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Phoenix Petroleum wins in LANDBANK’s Gawad Kaagapay Awards

August 28, 2017

Phoenix Petroleum won second place as Outstanding Large Corporation II under the non-agri-based category in Land Bank of the Philippines’ Gawad Kaagapay Awards 2017 held on August 14 at Pasay City. The company was represented by Phoenix Petroleum Vice President for External Affairs, Business Development, and Security Atty. Raymond Zorrilla, Chelsea Shipping Vice President for Finance Igna Braga, and Phoenix Treasury Manager Karen Almacen. The award was given to Phoenix Petroleum for its investment in rural advancement through supporting its priority sectors such as small and medium enterprises. Part of the selection process included a visit to the oil company’s terminal in Davao City by a panel of experts and judges from LANDBANK to determine if parameters on operations, sustainability, relationship with the bank, community service, performance, and direction of the business were satisfied. The Gawad Korporasyon KAagapay sa Ating GAnap na tagumPAY (GAWAD KAAGAPAY) was launched by the Land Bank of the Philippines as a fitting accolade for its clients who have been strong partners of the bank and have been providing their significant share in community development. Recently, Phoenix Petroleum was also given an Outstanding Filipino Franchise award for the second time in the 2017 Franchise Excellence Awards.

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2nd quarter growth rates point to economic headwinds

August 25, 2017

INDEPENDENT research group IBON said that the recently released 2017 second quarter national accounts underscore the serious headwinds facing the Philippine economy. The group said that the Duterte administration should focus on building sustainable domestic foundations of growth and development rather than depend on external factors such as remittances, cheap labor business process outsourcing (BPO), and foreign investments. The Philippines reported growth in gross domestic product (GDP) of 6.5% in the second quarter of 2017 which is slower than the 7.1% election-boosted growth in the same period last year. This meant slower 6.4% growth in the first semester of 2017 compared to 7.0% in the first semester of 2016. Agricultural and manufacturing growth in the second quarter and first semester of 2017 was higher than in the equivalent periods last year. This was however not enough to off-set the marked slowdown in services which slowed to 6.1% in the second quarter (from 8.2% last year) and to 6.4% in the first semester as a whole (from 7.9% last year). IBON noted the slowdown in overseas remittances and slackening of BPO investments. Remittance growth has been falling from its recent peak of 8.2% in 2010 to 4.4% in 2016, and was only marginally higher at 4.7% as of the end of the first semester of 2017. Data from the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) show that PEZA-registered Information Technology-Business Process Management (IT-BPM) investments fell by almost 35% to Php7.1 billion in January-May 2017 from Php10.9 billion for the same period last year. These slowdowns likely dampened demand for consumer goods and services and lessened private construction activity, which further decreased trade, transport, communications and finance activity. Government construction spending was also significantly slower. Overall construction growth slowed to 6.3% from 13.5% in the second quarter of 2016. IBON said that the slowdown highlights the dependence of growth on short-term bursts of real estate and construction spending. It is however more important to create the foundations for long-term sustained growth. This means more equitable and solid rural development, beginning with real agrarian reform, and developing high value-added Filipino manufacturing with national industrialization. IBON also noted that economic growth remains exclusionary and has done little to relieve the country’s jobs crisis and chronic poverty. Official labor statistics show that the number of employed Filipinos decreased by 393,000 to 40.3 million in April 2017 from 40.7 million in the same period last year. Meanwhile, poor quality of work persists with 15.6 million or 38.7% of employed in the informal sector or unpaid family work so far in 2017. IBON said that the Philippine economy will stay on the path of exclusionary growth and underdevelopment should the Duterte administration still implement neoliberal market-driven policies. To arrest the long-term economic slowdown, the government must take on policies that will aggressively develop domestic agriculture and Filipino industries. Source: IBON.org

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ACE HARDWARE ELEVATED TO PRA’S HALL OF FAME

August 25, 2017

ACE Hardware, the one stop shop for the latest home improvement solutions, was recently elevated to the Hall of Fame in the Foreign Brand Retailer – Home Improvement Category during the Philippine Retailer’s Association’s 20th Outstanding Filipino Retailers & Shopping Centers of the Year Awards at the Grand Ballroom of Solaire Resort and Casino. ACE Hardware, one of the leading hardware stores in the United States, opened its first franchise in the Philippines at SM Southmall, Las Piñas in 1997. Since then, it has grown to become one of the country’s leading home hardware chains with more than 150 ACE Hardware branches nationwide and still growing. ACE Hardware carries a wide range of hardware products and power tools, electrical and plumbing equipment, paints and sundries, building materials, outdoor equipment, and items for the car and the house. It also has a lawn and garden section for gardening needs and a pet section for the animal lovers. This is the third- time ACE has been honored with a PRA Award, thus elevating it into Hall of Fame status. Others include the OFR-Category Killer Award in 2013 and OFR-Best Home Improvement Center Award in 2015. Philippine Retailers Association has over 400 member companies, covering a wide scope of the distribution chain, in its fold — from retailers, mall and shopping center operators to traders/suppliers, manufacturers, distributors, and wholesalers, among others. PRA’s annual search for the Outstanding Filipino Retailers seeks to recognize Filipino retailers who have epitomized the model of a successful retailer in terms of growth and good ethical business practices.

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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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