Saturday, April 8, 2017




I urge my colleagues on the House Committee on Justice to urgently tackle, as soon as the summer break is over, the five pending bills seeking either to create a Commission on Immigration or update the immigration law of our country.


The stop gap measures for the current immigration personnel woes at the NAIA are temporary in nature, but the long-overdue updating of the immigration legal infrastructure can address those overtime pay problems, which are symptomatic of or linked to the many ailments of the Bureau of Immigration and the immigration system.


As my colleague Representative Maximo B. Rodriguez, Jr. properly noted in his House Bill 1697, Congress has tried since the Fourteenth Congress to update our immigration law.


This cannot go on for long. The Seventeenth Congress ought to pass a new immigration law and send it to President Duterte for either signing or lapsing into law.


When the Committee of Justice approves the consolidated bill, I ask President Duterte to certify it as urgent. I also ask Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II to recommend the consolidated bill for certification as urgent, so it could be approved in time for implementation before the end of 2017 and allow the Justice Department time to approve the implementing rules and regulations.


We need to ascertain and solve the problems that have kept Congress from approving this legislation critical to our national security, mass transport system, and the administration of justice. (END)

QBO launches hub for startup programs

QBO launches hub for startup programs
QBO Innovation Hub, an established partnership between the public and private sector including the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of Science and Technology (DOST), IdeaSpace Foundation, and J.P. Morgan, opened its startup enablement programs to help speed up growth and learning for Philippine startups and entrepreneurs.
"We are excited to create success stories that will inspire Filipinos to start their own companies instead of pursuing opportunities overseas," said QBO and IdeaSpace President Butch Meily.
QBO will start offering programs and services to startups including access to QBO's networking events such as classes, workshops, mentorship, feedback sessions, and use of its co-working space.
Available services also include professional consultations on legal, accounting, marketing and design, corporate and government partner resources referrals, incorporation assistance, business registration, intellectual property filing, and investors and potential partners pitching.
"DTI hopes that with our partners from industry, academe, and other government agencies such as DOST and DICT, our initiatives will help advance the development of our local startup ecosystem and increase the number of high-growth oriented enterprises that will bring the Philippine brand in a global scale," emphasized DTI Trade and Investments Promotions Group Undersecretary Nora K. Terrado.
Through QBO, startups will also have an opportunity to join J.P. Morgan's Incubation Program, a stage agnostic module that will be available to select and high-potential startups all year round. It initially plans to enroll 15 startups by the end of 2017.
"As one of the world's leading financial institutions, J.P. Morgan celebrates new ideas and we are committed to supporting entrepreneurs in the country, especially those with underserved backgrounds. Engaging with Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) at their early stages is critical and we are excited about the tremendous opportunities they will bring to developing sectors and generating jobs, which are both vital in promoting prosperous and thriving communities," said Roberto L. Panlilio, Senior Country Officer, J.P. Morgan Philippines.
To avail the said services, startups need to have an initial interview with the QBO team and undergo initial assessment. Through this, a customized plan will be designed to match with the resources needed by the startup.
QBO was launched in 2016 with DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez and PLDT Group Chair Manny V. Pangilinan. It aims to link innovators, explorers, investors, academic institutions, start-up mentors, funders and enablers as well as a broad spectrum of partners and stakeholders from both public and private sectors to convene in constructive interaction.
"The Philippine startup ecosystem is growing incredibly quickly, fueled by a young population engaged in the internet and digital, and more importantly, by entrepreneurs that demonstrate incredible determination and commitment. By continuing to develop ideas into innovative products and technologies, startups can evolve to become great companies that positively impact the future of the Philippines" said DOST Undersecretary for Research and Development, Dr. Rowena Cristina L. Guevara.
QBO is the first innovation hub in the country, pioneering the first public-private effort to establish an innovation ecosystem in the Philippines following success stories of Silicon Valley in the United States, BLK 71 in Singapore, and MaGIC in Malaysia.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc.

SME Nation conquers Davao
By Mai Gevera
Davao City (1 July) -- Realizing the need for small and medium businesses to go digital, the Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc. and the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT) finally partnered to help SMEs develop business through the right access to information and communication technology.

DCCCII President Simeon Marfori bared that businesses in Davao need to be introduced with the latest innovations in technology especially on voice solution, internet broadband, and wireless solution.

"These are services that are not yet offered to and used by our SMEs. This is why we have partnered with PLDT as we share the same goal of making these innovations to Davao businesses and would later redound to binging in more investments in Davao City," Marfori said.

PLDT, on the other hand, has been roaming around the provinces to engage SMEs in taking advantage of simple, scalable, nurturing and enabling end-to-end solutions fitted for their respective businesses.

PLDT SME Group Head Katrina Luna-Abelarde attended the Memorandum of Understanding Signing held at the Apo View Hotel together with DCCCII executive director Conrado Hernaez, PLDT Small and Medium Enterprise for VisMin Business head Nilo Bantilan, and DCCCII President Simeon Marfori.

Abelarde claimed that Philippine SMEs suffer a poor rating on ICT that showed only 10 to 20 percent of the SMEs have stable internet access while 2 to 5 percent have websites of their own.

"How can we go global with this poor appreciation and usage of ICT?" she said.
Thus, PLDT SME Nation partners with different business organizations where they offer tailor-fit solutions such as broadband connectivity, business-enabling devices like computers, wireless access points, wireless card payment terminals, software applications, and contents like sales inventory management software and on-line website builders.

Abelarde explained that inorder to benefit various SMEs, PLDT has transformed its services from cost items into wise investments.

"We are not yet talking about the details of this partnership but definitely we are to bring cheaper technology services to our SMEs since we have partnered with PLDT," said Marfori.

SME Nation wishes to inculcate in the minds of SMEs the importance and value of the digital marketplace.

One amazing offering for SMEs is the PLDT MyDSL Biz where one can instantly launch his virtual outlets worldwide - all of which proudly promote and showcase one's wares. Through this product, one can also accept and respond to inquiries and capture sales from an increasing number of online customers.

Davao business chamber sees growth of ICT, SME sector

Davao chamber sees growth of ICT, SME sector
Davao City (1 July) -- Chamber of Commerce and Industries Inc. (DCCCII) President Simeon Marfori II sees the expansion and growth of the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector following the signing of a memorandum of understanding between PLDT and the Chamber on the offering of a wide range of ICT services to Small and Medium Scale Enterprises members of DCCII.

The MOU was signed by Marfori and PLDT SME Group head Katrina C. Luna Abelarde last July 27 at the Apo View Hotel Davao. The MOU is the first in the country where PLDT hopes to help SMEs foster connectivity and access to the latest innovations on ICT.

DCCII will provide the venue, linkage and technical skills to SMEs while PLDT will provide affordable, practical, scalable and managed solutions to these SMEs.
Marfori said that these are the elements needed for the growth of a sector (ICT) which along with agriculture, tourism sectors is where the Chamber will be focusing on for this year.

"The more SME users of ICT the better it will be for the industry as it will be used to increase productivity and efficient allocation of resources.

Marfori said that he hopes to enter into another agreement with another company. He said the DCCCII is looking into IBM which could provide the server, which could be used by the SMEs.

Luna-Abelarde said that the PLDT SME Nation Group was formed in January this year to help provide SMEs and IT platform. She said that of the 300,000 SMEs only 10-20% are connected to the internet of which 2 to 5% have websites of their own.

She said that among the packages offered to SMEs include Voice solutions which include a full PABX solutions package comprising of the switch and line. Also offered are Broadband package and applications for business operations. (PIA/RG Alama)

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Associated Marine Officers' and Seamen's Union of the Philippines (AMOSUP)

PGMA lauds AMOSUP on health initiatives
by T. Villavert
Iloilo City (30 June) -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo lauded the Associated Marine Officers' and Seamen's Union of the Philippines (AMOSUP) for putting up a hospital that directly impact on the needs of the AMOSUP's members and dependents in Western Visayas.

The President during the inauguration of the Seamen's Hospital Iloilo yesterday (June 30) was happy to note that "our seafarers and their families are well taken care of by the private sector, people's organizations and by the government as well."

The three-storey Seamen's Hospital is a 40-bed capacity hospital constructed at a cost of P42 million and occupying 3,300 square meters in Mandurriao, Iloilo City.

AMOSUP President, Captain Gregorio Oca led President Arroyo to the various departments of the three-storey hospital. This is now the third satellite facility of the AMOSUP throughout the country, who count about 55,000 members.

During the activity, President Arroyo that OWWA's scholarship program for the Seafarers' families will soon start on a mass scale.

She said that the program of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) will now be "backed up by the national government funds coming from the reforms we made in the phase one of our economic agenda."

"With additional revenues", the President said, "we can now fund programs that directly impact on the people including the welfare of the seafarers and their families."

President Arroyo counts on the seafarers to takepart in the economic upliftment of the country, as well as urges them to bring the great quality of the Filipino seafarers through out the world. (PIA)

Philippines to push ASEAN’s bid to engage Japan on innovation and MSME inclusivity

PH to push ASEAN's bid to engage Japan

on innovation and MSME inclusivity—Lopez

MAKATI—As the Philippines chairs the ASEAN Economic Ministers' Meeting (AEM) and Related Meetings for this year, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez is determined to advance ASEAN's objective to engage Japan on innovation and inclusivity of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs),  during the AEM Roadshow to Japan from 6 to 8 April 2017.   


ASEAN economic ministers will also call on Japan's top leaders and government officials in a consistent bid to strengthen bilateral relations between ASEAN and Japan. The AEM Roadshow will include site visits to some Japanese companies in Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, and Wakayama.


"ASEAN is keen to engage with Japan on the theme of innovation and on how this can strengthen not only industries but MSMEs," said Sec. Lopez, chair of AEM, whose domestic advocacy on developing MSMEs through innovation aligns with ASEAN's intention.


The ASEAN delegation with ASEAN Secretary-General Le Luong Minh is set to meet Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Minister Hiroshige Seko of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), as well as some public officials.


"Given Japan's stature as one of ASEAN's worthy trading partners and the continually growing trade between the two, we cannot stress enough the importance of this Roadshow in further strengthening relations between ASEAN and Japan," he added.


The trade chief also noted that during the first Roadshow in 2016, ASEAN economic ministers were impressed at what they witnessed in the showcase of Japanese resilience and human resource development.


Likewise, the ASEAN Member States (AMS) gained a deeper understanding of the importance of regional efforts on disaster resiliency, according to him.


"Japan is regarded as a leader in innovation for the past 50 years and is home to widely-recognized companies. Economic ministers are eager to see this innovation at work in Japan not only to gain new perspectives to be applied in their respective countries, but also to better implement the AEM priority on inclusive, innovation-led growth towards shared prosperity for the region," explained Sec. Lopez.  


ASEAN will also discuss with the Japanese side ways to strengthen ASEAN-Japan economic relations, as well as the ongoing negotiations with the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). ASEAN is confident that with the support of Japan, the negotiations on the basic RCEP parameters will be concluded within the year.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

DOF eyes March 2017 Philippine inflation rate at 3.6%

DOF eyes March 2017 Philippine inflation rate at 3.6%
By Joann S. Villanueva

MANILA, April 4 (PNA) -- Faster rate of price increases of food and oil in general are seen to further push domestic inflation rate in the Philippines to 3.6 percent in March, a Department of Finance (DOF) official said.

Finance Undersecretary and chief economist Gil Beltran, in his report to DOF Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, said normalization of oil prices from its record-low levels last year is the main factor for the uptick in domestic inflation rate this year.

In February, the country's inflation rose to 3.3 percent from January's 2.7 percent, bringing the average in the first two months this year to three percent, the middle of the central bank's inflation target range of 2 to 4 percent.

Oil prices went down to around USD40 per barrel in the early 2016 due to oversupply but it has so far gone up to a little over USD50 per barrel as major oil producers cut supply to address the low oil price environment.

This development made Beltran consider the faster inflation rate in the third month of 2016, with the food and non-alcoholic beverages sub-index seen to rise to 4.5 percent from 4.1 percent last February. Year-ago level for his index is 1.6 percent.

Housing, utilities and fuels index is also seen to register an increase to 4.1 percent from month-ago's 2.9 percent.

Core inflation, which exclude volatile items namely food and oil, rose to 2.7 percent last February from month ago's 2.6 percent and year ago's 1.6 percent as oil prices continue its climb.

Other sub-indices forecast to post increases are alcoholic beverages and tobacco, from six percent last February to 6.5 percent in March; clothing and footwear, from 2.8 to 2.9 percent; and health, from 2.6 to 2.8 percent.

Beltran however, sees lower contribution of the transport index for the third month this year to 1.9 percent from last February's 2.8 percent mainly due to lower oil prices last March in particular from last February's level.

The restaurant and miscellaneous services sub-index is also seen to post a slower growth of 1.8 percent from month-ago's 2.1 percent.

Inflation of the communication index is seen to remain flat at 0.2 percent and the recreation and culture and education indices both at 1.8 percent.

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) is scheduled to release the March 2017 inflation report on Wednesday. (PNA)

Monday, April 3, 2017

Philippine strengthens trade and investment promotion efforts in Mexico

Philippine strengthens trade and investment promotion efforts in Mexico

Mexico City – The Department of Trade and Industry´s (DTI) Philippine Trade and Investment Center (PTIC) in Mexico, with support from the Philippine Embassy in Mexico, together with COMCE, the Mexican Business Council of Foreign Trade, Investment, and Technology recently discussed Philippine business opportunities in an organized roundtable on Philippine Business Opportunities in Mexico.

Participated in by over 30 Mexican businessmen from the logistics, autoparts manufacturing, business development, and agro-food products sectors, the event highlighted opportunities for trade and investments between the Philippines and Mexico.

Ambassador Eduardo Jose A. De Vega graced the event by highlighting the history of Mexico-Philippine trade relations and the importance of the current activities of the Philippine government to reactivate them.

Meanwhile, the Embassy´s Commercial Counselor and head of PTIC Mexico, DTI´s Vichael Angelo D. Roaring, presented current bilateral trade relation between the two countries and the opportunities, advantages, incentives and the optimum environment that the Philippines has developed to become a competitive destination for foreign investments and a source of exports of quality products.

"The Philippines continues to be a strategic business location in the Asia-Pacific region, being not only a 100 million market but as a gateway for over 500 million market of the ASEAN," highlighted Roaring. 

Juan Pablo Garcia, Director of Corporate Affairs of CEMEX, gave a testimonial and a case study of CEMEX´s experience of setting up and doing business in the Philippines.  With CEMEX' presence in more than 50 countries, Garcia cited the Philippines as one of its best places for doing business for its manpower and enabling business environment.  Garcia also pointed out CEMEX´s plans to venture in the low-cost housing sector in the Philippines, a preferred business sector of the DTI's Board of Investments 2017 Investment Priorities Plan (IPP). 

Jorge Barbosa of ProMexico, a trade promotion agency of Mexico, presented opportunities that Mexico offers to the Philippines in terms of investment, as well as the potential of the Philippine market for Mexican companies in the fields of processed food, beverages, frozen fruits and vegetables, auto parts, home appliances and creative industries, and the potential for investments in ports, infrastructure, auto parts, call centers and entertainment industries.

Also present to discuss the strengthening relations between the Philippines and Mexico are Ambassador Enrique Michel Santibáñez, former Ambassador of Mexico in the Philippines, and current COMCE president for the ASEAN; and Alberto Varelo of AMEXCID, a Mexican government agency for International Development Cooperation. On the other hand, Philippine Embassy Vice Consul Mikhail de Dios discussed cultural ties of the two countries.

The event served as an avenue for networking between Mexican businessmen and Philippine officials. PTIC Mexico held one-on-one consultations with the participants to work on their specific business interests with the Philippines.

World’s largest Halal event to showcase Philippine products

World's largest Halal event to showcase Philippine products
The Philippines, through the Department of Trade and Industry's Export Marketing Bureau (EMB) and Philippine Trade and Investment Center (PTIC) – Kuala Lumpur, is set to take part at the Malaysia International Halal Showcase (MIHAS) 2017 on 5-8 April in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
After years of absence at MIHAS, the Philippines is back with 30 Philippine companies that will showcase Halal-certified products at the Philippine Pavilion. Joining the business delegation are companies from the food (27) and non-food (3) sectors.
Products to be showcased will vary from food and beverage, processed meats and snacks, to cosmetics and personal care. With its Philippine Export Industry development program, Philippines' participation at the said trade show is the biggest to date. 
"The Philippines takes this opportunity to introduce itself as a major supplier of Halal compliant products to the world.  We are here to take part in the global Halal initiative and to bring about innovative products that will complement the global Halal ecosystem. The Philippines brings together the strong collaboration of Halal stakeholders in the Philippines with the deliberate approach under the recently passed Philippine Halal Export Promotion and Development Law (Republic Act 10817),"  said DTI EMB Director Senen M. Perlada.
DTI-EMB confirmed the participation of San Miguel Purefoods Company, Inc., Mega Global, Century Pacific Food Inc., and Palmstore, among others.
The PTIC – Kuala Lumpur has also expressed confidence in the success of the Philippine's participation, especially with the keen interest shown by businessmen in Malaysia to visit the Philippine Pavilion and meet the companies.
"We have gained recognition in the industry with businesses and business organizations, culinary schools, hotels, food manufacturers, and wholesalers alike, expressing excitement to  see what the Philippines can offer in terms of Halal," said PTIC Kuala Lumpur Commercial Attache Katrina Banzon.
Philippine Halal products to Malaysia is estimated to be around USD 86.7 Million in 2016, with a five year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 26.80%.
MIHAS is considered the world's largest Halal event. It offers networking and business proposition for Halal exhibitors and buyers. According to its records, it welcomed over 22,000 trade visitors from more than 70 countries and generated record sales beyond RM1 Billion for 600 exhibitors.
MIHAS is hosted by Ministry International Trade and Industry, organized by Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (MATRADE) in association with Halal Industry Development Corporation (HDC) and Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (JAKIM).
Philippines' DTI EMB and PTIC-Kuala Lumpur invite everyone to visit the Philippine Pavilion at MIHAS 2017.
Other participating agencies include the Department of Agriculture, Mindanao Development Authority, Zamboanga City Special Economic Zone Authority & Freeport and DTI Regions 5 and 9.