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BSP sees within-target inflation amid oil price upticks, El Niño

May 1, 2019

PHILIPPINE monetary officials continue to see within-target average inflation this year amid risks arising from higher global oil prices and the impact of El Niño.     In a briefing Friday, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Assistant Governor Francisco Dakila Jr. said the inflation’s trajectory continues to point towards deceleration until the third quarter of the year, and then go back towards the mid-point in the latter part of the year.     “That’s driven by base effects,” he said.     In 2018, inflation surpassed the government’s 2 percent to 4 percent target band from 2018 to 2022, and peaked at 6.7 percent primarily due to supply side factors, such as lack of supply of rice and several agricultural products.     However, with the help of the total of 175 basis points increase in the BSP’s key rates, as well as non-monetary policy measures, such as the immediate release of rice stocks from the warehouses of the National Food Authority (NFA), inflation decelerated and ended at 3.3 percent last March.     In the first quarter of this year, inflation averaged at 3.8 percent, same as the first quarter of last year but lower than the 5.9 percent in the last quarter of 2018.     BSP’s policy-making Monetary Board (MB), during its rate setting meet last March, placed the BSP’s average inflation forecast for this and next year at 3 percent.     Citing results of the BSP survey on private economists last March, BSP Department of Economic Research (DER) Director Dennis Lapid, during the same briefing, said mean inflation forecast among private economists showed a decline in their average inflation forecast for this year to 3.3 percent from 4.1 percent in the survey done last December.     For next year, the mean forecast declined to 3.4 percent from 3.8 percent previously, while initial forecast for 2021 is at an average of 3.4 percent.     Dakila said the BSP’s inflation forecast will be closely studied in the next policy meeting of the MB on May 9.     To date, monetary officials consider as upside risks to inflation the higher prices of oil in the international market and the impact of the El Niño, which is now seen to be longer-than-expected.     Dakila said they have not seen to date the impact of El Niño on prices of agricultural products, among others, while rice prices are going down as a result of the rice tariffication.     “For me, that is something that we need to watch out for,” he said, adding that balance of risks is even. (PNA)

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ADB lauds infra investment through 'Build, Build, Build'

May 1, 2019

CEBU City -- The Asian Development Bank (ADB) on Friday lauded the “Build, Build, Build” program of the national government as a demonstration of how it undertakes infrastructure projects with commitment and focus.     ADB Philippines Country Director Kelly Bird said he has seen a lot of progress on how the national government implemented major infrastructure investment projects since President Rodrigo Duterte conceptualized the “Build, Build, Build” program.     Bird also noted that the country is catching up on infrastructure projects with spending that has gone up to 6 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) at present and targeted to reach 7.4 percent of the GDP in 2022.     He described the government’s handling of infrastructure projects under the program as “relatively fast and much faster than ADB had been done.”     The top ADB official cited the proposed 53.1-km. Clark-Malolos Railway Project which, he said, “demonstrates huge government commitment and focus.”     “We are working as partners. We can prepare them relatively quick at high quality and we started to give them out. So you see more of these major flagship projects coming out this year or next year,” Bird said in a press briefing on the sidelines of a stakeholder discussions on the ADB’s six-year country partnership strategy at the Radisson Blu here.     The railway project is a complex project to prepare but the ADB was able to have it prepared in advance, he said.      The Department of Transportation, which implements transport projects, such the Clark-Malolos Railway Project, “has been very, very active” and made the ADB team and JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency) team “work very, very hard,” he said.     “We have already put contracts for bidding at the ADB website and we have done it on a relatively short time and the government is committed to have this construction to commence this year,” he said.      Other ADB-assisted projects are the road projects in Dumaguete City in Negros Oriental, Integrated Flood Control Project in six river basins in Panay island, construction of the New Terminal of the Mactan Cebu International Airport (MCIA), and the solid waste management project of the Cebu City government.     Bird noted the significant increase in public spending on infrastructure programs.     “What I really want to highlight here is that the Philippines in the past was underinvested in infrastructure, quite significantly,” he said, citing a 2013 study on public capital stock of countries’ infrastructure, which saw the “Philippines as among the lowest in (the) Southeast Asian region” in terms of infrastructure investment program.     Infrastructure deficit has contributed to slowed GDP growth rate and “reduces country’s competitiveness and does not help the connectivity of regions, communities and people,” he said. (PNA)

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BDO books higher first quarter income on core businesses

May 1, 2019

BDO UNIBANK, Inc. saw its net income soar the first quarter of 2019, as core banking operations continued to expand while trading gains normalized.     In a press conference Monday, BDO President and Chief Executive Officer Nestor V. Tan reported that the Sy-led bank logged a P9.8-billion net profit in the first three months of the year, surging by 66% from P5.9 billion tallied year-on-year.     This puts the lender on track to hit its full-year profit guidance of P38.5 billion, which if realized would be 17.7% higher than the actual P32.7-billion net income it booked in 2018.     Mr. Tan attributed the bank’s first-quarter income growth to the continued expansion of its core banking operations, recovery of trading gains, and strong non-interest income.     Net interest income stood at P27.7 billion in the quarter, up 25% from P22.2 billion in the comparative year-ago period.     This was on the back of its gross consumer loans which grew 10% to P2.009 trillion from last year’s P1.828 trillion.     Its nonperforming loan (NPL) ratio was steady at 1.2%, while NPL cover went up to 163% from 156% in the first quarter of 2018.

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Fans show brand affection in 'I Love Isuzu' campaign launch

May 1, 2019

It was the kind of warm reception that could outshine the hottest of summers.      In the late afternoon of April 25, hundreds of Isuzu vehicle owners and their families--all loyal fans of the world-renowned maker of diesel-powered vehicles gathered to witness the launch of the first "I Love Isuzu" Campaign at the Carousel Court of the Upper Ground level in Festival Supermall, Alabang, Muntinlupa City.     The launch of the campaign has been the culminating event of months of research, planning, and collaboration among Isuzu Philippines Corporation (IPC) and its dealers, business partners, suppliers, and the various Isuzu Clubs across the country.     IPC President Hajime Koso, in his welcome remarks, said of the "I Love Isuzu" campaign: "Isuzu vehicles are really something to take pride on. Let me tell you that, we are more than just a truck brand. Our pick-up and SUV models deliver the same outstanding performance coming from our expertise on diesel engines.     He added: " The D-MAX has been with us for more than a decade and it has proven to provide durability and fuel-efficiency, over and over again. The mu-X, captivated the hearts of Filipino families, reaching more than 45,000 units since its launch in 2014.     The impressive design of these models, coupled with comfort, convenience and most especially global safety standards is what makes our customers LOVE IT even more.”     The "I Love Isuzu" campaign has hinged on not just Isuzu vehicles' exceptional durability, reliability, power, performance, and fuel-efficiency, but also on the entire motoring lifestyle experience of their owners and their families and friends, the kind of lifestyle experiences that have evolved into fond memories throughout the decades.     After the 4 p.m. opening ceremonies, the affair was opened to the public, with free admission to the various exciting activities, such as displays of the Isuzu mu-X SUV and Isuzu D-MAX pick-up, and a special performance of "Asia's Phoenix", Morissette Amon.     The guests and the mall-going public were also treated to the premier of the "I Love Isuzu" AVP, as well as the launch of the "My Isuzu Story" videos, depicting heartfelt testimonials from Isuzu customers.      Various Isuzu Clubs, such as the mu-X Owners Club of the Philippines (mu-x OP), Team Isuzu Pilipinas (TIP) and Team Isuzu Car Enthusiasts (Team ICE), also held their club meet and new member signups during the launch.     Special promos and discounts on selected Isuzu models were also offered, and free public test drives were also conducted, apart from the mini-games wherein participants won premium Isuzu items.     The "I Love Isuzu" mall display, test drives, special discounts, and mini-games continue daily up to April 28, from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.     The "I Love Isuzu" campaign aims to encourage Isuzu customers to actively promote and share their experiences of the Isuzu brand, and to ultimately grow the community of Isuzu owners in the Philippines. As such, the campaign will also involve social media engagements on Facebook and Instagram.      Shell Pilipinas is the official fuel partner of “I Love Isuzu” campaign.     For more information on the "I Love Isuzu" campaign, log on to www.isuzuphil.com.

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Bowling opens in SM CDO Downtown Premier this 2019

May 1, 2019

The City of Golden Friendship now has a new past time to look forward to, as SM Bowling launches its 10th branch at SM CDO Downtown Premier this Summer!      The new sports & leisure center had its soft launch on April 26, and the Grand Opening on May 3, 2019. SM Bowling will have 14 modern synthetic lanes, and an up-to-date scoring system for its players. It will also be featuring multiple recreational activities including Archery, Table Tennis, KTV, and Billiards, evolving the brand from a traditional bowling alley into a full recreational center for everyone to enjoy.     SM Bowling CDO will be the first branch to feature the new Modern Industrial design of SM Leisure Centers, which will be rolled-out in the coming years across all SM Bowling centers nationwide. This new look showcases a combination of modern design with age-old materials such as wood, brick walls, raw finishes, and metal bars that make it look fresh, spacious, and lets patrons focus on the experiences the venue offers.     Come and join the fun at the #CoolestPlaceInCDO, SM Bowling CDO, located at the 4th Floor of SM CDO Downtown Premier, beside Bigby’s Restaurant. For more information on upcoming events and promos, follow @SMBowlingCenters on social media.  ABOUT SM LIFESTYLE     SM Lifestyle Entertainment Incorporated or SMLEI is the lifestyle and entertainment company of SM Prime Holdings Inc. that offers the best in events, and leisure. The company has now grown major brands, which include the Mall of Asia Arena, SM Tickets, e-PLUS Tap to Pay, SM Skating, SM Bowling and Leisure Center, Snack Time, and SM Cinema.  SMLEI aims to promote bonding activities among Filipino families and friends, through entertainment and leisure facilities, while advocating the ease of use and personalized service created to complement the Filipino lifestyle.

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Bong Go declared adopted son of Taal, Batangas, commits to push tourism in the province

May 1, 2019

On his return Friday to the home province of his grandparents in Batangas, former Special Assistant to the President and 2019 senatorial candidate Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go was formally declared as an adopted son of the heritage town of Taal.     Taal Mayor Fulgencio “Pong” Mercado presented to Go Sangguniang Bayan Resolution No. 47, series of 2019, approved on April 8, 2019 declaring him an adopted son of the municipality.      Aside from citing his advocacy for the Malasakit Center, which seeks to assist the underprivileged, the resolution also cited Go’s “relentless effort in uplifting the interest of the poor, particularly disaster victims and indigents all over the country.”     “Maraming salamat po sa mga kapatid ko dito sa Batangas sa mainit ninyong pagtanggap sa akin---nakakawala po talaga ng pagod,” Go said.     “Yung lolo’t-lola ko nag-migrate sila sa Davao, nakipagsapalaran (tulad ng ginawa ng pamilya ni Pangulong Duterte)…ako po ay Batangueño na Bisaya,” he added.     Go also noted the warm welcome the town’s residents gave during his motorcade around the municipality earlier in the day. Later, the former SAP joined the opening ceremonies of the El Pasubat Festival.     El Pasubat stands for Empanada, Longganisa, Panutsa, Suman, Balisong, Barong Tagalog, Tapa, Tamales, Tawilis, Tulingan — the delicacies and crafts that Taal is known for.     He told the people of Taal that he and President Duterte are fond of many of their products showcased in the festival, such as empanada, suman, balisong and tapa. On the other hand, he noted that his Tesoro ancestors in the province are known for their barong.     Earlier, Go vowed to help promote tourism not only in Batangas but also in other areas of the country, as he noted that the El Pasubat Festival could become a strong tourist attraction.     “Susuportahan ko po ang turismo dito sa Batangas,” Go said.     He vowed to support various infrastructure and development projects that would spur tourism and economic activity in the province of Batangas.     Go cited the Mindoro-Batangas Super Bridge, a P30.883-billion project for a bridge that will link Mindoro to Batangas. It is expected to boost economic and tourism development in both provinces.  The terms of reference, feasibility and approved budget for the contract are currently being prepared.     Likewise, he said Batangas stands to benefit from the PNR South Long-Haul Project. It is a P175.3-billion project for a 639-kilometer railway traversing Manila, Los Baños (Laguna), Lucena City, Gumaca (Quezon), Naga (Camarines Sur), Legaspi (Albay), Sorsogon City and Matnog (Sorsogon), and Batangas.     Once finished it would provide for faster, safer, more comfortable and reliable transport along the area. It is expected to be completed in 2022.     In addition, Go said the P2.5-billion project for Southern Tagalog Arterial Road to Pinamucan Diversion Road will reduce traffic congestion in major roads in Batangas City. The DPWH has already coordinated with the LGU, which allocated budget to shoulder the finances on the right of way.     Go also assured his fellow Batangueños that he would support President Duterte’s campaign against illegal drugs, criminality and corruption.     “Sa abot po ng aming makakaya, kami ni Pangulong Duterte, gagawin namin ang lahat (para sa inyo). At antayin nyo na lang po ang resulta ng serbisyong tatak-Duterte. Ang bisyo ko po ay mag-serbisyo,” Go said.     In addition, Go said he would work to improve the delivery of health services in the country, particularly through the establishment of Malasakit Center.     A program of the Duterte administration, the Malasakit Center makes it easier and faster for indigent patients to avail of medical and financial assistance from the government by bringing together in one room concerned agencies such as DOH, DSWD, PCSO and Philhealth.     “Gusto ko pong maisabatas para tuloy tuloy lang ang programa at madagdagan pa natin ang mga Malasakit Center,” Go said, noting there are already 34 Malasakit Centers serving various areas of the country. Batangas has its own Malasakit Center located in Batangas Provincial Hospital.     The former SAP’s legislative agenda also include programs for agriculture, housing, long-term sports development, fire protection and prevention, localized peace talks, barangay welfare, creation of a Department of OFW and improved benefits for senior citizens.     “Patuloy ninyo po akong magiging tulay kay Pangulong Duterte. Basta kami ni Pangulong Duterte serbisyo lang kami dahil para sa amin serbisyo sa tao ay serbisyo sa Diyos. Wala kaming hangarin ni Pangulong Duterte kundi kabutihan ng bawat Pilipino dahil mahal namin kayo,” Go told his fellow Batangueños.     Meanwhile, Go said he would pursue in his campaign until May 11, 2019, the last day of campaigning for national candidates not only for the sake of his senatorial bid but also for the opportunity to meet the people and hear their concerns.     “Hindi lang naman po kampanya ang tingin ko rito eh kundi rin po makahahalubilo ang ating mga kababayan, mapangiti man lang natin sila kahit anong init ng panahon,” Go told members of the media.     With just over two weeks to go before the May 13, 2019 elections, Go said he is excited but a little nervous, despite recent surveys showing him among the top of the “Magic 12” in the senatorial race.     “This is my first time. Sanay po ako as sortie manager ni Pangulong Duterte, as overall assistant at campaign manager niya noong nakaraang election. Kaya minsan po nakakalimutan ko na ako pala’y isang kandidato na ngayon,” Go said.     Go attributed his strong performance in the surveys to the endorsement of President Duterte.     “Maraming salamat po, ibig sabihin tumataas yung tiwala ng mga kababayan natin sa akin. Unang-una dahil po ito kay Pangulong Duterte—yung tiwala nila sa gobyerno ni Pangulong Duterte ay nadala na rin ako,” Go said.     He also expressed confidence many of the senatorial candidates endorsed by President Duterte and her daughter, Davao Mayor Sara Duterte, would do well in the elections.     “Malaki ang tiwala ko na majority ng mga kandidato ni Pangulong Duterte ay lulusot ngayong election na ito dahil malaki po ang tiwala ng taong bayan sa pamamahala ni Pangulong Duterte. Kaya po susuportahan nila ang mga kandidato ni Pangulong Duterte at ni Mayor Inday Sara,” Go said.

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