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Region 12’s economy expected to perk up in coming months

May 1, 2019

GENERAL Santos City -- Economic activities in Region 12 are seen to further perk up in the coming months, with the projected entry of more major investments and developments.     Noel Quiratman, assistant regional director of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA)-Region 12, said Monday a number of big-ticket projects from the government and the private sector are lined up in the region this year, and expected to further boost the area’s economy.     He said these are concentrated in the region’s key cities – General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong and Kidapawan – and the “emerging new urban areas” such as Midsayap and Kabacan towns in North Cotabato, Alabel and Glan in Sarangani, Surallah and Polomolok in South Cotabato, and Lebak and Isulan in Sultan Kudarat.     “Economic activities and performance of the region will continue to improve in 2019 with more projected investments in real estate, retail industry, commercial banking, fast food chain and other service-oriented industries,” he said in a report.     These will be complemented by the continuing road expansions and construction of vital infrastructure under the national government’s flagship “Build, Build, Build” program, Quiratman pointed out.     Such projection was in response to the reported slight slowdown in the region’s economic performance in 2018 based on the area’s Gross Regional Domestic Product.     A report released last week by the Philippine Statistics Authority showed that the region’s economic growth declined to 6.9 percent from the previous 8.3 percent mainly due to the sluggish performance of the agriculture and fishing sectors.     Quiratman said agricultural production might suffer another setback this year due to the impact of the El Nino Phenomenon but it could be offset by the expansions in the trade services and construction sectors.     Among the ongoing major construction projects is the P959-million rehabilitation of the city international airport, which is due for completion in two years.     He said the project will improve the region’s connectivity to other major areas of the country and “hopefully to areas abroad.”     These will be complemented by other support projects under the “Build, Build, Build” program implemented by the Department of Public Works and Highways and the Department of Transportation, he said.     Quiratman said they expect these initiatives to “directly contribute to increasing investments, enhance economic opportunities and provide jobs in the region.”     He said the other projects that are considered of “regional significance” are the Malitubog-Maridagao Irrigation Project-Phase 2 and the Kabulnan 2 Multipurpose Irrigation Project in the provinces of North Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat.     This year, Quiratman said the initial works are slated to begin for the development of the Soccsksargen General Hospital and the South Cotabato State College in Surallah, South Cotabato.     “The people of Region 12 will have better access to health care and education services, and opportunities that will ultimately develop their full potential to compete globally,” he added. (MindaNews)

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More than 300T tourist arrivals in MisOr town

May 1, 2019

INITAO, Misamis Oriental -- The local government unit of Initao has reached a total of 325,029 tourists who visited its tourist destinations in 2018.     This is based on the data gathered from its resorts and tourist establishments.     Of the total arrivals, there are at least 318,677 local tourists and 6,352 foreign nationals recorded.     According to its Tourism Office, Initao has a promising tourism industry.     “Statistics is important to measure how effective and how well we preserve the beauty of our environment thereby attracting more visitors and tourists,” the Tourism Office said.     It said this also helps them in designing marketing strategies and attract more investors to improve and develop its tourism industry and provide additional income to its constituents in the municipality.     Aside from the sprawling seascape, the Initao-Libertad protected landscape and seascape preserves the last remaining stand of old-growth forests in Misamis Oriental. It is home to century-old trees consisting of Talisay gubat, molave, narra and teak, which serves as a habitat for some rare bird species. (jmor/PIA)     Initao is not only known for its beautiful and white beaches, it also has swimming pools for summer getaways.     From protected forests to water adventures, Initao is one place to watch out for in the province of Misamis Oriental. Lasang adventure     Lasang adventure, a 57-hectare natural forest with diverse flora and fauna located within the Initao-Libertad Protected Landscape and Seascape, offers attractions and activities spanning from split-nose bats, caves, spelunking, fishing, swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving and diving from the high steep rock surface down to the sea water.     It also offers facilities for overnight stays.     The protected area features a variety of different corals that dominate the underwater and a wide variety of fish can be found making home amidst it.     Tourists interested in a snorkeling safari can camp or rent cottages located at the park. Resorts and adventures     Aside from the natural wonders found in Initao, the municipality also boasts of comfortable accommodations.     For one, there’s Minkay Restobar and Beach Resort at Midway White Beach. One can have a relaxing time with family, friends, and loved ones while traversing the stretch of white and warm sand and the glistening surface of the beach water.     Also located in Midway, is Kinason Restaurant and Resort is another ideal for family gathering and a good location with friends and with a loved one.     Moonbay White Beach Resort is also there to accommodate visitors of Initao from a white sand beach to a mix of affordable room accommodations.     Other go-to resorts and outdoor swimming spots in Initao are Hapitanan Beach Resort, Mastersons Reef Resort, Isidro’s Beach, Blu Sands Beach Resort, Don Arc Beach Resort, Coral Resort Estates, Kawayan Cliff Resort, Sea Breeze, Duthai Spring Resort, and SJ Tellights Moutain Resort, among others. Agritourism     Aside from their vegetable and coco products, Buhian Diversified Farm also offer trainings on capacity building on organic livestock production and management, coconut product processing, and farm tours. (Buhian Diversified Farm)     Buhian Diversified Farm and Kitchenette at Brgy. Poblacion is another must-visit place in the municipality which houses a 1.4-hectare wide land area of natural and organic farming.     Livestock farming of farm animals such as duck, chicken, and pig can also be explored.      There is also Mkians Agri Tourism site where tourists can relax while enjoying an array of agricultural products and foods. (eor/PIA)

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7,000 jobs up for grab in GenSan Labor Day fair

May 1, 2019

GENERAL Santos City -- Job seekers in Region 12 (Soccsksargen) can take their chances from around 7,000 job opportunities, including more than 3,600 overseas, during the Labor Day job fair slated here Wednesday.     Sisinio Cano, Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Region 12 director, said Monday the job fair is among the biggest employment and livelihood generation activities lined up in the region this year.     Cano said over 3,600 vacancies for overseas employment and 3,300 for local placements are expected in the job fair, to be held at the KCC Mall Convention Center.     Based on data posted as of Monday morning at the agency's registration website (www.dole12tnk.org), at least 37 local companies and business establishments have already signified to join the annual activity. These include fishing companies, factories, retail stores, shopping malls, hotels, construction firms, restaurant and fast food outlets, cooperatives, a college, hospital, call center, consulting firm and swine producer.     The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency-Region 12 even listed vacancies for five permanent positions. Most of the available jobs are for service crew, office personnel as well as production, construction and field workers.     For overseas employment, the agency has enlisted five manpower agencies, with vacancies from 20 companies and establishments. The job vacancies are for nurses, merchandisers, accountants, storekeepers, engineers, mechanics, teachers and various skilled workers for deployment in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Germany, Japan, and Qatar.     "We're focusing more on opportunities for skilled workers and not much on domestic or household service workers due to numerous problems with that these past years," Cano said in an interview over television program Magandang Umaga South Central Mindanao.      Aside from the job fair, the DOLE-12 official said they have lined up a number of activities and services in line with the “Trabaho, Negosyo at Kabuhayan” or TNK strategy through their partner-agencies and institutions.     He said DOLE-12 will release around PHP4 million worth of livelihood packages to poor and marginalized workers from parts of the region.     Cano said the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority will hold skills demonstrations and services like free haircut, massage, manicure, pedicure, and hair rebond.     The Department of Trade and Industry will also host advocacy and learning sessions on entrepreneurial skills through its Negosyo Center.     Meanwhile, the National Bureau of Investigation, Social Security System, Pag-Ibig Fund and the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. will offer pre-employment services for job seekers and other concerned residents. (PNA)

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Filinvest sets P39-B spending plan

May 1, 2019

FILINVEST Development Corp. (FDC) has programmed P38.9 billion for its spending plan this year as it accelerates its expansion in Clark, Pampanga.     In a statement issued over the weekend, the Gotianun-led conglomerate said bulk of its 2019 capital expenditure (capex) will be used for Clark projects such as the Clark International Airport, Filinvest Mimosa+ Leisure City, and the first phase of its logistics park in New Clark City.     “Capital expenditure in 2019 is roughly equally allocated between the trading segment of the real estate business and the investment segment, which includes office, retail, hotel, and logistics park developments,” FDC President Josephine G. Yap said was quoted as saying in a statement.     Filinvest Land, Inc. will get bulk of the spending as it starts the construction of Phase 1 of New Clark City spanning 64 hectares. The listed property developer has scheduled to break ground for the logistics, industrial park, and mixed-use project this May, with target completion by 2020.     The company expects locators to start setting up their facilities in the area by early 2020.     For Filinvest Mimosa+, FLI has lined up two office buildings, a lifestyle mall, four residential towers, a retail strip, and a high-end residential project for this year.     FDC’s investments in Clark also include the Clark International Airport, as it is part of the consortium that will handle its operations and maintenance alongside JG Summit Holdings, Inc., Philippine Airport Ground Support Solutions, and Changi Airport Philippines Pte. Ltd.     The planned spending will further support FDC’s target of having 5,000 keys under its hospitality business by 2023. The listed firm has 10 new hotels and expansions in the pipeline, equivalent to about 2,600 additional keys.     FDC currently operates six hotels with around 1,800 keys under the brands Crimson — located in Mactan, Alabang, and Boracay — and Quest Hotel, with locations in Cebu, Clark, and Tagaytay. The company also has two golf courses under its hospitality arm.     Aside from its property and hospitality projects, FDC also has interests in power, banking, and sugar.     Its main asset for the power business is a 405-megawatt clean coal power plant in Misamis Oriental. It has also partnered with French utility firm Engie for three solar rooftop projects that will provide 5 MW.     The banking business through East West Banking Corp. is focusing on consumer loans, with its consumer portfolio rising by 16% in the previous year.     Meanwhile, the company said it milled 900,000 metric tons of cane in 2018, resulting to P2.5 billion in revenues.     FDC booked a net income attributable to the parent of P9.8 billion in 2018, 48% higher year on year. Consolidated revenues also went up by eight percent to P73.3 billion.

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Udenna-China Telecom deal may prompt more Chinese firms to enter PH

May 1, 2019

THE $5.4-billion deal signed last week by Udenna Corp. and subsidiary Chelsea Logistics Holdings Corp. with China Telecommunications Corp. for a telecommunications joint venture may prompt more Chinese firms to pour investments in the Philippines.     “[T]he huge investment is significant because it represents a long-term commitment by China to the Philippines and indicates that China desires warmer relations with the Philippines beyond the Duterte administration,” Foundation for Economic Freedom (FEF) President Calixto V. Chikiamco said in a mobile message Sunday.     Global research firm Fitch Solutions had said in a report in November the entry of a new telco player joined by a Chinese company is a “clear sign” of the Duterte government’s “warming posture towards China.”     Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. Economist Michael L. Ricafort said in an e-mail the investment between Udenna and China Telecommunications may prompt other firms to follow suit.     “This huge foreign direct investment (FDI) from China, a manifestation of improved diplomatic ties/relations between Philippines and China over the past 2-3 years especially in terms of increased business transactions between the 2 countries, would send a strong positive signal for other large Chinese companies to follow by also putting/locating huge investments in the Philippines…,” he said.     “Further increase in FDIs from China presents a huge opportunity for the Philippines, going forward, as China has yet to become a major source of FDIs for various industries…” Mr. Ricafort added.     The investment agreement signed by members of the Mislatel consortium in Beijing last week formalizes its earlier commitment to invest $5.4 billion (about P279 billion) in Mindanao Islamic Telephone Company, Inc. (Mislatel), which is the group’s franchise holder to operate as a telco in the Philippines.     When Mislatel consortium joined the government’s third telco player auction last November, the group committed a combined capital and operating expenditure of P257 billion over a five-year period.     “The investment by China Telecom into Udenna will help strengthen the technical and financial capabilities of Udenna to enter the telco market and give competition to the entrenched players Globe Telecom, Inc. and Smart Communications, Inc.,” Mr. Chikiamco said.     Asked if more deals between Chinese and Philippine companies will come soon, the FEF president said, “yes.”     “The Philippines is an attractive investment destination for Chinese businessmen as it is with Japanese and other foreign investors because of the country’s high growth rate, very favorable demographics, and untapped potential in terms of tourism, infrastructure needs, mining, etc.,” he said.

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Bong Go gets love back in Quezon City, says candidates should keep campaign clean and fight fair

May 1, 2019

The people of Quezon City on Saturday gave love back to former Special Assistant to the President and 2019 senatorial candidate Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go when he returned to the city on a motorcade as part of his campaign.     It could be recalled that during his stint as SAP, Go has helped many fire victims in the city. Even after declaring his Senate bid, Go would take time out to visit fire victims to listen to their concerns, cheer them up and call for assistance.     QC residents came out on the streets, cheering and waving back at him, while some even approached the mini-truck Go was riding in to shake his hand.     “Kahit sobrang init ng panahon, subalit sa sobrang init nga ng pagtanggap ng tao kahit saang eskinita kami pumasok dito sa Quezon City nakakawala ng pagod,” Go pointed out.     With barely two weeks before the elections, Go said he would press his efforts to go around the country up to the last day of campaign not just because of his senatorial bid but also, and more importantly, to meet the ordinary people and hear their concerns directly.     “Hindi lang naman po para mangampanya, para (na rin) mapangiti man lang ang ating mga kababayan.  Hindi  lang po yun kung meron silang gustong iparating sa ating Pangulo, minsan may nag-aabot ng sulat, (ay makatulong ako kahit paano).  Gusto ko rin pong makipag-usap sa kanila,” Go said.     Upon learning that somebody recently passed away in a community along the route of the motorcade, Go decided to take time off to visit the wake and extend his sympathies to the family of the deceased.     “Kanina meron pong namatayan dinaanan namin. Nagmamalasakit lang po sa pamilya,” Go said.     The former SAP also vowed to keep his campaign clean and remain fair amid the increasing use of fake news to malign candidates and undermine their chances of winning in the elections. Go had been at the receiving end of unfounded allegations recently.     “Andyan pa rin talaga yun maduming politika. Basta kami malinis po yung pangangampanya namin,” Go said.     “Ako naman gusto ko patas na laban. Kung ano lang yung pwede mong ibigay o i-serbisyo sa taong bayan yun ang iprisenta natin sa kanila. Gaya ng sinasabi ko itago nyo na lang po sa puso ninyo kung sa tingin ninyo, sinong Pilipino ang makakapag-serbisyo sa kapwa Pilipino,” he added.     Go had declared his full support for the programs and policies of President Rodrigo Duterte, particularly his campaign against criminality, corruption and illegal drugs.     “Ipagpapatuloy ko po ang mga pagbabagong nasimulan ni Pangulong Duterte,” Go had said earlier.     Likewise, Go said he is equally in favor of infrastructure and other development projects for the benefit of the people of Quezon City and other Metro Manila cities.     Among others, Go pointed to the P356.9-billion Metro Manila Subway Projects, expected to start limited operations by 2022, that would eventually link Manila, Quezon City, Bulacan, Cavite and Laguna. In addition, Go noted the P62.7-billion MRT Line 7 that would link QC, Caloocan City and Bulacan, which is expected to be completed this year.     Likewise, Go noted plans for the P45-billion Southeast Metro Manila Expressway, expected to be completed by 2020, and the P7.45-billion NLEX Harbor Link Segment 8.2 connecting Mindanao Avenue  and Commonwealth Avenue, targeted for completion by mid-2021.     For his legislative agenda, Go said he puts top priority in improving the delivery of health services particularly through the establishment of Malasakit Center, which seeks to help drive down to the lowest possible the hospital bill, particularly of indigent patients.     “So makakatipid po sila ….at pwede nilang gamitin yung pera (na natipid nila) na pambili na lang ng pagkain. Hindi lang yun pati yung panahon nila, yung pamasahe nila makakasave po sila dahil hindi na sila palipat-lipat ng ahensya at hihingi ng tulong. Isang araw lang tapos na ang proseso,” Go explained.     A project of the Duterte administration, the Malasakit Center makes the process of availing of medical and financial assistance from the government easier and faster by bringing together in one room all concerned agencies such as the DOH, DSWD, PCSO and Philhealth.     Go wants to enact a law to ensure continuation of the program and allow the establishment of Malasakit Centers in more provinces and key urban centers in the country.     Other priority concerns Go has identified as part of his legislative agenda include programs for agriculture, education, housing for the poor, long-term sports development, fire protection and prevention, localized peace talks, creation of a Department of OFW and improved benefits for senior citizens.     “Maraming salamat sa mga kapatid kong Pilipino. Ipagpapatuloy ko po ang pagserbisyo ko dahil ang pagserbisyo ko sa tao ay serbisyo po sa Diyos,” Go said.

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