DOF studying impact of gaming ban on UHC funds

July 31, 2019

THE Finance Department is studying President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s directive for the closure of all Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO)-regulated gaming activities vis-à-vis its impact on financing the Universal Health Care (UHC) program.      “We are evaluating the immediate effects of the ban,” Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said in a message to journalists Saturday.      Dominguez explained that they are “re-checking” how much the share of PCSO is on the over-all financing of UHC.      He also has no idea until when the ban would be in place.      The ban on all PCSO-regulated gaming activities was announced by the President in a televised message Friday night.      He attributed his decision to ban gambling activities such as lotto, small time lotto (STL), and "Peryahan ng Bayan" to “massive corruption”.      He said his directive is based on “the preservation of the resources of the nation”.      Earlier, health officials said about P257 billion is needed in the first year of implementation of UHC, which will be funded primarily by revenues from sin taxes. (PNA)

Loan growth buoys Metrobank earnings

July 31, 2019

METROPOLITAN Bank & Trust Co.’s (Metrobank) net income in the second quarter rose 15.5% to P6.48 billion from a year earlier, buoyed by sustained loan and margin growth as well as fee-based profit, the lender said in a statement to the stock exchange on Friday.      This brings the bank’s second-quarter earnings to P13 billion, 18% higher than a year earlier. Metrobank shares fell five centavos to P75 each at Friday’s close.      “We anticipate that the second half will bring even better opportunities as government spending on infrastructure projects continues to accelerate,” Metrobank President Fabian S. Dee said in the statement. “We will continue to make strategic investments in key areas of people and technology so we can deliver more meaningful banking experiences to all our customers.”      Metrobank traced higher earnings to double-digit growth in operating income. Net interest income grew 10% to P36.5 billion, accounting for almost three-quarters of the banks P50.2 billion revenue.      Net interest margin improved six points to 3.83%. Loans and receivables reached P1.4 trillion, 6% higher year on year, while its nonperforming loan ratio was at 1.5%.      Metro bank said credit demand was broad-based, with both the commercial and consumer segments posting mid- single-digit growth from a year earlier.      Metrobank’s deposits rose to P1.62 trillion as of end-June from P1.56 trilion a year earlier. The lender’s consolidated assets stood at P2.3 trillion as of end-June from P2.2 trillion a year ago.

DMCI Homes launches QC project to meet rising demand

July 26, 2019

Premier Quadruple A developer DMCI Homes has launched Cameron Residences to add to its growing portfolio in the country’s biggest city in terms of population.      "Quezon City more than ever is shaping up to be a real estate hotspot with the government's aggressive infrastructure push in the area. We hope to help address the increasing demand by launching more projects in the city in the coming months," assistant vice president for project development Dennis Yap said in a statement on Tuesday.      Stretched out along Mapalad Street, Roosevelt Avenue, Quezon City, the Modern Tropical-themed development is a few minutes from the Skyway extension project, which is on its way to completion.      With this new development, going from Cameron Residences to Makati will soon take just 30 minutes --a big leap from the current two-hour travel from Quezon City to the country’s financial capital.      Also anticipated to contribute ease to daily commute is the Metro Manila Subway Project which reportedly has seven stations in Quezon City -- Mindanao Avenue, Tandang Sora, North Avenue, Quezon Avenue, East Avenue, Anonas, and Katipunan.      Likewise, the MRT-7 railway system, which will take passengers from San Jose del Monte, Bulacan to North Avenue, Quezon City is another significant infrastructure project that will promote convenient travel in the area.      Restaurants, leisure zones, shopping malls, hospitals, universities, government institutions, and business districts located near the area make the 45-level residential tower an ideal investment for end-users, upgraders, and investors looking for living spaces in the heart of Quezon City.      “We will aim to maximize the property’s excellent proximity to future infrastructure projects to create a working resident’s haven in Northern Metro Manila,” Yap said.      Known for its resort-inspired condominium communities, DMCI Homes intended the single-tower development to give residents a good balance of exquisite living spaces and areas for fun and leisure.      Included in the outdoor amenities are the following: garden area, lap and leisure pools, kiddie pool, kids’ play area, gazebo and sky promenade.      Indoor amenities, meanwhile, include snack bars, game area, lounge area, fitness gym, sky lounge. Facilities such as eight high-speed elevators, laundry station, convenience store, water refilling station, and mailroom are also provided for the convenience of the residents. (PR)

Cebu Pacific interested in Cebu-Mati flights

July 22, 2019

MATI City — Budget airline Cebu Pacific is interested in launching flights between Cebu and Mati City once the latter’s airport opens for commercial operations, according to Mati Mayor Michelle N. Rabat.      “Cebu Pacific ang nakakita ng (has seen the) potential ng ating (of our) Mati as a tourist destination,” she told the media on Thursday, noting that the carrier has expressed intent to serve the Cebu-Mati route.      Negotiations over land ownership issues on the airport’s site has started, said the mayor, whose clan is among those involved in the talks.      “We have yet to settle the issue of the land where the airport is built. I don’t want it to sound biased but it is owned by the Rabat-Rocamora, our families,” said Ms. Rabat, adding that “some documents” have gone missing.      The airport was built in the early 1980s under then Davao Oriental governor Francisco G. Rabat, the incumbent mayor’s father.      “We will try to settle that, to pacify the families (and tell them that there is a) commitment that eventually bibilhin yan (it will be paid for), but for now, allow us to develop so we can open it,” Ms. Rabat said.      She further explained that the national government, specifically the Department of Transportation, could not step in for rehabilitation if they do not have the pertinent documents on the project.      One of the main improvement works needed is an expansion of the existing 1,625-meter runway to accommodate bigger aircraft.      A P200-million fund from the national budget, through the Department of Tourism, has already been allocated for the runway.      Ms. Rabat said they are aiming to reach a settlement within the year, with support from the Davao Oriental provincial government.      “Hopefully we will be able to hit the target,at nakatutok din ang gobernador dito sa project na ito (the governor is also focusing on this project),” she said.      Gov. Nelson L. Dayanghirang earlier said the airport’s opening is one of his priorities to boost, not just tourism but the overall investment climate in the province.      “Both the provincial and the (Mati) city government believe that the reopening of the airport will bring more opportunities for the growth,” said Mr. Dayanghirang said earlier this month.      Davao Oriental’s popular tourist destinations include the Dahican Beach in Mati, the UNESCO World Heritage Site Mt. Hamiguitan, and Aliwagwag Falls, among others.      Mr. Dayanghirang said the provincial government is also working on the construction of an inland resort as well as an 800-person capacity convention center.

PPA inaugurates PH Biggest Port Terminal Bldg in CDO Today

July 15, 2019

“The construction of this brand new building will greatly strengthen the region as the global gateway to Mindanao. Once we inaugurate this on July 15, we are opening Cagayan De Oro to the nation and to the rest of the world as we pursue progress for our seaports,” said PPA General Manager Jay Santiago in a statement. Santiago said the new P 276.705 million facility would boost opportunities for economic growth and tourism, not only in the city or in the province of Misamis Oriental, but for the entire Northern Mindanao. Through the expansion project, the new PTB can now accommodate up to 3,000 sea passengers daily, triple its previous passenger capacity of 1,000. The only port in the country managed and operated by the Philippine Ports Authority with such a facility, the 18,150.50 sq.m. Passenger Terminal Complex houses three (3) major structures: the 2-Storey Passenger Terminal Building, the ground floor of which has a 1,176 passenger seating-capacity and the second floor of which has a 1,221 passenger-seating capacity; Waiting Area for arriving passengers; and the Security Checkpoint Facility 1 for embarking passengers. The Complex also has a queuing area for Taxis/PUVs; a designated area for ticketing outlets; covered walkways; open spaces for parking with carbon sink areas containing mature trees and some plants. The Passenger Terminal Building contains facilities and GAD amenities for the safety, security, comfort and convenience of the passengers including Security Checkpoint 2 with X- Ray scanner for luggage/baggage, body scanner, CCTVs; Security Office; Office for PTC Personnel; Ballistics and Ammunitions Office; Passenger Boarding Stations; Collector’s Booth; Public Assistance and “Malasakit” Help Desks; Offices for passenger-related agencies such as Tourism, Quarantine, City Tourist Police and Coast Guard; waiting areas; a designated green area with plant boxes; and storage room for equipment and housekeeping, among others. GAD amenities include Play Area for children; Child Care Station for breastfeeding and diaper changing; Ecumenical Prayer Rooms; Special Boarding Lane for Senior Citizens, PWDS, Pregnant Women and Women travelling with children below 2 years old; drinking fountains; separate toilet facilities for PWDs, Female and Male; a Medical Urgent Care Need Room; and Concessionaires Area for food stalls, coffee shops and pasalubong centers, among others. Relatedly, PPA Administrative Order No. 04-2019 which takes effect today, July 15, 2019 grants Exemption from Payment of Passenger Terminal Fee to Embarking Passengers in all PPA Ports, particularly Students, Senior Citizens, Persons with Disability and Selected Uniformed Personnel ie. AFP, PNP and the PCG in active service. PPA have remained steadfast in giving “malasakit” and service to the Filipino people as it celebrated its 45 th Founding Anniversary on July 11, 2019 with the theme “Apatnapu’t limang taon na Malasakit at Serbisyo”. PPA GM Santiago explained that “Malasakit at Serbisyo” will be the mantra of PPA in the next 365 days with the end goal of providing “malasakit” to the Filipino people through improved port services and towards a comfortable travel experience. Besides the new PTB, the PPA will also be inaugurating its new port in Opol, Misamis Oriental and the 6-lane electronic multi-gate system. Together with the ongoing extension of wharf and expansion back- up area, these three projects are part of the Port Management Office for Misamis Oriental and Cagayan de Oro program to beef up its operational capability under its 7 Pillars of Development infrastructure program. Developed in consultation with the Philippine Liners Shipping Association (PLSA), the long- term program is geared towards sustaining the Northern Mindanao’s growth over the following decades. Metro Cagayan de Oro is envisioned to become the Philippines 4 th Metropolitan Center by 2025 along with Manila, Cebu and Davao, based on the National Spatial Strategy proposed network of settlements under the 2017-2025 edition of the Philippine Development Plan, As a Metropolitan Center, Cagayan de Oro would serve as a center of commercial, financial, and administrative activities and a primary international gateway. Beyond the immediate port area, the Port Management Office-Misamis Oriental-Cagayan de Oro will also alleviate road congestion in its entry/exit points through the Opol port zone delineation and development project to address congestion in the West coast highways by handling all incoming cargo from the Western Misamis Oriental and Iligan City. “The development and construction of Opol Port will decongest Cagayan de Oro Port with the diversion of tramping vessels to Luyong Bonbon, Opol, Misamis Oriental, thereby relieving the arterial roads to the port of the truck traffic and the port itself of these types of vessels” said Engr. Samuel Claro P. Fontanilla, PMO MisOr CDO engineering services division manager.   “As part of the seven pillars program to transform the Port of Cagayan de Oro into a purely containerized port, the Port of Opol will serve as the alternate port for domestic tramping vessels to ease berth congestion at the Port of Cagayan de Oro to bring it up to UNCTAD standard,” he added. The P264-million Opol port project will reduce standby time, shifting of vessels and optimize berth utilization at the CDO Port. Relatedly, the 6-Lane, ISPS compliant Electronic Gate Complex through Gate 3 leading to Arcadia Valenzuela Avenue in Lapasan will relieve traffic congestion at Gate No. 2 by providing 6 lane electronic controlled access to port users and eliminate long queues at the entry point. This facility will be fully equipped with CCTV cameras, weigh bridges for cargoes, electronic gates, payment booths. The Electronic Permit System (EPS) and Electronic Payment System (ePayment) will be eventually embedded and complemented by the LTO’s Motor Vehicle Recognition System through the use of the RFID. (as part of system (RFID). Expected to grace the inauguration of the three key facilities is DOTr Secretary Arthur P. Tugade. The DOTr Chief Executive commended the PPA for its efforts in completing the massive port project for the people of Cagayan de Oro. “I am thankful to GM Jay Santiago, and to the men and women of PPA, for realizing the dream of building the biggest Passenger Terminal Building in the country. This is a huge step towards giving the people of Cagayan de Oro a comfortable life through enhanced connectivity, a legacy promised by President Rodrigo Duterte,”Tugade said. “Moreover, it will strengthen the region as the global gateway to Mindanao and gives much impact on our tourism industry where we are able to showcase and afford to both local and foreign tourists the comfort, convenience, accessibility of home, safety and security they deserved in their travel experience,” said Engr. Isidro V. Butaslac, Jr., PMO MisorCDO Port Manager. Since Butaslac assumed the stewardship of PPA’s PMO MisOr CDO in November 2014, they have attained significant milestones, foremost among of which was CDO Port’s recognition as one of the APSN Green Port Award System (GPAS) winners for 2018 among candidate ports from 18 member economies of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC). Butaslac received the Certificate of Recognition, ASPN Green Port Badge, and flag banners from the APEC Port Services Network (APSN) during the annual awarding ceremony held 15 November 2018 in Singapore.   Barely a month later, the Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP) cited the PMO- MOC as a Best Practice for its environmental protection and conservation during the 2018 Government Best Practice Recognition (GBPR). The PPA Head Office endorsed the PMO MOC’s entry dubbed, “Philippine Ports Authority—Port Management Office of Misamis Oriental/Cagayan de Oro (PMO MOC): Fostering a Green Culture for Port Operations and Management,” highlighted its initiatives for environmental protection, conservation, and sustainability through the employment of technology; issuance and compliance with environmental policies and mandates; and inculcating environmental awareness among port stakeholders. Operationally, the PMO has addressed berthing congestion (already over 100% eight years ago) by segregating berths according to type of cargo of the berthing vessel: Berths 1 to 6 for break bulk; 8,9, and 10 for containerized; and bulk liquids, solids at the end 12 & 13 for deep draft vessels. In addition, the port is undertaking dredging to a uniform depth of 13 meters to meet international standards. As a complement to the berthing classification, the PMO has also proposed for consideration as a high-impact project, the provision of a break bulk receiving facility at area “A” to enhance palletizing operations, ensure and improve safe and healthy working conditions for dockworkers and other port users, and preserve or protect perishable cargoes from environmental hazards and exposure to extreme weather. The project is situated about 200 meters from where Mediterranean type vessels carrying cargoes to be palletized are berthed. Trucks will no longer enter the port area so as not to congest its operational yard and port roads. Security, yard congestion, entry of irrelevant personnel, and safety concerns are expected to be attained since cargo trucks will no longer have to enter the port operational area. On top of segregating the berths, the quay which has never been extended during the last six years until 2015 was extended by another 150 meters, to be eventually lengthened up to 700 meters over the next 20 years. Not the least, the PMO replace its lighting system using solar powered LED lighting to significantly reduce power costs and pilferage of power cable wires.

Converge to bring fixed broadband to the Visayas, Mindanao by 2021

July 10, 2019

CONVERGE ICT Solutions, Inc. said its fixed broadband service may arrive in the Visayas and Mindanao regions by 2021 as it aims to start within the year the buildout of its fiber backbone outside Luzon.      In a media roundtable interview in Pasig City Thursday, the fiber broadband provider said it is currently evaluating bid submissions from submarine cable companies to expand its fiber reach in the Visayas and Mindanao regions.      “Siguro ’yung VisMin is not going to happen in the next 24 months. Kasi it takes about 24 months to build eh (Maybe going to VisMin won’t happen in the next 24 months because it takes about 24 months to build),” Converge Chief Operating Officer Jesus C. Romero said.      “We’ll start that hopefully soon. Then after that, we can operate,” he added.      Mr. Romero said the company is now waiting for the “best and final offer” of about three foreign bidders that will build its interisland fiber network in the Visayas and Mindanao regions.      “The bidders have to give their best and final offer. After those are submitted, we will have to choose which one. After we choose, then we award, then we start to mobilize,” he said, adding the completion of this process “has to be” within the year.      Converge currently has its fiber laid out in most of Luzon, covering almost all of Metro Manila and continuously expanding to Bicol and Benguet.      Earlier reports revealed that the company, owned by Pampanga-based businessman Dennis Anthony H. Uy, has secured a $250.4-million equity funding from United States-based private equity firm Warburg Pincus.      While Mr. Romero did not confirm the deal, he said Converge is always seeking to find funding for its expansion plans. These include the backbone rollout and acquisition of transmission and last mile equipment to make its services available to more areas across the country.      “The company has always said we’re looking for ways to fund expansion,” he said. “When you look at (the company’s) potential spending to fuel growth, you have cash flow, you can avail of debt, or you can try to raise money from equity infusion.”      Mr. Romero said the company is continually focusing on its fixed fiber broadband and doesn’t plan to tap the mobile telecommunications market as it sees a huge potential in the “underserved market” of the broadband segment.      “I think ’yang mobile, pagdating ng third mobile player, market share grab na lang ’yan eh (I think for mobile, when the third player arrives, it will all be market share grabbing)… Maganda rin na doon ka na lang sa (It’s better to be in the business of) something that’s growing, something that’s underserved, rather than trying to kill each other on a mature market,” he said.      Converge said last year it is pricing its expansion at $1.8 billion in the next five years, which will cover extending its broadband network to Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.


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