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A Brown files shelf registration of 50-M shares

July 23, 2021

A BROWN Co., Inc. has filed for the shelf registration of 50 million cumulative, nonvoting, non-participating, and nonconvertible peso-denominated perpetual preferred shares, along with an offer supplement for its initial P1.5-billion offering.      The company on Wednesday said it submitted a registration statement to the Securities and Exchange (SEC) on Monday. It is subjected for the commission’s review and approval.      The 50 million offer shares will be sold in tranches within three years from the effectivity of its registration statement.      For its first tranche, the company will sell 10 million preferred shares for P100 each, with an oversubscription option of up to five million preferred shares to raise as much as P1.5 billion.      A Brown aims to use proceeds from the first tranche to support the development of its real estate projects in the pipeline, landbanking activities, funding for subsidiary Irradiation Solutions, Inc., and for other general corporate purposes.      “It is in a position to venture into pockets of growth areas as seen in the current thrust to supply the necessary housing inventory to address the backlog in the economic and socialized segments,” A Brown said in a statement.      The company is planning to allocate as much as P600 million for its property developments in Tanay in Rizal, Bukidnon, Butuan City, Misamis Oriental, and Cagayan de Oro.      It added that it has eight ongoing projects in Cagayan de Oro and Butuan City, with 17 more in the pipeline covering 400 hectares.      Meanwhile, up to P400 million will be spent on landbanking initiatives in Tanay, Rizal, Cagayan de Oro City, Butuan City, and Bukidnon.      “Landbanking is focused on areas where the company has local presence and a competitive advantage. Properties adjacent completed and ongoing projects will support expansion phases,” A Brown said in its offer supplement.      “The company is also looking into new areas where it can consolidate sizable portions to come up with integrated mixed-use developments,” it added.      The company currently has 293 hectares in its land bank.      Should the company need additional capital to fund land acquisitions, it plans to tap internally generated funds and credit lines from local banks.      Around P350 million from the proceeds will be allocated for the funding requirements of Irradiation Solutions, A Brown said. The subsidiary is developing its Tanay Multipurpose Irradiation Facility Project, which is aimed to be the first commercial E-Beam irradiation facility in the country.      The company assigned PNB Capital and Investment Corp. as the sole issue manager, lead underwriter, and sole bookrunner for the transaction.

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DOF chief sees ‘pretty good’ Q2 GDP growth

July 23, 2021

IMPROVEMENT in the employment situation is expected to make the country’s second-quarter economic growth “pretty good”, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said.       In an interview over Bloomberg TV on Wednesday, Dominguez declined to give specific figures, saying he is “not big on predictions” but cited the drop in unemployment and underemployment last May.       “The fact that we’ve created about two and a half million new jobs over the last year seems to be good signs for us,” he said.      Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) data show that the labor force participation rate last May improved to 64.6 percent from the previous month’s 63.2 percent.       Employment rate increased to 92.3 percent in May from last April’s 91.3 percent, while the underemployment rate declined to 12.3 percent from 17.2 percent.      Unemployment rate thus went down to 7.7 percent from 8.7 percent.      Authorities have attributed the increase in employment rate to the continued re-opening of the economy which allows more workers to land a job.       The second-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) report is scheduled to be released on August 10.       In the first three months of 2021, the country’s GDP posted a contraction of 4.2 percent, better than the -8.3 percent in the previous quarter.       Economic managers’ growth target for this year ranges between 6 percent to 7 percent, while it is 7 percent to 9 percent for next year and 6 percent to 7 percent for 2023-2024.       With the pandemic still expected to linger, Dominguez said it is important to continue to remain “fiscally responsible.”       “We want to make sure that we have enough resources to tackle any problems in the future, such as surges in the pandemic. We also want to make sure that we have enough money to protect our citizens and that is providing them with enough vaccines,” he said.       Dominguez said the government’s USD3-trillion borrowing program for this year, same as last year, would remain to be primarily sourced domestically at around 75 percent.      The balance would be tapped overseas “depending on the situation in the market”, he said.       “We’re keeping ourselves open to financing from domestic or international sources. And essentially it’s going to be the same amount,” he added.       To date, the government has issued around PHP150 billion (USD3 billion) worth of dual tranche, 10.5-year and 25-year US dollar-denominated bond; EUR2.1-billion multi-tranche, 4-year, 12-year, and 20-year global bonds; and JPY55 billion three-year zero-coupon fixed-rate yen-denominated Samurai bond.      Dominguez said these borrowings help finance government programs this year, including the procurement of vaccines against the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).       He said nearly 30 million doses of vaccines have arrived in the country as of July 21 while around 70 million doses are expected in the third quarter and around 55 million doses in the last quarter.  “That’s certainly enough to vaccinate 100 percent of our adult population,” he said, adding the vaccination program is the government’s primary method of fighting the virus.  (PNA)

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DOST-X helps Mis. Occ. pizza store step up through sci-tech interventions

July 23, 2021

To fulfill their aspirations, D’Hermanos Pizza applied for the Department of Science and Technology’s Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program (DOST-SETUP) in 2019.       The firm was located in Tangub City, Misamis Occidental, and started with humble beginnings.       In 2014, using conventional and manual production equipment, the firm started baking for family and close-knitted friends in small quantities, but orders kept pouring in for their pizza. Hence, the owner, Mr. Raymond Lanzado, with his wife, Mrs. Patrocenia Lanzado, decided to increase its production volume to cater to orders from the locals of Tangub City and tourists.      The increasing number of customers propelled the owner to improve its production plan. The goal was to upgrade its production equipment, establish a Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP)-compliant production facility, and acquire a License to Operate (LTO) from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).      A month after its application, the firm received the DOST-SETUP assistance to realize its production plan as well as enhance its packaging and labeling.       Through SETUP, the pizza’s baking time was reduced from 20 minutes to 3 minutes, thus, increasing the firm's production volume from 3 to 100 pizza formulations per day with improved quality. The firm was also able to increase its productivity by 9% and hire 10 additional production workers. With the increase in sales and demand, the firm opened a branch in Ozamiz City.       “Salamat kaayo sa DOST, sa natabang sa pag improve sa among operation.  Kung kami lang dili namo ma improve amo facility ug dali. Salamat sa mga technology nga gihatag ug gishare ug Salamat sa technical na tabang kay na approve amo application sa FDA”. (We are grateful to DOST for helping us improve our operations. We cannot improve our facility this fast if we are only on our own. We are thankful for the technology and the technical assistance we received to have our FDA application approved.),” said Mrs. Patrocenia Lanzado, owner of D’Hermanos Pizza.       DOST-SETUP is a nationwide strategy encouraging and assisting micro, small, and medium enterprises to adopt technology innovations to improve their operations and thus boost their productivity and competitiveness. (Rogelyn Calago, DOST-Misamis Occidental)

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NNC X leads 2021 Nutrition Month celebration

July 23, 2021

The National Nutrition Council (NNC) regional office X is spearheading the yearly celebration of National Nutrition Month here in Northern Mindanao.      The Nutrition Month campaign with the theme: “Malnutrisyon patuloy na labanan, First 1000 Days tutukan!” is an institutionalized campaign that offers an opportunity for various stakeholders to come together to inform about the most relevant nutrition issue in the Philippines.       This year, the call to action is: “By working together, we can end all forms of malnutrition. Let us scale up critical actions in the first 1000 days of life!” Its accompanying key messages: ABAKADA which means Alagaan ang mga buntis, Breastfeeding kay baby, Komplementary feeding na sapat and Dapat lahat suportado ang PPAN.      It is backed up by the following laws: RA 11148, RA 11210, RA 10410, RA 10028, RA 8976, RA 8172 and EO 51.      The first 1,000 days of a child is important because it is when health, nutrition and development foundations are established such as optimum growth and development, higher IQ and reduced deaths, among many others.       In this important period, scaled-up interventions for pregnant and lactating women should be in place, followed by exclusive breastfeeding of a newborn until he/she is six months old, and then continued breastfeeding with appropriate complementary feeding for infants six months and older.      Based on the 2020 Operation Timbang (OPT) Plus of Region X, report showed that about 8 out of 100 (37,620) children below 5 years old are stunted or height-for-age is below the standard, 3% or 15,988 are underweight, and 2.2% or 11,140 are wasted or thin for their height. Aside from undernutrition, overnutrition is also a public health concern. There are 5,027 (1%) overweight children below 5 years old, and 3,288 (0.6%) are obese. OPT Plus is the annual weighing and height measurement of all preschoolers 0-59 months old or below five years old in a community to identify and locate the malnourished children.        In the 4-year trend of the nutritional status of children below 5 years old from 2017-2020, underweight is decreasing consistently from 4.5% to 3.6%, same with stunting it went down to 7.6% from 8.9% in 2017. For other indicators, the trend is fluctuating but results showed in 2020 report that wasting prevalence slightly decreased to 2.3% from 2.6% in 2017. There is also a slight decrease on the overweight prevalence, 1.7% in 2020 compared to 1.9% in 2017.      On infant and young child feeding status, the 2019 Expanded National Nutrition Survey (ENNS) of the Department of Science and Technology – Food and Nutrition Research Institute (DOST-FNRI) result showed that Misamis Oriental ranks highest on timely breastfeeding initiation. Bukidnon is highest among the provinces on timely introduction of complementary food, while Misamis Occidental top the survey on the percentage of children that receive minimum acceptable diet.       Different stakeholders at the community level play various roles in addressing malnutrition.      DILG Memorandum Circular 2018-42 enjoins all LGUs to prioritize in their allocation of local funds the PPAs included in their local nutrition action plans formulated in accordance with the PPAN 2017-2022.      On the other hand, the national government strengthens policies and programs in scaling up nutrition interventions.      The private sector, too has a role to act by creating an enabling work environment for maternal and lactating women.      Civil society can lobby and work with government in strengthening efforts to combat malnutrition.       Meanwhile, the academe may ensure to insert nutrition in their curriculum.       At the family level, parents or guardians can practice good nutrition in their respective households. Moreover, parents should make sure that children 6-23 months old received appropriate complementary foods.       And lastly, the media can disseminate factual information on good nutrition through print, television, radio, digital and other platforms.      In this pandemic year, families had limited access to food, ayuda food items were insufficient to meet nutritional needs, there were interruptions of nutrition programs and services, maternal health services were affected and physical inactivity and unhealthy behaviors increased.      Thus, PPAN 2017-2022 programs such as Infant and Young Child Feeding, Integrated Management of Acute Malnutrition, National Dietary Supplementation Program, Nutrition in Emergencies, National Nutrition Program for Behavior Change, Mandatory Food Fortification, Micronutrient Supplementation and Overweight and Obesity Management and Prevention Program are being continued to meet the emerging needs.      Nutrition Month 2021 is observed throughout July in activities such as integration of nutrition in 4Ps family development sessions, strengthened digital campaigns, broadcasting Nutrition Month plugs on air and TV infomercial, I-Flex mo si Nanay! Photo Contest, F1K Short Filmmaking Contest: Level Up! Also, the ongoing Tutok Kainan Dietary Supplementation Program which provides additional nourishment to 3,382 pregnant women in in all barangays of the eight (8) identified recipient local government units of Bukidnon.

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P36-M annual damages estimated | Rats threaten viability of Mindanao broadband network

July 23, 2021

The continued roll-out of the national broadband network in Mindanao is being threatened by rats.      During the 126th Regional Development Council-X Full Council Meeting held virtually on 24 June 2021 via Zoom, Parasat Cable TV President and CEO Elpidio M. Paras reported that rat bites have been delaying the rollout of the broadband network between Cagayan de Oro to Davao.      Parasat is one of several telecommunications and Internet Service Provider (ISP) firms currently renting the utility poles of BUSECO and FIBECO to securing their fiber optic lines and equipment which are a vital infrastructure for the country’s ICT network.      “We are under contract with the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) Region X in building, maintaining and monitoring their internet access equipment which are now providing FreeWifi services to many municipalities, hospitals and State Colleges and Universities in Bukidnon. The fiber optic lines are our main cables which carry high speed internet connectivity to several sites in Bukidnon province,” Paras explained.      “Since last year, we have had several instances where our fiber optic lines were chewed, cut and affected by rodents (rats) which use the palm oil branches for access. In fact, late last year, we had to replace a 20 kilometer stretch of very expensive fiber optic cable which the rodents chewed on in at least 30 locations in Impasug-ong municipality alone,” he added.      Initially, Parasat were able to get permission to trim palm tree branches which in contact with the power and telecommunications lines. Estimated costs for repair and downtime every instance the lines were cut have now grown to millions of pesos.      However, Paras said within a week’s time last March, two events of rat bites on the 96F Fiber Mainline between Cagayan de Oro and Davao were again experienced.      “Our Maramag-Davao link went down on March 20, 2021 around 9:30 PM. Our response team traced the fault line at Brgy. Loriga, Kitaotao, Bukidnon beside Phoenix Gas Station and Seagull Resort. It is 117 meters from Enclosure 23 going to Maramag where rats chewed a portion of 96 Fiber core cable,” he reported. “It took the company 46 hours to replace the cable and enclosure to restore the link at an estimated cost of P350,000.”      Barely a week later, the Davao Monitoring Hub reported that the Cagayan de Oro to Davao line was down around 5 AM. The response team found damaged fiber cores at crossing going thru the National Highway at Impasug-ong, Bukidnon. This time, the damage was repaired after 9.5 hours at a total cost of P320,000.      “In summary, the latest downtime cost our company P670,000.00 in  less than a week,” Paras said. “Such a high incidence of fiber cuts due to rodent infestation is now becoming a major problem just for our operations between the Cagayan de Oro-Davao leg."      In the latest reported incidents on July 21, two fiber cut incidents were observed on  CDO -Gingoog  and CDO to Davao main fiber transport lines. One was caused by people cutting overgrown bamboo trees on the CDO- Butuan highway, and the other was caused by rodents chewing thru the 96 core fiber cable near Quezon, Bukidnon.      “If the four other telco players which also have pole mounted cables are affected, around P3-million a month worth of repair and maintenance costs are estimated.  In a year’s time, P36-million in damages caused by rodents which gain access via trees and other vegetation under power/telecommunication lines is possible,” he stressed.      Parasat has requested Impasug-ong Mayor Anthony A. Uy for assistance and permission to remove palm oil trees and other vegetation currently growing underneath the power and telecommunications poles, cables and equipment along the National Highway in the municipality of Impasug-ong.      During its 126th RDC-X Full Council Meeting on June 24, 2021, the council endorsed for approval to the Presidential Office the “Policy Brief on Strengthening the Resiliency of Information and Communications Technology Fiber Optic Networks” presented by Karma Yasmin B. Ortiz, Economic Development Specialist II, ICT Sub-Sector Coordinator, NEDA-X, InfraCom-X Secretariat.

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Vaccine inequity undermining global economic recovery

July 23, 2021

COVID-19 vaccine inequity will have a lasting and profound impact on socio-economic recovery in low- and lower-middle income countries without urgent action to boost supply and assure equitable access for every country, including through dose sharing, according to new data released today by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the University of Oxford.      An acceleration in scaling up manufacturing and sharing enough vaccine doses with low-income countries could have added $38 billion to their GDP forecast for 2021 if they had similar vaccination rates as high income countries. At a time when richer countries have paid trillions in stimulus to prop up flagging economies, now is the moment to ensure vaccine doses are shared quickly, all barriers to increasing vaccine manufacturing are removed and financing support is secured so vaccines are distributed equitably and a truly global economic recovery can take place.      A high price per COVID-19 vaccine dose relative to other vaccines and delivery costs – including for the health workforce surge – could put a huge strain on fragile health systems and undermine routine immunization and essential health services and could cause alarming spikes in measles, pneumonia and diarrhea. There is also a clear risk in terms of foregone opportunities for the expansion of other immunization services, for example the safe and effective rollout of HPV vaccines. Lower income countries need timely access to sustainably priced vaccines and timely financial support.      These insights comes from the Global Dashboard for COVID-19 Vaccine Equity, a joint initiative from UNDP, WHO and the University of Oxford’s Blavatnik School of Government, which combines the latest information on COVID-19 vaccination with the most recent socio-economic data to illustrate why accelerating vaccine equity is not only critical to saving lives but also to driving a faster and fairer recovery from the pandemic with benefits for all.      In some low- and middle-income countries, less than 1 per cent of the population is vaccinated – this is contributing to a two-track recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. “It’s time for swift, collective action – this new COVID-19 Vaccine Equity Dashboard will provide Governments, policymakers and international organizations with unique insights to accelerate the global delivery of vaccines and mitigate the devastating socio-economic impacts of the pandemic.”      According to the new Dashboard, which builds on data from multiple entities including the IMF, World Bank, UNICEF and Gavi, and analysis on per capita GDP growth rates from the World Economic Outlook, richer countries are projected to vaccinate quicker and recover economically quicker from COVID-19, while poorer countries haven’t even been able to vaccinate their health workers and most at-risk population and may not achieve pre-COVID-19 levels of growth until 2024.       Meanwhile, Delta and other variants are driving some countries to reinstate strict public health social measures. This is further worsening the social, economic and health impact, especially for the most vulnerable and marginalized people. Vaccine inequity threatens all countries and risks reversing hard won progress on the Sustainable Development Goals.      Vaccine inequity is the world’s biggest obstacle to ending this pandemic and recovering from COVID-19. Economically, epidemiologically and morally, it is in all countries' best interest to use the latest available data to make lifesaving vaccines available to all.”      Designed to empower policy makers and development partners to take urgent action to reduce vaccine inequity, the Global Dashboard breaks down the impact of accessibility against a target for countries to vaccinate their at-risk populations first to reduce mortality and protect the health system and then move on to vaccinating larger shares of the population to reduce disease burden and re-open socio-economic activity.      The Dashboard is facilitated by the Global Action Plan for Healthy Lives and Well-being for All (SDG3 GAP), which aims to improve collaboration across the multilateral system to support an equitable and resilient recovery from the pandemic and drive progress towards the health-related SDGs.      Closing the vaccine gap is required to put this pandemic behind us. The dashboard can help scale up and accelerate global delivery of vaccines by providing accurate, up-to-date information on not just how many vaccines have been given, but also the policies and mechanisms through which we get them into arms.

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