Thursday, December 30, 2010

2010: A year of changing telecommunications market dynamics

MANILA, Philippines - To say that 2010 was a difficult year for the Philippine telecommunications industry is an understatement.

The industry’s dynamics have changed dramatically. While consumers rejoice about the barrage of unlimited and bucket priced offerings that brought down the costs of text messaging and mobile voice calls, the revenues of telecommunications companies suffered.

Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT) chairman Manuel Pangilinan explained that market conditions are changing. “From 800 to 900 million text messages outbound every day, this has gone up to 1.2 billion. However, yields have declined from 18 centavos per text to 13 centavos,” he noted.

While before, 800 million SMS sent per day meant P144 million in earnings, the yield has now gone down to P104 million. Multiply the difference by 365 days and the amount is just mind-blowing.

PLDT during its third quarter 2010 briefing noted that cellular data/text revenues fell 13% to P31 billion, despite a 25% increase in text volumes, as they remain under pressure from the proliferation of lower yield offerings, multiple-SIM ownership, and regulator-mandated load validity extensions.

Take the recent May 2010 national and local elections, wherein candidates and their supporters utilized the power of text messaging to solicit support and to campaign. While millions of election-related SMS were being sent, most utilized unlimited/bucket priced offerings.

Globe Telecom president and CEO Ernest Cu said the company’s financial results are reflective of the challenges facing the industry, whereby traffic is growing, but revenues are declining with the market’s increasing preference for unlimited services. Despite an increase in traffic and over-all usage, Globe’s mobile revenues were lower with sustained price pressures resulting from intense competition and subscribers’ increasing preference for lower-yield bucket and unlimited promotions.

Globe’s Super All Txt 20 is one such bucket priced offering. For only P20 a day, a subscriber gets to send 200 text messages to any network which means that each SMS costs only 10 centavos. The company’s Unli Txt All Day allows one to send unlimited text messages to Globe/TM subscribers for one day.

Smart Buddy’s AllTxt Combo Plus gives a subscriber 100 text messages to another Smart subscriber, 10 texts to other networks, plus five minutes of calling, all for just P25.

Sun Cellular’s P25 Superloaded Call and Text Unlimited has free 30 minutes of mobile internet on top of unlimited Sun-to-Sun calls and 10 texts to other networks. Its Sun TextALL, now a permanent product offering, enables a subscriber to send 150 text messages to any network for only P15 a day.

The list goes on and on. Many of these promos are offered for a limited time only, but they are usually renewed.

Forever gone were the days when text messages cost P1 each and telcos were making so much money from text messaging alone.

The mobile telephony sector is now a matured one. The cellular penetration rate has now exceeded 80% and the number of Filipinos who still do not use mobile phone services is dwindling. This triggered the search for new revenue streams and the rise of broadband Internet services as the new revenue driver.

But even the cost of mobile Internet access has significantly gone down, thanks to bucket price and unlimited offerings. For just P50 a day, a Globe subscriber is given unlimited access to the Internet using a Globe Tattoo Broadband USB or mobile phone for one day. Smart also offers unlimited mobile surfing for P50 per day while Smart Broadband has its unlimited Internet access promo at P200 good for five days. Sun Broadband prepaid has a similar offering (one day unlimited for P50).

With the entry of a new player, San Miguel Corp./Liberty Telecom’s Wi-Tribe, expect the cost of Internet access to go down even further.

With Filipinos having in their plate so many choices, the one who is able to offer the lowest price and at the same time the best quality of service will emerge the winner.

Now here’s a look at how the industry’s decision makers view 2010 as well as prospects for the coming year:

• “2010 was a challenging year of transition for the telco industry. Competition intensified in the cellular business. Broadband grew strongly. Margins came under pressure even as demand for more network resources increased. For PLDT, 2010 has been a year when it maintained its market leadership in the face of these challenges. Our focus has been managing this transition where traditional revenue sources such as fixed toll revenues like IDD and NDD were on the decline while new revenue sources such as broadband were on the rise. We preserved margins by strengthening cost management given the modest top-line growth.

“We expect the challenges of 2010 to carry into next year. Demand for bucket and unlimited offers in the cellular space will continue. We expect that broadband will keep growing given the growing popularity of social networking and new access devices such as tablets and smartphones. PLDT will continue to invest in its network in order to fortify its market leadership.” — Napoleon Nazareno, president and CEO, Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co.

• “2010 was quite a competitive year for the telecommunications industry as it experienced a single-digit growth. It also achieved breakthroughs in both 3G and 3.5G (HSDPA) offerings. Consumers have had good experience, especially as new terminals came on Android, Blackberry, IPhone, among others. All in all, it was an exciting year for technology. Next year, we expect further developments in 3.5G. New Android phones are also getting exciting. We are optimistic both about the telco industry and the economy in general. The people have also increased confidence and trust.”

“In 2010, Sun Cellular is the first telco in the Philippines to achieve one million postpaid GSM subscribers. In 2011, we are confident we can achieve robust growth in both 2G and 3.5G as we continue our strong rollout of cellsites. By end of 2011, Sun should be even in number of cellsites as the other two telco players in almost all regions of the country.” — James Go, president, Digital Telecommunications Phils. Inc. (Digitel)

• “Globe has good momentum heading into 2011. Both our postpaid and prepaid business have shown strength going into the end of the year. Our broadband business has also continued to perform well despite the intense competition for subscribers.

“2011 will continue to be a tough year for the industry with the escalating price competition. Unlimited plans and aggressive bucket offerings will continue to erode yields. The competition for market share will escalate amid the prospects of a fourth player emerging.” — Ernest Cu, president and CEO, Globe Telecom

• “2010 was a challenging year for the telcos, as competition intensified and the Internet/social media and new technologies influenced the shift on consumer behavior on how to communicate, putting pressure on traditional revenue sources like voice calls and international long distance calls. Data and internet subscribers continued to increase and is expected to accelerate to the next level of sustained growth.

“It was a difficult year for Bayan but performance was consistent with the industry trend. Total revenue decreased due to lower voice revenues but residential internet and corporate data services posted revenue growth. With sound operating expense management, we expect the year to end in double digit growth in EBITDA.

“Our growth drivers next year would continue to be data and internet services for both consumer and corporate sectors. On the consumer side, we will continue to focus on internet services as we leverage on our cooperation within the Lopez Group to deliver relevant and compelling communication and content services. At the same time, Bayan has been strong in the corporate data sector servicing banks and BPOs, and we hope to gain on the opportunities.” — Rafael Aguado, chief operations officer, Bayan Telecommunications

• “The telecommunications industry will continue to face challenging times, with tough competition and new technologies. It will also continue to suffer from diminishing revenues and increasing capital expenditure. With all these happening, the consumer will continue to benefit while the telcos will continue to fight in keeping their customers while the new telcos look into grabbing customers from the. As for MyPhone, it’s a great year. The device business will continue to grow in leaps and bounds with the mobile phones still leading the way and new affordable devices such as smart phones and tablets coming in strong in the second half of the year. MyPhone will continue to invest in expanding our retail chains and service centers to maintain its excellent quality and after-sales service reputation. Overall, the public will surely be the winner with all the exciting things happening in the telco industry.” — David Lim, chairman, Solid Group, makers of MyPhone

• “The telco industry had a good year but its profitability was greatly reduced due to the highly competitive ‘unlimited plans’ that each provider offered its subscribers. This trend would continue this coming year. What needs to be looked into is the deteriorating service availability or accessibility due to network congestion brought about by the unlimited plans. Customer dissatisfaction has been rising because of higher frequency of dropped calls, delayed SMS, and line unavailability.

“Our agency did very well in terms of revenue generation in line with the President’s directive to raise revenues to help the budget. I immediately directed the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to improve its efficiency in the collection of fees and compliance to regulatory requirements. To the credit of the NTC, they immediately implemented the directive resulting in a collection surplus of more than P400 million above target as of end-November. Hopefully, we will hit half a billion pesos above target by yearend. This despite the election ban of several months.”

BSP keeps policy rate at record low

MANILA, Philippines - The central bank left its key policy rate unchanged at 4% following a policy review on Wednesday, a decision that had been widely expected by the markets.

The rate has been at a record low of 4% since July 2009, with the Philippines one of the few countries in Asia not to have raised rates since the global financial crisis.

The policy-making Monetary Board holds a rate-setting meeting every 6 weeks.

Earlier, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Amando Tetangco said there was no compelling reason to raise interest rates, with inflation seen staying benign in the medium term.

The BSP expects annual inflation in December to come in between 2.5% to 3.4%, bringing the full-year average below the midpoint of the government's 3.5% to 5.5% target.

All 11 analysts in a Reuters poll expected the central bank to hold rates on Wednesday. Six of 10 economists expect a rate hike in the first half of 2011.

The central bank cut rates by a total of 200 basis points between December 2008 and July 2009 to soften the blow of the global recession.

The government expects the economy to have grown faster than its 2010 target of 5% to 6%, supported by a recovery in trade and remittances.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

New HIV cases up 40% in November

MANILA, Philippines - One hundred and 12 Filipinos tested positive for HIV in November, up 40% from the 80 reported cases in November last year, according to the HIV and AIDS Registry of the Department of Health (DOH).

Health officials said 92% of the cases are males. At least 62% of the new HIV positive patients are between the ages of 20-29. Males having sex with other males (82%) was the predominant type of sexual transmission of HIV.

Eight of the 112 reported cases were overseas Filipino workers; all 8 acquired the HIV infection through sexual contact. At least 160 OFWs have tested positive for HIV infection since the start of the year.

In all, the DOH has recorded 1,417 new HIV cases from January to November.

It said 11 units of donated blood also tested positive for HIV.

The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines earlier said OFWs, who now account for one in every four HIV positive Filipinos, are highly susceptible to the virus, as they are exposed to foreign cultures that abet high-risk behavior, including commercial sex sans the use of prophylactics.

Rep. Arnel Ty of party-list group LPGMA pushed for increased government funding for preventive HIV/AIDS education.

"It would be sensible for us to spend a lot more for preventive education now to reduce the future human suffering due to HIV/AIDS, and avoid the potentially larger costs associated with the treatment of more patients," Ty said in a statement.

The Philippine National AIDS Council has warned the number of HIV cases in the country could reach 46,000 by 2015, unless effective strategies are put in place to check the spread of the disease.

Ty pressed his call for Congress to revisit the 1998 AIDS Prevention and Control Law and reinforce the fight against the highly destructive disease.

In House Resolution 724, Ty cited the need for Congress to ascertain whether existing policies and measures under the 12-year-old law are enough to quell the HIV/AIDS epidemic and improve the conditions of Filipinos living with the disease.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Day blast injures 6 in Jolo

ZAMBOANGA CITY - Six people were wounded Saturday when a bomb went off in a church during Mass on Christmas Day in Jolo, Sulu.

Initial reports said an improvised explosive device went off at the Sacred Heart Chapel in Bgy. Asturias, Jolo, Sulu at 7:20 a.m. on Saturday, December 25.

Col. Romeo Tanalgo, acting commander of Joint Task Force Comet, said the explosive fell on the right side of the church's roof. He said the church is located beside the Camp Asturias police camp.

The explosion occurred right after a Christmas morning Mass ended as parishioners were preparing to leave the church.

Military spokesman Lieutenant Randolph Cabangbang said the priest officiating the mass was among the wounded.

Two of the injured victims were identified as Emma Tan, 29, and Antonette Quiniones, 30. They are now being treated at the provincial health hospital.

Three of the injured are being treated at the trauma hospital inside Camp Teodulfo Bautista.

Jolo police have tightened security at all vital installations including religious sites in Sulu.

"While we have received reports before na magkakaroon ng ganyang insidente, lalo nating pinagtibay ang pagbabantay ng vital installation lalong lalo na sa bayan ng Jolo--mga simbahan, mosque, cell sites, at oil depot," said Tanalgo.

Military officials would not immediately name any suspects in the blast on Jolo island but the island is a known bastion of the Abu Sayyaf, a group linked to the Al-Qaeda network.

The Abu Sayyaf, a gang of self-styled Islamic militants founded in the 1990s with seed money from Osama bin Laden's network, has long used the mostly-Muslim island of Jolo as a base, carrying out kidnappings and bombings.

It is believed to have carried out the worst terror attacks in Philippine history including the bombing of a passenger ferry in Manila Bay that killed more than 100 people in 2004.

It has also kidnapped many foreigners and Filipino Christians, hiding them in the jungles of Jolo and other southern islands.

US forces have been deployed in the southern Philippines since 2002 to train local troops in hunting down the Abu Sayyaf.

Oil jumps to highest since 2008 crisis, $100 eyed

NEW YORK/LONDON – Oil surged above $91 a barrel to its highest price in more than two years on Thursday, as OPEC member Libya's apparent lack of concern over prices prompted some analysts to call for a new year's run at $100.

With crude reaching back-to-back 26-month highs, ultra-cold weather stoking demand and depleting U.S. stockpiles at the fastest pace in 12 years, traders are now looking for the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to signal when it might begin pumping more crude.

But Libya's top oil official, one of OPEC's most hawkish members toward oil prices, appeared unconcerned by the gains, which have lifted prices more than 20 percent in three months as fundamentals turn more positive and investors factor in an improving economic outlook for next year.

"It's fair to say it (the price) is about right, but still I think that it needs to improve a little bit more. About $100 would be a fair price for the time being," Libya's National Oil Corp Chairman Shokri Ghanem told Reuters in Cairo ahead of a meeting of Arab oil exporting countries.

"I think current oil prices are reflecting the situation in the market which is a well-balanced market," he said.
U.S. crude for February rose $1.03 to settle at $91.51 a barrel, the highest price since October 7, 2008 when oil prices were crashing from their $147 record as the world's financial industry reeled and investors fled risky assets. Prices hit an intraday peak of $91.63 a barrel.

ICE Brent crude settled at $94.25, up 60 cents from Wednesday after a midsession burst of gains triggered by buy-stops and as the dollar fell.

Although some said low trading volume on the last day before Christmas likely exaggerated gains, few expected to see a correction as traders looked forward to a fresh infusion of institutional investment in the booming commodities sector. U.S. crude traded about 220,000 contracts, one-third the norm.

"I don't think we'll pull back much before February. We'll see some fund allocations next month so we should continue to see support," said Antoine Halff of Newedge Group in New York.

So far economic news is supporting the gains too. Data on Thursday showed new U.S. claims for jobless benefits dipped last week and consumer spending increased in November for a fifth straight month, reinforcing views of a solid economic growth pace in the fourth quarter.

And while gasoline prices now back above $3 a gallon could begin to erode spending in the still fragile U.S. economy, the fact that they remain far below their $4 peak two years ago suggests they will not pack the same psychological punch.


Nearly three years after oil first traded at $100, demand is again rising swiftly, but one key factor has changed significantly. Unlike the start of 2008, when OPEC was already pumping flat out, the group now has a sizable amount of idle capacity it could use to douse the rally -- if it chooses.

A series of comments in recent months suggest the cartel is now ready to tolerate a price higher than the $70-to-$80 band it has publicly supported for the past two years, and analysts say that means it may wait too long before pumping more oil.

"With OPEC set to be reactive rather than proactive, the route to $100 appears fairly unobstructed at this time," said analysts at Barclays Capital.

Oil traders will be looking for comments this weekend from other core Gulf OPEC ministers to see if they are more concerned than they were two weeks ago when the group decided at its meeting in Quito, Ecuador, to maintain supply quotas.

The meeting of the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OAPEC) in Cairo will not set policy, and OPEC's next formal meeting is not scheduled until June.

But some analysts say they expect the group to quietly lift output prior to that by leaking more oil than quotas permit, and few expect a rerun of 2008's explosive rise.

"We're not back to before the 2008 crisis, this is not the same market... We have a lot more spare capacity, and demand growth is tentative," said Halff.


Unusually cold weather in the United States and Europe has helped to spur the latest leg of a more than 30 percent rally from this year's low struck in May.

After a contraction in demand following the global economic recession, fuel use has begun to rebound and is expected to continue growing next year, taking absolute oil consumption to an all-time high. But the rate of growth will still be lower than a peak hit in 2004.

"Markets still have an upward bias. They just took out the recent and earlier highs and ran a few stops. Economic optimism, cold weather and crude stock drawdown are supporting in the background," said Tom Bentz, broker at BNP Paribas Commodity Futures in New York.

Friday, December 17, 2010

New peso bills have more security features

MANILA, Philippines - The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas has added more security features on the new bank notes that will be available on a limited basis starting next week.

The new bills feature the seals of the republic and the BSP. It also has a patch where the colors change from blue to green and back to blue at a 45 degree angle.

The P500 has a photo inset where the face of the late Senator Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino Jr., father of President Aquino, appears. At a different angle, the photo changes to 500.

The bills have micro prints and security threads that will make it more difficult for counterfeiters to copy. The 200-peso, 500-peso and 1,000-peso bills have a 4mm security thread embedded on the paper. They also have a security feature for the vision-impaired as the numerical amount is embossed on the bill for the blind to feel the surface.

The new bills are made up of 80% cotton and 20% abaca. It has an anti-bacterial quality that can stay up to more than 3 years for higher denominated bills.

When asked why is there a need for the new bills, BSP deputy governor Diwa Gunigundo says one of the reasons is that counterfeiters have already almost perfected the current bills though the incidents have remained manageable.

Gunigundo says so much have changed in the economy and society since the issuance of the current bills. The BSP will circulate P45 to P50 million worth of bills before the year ends and another P2 billion next year.

Current bills can still be used for 3 to 4 years before its demonetized although people can still exchange their old bills at the BSP after that period.

The designers of the bills are Design Systemat and Studio 5. The 2 groups collaborated in the reverse and obverse side of the money bills.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Another fuel price hike looms

MANILA, Philippines - The public will have to brace for higher fuel prices next week, according to the Department of Energy (DOE).
DOE Undersecretary Jay Layug said oil prices are expected to go up given the higher demand for petroleum in the international market.
He explained that there is a surge in demand for diesel in Asia and increased consumption in North America and Europe due to the winter season.
He urged oil companies to keep price adjustments reasonable.
Some oil firms are expected to raise their pump prices by P1 to P1.50 per liter.
Layug, however, assured the public there is no shortage in the supply of oil.
“There is no supply shortage at this time, shell and chevron continue to suffer from their logistical problems but the others have stepped up,” he added.

Palace declares Dec. 24, 31 as holidays

MANILA, Philippines – Filipinos may expect a long holiday this Christmas following the declaration of December 24th and the 31st as "special non-working holidays" by President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III.

With the expected influx of travelers to the provinces, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) are readying special permits to bus companies and other public utility vehicle operators that offer trips to the provinces this Christmas season.

The LTFRB said the special permits will be out by December 20th, to ensure there will be no shortage in buses for the provinces.

4 from ‘Morong 43’ fear communist death squad

MANILA, Philippines – Four of the 43 detainees who have been ordered freed by President Benigno Aquino III now fear for their lives after admitting their involvement in the communist movement.

Ellen Carandang, Cheryllyn Taoagon, Valentino Paulino, Jennyllyn Pizzaro, and John Mark Barrientos were among the “Morong 43” who were arrested by police and military troops in February during an alleged bomb-making training session.
While other members of the group are waiting to be released from detention, Carandang said she would rather stay in Camp Capinpin, where they are in military custody.
"Walang kapatawaran iyong ginawa namin pag-amin na NPA [New People’s Army] kami, at pagsabi na sila ay NPA din, markado na kami ng [communist execution squad], kaya ayaw namin umuwi,” she said.
Taoagon and Paulino share the same sentiment – and they want to join the military.
"Kasi marunong naman kami sa baril tapos alam din namin mag-organisa puwede kami taga-pagsalita," Taoagon said.
"Sanay naman ako sa bundok kaya di nalalayo sa pagiging sundalo," said Paulino.
Pizzaro, the youngest of the group, wants to continue her studies.
"Sa mga dati naming kasamahan, sana pabayaan kaming mabuhay ng normal," she said.
The Morong 43 may finally gain their freedom next week, when the court is expected to formally withdraw charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives against the health workers.

FDI net inflow at $66-M in Sept

MANILA, Philippines - Foreign direct investments (FDI) recorded a net inflow of $66 million in September, reversing the $54 million outflow in the same month last year.

For the first 9 months of the year, the FDI net inflow amounted to $1.1 billion versus $1.6 billion in 2009.

"The moderate inflows this year reflected cautious investor sentiment on the back of renewed concerns over the exposure of European banks to sovereign debt and the health of the American economy, notwithstanding the strong fundamentals in the domestic economy," the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas said.

Equity capital registered a net outflow of $22 million in September, better than the year ago's net outflow of $45 million.

Net FDI, portfolio inflows, and remittances from Filipinos working overseas help keep the country's balance of payments (BOP) in surplus.

The central bank has forecast a net FDI inflow of $2 billion this year, up 5.3% from $1.9 billion in 2009.

It said it expects the BOP surplus to hit $8.2 billion, more than double an earlier estimate of $3.7 billion, on strong exports, remittances and fund inflows.

The BOP surplus in the first 9 months of the year stood at $6.54 billion.

The Philippines' BOP was in surplus of nearly $5.3 billion in 2009, the biggest in 2 years.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

3 ex-MWSS governing board members face tax evasion raps

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) - Tax evasion charges were filed by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) at the Justice Department on Thursday against 3 former governing board members of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS).

Charged were Oscar I. Garcia, Ferdinand P. Mahusay and Lorenzo S. Sulaik who were found to have concealed their true income "by their deliberate and willful failure to file their income tax returns (ITRs)."

The three sat as members of the Governing Board of the Corporate and Regulatory Offices of the MWSS.

Deputy Commissioner Estela Sales of the Legal and Inspection group bared that based on documents of the Commission on Audit (COA), Garcia earned P2.6 million, P3.5 million and P5.3 million from 2007 to 2009 but failed to pay the correct taxes amounting to P1.6 million in 2007, P1.982 million in 2008 and P2.7 million in 2009 for an estimated aggregate tax liability of P6.3 million, inclusive of surcharges and interests.

COA records showed Mahusay earned P897,220 for taxable year 2008 and P4.5 million for taxable year 2009. His total tax liability amounts to P2.715 million, inclusive of surcharges and interests.

Sulaik, meantime, earned P3.2 million and P4.5 million in 2008 and 2009 but failed to pay the correct taxes amounting to P4.051 million, inclusive of surcharges and interests.

Sales said the charges against the three were the result of separate investigations by the BIR following the Senate Committee on Finance inquiry on the "excessive salaries and unwarrante bonuses and allowances of GOCC (Government-Owned and -Controlled Corporation) and GFI (Government Financial Institution) executives."

The filing of separate criminal charges against Garcia, Mahusay and Sulaik are the 18th, 19th and 20th, respectively, under the Run After Tax Evaders (RATE) program of the BIR under the Aquino administration.

Tax evasion charges vs toy firm

Meantime, the BIR also filed tax evasion charges at the Department of Justice against a toy company for "willful attempt to evade or defeat payment of taxes and deliberate failure to supply correct and accurate information".

Wanly Toys International Corp. (Wanly Toys) and its responsible corporate officers were found to have deliberately underdeclared its income for taxable year 2008 amounting to a tax liability of P26.398 million, inclusive of increments.

Wanly Toys officers charged before the DOJ include Imee Tan Yao, president; Haide Yao, corporate treasurer; and William Pan, Jr., certified public accountant.

Wanly toys is engaged in trading imported toys and other items on wholesale basis. Its offices are located at Elcano St., Tondo, Manila.

BIR Deputy Commissioner Estela Sales of the Legal and Inspection Group bared that data obtained by the bureau's Reconciliation of Listings for Enforcement (RELIEF) System show that Wanly Toys made total sales amounting to P107.3 million in the year in question but underdeclared its income by P81.7 million or by 76.34%.

Under the Tax Reform Act of 1997, an underdeclaration of more than 30% is considered as "substantial underdeclaration" and constitutes prima facie evidence for a false or fraudulent return.

The case against Wanly Toys and its responsible officers is the 21st filed under the Run After Tax Evaders (RATE) program of the BIR under the Aquino administration.

PNoy swears in envoys to Japan, Holy See, ASEAN

MANILA, Philippines - President Benigno Aquino III on Thursday inducted Philippine Ambassador to Japan Manuel "Manolo" Lopez and 10 other new government officials during ceremonies held at Malacañang’s Premier Guest House.

Aside from Lopez, the other officials who were sworn in by the President were:

  • Mercedes Tuason, ambassador to the Holy See;
  • Wilfrido Villacorta, permanent Representative of Philippines to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Jakarta, Indonesia;
  • Imelda Nicolas, chairperson of the Commission on Filipinos Overseas;
  • Edgar Galavante, acting executive director of the Dangerous Drugs Board;
  • Felix William Fuentebella, commissioner of the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board;
  • Nariman Ambolodto, acting assistant secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government;
  • Herminio Alcasid, member and chairman of the board of directors of the Philippine National Oil Company– Development and Management Corporation.

Alcasid is the father of singer-composer, actor, and TV host Ogie Alcasid.

Three officials of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process also took their oath before Aquino.

They are:

  • Zenaida Brigida Hamada-Pawid, commissioner (representing Island Groups and the rest of the Visayas region);
  • Dionesia Banua, commissioner (representing Island Groups and the rest of the Visayas region); and,
  • Sitti Djalia Turabin-Hataman, executive director of the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos.
The oathtaking was held after the President’s private meeting with Ryoki Sugita, chairman of Japanese publishing giant Nikkei, Inc.

Lacson cannot dictate terms of surrender: De Lima

MANILA, Philippines – Fugitive Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson cannot dictate the conditions of his surrender, Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Leila de Lima said Thursday.

De Lima said Lacson should follow the advice of his lawyer, Alexander Poblador, and follow the legal process “instead of laying down conditions that are not legally feasible at this point.”
Lacson, who has been charged for the murders of publicist Salvador “Bubby” Dacer and his driver, Emmanuel Corbito, earlier said that he will continue to remain in hiding until justice is served or, in his own words, “when I’m already dead.”
The Interpol has also placed Lacson, a former director-general of the Philippine National Police, on its "red notice" list of international fugitives.
“Senator Lacson has a standing warrant of arrest and is a fugitive from justice. He knows that his present status does not accord him the privilege of laying down terms with a tenor of finality,” de Lima said.
The senator wants her to ask the courts to reinvestigate his case.
The DOJ chief, however, stressed that her office cannot act on Lacson’s motion for reinvestigation as doing so would violate the law. “The DOJ cannot, at this point, review what is for the courts to decide.”
Lacson, through his lawyer, had filed a second motion for reconsideration before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Manila in his bid to have his case reinvestigated. He also filed a petition for certiorari with the Court of Appeals with regard to the Manila RTC’s denial of his first motion for reconsideration.
“The issue of reinvestigation is now a single incident pending before 2 courts, the RTC and the Court of Appeals. The DOJ is without jurisdiction to preempt the decision of 2 courts of law on this matter,” she explained.
Surrender first

She said that Lacson's statements could be overtures for negotiating terms of his surrender that should not include involving the lifting of his warrant of arrest and the granting of his motion for reinvestigation.

“The issues Lacson has raised as conditions for his surrender, such as the granting of his motion for reinvestigation, should be discussed after his coming back into the fold of the law,” de Lima said. “If the new evidence as presented by Lacson's lawyers is indeed meritorious, at least one of the 2 courts of law which have jurisdiction over the incident will rule in Lacson's favor, and the DOJ will respect that ruling.”
De Lima added that the most that the DOJ can do is to withdraw its opposition to Lacson's motion for reinvestigation. “Lacson's surrender should precede any favorable response that may come from the government. Surrender, under criminal law, is a mitigating circumstance that can be properly appreciated not only by the courts but also by the DOJ.”
She said the government has to enforce the law and implement the arrest warrant against the senator.
“Any government concession will have to depend on Lacson's show of good faith and respect for our laws which apply to everyone, senator and ordinary citizen alike,” she said.
The DOJ chief also allayed Lacson’s concerns regarding his personal safety after he gives himself up.
“Given his stature, Senator Lacson has no reason to fear that he will be treated differently and persecuted by the government. But his refusal to return to the fold of the law and observe the legal processes will only galvanize the government's resolve to take him into custody, not to persecute him, but to enable him both to properly face his accusers, and to defend his innocence in the only venue where it can be sufficiently proven, in a court of law,” de Lima said.
Palace can’t interfere
The Palace echoed de Lima’s stand on the issue.
Deputy Presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the case, including Lacson’s appeal for reinvestigation, is now in the courts’ hands.
"We welcome the fact that Senator Lacson has broken his silence on the issue," Valte said Thursday. "From what I understand there are already two courts that are hearing this matter. So hindi naman po yung executive ang magde-decide nito. Korte na ang may hawak ng kaso."
She said the senator will be given due process after he surrenders. "The fact remains that we will afford him due process if he decides to submit himself to the justice system."
The Malacañang deputy spokesperson declined to comment on Lacson’s apparent distrust of the Aquino administration. "Hindi ko naman po gusto [lagyan] ng kulay yun mga naging statement po ni Senator Lacson dahil yun po yung kanyang saloobin.”
She also explained that the P2-million peso bounty on Lacson’s head is just a proposal.
Aside from a criminal case, Lacson is also facing an ethics complaint in the Senate.
The Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption filed the complaint amid Lacson’s perceived failure to perform his government duties since he went into hiding.
His colleague, Senate Minority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano, said the ethics committee has yet to act on the complaint.
“The Senate will still have to approve the rules for the ethics committee. I will assure all sides of fairness and due process,” he said.
“I can’t comment on the merits because I have to hear both sides first and be fair in chairing the committee. Having said that, the [Aquino administration] should assure Sen. Ping of justice, due process and that he will be safe if detained,” Cayetano said.
He also urged Lacson to surrender. “Sen. Ping should surface and realize the DOJ and the courts have to treat him like any other fugitive from justice.”

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Ayala trims number of residential units for sale

MANILA, Philippines - Property giant Ayala Land, Inc. will fall short of the target number of residential units to be launched this year because of delays in paperwork, an executive said.
The property arm of the Ayala group, however, is taking a look at fund-raising options to bankroll capital spending to sustain growth next year.
Instead of the target 11,600 units, Ayala Land will launch “a little less than 11,000 because of timing issues,” Jaime E. Ysmael, Ayala Land senior vice-president and chief finance officer, told reporters late on Tuesday.
“But it is still an aggressive launch,” he added.
Mr. Ysmael said segments Alveo and Avida were affected by the delays.
The target is more than 5 times the 2,200 units launched last year and more than double the recent 5-year average of 4,500 units per year.
The property firm initially aimed to start selling 9,275 units early this year. This was hiked to 11,600 in the middle of the year.
Ayala Land operates under four major brands -- Ayala Land Premier for the high-end segment, Alveo Land for the middle-income segment, Avida Land for the “affordable” market, and Amaia Land for economic housing.
Mr. Ysmael said growth in the fourth quarter would be led by Ayala Land’s mall business. “There are indications that [the growth momentum] will be sustained. In the last quarter, mall spending is higher because of holiday spending.”
Fewer spaces for lease because of the renovation of the Glorietta 1 mall in Makati, which will reopen in the second half of 2012, will be offset by improved operations of Glorietta 5 and Greenbelt 5 in Makati and the Marquee Mall in Pampanga, he said.
Higher sales across all business units allowed the property giant to post a 35% increase in net income to P3.94 billion in the nine months that ended in September.
“Lease rates go up because of escalation in contracts. New contracts are back to 2008 levels before the industry had a challenging period in 2009,” Alfonso Javier D. Reyes, head of investor relations at Ayala Land, told reporters.
The property giant is looking at selling peso-denominated bonds to raise funds for next year. “There is demand for peso-denominated instrument given the strength of peso,” Mr. Ysmael said.
Meanwhile, the company’s residential project in China will start this month.
“This project is purely residential but we have the option of participating in other developments, which includes retail, within the complex,” Mr. Ysmael said.
“Construction will commence this month. There will be 11 towers in the first phase ... then eight in the second phase,” Mr. Ysmael said. There will be 50 to 60 units per building.
In August, Ayala Land signed a deal with Sino-Singaporean Tianjin Eco-City Investment and Development Co. Ltd. for one of the first developments in the 3,000-hectare Tianjin Eco-City project in China.
The partners will develop more than 1,100 units within a 19-tower residential complex on a 9.78-hectare property in Tianjin Eco-City.
“We are looking at learning from the process, and mobilizing people and access to the supplier base,” he said.
Ayala Land also said it was looking at a mixture of malls and office buildings for its foray into real estate investment trusts or REITs. Malls to be included have stable earnings like Greenbelt in Makati, Alabang Town Center in Muntinlupa, TriNoma in Quezon City, and Market! Market! in Taguig.
Shares in Ayala Land fell by 1.05% or P0.18 to P17.00 each yesterday.

Vista Land profits up on strong property sales

MANILA, Philippines - High residential sales boosted Villar-led Vista Land and Lifescapes Inc.'s earnings for the first 9 months of the year.
Based on the company's financial filing, it recorded a net income of P2.16 billion for January to September 2010, up 35.8% from P1.59 billion in the same period last year.
Real estate revenues rose 13.9% to P8.2 billion from P7.2 billion.
The firm said it may exceed its full-year targets of P2.8 billion income and approximately P20 billion sales.
"... General consensus [is] that consumer confidence remains strong," said Vista Land Senior Vice President for Finance Ricardo Tan Jr.
"We should comfortably exceed our sales target for the year by just repeating our 3rd quarter performance," he added.
Vista Land is the holding company of 5 real estate brands, namely Brittany, Crown Asia, Camella Homes, Communities Philippines and Vista Residences.
It launched 30 projects worth P19 billion for the first 9 months and these are mostly in areas outside Mega Manila.
Its capital expenditures for 2010 was set at P10.2 billion.
"We remain optimistic about the outlook for the property sector in general and are confident that will continue to be a dominant force in the affordable housing market where demand has been stable," Tan said.

Exports climb 46.1% in September

MANILA, Philippines - Exports continued to post strong double-digit growth in September, buoyed by a surge in demand for the country's electronic products.
Data from the National Statistics Office showed the total export bill climbed 46.1% to $5.314 billion in September from last year's level of $3.638 billion, beating August's 37% growth.
Month on month, exports rose 11.7% from the $4.758 billion posted in August.
Meanwhile, aggregate merchandise exports for the period January to September 2010 increased by 38.5% to $38.298 billion from $27.649 billion registered during the same period in 2009.
Electronic products, the country's main export item with a share of 65.5% of the total bill, surged by 54.6% to $3.478 billion from last year's $2.250 billion.
Singapore was the Philippines' top market, accounting for 24.2% of the total exports at $1.283 billion.
Japan came in second, with $765.85 million, followed by China ($669.74 million), US ($558.68 million), and Hong Kong ($383.99 million).
The government expects exports to climb 15% this year, and imports are forecast to increase 20%.
The electronics industry group, meanwhile, expects its exports to climb by 25% to 30% this year.
As demand from the country's trading partners continues to improve alongside with the global economy, the government is confident it can beat its growth targets this year.

Air France-KLM targets ‘discriminatory’ airline taxes in RP

MANILA, Philippines - European carrier Air France-KLM has elevated its complaints against the Philippines’ "discriminatory" taxes on foreign airlines to the government level, hoping bilateral talks along with planned lobbying in Congress will resolve the matter, ranking executives said on Tuesday.
This tack is being pursued instead of an outright filing of a dispute case at the World Trade Organization which is still a "subject of discussion," said Marnix H. Fruitema, senior vice-president for Asia Pacific at KLM Royal Dutch Airlines.
In the meantime, the company may reconsider operations here as profit margins are being wiped out by the country’s common carrier tax and gross Philippine billings tax, said Cees Ursem, KLM’s general manager for the South China sea division.
"Our governments are fully aware. We have our governments talk with the Philippines," Mr. Ursem said in an interview, referring to the ongoing tax dispute.
Under the National Internal Revenue Code, international air carriers must pay a 5.5% tax on revenues broken down as a 3% common carrier tax on their gross receipts and a 2.5% tax on all cargo and passenger revenues "originating from the Philippines in an uninterrupted flight, irrespective of the place of sale or issue...of the ticket."
The Tourism department itself has noted that this tax policy is unique to the Philippines.
KLM is the only remaining carrier that flies direct between Manila and Europe. It celebrates its 60th anniversary in the Philippines next year.
"And a number of congressmen are aware of this. We will look for support within Congress and Senate. The government is aware we don’t have such a long time," Mr. Ursem added.
"We have the fullest confidence it (the tax issue) will come in order," Mr. Fruitema said.
Batangas Rep. Hermilando I. Mandanas (2nd district), chairman of the House of Representatives ways and means committee, could not be immediately reached for comment. But he had earlier said he would file a bill to address foreign airlines’ concern on this matter.
For now, complying with Philippine tax laws has meant the carrier has enjoyed little to no margins from its operations here, the officials claimed.
"The margin in our industry in the good years is 5%-7%. If you have to pay 5.5% tax, what you earn is gone. You might as well close shop," Mr. Fruitema said.
The picture is worse, said Mr. Ursem, as the profit margin for Philippine operations is "negative," with other regional flights subsidizing costs here.
The carrier’s revenues from the Philippines are expected to flatten this year from 2009, in contrast to the 20% growth expected from its Asia-Pacific operations, the officials said.
"We can’t say definitely [we will stay here]. We will take [the tax issue] step by step with fullest confidence it will be solved soon. If it continues like this, we will reconsider," Mr. Fruitema said.
It is keen on resolving the issue and remain in the Philippines, however, as the company enjoys a niche of having the only "nonstop product to Europe," he said.
"[Connecting flights] is not the idea for Manila. I’m not sure the customer will like it," he said.
"We play a major role in the economy... and we would love to expand that role."

Clinton, Aquino talk about anti-poverty programs

Clinton doesn't disappoint Manila audience
MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) - Former US President Bill Clinton paid a courtesy call on President Benigno Aquino III on Wednesday and expressed his support for the Philippine government's various programs, particularly on anti-poverty.
The "social call" happened past 3 p.m. at the Premier Guest House inside the Malacañang compound. The meeting was also attended by several Cabinet members, including Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Health Secretary Enrique Ona, and Presidential Management Staff chief Julia Abad.
"The discussions were casual, they were very friendly, and they focused primarily on anti-poverty programs of the Philippine government," Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Secretary Ricky Carandang told ANC's Top Story.
Carandang noted that the former US president was most interested about the Philippine government's efforts in alleviating poverty, which is also at the core of programs carried out by an organization he set up in 2005.
The Clinton Global Initiative is a non-partisan organization that convenes global leaders to devise and implement solutions to the world's most pressing problems.
Carandang said President Aquino shared with Clinton his plans to expand the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program from 1 to 2.3 million households, and several long-term investments in education and healthcare.
"President Clinton said the CCT was a good idea and it's been known to work in other countries and he said he supports that program," he said.
Rice, energy
Aside from anti-poverty efforts, Clinton and Aquino also discussed the Philippines' rice self-sufficiency goals, and plans to build new capacities in the power sector.
"President Clinton seemed to be interested in the Philippines' rice production. He is also particularly interested in geothermal power because it's a renewable energy source."
Carandang noted that the discusssions were "general," and "no specific thing [was laid] on the table because it was just a courtesy call."
President Aquino earlier said Clinton's visit was a vote of confidence for the Philippines despite supposed terror threats.
Last September, Aquino met Clinton's wife, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, during the signing of the $434-million Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) grant in New York.
The MCC grant would fund infrastructure and rural development programs in the Philippines to reduce poverty and spur economic growth.
On a lighter note, Carandang said Clinton asked for a Diet Coke during the meeting. President Aquino is known to be fond of regular Coke.
Praises PNoy, GMA, Ramos
In his speaking engagement at the Manila Hotel, Clinton said President Aquino possesses the qualities of a good leader, and though he had met him only briefly, he said he saw that Aquino has a clear idea of where to take the country and the energy behind it.
Clinton also praised the two former presidents in attendance, Pampanga Rep. Gloria Arroyo and former President Fidel Ramos. He made special mention of the corporate social responsibility bill filed by Arroyo in Congress.
Clinton said he sees the Philippines finally reaching its potential if only there was a relentless focus on the future, and if there was a capacity to abandon grievances the way Rwanda in Africa had done despite its harrowing past.
He also acknowledged that the colonization of the Philippines by Spain and the US has not been good for the Philippines.
He praised the Philippines' effort to maximize domestic sources of energy, and singled out the country's development of geothermal energy as something other countries can emulate.
Sustainable growth, light moments
Clinton also spoke about the need to change the world's economic way of life, and predicted how the 21st century could be the most progressive and excited period in history if there is a common effort to minimize the negatives.
He also warned of calamitous prospects if the world continued to cling to the past, citing the need to minimize the generation of greenhouse gases.
Clinton had several light moments in the question and answer portion, saying the vast power he once possessed made him realize he wasn't quite as smart as he thought he was.
He also joked he was free to speak his mind now and be much more open. But, he added, not much people pay attention to what he says until he says something that may be embarrassing to his wife, now US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and, her boss, US President Barack Obama.
Clinton doesn't disappoint
Clinton did not disappoint those who paid between P10,000 to P25,000 each for tickets just to listen to his speech at the Manila Hotel.
Big names in politics and showbiz gathered for a once-in-a lifetime opportunity to learn from one of the most powerful leaders the United States has offered the world.
One of Clinton’s most striking messages, according to former Senator Richard Gordon, was when the former US President mentioned how leaders should treat power, money, and responsibility they have.
"One of his most powerful messages was about the powerful leaders who should use their power with humility," he said.
Sen. Loren Legarda shared the same sentiment. She said: "He says it's not all about power but it's about quality of service. Ito ang malaking naging pagkukulang hindi lang sa Pilipinas kung hindi sa buong mundo, na ang power ay panandalian lamang."
Neophyte Cavite Rep. Lani Mercado, for her part, said she was awakened upon hearing the words from formerly the most powerful man in the world.
“Sabi niya hindi dapat power hungry, iniiisip dapat na we are hired by our constitutents," she said. For others, it was not the message about politics that struck them the most.
Sen. Pia Cayetano said she can’t forget the story of Clinton putting up his own foundation to bring the cost of medicine down to an affordable level, especially to a developing country like the Philippines.
"Nababaan presyo ng gamot para mas marami ang makinabanag, yan ang pinakamagandang sinabi niya," she said.
TV personalities impressed, too
Even showbiz personalities were impressed by how Clinton discussed the issue of governance and social responsibility under a single theme.
“Mr. Pure Energy” Gary Valenciano said he thought he would be listening to a pure political discussion but Clinton proved him wrong.
Valenciano said: "He kept on stressing, look at the future, forget about the past… that's a hindrance to a lot of people, to society itself."
TV host Johnny Litton was also all praises for the former US President. "The approach was beyond presidency, it's continuation of his belief even if he is not anymore the most powerful president in the world,” Litton said.
Despite the tone of Clinton's speech as more of making politicians realize their ineptness and lack of humanity in serving a developing country, US Ambassador Harry Thomas said the former President saw what is good in President Benigno Aquino III when they met at Malacañang Palace.
"He enjoyed how the President Aquino wants to do things, the president's energy, and how he is taking care of his job," Thomas said.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Businessmen to launch all-out war vs. corruption

MANILA, Philippines - Business executives in the country are fed up with the prevailing corrupt practices in procurement and supply management and have lined up a series of initiatives aimed at stopping unethical dealings that have cost businesses as much as 50% of their investments here.

This, according Charlie Villaseñor, president of Transprocure Asia and chairman of the Procurement and Sourcing Institute of Asia (Pasia), who said the two groups will announce their initiatives with the holding of the 1st Philippine Annual Ethics in Procurement Conference on November 3 at the Makati Shangri-La Hotel.

Topics in the conference include “Taking Procurement to Higher Efficiency, Transparency and Integrity”; “Business Integrity and the Procurement Profession”; “Best Practices and What the Future Holds on Public Procurement”; “Fraud Detection Techniques/Vendor Integrity”; “Promoting Procurement Integrity Makes Sense”; “Developing and Sustaining Effective Corporate Values and Compliance”; and the “ISM Principles and Standards of Ethical Supply Management Conduct”.

Villaseñor said that depending on the type of industry, he is aware that business cost of unethical practice in the procurement and supply management side even go beyond 50% of the investment.

In his case, he said he receives expensive gifts and “people normally compute it also as an investment. It is very costly.”

Brian Lane of the American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines said the country also suffers from unethical practices both in the public and private sectors in the amount of foreign direct investments that the Philippines is losing.

“The perception of the Philippines is it is terribly corrupt. But the new government seems to have touched the Filipinos by its slogan, ‘When there is no corruption, there is no poverty.’ I think this is a good time to turn the ship around,” Lane said.

In six years, Lane said he believes the initiatives they are starting now will already be felt, and the Philippines will start improving the rankings of corrupt countries.

Aside from the November 3 conference, Villaseñor said they will also be rolling out several projects that will promote good governance, including keeping a whistle-blowing hot line, a certification program and scorecard system for ethical companies, and circulation of international ethical standards.

Groups such as the Management Association of the Philippines, Financial Executives of the Philippines (Finex), Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Joint Foreign Chambers have committed to participate in these initiatives.

Villaseñor said while they will not be identifying unethical companies to put them to shame, they will be constantly releasing to the public the names of firms that have earned the certification of being ethical in their supply-management dealings.

And when they receive reports of unethical practices, Villaseñor said they will bring up the case to the top executives of the companies involved.

“We have to come forward and set the right directions. A lot of people also do things because they don’t know they are unethical,” he said.

Walter Buczynski, senior trainer of Pasia, said the key in making this change to happen is by training the people who are directly involved in the process on a day-to-day basis and make sure that their “day-to-day work is done ethically, and bring it to the levels where decisions are made.”

Greg Navarro, Finex president, said they will also be asking CEOs to sign the “integrity pledge,” and part of this is to educate their people on good governance.

Henry Schumacher, executive vice president of the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, said the initiatives are consistent with an earlier program of the foreign chambers and the Makati Business Club enjoining companies to adopt the “zero tolerance on bribing.”

Mang Inasal owner shares pain of letting go

MANILA, Philippines – The owner of Mang Inasal Philippines Inc., which was recently sold to giant Jollibee Foods Corp., said letting go of his chicken-based business was “painful.”

In a letter to his “Mang Inasal Family,” Edgar Injap Sia II expressed “deep sadness” like a “father parting with his child” as he hands over the care of the restaurant to the giant conglomerate.

Sia, who is in his 30’s, founded Mang Inasal on December 2003. In a 250-square meter space in the parking lot of Robinsons Place in Iloilo City, he started to offer the tasty vinegar-marinated chicken served in skewers and paired it with unlimited rice, an almost irresistible come-on. Innovating further, he began offering the menu in the familiar fast food dine-in concept. Business grew by leaps and bounds, conquering markets beyond Visayas, including Metro Manila, the make-it-or-break-it city.

For Mang Inasal's phenomenal growth—about 100 new stores a year—Sia was recognized this year as the Small Business Entrepreneur awardee in Ernst & Young's annual search for Entrepreneur Of The Year-Philippines. The same group named Jollibee founder Tony Tan Caktiong as its first awardee in 2004. Caktiong went on to win the World Entrepreneur of the Year title at an awards ceremony in Monte Carlo, Monaco.

Currently the 6th largest fastfood chain in the country, Mang Inasal was dubbed by a local magazine, almost prophetically, as "the new Jollibee."

Growth was fueled by franchising, which started only in 2005. Of the 303 Mang Inasal branches, only 24 are company owned. Franchise holders of the 279 stores paid P800,000, about the same amount as Sia’s seed money when he started the business 7 years ago.

That Jollibee will be paying P3 billion for a 70% stake in Mang Inasal has made Sia “a very successful businessman,” according to bloggers and online commentators. The buying price of Jollibee, which courted Sia for the transaction, values the entire Mang Inasal business at P4.3 billion. Not a bad deal for a business that has an estimated annual total revenues of P2.6 billion and system wide sales of P3.8 billion.

Since Sia’s holding company, Injap Investments, will continue to hold on to 30% of Mang Inasal, the Jollibee deal actually valued Sia’s remaining stake at a staggering P1.3 billion. By the way, Sia already received a P200 million downpayment.

Still involved

In his letter, however, Sia stressed that the deal will also benefit the intended readers--the employees, franchise holders, and loyal clients.

“I have full confidence that we will reap the benefits of cost improvement of supplies, greater operational efficiency, reliable and response-on-demand servicing, and well structured and professionally managed organization. This will mean increased revenue flow, better margins and limitless opportunities for you—not to mention better service, better quality and “mas sulit” food selection for our loyal patrons.”

He also assured them that, during the turnover process and beyond, their “voice will be heard every step of the way.”

He said two board seats in the new organization have been reserved for him and Ferdinand Sia, the current chief operations officer. Both will also be part of the management committee “for the coming years.”

Global brand

Sia stressed that the deal with Jollibee will strengthen the brand. As the business is on its way to becoming a “Global Mang Inasal,” Filipinos will be “proud,” he said.

“Mang Inasal will have the professional support and vast resource needed to steer the business to the next level,” Sia wrote. “Knowing that [Jollibee’s] Tony Tan Caktiong share the values and business principles I have, I know that my VISION of better quality lives for the Pinoy Diners and Pinoy Entrepreneur will live.”

Growing the business was part of Sia’s goal when he decided to offer the company to the public early next year. Since 2008, Sia has been ramping up interest in Mang Inasal’s success story in preparation for a planned Initial Public Offering. Fresh funds from the capital raising exercise were supposed to finance further store expansion. The aim was to have 500 outlets by 2012. Before the Jollibee deal, it just opened its 300th outlet at the SM Mall of Asia.

Thus, despite the pain and the deep sadness, Sia said he is “ecstatic and in high spirits” since the future of his “7-year old child…is secured and filled with great optimism.”

More "little Jollibee's"?

It is likely that keen watchers of entrepreneurship have not had the last of Sia's genius —or luck.

Aside from Sia's remaining 30% stake in Mang Inasal, Sia's Injap Investments also has a stake in Deco's, another up-and-coming food business that serves "batchoy", a soup made of meat stock, noodles, and garnished with local herbs and spices.

Batchoy was first started by a young butcher called Deco Guillergan Sr., in 1938 in a carinderia at the La Paz public market in Iloilo City. Sia's Mang Inasal also first flourished in the same city.

Just like how Jollibee has grown through brand extensions and numerous acquisitions, Sia has forged a partnership with Guillergan's children. Deco—and its "heavily guarded batchoy secret"—was eventually folded under Sia's Injap Investments.

Deco stores have been slowly expanding to neighboring provinces in Visayas and Metro Manila. Will it be Sia's new "little Jollibee"?

BSP eases forex rules to temper peso

MANILA, Philippines - The Central Bank on Thursday approved new foreign exchange liberalization rules in a bid to encourage dollar outflows and stem the peso’s appreciation as cash seeking higher returns deluges Asia.
The new rules raise the limit on dollar purchases and do away with documentary requirements.

"These changes are a result of the continuing efforts by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) to keep the foreign exchange regulatory framework responsive to and attuned with the current economic conditions and to align it with the policies of neighboring countries in the region to maintain the competitiveness of the Philippines FX regime," central bank Governor Amando M. Tetangco, Jr. said in a statement.

The announcement came as a Malacañang official said the Philippines and Thailand had agreed to push for stronger cooperation among Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) members to address the issue of capital inflows.

President Benigno C. Aquino III and Thailand Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva met yesterday before the opening of the 17th ASEAN meeting in Vietnam.

"The two leaders agreed there should be more talk between the central bankers and finance ministers of the two countries and of ASEAN so we can coordinate more closely our actions because of the strong currencies we are seeing right now," Presidential Communications Group Secretary Ricky A. Carandang said in a radio interview.

"While our exports numbers are still strong, there are some concerns from our exporters that profit margins are getting squeezed and revenues are getting smaller," he added.

Thailand, in stemming the surging baht, has imposed a 15% withholding tax on interest and capital gains earned by foreign investors on Thai bonds.

The BSP has declared that it does not want to impose capital controls and prior to yesterday’s announcement said it would make it easier to take dollars out of the country.

As part of the new rules, the central bank raised the limit on over-the-counter foreign exchange purchases by Filipino residents from accredited banks to $60,000 from $30,000.

Tourists and Filipinos residing abroad may reconvert their pesos into as much as $5,000 -- from $200 -- at airports and other ports of exits without needing to show proof they sold their dollars for pesos when they first arrived.

Importers may purchase as much as $1 million, from $100,000, at accredited banks to make advance payments for their purchases.

Foreign currency loans of the private sector that are registered with the central bank may be prepaid without prior BSP approval, subject to the following requirements:

  • a notice of intention to prepay that is submitted to the BSP at least one month before the target payment date;
  • presentation to the selling bank of a BSP registration letter, ID card and original BSP letter acknowledging receipt of notice of prepayment; and
  • foreign exchange purchases not exceeding $50 million per day

Banks can also act on requests for peso conversion by foreign investors that want to remit abroad.

The amount that each investor may purchase each year for outward investments or investments in debt papers was also raised to $60 million from $30 million.

"These proposed amendments are expected to encourage greater FX outflows at this time the domestic currency has been appreciating against the US dollar," Mr. Tetangco said.

He said the new rules are expected to have only a minimal impact on domestic liquidity and inflation.

The new rules, which make up the fourth phase of foreign exchange reforms, will take effect 15 days after their publication in a newspaper.

In January last year, the BSP approved the "third wave" of foreign exchange reforms with banks no longer required to submit to the central bank reports on their sale of foreign currencies to entities wanting to invest abroad.

The peso has appreciated by around 7% since the start of the year. It is presently trading at around P43 per dollar from around P46 per dollar in January.

Funds have been flowing to Asia, attracted by the region’s robust growth while Europe and the US continue to slump.

San Miguel shipping unit receives tax perks

MANILA, Philippines - The shipping arm of diversifying conglomerate San Miguel Corporation has qualified for tax incentives, the Board of Investments said on Thursday.

SMC Shipping and Lighterage Corp will be allowed a duty-free importation of equipment for its P113 milion venture to operate a barge to transport cement and coal.

San Miguel controls Petron Corporation, which has an oil refinery and a coal-fired power generation plant in Limay, Bataan. Last October 20, Petron's power plant was also granted tax incentives.

Sixty-one percent of the output from Petron's power plant will provide power to the refinery while the balance will be sold to electric cooperatives and Manila Electric Co., where San Miguel is the second biggest shareholder.

Aside from SMC Shipping, the other firms that received tax perks from the BOI on Thursday are:

  • Gloria De Dapitan, Inc (expanding a theme park in Dapitan, Zamboanga del Norte)
  • Jentec Storage, Inc (development of a cold storage facility for farm crops)
  • Feranti Shirt Factory, Inc. (expansion of a garment's factory in Caloocan)
  • Hardware Labs Performance Systems, Inc. (production of equipment for cooling down electronics)

PNoy speechwriter in hot water over Twitter posts

HANOI—A Palace speechwriter has been told be more careful what she posts on the Internet after some of her status updates in the social networking site Twitter stirred controversy.

“We warned her to be more careful with her tweets,” Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office Secretary Ricky Carandang said of Mai Mislang, a speechwriter of President Aquino.

“We’ve told our people not just Mai but our people in our office, whether they like it or not, they are government employees and that they should be a little bit more circumspect,” he added.

Mislang reportedly tweeted, “The wine sucks” after the state banquet hosted by Vietnam President Nguyen Minh Triet in honor of President Aquino Tuesday during a state visit.

She also tweeted: “Sorry pero walang pogi dito #vietnam.” (Sorry, there are no handsome men here.)

She also posted: “Crossing the speedy motorcycle laden streets of Hanoi is one of the easiest ways to die.”

But the Palace was quick to downplay the incident, saying they have dealt with the issue, and that Mislang had already deleted her tweets on her own.

Carandang also came to Mislang's defense.

“She has been one of the hardest working people in our office. She’s trusted by the President and this is just a minor issue. So I don’t think it’s going to become anything more. As far as we are concerned, tapos na ‘yun. Nawala na ‘yun. She’s being more careful now,” he said.

Carandang said the President has been informed about the incident. “The President knows about it and he knows I have taken the appropriate action.”

The communications secretary said Mislang has been apologetic but added, no public apology is forthcoming. “Absolutely, she was [apologetic],” Carandang said.

“There was no offense meant to anybody. That was something that was spontaneous. We talked about it and we are being more careful now about tweeting.”

Halloween things

MANILA, Philippines - Halloween, to my knowledge, is actually a subordinate term compared to how Pinoys primarily call the season. Ask randomly and they’ll tell you: “Undas” or “Araw ng mga Patay” (All Souls’ Day).

Though I personally do not practice this, I know that most of my kababayans make trips to their respective provinces or cemeteries where their dead loved ones are buried.

However, I’ve noticed that we’ve become a little bit different in the past few years. Although I personally know some families who have long been holding Trick or Treat and costume parties in their own homes and villages, I see more and more people nowadays who adopt foreign traditions.

Left and right, on Facebook and Twitter, I see Pinay celebrity moms who come up with creative ideas on how to make Halloween a memorable one for their children. Cheska Garcia-Kramer, beautiful host of Us Girls on Studio 23, actually dressed up her little girl Kendra as a cow. Indeed, the most adorable cow I’ve ever seen!

Kendra, the most adorable cow I've ever seen!

I also don’t doubt the prediction of my dear friend Nikki Valdez (also an effective comedienne and a great singer), that her daughter Olivia will be the cutest bee this Halloween. Nikki actually plans to attend a party that will be thrown by Noah star Jodi Sta.Maria, who’s got a little boy herself. And definitely different from the little cuties, Jodi’s son Thirdy wants to be a toughie and wear Iron Man to his own party.

But who says costume parties and gimmicks are just for kids? On Umagang Kay Ganda, adults refused to miss out on fun times like this!

Costume and props galore

On Monday, we had Mr. David Chan Hwan, Product Development Officer of Unique Novelties and Toys Corporation, who brought Halloween stuff with him.

Donita chose to wear the “furry monster costume” with which she effectively frightened the audience, while Andrei wore that scary mask made infamous for the movie “Scream.”

Halloween fun with Rica Peralejo, Donita Rose, Andrei Felix, and David Chan Hwan of Unique Novelties and Toys Corporation

I personally thought my hair band, with its two little skulls held up by two spring antennas, lit and powered by AA batteries, was cute. On the other hand, the lamp I chose to carry around was hilarious. On the outside it seemed like any other plastic pumpkin lamp, but give it a slap and it’ll start laughing crazily like a witch! Believe me, it was funny more than it was scary!

Skull headband all lit up

Of course, dressing up and buying props can be costly. So if you really don’t have a budget and yet refuse to miss the fun of “dressing Halloween,” Mr. Hwan said that they have masks for as low as P18 only.

He also assured me that these masks are nothing like the ones made out of cheap plastic. Instead they use EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate), a non-toxic material, “widely accepted as safe for use of teethers,” apparently. (Got the information from

Mr. Hwan also mentioned that they’re open all year round, and they also have products for other occasions like Valentine's and Christmas. Here’s the website if you want more information:

Looking crazy

Now if you want a less tedious, minimal or subtle Halloween look, your best bet would be “crazy contact lenses.” Among the bottles and bottles of assorted lenses that Hazel Bartolome of Glamme Shop brought to the studio on Tuesday morning, these are only 4 from which you can take your pick: Soccer Ball, Smiley Face, Dolly Black (my favorite of all) and Zombie Lens (most saleable, she said). And yup, as described, so your eyeballs shall be!

Contact lenses with smiley face, soccer ball, dolly black, and zombie lens designs

Prices would be P750 for the plainly colored ones and P850 for those with crazy, wacky designs. Quite pricey for someone kuripot (thrifty) like me. But I also can’t deny that those flimsy things are actually able to achieve maximum effect.

To know more, you can visit their website: or call 0917-6684833.

Clean Halloween

There’s nothing scary about our guest yesterday, except I guess if she challenged me to match her acoustic prowess. Now that would be a real horror for me.

But I did ask Pop Acoustic Sensation Aiza Seguerra what she’d be doing for Halloween, and it appears that she’s off to Cebu to do a clean-up dive with her friends.

Aiza does not cease to surprise me. Talking to her another time on the show, I learned that she wanted to take up Criminology. Now I hear that she’s been recently certified as an Advanced Open Water Diver, which I think is amazing! Humbly though, Aiza would rather call herself as a “newbie,” who had fallen so in love with the sport and the marine life enough to turn her into an “activist.”

What’s more is that aside from being a passionate diver, she’s also gone past the craft of playing and making music through singing and plucking the chords of her trusty old guitar. Aiza is now into the business of producing and is doing so with no less than Carol Banawa as her first ever artist.

Aiza Seguerra now a record producer too

Almost gushing, Aiza told me how wonderful it is to be entrusted with such a project. Proudly she added that she was even able to get the Filharmonika Strings to play for Carol’s soon to be released album. And though she also did not fail to mention how demanding this new endeavor can be, working all day and sacrificing nights of precious sleep, Aiza said that all’s well because Carol is such a brilliant singer and firmly believes that, “She’s worth it.”

Just the same, Carol Banawa is all praises for her producer. She shared that “Aiza wants nothing but the best for her artist. From the instrumentation, arrangement, vocals and mixing--I learn a lot from her.” But of all, Carol values the new friendship and she’s praying that it will last a lifetime. She’s convinced that aside from being a genius, her producer is a very good person inside and out.

Carol will be watching Aiza at the Metro Bar on the 29th to show gratitude and support to her producer. She said she will bring her daughter Chelsea in her princess costume. Aside from that, she plans to go home to Batangas for Halloween. Funny how this picture represents how cross-cultural Pinoys have been in recent years. (For more of Aiza’s schedule, click here.)

As for me, I’m relatively stuck packing my things away as my husband and I get ready to move into our new home. The other thing is that I have to go up north to shoot yet another exciting adventure for the show.

So, what’s your plan by the way? Well whatever it is, I just wish you all a good loooong weekend!

Globe Asiatique execs face syndicated estafa raps

Charges of syndicated estafa were filed on Friday by the Pag-IBIG Fund and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) against 16 officers and employees of Globe Asiatique Realty Holdings Corp (GA) and Pag-IBIG over a housing loan mess.

The criminal cases arose from the investigation of Pag-IBIG, formally called Home Development Mutual Fund, on the alleged bogus loans of its members who bought houses in GA's Xevera housing project in Pampanga. The syndicated estafa cases constitute economic sabotage.

Charged at the Department of Justice (DOJ) for this non-bailable offense are

  • Delfin Lee, GA board chairman
  • Dexter Lee, GA Executive Vice-president
  • Cristina Salagan, chief finance officer, treasurer and board member
  • Christina Sagun, heads of the company's Accounting/Finance Department and Documentation Department

The following GA employees/agents are included in the suit for soliciting and allegedly paying off "special Buyers" and/or creating "ghost borrowers":

  • Lerma Vitug
  • Tintin Fonclara
  • Geraldine Fonclara
  • Revelyn Reyes
  • Atty. Rod Macaspac
  • Marvin Arevalo
  • Joan Borbon
  • Christian Cruz
  • Rodolfo Malabanan
  • Nannet Haguiling
  • Hon Tungol

An employee of Pag-IBIG's Legal Department, Atty. Alex Alvarez, was also charged for notarizing majority of the fake and/or fraudulent loans submitted by GA to Pag-IBIG.

Alvarez reportedly admitted to the NBI that he received a monthly salary of P30,000 from GA "in exchange for notarizing its documents without the need for the borrowers to personally appear before him as the documents are brought to him for such notarization in batches.

"In securing funding for the Xevera Projects... the respondents actually conspired with each other, with malice and evident bad faith, by willfully and feloniously employing a grand fraudulent scheme to deceive HDMF into releasing the aggregate amount of at least P6,653,546,000 directly to Globe Asiatique, to the damage and prejudice of HDMF and its contributing members," the complaint said.

The complaint further said Lee made false representations, submitted falsified documents (such as ID, ITRs, birth certificates, TINs) allegedly manufactured by GA as supporting documents for the loan applications, and paid for the immediate Pag-IBIG membership of these fictitious and fraudulent buyers for them to qualify for loans.

Pag-IBIG claims that in order for GA to induce the mutual fund to release more funds to pay for the housing units supposedly acquired by these individuals, Lee paid the amortizations of the non-existent borrowers in order not to alert Pag-IBIG to the scheme.

300 affidavits obtained

The NBI said it was able to obtain some 300 affidavits confirming that Lee, through GA, "was actually engaged in a grand fraudulent scheme to swindle Pag-IBIG of its funds, which funds are contributions solicited from its members and the public in general."

During the investigation conducted by Pag-IBIG and the anti-graft division of the NBI, its was found that some units taken-out by PAG-IBIG through these loans, were actually occupied by 3rd parties or buyers who brought directly from GA.

Pag-IBIG said, "More shocking is the fact that of the randomly sampled 20 units taken out by Pag-IBIG that are occupied by 3rd parties, 16 properties are being occpuied by in-house buyers (buyers who bought directly from GA without loaning from HDMF, 2 of whom have fully paid their purchase to GA), 3 units are leased out by parties other than the Pag-IBIG borrowers, and 1 is being occupied by a replacement borrower."

Again, in a post-take-out validation, it was revealed that at least 644 of borrowers endorsed by GA were not genuine buyers of Xevera homes.

At least 802 of the borrowers cannot be located, 3 are actually deceased, and 275 were not around during the visit, all of whom are presumed to be totally fictitious buyers, Pag-IBIG said.

This case carries with it a penalty of life imprisonment.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

‘Little President’ denies trysts with celebrities

MANILA, Philippines - Executive Secretary Paquito “Jojo” Ochoa Jr. on Thursday denied rumors that he has midnight trysts with female celebrities at a plush hotel in Metro Manila.

In an interview with Anthony Taberna at Studio 23’s primetime nightly newscast “iBA-BALITA,” Ochoa said his position sees him meeting a lot of people and attending various work-related events.

“Sa dami po noon, hindi ko maintindihan kung saan nanggaling iyang balita na iyan,” he added.

Shown a photo of singer Pops Fernandez, Ochoa said, “Na-meet ko po yata siya minsan.”

He was poker-faced, meanwhile, when the photo of singer-actress Vina Morales was shown on television.

“Siya po yata iyong pinag-uusapan natin. Na-meet ko rin po siya,” said Ochoa, who is married.

He also downplayed reports on alleged factions among President Benigno Aquino III’s men.

“Iyong Samar kasi, iyon iyong headquarters na tinatag ko noong kampanya na ang principally, ang trabaho, doon ko nilagay ang legal team para kay Pangulong Aquino sa kanyang eleksiyon,” he said. “Lumaki nang lumaki ang operations noon, kaya may tinatawag na Samar headquarters.”

“Iyong Balay naman po, ay iyon iyong orihinal na headquarters po yata noong vice-presidential candidate natin noon na si Mar Roxas,” he added.

Ochoa said there is no truth to reports that the 2 groups are fighting each other to control the Palace.

He likewise shot down former Sen. Ernesto Maceda’s allegation of a “midnight Cabinet” in Malacañang.

“Palagay ko po, wala pong katotohanan iyan. Dahil nagtatrabaho po kami doon, ginagabi kami kadalasan. Pero wala naman po kaming… basta wala po na akong naiintindihan na midnight Cabinet,” he said.

No time to learn the ropes

Ochoa said he is earning around P45,000 a month as executive secretary.

“Salary grade 31 ako eh,” he revealed.

He said he had no time to learn the ropes after Aquino got elected.

“Dito po, antimano, right away, first day pa lang, ay game na. Kumbaga, walalang panahon para mag-practice,” he said.

He urged opposition Sen. Joker Arroyo to understand his situation.

“Well, malaki ang respeto ko okay Sen. Joker Arroyo, especially so na mahusay siyang abugado at galing din naman siya sa posisyon na ito. Siguro naman ay maaari niya kaming bigyan ng kaunti sa mga nangyayari ngayon, na sa kaniyang pananaw ay para nga kaming student council,” he said.

“Masisiguro ko pa na ang taumbayan na hindi naman po kami ganoon, na ang lahat ay sinisiguro namin na karapat-dapat an gaming nape-perform na trabaho, na hindi po namin pinapabayaan ito, na ang dapat naming aralin ay pinag-aaralan namin.”

“Maaari po nating masabi na bago kami… kaya lalo naming pinagbubuti ito,” Ochoa stressed.

Pacquiao: Give PNoy a chance

MANILA, Philippines – World boxing champion and now Sarangani Rep. Manny Pacquiao told critics of President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III to go easy on the chief executive when assessing his performance during his first 100 days in office.

Pacquiao said the new president should be given the chance to lay out all his plans, and that 100 days are not enough to make significant headway in implementing his promises.

The boxing champion challenged Aquino’s critics to support the president instead of disapproving every move he makes.

Pacquiao said too much negativism won’t do the country any good.

The Sarangani congressman, however, said he does not favor the Department of Education’s (DepEd) plan to add 2 years to the country's basic education.

Pacquiao said the added years will solve the deficiencies in the Philippine educational system since the government has yet to address the lack of classrooms, meager salaries of public school teachers, and rising tuition in state colleges and universities.

Stocks breach 4,200-mark

MANILA, Philippines - Stocks advanced for the second session in a row Thursday, breaching the 4,200-mark, on rosy economic outlook.

The key Philippine Stock Exchange index rose 1.1% or 48.46 points to a record high of 4,245.05.

The broader all-share index climbed 1.4% or 35.91 points to 2,676.

Except for the mining and oil sector, all subindices finished in positive territory.

But market breadth was negative as decliners beat advancers, 72 to 57. There were 51 issues unchanged.

Value turnover came in at P5 billion.

Traders said the International Monetary Fund's upward revision for its growth forecast for the Philippines boosted investor sentiment.

Expectations of robust second-half corporate earnings also spurred buying.

Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. was the most actively traded stock by value, adding 1.2% to P2,760. This brings the stock's total gains to 4.1% in the last 3 trading sessions.

Second most active was SM Investments Corp., which picked up 1.1% to P535. SM said it would issue $400 million of new 2017 bonds, including $213.7 million in an exchange for shorter-dated bonds to lengthen its maturity profile.

Third most active was Metropolitan Bank and Trust Co. It rose 2.2% to P75 on net foreign buying.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Aquino receives Elizabeth Seton Medal

NEW YORK CITY, USA – President Benigno Aquino III was conferred on Thursday the highest honor given by her late mother’s alma mater in New York.

The College of Mount Saint Vincent gave the President the Elizabeth Seton Medal in honor of his “outstanding achievements and self-sacrifice.”

Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton was the first American canonized by the Roman Catholic Church. She is credited for building the foundation of American parochial education.

The late President Corazon Aquino also received the medal in 1984.

In his acceptance speech, the President recalled his parent’s fight to restore democracy in the Philippines.

"In accepting this award, I am humbled by what this medal represents: your solidarity with my people,” he said.

“You stood with us in dark days. You stand with us now, in brighter days: the greatest period of optimism my people have seen, since the fall of Ferdinand Marcos," he added.

“I, in turn, have been called to work with my people to ensure that democracy benefits all Filipinos, and not just a few,” the President said.

“The clamor for reform came from my people, and my being here to accept this award from you, is made possible by them. It is only proper that I accept this honor in their name,” he added.

“Filipinos saved themselves from slavery to a dictator; they saved themselves from returning to the status of slaves; and they are working mightily, today, to free themselves from poverty,” Aquino said.

'Tony Boy' blasts media over jueteng row

NEW YORK CITY, USA – Businessman Antonio “Tony Boy” Cojuangco Jr. lashed out at media on Thursday over reports linking him to the jueteng row in the country.

The tycoon, who is part of the Philippine business delegation accompanying President Benigno Aquino III in his US visit, insisted that he did not ask retired Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Oscar Cruz to “go easy” on Interior Undersecretary Rico Puno.

Cojuangco said he talked to Cruz for just around 10 minutes and asked him if he had evidence to back his claims regarding a list of alleged jueteng operators.

Cruz reportedly told the businessman that the names on the list were provided by the prelate’s informants.

Cojuangco, Aquino’s second-degree cousin and the biggest donor in his presidential campaign, said he does not believe that Puno is involved in illegal gambling operations.

He said he approached Cruz on his own accord to help the Aquino administration.

“Help should not end with the [presidential] campaign,” he added.

Cojuangco vented his ire on media and said journalists should not have reported Cruz’s jueteng exposé because it had no basis.

He added that the media should ignore jueteng payola stories unless they have hard evidence.

He also urged journalists to just help the Aquino administration.