P20-billion safe Philippines project to improve local governments’ capabilities

The Philippine government will construct 18 integrated operations and command centers that would feature video surveillance systems and a remote backup data center.

The P20.3 billion Safe Philippines Project aims to improve the capabilities of local government units towards the collaborative and more efficient management of public order, security, and safety.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia stressed the importance of the project in ensuring security, public order, and safety as this constitutes the bedrock of the Socioeconomic Agenda of the Duterte government.

“We value the need of people to feel safe wherever they are in the country and to be able to go about their business and other pursuits. This is essential in building the foundation for inclusive growth, a high trust society, and a globally competitive knowledge economy,” Pernia said.

The P11.4 billion Bridge Construction and Acceleration Project for Socioeconomic Development, on the other hand, involves the construction of five iconic bridges and 25 truss bridges with a total length of 2,848 lineal meters in nine regions of the country.  Construction of these bridges is expected to be completed by 2022.

Meanwhile, the additional financing for the new Bohol Panglao International Airport project aims to address further civil works requirements of the project amounting to P1.23 billion.



Secretary Tugade hails organizers of First Philippine Aviation Day

Airline Unity ACAP photo release 2

Members of the Air Carriers Association of the Philippines (ACAP) have recently concluded the successful holding of the first ever Philippine Aviation Day in Manila.

Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade (center) joins the presidents of local airlines and top global aviation officials in congratulating the organizers of the event which was sponsored by the International Air Transport Association (IATA). Shown, starting 4th from left – CEBGo  president Alexander Lao; PAL Express president Bonifacio U. Sam; Rafael Garchitorena of Deutsche Bank; Alexandre de Juniac, IATA director general; Sec. Tugade; PAL president Jaime J. Bautista; Cebu Pacific president Lance Gokongwei; and Philippines AirAsia president Capt. Dexter Comendador.


Cebu Pacific president Lance Gokongwei is new ACAP chair

Turn over ACAP chairmanship from PAL to Cebu Pacific

Cebu Pacific President Lance Gokongwei (left) is the new chairman of the Air Carriers Association of the Philippines (ACAP) as PAL president Jaime Bautista (right) turned over the compass trophy during the conclusion of the first Philippine Aviation Day organized by ACAP and sponsored by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), held on October 27, 2017 at the Makati Shangri-la Hotel.

Philippine air carriers urge government to stop tax burden on airlines

PAL A320

Cebu Pacific

1st Q400 NG delivery flight at Malta stop over 2


The Air Carriers Association of the Philippines (ACAP) has endorsed the urgent recommendations adopted recently by the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) calling for Asia-Pacific governments to invest in aviation infrastructure and air traffic management systems to meet the projected growth in demand for air transport and avoid unnecessary congestion, delays, and inconvenience to the traveling public.

In its first ever Philippine Aviation Day, ACAP charter chairman and Philippine Airlines (PAL) president Jaime Bautista has urged governments to refrain from increasing the taxation burden on airlines and avoid unjustified or discriminatory taxes affecting aviation.

Bautista stressed the need for governments to strengthen multilateral cooperation on aviation security and coordinate with all stakeholders before implementing new border control measures and support the CORSIA (Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation) measures to control aviation emissions.

“Local air travel continues to connect people around the world while providing ease of travel and cost competitiveness,” said Bautista.

ACAP is composed of PAL, Cebu Pacific, PAL Express, CEBGo, Philippines AirAsia.  “We compete aggressively in a healthy contest where there can be only one winner –  the flying public. The result is one of the fastest growing and most dynamic domestic aviation networks in the world,” said Bautista.

At the summit’s conclusion, ACAP member airlines have pledged to work in partnership with Philippine government agencies and stakeholders for the advancement of Philippine civil aviation.

ACAP carriers recognize that the local air travel industry faces serious challenges. “We no longer enjoy the benefits of low fuel prices. Our ability to grow and generate revenues and jobs for the country continues to be susceptible to the fallout from external events, political turbulence, global terrorism and burdensome regulations,” said Bautista.

“We wrestle with infrastructure limitations, starting with serious limitations of our primary airport in Manila, and constraints in airports north and south of the capital.”

ACAP is seeking the support of the Philippine government to provide a regulatory environment that gives airlines the flexibility and latitude needed to do business and respond to market conditions.

Despite all the challenges, “we see an expanding market, and a healthy demand for tourist travel due to intensive promotions and the government’s push for better tourism infrastructure and a more enriching tourism experience.”

“We expect a more sophisticated and comprehensively improved air transport infrastructure under the government’s build-build-build program. A number of airport terminals have been upgraded, with more terminals and even greenfield airports in the pipeline,” said Bautista.

Meanwhile, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) called on the Philippine government to maximize the economic and social benefits that aviation can bring to the country by addressing airport infrastructure deficiencies in Manila, scrap proposals for increased taxation on aviation and adopt smarter regulation principles.

“Aviation is vital to the Philippines which supports 1.2 million jobs and $9.2 billion in gross domestic product (GDP). The domestic network binds the country across 7,000 islands. International links keep families and businesses connected and bring in tourists. But the social and economic benefits of air transport are at risk if the key issues of airport infrastructure, excessive regulation and taxation are not addressed,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

IATA recommends either to urgently enhance the runway and terminal capacities of NAIA or build a new airport near Manila.

“Excessively onerous regulation can be a huge burden on the ability of aviation to deliver its social and economic benefits.”

De Juniac cited new consumer protection legislation being studied in the Philippines that would cap airfares, prohibit overbooking and impose onerous consumer protections extra-territorially.

“Introducing government-imposed fare caps would likely have the unintended consequence of reducing deeply discounted fares. If airlines cannot charge a premium for ultimate flexibility, then covering costs will likely lead to a rise in average fares,” said de Juniac.

He also called on the Philippine government to avoid implementing a tourism tax and to abandon a proposed Green Fee.

“The proposed Green Fee is misguided and should be abandoned. Governments through the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) have agreed a global approach to climate change based on improvements in technology, infrastructure, and operations. “

“There is an agreed Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA). The cause of sustainability is best served by the Philippines supporting this global approach and volunteering to participate in CORSIA,” said de Juniac.


Philippines vows to improve business climate


The Philippine government is exerting efforts to fast-track reforms in order to ease doing business in the country.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia has assured businesses that the government is working hard to institute reforms and help improve the business climate in the Philippines.

The government is eyeing the “single-window approach” instead of establishing a one-stop shop or co-location of government agencies which the government was earlier pushing for.

“We are not satisfied with a single-stop shop approach. We want to have a single-window approach so that the processing of permits and business applications will be faster,” said Pernia.

With the single-window approach, businesses will only have to submit all documents to one government representative or office which will handle all related processes from there.

The Philippines was ranked 113th in the World Bank Group’s 2018 ranking of 190 economies in its annual ease of doing business report. While the country slid down from the 99th place last year, its score improved by 0.42 points—from 58.32 last year to 58.74 this year.

Pernia stressed the need to carry out measures spelled out in the Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022, the country’s blueprint for socioeconomic development.

“The President has issued Executive Order 27 which mandated all government agencies at the local and national levels, including GOCCs, to follow what is provided for in the PDP and even adjust the budget and programs to achieve the objectives in the PDP,” Pernia said.

Legislative reforms to improve the ease of doing business in the country are also underway with the Expanded Anti-Red Tape Act expected to be passed by early next year.

Other legislative agenda that the government is pushing for include the amendment of the Local Government Code to address the challenges in local service delivery and the passage of the E-government Act to enable interoperability of government data and processes to increase efficiency and economy in the delivery of services.

In relation to the Unified National Identification System Act pending in Congress, Pernia said that the government will be sending a mission to India to observe its national ID for Development (ID4D) system that has become the global model.

Pernia also reiterated the government’s plan to amend certain economic provisions of the Philippine Constitution to relax restrictive foreign ownership provisions to attract more foreign investments.

Two-thirds of Filipinos fear robots will take their jobs away


Almost two-thirds of Filipinos agree that robots will take their jobs away, however, many do not currently feel personally threatened by robots in the workplace, with only 1 in 10 believing that a robot would be better than them at their job.

A new survey by YouGov said that younger generations are less certain of their place at work. While 53% of those aged 18-29 think that a robot would not be better than them at their job, nearly 6 in 10 of those over 45 do.

Those under 45 are also more likely to think that a robot could do their job at least as well as them.

Forty percent of 18-29-year-olds believe a robot could do their job either the same as or better than them. This is true for 34% of 30-44-year-olds but just 32% of over 45s.

With robots set to shake up the economy, there is certainly a challenge ahead. 8 in 10 Filipinos agree that robots should be regulated carefully, suggesting that regulators will have to forge a new and difficult path that seeks to maximise the benefits of new technology without taking away citizens’ opportunities or income.

YouGov said that developments in genetics, artificial intelligence and robotics mean that robots could instead destroy livelihoods across vast swathes of the population, with recent research suggesting that about 45 percent of the activities people are paid to do could be automated over the next few decades.

About 73 percent of Filipinos believe that robots will make their lives easier and three-quarters agree that robots can do things humans don’t want to do.

A new survey by YouGov Omnibus revealed that most Filipinos are happy to welcome robots into their lives, with just 1 in 20 saying they would not want a robot.

However, the survey suggests that Filipinos are cautiously optimistic about the impact of robots on society.

Out of a list of 12 possible functions, the most popular use for a robot is to help with cleaning the house, which almost 8 in 10 would want. Other popular choices include security and assistance at work.

Women and men appear to be in broad agreement about the use of robots for household chores such as cleaning the house, gardening and carrying things.

However, they are more divided about the use of robots for security – 79% of men would want a robot for security, whereas 72% of women do and driving – 36% of men would want a robot to help with driving, while 25% of women would want the same.

Despite being able to see the benefits that robots could bring, Filipinos also recognize the threat they pose to people’s employment prospects.


Filipino consumers post the highest confidence index score worldwide

Filipino consumers posted the highest consumer confidence index score among consumers from around the world.

In the second quarter of 2017, optimism of Filipino consumers was the most bullish despite a slight dip of two points from the fourth quarter of 2016 to register a confidence index score of 130, according to the latest Nielsen Global Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions.

It was in the same period last year that consumer confidence in the Philippines surged to no. 1 with a 13-point increase to 132 index score. During that time it was the biggest quarter-on-quarter increase among countries included in the survey.

“Consumers in the Philippines have always been in the top three in the past number of years and to be the most optimistic globally for the second time is not surprising given that the economy remains to be one of the strongest in Asia at 6.5% GDP growth rate in Q2,” says Stuart Jamieson, managing director of Nielsen Philippines and Emerging Markets Southeast Asia Cluster leader.

Established in 2005, the Nielsen Consumer Confidence Index is fielded quarterly in 63 countries to measure the perceptions of local job prospects, personal finances, immediate spending intentions and related economic issues of real consumers around the world. Consumer confidence levels above and below a baseline of 100 indicate degrees of optimism and pessimism, respectively

Globally, consumer confidence showed signs of continued improvement with an index score of 104, up three points from quarter four of 2016.

After the Philippines, India posted a 128 index score, declining by eight points while Indonesia follows with a 121 index score, gaining a percentage point. The United States slipped by five points to an index score of 118 while confidence level in Vietnam is on the ascent with a five-point percentage gain to 117 index score.

While the three confidence indicators which were measured in the survey remain high, slight decreases are noted. Job optimism dropped two percentage points to 85% in the second quarter compared to quarter four and four points versus quarter two last year. Responses from the Philippines also showed a dip to two percentage points in immediate-spending intentions (58%) from Q4 2016 and a decrease of three points compared to year-ago report. Favorable sentiment about personal finances remains positive at 84%, although it went down when compared to 86% in Q2 2016 and Q4 2016.

When it comes to having cash to spare after paying for the essential living expenses, saving money still tops the list for Filipino consumers at 58% (a six-point decrease compared to quarter four of 2016). Interestingly, consumers indicated increased willingness to allocate spare cash to new clothes, up nine points to 33%, while holidays or vacations come in next with 30%, a three-point increase compared to the end of the quarter of 2016. Investment in shares of stock (29%, +1) and home improvements (27%, -2) also make it to the list.

“Consumers with a positive outlook about their finances, job prospects, and spending intentions tend to have an open mindset towards indulgences such as clothes and travel,” Jamieson said.

Philippines gets US$500-M WB-AIIB funding for flood management

The Philippines has secured a US$500 million funding from the World Bank and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) to improve flood management in select drainage areas in Metro Manila with a counterpart fund of US$84.79 million from the Philippine government.

Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar stressed that the government is taking an important step in the implementation of the Metro Manila Flood Management Master Plan designed to safely control floods in the national capital region and surrounding areas.

“The Master Plan will take 25 years to implement, but this phase of modernizing Metro Manila’s pumping stations will ensure that several million residents will be less vulnerable to floods,” says Villar.

Under the Metro Manila Flood Management Project, 36 existing pumping stations will be modernized, 20 new ones will be constructed, and supporting infrastructure along critical waterways will be improved in the cities of Manila, Pasay, Taguig, Makati, Malabon, Mandaluyong, San Juan, Pasig, Valenzuela, Quezon City, and Caloocan. Many of Metro Manila’s existing pumping stations were built in the 1970s and have become inefficient and underperforming.

Flood events, particularly during the typhoon season from June to October, are a recurring problem in Metro Manila. They cause inundation of roads, exacerbate traffic congestion, and destroy the lives, infrastructure and livelihood of people, especially the poor.

Solid waste clogs waterways and the entries to pumping stations, affecting the operation and maintenance of the pumps. The project will improve management of solid waste within the villages near the drainage systems served by the pumping stations. It will also support the government’s resettlement of informal settlers that are located on the waterways.

Mara Warwick, World Bank Country Director for Brunei, Malaysia, Philippines, and Thailand says that when floods occur, the capacity of people to earn a living is constrained, and many can fall back into poverty.

“Recurrent flooding has made life more difficult for the poorest populations who live in low-lying areas, on riverbanks, and in other danger zones,”

“The lives of people in metropolitan Manila – especially the poor, women and children – are severely affected by exposure to frequent cyclones and flooding induced by heavy rain. The floods disrupt business and commercial activities, causing unnecessary economic costs,” said Supee Teravaninthorn, Director General for Investment Operations, AIIB.  “Investing in sustainable infrastructure is a key priority for AIIB and we feel this project is a great fit for our first investment in the Philippines.”

DPWH and the Metro Manila Development Authority will implement the project in close coordination with local governments and key shelter agencies. Slated to start this year, the project is scheduled to be completed in 2024.

The master plan proposed a set of measures to effectively manage major flood events, which include the following:

  • Reduce flooding from river systems that run through the metropolis, by building a dam in the upper Marikina River catchment area in order to reduce peak river flows entering Metro Manila during typhoons and other extreme rainfall events;
  • Eliminate long-term flooding in the flood plain of Laguna de Bay, to protect the population living along the shore against high water levels in the lake;
  • Improve urban drainage, including modernization of Metro Manila’s pumping stations; and
  • Improve flood forecasting, early warning systems, and community-based flood risk management.

PAL starts Clark-Basco, Batanes service

1st Q400 NG delivery flight at Malta stop over 2

Flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) has expanded its domestic network with the opening the Clark-Basco route starting October 1, 2017.

The four-times-a-week service from Clark International Airport in Pampanga complements PAL’s existing twice-a-day Manila-Basco flights.

The new flight, operated by PAL Express, departs Clark 11:45 AM every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Sunday. The return flight leaves Basco 2:00 PM on the same days. 

The Clark-Basco route offers convenient direct flight without the need for Central and Northern Luzon passengers to travel by land to Manila.

The new route is part of PAL’s development of Clark as a third hub of operations, following Manila and Cebu.

Meanwhile, PAL has upgraded Cebu-Cagayan de Oro and Cebu-Butuan routes to the next-generation, dual-class Bombardier Q400 starting October 1.

Passengers get to experience the new Q400’s spacious and quiet cabin comparable to jet airplanes.

The 86-seater Q400 flies twice a day on the Cebu-Cagayan de Oro and Cebu-Butuan service.

PAL has started taking delivery of 12 new Q400 turboprops that are being used to open new inter-island routes.

On November 1, PAL will open three new domestic routes out of Davao – to Zamboanga, Tagbilaran and Cagayan de Oro.

Mexican vessel makes historic Manila visit

The Mexican vessel Cuauhtémoc “Ambassador and Knight of the Seas” will
be arriving in Manila on August 4, 2017 to mark its first journey to Manila, commemorating the historic voyage by the Manila-Acapulco Galleon in almost 250 years.

Captain Rafael Lagunes and the crew of vessel will welcome visitors to enjoy a bit of Mexico, its traditions, craftsmanship, folklore, flavors and legacy.

The Mexican vessel Cuauhtémoc will anchor at Pier 15, Manila South Harbor, Port Area, Manila. Access will be granted through shuttles operated by Doña Virginia Maritima Corp, the shipping agent.

Captain Lagunes says: “We have sailed the seas and oceans around the world, proudly raising our national flag, sailed more than 700,000 nautical miles and forged 34 generations of cadets from the naval military school of Mexico.”

The Embassy of Mexico in Manila is proud to contribute to the successful visit of the vessel Cuauhtémoc in conjunction with the Philippine Navy which will further strengthen the bilateral relations between Mexico and the Philippines.

“We invite you to discover the hospitality and the love for the maritime traditions that are reflected in the perfection of its decks, bulkheads, maneuvers and rigging. The crew, integrated by 9 senior officers, 44 officers, 43 cadets and 122 enlisted men and women, is a genuine sample of more than 120 million Mexicans in the world, presenting itself as an ambassador of our country, carrying a message of peace and good will,” says Captain Lagunes.

“May this historical visit attest the renewed long-standing ties that join Mexico and the Philippines together, not only as partners but as sister-nations.”