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Philippine Resources - January 20, 2021
Dominguez Says Economy May Soon Recover
The economy of the Philippines may soon recover this year.According to Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III, this is in part due to business reopening and mass transportation increasing. “We expect to see additional improvements in the last quarter of 2020 as we have been progressively reopening businesses and accessibility to mass transportation,” Dominguez said. In the last year, the pandemic has cost Metro Manila huge losses such as P2.1 billion in wages, although the General Community Quarantine (GCQ) has eased this blow a bit. “To be completely honest, some of the jobs lost may never return,” Dominguez said. “The pandemic, however, provided us with the opportunity to accelerate our shift to digitalization in order to meet the demands of the emerging new economy. This will create new jobs that will require new skills.”Dominguez added that among the measures that can lift the economy up is the enactment of the P4.506 trillion national budget and the extension of the validity of the Bayanihan 2 and the 2020 appropriations. Other measures included the Financial Institutions Strategic Transfer (FIST) bill (which would allow banks to offload their souring loans and assets) and the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises Act (CREATE) bill (which would provide businesses with the biggest economic stimulus package). Another economic stimulus package is the Government Financial Institutions Unified Initiatives to Distressed Enterprises for Economic Recovery (GUIDE) bill that aims to form a special holding company to have government financial institutions to infuse equity.
Philippine Resources - January 12, 2021
President Duterte at the 37th ASEAN Summit
By Marcelle P. VillegasPresident Rodrigo Roa Duterte delivers his remarks during the virtual plenary session of the 37th ASEAN Summit and Related Summits hosted by the Socialist Republic of Vietnam at the Malacañang Golf (Malago) Clubhouse, Malacañang Park. (Photo credit: King Rodriquez / Presidential photo, Presidential Communications Operations Office website)President Rodrigo R. Duterte attended a virtual summit of world leaders to discuss the COVID-19 pandemic, South China Sea dispute, trade and other issues. The virtual event is the plenary session of the 37th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit and Related Summits hosted by the Socialist Republic of Vietnam that will last until November 25. On his speech, he asserted the Philippines’s arbitral win and emphasised the legal victory is now part of “international law”.  He said, “The Philippine position is clear and firm. We must solve the disputes peacefully and in accordance with international law, including UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea).”“The 2016 arbitral award on the South China Sea is an authoritative interpretation of the application of UNCLOS. It is now part of international law. And its significance cannot be diminished nor ignored by any country, however big and powerful.”President Duterte also emphasised the need to fast-track a “Code of Conduct” in the South China Sea in order to promote peace and stability in the busy waterway.“The Philippines is one with ASEAN in transforming the South China Sea into a sea of peace and prosperity for all. We are committed to the immediate conclusion of a substantive and effective Code of Conduct in the South China Sea. And if I may add, it has been a long time and it is a long wait,” he said.Since President Duterte assumed office in 2016, he addressed the maritime issue with China through a non-adversarial approach. China has an important role in the President’s “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure program as they had been providing financial assistance to several major infrastructure projects in the Philippines such as bridges and railways.South China Sea Dispute -- In China’s Nine-dashed Line Map the Philippines loses about 80% of its Exclusive Economic Zone facing the West Philippine Sea. This includes the entire Reed Bank and part of the Malampaya gas field. This loss covers 381,000 square kilometers of maritime space and 100% of the Philippines’ Extended Continental Shelf which covers an estimate of over 150,000 square kilometers of maritime space. South China Sea is also rich in methane hydrate which is a potential source of energy.How did the South China Sea dispute start? Why is the Philippines involved in this conflict with China?On 7 May 2009 when China submitted the Nine-dashed Lines Map to the United Nations. Their map claims large areas of the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and Extended Continental Shelf (ECS) of the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, and Indonesia. On the map, China is claiming 85.7% of the entire South China Sea. Their claim covers 3 million square kilometers out of the 3.5 million square kilometers surface area of the South China Sea. Since China did not provide any legal basis for the dashes, and the dashes also had no fixed coordinates, Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam and Indonesia protested against China’s claim.The Philippines is greatly affected by the Nine-dashed Lines Map because the Philippines loses about 80% of its EEZ facing the West Philippine Sea. This includes the entire Reed Bank and part of the Malampaya gas field. That is around 381,000 square kilometers of loss in maritime space, and 100% of the Philippines’ ECS which covers an estimate of 150,000 square kilometers of maritime space. Therefore, in January 2013, the Philippines formally initiated arbitration proceedings against China’s claim on the territories within the Nine-dashed Lines that includes the Scarborough Shoal. Then, Justice Antonio T. Carpio, former Senior Associate Justice of Republic of the Philippines Supreme Court, defended the Philippines’ right of ownership of the little islands within our territory to the international Arbitral Tribunal. He pointed out our legal rights through legitimate historical records. It was on 12 July 2016 when the Philippines won the arbitration case it filed against China after the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands. The verdict invalidated Beijing’s Nine-dashed Lines Map claim on South China Sea. In response, China refused to accept and acknowledge the arbitral ruling.South China Sea is significant not only to Asian countries but also to the world. Each year, US$5.3 trillion ship-borne goods travel through South China Sea. This number is almost one-half of the world’s shipborne trade in tonnage. Additionally, a great percentage of the petroleum imports of South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, and China pass through the South China Sea. There are also 2 billion people who live in the 10 countries bordering the South China Sea where hundreds of millions of people depend on fish there for their protein. Lastly, the maritime area that is close to the coast of the countries bordering the South China Sea is rich in oil and gas resources. South China Sea is rich in methane hydrate – a potential source of energy.Reference: Parrocha, Azer (12 November 2020). Philippine News Agency. “Arbitral ruling can’t be ignored by any country, Duterte to Asean”. Retrieved from https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1121630Photo credit: President Duterte - https://pcoo.gov.ph/news_releases/asean-must-demand-climate-justice-says-president-duterte/Nine-Dashed Line - Justice Antonio T. Carpio. “The South China Sea West Philippine Sea Dispute” - https://www.slideshare.net/SamGalope/lecture-the-south-china-sea-west-philippine-dispute-justice-antonio-t-carpio-philippine-social-science-center
Philippine Resources - December 21, 2020
Nickel, EVS moving forward together
Philippine Nickel Industry Association president Dante Bravo speaks about the role of nickel in growing the e-vehicle industry at the 7th Philippine Electric Vehicle Summit convened by the Electric Vehicle Association of the Philippines. Bravo says the Nickel Industry is poised to supply the growing demand for nickel in lithium ion batteries powering electric vehicles. The summit, held at MoA SMX, aims to push EVs and its related industries as drivers of sustainable growth. Smartmatic vowed to continue providing a secure voting technology and transparent election system to the Philippines as the government begins selecting a new automated election system (AES).“Smartmatic has been a leader in providing an efficient, secure and transparent automated election system in many counties and in the Philippines. We want to continue this and strengthen our partnership with the government in providing a secure, faster, and credible election system,” said Ramaakanth Sake, president of Smartmatic Asia-Pacific.On 15 July, Smartmatic joined in the AES Technology Fair of the Department of Department of Information and Communications Technology, which allow the various local and global providers to present their concept or prototype of an alternative AES, which may be used at the 2022 national and local elections.At the tech fair, Smartmatic presented its new direct recording electronic voting machines, which utilize a touchscreen to eliminate the need for paper ballots and reduce the likelihood of read errors. According to Smartmatic, the touchscreen would need a voter’s fingerprint before it can be used.The system gives real-time feedback in case of overvoting, so the voters may change their ballot before casting the vote. As per the requirements of the Commission on Elections the machine will print out a receipt, which can then be used as reference in case a manual recount is needed.Source: https://tribune.net.ph/index.php/2019/07/18/briefs-nickel-evs-moving-forward-together/?fbclid=IwAR3Lv__unzg0UVTGSY_LXRmurdnIWTHvwlGFoGMqSjL-fGo5hdFz1ZMKcis
Philippine Resources - May 29, 2019
Australian Embassy Hosts the Annual Journalists’ Reception
By Marcelle P. VillegasEvery year, the Australian Embassy in the Philippines hosts the Annual Journalists’ Reception with a goal to provide a dialogue and interaction between Australian companies in the Philippines and the local media. Last 4th April 2019, the event was held at the residence of the Australian Ambassador in Makati City.Present during the Reception were several business executives from various Australian companies representing banking, finance, mining, shipbuilding, telecommunication, education sector and more. The first part of the Annual Journalists’ Reception was a business forum that was led by Ms Elodie Journet who is the Senior Trade and Investment Commissioner - Austrade. Other representatives from the Australian Embassy in the Philippines were Mr Mat Kimberley (Deputy Head of Missions), Ms Clare Duffield (Counsellor - Political and Public Diplomacy), Ms Nardia Simpson (Counsellor - Economic), Ms Kerrie Anderson (Counsellor - Development), Grp Capt. Ian Goold, CSC (Defence Attache), Det. Supt. Richard Stanford, APM (Senior Liaison Officer - AFP), Ms Elizabeth Carter (Counsellor and Chief Migration Officer), Ms Cristina Mojica (Counsellor and Chief Migration Officer), and Ms Jenni McEwin (First Secretary Economic).The speakers during the forum were Ms Anna Green (CEO, ANZ Bank Phils.), Mr Wayne Murray (President, Austal), Mikhail Jao (Marketing Manager, IDP Education Phils. Office), Eric Yaptangco (Division Director, Macquarie Phils.), Bradley Norman (Country Director, OceanaGold Phils.), Mark Woolfrey (Exec. GM, QBE Insurance), Brett McPhee (GM, Site Skills Training Phils.), Russell Claxton (CEO, TWPS), and Mark Richardson (VP, TWPS). Other companies that participated were Crone, GHD, Greenstone, Qantas, and Telstra.The discussion was centered on how Australian companies are helping the Philippines in economic development and other aspects like defence, education, mining, environment and more. Mr Wayne Murray, President and GM of Austal Philippines stated that they are working with the Philippine Navy and looking into a contract to build and provide six offshore patrol vessels (OPVs). This is in relation to the August 2018 Nikkei report that Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana of the Armed Forces of the Philippines said that they would be sourcing six OPVs from Austal. “Because it’s an offshore patrol vessel, as the name implies, it’s offshore, but it’s not going to be for international use. It’s for inter-island protection,” according to Mr Murray. He noted that OPVs can be used in travelling in areas like Benham Rise and the Spratly Islands. Philippine Resources Journal interviewed Austrade’s Senior Trade and Investment Commissioner, Ms Elodie Journet about how Australia is helping the mining sector in the Philippines given that the industry has been under a lot of setbacks and is strongly contradicted by anti-mining lobbyists. We also asked her about her views about mining in general. Ms Journet said, “We [Australia], truly believe in sustainable mining. As a country, we have proven that you can actually have sustainable mining and we can have mining in environment. We've had very strong standards as well to it, to ensure that you can actually operate and protect the environment as well. For that, we've been very keen on looking at collaborating with the Philippine government and to ensure that we share our knowledge, share our standards, share also some of our latest technologies.” She adds, “We've got a very strong industry around mining, technology, equipment and services, so we've got a whole range of companies in Australia that are very keen on coming to the Philippines and collaborating as well.” With regards to best practices in mining, she states, “You've already got some really good mining operations here in the Philippines that had been winning awards as well in terms of environmental protection. Thus, I think it is just a matter of also being able to highlight some of those successes and also continue to build on ensuring that in order to protect the environment further.” What were the measures done by Australia in order to help the Philippine mining industry? Ms Journet said, “We have taken delegations from DENR to Australia. Every year, we host the International Mining Conference in Melbourne. The conference is all about presenting some of the latest techniques and sharing of information. We took the delegation from DENR there to be able to see some of our operations in Australia.”“There are many areas in Australia that are successful mining operations and right next to it you have great agricultural land. We've got great tourism industries as well so it's a great way to actually look at how can you contribute to the community as well. Indeed, mining and agriculture can co-exist.” She added, “I think the Philippines has already got some great guidelines in mining. It is really looking at how do you help the industry follow some of the implementation as well. We are happy to partner with the Philippines in that way.” This year’s Journalists’ Reception is the first one with the new Australian Ambassador to the Philippines, His Excellency Steven J. Robinson AO. Although this event was not his first time to have a gathering at his residence, the Annual Journalists’ Reception this year is somehow one of the first instances when he faced a wider range of journalists from various media outlets, publications and TV networks. During an open forum with him, the Ambassador eloquently answered a battery of questions from his guests that touched many subject matters about politics, agriculture, economics, defence, his first encounter with the Philippine President, Australia’s standing about the South China Sea dispute, his impression of the Philippines, and more.Ambassador Robinson arrived here in the Philippines early in January 2019, two weeks before the celebration of Australia Day (24 January 2019). During the Annual Journalists’ Reception, he mentioned that one of the first things he did as ambassador was to visit Marawi in order to continue the work that was endorsed to him by the former Australian Ambassador, Honourable Amanda Gorely. As of October 2018, Australia increased their support to Marawi’s recovery and rehabilitation to Php975 million (AUD25 million). Australia’s effort aims to bring long-term peace and stability in the southern Philippines following the siege of Marawi City in May - October 2017.  The Ambassador shared that his first visit to the Philippines was around 40 years ago during his college years. “At that time I was struck by the archipelago’s natural beauty, I experienced the warmth of the Filipino people and felt the dynamic energy of the cities of Manila, Cebu and Zamboanga. It seized my attention and I have returned many times over the intervening years. So it is a great honour and a privilege to return here now as Australia’s new Ambassador to the Philippines.” Ambassador Robinson is a senior career officer (Deputy Secretary level) in the Foreign Affairs and Trade portfolio. In 2009, he was made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) “for service to Australia’s international interests through a significant and sustained contribution”. The Ambassador holds a BA (Hons) and Diploma in Education from the University of Sydney. - - -References: Mogato, Anna Gabriela A. (8 April 2019). “Australian firm eyes Philippine Navy contract for patrol vessels”. Rappler. “Australia Increases Support to PHP 975 Million For Marawi Recovery”Retrieved from https://philippines.embassy.gov.au/mnla/medrel181026.html  H.E. Steven J. Robinson’s speech during Australia Day Celebration, 24 January 2019Retrived from https://philippines.embassy.gov.au/mnla/speech20190124.html