Philippine Weekly Update

4 - 10 June, 2016

June 17, 2016 Philippine Weekly Update


The Senate and the house adjourned sine die, June 6, signaling the close of the 16th Congress.


The manufacturing sector continued to grow as both production and net sales posted vast improvements in April this year, according to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA). Based on the Philippine Statistics Authority’s Monthly Integrated Survey of Selected Industries for April, 2016, the Volume of Production Index grew by 10.5 percent, a significant improvement from the 1.8-percent growth posted in the same month last year. Also, the Value of Production Index recorded a 6.8-percent growth in April, 2016, a huge turnaround from a 6.4-percent decline in April, 2015. According to Emmanuel F. Esguerra, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary, manufacturing output grew stronger at the onset of the second quarter, driven by robust domestic activities during the election season. 


The administration of President-elect Rodrigo Duterte plans a further hike in infrastructure spending to up to 7% of the economy this year, higher than the 5 percent target of President Benigno Aquino III’s government, as the incoming budget chief laments the present sorry state of infrastructure. According to Benjamin E. Diokno, incoming Budget Secretary, the Duterte administration will not spend money for spending’s sake. The economy is deficient in all types of infrastructure—highways and bridges, ports and airports. Specific infrastructure projects to be pursued by the Duterte government include “small, medium and large-scale projects that will be done in all regions. 


Philippine economic growth would outperform those of its peers in the region this year on the back of robust domestic demand despite a weak global economy, according to the World Bank. According to the World Bank, Vietnam and the Philippines have the strongest growth prospects. In the Philippines, growth is projected to firm to 6.4% in 2016, with an accelerated implementation of public-private partnership projects and strong domestic demand. The country benefits from diversified export markets and low global commodity prices. 


Unisys Public Sector Services Corp. was the lone bidder for the Phase 2 of the Philippine Statistics Authority’s (PSA) Civil Registry System Information Technology Project (CRS-ITP). Two other pre-qualified bidders, Morpho-Filmetrics-Frey Consortium and PNJ Partnership Consortium, did not participate in the bidding. The bid submitted by Unisys will still undergo evaluation. If the bid is deemed compliant, the contract is scheduled to be awarded on July 26, and signed by September. The winning bidder for the CRS-ITP will finance, design, develop, operate and maintain the civil registry system for the PSA. It will collect, access, store, maintain and manage civil registry documents and the specimen signatures of all city and municipal registrars using imaging technology. The National Economic and Development Authority Board, chaired by President Benigno S. C. Aquino III, approved the project on July 15, 2015.


Mindanao needs to intensify its push for renewable energy (RE) in order to reverse the 70-30 mix in favor of fossil fuels by 2018 when new coal-fired plants start operating, according to the head of the Mindanao Power Monitoring Council’s technical group. It is projected to require at least 500 megawatts (MW) of new capacity by 2016, another 500 MW by 2020, and 1,600 MW by 2030.

The first among the new power projects to go online this year was the 300-MW plant of Therma South, Inc. (TSI). Other plants lined up are: the first 100-MW unit of Sarangani Energy Corp.; the 300-MW facility of SMC Global Power Holdings, Inc., and the first 105-MW unit out of three units of FDC Utilities, Inc. Romeo M. Montenegro,the director for Investment Promotion and Public Affairs of the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) pointed out that efforts will now be strengthened to have green energy projects rolled out to achieve a 60-40 mix in favor of RE by 2030.


The Duterte administration is planning to implement an infrastructure program which would cover both government-funded and public-private partnership (PPP) projects within two to three years. According to Mark Villar, the incoming Secretary of the Department of Public Works and Highways, they intend to undertake an ambitious and comprehensive infrastructure program which would cover traffic management, disaster management, as well as support the agriculture and tourism sectors.


Senator Loren Legarda renewed her call to local government units (LGUs) to strictly enforce the Ecological Solid Waste Management (ESWM) Law and the Clean Water Act to strengthen the protection and preservation of marine ecosystems. Legarda made the statement as she welcomed the move of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to declare Sabang Bay in Puerto Galera in Oriental Mindoro and Coron Bay in Palawan as water quality management areas (WQMAs) to protect their rich marine biodiversity from the impact of tourism.


Incoming Agriculture Secretary, Emmanuel F. Piñol has announced that Evelyn G. Laviña will be the department’s undersecretary for high-value crops (HVCs), representing an elevation of the position, whose outgoing head is an official holding the rank of director.