Manila (Philippine Daily Inquirer/ANN) - The Philippines has taken off and recovered from the "fall" of the aviation industry, Philippine President Benigno Aquino III claimed Wednesday, citing the International Civil Aviation Organisation's recent lifting of the "significant safety concerns" tag on the country.
"Only recently our country was left gawking at the clouds, and development seemed unreachable. Now the impossible has become a reality. If we were used to the cycle of trip and fall, now we're recovering and ready to break free," Aquino said at the groundbreaking of the upgrading project of the Roxas City airport in Capiz.
He said the 215-million peso (US.2 million) Roxas Airport Development Project is part of the 7.69-billion peso programme for the repair of airports throughout the country this year.
"Once we fix this airport, why won't Capiz benefit from it? Once travel to the Philippines becomes easy, the progress of the economy and the life of our people happens fast," he said.
The redeveloped airport is expected to accommodate 797 passengers a day, or close to 300,000 passengers a year, and meet foreign demand, the President said.
The President said business leaders from other countries have found it difficult to book a flight to the Philippines for the many conferences being held here. He said the country's carriers need 119 new aircraft to meet the demand.
Removing stumbling blocks
If the country is to gain more momentum, the stumbling blocks should be removed, Aquino said.
He cited the enactment of the Common Carriers Tax Act, which removed the 3-per cent tax on foreign aircraft and ships, he said.
Aquino said the government will also be using the Civil Aviation Safety Oversight Reporting and Tracking System as a database of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP).
"Our air operators are also mandated to undergo the minimum required annual inspection. The CAAP also set up a certificate management department to ensure that all local carriers are cleared to fly to other countries," he said.
"The outcome of this is to encourage several international carriers to fly to the country, and along with this, tourism will improve and industries will flourish," Aquino said.
The Roxas City airport upgrading will expand the 875-square-metre terminal by 626 square metres, and "bump up" its design capacity from 153,000 passengers a year to 291,000. Last year, passengers reached 217,552, exceeding the terminal's capacity.
It will lengthen the runway from 1,890 kilometres to 2,010 kilometres, thus, improving the safety of the Airbus A320 aircraft flying in and out of the Roxas City airport.
Also part of the upgrade are: the installation of 91.5-million peso worth of night-landing facilities; a 24.24-million peso runway asphalt overlay; the acquisition of 33.5-million peso worth of new fire trucks; and the resettlement of squatters in a new site at a cost of 18 million pesos.
"Once this project is completed, it can accommodate 797 passengers a day, up from 419," Aquino said in his speech aired over government radio.
"Indeed, our goal is clear: to further boost tourism in Capiz, strengthen the various businesses and industries, and push the province on the path of progress and development," Aquino said.
MANILA, Philippines - Officials and employees of the Department of Energy (DOE) were found to have received more than P60.3 million in unauthorized yearend financial benefits and subsidies in 2010 and 2011.
The Commission on Audit said Malacañang did not authorize the release of the money for yearend benefits and food and utility subsidy. DOE personnel must refund the P78,000 they each received, the COA said.
Records show that non-DOE employees such as drivers, choir conductors, daycare teachers, police officers, garbage collectors, security guards, and janitors received between P5,000 to P15,000 in bonuses in 2011.
State auditors said the money was sourced from the Special Account in the General Fund (SAGF) 151 to “finance the government’s energy resource development and exploitation programs and projects.”
Record yearend benefits were paid in December 2010 in the total amount of P51,259,000 and P9,109,000 in food and utility subsidy was paid in August 2011.
In a letter dated April 26, 2011, Energy Undersecretary Loreta Ayson gave COA a number of legal bases, including a Board Resolution and a Department of Budget and Management (DBM) circular, to justify the grant of the benefits.
MANILA, Philippines (Xinhua) - The Philippines remains one of the most resilient economies in Southeast Asia, but such growth is neither sustainable nor inclusive as joblessness remains a problem for most Filipinos.
"A stronger industrial base is vital for increasing jobs, and will help make growth more inclusive and sustainable," said Neeraj Jain, country director for the Philippines of the Asian Development Bank (ADB).
In its latest Asian Development Outlook 2013 (ADO 2013) released today, the Manila-based lender forecasts Philippine gross domestic product (GDP) to expand 6 percent this year and in 2014.
Inflation eased to a five-year low of 3.2 percent. The ADB said it's likely to edge up to 3.6 percent in 2013 on increased consumption and a rise in excise taxes on alcohol and tobacco following the passage of the sin tax law.
ADB's forecast GDP for this year is a bit slower than the 6.6 percent growth posted in 2012. But the ADB said upbeat business and consumer sentiment, robust private consumption, increased fiscal spending, a booming services and construction sectors and higher investment and exports will continue to support the country 's economy.
But a rosy economic outlook doesn't assure that that this will translate to a better life for most Filipinos.
"The Philippine economy continues to grow but Filipinos continue to suffer due to lack of job opportunity," Norio Usui, ADB senior economist, said in a briefing held at the launch of ADO 2013 in Manila.
Usui said the Philippines has a strong growth in its hand and the next step for the Philippine government is to translate this strong growth into more jobs that will benefit most Filipinos.
Indeed, according to ADO 2013, "persistently high" levels of unemployment and underemployment remain a key concern in the country. As the latest data from the National Statistics Office has shown, about 7 percent of the 40 million labor force are unemployed, while about 20 percent are underemployed.
"Continuous deployment of overseas workers masks the severity of the unemployment problem," Usui said, alluding to the over 10 million Filipinos working overseas.
Usui said that while the services sector, mostly thanks to a growing outsourcing industry, has provided more opportunities to Filipino workers, and this is not enough to significantly reduce unemployment and underemployment levels.
"This country has 40 million labor force, and then its labor force continues to grow by an average 2 percent (per year). About 800,000 new jobs should be created just to sustain the same level (of employment)," he said.
Usui said the country needs to revive its manufacturing sector to create more jobs.
"The manufacturing (industry) has higher labor productivity," he said.
Usui said the country's policy makers need to take advantage of the Fitch Ratings latest decision to grant the Philippines its first ever investment-grade credit rating to attract more investors to the manufacturing sector.
The ratings upgrade, Usui said, has huge implications as investors now see the country as a new production base. He added that China, South Korea and Japan are interested to invest in the country.
Jain said the government needs to address the infrastructure gap and implement a more predictable tax regime that will entice more investments to come in the country.
ADB Principal Economist Donghyun Park said foreign investors are "taking a serious look" at the Philippines, noting that foreign companies are looking to set up plants in the country.
But he said there are still bottlenecks such as the lack of technical personnel to work in the manufacturing sector.
After successfully offering livelihood opportunities to more than a thousand of his constituents before the end of 2012, Davao del Norte District 2 Congressman Anton F. Lagdameo, Jr. will once again puts hardwork and quality public service in order to serve another round of livelihood programs this month of March, 2013 at select areas in his district.
Around 1,600 non-working mothers and out-of-school youths (OSY) will benefit the 2nd round of Barangayanihan Livelihood Program to be conducted from March 12,13,14 and 16, 2013.
Congressman Lagdameo’s District Office will work in tandem with the Compassionate Heart In All Times (CHIT) Foundation in conducting trainings such as Hair Cutting, Carpentry, Food Processing, Sewing, Vegetable Gardening, Massage and Foot Spa technologies. Each participants is set to receive their respective livelihood kits after their training for them to immediately earn much needed income for their family. The project is part of Lagdameo’s program of enhancing income generation opportunities for his constituents and therefore, improves the availability of food in every family.
Ms. Gene-Rose Tecson, Chief of Staff of the congressman, said that this program will accommodate 400 persons each day which will be equally divided into morning and after sessions. A participant only needs to come early since registration, food and transportation will be afforded to them by Cong.Lagdameo.
Trainings will be done in the ARF Covered Court in Brgy. New Pandan, Panabo City on March 12, while March 13-14 schedules will be held in Marscon Covered Court, Brgy. Tibal-og, Municipality of Sto.Tomas. Then it will transfer to the Island Garden City of Samal on the 16th.
This early, personnel of the Congressional Office has already coordinated concerned officials of the localities of Carmen, Braulio E. Dujali, Sto.Tomas and the cities of Igacos and Panabo City to enlist enthusiastic residents.
Cong. Lagdameo conducted the same activity for a week last December, 2012 that benefitted over 2,400 participants.
Source: Office of Cong. Antonio Lagdameo
More than a thousand participants composed mostly of women and youth were able to benefit in the recently concluded Barangayanihan Capability Building and Livelihood Training Program conducted in the 2nd District of Davao del Norte from March 12-16, 2013.
The project was jointly implemented by the Department of Social Welfare R-XI and the Compassionate Heart at All Times Foundation funded under the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of Cong. Anton F. Lagdameo, Jr.
Said trainings were particularly conducted in ARF Gym in Panabo, Marscon Covered in Sto.Tomas, and in the IGACOS City Gym located in Brgy. Peñaplata, Samal District, Island Garden City of Samal.
Entrepreneurial skills such as Foot Spa & Massage, Hair Cutting, Food Processing, Vegetable Gardening and Carpentry were imparted to qualified participants. In order for them to immediately make use of their learned skills, livelihood kits for every training were afforded to each participants.
Ms. Liza Iyog, resident of Brgy. Cagangohan, Panabo City and a beneficiary of 4Ps program of the DSWD, who also took part in the training, expressed her profound gratitude to Cong. Lagdameo and the DSWD for continuously finding ways to help the plight of non-working mothers and out-of-school youth, making them more productive and useful for their respective families.
Congressman Lagdameo, himself, visited the trainings and distributed various home appliances and wares as prizes during fun games to the delight of the partaking crowd. In his message, he urged the participants to “maximize your learnings and use it for the greater benefit of your families”. He also hoped that said trainings “would boost the confidence of each individual that would result to a more healthy relationship in the family and a more productive community” as they return to their barangays.
The activity is already part of the 2nd round of implementation of capability building programs initiated by Cong. Lagdameo and implemented by the DSWD and CHIT Foundation.
Source: Office of Cong. Antonio Lagdameo