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Hear from the experts

December 03, 2018 News

Forum speakers weigh in on economic topics

POLICIES, bills, laws, and investments—seven expert speakers from various industries shares their insights on the current state of the country’s economy during The Manila Times’ 8th Business Forum held at Manila Marriott Hotel in Pasay City on Nov. 20.

“Today, we hope to help you make sense of investments, in other words, our aim today is to add to the public discourse matters about our collective prosperity and well being,” says The Times’ President and CEO Dante “Klink” Ang 2nd in his opening speech. “We have invited various experts to weigh in on these issues and on related economic topics.”

Representing seven industries from both private and government, speakers at The Times’ forum are seasoned by their experiences in their respective fields, and their educational knowledge from where they started.

Rising from the ranks

What better way to discuss the economic cycle of the Philippines than to hear it straight from the central bank.

Diwa Guinigundo rose from the ranks at the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas to his current position as Deputy Governor for the Monetary and Economics Sector.

He’s been with the BSP for 40 years, serving as assistant governor for Monetary Policy and International Operations prior to being appointed deputy governor in 2005.

Graduating cum laude from the University of the Philippines (UP) School of Economics, Guinigundo finishes with an AB Economics degree. Afterwards, he went on to earn a Master of Science degree in Economics from the London School of Economics, studying as a scholar of the Central Bank of the Philippines.

In 1992, Guinigundo headed the Research at the Seacen (Southeast Asian Central Banks) Center in the capital city of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Meanwhile, since 2000, he has been serving as co-chair for the Seacan Experts Group on Capital Flows.

Later on, from 2001 to 2003, he served as alternate executive director at the International Monetary Fund in the United States capital of Washington, DC.

For three years, from 2009 to 2012, he chaired the Executive Meeting of East Asia and the Pacific (EMEAP) Monetary and Financial Stability Committee of EMEAP central bank deputies, which was tasked to conduct regional and global surveillance.

From 2010 to 2013, he co-chaired the Asean Senior Level Committee (SLC) on Financial Integration, with his second term in the committee on going.

The woman executive

According to the Department of Trade and Industry, manufacturing comprises more than half of the Philippines’ industrial sector, accounting for almost a quarter of the country’s Gross Domestic Product.

Sharing the good news of the manufacturing sector is Ma. Corazon Halili-Dichosa, a career executive who has been with the Board of Investments (BoI) for almost 25 years, and currently the executive director of the Industry Development Services (IDS), where she handles all industry-related matters of the agency.

As executive director, she supervises the Resource-based Industries Service, the Manufacturing Industries Service, the Infrastructure and Services Industries Service and the Investments Policy and Planning Service, among the board’s other services.

Halili-Dichosa earned her bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering and masters degree in Environmental Engineering from the Mapua Institute of Technology. She also has a Bachelor of Laws degree, which she earned from Adamson University.

She has tackled various assignments at the BoI, from industry development to international marketing and international negotiations.

Currently, she takes charge of Trade in Goods and Rules of Origin (ROO) in Free Trade Agreements (FTAs), Asean and Asean Plus FTAs; Investments and Sectoral Dialogues in Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC); and the Non-Agricultural Market Access and ROO under the World Trade Organization.

Halili-Dichosa is also responsible for environmental policy matters, the agency’s Performance Governance Scorecard (PGS) and Information and Communication.

Leading the ecozone

Speaking on behalf of locators, developers, and operators aiming at a spot at Special Economic Zones of the country is the Ecozone Development Department manager of the Philippine Economic Zone Authority, or PEZA.

Emmanuel Cortero has been with PEZA for 17 years as managing head under the Policy and Planning group.

As manager, Cortero handles the Declaration of Special Economic Zones under RA 7916, as Amended

Policies, Plans, and Programs for Ecozone development.

Registration of ecozone developers including Utilities (power,water, telecoms) Enterprises, and Facilities.

He is also the focal person for internal and external affairs on ecozone development concerns, and transformation of PEZA-registered industrial estate to eco-industrial development such as energy efficient and green ecozone application.

Brains in practice

In regards to what investors look for before investing in the Philippines, an official from the second leading professional services in the world gives the local businessmen an insight on what to expect from foreign investors.

Mary Jade Roxas-Divinagracia heads the Deals and Corporate Finance practice of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Philippines.

Her responsibility is involved in corporate and project finance, financial due diligence review, privatization, mergers and acquisition, advisory and valuation, and strategy.

Roxas-Divinagracia graduated summa cum laude, majoring in accounting from the University of St. La Salle, in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental. After pursuing her masteral studies, she earned her masters degree in Business Administration from the University of Hawaii, in the residential neighborhood of Manoa, and from the Japan-American Institute of Management Science in Hawaii Kai drive, both in the capital city of Honolulu.

She also attended the Trusted Advisors and Asia Pacific Leadership programs at the Insead School of Business at the university’s Asian campus based in the city-state of Singapore.

Roxas-Divinagracia is a Certified Public Accountant—placing fifth in the CPA Board Exams of her time—a Chartered Financial Analyst, and a Chartered Valuer and Appraiser, a certification degree she earned from the Institute of Valuers and Appraisers of Singapore.

Woman in power

Speaking on behalf of the real estate market in the Philippines is an industry expert who has been serving the market since she entered in 2008.

Sheila Lobien was a former Regional director and head of Project Leasing of a Fortune 500 property consulting firm and the current chair of the Women in Business Committee of the European Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines (ECCP).

Currently, she does real estate consulting on her own and spearheading key activities of the Women in Business of the ECCP zeroing in on mentoring, networking and other social activities geared to uplifting women professionals in business.

Lobien is one of the movers of the industry, responsible for leasing out close to a million square meters of office and commercial space in key business districts in the country in less than a decade—an impressive feat that backs the reputation that precedes her.

Initially the general manager and coaching GM of Regus Manila, she fully shifted to real estate services in 2008 when she joined JLL as the head of project leasing, focusing on office and commercial buildings. Since then, she has been continuously trudging forward, breaking boundaries and making her characteristic mark in the industry.

In 2012 alone, Lobien and her JLL team were able to corner 20 sole new agency appointments of grade A and premium grade buildings, which racked up her company’s market share in the industry sub-segment to 85 percent of all agency appointments in the country at that time, a dominating performance unmatched up to this day.

A well-seasoned executive

Another man who rose from the ranks is Ramon Monzon, president and CEO of the national stock of the country, the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE).

Monzon started serving as president and CEO in May 2017. He concurrently serves as president and director of the Securities Clearing Corporation of the Philippines (SCCP), as well as chairman of the Philippine Stock Exchange Foundation, Inc. and the Board of Trustees of the Securities Investors Protection Fund Inc. (SIPF).

He holds a Master of Business Administration degree from the Chicago Booth School of Business, and two bachelor’s degree: Political Science degree from the Ateneo de Manila University, and Accounting degree from the Manuel L. Quezon University.

He is also a Certified Public Accountant, a Fellow of the Institute of Corporate Directors and member of the Management Association of the Philippines.

He was the president and CEO of Pacific Rim Export & Holdings Corp., from 1988 to 1995; the EVP and COO of Radio Philippines Network Intercontinental Broadcasting Corp., Banahaw Broadcasting Corp and Sining Makulay, Inc. from 1984 to 1986; and a partner at SyCip Gorres Velayo & Company from 1982 to 1984.

Among his other current roles include being director and member of the Executive, Risk, Audit, Nomination and Remuneration and IT Steering Committees of PDSH (Philippine Dealing System Holdings Corporation), Philippine Dealing & Exchange Corporation, the Philippine Depository & Trust Corporation and the Philippine Securities Settlement Corporation.

Developing the public transit

Completing the list of speakers is one of The Times’ columnist, Robert Siy, who has had a long career as a development professional.

He earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Management Engineering at the Ateneo de Manila University, and further pursued his masters and doctorate degrees at Cornell University in New York.

During his more than 30 years of work as a development professional, he took hands-on responsibility for project formulation and implementation, and advocated participatory Development.

He first worked as an economist at the World Bank in Washington D.C., then later at the Asian Development Bank, where he held significant senior management posts.

Since retiring from the ADB, he has been focusing on transportation and mobility issues in the Philippines, serving an adviser on sustainable mobility, public transport, urban development and institutional change.

Now finding the time to write, he has chosen to author a column for The Manila Times called Mobility Matters, published every Saturday since he joined the paper in March this year. The column focuses on issues and policies related to sustainable mobility and urban development.

Article was originally published on December 3, 2018 on The Manila Times online