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BSP chief sees peso stability soon

August 23, 2017

MANILA -- Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Nestor A. Espenilla Jr. expects the Philippine peso to stabilize in the coming days since the local unit has somewhat recovered. The local currency has shown some improvements against the greenback in recent days but finished last week at 51.49, near its 51.60 close on Aug. 24, 2006, given the suspected terror attack in Spain last week. Espenilla, in a message to reporters Monday, said performance of the peso had been cited by some commentators in their assessment of the Philippines’ economic situation, which he stressed should not be done. He said comparing the local unit against stronger currencies in the region “is a rather simplistic way to look at it.” “Rather, the better way to gauge the economy is to evaluate its progress toward delivering on things that ultimately matter to the people - low inflation, growth, and jobs,” he said. In the first seven months of the year, inflation averaged at 3.1 percent, which was within the government’s two to four percent goal for 2017 until 2020. Growth, as measured by gross domestic product (GDP), averaged at 6.4 percent in the first half of the year, near the lower end of the government’s 6.5-7.5 percent target for the year. Employment rate as of end-April this year stood at 94.3 percent, higher than year-ago’s 93.9 percent. Espenilla pointed out that “each economy faces its own unique challenges,” thus policies that were put in place are specifically targeted to “suit its circumstances and needs.” “The Philippines is doing the correct thing in prioritizing a more investment-led economic growth. Allowing the peso to depreciate gradually to a more appropriate level is fully consistent with that strategy,” he said. Foreign exchange rate in the Philippines is market determined although monetary officials have repeatedly said that the central bank joins the market but only to address extreme volatility in the exchange rate. The central bank chief said “the BSP is very mindful” on the economic changes in the country since these “may create market uncertainty if not well explained.” “So we communicate and explain,” he said. Espenilla also noted that “speculators may want to take advantage by exaggerating for financial gain an otherwise healthy price correction to recover some of the price competitiveness.” He, however, stressed that the central bank “will not tolerate such speculative behavior and stands ready to use its very ample international reserves and deploy its full policy and regulatory arsenal if necessary.” “In any case, we think that the peso has now sufficiently adjusted and can be expected to regain relative stability going forward. This soft landing is reinforced by effective discipline in fiscal management and a well-designed and well-executed public investment program,” he said. “Pursuing a flexible and adaptive exchange rate policy enables the BSP to keep its interest rate policy settings squarely focused on achieving the inflation target while dampening consumption and supporting a more investment- and export-led growth that the economy needs to sustain its strong momentum over the long haul,” he added. (PNA)

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Robinsons Hotels launches flagship Summit Galleria Cebu

August 22, 2017

“Summit Galleria Cebu officially opens. Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña (fourth from left) graced the hotel’s ribbon cutting together with the Chairman Emeritus of JG Summit Holdings, Mr. John Gokongwei Jr. Joining them are (L-R) Elizabeth Gregorio , General Manager of Robinsons Hotels and Resorts ; Frederick Go, President, Robinsons Land Corporation; Lily Ngo-Chua, sister of John Gokongwei Jr.; Mrs. Elizabeth Gokongwei, wife of John Gokongwei Jr., and Pops del Rosario, Operations Manager of Summit Hotels and Resorts. photo by mike baños, npn ROBINSONS Hotels and Resorts formally launched its flagship Summit Galleria Cebu last August 19. The formal opening ceremonies was graced by Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña and JG Summit Holdings Chairmen Emeritus John Gokongwei, Jr., his wife Elizabeth, and sister Lily Ngo-Chua; Frederick Go, President, Robinsons Land Corporation; Elizabeth Gregorio, General Manager, Robinsons Hotels & Resorts, and Pops del Rosario, Operations Manager, Summit Hotels and Resorts. In his talk held after the ribbon cutting ceremony at Summit Galleria Cebu’s Grand Ballroom at the 5th floor, Mayor Osmeña related how the 4.7 hectare property originally intended for the new Cebu City Hall complex was sold to Mr. John Gokongwei in 16 seconds. “Mr. John asked me if the property was for sale and I said it was. He asked for how much, and I answered P15 million. He asked ‘Will you take 12?’ and I said ok. So he said we’ll sign it up, goodbye!” Summit Galleria Cebu is conveniently located within the 4.7 hectare Robinsons Galleria Cebu lifestyle complex, which offers direct access to the Robinsons Mall and is just 2 blocks from Cebu’s Pier 4 and 45-minutes from the Mactan Cebu International Airport. “I am happy to announce that the most beautiful mall in Cebu is Robinsons Galleria,” Mayor Osmeña noted. The 220-room hotel showcases a distinct local character in a contemporary setting and offers facilities and amenities that make it an ideal home for work, play and relaxation. The hotel features an indoor pool, and all-day dining restaurant, cafe and bar and game and leisure areas where guests can chill and have fun. Summit Galleria Cebu is also ideal for family and corporate functions. Its Grand Ballroom can sit up to 600 guests and features an expansive pre-function area on a lower floor leading to a generous cocktail area on the next floor before entering the main ballroom. Breakout rooms are conveniently located nearby for small meetings and functions. The interiors of the iconic hotel designed by Design Hiraya Queseda pays homage to the Queen City of the South’s rich history and tradition of excellent craftsmanship. The Raintree Hospitality Group, its official food and beverage operator, operates Summit Galleria Cebu’s onsite restaurant, Providore, in-room dining, ballroom and function venues. Summit Galleria Cebu rooms starts at 32 square meters and are furnished with high quality beds, linens and pillows for an invigorating rest and sleep. All rooms are exquisitely designed and equipped with 43-inch flat screen television, in-room safe, dedicated Wi-Fi, a writing desk, optimal reading light and open plan wardrobe. As a Grand Opening treat, Summit Galleria Cebu is giving a special introductory rate until September 30, 2017. The promo starts at P2, 777.00 per night in a Super Room, inclusive of VAT and breakfast. To avail, visit www.summithotels.ph or call 032-888-1777. The promo is subject to availability. Other hotels under the Summit Hotels and Resorts brand are Summit Ridge Tagaytay, Summit Hotel Magnolia and Summit Circle Cebu, which is located in Fuente Osmeña. For reservations at any of the Summit Hotels and Resorts properties, book direct at www.summithotels.ph.

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ECOP to submit ‘employer’s version’ of contractualization bill to Congress

August 22, 2017

The Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) has expressed anew concerns over certain provisions in 25 pending House of Representatives bills tackling the issues of contractualization and workers’ security of tenure. The ECOP Technical Working Committee met August 17 to further firm up the association’s position over “questionable or objectionable prescriptions” in some of these House bills pending deliberation before the House Committee on Labor and Employment. ECOP said it is currently drafting an “employer’s version” of the bill on contractualization and security of tenure to be submitted to the committee upon the request earlier of committee chair Rep. Randolph Ting. The organization has listed at least 10 provisions contained in these bills that it claimed contradict “fundamental legal principles governing these two issues.” Among these bills is House Bill No. 55 prohibiting the principal from engaging subcontracted employees in excess of 20% of the principal’s total workforce. The group objected to the bill as constituting “undue interference in management prerogative and best business judgment to contract or outsource jobs based on its constitutional right and freedom to contract.” House Bill No. 55 also prohibits subcontracted employees from performing work directly related to the main business of the employer. ECOP countered that work contracted out is always directly related to employer’s main business. “It is a fundamental principle in case law that all forms of contracting and subcontracting of work by the employer under Article 106 of the Labor Code are invariably directly related to the main business of the principal even if such may be unnecessary, incidental or not integral to the main business of the principal simply because what is contracted out pertains to the work of the principal,” said the trade group. It is also opposed to HB No. 76 and HB No. 4444 that seek to prohibit or restrict fixed term employment and contractualization. Aside from transgressing the right of employers to exercise prerogative and best business judgment to contract, disallowing fixed period employment “violates the freedom of contract of both parties who knowingly, willingly and without any moral pressure gave their consent to the execution of the contract guaranteed by the Constitution,” said ECOP. HB No. 563, on the other hand, authorizes the Secretary of Labor and Employment to ban all private companies from engaging in contractualization. “To reiterate, it is the proprietary right of employers to exercise an inherent prerogative and its best business judgment to determine whether it should contract out performance of some of its work to independent contractors,” stressed the group. Also on ECOP’s list is HB No. 895 outlawing contracting out of jobs if this causes the termination of services or reduction in the number of regular employees and the splitting up of the bargaining unit. ECOP insisted that job contracting may replace the services of regular workers, as ruled in the case of Asian Alcohol Corporation vs. NLRC et al., G.R. No. 131108, March 25, 1999. The decision on the case reads in part, “We have previously ruled that reduction of the number of workers in a company made necessary by the introduction of the services of an independent contractor is justified when the latter is undertaken in order to effectuate more economic and efficient methods of production.” As for HB No. 1208 which stipulates a fine of P1 million to P10 million for violating its provisions, ECOP said: “Excessive fines especially if imposed on employers of micro establishments (are) violative of Sec. 19 of the Bill of Rights of the Constitution which prohibits the imposition of excessive fines.” Other bills whose provisions ECOP finds disagreeable include HB No. 1045, HB No. 1351, HB No. 3769, and HB No. 3802. PHILEXPORT News and Features

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Duterte seeks P4.2B extra budget to hire over 3,000 customs employees

August 22, 2017

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is asking Congress to appropriate P4.2 billion so the Bureau of Customs (BOC) can hire more than 3,000 personnel-or double its current workforce-next ye year, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto disclosed. The chief executive’s request is included in the “President’s Budget Message” for fiscal year 2018, which explains and distills the highlights of the proposed national budget, Recto said in a statement. In his message to Congress, Duterte said he is seeking P3.6 billion as BOC’s budget for 2018. The money, he explained, will be used “to implement an aggressive campaign against smuggling which deprives us, on average, of more than P165.5 billion in potential revenues yearly.” Duterte enumerated the anti-smuggling activities to be funded by the proposed appropriations, including “the enhancement of cyber security for all ports, and the acquisition of speedboats, firearms and other tactical equipment for better revenue collection.” On top of the P3.6 billion for BOC operations is a separate P4.2 billion to be lodged in a “special purpose fund” of the budget for recruiting more personnel, Recto said. “In addition to the BOC’s budget, we have tucked in an additional P4.2 billion under the (Fiscal Year) 2018 Miscellaneous Personnel Benefits Fund (MPBF). This will finance the BOC restructuring, to fill up its more than 3,000 vacant positions, capacitate personnel, improve systems and modernize facilities,” Duterte said. Recto said his research showed that of the 6,264 authorized permanent positions in the BOC, only 3,031 are filled, leaving a vacancy of 3,233. “These are the items the Palace wants funded and filled,” he said. Recto said he is supporting Duterte’s request “if it is linked to reforms and measurable productivity goals.” “If BOC hires 1,000, and then spends P1.4 billion for their salaries, but if in return they will be able to collect, say, just 10 percent, or P16.5 billion, of the taxes lost to smuggling, then it is a good return (on) investment,” he said. Recto said that for next year, the “average per personnel collection quota is P210 million, based on a P637.1 billion total BOC collection target next year.” “So kung ‘yung bagong empleyado na may sweldo na sabihin na natin P500,000, but will be able to yield tens of millions of pesos in additional revenue, bakit hindi,” he said. “Although mired in controversy, let us not lose sight of the fact that the BOC is a strategic agency which funds public services,” he added. For the whole of 2017, BOC is tasked to collect P468 billion, or P1.28 billion in daily collection. “Its collection quota is 20 percent of total government tax income,” Recto said. “Thus it can be said that 20 percent of the total length of roads built, classrooms constructed, medicine bought, textbooks distributed, families given health insurance will be financed by BOC collections,” Recto said. “The government will not be able to deliver on its promises to the people if its second biggest supplier of funds is broken, malfunctioning and damaged,” Recto remarked, adding that with the resignation of some high BOC officials, a new team may have to be appointed. “These must be competent and ethical people, knowledgeable of the intricacies and culture of Customs operations, because the country cannot afford OJTs (on the job trainees) on training wheels being appointed to such a crucial job,” he said. Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon earlier said BOC will start filling around 3,000 vacant positions in the customs bureau. To ensure competent and “incorruptible” people will be hired by the agency, a Customs Academy has been set up to train applicants starting October this year before they are hired as customs personnel. -- www.portcalls.com

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Beauty with a cause let’s plant bamboos

August 22, 2017

THE city government of Cagayan de Oro through the Local Environment and Natural Resources Office (CLENRO) and in partnership with the Fraternal Order of Eagles (Philippine Eagles) NMR1, JCI Macajalar 24K, BISFFA, Balubal barangay council, Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), Philippine Army, Cagayan de Oro City Police Office (Cocpo), Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), Philippine Air Force (PAF), City Tourism Council, Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), Nestle Philippines, Del Monte Philippines and Cagayan Corn Products joined in last Saturday’s bamboo propagation program dubbed as Beauty With A Cause: Let’s Plant Bamboos with the special participation of eight Miss Cagayan de Oro 2017 candidates, at the city nursery. The program aims to plant more bamboos along the rivers of Cagayan de Oro to help prevent soil erosion. Also gracing the event is Councilor Zaldy Ocon, chair of the City Council committee on environment, and Councilor Jay Pascual, representing Mayor Oscar Moreno. CIO

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