Today's Top Stories

  • Customs bureau seizes P20-M smuggled cigars

    Customs bureau seizes P20-M smuggled cigars

    THE unrelenting anti-smuggling operation of the Bureau of Customs-10 (BOC-10) has resulted to the confiscation and destruction of P20.7 million worth of illegally imported cigarettes last Wednesday, September 9. Among those seized bore the brand names Union, Bravo, Famous, Farstar, Septwolves, YS, San Marino, Cannon. John Simon, BOC-10 district collector, said the contraband consisted of 2,150 reams or 188,824 of various brands. The cigarettes entered the port of Ozamiz in Ozamiz City and Mindanao Container Terminal sub-port in Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental on two occasions, on August 25, 2020 and Sept. 1, 2020, Simon said. “We don’t want cigarettes that are illegal and are sold here in Northern Mindanao,” Simon said. The confiscated cigarettes were destroyed through a shredding machine at the Greenleaf 88 non-hazardous waste disposal facility in Barangay Bayabas, this city. Simon said the items were confiscated as the consignees failed to pay duties and taxes and in violation of Republic Act 10836 or the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act. The BOC-10, however, has yet to identify the names of the consignees, but Simon said they will be facing charges once their identities are established. Oliver Valiente, chief of the BOC-10’s Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service, the contraband came from China and neighboring Asian countries that entered through the Zamboanga Peninsula. According to the Department of Finance, consignees use a new smuggling scheme to sneak the illegal cigarettes into the country. Citing a report from BOC Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero, Finance Sec. Carlos Dominguez III said P53 million-worth of cigarettes contained in two container vans that were recently confiscated in the port of Davao on July 12, 2020 came from Ningbo, China and was declared as tissue paper. When the cargo reached its final destination in the port of Davao, Guerrero said “the containers of smuggled cigarettes were not included in its inward foreign manifest despite other customs documents proving the existence of the shipment.”

    September 12, 2020

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  • IQOS stores open in Metro Manila

    IQOS stores open in Metro Manila

    Philip Morris International opened today its first four IQOS stores in Metro Manila offering Filipino adult smokers 21 years old and above a smoke-free alternative to cigarettes.   Located at the Eastwood Mall in Libis, Quezon City, SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City, SM Southmall in Las Piñas City, and Estancia Mall in Pasig City, the stores carry IQOS devices, heat sticks and accessories.  IQOS devices use a patented heat-control technology that precisely heats tobacco-filled sticks wrapped in paper, without the burning, to release a water-based aerosol – not smoke. “Opening the first IQOS stores in the Philippines is a significant step towards achieving our vision of a smoke-free future. PMFTC’s vision is to help adult smokers who would otherwise continue to smoke to move away from cigarettes as quickly as possible and switch to a better alternative,” PMFTC’s President said Denis Gorkun, President PMFTC Inc., the local affiliate of PMI. “We see smoke-free products as an opportunity to reduce the smoking incidence in the Philippines for the benefit of the public health and society at large,” Gorkun said. There are an estimated 16 million smokers in the Philippines, and globally, despite strict tobacco control measures, the World Health Organization estimates that there will still be a billion smokers in 2025, the same level as today.  PMI invested more than USD$7 billion on research, development and production capabilities to create smoke-free products. Recently, the United States Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) authorized the marketing of IQOS and heat sticks in the US with a reduced exposure claim, adding that its issuance of such order is appropriate for the promotion of public health.  IQOS is the first heated tobacco product to receive that exposure modification order in the US. “The US FDA decision shows that IQOS is a fundamentally different tobacco product compared to cigarettes and a better choice for adults who would otherwise continue smoking,” said Gorkun. To ensure that only legal age consumers 21 years old and above will have access to the store, the e-commerce website and the tobacco products, Gorkun said, “We are implementing age verification and access restriction. Presentation of a valid government-issued ID is required before any product is handed over to the consumer.”  “The best thing a smoker can do is to quit cigarettes and nicotine products entirely. But the hard reality is there will be adults who would continue to smoke. For those who don’t choose to quit, we now have a product that does not burn tobacco,” PMFTC Communications Director Dave Gomez said. “Public health experts agree that burning or combustion is the main problem in people getting sick from smoking. Nicotine although not risk-free and is addictive, is not the main cause of smoking-related diseases. It’s the smoke,” Gomez added. PMFTC research showed that 60 percent of current Filipino adult smokers are willing to try smoke-free alternatives as long as they are made commercially available and meet quality production standards. Unlike cigarettes, IQOS does not burn tobacco and therefore produces no smoke and no ash. IQOS HeatControl™ Technology heats tobacco instead of burning it to deliver the true taste of real tobacco. Gorkun said when using IQOS, the aerosol dissipates more quickly than cigarette smoke. “As IQOS produces less lingering smell than cigarettes, it is less likely to bother people around you,” he added.  Last 24 April 2020, HEETS for use with the IQOS device, were made available to legal age users 21 years old and above through select tobacconists/retail stores such as FUMA, Lighters Galore, Green Puff and DJ Shop in Metro Manila.  Last August 7, 2020, the heat sticks were also made available in select 7/11 branches in Metro Manila. On June 5, 2020, the IQOS.COM website was launched where the IQOS devices, as well as the heat sticks and device accessories, were offered.  Committed to ensure that access to the IQOS devices and heat sticks is only limited to adult consumers 21 years old and above who wish to continue using tobacco products or other nicotine-containing products, the IQOS stores practice age verification and adhere to the Good Conversion Practices which is a global standard observed across PMI.

    September 4, 2020

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  • Law enforcement agencies boost capacity on illicit trade prevention

    Law enforcement agencies boost capacity on illicit trade prevention

    The Philippine Tobacco Institute (PTI) initiated a series of forum in the regions to raise the level of awareness and information on the adverse impact of illicit trade of counterfeit products in the community and economy. The undertaking was in collaboration with various government law enforcement agencies. It also focused on ways to prevent and restrain the entry and proliferation of fake products that pose major economic threat against legitimate products. PTI stressed its commitment to its stakeholders towards regaining revenue loss, curbing the proliferation of illicit cigarettes, and promoting fair and sustainable business practices. A two-day capacity building and forum was recently conducted with the Bureau of Customs (BOC) in Davao City, attended by personnel belonging to customs intelligence, enforcement and security, assessment and examiners. Davao Port Collector Dino Austria said the discussion boosted the region’s customs intelligence in watching out for illicit products, especially on smuggled and fake cigarettes, citing that the illegal activities heightened even during the pandemic period.  Austria extended his full support in curbing illicit cigarettes, saying he will not allow the entry of spurious products that deprive the government of customs duties and taxes. He is looking forward to more partnership with the private sector particularly on intelligence and technical support in curtailing entry of illicit cigarettes. During the current lockdown period starting in March, there were a total of 38 law enforcement actions through raids, seizures, confiscation of smuggled and counterfeit cigarettes, including the closure of illegal warehouses and factories and destruction of machines and equipment used by the unlawful traders. A similar event was held in Butuan City in collaboration with the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) led by Caraga Regional Chief Choli Jun Caduyac. The CIDG chief stressed to his men the importance of safeguarding their jurisdiction and putting a stop to the rise of illicit cigarettes in the region as he cited the two illegal cigarette factories that were foiled by the team in 2018. The capacity-building initiative shall help participants which include intelligence operatives and provincial CIDG heads in gaining technical skills in the detection of illicit actions for successful enforcement and eventual filing of cases against the perpetrators in the courts. The CIDG team were provided an overview of the legal framework on enforcement actions, which include items and documents to watch out, red flags and inconsistencies that could be checked on incoming contrabands. In the Province of Cebu , a Basic Product Authentication training was conducted with the Lapu-lapu City Police Office attended by police officers of the different stations upon the instruction of Police Colonel Clarito C. Baja. The law enforcers were given an overview of the illicit cigarette trade and the prevalence of the unlawful business operations in the Visayas region. They were trained on how to spot a counterfeit cigarette product to boost their knowledge and confidence in their enforcement. PTI emphasizes that the lack of tax stamps and graphic health warnings is a sure sign that cigarette products are illicit.   Untaxed cigarettes should removed from the domestic market to protect much needed government revenues.  For the January-to-June period, excise taxes collected on tobacco products reached P61.5 billion.

    August 28, 2020

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  • Philip Morris’ electrically heated tobacco system gets US-FDA nod

    Philip Morris’ electrically heated tobacco system gets US-FDA nod

    THE U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized the marketing of IQOS, Philip Morris International’s (PMI) electrically heated tobacco system, as a modified risk tobacco product (MRTP).  In doing so, the US FDA found that an IQOS exposure modification order is appropriate to promote the public health.  The decision demonstrates that IQOS is a fundamentally different tobacco product and a better choice for adults who would otherwise continue smoking.  IQOS is the first and only electronic nicotine product to be granted marketing orders through the FDA’s MRTP process.  “The FDA’s decision is a historic public health milestone. Many of the tens of millions of American men and women who smoke today will quit—but many won’t. Today’s decision makes it possible to inform these adults that switching completely to IQOS is a better choice than continuing to smoke, “André Calantzopoulos, PMI’s Chief Executive Officer, said.  “IQOS is a fundamentally different product than combustible cigarettes and must be regulated differently, as the FDA has recognized. Now—more than ever—there is an urgent need for a fundamentally different conversation on a cooperative approach to achieve a smoke-free future. The FDA’s decision provides an important example of how governments and public health organizations can regulate smoke-free alternatives to differentiate them from cigarettes in order to promote the public health,” Calantzopoulos added. The FDA authorized the marketing of IQOS with the following information:  1. The IQOS System heats tobacco but does not burn it  2. This significantly reduces the production of harmful and potentially harmful chemicals  3. Scientific studies have shown that switching completely from conventional cigarettes to the IQOS system reduces your body’s exposure to harmful or potentially harmful chemicals.  The agency concluded that the available scientific evidence demonstrates that IQOS is expected to benefit the health of the population as a whole, taking into account both users of tobacco products and persons who do not currently use tobacco products  The FDA’s decision further builds on the emerging independent international scientific consensus that IQOS is a better choice than continuing to smoke, and follows the FDA’s April 2019 decision authorizing the commercialization of IQOS in the U.S.  The FDA’s decision provides an important example of how governments and public health organizations can regulate smoke-free alternatives to differentiate them from cigarettes in order to protect and promote the public health  This decision follows a review of the extensive scientific evidence package PMI submitted to the FDA in December 2016 to support its MRTP applications.  The PMI CEO further said “We are excited that this important decision will help guide the choices of adult smokers in the U.S. The best choice for health is to never start smoking or to quit altogether. For those who don’t quit, the best thing they can do is switch to a scientifically substantiated smoke-free product. As of March 31, 2020, PMI estimates that approximately 10.6 million adult smokers around the world have already stopped smoking and switched to IQOS. We believe that this decision can help to further accelerate the transition of U.S. adults away from cigarettes. We, along with our licensee Altria, are committed to guarding against unintended use and fully support FDA’s focus on protecting youth.” “Today’s decision is a result of our ongoing commitment to put science at the forefront as we continue on our quest to replace cigarettes with smoke-free alternatives as quickly as possible. We look forward to working with the FDA to provide any additional information they may require in order to market IQOS with reduced risk claims. Harnessing innovations like IQOS to dramatically speed-up the decline in cigarette smoking is the opportunity of this century. Comprehensive, science-based regulation can help to rapidly shift adult smokers who would otherwise continue smoking to better options, while simultaneously guarding against unintended consequences,” the PMI executive stressed. The MRTP marketing orders were issued pursuant to a 2009 law that empowers FDA to regulate tobacco products, including through oversight of innovative tobacco products.  PMI submitted MRTP applications for the IQOS device and three HeatStick variants: Marlboro HeatSticks, Marlboro Smooth Menthol HeatSticks, and Marlboro Fresh Menthol HeatSticks.  On April 30, 2019, the FDA authorized IQOS for sale in the U.S. through issuance of premarket tobacco authorization marketing orders that deemed the marketing of the product appropriate for the protection of public health.  On March 30, 2020, PMI submitted a supplemental premarket tobacco product application for the IQOS 3 tobacco heating device with the FDA.

    July 9, 2020

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Heated tobacco products will benefit public health

August 23, 2020

Corporate

By: , THE US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorization for IQOS to be marketed as a modified risk tobacco product is aligned with the claims of a leading tobacco harm reduction expert that the introduction of heated tobacco products (HTPs) as better alternatives to conventional cigarette will see public health gains. Helen Redmond, adjunct professor at New York University-Silver School of Social Work, said the introduction of HTPs or heat-not-burn (HNB) tobacco products will benefit public health. She noted that there is a widespread, mistaken notion that nicotine causes cancer and other health problems. “That is false,” the professor said. “The use of nicotine is no threat, because nicotine is not the problem. Combustible tobacco is … What causes health problems is lighting tobacco on fire. The combustion releases thousands of toxic chemicals.”  The US FDA, in its recent issuance, concluded that the commercialization of IQOS in the US, a heated tobacco product, developed by Philip Morris International, is “appropriate to promote the public health.” “The availability of IQOS is an incredibly important development for the millions of Americans who continue to smoke and who suffer almost half a million preventable deaths each year,” Redmond said. It has been known for decades that tar, and carcinogens found in tobacco smoke, causes the death and disease associated with smoking, and not nicotine.  HTPs are smoke-free devices that heat, instead of burn specially-designed tobacco units to release a flavorful nicotine-containing tobacco vapor. The most popular HTP brand today is IQOS—an electronic device that heats tobacco-filled sticks wrapped in paper to generate a nicotine-containing aerosol.   “Several tobacco companies have developed HNB products like IQOS from Philip Morris and Glo Pro and Glo Nano from British American Tobacco. The technology is constantly evolving and becoming more user-friendly,” Redmond said. A recent study by Dutch researchers entitled, “A Method for Comparing the Impact on Carcinogenicity of Tobacco Products: A Case Study on Heated Tobacco Versus Cigarettes” assessed eight carcinogens (cancer-causing substances) to understand the likely health impact on individuals who switch to IQOS, compared to those who continue smoking. The researchers concluded that while not risk-free IQOS is associated with 10 to 25 times lower exposure to these carcinogens, and that this could translate into a substantially improved risk profile. The study was published on May 1, 2020 in the monthly peer-reviewed academic journal Risk Analysis. Smoke-free nicotine products include electronic cigarettes or vapes and Swedish snus. Public Health England consistently conclude in its annual reviews of all available evidence that E-cigarettes are around 95-percent less harmful than smoking.   Redmond also noted that e-cigarettes and HNB proved effective in making smokers switch since they offer the same pleasure, rituals and relaxation associated with smoking. The UK's National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) concluded in its February 2019 clinical trials that e-cigarette was twice as effective as nicotine replacement treatments such as patches and gum in helping smokers quit. “E-cigarettes and HNB products make nicotine consumption much safer. In that, they are similar to patches or gums. The crucial difference is they look and feel like cigarettes, replicating the rituals and the enjoyment of smoking for people who switch from combustible tobacco—and therefore reducing the risk of relapse,” said Redmond. Redmond cited the case of Japan where nearly a third of smokers have already switched to HNBs. “HNB products have been available in Japan since 2014. The result—cigarette sales in the country have plummeted, outstripping anything abstinence-only messages have achieved” she said.

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PMI releases first Integrated Report on performance and headways in its smoke-free future vision

July 6, 2020

Corporate

By: , Philip Morris International Inc. (PMI) has published its first Integrated Report, a comprehensive overview of the company’s environmental, social, and governance (ESG) performance and its progress toward delivering a smoke-free future—including the company’s ambition to switch more than 40 million adult smokers to its smoke-free products by 2025.  PMI said its Integrated Report 2019 demonstrates the role of the organization's strategy, governance, and performance in the creation of value over the short, medium, and long terms. The report further shows PMI’s approach and important progress in various ESG areas, while setting new and ambitious targets for 2025 that complement the company’s prior aspirations.  “Clarity of purpose is essential for the internal alignment of any company. Since we announced our smoke-free commitment in 2016, we have made enormous progress in terms of organizational capabilities, the integration of sustainability into every aspect of our transformation, and our business,” said André Calantzopoulos, PMI Chief Executive Officer. “PMI’s Statement of Purpose reaffirms our commitment to deliver a smoke-free future for the benefit of people who would otherwise continue to smoke and, hence, to global public health. It is clear to all of us at PMI that the biggest positive impact our company can have on society is to replace cigarettes with less harmful alternatives; this is at the very core of our corporate strategy and sits atop our sustainability priorities while we are progressing well on all others,” Calantzopoulos added.  The report cited PMI’s Philippine affiliate, PMFTC Inc., for its strong commitment to the development and growth of local communities. In particular, the company’s corporate social responsibility program Embrace, which involves charitable giving, social contributions and community investments that focused on access to education, women empowerment, economic opportunity, and most especially disaster preparedness and relief efforts. “As a leader in the tobacco industry and a top taxpayer in the Philippines, PMFTC has a responsible role to play in spurring economic development, empowering communities and sustaining our environment,” PMFTC President Denis Gorkun said. “We are proud of our company’s caring and giving culture. We are equally proud of our employees who champion the values of social responsibility as can be most recently seen in our societal response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Gorkun added. In the report, PMFTC was cited as being in the forefront in providing relief assistance during disasters like earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, typhoons and floods. More than 25,000 individuals received help in the past earthquake incidences in Batanes and Mindanao; and another 7,384 families benefited from relief items during the Taal volcano eruption in January this year. In these community efforts, “PMFTC employees were at the core of relief operations.” mentioning the company employees “spirit of volunteerism and compassion for the community.”   On top of helping communities, PMFTC has placed the safety and protection of its own employees a priority. Some 150 displaced employees were provided immediate assistance in the recent Taal volcano eruption. The Integrated Report 2019 also demonstrates how PMI is focusing its resources on developing, scientifically substantiating, and responsibly commercializing smoke-free products that are a better choice than continued smoking, with the aim of completely replacing cigarettes as soon as possible. The company believes that, with the right regulatory encouragement and support from civil society, cigarette sales can end within 10 to 15 years in many countries.  It also highlights the company’s most material sustainability topics, including the health impacts of the company’s products, an aspect often not captured by external ESG assessments.  The report focuses on this key area, and describes how the company is working to reduce the harm caused by tobacco use by replacing combustible products with scientifically substantiated reduced-risk alternatives.  From the previous sustainability reporting, PMI’s evolution to integrated reporting helps investors make the connection between the product-focused sustainability initiatives, which form the core of the ESG strategy, and the financial performance over time. The report also enables the company’s stakeholders to better evaluate the company’s progress in achieving its purpose. PMI’s Statement of Purpose, adopted by the company’s Board of Directors earlier this year and published in its 2020 proxy statement, is also available in the Integrated Report.

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Aboitiz bats for more infrastructure spend

May 18, 2020

Corporate

By: , ABOITIZ InfraCapital has urged for increase in infrastructure spending, whether funded by government or private sector, saying infrastructure will rebuild the battered domestic economy.     Cosette V. Canilao, Aboitiz InfraCapital President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), said that Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs), in particular, can help fill in gaps brought about by funding reallocations amid the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.     “We understand that the government earmarked funding from other programs, including infrastructure projects, to address the COVID-19 impact. The private sector through PPP, could take up the void that the reallocation from infrastructure projects has created,” Canilao explained.     For Aboitiz InfraCapital’s common tower project, discussions with partners Globe Telecom, Smart Telecom, and Dito Telecommunity on the first batch of towers are still ongoing.     “The current crisis has clearly proven the urgent need for digital infrastructure to support better telecommunication services, and the Aboitiz Group is ready to provide this through our common tower project,” she noted.     On-the-ground activities such as site surveys and site acquisitions are expected to resume once the Luzon and local ECQs are lifted.     Aboitiz InfraCapital also said it is ready to resume discussions with the government for its airport bids (Bohol-Panglao International Airport, Laguindingan Airport, and Ninoy Aquino International Airport [NAIA] as part of the NAIA Consortium), post-ECQ.     “We remain keen on the airport projects as we believe that these are vital in reviving the economy. As with all of the Aboitiz Group’s projects and businesses, we are as¬sessing COVID-19’s impact on our proposals,” Canilao noted.     The government and the private sector need to work more closely together in putting in place programs that would revive the travel and tourism industry, as it is one of the hardest-hit sectors in light of the current COVID-19 crisis.     Aboitiz InfraCapital is also open to discussing with the government its unsolicited proposal along with the Ayala Group and Unisys, for a National Identification Card (ID) system previously submitted to the PSA in 2018. The urgent need for a National ID system became even more ap¬parent under the present conditions to help hasten COVID-19 aid distribution.

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PAL cancels flights till end May

May 18, 2020

Corporate

By: , IN the wake of the government’s extended lockdown, Philippine Airlines (PAL) the other night announced that all domestic flights to and from its hubs in Manila, Cebu and Clark will remain cancelled up to May 31, 2020.     However, the flag carrier is evaluating the possibility of flying international routes, as well as domestic routes, to and from its Davao hub, in coordination with concerned government authorities.     “We will announce any planned flights once these are finalized,” according to PAL’s statement. The continued pause in the airline’s Manila, Cebu and Clark hub operations is in compliance with the Philippine government’s declaration of the Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine and related local restrictions from May 16 to 31.     “We are in the process of notifying affected passengers by e-mail,” according to PAL.     The current ticket of passengers booked on a cancelled flight remains valid, the flag carrier clarified.     Starting June 1, 2020 onwards, PAL plans to operate reduced number of weekly flights on most domestic routes and on selected international routes.     However, this will still depend on COVID-19 conditions, such as community quarantine restrictions, travel bans imposed by various governments and their impact on passenger demand and the public health and safety situation in each of the countries that PAL serves.     The airline will announce the list of operating flights and routes for June 2020, once the details are finalized.     PAL will continue to operate occasional special flights to repatriate stranded passengers and to transport urgent cargo such as medical equipment and supplies to help sustain critical supply chains across the Philippines and on selected international routes.

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Finance chief sees '20 deficit to be around P1-T

May 15, 2020

Banking & Finance

By: , GOVERNMENT expenditures for coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) is expected to increase the budget deficit to around PHP1 trillion this 2020.     This was disclosed by Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III Wednesday but assured the public that the government was in a good financial position even before the pandemic hit.     The inter-agency Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC) has set a 3.2-percent budget deficit cap for this year amounting to PHP677.6 billion.     Dominguez said there are lots of numbers that economic managers are currently looking at, but cited “the first number you have to figure out (is) what exactly is going to be our deficit for the year.”     “And our estimate is about a trillion pesos, around a trillion,” he said.     Dominguez said the government’s four-pillar Covid-19 response is being funded by the tax collections, the dividends from government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs), and loans, among others.     He said that although collections of taxes have been delayed due to postponement of filing of income tax returns (ITR) and other related documents because of the quarantine period, the government will still be able to collect these.     He added the government was able to receive record-high PHP120 billion dividends from GOCCs, and this will be a plus for the Covid-19 response program.     The government has signed several loan agreements with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the World Bank (WB), among others.     These include the loan pact with ADB that allows the Duterte government to access up to USD1.5 billion in budgetary support for Covid-19 programs and the USD100-million loan from the WB.     Dominguez said they are also in discussions with the governments of Japan, Korea, China, and France for “project-based bilateral financing.”     He declined to give specifics on where the government’s Covid-19 response financing currently is since they are still awaiting the reports until end-April, but vowed to disclose this once the data is available.     “We are exactly where we want to be,” he added.     Meanwhile, Dominguez said Finance officials “are willing to look” at the Corporate Income Tax and Incentives Rationalization Act (CITIRA) that Senators plan to pass to help companies recover from the economic impact of the global pandemic.     CITIRA is part of the government’s tax reform program that aims to correct the country’s tax system.     Dominguez earlier said Senate Bill No. 1357, or the CITIRA, targets to make incentives given to companies more targeted, which will allow the country to be more competitive in the region.     If this bill is approved this year, the special tax rate on gross income will be increased immediately this year from the present five percent to eight percent then to nine percent next year, and to 10 percent by 2022.     On Wednesday, Dominguez said they are “willing to look at it (CITIRA) and most likely cut it further more quickly than originally planned.” (PNA)

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PH banking system resilient vs. impact of health crisis

May 15, 2020

Banking & Finance

By: , REFORMS instituted in the past serve as buffers for the Philippine banking system vis-à-vis the impact of the global pandemic caused by the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Benjamin Diokno said.     In a briefing aired over the central bank’s Facebook page Thursday, Diokno said the domestic banking system and the Philippine economy in general is facing the pandemic “from a position of strength.”     He said the domestic financial system is the country’s first line of defense against the pandemic, and the banking industry is up for this task since it remains adequately capitalized with total banking assets accounting for 81.7 percent of the financial system’s resources as of last February.     “Reforms have been put in place to maintain sufficient buffers in times of crisis and ensure business continuity to serve financial consumers and to keep the economy going,” he said.     The sector’s overall loan quality “was satisfactory”, with a non-performing loan (NPL) ratio of 2.1 percent, he said.     Deposits remain the banks’ main funding source with a share of 85.2 percent of the total.     Capital adequacy ratio (CAR), a gauge of banks’ financial strength, of universal and commercial banks (U/KBs), stood at 15.4 percent on a solo basis, and 16 percent on consolidated basis as of end-2019.     These are higher than BSP’s 10-percent minimum threshold and Bank of International Settlements’ (BIS) 8-percent minimum requirement.     Total portfolio grew by 10.2 percent year-on-year as of last February.     “I believe the banking system is now benefiting from prudential reforms carried out during the last 20 years. Moving forward, the BSP will continue to pursue proactive measures aimed at further strengthening the banking system,” Diokno said. (PNA)

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Bank lending expands faster in March

May 15, 2020

Banking & Finance

By: , OUTSTANDING LOANS disbursed by universal and commercial banks rose by 12.9% in March, faster than the downward-revised 12% pace in February, according to data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP).     Inclusive of reverse repurchase agreements, lending rose by 14%, quicker than the upward-revised 11.3% logged in the prior month.     Data showed the rise in production loans, which made up 87.6% of the total credit, continued to be the main driver of growth. Lending to the sector grew quicker at a pace of 12% from the 9.4% seen in February.     The sustained increase in production loans is attributable to an increase in credit for real estate activities (21.8%); information and communication (20.8%); financial and insurance activities (17.2%); wholesale and retail trade, repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles (6.8%); and electricity, gas, steam and air-conditioning supply (7.7%).     Other sectors also saw rise in loans except for manufacturing (-0.4%) and mining and quarrying (-5.3%), the BSP said.     On the other hand, growth of loans disbursed for households eased to 22.9% from the upward-revised 37.7% logged in February. This was mainly due to the slower expansion in credit card and motor vehicle loans during the month.     UnionBank of the Philippines, Inc. Chief Economist Ruben Carlo O. Asuncion attributed the pickup in lending to the market’s reaction after the easing moves done by the central bank since 2019.     “Since last year, we know that the BSP has been on an easing stance. RRP (reverse repurchase rate) cuts were made including other liquidity measures such as the RRR reduction. The market has been responding and liquidity in the market has been ample and growing,” Mr. Asuncion said in an e-mail.     In 2019, the BSP slashed rates by a total of 75 basis points (bps) before opting for a pause. By yearend, the overnight reverse repurchase rate was at four percent while lending and deposit rates were at 4.5% and 3.5%, respectively.     Meanwhile, reserve requirement ratios (RRR) were slashed by a total of 400 bps last year, which reduced the RRR of big banks as well as thrift and rural banks to 14%, four percent, and three percent as of end-2019.     BSP Governor Benjamin E. Diokno has said monetary policy tends to work with a lag of about three to nine months.     For this year, the BSP has been aggressive as it seeks to curtail the impact of the virus on the economy. It has cut rates by a total of 125 bps thus far which reduced overnight reverse repurchase, deposit and lending rates to record lows of 2.75%, 3.25% and 2.25%, respectively.     The BSP has likewise reduced RRR of universal and commercial banks by another 200 bps to 12%.     In the coming months, the lockdown measures may dent lending growth, according to Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. Chief Economist Michael L. Ricafort.     “Bank loans could start to slow down in April and May 2020 and could even potentially contract in Q2 2020 together with the broader economy, depending on how long the lockdown would last,” Mr. Ricafort said.

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PCCI asks financial institutions to extend loan maturity for biz

May 12, 2020

Banking & Finance

By: , THE country’s largest business organization, the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), is asking banks and other financial institutions to extend loan maturity for enterprises for at least one year for them to be able to recover from the impact of the community quarantine due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) outbreak.     In a statement Monday, PCCI said the extension should include loans due between March 16, 2020 to December 31, 2020.     PCCI President Benedicto Yujuico said the business group’s members have a growing concern on their “deteriorating cash positions and diminishing ability to avoid massive lay-offs” as most businesses are closed during the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) that started in mid-March.     “The ECQ has brought substantially all businesses to a sudden and unexpected stop. Many are now facing economic distress, forcing them to resort to drastic cost-cutting, lay-offs, and pay cuts.  Even as the government slowly relaxes the quarantine measures, we expect that the effects of this crisis will continue to be felt and that businesses will continue to struggle through the end of 2020,” Yujuico said.     He added a loan extension for at least a year will go a long way to preserve employment and averting permanent closure of businesses, which are clients and partners of banks and the non-bank financial institutions (NBFIs).     “Without the support of Philippine banks and other NBFIs, many businesses will likely be forced to shut down,” the PCCI chief added.     Metro Manila, Central Luzon, and Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, and Quezon) regions, where a large percentage of businesses are located, have been placed under ECQ for two months. (PNA)

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SMC to buy 4 million kilos of surplus corn from DA, to utilize its Petron stations as outlets for farm produce

April 26, 2020

Economy

By: , San Miguel Corporation (SMC) is teaming up with the Department of Agriculture (DA) to mass purchase agricultural produce, starting with four million kilos of surplus corn, to provide a lifeline to farmers and help secure the country’s food supply in the midst of COVID-19.     The surplus corn is enough to produce feeds for over 7 million live broilers that can eventually feed 4 million families in one day.     SMC is also in talks with the DA to utilize strategic Petron stations nationwide as outlets for government’s “Kadiwa ni Ani at Kita” rolling store program, to make farm produce such as fruits and vegetables accessible to consumers. The program is the market system project of the DA that links local farmers to consumers to ensure the sale of agricultural produce at reasonable prices.     “Through this program with the Agricultural department, we will be able to keep our farmers afloat as we navigate these uncertain times. At the same time, we also help people stay safe, healthy and nourished by providing them a convenient way to buy fresh fruits and vegetables from our local farmers,” SMC president and COO Ramon S. Ang said.     Petron stations that will be initially tapped as venues for Kadiwa stores are Filinvest, Dasmarinas/Edsa and Katipunan/La Vista. The company said that more gas stations will be added in the coming days. Currently, SMC’s Petron stations also serve as sites for SMC’s Manukang Bayan refrigerated vans, which bring fresh chicken and other refrigerated and canned meats closer to consumers.     He thanked the DA for offering its network of corn and cassava farmers to supply its San Miguel Foods, Inc. with raw materials for continuous food production.     “We thank the DA for helping us identify possible sources of corn and cassava and farmers who are in need of help. By helping them, we will also ensure that we get the needed raw material supplies for our various food products,” he said     Among these are some 25,000 hectares of corn farms in Cagayan, where much of the surplus corn will come from. The company is also looking to the DA to link it with cooperative heads in Tuguegarao for sourcing of cassava.     SMC said it will buy the produce at pre-agreed prices and volume, as part of a long-term partnership.     The company has also reiterated its call to farmers nationwide to supply rice, corn, cassava, sweet potato, coconut oil and other farm products that will be bought at guaranteed prices for the farmers benefit.      Ang emphasized the need to sustain economic activity in the food value chain, which includes agricultural products suppliers, processing, and shipping to retailers.      SMC has assured a stable food supply for at least six months even beyond the ECQ with the 24/7 operation of its food facilities. SMC’s food facilities can produce a daily output of 1.96 million kilograms of fresh meats (poultry, beef, and pork); 524,000 kilograms of processed meats (canned meat, nuggets, and hotdogs); and 2.11 million kilograms of flour/baked goods (flour, biscuits, pandesal, and nutribuns).     It also continues to donate food products, rice, and flour to vulnerable communities in support of the government’s Covid-19 relief efforts.

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Food rationing starts in Davao City

March 25, 2020

Economy

By: Che Palicte, PNA, DAVAO CITY – The city government rolled out food rations to some 50,000 families beginning Monday (March 23), as part of the aid package for those affected by the restrictive measures adopted to prevent the spread of the 2019 coronavirus disease (Covid-19).      Mayor Sara Duterte said those who qualify to receive the food rations are the indigents and out-of-work head of a family, contractual workers whose no pay and out-of-work head of a family, self-employed and out-of-work head of a family, and low-income head of family with significant loss or reduction of income.      “To those who are not residents of this city, do not worry because we [mayors in Davao Region] agreed to give food rations in our respective constituents,” Duterte assured.      She added that in order to avail of the relief goods, ration cards are distributed through the City Social Services and Development Office (CSSDO) and the barangay leaders.      “During the distribution of the relief goods, we still have to observe social distancing,” she said, adding that a system will be in place to ensure the smooth distribution of the rations.      Mayor Sara said barangay chairpersons distributing the ration cards are monitored by team leaders consisting of the members of the City Council to ensure that the rationing is properly implemented, as well as to manage the issues in the barangays.      The mayor also called on members of the private sector that are providing relief goods to coordinate with Task Force Davao to avoid crowding or worse, chaos.      "We are prohibiting the private sector from giving relief goods directly to the people because this will cause chaos; this will be disorganized, and this will cause people to gather around," she said.      “Rest assured that your donations will reach the people. We do this to avoid mass gathering,” Duterte added. (PNA)

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Go hits irresponsible media accusations

March 25, 2020

Economy

By: , SENATOR BONG GO, in a message yesterday, lashed out at some print media outfits for coming out with a story that criticized his visit to Butuan City last March 14. The news report, he said, was very irresponsible.        “Sa aking pagbisita po sa Butuan City noong March 14, nais ko pong klaruhin muli ang mga pangyayari:       - Totoo na dumaan ako sa isang Evacuation Center para dalawin ang mga nasunugan, magbigay ng tulong, pakinggan ang kanilang mga hinaing, maghanap ng solusyon sa kanilang pang araw-araw na mga problema, at mag-iwan ng ngiti sa oras ng kanilang pagdadalamhati.       - WALANG MASS GATHERING NA SADYANG INORGANISA. Evacuation Center po ang pinuntahan ko. Doon na po sila pansamantalang nakatira bago pa ako dumating. Hindi ko sila sinadya na itipon sa lugar na iyon.       - Sa kooperasyon ng mga pulis at pati na rin ng mga evacuees, ipinaliwanag ko na kahit gusto ko man sila yakapin, kamayan, kamustahin, at lapitan, sinigurado ko na kaming galing Maynila ay NAKA-DISTANSYA sa mga taga Butuan City para rin po sa kaligtasan ng lahat kahit na wala naman kaming sakit. May barriers pa nga pong inilagay.       - Sinigurado ko po na ang tulong at serbisyong ibinigay namin ay sa pamamaraan na HINDI MAKAKASAMA sa kanilang kalusugan at mananatiling ligtas sila sa anumang karamdaman.       - Pinayuhan ko rin ang local officials at national agencies na MADALIIN ANG PAGBIGAY NG TULONG lalo na ng tirahan sa mga nawalan ng bahay dahil paano naman po sila susunod sa “Social Distancing measures” kung wala naman silang ibang matitirhan kundi doon sa evacuation center na kumpol-kumpol sila.       Para sa inyong kaalaman, March 9 nangyari ang sunog sa Butuan City. 444 na pamilya o 2,292 na indibidwal ang apektado at humingi ng tulong sa atin. March 12, nagpa-test kami ni Pangulong Duterte para malaman kung infected kami ng COVID-19. March 13 lumabas ang resulta at sinabing negatibo kami sa sakit at pwede kaming magserbisyo sa publiko. March 15 naman magiging epektibo ang “Community Quarantine” sa Metro Manila base sa inanunsyo ng Pangulo noong March 12 sa kanyang presscon.       Dahil dito, nagdesisyon ako na pumuntang Butuan City ng March 14 — isang araw matapos sinabing negatibo ako sa COVID-19, at isang araw bago ipagbawal ang paglipad mula Maynila — para magpadala ng sarili kong tulong sa mga nasunugan.       Hindi ko matiis na hindi tumulong sa kapwa. Ipinangako ko ito sa taumbayan na kahit saan man, basta kaya ng oras at katawan ko, pupuntahan ko kayo. Hindi ko po makakaya na ipagpaliban o ipagkait sa kanila ang tulong na kanilang hinihingi mula sa atin.       Nagpapasalamat po ako sa mga iba’t ibang ahensya ng gobyerno na sumaklolo sa hinaing ng mga biktima ng sunog at pati na rin sa mga LGUs na nagbigay rin ng tulong. Napaka-importante po ang pagtutulungan ng national government at mga LGUs sa panahon ng sakuna. Isa po ito sa aking prayoridad bilang isang Senador at public servant.       Nagpapasalamat rin ako sa mga artista na sumama sa akin at kusang nagsakripisyo para pasayahin ang ating mga kababayang nangangailangan. Sila Robin Padilla, Philip Salvador, at Victor Neri ay tumugon sa tawag dahil alam nila na sa kanilang sariling paraan ay nabigyan nila ng saya at pag-asa ang kanilang kapwa. Si Robin, tumakas pa ng bahay para iparamdam ang kanyang pagmamalasakit.       Sa mga bumabatikos, tumulong nalang sana kayo. Hindi po nakakain ang inyong batikos. Hindi rin iyan nakakatulong sa mga naghihirap. Dumadagdag rin lang kayo sa problema. Puro dada, wala namang nagawa.       Wala po kaming ibang interes kundi tumulong at alagaan ang kapakanan ng bawat Pilipino. Hindi po kami takot mamatay. As always, I will continue to serve and I will die serving the Filipino people.      Now more than ever, we, as elected officials should do everything we can to be of service to the Filipino people. The government as a whole should still do its job in a manner that will not put the health of others at risk. Hindi pwedeng ipagpaliban ang tulong sa kapwa Pilipino, tuloy-tuloy dapat ang serbisyo.

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PH Saves Billions with NGCP's Financing Grid Expansion

November 22, 2019

Economy

By: , As it strives to become the strongest power grid in Southeast Asia, the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) has so far invested P151 billion in the Philippines’s aging transmission system. A total of 5,626 transmission structures, 2,472 circuit-kilometers of transmission lines, 18 new substations, 63 upgraded substations, and an additional 15,634 MVA of transformer capacity has been installed in the past 10 years.      Being the country’s sole transmission service provider, NGCP lays the highways where reliable and sustainable power flows from generating plants to distribution utilities, industries, businesses, and households. Tasked with operating, maintaining, and expanding the power grid, NGCP is dedicated to improving the country’s transmission network. Better power transmission for the nation      The company completed 109 projects which include the Lumban-Bay 230kV Transmission Line Project which provided maximum dispatch of power plants from South Luzon to the Load Center; San Esteban – Laoag 230kV Transmission Line Project which accommodated the renewal energy power plants in Northern Luzon; Luzon Voltage Improvement Projects which provided additional MegaVolt Ampere Reactive (MVAR) capacity to improve power quality; Bataan Grid Reinforcement Project which accommodated a 600MW Coal Power Plant in Bataan;  Santiago-Tuguegarao 230kV Transmission line project, ensuring a more reliable and better quality of power transmission services for power consumers in Isabela, Cagayan, Kalinga, Apayao; and the Typhoon Nina Rehabilitation Project which upgraded the wind rating of transmission towers in Bicol region to withstand super typhoon winds of up to 300 kph.      In Mindanao, the company completed, among others, the Balo-i-Villanueva (Kirahon)-Maramag-Bunawan 230kV Transmission Line, the first 230kV transmission line in the region that connects the northern and southern Mindanao; the Aurora-Polanco 138kV Transmission Line which improved the reliability and power quality in Zamboanga del Norte; the Matanao-Culaman (Malita) 230kV Line which accommodated a new generating capacity in the Davao Occidental; the General Santos-Tacurong 138kV Transmission Line which catered the load growth and provided reliable transmission facility in SOCCSKSARGEN region; the Matanao-General Santos 138kV Line which provided N-1 to the existing line; and various substations such as Toril Substation and Opol Substation.            For the Visayas, NGCP energized the submarine portion of the Cebu-Negros-Panay 230kV Backbone Stage 1 which provided an additional transfer capacity between Negros and Panay; the Ormoc-Babatngon 138kV Transmission Line, reinforcing power transmission delivery in the Leyte and Samar provinces; the Southern Panay 138kV Backbone which addressed the load growth in the Panay area; the Calong-Calong-Toledo-Colon-Cebu 138kV Transmission Line, constructed to provide N-1 provision to the existing 138kV transmission corridor in Cebu; and the Bohol 138kV Backbone Line which provided a more stable and reliable transmission network in Bohol. More in the pipeline      NGCP’s Transmission Development Plan (TDP) details these priority projects to improve transmission backbones and alternative transmission corridors, and to develop resiliency policies for power transmission facilities.      The company is set to complete more projects in the coming years, among which are: the 500kV Substation Projects (Taguig and Marilao) and 230kV Substation Projects (Pasay, Navotas, and Antipolo) to cater to the load growth of Metro Manila; the Cebu – Bohol 230kV Interconnection Project to accommodate the load growth and provide reliability of Bohol Island; the Nabas-Caticlan-Boracay Interconnection Project to accommodate the load growth and provide reliability of the Boracay Island; the Visayas Voltage Improvement Project to improve the power quality in Visayas; the Mindanao 230kV backbone project to upgrade the region’s transmission capacity and secure the reliability of power transmission services throughout the island; the Mindanao Substation Upgrading Project to increase the substation capacity and improve power quality; and the Kabacan 138kV Substation Project which will contribute to power reliability in South Western Mindanao area.      An estimated total investment worth P463 billion is programmed for the next ten years. Mindanao-Visayas Interconnection      NGCP is on-track to complete the Mindanao-Visayas Interconnection Project (MVIP), considered as the largest energy infrastructure in the history of the country.       “We are dedicated to completing the MVIP by December 2020 not only because we committed this, but also because interconnection among the three main grids is long overdue. The interconnection of Visayas and Mindanao was first proposed by government in 1984; but it was private entity NGCP which brought the government’s decades old plan from the feasibility stage to the implementation and completion stage,” stated NGCP.      “Our projects, which will be worth PhP188 billion by end of 2019, and those in the pipeline, are meticulously planned by our engineers and updated year after year with careful consideration for the needs of every single area in the country,” NGCP noted.      NGCP is a Filipino-led, privately owned company in charge of operating, maintaining, and developing the country’s power grid, led by majority shareholders Henry Sy, Jr. and Robert Coyiuto, Jr.

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Suzuki Introduces New Online Auto Loan Feature

May 18, 2020

Motoring

By: , Suzuki Philippines Inc. (SPH), the pioneer compact car distributor in the country, brings good news to its avid customers and to those looking into purchasing their own automobile with the new Auto Loan feature found on their official website. With this new addition to one of its many available services, getting a new car is now a few clicks away!      SPH just launched a new feature on their website allowing customers to be able to apply for auto loans online. In partnership with banks including Bank of Commerce, Bank of the Philippine Islands, Chinabank Savings, East West Bank, Maybank, PS Bank, RCBC, Robinsons Bank, UCPB, and Yulon Finance, the Auto Loan Feature directs customers to their preferred bank’s website page dedicated for auto loans. Once accomplished by interested patrons, their bank of choice will be able to review and grant them the loans if eligible as they are in operation.      This new online service presented by Suzuki Philippines is an effort to provide ways to serve its customers by being reachable amid the current situation in the country brought upon by the COVID-19 pandemic. The decision to launch the online Auto Loan service with the help of dependable financial institutions is rooted from the realization that during this time of uncertainty, consumers are longing for a sense of security and reliability, more than just the product itself. SPH believes that their vehicles across different segments may provide this longing by staying committed in championing the Suzuki Way of Life! to the Filipino people and relentlessly finding solutions especially when people are now more than ever, highly concerned about where to tunnel their investments that will prove to be beneficiary to them even after these challenging times.

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Kawasaki Joins the Fight Against Covid-19 by Producing Medical Face Shields for Donation

May 18, 2020

Motoring

By: , Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KHI) has begun manufacturing medical face shields and gowns at our Kobe and Harima factories, and has been donating them to medical facilities since the 20th of April.     Up to 500 medical face shields can be made per day using the transparent pattern film used for steel processing, and up to 1,400 medical gowns can be produced per day based on the guidelines by Osaka University Hospital. We have been donating the supplies to Kawasaki Hospital (Kobe City) since 20th April, and plan to supply to other prefectural hospitals as well through the Hyogo Prefecture Hospital Bureau.     KHI would like to express their appreciation for the medical staff who have been devoting themselves on the frontlines. By utilizing their design, production and quality control techniques to efficiently produce medical face shields and gowns for donation to medical institutions, they hope to contribute to the prevention of the spread of COVID-19.     KHI also reaches out to those who have lost loved ones to COVID-19. They sincerely hope that those currently suffering from the virus will recover quickly, and that the spread of COVID-19 will end as soon as possible.

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VP Robredo Receives Suzuki Motorcycle Service Units for Healthcare Workers

May 2, 2020

Motoring

By: , Suzuki Philippines, Inc. - one of the country's top motorcycle manufacturers shares help to those fighting the COVID19 battle at the front - the nurses and medical personnel by lending motorcycles as their transport service. This is in partnership with the Office of the Vice President's (OVP) Angat Buhay Program which is a flagship anti-poverty campaign relying on private partnerships in implementing its activities seeking to help people from the marginalized sector and recently to support our frontliners in the fight against COVID19. The units were turned over and received by Vice President Leni Robredo herself on April 23, 2020.  Suzuki lends 10 units of the Raider J Crossover to serve Angat Buhay's Free Dorm for Healthcare Workers hospitals' staff. Two of these - the Teacher's Village Dorm and Holy Family School in Maginhawa; will benefit from this initiative from Suzuki. Tenants of these dorms are working at East Avenue Medical Center, Philippine Children's Medical Center, Philippine Lung Center, National Kidney and Transplant Institute and Philippine Heart Center. The Raider J Crossover is Suzuki's latest bike launched in February and the brand believes that it is the fitting ride for the frontliners, it is efficient and economical. More than that, since social distancing is a top priority nowadays, a solo ride on a motorcycle now provides one of the best means of transportation. "We are one with the whole nation in this fight against COVID19. We hope that these motorcycles help our frontliners in their commute to their respective medical facilities efficiently and safely. We will heal and overcome this together as one team Suzuki," Mr. Akira Utsumi said in a statement. "Thank you so much Suzuki Philippines for lending these units to us. These motorcycles will go a long way in helping our medical dormers," said Vice President Leni Robredo.  

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The Ford Ranger: Built To Last During Tough Times

May 2, 2020

Motoring

By: , MANILA, Philippines, 28 April 2020 – In times of uncertainties during natural calamities and pandemic crises, Filipinos are known for their resilience, strength and unwavering toughness even in the most trying times, rising above all odds and challenges.     This is why pickup trucks such as the Ford Ranger have become a popular choice among Filipinos who look for a tough and reliable vehicle for their needs. Built purposeful, the Ford Ranger has a durable design, proven performance, and segment-leading technologies to help get the job done.      Time-tested utilitarian characteristics give the Ford Ranger the ultimate edge as your daily workhorse. Its generous cargo space tied with 1.3 tons maximum payload capacity and impressive 800mm water wading capability with 230mm high ground clearance enable you to carry numerous back-breaking loads while effortlessly carving through obstacles both on and off-road. It features a Tailgate Lift Assist that makes lifting and lowering the tailgate easier when loading and unloading cargo.      A truck bed full of supplies and equipment demands a tremendous amount of power to effectively reach its destination. The Ford Ranger is equipped with the 2.0L Bi-Turbo Diesel engine capable of generating 213PS and 500Nm of torque coupled with 10-speed automatic transmission, delivering more than enough power to move heavy loads while remaining exceptionally fuel-efficient.     The Ford Ranger is also packed with advanced features to ensure maximum safety and convenience for drivers and passengers on-board. With the Autonomous Emergency Braking with pedestrian detection, pedestrians and vehicles near you are detected and alerts you with an audible and visual warning. The Ford Ranger also features Active Park Assist and rearview camera and sensors to ease your worries away during parking.     Enhanced Ranger lineup      At the start of the year, Ford Philippines introduced a series of enhancements to its entire Ford Ranger lineup to give customers more value in their pickup truck without any price increase.     The Ford Ranger XLS and XLT variants now come with a new 8-inch LCD touchscreen radio with Apple Carplay and Android Auto Capability. Perfect for customers with workhorse and utility needs, the Ranger XLS and XLT variants are equipped with a selection of features that combine powerful performance with work-ready capability.     Meanwhile, Ranger Wildtrak 4x2 variants now have a new wheel design and LED headlamps. The Wildtrak 4x4 also has a new wheel design and LED headlamps with the addition of a high-mount USB feature to support various dashcam models. The Ranger Wildtrak combines iconic Ranger design qualities, powerful performance, and advanced technologies to suit work and play needs.      Finally, the Ranger Raptor now comes with a camera-based Autonomous Emergency Braking with pedestrian detection, lane keeping aid, high-mount USB, and LED headlamps, enhancing the Raptor’s driver-assist technologies that make it a high-performance but safe and reliable pickup truck.     The new Ford Ranger FX4 is the latest addition to the Ranger portfolio, boasting of a bold design inside out and features that help widen the appeal of the Ranger among customers seeking for a versatile and capable pickup truck.       To know more about the Ford Ranger, visit www.ford.com.ph/trucks/ranger.

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