strategic companies which would have to be defined in the bill.

With this development, lawmakers are now set to draft a new fiscal incentives bill which would include the inputs of the Trade and Finance departments.

The source said three lawmakers have agreed to sponsor the bill: Quirino Rep. Junie Cua, chairman of the House of Representatives trade and industry committee, Camarines Norte Rep. Liwayway Vinzons-Chato, vice-chairman of the House ways and means committee and Antique Rep. Exequiel Javier, chairman of the House ways and means committee.

Earlier, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) also urged the government to rationalize the tax incentives given to local and foreign investors, saying that this would help the Philippines improve its fiscal position.

The IMF said that “tax incentives substantially reduce effective tax rates on corporate income.”

The Trade department believes that incentives have strongly encouraged local and foreign investors to set up businesses in the country.

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Metro Pacific takes minority stake in Davao Doctors Hospital

By Edith R. Regalado
Saturday, June 28, 2008 [ philstar.com ]

DAVAO CITY — Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC), the local flagship of Hong Kong conglomerate First Pacific Co. Ltd., has taken a minority stake in Davao Doctors Hospital after it acquired 34 percent of the issued share capital of the hospital for P498 million.

In a statement, the hospital’s officers and administrators said they welcome the entry of MPIC into the board and management of DDH starting the first week of July.

The DDH officers said the entry of MPIC would bring managerial expertise that would make DDH and its subsidiaries more competitive in a rapidly changing business climate.

Established in 1966, DDH is a major private hospital in this part of the country. It has been noted for leading the medical industry in Mindanao with its modern equipment and facilities.

DDH boasts of being a leading medical center patronized even by those from Indonesia and Malaysia, aside by those coming from different parts of Mindanao.

With the entry of MPIC, DDH likewise expects its subsidiary, Davao Doctors Colleges, to also enhance its academic standing among schools and colleges in the South. The college has more than 4,000 students taking up various courses, including nursing, medical technology, physical therapy, general education, among others.

Aside from DDH, MPIC also earlier acquired shares in the Makati Medical Center.

MPIC is poised to start a network of medical facilities and hospitals in the country with its initial investments in the two hospitals.

MPIC’s other investment in Mindanao is a real estate project also in Davao City by its property unit Landco.

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2,654 families get free land patents in Mindanao

[ Manila Bulletin Online ] June 28, 2008
Mike U. Crismundo


PATIN-AY, Prosperidad, Agusan del Sur — In the continuing effort of the government to give the region’s poor easier access to land ownership and security, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) stepped up its land patents distribution to poor people in the countryside particularly to highlanders. Todate, about 2,600 landless farmers in the different areas of the Caraga Region had been awarded with free patents, it was learned here.

In Agusan del Sur alone, DENR-Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer Sixto C. Badua reported that at least 1,500 already received free land patents.

Bunawan DENR-Community Environment and Natural Resources Officer Eutiquio Bade Jr. and Specialist Victor Sabornido are set to distribute another 500 land patents this year in the municipalities of Sta. Josefa, Trento, Rosario, and Bunawan.

Talacogon-CENR Officer Jovencio Munoz also distributed at least 107 land patents in the municipalities of San Luis and Talacogon.

The distribution of free land patents is closely coordinated by the provincial government led by Agusan del Sur Rep. Rodolfo "Ompong" Plaza and her younger sister Gov. Ma. Valentina G. Plaza, Badua said.

Northeastern Mindanao DENR Officer-In-Charge Forester Director Edilberto S. Buiser said the continuing distribution of titles was spread in the different provinces of Agusan del Sur, Agusan del Norte, Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur, and the Dinagat islands that began last June 11, this year.

The awarding of titles is a major activity under Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program of President Arroyo through the "Handog Titulo ng Pangulo" being initiated by Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Jose "Lito" L. Atienza so that farmers, after careful evaluation may own the land they are tilling for many years.

Atienza, who led the distribution of some 18,000 patents nationwide, said the DENR will continue to distribute free patents to the farmers being one of the top priority programs of his administration.

He said " President Arroyo wants that thousands of our countrymen be liberated from the clutches of poverty by giving them a piece of land which they can proudly call their own."

In Agusan del Sur, DENR and provincial officials distributed several land patents to poor families during the celebration of "Naliyagan Festival" early this week.

The region’s environment chief, along with Rep. Plaza, Gov. Plaza, Badua and five Community Environment and Natural Resources Officers had awarded the land patent certificates to Mayor Isaias Masendo (Talacogon), Mayor Salimar Mondejar (Veruela), Mayor Irenea S. Hitgano (Trento), Mayor Gilbert Ilorder (Bunawan), Mayor Carl Elias P. Lademora (San Francisco), and Mayor Glen Plaza (Sta. Josefa), all in Agusan del Sur.

Other land distribution activities were also held simultaneously in Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur, Agusan del Norte and the Dinagat Province by the DENR supervised by the Regional Technical Director for Land Management Services (LMS) Atty. Paquito R. Rosal.

The lists of the free patents were already distributed to the farmers in Tandag City, and the municipalities of Marihatag, Linging, Lanuza, all in Surigao del Sur; Placer, Socorro and Dapa, all in Surigao del Norte; Veruela, Talacogon, Bayugan City, Bunawan, Sta. Josefa and Patin-ay, all in Agusan del Sur and Cabadbaran City.

President Arroyo also led the distribution of more than 600 titles in Tandag Surigao del Sur on Thursday (June 19).

In Butuan City, Agusan del Norte, PENR Officer Rosendo Asunto and CENR Officer Achilles Ebron also distributed 267 land patents in the municipalities of Carmen, Nasipit and Buenavista, and Butuan City.
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