Manila Water’s ‘expensive’ water treatment plant project may be revived

Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) is now re-considering Manila Water Company Inc.’s P15-billion Laguna Lake East Bay project, which was dismissed by former MWSS Administrator Reynaldo Velasco in 2018 for being “expensive”.

MWSS Chief Regulator Patrick Ty said in a text exchange that MWSS will conduct a virtual public consultation next week for the project “to determine if it should push through”.

He also said that the public consultation was supposed to happen in March or April but it was moved to a much later date because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“We are just restarting,” Ty told Business Bulletin. “It’s similar to the public consultation for the Wawa Dam we did last year”.

Manila Water’s East Bay Water Source project involves extracting water from the easternmost part of Laguna Lake, the biggest lake in the Philippines and the second biggest inland freshwater lake in Southeast Asia.  

The project is supposed to help Manila Water treat additional 250 million liters of water per day (mld).  
However, this project didn’t really sit well with Velasco, who is now the chairman of MWSS Board of Trustees.

Explaining his decision to shut down Manila Water’s proposal, Velasco said in 2018 that the mandate of his agency is to look for new water sources that won’t cost too much and won’t take so much to build.

From time to time, Manila Water and Maynilad Water Services Inc. are still having water supply issues since Metro Manila’s major dams are not getting enough rains and there’s no new water sources that are coming online despite the growing population.

Metro Manila, home to 12 million people, still currently gets 97 percent of its water needs from the 53-year old Angat Dam.

In the latter part of 2018, after Velasco dismissed the Laguna Lake East Bay project, MWSS approved the Wawa Dam project, which will soon be constructed by WawaJVCo, the joint venture between port magnate Enrique Razon’s Prime Infra and businessman Oscar Violago’s San Lorenzo Ruiz Builders Group.

Manila Water is still part of the project, but only as a sole off-taker of the water that will be treated by this new dam.

A lot of other things have happened since then too, with Razon eventually securing a deal to acquire a majority stake in the Ayala-led Manila Water. 

Wawa Dam is the only new water source expected to come online within this administration since the Chinese-funded P12-billion Kaliwa Dam could not just seem to take off amid environmental and social concerns.

In August, WawaJVCo signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the Dumagat/Remontado Indigenous People (IP) of Antipolo after only two days of negotiation.

This will allow the project to proceed with the next steps of the Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) process pursuant to the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997.

In a recent statement, MWSS said it “has relentlessly been pursuing improvements” in the allocation of its water resources coming from the Umiray-Angat-Ipo-La Mesa-Balara water supply system.

As a start, the agency had put in place a management control system all over this current water supply system.

It also established a cost-effective measurement system for its water portals and conveyance system, which aim to provide equitable access to reliable and clean water through balanced and fully accounted water allocations to its concessionaires.

MWSS Administrator Emmanuel Salamat said the MWSS is now “taking formal and scientific approach to standardize flow meters to be installed at the Umiray, Angat, and Laguna raw water sources”.

“Accurate flow metering is fundamental to the future conservation of water resources and the successful financial and operational management of existing water supply networks,” Salamat said.

“Decisions on capital investments in new water sources, new conveyance systems, new water treatment plants should be backed up with accurate flow instrumentation data and information, failing to gather the right information could result in failing to achieve the right water security results,” he added.

OMF bags four Stevies for its COVID initiatives

The corporate social responsibility arm of the Manila Electric Company (Meralco), One Meralco Foundation (OMF), was honored in the 17th Annual International Business Awards — also known as the Stevie Awards — for four of its COVID response efforts.

“Help from Home,” an internal campaign that provided opportunities for Meralco employees to contribute to the foundation’s COVID-19 initiatives while working from home, won bronze in the most valuable corporate response category.

“A heartfelt employee social responsibility initiative directly aligned to the company’s values. This campaign will no doubt be remembered by all those who were able to gain assistance from it,” noted a juror.

The campaign raised PHP 2,806,902 allowing OMF to provide grocery gift certificates to more than 1,000 low-income families in Metro Manila during the early days of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) period. It also funded the sustained relief operations of OMF thereafter.

A partnership initiative with Meralco’s electric vehicle subsidiary, eSakay, also won bronze in the same category. It provided free shuttle service to thousands of medical frontliners and essential workers at a time when public transport was put on hold in an effort to curb the community transmission of the novel coronavirus. 

The service carried 76,364 frontliners in Pasig City, Makati City, and along special routes designated by the DOTr. It also provided income to 35 eSakay drivers and support personnel.

“This is one good corporate response in a country with a lot of commuting public. Keep up the good work helping the frontliners,” wrote one juror.

Meanwhile, “From Farmers to Frontliners,” a campaign that provided nutritious vegetables to frontliners and the homeless, while invigorating the livelihood of vegetable farmers, won bronze in the most valuable non-profit response category. 

OMF procured six tons of produce from farmers in Kabayan, Benguet province, and served these to 9,403 healthcare workers, 5,695 LGU frontliners, and 3,365 marginalized families. Bayad Center, Meralco’s payment solutions subsidiary, funded the program.

Jurors in the category described it as “a very smart project” and “a proud achievement.”

In the past six months, OMF has worked with 31 local government units in the Meralco franchise area and dozens of national agencies to provide care packages to 7,891 families in marginalized communities adversely affected by the economic effects of the pandemic. This strategic partnership won for the foundation its fourth bronze Stevie also in the most valuable non-profit response category.

“A very admirable effort to support the front-line medical staff and those in need in these troubled times. [Meralco’s] service to the community is heart-warming and it is exemplary effort for other organizations to follow,” shared a juror in the category.

The programs were honored in the COVID19 Response Categories, which were specially offered this year to recognize the contributions of individuals and institutions to the global fight against the novel coronavirus.

The Stevie Awards attracted more than 3,800 nominations from organizations of all types in 63 nations this year.

A housewife receives a PhP1,000 grocery gift check from Caritas Manila’s “Project Damayan,” an initiative of the Catholic Church-affiliated charitable institution to help marginalized families cope with the health crisis. In support of this cause, One Meralco Foundation launched a fundraising campaign within Meralco called “Help from Home.” The campaign allowed employees of Meralco and its subsidiaries to contribute while working in the safety of their homes. It raised a total of PhP2.80 million.
A Meralco employee hands over a care package from One Meralco Foundation in one of its relief operations in Metro Manila.
With the help of our volunteers from Meralco’s business centers, One Meralco Foundation delivered 1,000 kilograms of fresh vegetables donated by our advocacy partner Bayad Center to 1,200 underprivileged families in Manila.
An eSakay electric vehicle shuttles frontliners and essential workers within Metro Manila during the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ). Because mass transport was suspended during the period, medical workers and employees of vital establishments that were allowed to operate found it challenging to report to work. OMF and eSakay’s free service helped address this problem.

PAL resumes flights to Boracay on Oct. 1

(Manila Bulletin File Photo)
(Manila Bulletin File Photo)

Flag-carrier Philippine Airlines flies to Boracay again this Thursday, October 1,  via Caticlan airport in Aklan as the government re-opens the island for tourism.

PAL’s first Manila-Caticlan-Manila service on Thursday, October 1, will depart from Manila at 11:10AM as PR 2041, arriving at Caticlan’s Godofredo P, Ramos Airport at 12:10PM.  

The return flight, PR2042, will leave Caticlan at 12:55PM and touch down in Manila at 1:55 PM.

The flag carrier flights on October 4 (Sunday), 9 (Friday) and 11 (Sunday) will pave the way for a regular twice weekly Manila-Caticlan-Manila schedule operating every Friday and Sunday from October 16 onwards, with the same timings.  

PAL’s modern Dash 8 Q400 aircraft will be deployed for the revived Boracay flights. 

“Our Caticlan flights are here to support the Department of Tourism’s vision to reopen Boracay island and other tourist destinations around the country,” Philippine Airlines stated.

“PAL, DOT and travel industry stakeholders are working together to support jobs and livelihoods by rejuvenating domestic tourism.”

The government is giving tourists the green light to travel to Boracay from areas under general community quarantine (GCQ) and modified general community quarantine (MGCQ).

This decision is formalized in Resolution No 74 of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases, which has relaxed age restrictions for travel to Boracay while continuing to strictly enforce entry restrictions for persons with comorbidities. 

Travelers to Boracay must present a COVID-negative result from an RT-PCR test taken “not earlier than 48 hours prior to the date of travel.” 

For proper screening, Caticlan Airport will be the sole port of entry for tourists arriving by airplane. 

Health protocols like mask-wearing and physical distancing will be strictly enforced throughout Boracay island.

PAL assures its passengers of its adherence to the highest safety protocols on its flights.

PAL aircraft are equipped with High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters which disinfect cabin air of bacteria and viruses with 99.99% efficacy, as well as an advanced air flow system that replaces cabin air every two to three minutes. 

Cabin crew wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) on flights. Aircraft surfaces are thoroughly disinfected before and after every flight.

DA plans to rehab then sell tomato processing firm

           The Philippine government is looking at financial rehabilitation of Northern Foods Corporation (NFC), a struggling government-owned tomato processing firm established during the administration of President Ferdinand Marcos, to make it attractive for eventual privatization.

         The Department of Agriculture (DA) said the government plans to  help the processing firm “get back on its feet.”

           Initially,  the DA it is planning to extend a total of P65 million financial assistance to NFC, which has failed to pay the farmers who sold them tomatoes that it used for processing.

          This financial assistance, according to Agriculture Secretary William Dar, will make the processing firm “financially afloat and thus make it attractive for potential investors en route to its privatization.”

Agriculture Secretary William Dar (MANILA BULLETIN)

           During a recent visit to the processing facility, which is located Sarrat, Ilocos Norte, Dar said he is seeking a P26-million loan under the Agricultural Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (ACEF) to finance the operations of NFC as it awaits its privatization.

          Aside from that, NFC is also trying to secure an additional P39-million loan from the DA’s Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC) so it could pay its arrears to farmers who had sold tomatoes during previous harvest season.

          NFC processes into paste fresh ripe tomatoes, particularly the “Ilocos Red” variety, sourced from 3,000 farmers in Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur.

           Every season, farmers enter into a contract growing agreement with the NFC, which is tasked to provide technical assistance and arrange financing with lending institutions for fertilizers, pesticides, harvest containers, and other inputs.

          “It is direly important that our farmers are promptly paid for their produce and hard work, so they can continuously sell their tomatoes to the NFC for processing,” Dar said.

         Tomato is one of the high-value cash crops in Ilocos Region, with 800 hectares of production area. It is planted from October to December, after the main rice crop. NFC farmer-growers commence tomato harvest in January.

           With a processing capacity of 500 metric tons (MT) of tomatoes per day, NFC produces about 4,000 MT of tomato paste every processing season from January to April yearly.

          NFC supplies tomato paste to leading food chains, fish canners, and tomato sauce and catsup manufacturers in the country, capturing 13 percent of the market for these products combined.

        “We were informed that the company has an inventory of P120-million worth of tomato paste, which they can use to pay out the loan to be extended by ACEF and ACPC,” Dar said.

            Among those interested in investing in NFC is a group led by former Candaba, Pampanga Mayor Jerry Pelayo, who joined Dar during the ocular visit.

          He said his group will meet again with the NFC management to discuss the proposed rehabilitation and upgrading of the processing plant.

           Pelayo said they will look into upgrading the facilities to process other commodities such as mango and pineapple, to make the plant occupied and productive year-round, and not only four months of the year.

          Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) shows that the Ilocos Region produced a total of 28.25 thousand MT of tomatoes last year, representing more than one-third or 38 percent of the country’s total production.

        The NFC was established in 1984 as a subsidiary of the Livelihood Corp. (LiveCor) before it was eventually transferred to the Department of Agriculture (DA) in 2000.

        Then in 2013, the processing facility was categorized as a government-owned and controlled corporation (GOCC).

Pinoys advised to eat more local fish

Filipinos are advised to eat more locally produced high-value fisheries products like tuna to make up for the export revenues that Philippines has been losing due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

(Keith Bacongco, MB file photo)

On the part of the government, it should help local exporters identify the domestic markets where they can divert their products, especially now that it’s hard to export them to other countries.

Asis Perez, former director of Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), said in a virtual briefing Monday that exports of some of the country’s fisheries products have been falling due to COVID-19 pandemic, with lesser demand coming from the usual markets like Japan and several European countries.

“Some of our bigger tuna production, we normally bring that to Japan, but of course the Japan economy is also affected by the pandemic. It has a huge effect on exports,” Perez said.

“Then there’s the Philippines-Europe chain wherein we bring fisheries products to European countries by plane, but since flights are still irregular, as much 500 kilograms to 2 tons of fisheries products are affected,” he further said.

He then pointed out that these fisheries products can only be transferred by planes because they need to get to their destinations within 48 hours.

Perez, who also serves as the convenor of Tugon Kabuhayan, said compared to other staple food like bangus and tilapia, which can easily be taken up by the domestic market, the ‘high-end market’ for much expensive fisheries products like tuna and salmon definitely declined.

Tuna and salmon are considered high-value fisheries products and are either being exported to other countries or served in restaurants.  

According to Perez, the supply chain disruptions on fisheries exports particularly brought down the price of tuna from P200 per kilogram (/kg) to P140/kg to P150/kg over the past months.

Perez said that it’s important for the government to continuously promote the consumption of all the locally produced and caught fisheries products.

“We need to encourage local consumption. Producers are problematic where to sell their products,” he said.

He then added that the domestic market, based on the 36.7 kilograms per capita consumption for fish, is enough to compensate for the losses in export revenues if only the entire Philippine population will prefer fish over other food.

Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed that during the second quarter of the year, the country’s agricultural exports went down by 20.6 percent to US$1.45 billion from US$1.83 billion last year. During the period, the value of agricultural export reflected a share of 11.4 percent to the total export of the country.

Of this, the category ‘preparations of meat, of fish, or of crustaceans, molluscs and other aquatic invertebrates’ accounted for revenues worth US$96.07 million, which is lower compared to its contribution of US$114.78 million last year.  

Tugon Kabuhayan, a group which Perez is now part of, is an advocacy group helping Filipino farmers by promoting domestic production, food safety and security and environmental protection, among others.

AC Motors executive team reorganized, reshuffled team

The executive team of AC Motors, the vehicle distribution and retail dealership division of the Ayala Group, has been reshuffled and reorganized into two distinct divisions – automotive and motorcycle – to move past the current pandemic and position for growth.  

AC Industrials Chairman and CEO Arthur Tan

This was announced by AC Industrials, the Ayala Corporation’s wholly-owned industrial technologies arm and direct parent of the group’s vehicle distribution & retail dealerships division.

According to its announcement, AC Motors will organize itself into two distinct businesses – automotive and motorcycle to allow the group to capitalize on the unique growth opportunities in each sector.

Effective October 1, Antonio “Toti” Zara III will join AC Motors as President of its automotive business unit, which will house the portfolio of distributorships for the Kia, Volkswagen, and Maxus brands, and dealerships for the Honda, Isuzu, Kia, Volkswagen, and Maxus brands.  Concurrently, Zara will serve as President of the different dealership companies of AC Motors.

AC Industrials Chairman and CEO Arthur Tan will continue to serve as Chairman and CEO of the various companies under the AC Motors’ umbrella.  

“Toti brings with him 30 years of experience in the global and local automotive industry covering service, sales, and marketing functions. We welcome his experience and hope he can add fresh and innovative perspectives to help accelerate the strategies we have set forth and started in order to navigate this crisis and take advantage of the long-term trends that continue to drive the industry’s evolution,” said Tan.

Manny Aligada will continue to serve as President of the Kia distributorship under the KP Motors Corporation, while Felipe Estrella will likewise continue as President of Automobile Central Enterprise, the distributor company for the Volkswagen and Maxus distributorship businesses. 

Dino Santos, meanwhile, will transition to lead and focus on AC Motors’ motorcycle group as it forges its own path as a major player in the two-wheel space. The motorcycle division currently houses the manufacturing, distribution, and retail operations of the KTM and Husqvarna brands.

AC Industrial Technology Holdings Inc. (AC Industrials) is Ayala’s holding company for its investments in industrial technology. The company builds on the collective strengths of Integrated Micro-Electronics, Inc., a pioneering manufacturer in the Philippines and the sixth-ranked (based on revenues) automotive EMS provider worldwide, and AC Motors, the country’s largest multi-brand dealership group and a leading Philippine vehicle distributor & retailer carrying Honda, Isuzu, Kia, Volkswagen, Maxus, and KTM.

AC Motors is one of the Philippines’ largest automotive and motorcycle groups. Held by AC Industrials, Ayala’s industrial technology unit, AC Motors carries six global mobility brands: Honda, Isuzu, Volkswagen, KTM, Kia and Maxus, and covers a nationwide footprint of over 100 owned and managed locations.

NLEX hiring 1,500 workers

The NLEX Corporation today announced it is hiring over 1,500 technical and skilled workers to ensure its P23 Billion, 8-kilometer, North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) Connector road will be finished next year.

However, the tollway operator gives priority to overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) displaced due to the COVID-19 pandemic, NLEX President and General Manager J. Luigi L. Bautista specified.

(NLEX Corporation / MANILA BULLETIN)

“With our ongoing projects, we can create more opportunities for people thus propel growth in the country,” he added.

“Being a government partner in infrastructure building, NLEX Corporation and the entire Metro Pacific Tollways group are keen in helping the economy recover.”

To speed up the construction of its road project, the tollways firm is also mobilizing more construction equipment at the site.

The NLEX Connector is an all-vehicle class elevated expressway traversing the Caloocan Interchange, 5th Avenue/C3 Road in Caloocan City, passing through España and linking up with the Metro Manila Skyway Stage 3 at Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP), Sta. Mesa, Manila.

“We are currently working on the first five-kilometer section of the NLEX Connector from Grace Park, Caloocan City to España St., Sampaloc, Manila,” Bautista reported. “We need more than 1,500 workers to accelerate the construction.”

They are hiring OFWs on the advice of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

“We are looking at our massive infrastructure projects as key employment generators,” stressed DPWH Secretary Mark A. Villar.

Already, the annual increase in the government’s infrastructure budget generated 6.57 million jobs in the past four years.

The infrastructure will also hasten travel and perk up commerce.

The NLEX Connector, in particular, will slash travel time from NLEX to South Luzon Expressway from two hours to 20 minutes.

Add to that, it will improve accessibility for cargo trucks bound for the Manila Ports (North and South Harbor) and international airports, such as NAIA and Clark.

Ultimately, it will benefit 35,000 motorists, who will be spared from using Metro Manila’s congested city roads, since they will traverse their routes mostly above the alignment of the Philippine National Railways.

Gov’t to borrow P140 B locally in October

The Bureau of the Treasury is planning to borrow P140 billion from the domestic market in October this year.

According to an online advisory posted today, the Treasury indicated that the national government will sell P80 billion worth of Treasury bills (T-bills) and P60 billion in Treasury bonds (T-bonds).

Related Story: Gov’t foreign borrowings for COVID-19 near $10-B

The Treasury will hold a weekly auction for short-dated IOUs and offer longer tenor debt papers on a fortnightly basis.

The bureau will offer P5 billion worth of 91- and 182-day T-bills as well as P10 billion of 364-day notes every Monday and issue them on October 7, 14, 21 and 28.

Likewise, the agency will issue P30 billion worth of three- and five-year T-bonds on October 8 and October 22, respectively.

The October local borrowing plan is lower compared with the P160 billion programmed in September.

Data from the Treasury showed that the national government’s total borrowings rose to P2.469 trillion as of August this year.
Of that amount, local financing reached P1.96 trillion, while foreign borrowings amounted to P509.7 billion.

The Treasury is scheduled to release the August 2020 national government debt report today. 

Gov’t starts studying Malampaya buyout proposal – Cusi

Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi

As the government is keen on evaluating the joint venture deal proposed by Davao businessman Dennis A. Uy, Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi indicated that they will start studying the ‘buyout proposal’ for the 45-percent majority interest of Shell Philippines Exploration B.V. (SPEX) in the Malampaya gas field venture.

“We appreciate the invitation and we will evaluate it. PNOC-EC (Philippine National Oil Company-Exploration Corporation) is currently doing technical and financial evaluation,” the energy chief said.

This week, Uy’s Udenna Corporation had sought the imprimatur of state-run PNOC-EC to become its partner in acquiring the Shell shareholdings being sold off in the gas field project.

Rozzano D. Briguez, president and CEO of PNOC-EC, indicated “we have our own ongoing study on all the possible implications of Shell’s divestment.” The company said it will make the outcome of that study in due time.

When Udenna acquired the 45-percent stake of American firm Chevron Corporation in the Service Contract (SC) 38 of Malampaya, it was PNOC-EC that sounded off interest then to coalesce with Uy’s firm.

This time, it is the Davao-based businessman who advanced an offer for his company to forge a tie-up with government for the Malampaya shares’ acquisition and to subsequently gain control of the gas field’s operations.

Shell’s stake divestment is seen to have far-reaching implications because it holds operatorship in the gas field.

Nevertheless, Udenna opined that in its targeted business pact with the government, they can lean on the acquired technical expertise of current Shell personnel for the continuous operation of the gas field.

Several other interested parties, like San Miguel Corporation, had manifested interest in the Malampaya asset, but Udenna and PNOC-EC as existing consortium-members have the upper hand in exercising their pre-emptive rights in the buyout deal.

The remaining life cycle of Malampaya’s existing service contract will be until 2024, so that will give the new consortium-members four more years to carry on with gas production and serve the fuel requirements of gas-fired power facilities in the country.

The first gas sale and purchase agreement (GSPA) of SC 38 will expire in 2022; and the biggest puzzle at this point is whether or not Malampaya’s license will be extended; or the power plant developers will already need to embrace imported liquefied natural gas (LNG) as alternative.

Power facilities had been the main users of the indigenous gas produced from Malampaya; while a measly percentage of it is being funneled to industrial customers.

The Philippines had long targeted to ramp up it indigenous oil and gas discovery, but the exit of major players – compounded by tricky geopolitical concerns – had not been propping up that goal.

The odds are manifestly not in the country’s favor as many investors worry about the diplomatic tension trouncing prospective petroleum exploration activities at the West Philippine Sea.

Jollibee Group opens first of 100 Tim Ho Wan restos in China

The Jollibee Group continues to expand its presence in China with the opening of the country’s first-ever Tim Ho Wan in Shanghai, kicking off plans to open 100 branches in five years.

Inaugurating the first-ever Tim Ho Wan in Mainland China were Jollibee Foods Corporation China Chairman Carl Tancaktiong (2nd from the left); Jollibee Foods Corporation China President Shirley Chang (3rd from the left); Jollibee Foods Corporation China Regional Marketing & Brand Strategy Head Connie Wu (1st from the left); and Tim Ho Wan General Manager Alex Lau (4th from the left).

This marks the Michelin starred restaurant’s entry into one of the world’s largest economies.

“Shanghai, home to 24 million people and one of the most populous city centers of the world, welcomed Tim Ho Wan with a packed waiting list and a long line of customers,” Jollibee said in a statement.

Located in the Jing’an Kerry Center, which is just a few minutes away from the famous Jing’an Temple, Tim Ho Wanis the latest addition to the portfolio of brands being directly operated by the Jollibee Group and is a joint venture with the Tim Ho Wan Group.

“The core of Tim Ho Wan is to serve delicious authentic Hong Kong dim sum to more peopleat a good value for money, and this is why we believe that Tim Ho Wan is a great addition to the Jollibee Group’s portfolio,” said Jollibee Group CEO Ernesto Tanmantiong.

He added that, “Opening in Shanghai, one of the busiest global hubs, is an excellent starting point for our expansion plans for Tim Ho Wan in Mainland China, and our near-term goal is to open 100 restaurants in the next 5 years.”

“We are excited to grow the Tim Ho Wan brand in Mainland China as we leverage on our established network here and knowledge in food-service,” said Jollibee Foods Corporation China Chairman Carl Tancaktiong.

He noted that, “Given the response we are seeing, we are planning to open the second store by the end of this year.  Aside from Shanghai, we will also open in Beijing, Shenzhen, and Guangzhou.”

Tim Ho Wan is often called one of the most affordable Michelin-starred restaurants in the world, with its Sham Shui Po branch in Hong Kong being awarded a Michelin star for eleven straight years. 

The most popular dishes are the signature Baked BBQ Pork Buns, Rice Rolls, Pork & Shrimp Dumplings, and the Pan-Fried Radish Cake. Everything on the menu is always freshly steamed and freshly served following the philosophy of the dim sum icon. 

The Jollibee Group has entered into a joint venture agreement with the Tim Ho Wan Group to open and operate Tim Ho Wan restaurants in Mainland China.

Lopez calls for operating capacity of businesses at 100%

Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon M. Lopez has called for full reopening of business establishments even for those located in areas still under the general community quarantine (GCQ) areas so that Filipinos can return to work and can enjoy the Christmas season.

Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez. (ALFRED FRIAS/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO FILE PHOTO)

Lopez said during virtual events Monday that he has been coordinating with the Inter Agency Task Force (AITF) for the management of emerging and infectious disease on the stand of the DTI because that is the only way to bring back business and consumer confidence in the country.

He pointed out that business and consumer confidence in the country has remained weak. If this remains so, he said, more people would still be out of work.

“What we will try to do is reopen more. Maybe allow them to open 100 percent even if still under GCQ,” said Lopez adding there are ways to open more businesses at higher operating capacity without going to the modified GCQ, the most relaxed quarantine status. By having higher operating capacity, Lopez said, more workers can return to work.

Lopez pleaded that after 6 months of quarantine, the AITF should already open the remaining sectors of the economy although he admitted that his appeal may not sit well with the health workers.

“That’s my appeal that is not popular especially to the health workers but really I guarantee this, if we keep the enforcement still strict and the minimum health standards of the citizenry, I believe we can reopen. It’s been 6 months and I believe the virus will not go away. The real solution is to reopen more, allow more workers to come in so that we can bring back jobs and the income that will keep consumer confidence,” he said citing that investor confidence has gone down to 12 percent from 20 percent.

“That will encourage the increase in consumer confidence and business,” he said.

Under the GCQ level, establishment under Category 3 like restaurants and salons are only allowed to operate at 50 percent capacity, but Lopez has pressed for 100 percent capacity. He also would like other services like legal, accounting, wholesales and retail, travel agencies, and administrative services.

“We would like to open more to create more business confidence. We at AITF have been pushing for more so solutions,” he said admitting that many Filipinos are still suffering from hunger. DTI is also discussing with city mayors to open more sectors.

At the Senate budget hearing, Lopez also said that based on their latest survey only 6 percent of 1.5 million businesses have remained closed although there has been sharp improvement in the opening of business from a high of 38 percent during the height of the lockdown.

 Overall, in terms of unemployment, he said that this has been brought down from over 17.7 percent to 10 percent rate or 4.4 million estimated total Filipinos unemployed, half of that are due to pandemic, as against pre pandemic of 5.1 percent unemployment rate.

 As Senator Franklin Drilon expressed disbelief over the 6 percent of establishments that remained closed, Lopez stressed that it is still big as this involved 90,000 workers with no work yet.

Gov’t still clueless how much PH is losing to IUU

The threat of illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing in the Philippines is estimated at P5 trillion annually, but there is no way measure how much the country is really losing to this.

Rollan Geronimo, IUU Fishing Specialist for the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Fish Right Project.

Rollan Geronimo, IUU Fishing Specialist for the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Fish Right Project, said in an interview that while the amended Philippine Fisheries Code or Republic Act (RA) 10654 aims to curb IUU, there’s still no exact way to measure its impact. 
           

“IUU is threatening the sustainability of fisheries resources. It is a critical issue in the Philippines. It undermines the efforts being done to improve the management of our fisheries resources,” Geronimo said.
           

“The aim of the amended fisheries code is to curb this, but we don’t have metrics yet to measure how we are doing… If you don’t know how much is being taken, you are assuming you have more fish in the ocean but it is unreported. The unregulated, on the other hand, is not necessarily illegal but they should be closely monitored because they might become a threat to the sustainability of our fisheries,” he added.

The rough estimate is that the Philippines is losing US$101.8 billion or nearly P5 trillion every year due to IUU, based on a study made by Rhodora Azanza, professor emeritus at the Marine Science Institute of University of the Philippines (UP).  

This includes US$99.2 billion losses due to blast fishing, US$189 million due to overfishing, US$1.2 billion due to poaching, and US$1.14 billion to post-harvest losses.

This is enough to feed around 281 million Filipinos for an entire year, according to USAID.

Erniel Barrios, professor at University of the Philippines School of Statistics.

Erniel Barrios, professor at University of the Philippines School of Statistics, said that what the country has right now in terms of fish catch data collection are only the number of fishing vessels registered at Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) as well as the Philippine Statistics Authority’s (PSA) data on fish output, which is only based on what is being reported at fish landing centers.

Both data are important, Barrios said, but they don’t really capture the exact number as to how much of the fish catch came from illegal and unregulated fishing and there is still no number as to how many unregistered commercial and small fishing vessels there are in the Philippine ocean.

As part of their ongoing advocacy to combat IUU fishing, BFAR and USAID have recently conducted an IUU Quantification Workshop with 135 field workers and experts in the fisheries sector to develop more comprehensive and science-based methods to monitor and control the loss.

This exercise is one of many initiatives brought by the partnership between the Philippine and US governments, with the aim to ensure the country’s food security, marine biodiversity, enforce maritime security, and protect the welfare of local fisherfolk.

This partnership between BFAR and USAID is a good start for the Philippine government to finally have a clue on how much IUU is costing the country, according to Geronimo.

However, he said it may still take a while, or about two years, before a more comprehensive data on IUU will be gathered and developed. 

As for Barrios, he said an exact data on IUU’s financial repercussions on the Philippines will significantly help the national government and lawmakers to decide how much resources should be allocated for the enforcement of fisheries laws.  

“The reason why we need to quantify the IUU is because we need to know how much [losses] we are looking at. We may realize that the loss is too massive compared to our efforts to curb it,” Barrios said. “We need to spend more on better technology and better resources”.

P51-B PNR Clark Phase 2 contracts awarded

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the Philippine National Railways (PNR) this Sunday (Sept 27) awarded the three remaining civil works contract packages for the P51 Billion Clark Phase 2 project – the Malolos-Clark extension of the North-South Commuter Railway System.
The award of the three contract packages completes the five civil works packages of the PNR Clark Phase 2 project. Contracts for Packages N-04 and N-05 were signed on August 1, 2020.

“Last month, we were full of enthusiasm as the first contracts of the PNR Clark Phase 2 were signed despite the pandemic,” DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade remarked.

The agency issued the notice of award for Contract Package N-01, which covers 17 kilometers of elevated rail viaduct, seven balanced cantilever bridges, and two station buildings in the towns of Malolos and Calumpit in Bulacan and in the towns of Apalit and Minalin in Pampanga.
The notice of award for Contract Package N-01 was awarded to the Joint Venture of Hyundai Engineering & Construction Co., Ltd., Megawide Construction Corporation, and Dong-ah Geological Engineering Company Ltd.
Meanwhile, Contract Package N-02, which covers 16 kilometers of elevated viaduct and one station building in the towns of Minalin, Sto. Tomas, and San Fernando in Pampanga, was awarded to the Joint Venture of Acciona Construction Philippines and Daelim Industrial Co., Ltd.
Contract Package N-03, which covers 12 kilometers of elevated viaduct and one station building in the towns of San Fernando, Angeles, and Mabalacat in Pampanga, was awarded to the Italian-Thai Development Public Company Ltd.

“What we see here is the coming together of an impressive league of the biggest and the best players in the construction industry here and abroad, funded by the Asian Development Bank with its largest-ever financing package for a single project, to build the Philippine government’s single largest project in history,” accordong to DOTr Undersecretary for Railways Timothy John Batan.

The progress for the PNR Clark Phase 2 remains on track, confirmed PNR General Manager Junn Magno.

“As of August, the [PNR Clark] Malolos-Clark segment has an over-all progress rate of over 26%. It seems to quite catch-up with PNR Clark Phase 1, the Tutuban to Malolos segment, with over 40%,” he explained.
“We are fast-tracking this project to be partially operable, at least, before the end of President Duterte’s term,” Magno added.

The PNR Clark Phase 2 project is the 53-km northern segment of the 147-km North-South Commuter Railway (NSCR) System, which will run from Clark in Pampanga all the way to the town of Calamba in Laguna.
The NSCR will have 37 stations, spanning 26 local government units, and connecting 3 regions.

The project will feature the country’s first Airport Express service, which will slash travel time between the Clark International Airport in Pampanga and Makati City from more than two hours by car, to just under one hour, via the Airport Express.

Philippines National Railways
(MANILA BULLETIN)

PT&T joins 5G bandwagon

Philippine Telegraph and Telephone Corp. (PT&T) is joining the 5th generationn (5G) bandwagon, the telco announced during its Virtual Annual Stockholders Meeting held last Friday (September 25, 2020).

Already, the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) allocated 200 MHZ of High Band Spectrum to the telco.

Now, PT&T will undergo Proof of Concept on 5G Fixed Wireless Access use cases to be a provider of 5G broadband services.

Following a 22 percent increase in its broadband connections, PT&T also reported a 23 percent revenue growth year-on-year during the first half of the year, grossing ₱207 million.

Its core EBITDA likewise grew by 209 per cent compared to the same period last year. For 2019, the telco grossed ₱396-million revenues versus the preceding year’s ₱129.6 million.

 It has almost halved its losses from ₱88 million to ₱49.5 million in the comparative period.

“We are now benefiting from having spent the past two years transforming both PT&T’s operations and product offerings to be relevant in the digital age,” affirmed James Velasquez, President and Chief Executive.”

This makes us even more resilient during these times as the requirement for high-speed-Internet and digital services become a priority,” he pointed out.

PT&T registered a continuous upturn in performance for the past three years and more so this year, as the need for connectivity heightened during the quarantine period.

 The telco forged partnerships like the one with Go Philippines, a community-driven social enterprise, to offer critical Broadband Internet solutions for the academe.

It fosters a diverse and inclusive culture, with shareholders electing a female board member during its Annual Stockholders Meeting and increasing its number of Directors from seven to nine to increase its Independent Directors to four.

Currently, PT&T has a network reach of 13,500 fiber kilometers in high-growth areas and covering almost 40 percent of the total Philippine population.

 In 2019, the company forayed into the IT services space, offering accessible, enterprise grade solutions to complement its connectivity portfolio.

PT&T, a Publicly Listed Company, holds a 25-year franchise which allows it to establish, maintain, and operate both wired and wireless telecommunications systems for domestic and international communications.

Vivant to pursue water, energy investments

Cebu-based utility firm Vivant Corporation remained optimistic despite the effects of COVID-19 pandemic and plans to invest further in energy and water infrastructure, including bulk water supply and wastewater treatment.

Vivant Chairman and CEO Ramontito E. Garcia

Vivant Chairman and CEO Ramontito E. Garcia said that, while the group is not the biggest player in the energy sector and is new to water, its track record as a trustworthy and reliable partner precedes it in whatever industry it chooses to venture into.

“Our partners and communities know that we keep our word. This is why time and time again, they come back to us with new projects, new opportunities,” he said.

He added that, “While we pride ourselves as a future-facing company, our integrity is built on values cemented in our history, where promises are kept. We reject the notion that you have to sacrifice honor in the name of profit.”

Vivant Senior Vice President-Business Development for Infrastructure Jess Anthony Garcia said they are looking at providing water supply solutions in water-parched Cebu as well as in other key areas in the country.

 “We are looking at different aspects of the water industry value chain.  We intend to address the water problems in Cebu and other key areas in the country by looking at opportunities for bulk water supply, water distribution, waste water treatment, and water engineering and solutions,” he said.

Wholly owned subsidiary Vivant Hydrocore Holdings Inc. has partnered with Israeli company Watermatic International to develop solutions for bulk water supply and water treatment for industry and agriculture.

One of the projects that the group is developing with partners is a wastewater treatment facility in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan.

 Vivant Energy Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Emil Andre Garcia said the firm also plans to invest over P2 billion in renewable and energy storage technologies, as well as in the hybridization of existing power plants.

“We plan to look into new technologies and improvements into existing technologies that would help us grow our presence in the industry while promoting more sustainable energy,” said Garcia. He added that, “Despite the challenges presented by the pandemic, we are well-situated to carry on and thrive by adapting and future-proofing our investments in power.”

Pinoys consume lesser beef during pandemic

Rich Filipinos were eating way less beef during the pandemic, resulting in significantly lower production nationwide, as the prolonged lockdowns forced restaurant to temporarily shutdown operations.

Photo credit: ( Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg file)

The latest Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN) report, USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) Manila (Post) said the country’s demand for beef, which is generally considered a luxury in the Philippines due to high prices relative to income, has gone down during the pandemic.

“Local beef production has dropped significantly, with slaughter rates down by 21 percent and inventory up 1 percent,” Post said. 
           

Farm gate and retail prices in the National Capital Region (NCR) for beef also remain high due to tight supply, even with the decline in demand from the closure of restaurants and other COVID-19 restrictions.
           

The Post report, however, said that beef production and imports may recover in 2021 as demand for beef improves on the back of restaurants increasing dine-in capacity and with the tourism sector beginning its recovery mode.
           

The Philippine cattle sector is categorized as being 94 percent backyard, which is composed of farms with fewer than 20 adult animals and fewer than 40 young animals.
           

From January to May, the Philippines saw a 1 percent increase in beef exports, supported by shipments for the meat processing sector.
          

 “Traders are hoping for a strong fourth quarter when imports in the run-up to the holidays are typically high. FAS Manila sees 2020 imports reaching about the same level as 2019, or approximately 185,000 MT [metric tons] in Carcass Weight Equivalent (CWE),” Post said.
           

The report also forecasts of beef imports growing nearly 3 percent to 190,000 MT in 2021, driven by the Philippine economic recovery and reduced quarantine restriction.
            

 In the same USDA report, the Philippines was expected to have less imports of rice, corn, and feeds for this year amid a mixture of several factors, including higher local production, rising global prices, and weak domestic demand.

Amid this forecast, Agriculture Secretary William Dar still expressed optimism over his “ambitious” 2 percent growth target for the agriculture sector for this year on the back of the expected higher farm output.
            

 In the report, Post said the country’s rice imports for this year may only total to 2.6 million MT, which is 13 percent lower than its last forecast of 3.0 million MT.
               

In his previous speech, he said that “barring adverse typhoons and natural disasters in the remaining months of the year”, the Philippines will still achieve a record palay output this year of 20.34 million MT, which is 8 percent higher than the 2019 production.
           

As for Post, it sees the country’s milled rice production to go up by 6.3 percent to 11.7 million MT, reflecting of Philippine Statistics Authority’s (PSA) recent bullish outlook on palay production and which is also about the same level as Dar’s target when converted into unhusked rice.
           

Meanwhile, Post’s forecast on corn imports in the market year 2020 to 2021 are also lowered to 375,000 MT from the current 600,000 MT, reflecting reduced demand from broilers.
           Post also lowered its wheat imports forecast to 6.85 million MT, two percent below the current forecast, due to reduced hog demand for feed wheat and slower growth in the milling sector.

PH eyes 21% EVs of all vehicles by 2030

Electric vehicles (EVs) are projected to account for 21 percent of total vehicles on the road in the Philippines by 2030, ultimately becoming the third auto manufacturing hub in ASEAN and a global manufacturing hub for low cost transportation and commercial vehicles.

This is part of the Comprehensive Roadmap on EVs being crafted by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the EV Association of the Philippines (EVAP) presented by DTI Director Evariste Cagatan at the 8th Philippine Electric Vehicle Virtual Summit.

The roadmap targets to achieve 21 percent EVs of total vehicles in the country by 2030 with focus on public transportation, and 50 percent by 2040.

Ultimately, the government aims to become the third auto manufacturing hub in ASEAN and a global manufacturing hub for low cost transportation and commercial vehicles. The program will capitalize on the strong and sustained demand and the country’s comparative advantage for parts.

The target is also anchored on the Senate Bill No. 174 or The Electric Vehicles and Charging Stations Act of Senator Sherwin Gatchalian.

According to Cagatan, the bill seeks to provide the EV Incentive Strategy (EVIS),a comprehensive fiscal and non fiscal support to jumpstart the development and accelerate EVs in the next 10 years.

It will also provide innovation, R and D and hr development support.

The EVIS will be similar to CARS (Comprehensive Automotive Resurgence Strategy) Program where government provides subsidy to EV manufacturers adhering to the principles of being time bound, fiscal cap, performance-based, transparent and targeted.

EVIS is proposed to be two pronged — support the manufacturer of EV units and manufacture of strategic EV parts and components such as battery and auto electronics in which the country has comparative advantage.

In addition, the EVIS is also envisioned to introduce consumer subsidies to narrow further the cost between traditional motor vehicles and EVs from the demand side therefore accelerating consumer adoption and transition.

While the bill is still being processed, Cagatan said EV manufacturers and parts components can avail of the incentives of the Board of Investments (BOI) through the Investment Priorities Plan for manufacturing of EV, strategic EV parts and components, batteries and operation of charging stations.

 BOI incentives include 4-8 years of income tax holiday and exemption of duties on imported capital equipment, preferential tariffs on the importation of completely knocked down sets are also provided to EV company participants through the Motor Vehicle Development Program.

Other support initiatives of DTI include provision and conduct of technical expertise for standards development, research that serve as launch pads for EV policy formulation for regulations, harmonizing of standards, positioning in international negotiations as well in promotion.

Private sector drives EVs in PH

The private sector-driven electric vehicle (EV)industry in the Philippines has already generated ₱1.305 billion in investments with annual production capacity of 150,000 units of a wide range of electric vehicle models as the country aims to become a regional production hub for clean and environment-friendly vehicles.

Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez. (ALFRED FRIAS/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO FILE PHOTO)

Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon M. Lopez cited the private sector’s contribution at the opening of the 8th Philippine Electric Vehicle Virtual Summit.

Lopez noted that 50 companies have invested in local e-PUVs, including Bemac, Tojo Motors, and Star8.

 Major automobile brands are also aggressively promoting their EV vehicles in the Philippines like Hyundai, Nissan, and Mitsubishi.

Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corp. is launching their 2020 Outlander PHEV in the country this September even as Nissan Philippines is bringing in their own Nissan Leaf.

The private sector, he said, especially EVAP, has been working with the government since day one in shaping the emerging industry.

EVAP aided the DTI in drafting the EV Industry Roadmap, as well as various policies to support the industry.

EVAP also assisted with the proposed Electric Vehicles and Charging Stations Act, the Land Transportation Office’s (LTO) guidelines for EV registration, and the standards for EVs and their parts and components for the Bureau of Product Standards (BPS).

With the assistance of DTI, EVAP partnered with the Power Battery Application Committee of China Industrial Association of Power Sources (CIAPS-PBA) to develop EV battery technology and manufacturing in the country.

Already, Tojo Motors will be sourcing battery cells from CIAP-PBA member, Jiangsu Highstar Battery Manufacturing Company, for the local assembly of EV batteries.

In addition, the Philippine Nickel Industry Association (PNIA) has partnered with CIAPS-PBA to deepen the Philippine nickel industry’s role in the global battery supply chain.

On our end, the government is committed in its support to enable the Philippine EV industry, especially in helping manufacturers and promoting demand.

Aside from strong private sector collaboration, Lopez cited three key points can give the Philippines a competitive edge in the global EV industry.

One, electronics and electronic parts still comprise a strong part of the country’s exports, 59.3% of our total exports in July 2020.

Leveraging on our electronics manufacturing strengths and developing auto-electronics and EV components will significantly boost our market share in the EV and Industry 4.0 value chains.

Two, the Philippines is well known for mineral resources used in battery technology, particularly nickel and cobalt. In fact, the Philippines hosts percent of global nickel reserves and 4% of global cobalt reserves.

 “Let us make use of these valuable reserves to produce high value products such as batteries. We will also continue supporting industry collaborations initiated by EVAP, PNIA, and CIAPS-PBA to develop EV battery technology and manufacturing in the country. Through this, we can build a robust EV ecosystem, generating more jobs and employment in the process,” he said.

Three, the Philippines can develop its competency in EV technology similar to how the country has upskilled in the aerospace industry and has now developed higher value design engineering for aerospace parts.

According to the Global EV Outlook 2020 of the International Energy Agency (IEA) global sales of electric cars registered a 40 percent year-on-year increase in 2019 even as the overall car market contracted by 15 percent. That’s an additional 2.1M EVs for a total of 7.2M in the world today.

“This is the future and their transformation has started. We should not be left behind,” said Lopez.

With the landscape of the automotive industry rapidly changing with the adoption of EVs, global supply chains are also transforming with new countries joining the mix of vehicle supply hubs and even emerging as new global leaders.

 “We need to take advantage of this trend by turning the Philippines into a regional production hub of EVs, given that almost all ASEAN countries are already doing the same,” Lopez said.

First Gen employees undertakes hi-tech tree planting activity for fund-raising

Even in the midst of a pandemic, the employee-volunteers of First Gen Corporation had not passed up on a virtuous chance to raise thousands of pesos for a charity drive to help indigents in Batangas, part of the community hosting the company’s power projects.

The platform they employed was a hi-tech and innovative tree planting activity enabled through the aid of Facebook and Zoom apps – and it is considered a pioneering approach under the ‘new normal’ paradigm of living weaved in a health crisis.

Members of two community organizations in Lobo, Batangas (left photo), wave their hands to Lopez Group employees (right photo) who joined the tree planting in Lobo as virtual participants from Metro Manila and other parts of the country.

The employees of First Gen had gotten much-needed support from volunteer-peers, mainly coming from its parent firm First Philippine Holdings Corporation (FPH).

They planted over a thousand mangrove saplings in Lobo, Batangas – but the difference was, they have done it virtually or from afar – meaning, they were inside their homes in Metro Manila and other parts of the country (some are as far as Mindanao) while pursing that tree planting activity.

“The Lopez group volunteers belonging to the Employee POWER (EmPOWER) Program accomplished the long-distance activity on September 19 by joining what they called e-planting,” the company said. EmPOWER is the Lopez Group employees’ arm on implementing civic and community programs.

The virtual tree planting drive works in a way that is akin to a ‘theater seat’ booking process, according to Adrian Balicuatro, a volunteer of EmPOWER.

 To join, he explained that “a volunteer or donor logs in to the EmPOWER program’s e-planting website and picks the preferred planting hole in almost the same way one would book for a cinema seat online.”

Following that, he said “the employee then fills out a Google form or information sheet, clicks on his or her preferred mode of payment and adopts a mangrove seedling costing P150 apiece.”

Then as a donor, Balicuatro noted, “the volunteer’s name is imprinted on a bamboo slat, placed beside the adopted mangrove as its plant marker.”

“The e-planting highlights the spirit of Bayanihan through volunteerism,” First Gen Vice President Ramon Araneta said, and it was a worthy cause to help lift the lives of families in Lobo “whose means of livelihood from eco-tourism activities have been largely affected by the pandemic.”

He highlighted that the recent virtual tree planting activity, “allows us to express and reaffirm the Lopez Group’s commitment to a decarbonized and regenerative future.”

First Gen said the volunteers raised funds for 1,204 seedlings, “which were planted not by the employees but by other volunteers from two recipient community organizations in Lobo” – namely, the Olo-Olo Seaside Workers Association and Samahan ng Maliliit na Mangingisda sa Pangangalaga ng Kalikasan sa Barangay Lagadlarin.

The company cited that “apart from benefitting the environment, this project also augmented the income of 55 members from these two partner-people’s organizations in Lobo that received the proceeds from the fund raising portion of the e-planting project.”

Several groups also lent support to the activity, including pro-environment groups Project Center of Center and Create for the Climate initiatives, the local government of Lobo, the ABS-CBN Lingkod Kapamilya Foundation and the Lobo Marine Environment Conservation Federation.

Pre-pandemic, Lobo has been a flourishing tourist destination, with the white sand beaches becoming the enthralling feature to visitors.

The e-virtual planting activity is just one of the many programs being advanced by the Lopez group on this sphere. Aside from the conglomerate’s commitment to invest only in clean and renewable energy sources, it also upholds that noble commitment “to protect and enhance the environment.”

SMC assures Bulacan airport design addresses flooding risks

San Miguel Corporation (SMC) assured that the design for its Bulacan international airport project includes measures to deal with risks such as flooding as was raised during the Senate hearing on the proposed franchise for the facility.

SMC president and COO Ramon S. Ang

“We would like to assure all stakeholders, particularly those who expressed concerns or opposition to the project, as well as those who offered inputs and suggestions, that we value your inputs and will seriously take them into consideration,” said SMC President Ramon S. Ang.

He added that, “we fully agree with Dr. Renato Solidum of Phivolcs’ observation that proper engineering intervention measures are needed to mitigate risks such as flooding, which, as was pointed out during the hearing, are present not just in Bulacan or Manila Bay, but in many coastal areas throughout the Philippine archipelago.”

Ang noted that the airport’s design fully takes this into account and “we have actually started implementing sustainable measures to address flooding in Bulacan that has existed for several decades and has been made worse by clogged waterways and drainages.”

He pointed out that, since this is a purely private investment, “the public can be assured that San Miguel Corporation has studied the project, its feasibility, and all possible risks, and will incorporate these into the final design of the project.”

To ensure this airport is resilient and sustainable, SMC said it has tapped three major global airport construction firms: Groupe ADP (Aeroports de Paris), Meinhardt Group, and Jacobs Engineering Group.

Among the airports these firms have worked on are Singapore’s famous Changi Airport, voted as World’s Best Airport for the 8th consecutive year this year; Charles de Gaulle Airport in France, and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International airport in the United States.

“This airport is perhaps the largest, most ambitious, and most game-changing infrastructure projects by Filipinos for Filipinos. An effort of this magnitude requires the cooperation and support of many stakeholders. As such, we remain committed to engaging the public as we move to make this vision a reality – and make this right,” Ang said