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BSP execs see within target inflation amid oil price upticks, El Niño

April 29, 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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Policy stance remains appropriate, risks to inflation even: Diokno

April 29, 2019

BANGKO Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Benjamin Diokno on Friday maintained that the central bank's policy stance remains appropriate and risks to inflation remain even this 2019.     In his speech during the First Quarter 2019 inflation report briefing at the BSP, Diokno said domestic inflation rate is easing and growth dynamics remains firm.     These are seen to counter the impact of a weaker global growth outlook and the rising global crude oil prices.     Diokno noted that while several major central banks indicated more accommodative stance as a result of the slower global economic activities their counterparts from developing economies and emerging markets "have been stirred by challenging external conditions amid trade tensions and tither global financial conditions."     In the last quarter of 2018, the domestic economy expanded, as measured by gross domestic product (GDP), by 6.3 percent, higher than the 6-percent growth in the previous quarter but weaker than year-ago's 6.6 percent.     Diokno, however, said that growth remains strong, driven primarily by government spending and private consumption.     "Domestic demand continues to support overall growth, contributing 5.4 percentage points to GDP growth," he said.     "In the near term, recent prevalent demand indicators continue to point to overall firm domestic growth prospects," he said, noting the positive outlooks of both the consumers and businessmen.     Inflation further decelerated last March to 3.3 percent from month-ago's 3.8 percent, bringing the first quarter average to 3.8 percent, slower than the 5.9 percent average in the previous quarter.     The BSP chief said that in terms of monetary conditions, domestic liquidity continues to keep pace with the economy's requirements and bank lending shows sustained improvement of the economy.     He said the domestic financial system "continues to be supported by firm macroeconomic fundamentals, sound banking system, and robust economic growth prospects that reinforce investor sentiment."     "Furthermore, the Philippine banking system remains healthy, with positive asset quality indicators and capital adequacy ratios comfortably above international norms," he said.     "The BSP continues to gauge the impact of its monetary policy responses on domestic economic conditions to ensure that inflation remains on track toward the government's target of 2 to 4 percent and that inflation expectations remain anchored," he added. (PNA)

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BPI execs eye higher income in 2019, allot P6-B for capex

April 29, 2019

BANK of the Philippine Island (BPI) President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Cezar Consing is optimistic the Ayala-led financial institution will post higher income year-on-year in 2019 after a 7.6 percent growth in net income in the first quarter of the year.     In a briefing Thursday, Consing said he is optimistic that this year’s profits will be “higher, faster (and) stronger.”     In 2018, the bank posted a three percent growth in net income to P23.08 billion.     Consing attributed his optimism to the strong rise of their loans in the first quarter this year after it grew by 11.5 percent year-on-year to P1.35 trillion.     In a report to the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) Thursday, the bank said credit card loans grew by 20.3 percent, housing loans by 9.9 percent and corporate loans by 11.8 percent.     BPI executives target to increase the share of consumer loans to around 35 percent of total in four to five years from the current 20 percent. The higher portion is accounted for by the corporate segment.     BPI Chief Finance Officer and head of Strategy and Development Maria Theresa Javier, during the same briefing, said they are giving consumer and small and medium enterprise (SME) loans greater focus, with a combined target growth of 15 percent this year, higher than the 10-12 percent eyed for corporate lending.     Relatively, BPI executives have set a P6 billion capital expenditures this year, higher than in the past, as it focuses more on digitalization of its processes as well as expanding its branch network.     Javier said they target to open 14 new BPI branches and 100 branches of its microfinance arm – BPI Direct BanKo.     To date, the bank has over 800 branches in the country, Hong Kong, and Europe and about 200 BanKO branches nationwide.     Javier said half of the new branches that will be opened this year will be in the Visayas and Mindanao, same as their decisions in recent years as they recognize the rising economic growth in these areas.     Relatively, Consing said a big chunk of the capital expenditures will be allocated for digitalization since this will have a big impact on their operations and cost in the coming years.     Digitalization will eventually lessen the need to put up additional physical branches since more customers will have an option to use mobile and online platforms, he added. (PNA)

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Region X Junior Health Researchers: Producing Quality Researches for the People

April 29, 2019

Twenty-five (25) junior researchers from different member-institutions of the Northern Mindanao Consortium for Health Research and Development (NorMinCoHRD) attended the Training on Basic Research Methods on April 10-12, 2019 at N Hotel, Cagayan de Oro City.     The training focused on enhancing the capacities of the young researchers in health research proposal preparation. A total of eleven (11) health research problems were identified and presented before the plenary and critiqued by the trainers during the three-day workshop. Among the research problems identified were prevalence of heterophyiasis, resilience in post-war, relapse after rehabilitation, breastfeeding practices, care of dementia patients, suicidal ideation, portable database for health information collection, mobile application for diabetic individuals’ data and information technology (IT) wearables.     Participants of the training were from Bukidnon State University (BukSU), Cagayan de Oro College – PHINMA (COC-PHINMA), Capitol University (CU), Central Mindanao University (CMU), Iligan Medical Center College (IMCC), Liceo de Cagayan University (LDCU), Mindanao State University – Iligan Institute of Technology (MSU-IIT), Xavier University (XU) and Northern Mindanao Medical Center (NMMC).     The trainers were the consortium’s very own officers/members, Dr. Peter R. Orbase of CMU, Dr. Ester L. Raagas of XU and Dr. Fidela B. Ansale of CU. They have been trained and completed the PCHRD-initiated Basic Research Methods Training of Trainers on December 11-13, 2018 at Davao City and the Research Proposal Critiquing Workshop on March 14, 2019 at Manila Manor Hotel, Manila.     More trainings related to producing quality health researches will be conducted to enhance the capacities of the young researchers. (Hadassah Lois Matito)

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Xavier Ateneo survey reveals top bets of Kagay-anon voters, major issues in city

April 29, 2019

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines - Results of an independent poll survey conducted by Xavier University - Ateneo de Cagayan’s Kinaadman: University Research Office (KURO) showed incumbent City Mayor Oscar Moreno of Partido Demokratiko Pilipino - Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) in a clear lead over Pompee La Vina of Padayon Pilipino.     The survey was conducted among 800 registered voters in the city from April 4 to 11, a week . after the start of the campaign period for the local elections.     Moreno has a voter preference of 61.5%, and a statistical ranking of first place. Behind in second place is La Vina with a voter preference of 16.0%. Independent candidates Felix Frias Borres stood at 0.6 %, while Ben Contreras Tiu at 0.3%. Undecided voters accounted for 21.4%, while 0.2% had no response. The margin of error was at ±3.4 percentage points with 95% confidence level.     Moreno is the favored candidate in both districts of CDO with 65.3% of voter preference in District 1 and 58.1% in District 2. La Vina got the second highest number of voter preference in District 1 with 13.2% and 18.5% in District 2. Borres and Tiu got less than 1% support of the registered voters each in both districts. The undecided voters were at 20.4% in District 1 and 22.3% in District 2.     Voters’ preference for vice mayor puts Moreno’s running mate Kikang Uy (PDP-Laban) on top with 55.0%, followed by former mayor Vicente Emano (Padayon Pilipino) with 23.6%. Undecided voters accounted for 21.3%, while 0.1% had no response. The margin of error was at ±3.4 percentage points with 95% confidence level.     According to districts, Uy has the support of 60.3% of registered voters in District 1 and 50.2% in District 2, while Emano had the nod of 18.5% of District 1 voters and 28.2% in District 2. The numbers of undecided voters were at 21.2% and 21.3% in the two districts, respectively. Dominance in the city council     From District 1, PDP-Laban candidates stood out in the race for the 8 (per district) of the 16 seats in the city council. Of the 13 contenders with a statistical chance of winning, 8 are from the ruling party while four are from Padayon Pilipino and one from Partido Federal ng Pilipinas (PFP).     Ranked from 1st -to-7th  were (in alphabetical order based on surname) Roger Abaday (PDP- Laban), Romeo Calizo (PDP-Laban), Dok Boboy Daba (PDP-Laban), Inday Dahino (PDP- Laban), George Goking (PDP-Laban), Zaldy Ocon (PDP-Laban), and Jay Pascual (PDP- Laban).     In the 8th-to-13th spots were (in alphabetical order based on last name) Jose Pepe Abbu (Padayon Pilipino), Ronald Acenas (Padayon Pilipino), Alden Bacal (Padayon Pilipino), Jundabs Yamut Daba (PDP-Laban), Manny Darimbang (PFP), and Lordan Suan (Padayon Pilipino).     The margin of error was at ± 4.9 percentage points with 95% confidence level.     Voters in the 2nd District also preferred PDP-Laban bets in the city council. Of the 13 candidates with a statistical chance of winning, seven are running under PDP-Laban, while four are from Padayon Pilipino and two are from Centrist Democratic Party of the Philippines (CDP).     In rank 1-7 were (in alphabetical order based on surname) Jun Acenas (Padayon Pilipino), . Edgar Cabanlas (PDP-Laban), Malou Gaane (PDP-Laban), Bong Lao (PDP-Laban), Ian Mark Nacaya (PDP-Laban), Eric Salcedo (PDP-Laban), and Ramon Tabor (Padayon Pilipino).     In the 8th-to-13th spots were (in alphabetical order based on last name) Girlie Balaba (PDP- Laban), Suzette Daba (PDP-Laban), Alexander Dacer (Padayon Pilipino), Leon Gan Jr (Padayon Pilipino), James Judith II (CDP), and Bebot Rodriguez (CDP).     The margin of error was at ± 4.7 percentage points with 95% confidence level.     A total of 49 candidates (26 from the First District and 23 from the Second District) are gunning for 16 coveted spots in the city council. Voters’ preference for congressional representatives     In District 1, incumbent Rolando Uy (PDP-Laban) dominates the congressional race with a voter preference of 66.1%, followed by Caesar Ian Acenas (Padayon Pilipino) with 16.4% and Gil Banaag (PFP) with 1.9%. Undecided voters were at 15.6%. The margin of error was at ± 4.7 percentage points with 95% confidence level.     In District 2, Rufus Rodriguez (CDP) has the support of 59.2% of the registered voters. Trailing behind Rodriguez were Lim Alam (PDP-Laban) with 19.4% and Roger Villazorda (PFP) with 0.9%. Only 15.9% of the voters were undecided, while 3.1% had no response as to their preference for a congressman. The margin of error was at ± 4.7 percentage points with 95% confidence level. Top problems in Cagayan de Oro     Xavier Ateneo’s KURO survey also asked respondents to identify major barangay-level issues in Cagayan de Oro City.     For Peace and Order, the top concerns identified were (1) illegal drugs, (2) illegal parking of trucks and other vehicles, (3) traffic jam, and (4) theft and robbery.     Respondents named canals and drainage as the top issues in Basic Services, followed by lack of water supply, then roads.     The top three Environmental Concerns were (1) garbage disposal or waste management, followed by (2) sanitation and (3) cleanliness of seashores, rivers, and/or creeks.     Employment and livelihood or income-generating projects surfaced as the top Economic Issues.     Meanwhile, (1) corruption at the city level, (2) implementation of barangay ordinances, and (3) corruption at the barangay level came out as the primary issues under the Local Governance category.     The XU-KURO survey used a systematic random sampling in the selection of households. The sample size of 800 was allocated proportionately to Districts 1 and 2.     As in all past poll surveys by KURO, this research was fully funded by Xavier University - Ateneo de Cagayan.     A second survey will be conducted by KURO closer to the election date, with an expected release date on the first week of May.     For any clarifications or questions, please contact Kinaadman: University Research Office (KURO) at Xavier Ateneo Main Campus. Xavier Ateneo as non-partisan     In an April 1 memo to the academic community, Xavier Ateneo president Fr Roberto C Yap SJ iterated, “[The university] participates in a non-partisan way in electoral processes to contribute to the strengthening of democratic and patriotic values as enshrined in the Philippine Constitution.”     Xavier Ateneo aligns with the advocacy for Clean, Honest, Accurate, Meaningful, and Peaceful (CHAMP) elections, and enjoins everyone in the community to practice the Ignatian value of discernment in choosing candidates running for elective posts in government.     The XU Social Development’s Student Involvement and Advocacy Program (SSIAP) is also facilitating the following activities to promote CHAMP principles and values:     1.    Kwentuhang Bayan Series - voters’ education sessions to be conducted in various sectors in the city and in some parts of Northern Mindanao, in collaboration with Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan;     2.    PAG-ILA: Candidates’ Profiling - in partnership with the City and Provincial COMELEC offices;     3.    Electoral forums for local and national candidates; and     4.    Election monitoring before, during, and after elections in collaboration with NAMFREL and PPCRV.     Yap added: “Xavier Ateneo will maintain its non-partisan stand to facilitate objective and critical thinking and engagement for the academic community. We will actively support electoral programs and activities primarily as convener of the multisectoral LIHUK 2019 movement.”

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Cooperate in Localized Peace Talks to help usher development in countryside

April 29, 2019

Agusan del Sur – Former Special Assistant to the President and 2019 senatorial candidate Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go said peace is necessary to spur development in the countryside as he appealed to communist rebels to return to the fold of the law.      Speaking at the campaign rally of the Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP) at the Agusan del Sur Cultural Center last week, Go thanked the officials of the province and the residents for their warm welcome.       He likewise appealed to the communist rebels to seriously consider the opening President Duterte has given for peace because no other President may give them the same chance.     “Huwag ninyong palampasin ang pagkakataon,” Go said.     He noted that while President Duterte announced last March 21, 2019 the official termination of talks between the government and the Communist Party of the Philipines, Executive Order No. 70 the President signed last December directing the creation of a national task force to “end local communist armed conflict” remains.     Go said this means President Duterte did not entirely close the doors to local rebels to come down from the mountains, as he also cited the on-going government incentives to rebel-returnees such as the e-CLIP and PAMANA programs.     Likewise, the Philippine National Police announced last March that all police commanders, especially in Communist rebel-infested areas, were instructed to start their own initiatives in pursuing localized peace talks with NPA units operating in their respective areas.     Go, who had taken localized peace talks as one of the priority concerns under his legislative agenda, noted that the roots of rebellion in many places of the country stemmed from local issues and thus could be addressed locally.      “Bigyan natin ng sapat na poder at kakayahan ang ating mga LGU, pati na ng mga support mechanism, para maisagawa nila ng maayos ang hangarin na magkaroon ng pangmatagalang kapayapaan sa kanilang mga nasasakupan,” Go said.      “Sino ba namang Pilipino ang gustong makipagpatayan sa kapwa Pilipino,” he added.      Go said he is familiar with the sentiment of the communist rebels, having accompanied then Davao Mayor Duterte several times in the mountains, going into the lair of communist rebels, to facilitate the release of their hostages.      It could be recalled that last February, Go and the President’s son Sebastian “Baste” Duterte, facilitated the release of the remaining eight hostages by the communist New People’s Army (NPA) in Agusan del Sur.      Unless the problem of rebellion is solved, Go said it would be very difficult for progress to take off in provinces such as Agusan Del Norte despite its generous share of development projects under the Duterte admnistration.     Among others, the government is awaiting proposals for the P50.46-million, 4.76-km communal irrigation system in Barangay Poblacion, Rosario, Agusan del Sur that with 23 units of canal structures to serve 264 hectares of rice area in Barangay Libuac, Poblacion and Tagbayan.     Upon completion, the project is expected to increase rice production from 3 metric tons to 4 metric tons per hectare for conventional rice farming and 3 metric tons to 3.6 metric tons per hectare for natural farming.     In addition the administration announced in November last year the Rural Agro-Enterprise Partnership for Inclusive Development and Growth in various areas of the country, including the CARAGA region.     The P4.7-billion project was meant to assist enterprises, strengthen institution, technically assist financial service providers, and enhance project management for agriculture-based micro and small enterprises. It is expected to benefit some 78,000 households.     Go vowed that he would support the programs and projects of President Duterte, including development projects for the countryside and the three-pronged campaign against illegal drugs, criminality and corruption.     “Ipagpapatuloy ko po ang mga pagbabagong nasimulan ni Pangulong Duterte, kabilang na ang kampanya laban sa iligal na droga, kampanya sa corruption, at kampanya sa kriminalidad,” Go stressed.     Also an important item in the legislative agenda of Go is his advocacy to improve the delivery of health services in the country, particularly through the establishment of Malasakit Center.      A program of the Duterte administration based on Go’s idea, the Malasakit Center makes it easier and faster for poor patients to avail of medical and financial assistance from the government by bringing together in one room representatives of concerned agencies such as the DOH, DSWD, PCSO and Philhealth.     “Ito po ang gusto kong isabatas pagdating ng panahon,” said Go, noting such a law would enable the establishment of Malasakit Center in more provinces and key urban centers in the country and ensure as well the continuity of the program after the term of the Duterte administration.     Go assured his fellow Mindanaoans that if fortunate to win a seat in the Senate he would serve them the way he served for over 21 years President Duterte: with integrity and honesty.     “Asahan nyo po, patuloy ninyo akong magiging tulay kay Pangulong Duterte. Wala po kaming ibang hangarin ni Pangulong Duterte kundi kabutihan ng bawat Pilipino dahil mahal namin kayo,” Go said.     Other priority concerns under Go’s legislative agenda include programs for agriculture, housing for the poor, education, long-term sports development, fire protection and prevention, barangay welfare, creation of a Department of OFW and improved benefits for senior citizens.

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