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A first trimester assessment of the Duterte administration’s performance

President Duterte was elected with an overwhelming mandate as the majority pined for a leadership that was both strong and magnanimous. We hoped he would do for the Philippine what Lee Kwan Yew did for Singapore. Different people have different views on President Duterte’s performance. This is my assessment as a businessman, living in Manila. I consider the enactment of the Freedom of Information Act (FOI) as this administration’s greatest triumph. Long overdue, the executive order on FOI mandates full transparency among agencies of the executive branch. It brings us one step closer towards curbing corruption in government. Another milestone is the ratification of an indefinite ceasefire between government, the Communist Party of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front. A substantive accomplishment, too, is the launch of the 8888 portal to receive people’s …

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A longer term view of mining (Part II)

With all the bad press about mining, many of which are deserved, it is very facile to accept the irrelevance of the mining industry to our country’s future. However, as often in the many complex issues we face, the resolution is not always that clear and straight forward. In the first place, metals are very much part of everything we use and do. It is nigh impossible to contemplate civilization without metals. And every time we import these metal products, whether we like it or not, we have to pay the price of the mineral ores from which they are derived, share in the cost of extracting and processing them, and pay for restoration/rehabilitation of the earth where they came from. The Philippines is ranked top five among the world’s mineral-rich countries. In …

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A longer-term view of mining

Just like agriculture, all’s not been well with mining. From its peak in the 1970s when there were 45 operating large-scale mines and minerals accounted for as much as 21 percent of our country’s total exports, mining had been in decline except for a brief boom in the late 1980s. For the period 2003-2012, minerals averaged only 3.94 percent of total exports. The “anti-mining” campaign with the high profile audit by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) of the compliance of existing mines particularly with environment laws and issuances has sent chills to the local mining industry and prospective foreign investors. The bluster of the President that the country can do without mining, if the industry does not behave, reinforces the low esteem of government and many communities and …

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Banks and digital disruption

“Banking is at the highest risk of disruption”.  This is what PLDT’s Lito Villanueva (the first and only Filipino included in the Top 100 Asian FinTech Leaders) said at the 4th FINEX SME Forum based on the Millenial Disruption Index (MDI).  The MDI was based on a 3-year US study of over 10,000 millenials (born between 1981 - 2000) of 73 companies in 15 industries, and the MDI results paint a clear picture of which brands are loved, which are meeting consumer needs and poised on the brink of disruption.  The index showed that in 5 years, 70% said the way we access our money or pay our bills will be totally different and 30% believed they won’t need a bank at all.  Half said banks offer the same product, …

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Impediments to the Duterte’s infrastructure plan

I recently attended the Euromoney Investment forum where Budget and Management Secretary Benjamin Diokno and BSP Governor Amando Tetangco addressed an audience of 800. The mood was optimistic owing to the country’s strong economic  fundamentals and President Duterte’s expansionist  economic policies.  The great dampener,  however,  was the specter of the economy  imploding on the back of infrastructure bottlenecks. Sec. Diokno assured the audience that infrastructure is at the forefront of President Duterte’s agenda.  Whereas in 2015,  infrastructure spending amounted to only  R436 billion, or 3.3 percent of GDP,  Diokno assured a ramp-up  to R860 billion, or 5.4 percent of GDP, by 2017. Assuming everything goes according to plan, infrastructure spending should top R7 trillion by 2022, an amount sufficient to put our  infrastructure at par with that of Malaysia. In the last quarter …

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Addressing environmental sustainability for business (Part III)

Environmental PR can evoke two opposite reactions.  Activists often draw a distinction between the messaging done by firms that they perceive to be genuine and those simply paying lip service to the issue in their communications. The latter practice is often referred to as “greenwashing,” playing on the term whitewash.  Kevin Tuerff, a pioneer in green marketing based in Austin, Texas defines greenwashing as “when a company or organization spends more time and money claiming to be ‘green’ through advertising and marketing than actually implementing business practices that minimize environmental impact.”  Only self-reflection and sincerity with the public can a company draw the line between being transparent about its activities and merely engaging in a public relations campaign, although the two are not mutually exclusive. Then there is engagement, which is …

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JCI Senate Philippines relaunches TOFIL Award

After a break of two years, Junior Chamber International (JCI) Senate Philippines relaunched the iconic The Outstanding Filipino Award (TOFIL) in ceremonies last June in Club Filipino, this time with a new corporate partner — ANSA Foundation. The TOFIL Award is bestowed by the JCI Senate Philippines to Filipino men and women over 41 years of age who have distinguished themselves in their respective professions and callings and widely recognized for their contributions to society and national development. Started in 1988 by JCI Senate Philippines in corporate partnership with Insular Life, the TOFIL Award was intended to be a complement to the Ten Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) awards for Filipinos 35 years and younger (later adjusted to 40 years). JCI Senate is a select group of JCI members worldwide who in recognition of …

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68 trafficking victims rescued in Isabela, Pagadian

Zamboanga City –  The  Philippine Center on Transnational Crime-Western Mindanao Field Office (PCTC-WMFO) in this city has rescued a total of 68 persons who were about  to become human trafficking victims last month. PCTC-WMFO reported that 24 women and two men were rescued at White beach in Isabela City in Basilan province on January 20 by the Isabela City Police Station, led by Supt. Jerome Afuyog Jr. The 26 victims were spotted by Capt. Jay M. Namoca of the  Army’s 15th Infantry Battalion, who immediately contacted Afuyog for the rescue. PCTC-WMFO disclosed that human traffickers now use Basilan province as their jump-off  point in transporting their victims from island to island until  they reach Tawi-Tawi, which is just few minutes away by boat from Sabah, Malaysia. Human traffickers are now careful in using Zamboanga …

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