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Co-living cuts CO2 emissions

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A survey has shown that to reduce the capital’s CO2 emissions, Metro Manila can benefit greatly from more co-living buildings, as these reduce the daily number of vehicles on the road.

In Metro Manila, traditional transportation, mostly jeepneys, buses and private cars, are major sources of carbon emissions and the manner by which young professionals commute daily. In a report to the Philippine Climate Change Commissioner, the Philippine Climate Change Assessment Working Group noted in late 2018 that transportation is the second highest contributor of total greenhouse gases in the Philippines, with 35 percent of total emissions.

With each MyTown building we build, we aim to improve people’s quality of life, regain time otherwise lost in traffic, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and educate tenants about how to help do their part.

MyTown, the first and largest co-living brand in the country, with investors such as SM Investments Corporation and Franklin Templeton, currently has over 3,000 co-living beds located in close proximity to major business districts such as Bonifacio Global City and Makati CBD. This allows young professionals to give up their daily commute and instead enjoy the amenities and events MyTown offers its tenants.

The result of the survey showed that young professionals living in MyTown together managed to curb more than 875 metric tons of CO2 emissions, up from 451 metric tons during last year’s Earth Day. This is equivalent to the CO2 absorbed by around 1,000 acres of forest land for a year, or almost 14,000 tree seedlings planted for ten years, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s website. The emission data used is from published work by Herbert Fabian, Transport program manager at Clean Air Philippines.

“With each MyTown building we build, we aim to improve people’s quality of life, regain time otherwise lost in traffic, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and educate tenants about how to help do their part,” group director Jelmer Ikink said.

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SMC, PNOC vie for SPEX stake

As part of an ongoing portfolio rationalization to simplify and increase the resilience of its business, Shell is exploring its options with a view to divest its interest.

Chito Lozada

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Battle for 45 percent Malampaya stake of Shell Exploration B.V. has started. / Photograph courtesy of shell philippines

San Miguel Energy Corp., a unit of the Asian conglomerate, and the state-owned Philippine National Oil Co. (PNOC) were the initial groups floated yesterday as being interested in the 45 percent share in the Malampaya natural gas field that Shell Exploration B.V. (SPEX) is divesting.

An industry source said SMC President Ramon S. Ang is intently studying a potential bid for an estimated P28 billion value of the SPEX shares which is about the same amount that Udenna Corp. of Davao City-based magnate Dennis Uy paid for in acquiring the 45 percent stake of Chevron Corp.

Energy experts estimate that the project is still good for 97.67 petajoules of banked or unutilized gas.

Shell Philippines earlier said in a statement it is scouting for a buyer as it confirmed that it is divesting from the Malampaya project to preserve its financial footing.

The unit of oil giant Royal Dutch Shell said it is looking to “rationalize” its local portfolio, starting with its 45 percent interest and operator status in the Malampaya gas-to-power project.

“As part of an ongoing portfolio rationalization to simplify and increase the resilience of its business, Shell is exploring its options with a view to divest its interest in SC38 (Malampaya),” SPEX managing director and general manager Don Paulino said in a statement.

Fertile spot
The Malampaya facility is near the disputed West Philippine Sea, an area believed to be rich in oil deposits.

“Shell would ensure a smooth transition of the asset to a credible buyer who would be well placed to optimize the value from Malampaya,” the company said.

Businessman Manny V. Pangilinan had made a rival offer on the Chevron stake but he had yet to indicate if he will also bid for the SPEX share.

PNOC is also reviewing a possible offer but the tight fiscal situation may frustrate its plan.

PNOC president Reuben Lista said the state firm is waiting for further information regarding the SPEX divestment.

“We have data from other sources. We are studying, if it is prudent for us to get involved,” Lista said.

PNOC subsidiary PNOC Exploration Corp. (PNOC-EC), holds a 10-percent stake in the Malampaya project, which supplies fuel to power plants providing about one-fifth of electricity supply in Luzon.

PNOC-EC has right of first refusal since Udenna indicated that it will not bid for the SPEX holdings.

Raymond Zorilla, senior vice president for external affairs at Phoenix Petroleum Philippines, said Udenna will welcome whomever will replace Shell.

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Phl tipped among revival leaders

We now expect normalization to take longer in India, Japan, Australia and most of Southeast Asia.

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The Philippines will experience a huge swing end in the economy from a contraction of 9.5 percent by year’s before recovering strongly with a 9.6 percent gross domestic product (GDP) expansion the next year based on projections released by credit watchdog Standard and Poors Global Ratings (S&P) yesterday.

The economic turnaround will also be the third strongest in the Asian region next year after Vietnam’s 11 percent growth forecast and India’s 10 percent.

S&P expects Malaysia to grow 8.4 percent in 2021; China, 6.9 percent; Indonesia and Singapore, 6.3 percent; Thailand, 6.2 percent; Hong Kong, 5.3 percent and New Zealand, 5.2 percent.

China will continue to lead Asia’s uneven recovery from the economic disruption. S&P said it has revised up its 2020 GDP forecasts for China as well as for Korea, Taiwan, and Vietnam amid stronger trade and consumer spending.

“We now expect normalization to take longer in India, Japan, Australia and most of Southeast Asia,” the report titled “Asia-Pacific’s Recovery: The Hard Work Begins” said.

Not over yet
“The pandemic is not over but the worst of its economic impact has passed,” S&P Asia-Pacific chief economist Shaun Roache said.

“Governments are adopting more targeted strategies for flattening COVID curves, with less recourse to nationwide lockdowns. Households are spending again on services as well as goods”, Roache projected.

COVID-19 is proving hard to beat but fatality rates are falling and prospects have brightened for a widely available vaccine by mid-2021.

“In the meantime, people are moving and spending more, testament to a world becoming accustomed to COVID-19. Trade, for example, has bottomed”, according to the rating firm.

As a whole, S&P expects Asia-Pacific economies to shrink by two percent in 2020 and rebound by 6.9 percent next year. This will still leave the region almost five percent below the pre-COVID trend by end 2021.

“The hard work now begins,” Roache noted. “As relief measures taper, we will find out how much economic damage has been wrought,” he said.

Hard decisions needed
Fading temporary tax cuts, wage subsidies, loan moratoriums and other measures will force banks, businesses and households to make hard decisions.

Businesses only getting by due to grace periods on servicing debt may be forced to close up shop. Banks will have to assess whether to restructure or foreclose on questionable loans. “The true deterioration across balance sheets will become apparent even as economies reopen,” it stated.

The employment situation will be a key determinant of the strength of recovery, S&P said, adding that employment is expected to return to pre-COVID trends only by 2022, at the earliest, in most cases.

“This will put a lid on wages, drag on consumer spending, and keep inflation low across the region. With fiscal policies and financial conditions likely to tighten, central banks have no option but to keep policies exceptionally easy,” S&P forecast.

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POGO exodus hurts PAGCOR

The gaming regulator, nonetheless, reported an 80 percent revenue decline during the pandemic as POGO operations were restricted.

Joshua Lao

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With still limited operating capacity allowed for Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) and its service providers, the Philippine Gaming and Amusement Corp. (PAGCOR) reported a 50 percent drop on its online gaming revenues.

The gaming regulator, nonetheless, reported an 80 percent revenue decline during the pandemic as POGO operations were restricted.

“Our monthly regulatory fees of around P600 million pre-COVID-19 is now down by almost half. This should have been lower if not for the minimum guaranteed fees which allows PAGCOR to impose higher regulatory fees,” PAGCOR assistant vice president Jose Tria said.

According to him, the significantly lower collections were not surprising as only 32 out of 60 POGO were allowed to resume operations, but on a limited or 30 percent capacity.

50% cleared
The PAGCOR official said that only half or 111 of the 218 accredited POGO service providers were allowed to operate after getting clearances from the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).

Moreover, an exodus of several POGO firms was brewing as industry sources cited the stricter quarantine and tax rules to ramp up the pressure on the sector.

Tria said five POGO had canceled their licenses while another five were suspended and 42 service providers have requested to cancel their accreditation.

Department of Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III earlier said the exit of POGO firms will definitely affect the government’s tax revenues including both corporate and value-added taxes (VAT) from the real estate sector and other POGO-dependent businesses.

Taxes will be settled
On a separate development, the DoF chief said while POGO outfits are leaving the country, their tax duties and obligations will still be recovered.

“Before a Philippine registered entity can close its business, it is required to get a clearance from the BIR. This triggers an audit where the BIR can determine if they have paid the correct taxes,” Dominguez explained.

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IPO rules up for overhaul

We noted that there are provisions in our rules that can be aligned to what is practiced in the region.

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Graphics courtesy of AB capital securities inc.

To encourage more companies to go public, the Philippine Stock Exchange Inc. (PSE) plans to revise the main and the small, medium and emerging (SME) board initial public offering (IPO) rules.

“We reviewed our listing rules alongside those of our peer exchanges. We noted that there are provisions in our rules that can be aligned to what is practiced in the region. There are also rules that can be relaxed so more companies can access the stock market for their capital requirements. When we did this exercise we also had to consider the impact of the pandemic to the economy and the capital market,” PSE President and CEO Ramon Monzon said.

Remove capital test
For instance Monzon said a company applying to list in the main board must satisfy the profit and market capitalization tests and meet shareholders’ equity requirement.

In the proposed revisions, the market capitalization test was removed but the applicant must satisfy both the profit and minimum total stockholders’ equity requirements.

The current profit test considers the company’s earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) specifically requiring at least P50 million for the last three years and a minimum EBITDA of P10 million for each of the three years.

The suggested change on profitability prescribes an aggregate net income of P75 million for the last three financial years and a net income of P50 million for the most recent year.

The company must also have at least P500 million in stockholders’ equity on its most recent financial year.

For the SME board, the profitability and operating history are among the criteria that are recommended to be relaxed. From a purely EBITDA-based screening, the applicant now has the option to satisfy either the EBITDA requirement or the net sales and operating revenue.

The latter will require that the applicant should have a cumulative net sales and operating revenues of at least P50 million for the last three years or such shorter period as the company has been operating and show at least 20 percent average growth rate for net sales or operating revenues over the latest two years.

History limit cut
The bourse also wanted the operating history requirement prior to listing be reduced to at least two years from the current three.

“While the rule revisions we are recommending are meant to make it easier for companies to go public, the PSE is keeping and will continue to enforce listing provisions pertaining to investor protection and suitability requirements,” Monzon added.

One of the major changes being proposed to the SME listing rules is the adoption of the sponsor program wherein companies with significant growth potential but are unable to qualify using the new SME Board requirements, may apply for listing through the sponsor model.

The sponsor, an investment house which should pass PSE’s accreditation, will be responsible for hand-holding the company from its IPO preparation phase to three years after listing to ensure that the company complies with listing and continuing listing and disclosure rules for all publicly listed companies.

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DTI sees EV as fixtures

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Department of Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez tries out the Nissan Leaf, a full EV which is available for the first time in the country. / PHOTOGRAPH courtesy of DTI

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) vowed to push for the use of electric vehicles (EV) as it will boost the strength of local electronics manufacturing and likewise develop components for vehicles.

In his address to the 8th Philippine Electric Vehicle Virtual Summit yesterday DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez said the government is committed to support the EV sector particularly in helping manufacturers in promoting demand as the country now has 50 industry players that can produce a capacity of 150,000 units per year, with a project cost of P1.305 billion to produce a wide range of electric vehicle products.

“If we are seeing more e-PUVs on our roads, it is mainly due to the 50 industry players, like local manufacturers Bemac, Tojo Motors and Star8. We also have major automobile brands aggressively promoting their EV vehicles in the Philippines like Hyundai, Nissan and Mitsubishi,” according to Lopez.

Cooperation in sector
He stressed the private sector, especially the Electric Vehicles Association of the Philippines (EVAP), has been working with the government since day one in shaping the emerging industry.

“EVAP aided the Department of Trade and Industry 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 EV and their parts and components for the Bureau of Product Standards,” Lopez said.

Lopez said through DTI, EVAP has partnered with the Power Battery Application Committee of China Industrial Association of Power Sources to develop EV battery technology and manufacturing in the country.

IPP key to plan
“Our Board of Investments (BoI) offers fiscal and non-fiscal incentives through the Omnibus Investment Code to enterprises registered under our Investments Priorities Plan. We also have the Motor Vehicle Development Program and Executive Order 488. Likewise, the EV industry will benefit from the government’s PUV Modernization Program and DTI-BoI’s e-Mobility Initiatives. Lastly, the local automotive industry — which includes EV — is one of 12 priority sectors in DTI’s Inclusive Innovation Industrial Strategy, which promotes the adoption of Industry 4.0 technologies,” Lopez added.

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Gabby quits ABS-CBN posts

Lopez has resigned from his post as chairman emeritus and director of the network his father, Eugenio Lopez Jr., has built.

Maria Romero

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The embattled Eugenio “Gabby” Lopez III on Thursday resigned from his management positions in what use to be the Lopez crown jewel ABS-CBN Corp. due to “personal reasons.”

The media giant had lost its Congressional franchise for its free to air television operations and is now limited to online presence.

In a statement following the network’s first stockholders meeting after its shutdown, the media giant said Lopez has resigned from his post as chairman emeritus and director of the network his father, Eugenio Lopez Jr., has built.

Gabby Lopez also resigned from the same position at Sky Vision Corp., Sky Cable Corp., First Philippine Holdings Corp., First Gen Corp. and Rockwell Corp. “effective immediately.”

Network posts ‘a calling’
The ABS-CBN board elected Mario Luza Bautista as director to fill the gap left by the resignation of Lopez.

“We thank him for his dedication and leadership in expanding and transforming ABS-CBN beyond television through the years,” Kane Choa, corporate communications head at the network, said.

“Just like his father, Eugenio ‘Kapitan Geny’ Lopez Jr., Gabby is a visionary and compassionate leader driven by his love for the Philippines and the Filipino people.

He would always tell the men and women of ABS-CBN that being a part of the network is not a job, but a calling,” he said.

Lay offs, salary cuts
Lopez’s resignation came two months after the House of Representatives denied the network’s application for a new 25-year franchise last 5 July, voting 70-6.

Meanwhile, ABS-CBN chief executive Carlo Katigbak on Thursday said they were forced to let go of “nearly 5,000 employees” to stay afloat.

He said those who are still on board took a heavy pay cut.

Katigbak noted that most of its resources were also diverted to the network’s digital shift after closing down some non-core businesses including amusement center KidZania Manila in Taguig.

As of the first half of the year, ABS-CBN recorded P3.93 billion in net losses.

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Debt collection via a small claim case

It is best to protect your interest at all times. While your generosity may be abused by others, you are not left without any recourse.

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It is good to look back to much simpler days when our problems were merely how to ask money from our parents to buy our favorite snack or toy without being scolded. Then we got older, got a job or started our business and adulting became real.

When we start making our own money, we realize why our parents reacted the way they did when we had tantrums whenever they refused to give in to our childish whims. Now, we have bills, mortgages and a lifestyle. If we’re lucky, we learn how to tighten our belts and be smart with our hard-earned money.

Sometimes though, a relative needs money for medical expenses, or a friend wants to do business with you or borrow money from you for their immediate needs. And because you thought you were being a nice person, you cannot bring yourself to turn them down. They come with a promise to pay on a specific day but here comes that day and they are nowhere to be found. Now, the question all over your head is, how can I get my money back?

A loan or a debt is considered as an obligation to do under the Civil Code of the Philippines. When a person is obliged to do something, (in this case to pay you what they owe) and failed to do so, you may demand that they fulfill their obligation. Demand may be made extrajudicially by settling the obligation out-of-court or it can be made judicially by filing a collection case in court.

Either way, your chances of successfully recovering your money greatly increases if the agreement is in writing. If asking your relative or friend to sign a loan agreement is too awkward for you, then you should only loan an amount that you can afford to lose because without any evidence, you may never recover anything.

Having said that, considering that court processes take time and money, it is advisable to take this matter, as much as possible, extrajudicially. You yourself, or with assistance of your lawyer, may send a demand letter to your debtor. The demand letter may contain a demand to pay the loan within a certain period upon receipt thereof, and failure to do so will result to incurring of interest and filing of necessary civil or criminal case (if applicable) against the debtor.

After a reasonable time given to the debtor to pay his loan and he failed to do so, you may now consider filing a collection case in court.

Depending on the venue of the claim, if the amount of loan does not exceed P400,000 for Metropolitan Trial Courts, or P300,000 for Municipal Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts in Cities, and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts, you may file a small claim action. Should the debtor have several loans but the amount still did not exceed the aforementioned amount, small claim action is still proper.

A small claim action is commenced by filing with the court a verified Statement of Claim (Form 1-SCC) and Certification Against Forum Shopping, Splitting a Single Cause of Action and Multiplicity of Suits (Form 1-A SCC), and attaching therein your sets of evidence of the loan. This action may be filed in court having jurisdiction over the place where either you or your debtor resides. The forms may be downloaded from the internet or you may ask the assistance of any court. This is do-it-yourself claim considering that a representation of a lawyer is not allowed in small claim action. After notice and hearing, the court shall render its decision within 24 hours from the termination of the hearing and such decision is final and executory.

If the loan amount exceeds the amount proper for small claims, the collection case may be filed with the Regional Trial Court having jurisdiction over the place where either you or your debtor resides. In this instance, the case will undergo the regular proceedings. Unlike in small claim action, a lawyer’s representation may be necessary to protect your rights. While this may take time, the legal interest continues to run, and you may also claim for other damages, such as attorney’s fees and cost of litigation.

It is best to protect your interest at all times. While your generosity may be abused by others, you are not left without any recourse.

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Automakers sue US gov’t over tariffs on Chinese imports

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AUTOMAKERS want the customs duties returned with interest. W. Commons

Major automakers Tesla, Volvo, Ford and Mercedes Benz have sued to the US government over tariffs on Chinese goods, demanding customs duties paid on imports be returned, with interest.

The lawsuits were filed over the past days in the New York-based Court of International Trade and concern tariffs imposed by the US Trade Representative on imports from China, which Tesla in its filing called “arbitrary, capricious, and an abuse of discretion.”

The duties came amid a wider trade dispute between Washington and Beijing, and the automakers are asking for the tariffs to be revoked and any money paid to import parts returned.

Mercedes in its filing accused Washington of “prosecution of an unprecedented, unbounded, and unlimited trade war impacting over $500 billion in imports from the People’s Republic of China,” and argued US law “did not confer authority on defendants to litigate a vast trade war for however long, and by whatever means, they choose.”

US President Donald Trump’s administration engaged in months of trade conflicts with China, and imposed the levies as part of an effort to wean American manufacturers off Chinese technology/

China and the US signed their “phase one” trade deal earlier this year that partially ended the dispute, under which China promised to buy $200 billion in US goods and Washington backed down on tariffs on $160 billion in Chinese goods, particularly consumer electronics.

The US also slashed by half 15 percent tariffs on $120 billion in goods, but kept in place 25 percent duties on $250 billion in imports, which some of the automakers cited in their lawsuits.

Beijing has retaliated for these levies, while Washington is aiming both to reduce its trade deficit and reform Chinese business practices it considers “unfair.”

The Commerce Department reported the US trade deficit in July surged nearly 11 percent to $63.6 billion, with the deficit with China climbing to $28.3 billion.

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Tax targets will be met

If there’s anything that this COVID-19 did, (it) is to inject a large amount of uncertainty.

Joshua Lao

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While revenues posted a decline in previous months due to the pandemic, Department of Finance (DoF) Secretary Carlos Dominguez III expressed his confidence that the country’s top revenue agencies, the Bureaus of Internal Revenue (BIR) and of Customs (BoC) will surpass their targets.

“If there’s anything that this COVID-19 did, (it) is to inject a large amount of uncertainty but i believe that the new released targets will be (met) by the end of the year,” Dominguez said during the online Senate hearing for the agency’s 2021 budget.

According to him, the revised estimates on tax revenues have already been exceeded and that the P2.2 trillion tax revenue target for the year will be met.

Further, the DoF chief reiterated that the repackaged Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) Act will benefit the economy despite the eyed foregone revenues from its implementation.

“The proposal to reduce the (corporate) tax is really part of our stimulus program for the economy and really this is trusting the private sector to make the right decisions with that money, trusting them to retain their employees, reinvest in their companies and essentially, it will stimulate the economy,” Dominguez explained.

“Many countries have passed that… We have the highest corporate income tax (CIT) in the ASEAN at 30 percent, the average is actually around 22.5 percent so we would like to approach that and reach up to around 20 percent,” he added.

Savings to become investments
The Cabinet official cited corporate savings from the reduction of the CIT will create more investments for the country, which will generate more taxes in the long term.

Senator Christopher “Bong” Go expressed his full support to the proposed budget of the DoF during the budget hearing. That said, the Senator also sounded a stern warning against corrupt personnel of the DOF’s attached agencies, BoC and BIR, saying that “their days are numbered.”

“I express my full support to the DoF, headed by a very capable financial manager in Secretary Carlos Dominguez,” Go said during his manifestation of support to the department.

Able leadership
The Senator further expressed his confidence on the leadership of DoF and remarked that the country’s financial policies are in very capable hands.

“As the Philippines reels from the devastating effects of the pandemic not just on public health, but also on our economy and financial stability, it is important that the country’s finances are managed properly and efficiently,” Go explained.

“I am positive that we will see this crisis through and emerge stronger than ever,” he added.

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