PH strengthens bilateral ties with Malaysia


Malaysian investors bullish in investing in PH


PASAY CITY—At the sidelines of the Philippine (PH) hosting of the 49th ASEAN Economic Ministers’ (AEM) Meeting and Related Meetings on 8 September, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez convened a bilateral meeting with his Malaysian counterpart, Minister for International Trade and Industry Y.B. Dato’ Sri Mustapa Mohamed.


The Philippines (PH) and Malaysia (MY) discussed various measures to enhance trade and investment relations including regional economic integration.


MY requested PH participation/support in its ASEAN internship program as a way to improve people-to-people interaction among college students. Under this program, interns will have the opportunity to gain experience in an ASEAN company.


PH, meanwhile, sought MY’s support in the development of the Halal industry through various capacity building initiatives, including trainings and internship. PH also followed up on the proposed cooperation in palm oil, given that this can be instrumental in developing key areas in Mindanao. MY indicated that it is working very closely with Indonesia in addressing the various issues facing the industry, including the environmental lobby in the EU and taxes.


PH requested MY to participate in the business matching activities for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) as part of the activities for PH chairmanship.


MY underscored the need for a united ASEAN in moving forward with Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).


In parallel development, MY investors remain bullish on pouring in more significant investments in the PH given the country’s robust economy buoyed by heavy spending in infrastructure projects, expanding market with a large young population and growing middle class, and the administration’s firm resolve to further ease the cost of doing business in the country and manage the peace and order situation in Mindanao.


A proof of such confidence was the recent (6 September) launching of the Malaysia Chamber of Commerce Inc. (MCCI) in Manila. Led by Malaysian Minister for International Trade and Industry Dato’ Sri Mustapa Mohamed, MCCI serves as MY’s business network group in PH, advancing the concerns and interests of the growing MY investors in PH.


Sec. Lopez, who also serves as the Board of Investments (BOI) Chairman, is pleased with the vote of confidence of MY businessmen in PH.


“During President Rodrigo Duterte’s visit to Malaysia in November 2016, Malaysian business leaders expressed confidence in the many investment opportunities in the Philippines,” said Sec. Lopez, adding that these businessmen expressed interest in investing in infrastructure, mass transportation development, building of regional centers, joint ventures in agribusiness, halal-certified products, and high value post-harvest processing facilities.


“Malaysia has always seen the Philippines, particularly Mindanao, as an investment destination of choice because we are neighbors, and we share almost the same culture,” he added.


Meanwhile, MCCI President Edward Ling said that MY companies are keen on investing in PH particularly in the sectors of information technology, construction, energy, manufacturing, and retail.


“We are very encouraged by the seriousness of the administration in addressing the concerns of both the current and potential investors in doing business in the country.  We will relay this to our Malaysian investors for them to pursue more investment missions in the Philippines,” he said.


MY has huge investments globally. In PH, MY investments have been on a steady growth in the recent years. Approved MY investments by all the investment promotion agencies (IPAs) reached Php219.038 billion in 2016.


In the first eight months of 2017, MY investments registered with all IPAs reached Php26.242 billion. Of these figures, total BOI-registered MY investments amounted to Php4.33 billion from 2012 up to January to August 2017.


Top MY investments in PH are in the industries of agriculture, forestry and fishing; manufacturing; power; water supply, sewerage, and waste management; construction; wholesale and retail trade; transportation and storage; information and communication; financial and insurance activities; real estate activities, and administrative and support activities.

Economic Partnership with China firms up with arrival of ASEAN China Center (ACC) delegates

Manila, Phl – 23 May 2017 – 16 Delegates from ASEAN China Center (ACC) arrived for a two-day briefing on trade and investment expected to bolster cooperation between the two countries.

Led by the Department of Trade and Industry, officials from the Export Marketing Bureau (EMB), Board of Investments (BOI), and Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) organized a Business Matching and Networking Dinner at the South Ballroom, Diamond Hotel to enable an environment where Philippine and Chinese companies can do business together.

As DTI Assistant Secretary for Trade and Investments Promotion Group Rosvi C. Gaetos stated in her welcome remarks, “As we host the ASEAN Summit on its 50th founding anniversary with the theme “Partnering for Change, Engaging the World”, we continue to reaffirm our readiness for deeper economic partnerships within the ASEAN region and with our extended neighbors such as China”.

In photo: DTI Trade and Investments Promotion Group Assistant Secretary Rosvi C. Gaetos welcomed the delegates from ASEAN China Center on 23 May at the Diamond Hotel in Manila.

‘Political willingness’ a must: trade chief on concluding RCEP


Calls on negotiators to find ways to solve pending issues


MANILA—All 10 ASEAN Member States (AMS) and the six Free Trade Agreement (FTA) partners should show “political willingness to move the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) forward,” the country’s trade chief asserted.


Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said that political determination of all 16 RCEP participating countries is most crucial in pushing for the substantial conclusion of RCEP, following 17 rounds of negotiations since 2012.


China, Korea, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and India are the six FTA partners of the 10 AMS Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, Viet Nam and the Philippines.


Speaking at the opening of the 18th RCEP Trade Negotiating Committee (TNC) Meeting and Related Meetings on 8 May, Sec. Lopez, as chair of ASEAN Economic Ministers (AEM) Meeting, enjoined lead negotiators to “find solutions to all remaining challenges” that hinder RCEP conclusion.


“We want to find solutions as soon as possible because I think we are nearing substantial conclusion. Let us find ways to solve remaining issues,” he said, hoping that related meetings in the future will not be pressed by the same challenges of today.


The potential 3.5 billion market


Being negotiated to bring about positive and beneficial outcomes, RCEP is seen to intensify trade and investments, lower trade barriers, facilitate trade, and galvanize the gains from regional economic integration—among the most dynamic economies in the Asia-Pacific region.


Now on its 18th round in Manila, RCEP is armed with the momentum of having thus far concluded chapters on Small and Medium Enterprises (SME), Economic and Technical Cooperation, and, in principle, the Competition Chapter.


“With our markets integrated, we will be more attractive and competitive in partnering for change and in engaging the world. As host, the Philippines is keen on opening up opportunities for SMEs to play an integral role in the global value chains,” Sec. Lopez said.


The full and effective implementation of RCEP can expand the current 620 million ASEAN market to a greater integrated market of 3.5 billion with the six FTA partners, accounting for almost half of the world’s population and almost 30 percent of global Gross Domestic Product (GDP).


For ASEAN, RCEP is a reflection of the organization’s thoughtful and deliberate process of integrating the region into the global economy, building on the ASEAN + 1 FTAs with ASEAN Dialogue Partners.


Sec. Lopez reiterated that RCEP should translate to generation of more jobs and creation of more business opportunities for ASEAN citizens.


Call for an expedited negotiation


“RCEP is indispensable as it is designed to be pragmatic, paying heed to the levels of development and sensitivities of each negotiating country,” explained Sec. Lopez, adding that despite the more uncertain geopolitical and economic climate, ASEAN remains resilient and progressive, inclusive and forward-looking, as evidenced by “the continued increase in trade and investments towards achieving shared economic prosperity.”


The trade chief encouraged RCEP lead negotiators to expedite negotiations without sacrificing quality and long-term economic gains to achieve a substantial conclusion of a high quality and credible RCEP by year-end.


The 18th RCEP TNC Meeting and Related Meetings ends 12 May.


“I look forward to hearing good outcomes when I meet fellow ministers at the 3rd Inter-sessional RCEP Ministerial Meeting in Hanoi a few days from now,” he concluded.

No sail, no flight over Alona now in effect


TAGBILARAN CITY, April 21 (PIA)–In response to the regional task group managing the security for the meetings of the Association of South East Asian Nations 2017 (ASEAN 2017) in Bohol, marine task groups in Bohol are implementing a 500 meter no sail zone in front of the Alona stretch of beach.


The policy is in effect until the end of the ASEAN 2017 meetings in Panglao.


Seaman (SN1) Ralph Barajan, deputy chief of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) Detachment in Panglao bared this as Bohol Task Group Commander PCSupt Noli Taliño earlier issued the “no sail, no flight” policy over Alona Beach.


This is to add up to the implemented security measures to protect the international and local delegates to the ASEAN trade meetings held at the Hennan Resort and some top level meetings at the Amorita Resort on the southeast end of the 1.5 kilometer stretch of beach.


“We are implementing a 500 meter from the coastline demarcation line for sail boats from the Amorita to Kalipayan Beach on the south west end, SN Barajan revealed.


The PCG elements are not the only ones making sure that navigation by any craft in the area is restricted.


Also there to help secure the sea area fronting the famed Alona stretch are the floating assets of the Philippine Navy and the Philippine National Police Maritime Group.


The Philippine Air Force is also tasked to insure that the airspace over Alona is cleared, PNP regional sources reported.


This too as the local government of Panglao implements the ordinance finally designating a one-stop area for tourist  boats ferrying guests to dolphin and whale watching as well as island hopping tours.


Panglao mayor Leonila Montero said they have designated a unified pick up and drop off for tourists in a bid to streamline policies in implementing marine safety and safety of beach fronts.


The municipal docking facility at the back of the church in Panglao has been picked as a station wile local officials are reportedly eyeing to put up more in areas where resorts congregate, if only to allow faster tracking of boats and PCG safety inspections before embarking on marine tours, PCG said.


Earlier, PCG Bohol District Commander Lieutenant Junior Grade Jimmy Berbo, who has a long record of experience in maritime safety, has also suggested a streamlined docking policy just as the Maritime Industry Authority of the Philippines has campaigned for registration of all boats used for public conveyance.


This also helps assure tourists that the boat they contracted to serve is registered, insured and tracked by the maritime authorities for protection and safety assurances.


Tour guides said the policy of a designated station could help control the operation of illegal fly by night colorum bancas.


Panglao, along with the PCG Panglao detachment has finally implemented Philippine Coast Guard Memorandum Circular 03-14 dated April 2014, as the government asserts safety of beaches in front of resorts, and in Bohol especially at its prime 1.5 kilometer fine white sand beach showcase of the Alona stretch.


A turn-off for tourists owing to the uncontrolled boat parking and dropping of anchors massively ruining its snorkel areas, Alona has also been widely criticized for allowing access to boats with propellers dangerously within the swimming and snorkel areas, practically accidents waiting to happen.

The boat parking is also blocking the sea view and the gorgeous sunsets.

Recently however, authorities have started to see the logic in keeping Alona and its prime beaches cleared of these hazards.

As this developed, Boholanos have praised the Panglao local officials and the PCG and openly hoped that the safety policy is sustained even beyond the ASEAN. (rahc/PIA-7/Bohol)

Duterte: get remaining  bandits, dead or alive


TAGBILARAN CITY, April 19 (PIA)–To ring the message across that he abhors criminalities, President Rodrigo Duterte issues the order to just anyone: get them, dead or alive.

And by everyone, his order did not just mean for the government operatives, he also addressed to civilians willing to finally end the terror and hunt down the remnants of the group of armed Abu Sayyaf bandits contained in the fields of Inabanga.

Coming to Bohol not on his official, but on his personal schedule, President Duterte who just came in from a state visit in the middle east immediately flew to Bohol to be briefed on the Inabanga incident that left 3 military, one police and 4 deaths from the notorious kidnap for ransom group.

Two of those who died were a couple identified as relatives of the local guide of the bandits are still under investigation, explained Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of Staff, General Eduardo Año.

Government troops sweeping the war zone also recovered bomb making tools and electronic parts that can be used to manufacture bombs.

The Abus Sayyaf incursion to Bohol, over 600 kilometers from their strongholds in Basilan, happened in time for the international gathering of leaders of the countries in southeast Asia in Panglao.

“I am here just to warn everybody, my order is to demolish them,” Duterte spoke to Bohol and national media after an hour and 45 minutes of briefings of the Inabanga incident and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Trade meetings set from April 18-21, at the Hennan Resort in Panglao.

“To civilians interested to fight and kill, my order [to them] is dead or alive,” the President was again fearless of the repercussions of his hard and unwavering stance against criminality.

He also announced he is raising the one million pesos bounty for every member of the Abu Sayyaf stragglers hiding in the vicinities of Napo, in Inabanga, Bohol.

Earlier, the provincial government posted a P100,000 bounty per head for anyone who could share information leading to the capture any one of the 7 bandits.

Now led by a local recruit Joselito Melloria, the bandits could not go far as three of them were wounded, according to Armed Forces of the Philippines Intelligence officer Lt. Col Adolfo Espuelas Jr,.

Espuelas, who head the Intelligence Service of the AFP said Melloria nurses a wound in the left back shoulder and left foot, another young fighter with a wound in the right leg and yet another fighter with wound in the right butt.

The strugglers have only 3 M16 rifles, one fitted with  an M203 grenade launcher, one M14, a depleted ammunition supply, an analog cell phone with spare batteries, no food, no local support, have been sleepless and are on the run without any more capacity to fight, Espuelas added.

In rounding up the citizens as well as the government troops to account for the fleeing bandits, the apparently tired president who earlier came to the security briefing on the Inabanga incident and the Bohol said, he wants them dead, not alive to skip from the trouble of feeding criminals.

The President also clarified that the order also applies to drug personalities and terrorists. (rahc/PIA-7/Bohol)

Get the bandits, dead or alive, commands President Rodrigo Duterte, when he came to Tagbilaran Bohol to get briefed about the clash that happened between government troops and the Abus Sayyaf group. Duterte’s coming in, off his official schedule has boosted the resolve of government to hit on the remaining bandits. (rahc/PIA-7/Bohol)

Unobstructed Alona beaches greet Bohol ASEAN delegates



TAGBILARAN CITY, April 19 (PIA)–Delegates to the trade meetings of the Association of South East Asian Nations at the Hennan Resort in Panglao arrive at gorgeous sight mostly new to Boholanos and some national guests.

Then a view seldom fully appreciated due to the obstruction caused by disorganized boat parking, dangerous swimming area due to indiscriminate dropping of boat anchors and crisscrossing dive boats, the more than a kilometer stretch of the gorgeous white fine sand beach of Alona is finally cleared of the hazards.

A stretch of beach accordingly got its name from the starlet Alona Alegre, who, with another Filipino movie icon Fernando Poe Jr., starred the 1978 film Esteban.

In one of the movie scenes, Alona Alegre would frolic in the pristine sand before marauders lad by Max Alvarado would run to capture her.

The chase scene would then introduce the gorgeous beach to national and international audiences.

The shooting would accordingly take days and during the entire duration, residents of Tawala in Panglao would troop to the beach to see the shooting.

When asked where they are going, people would accordingly respond: to see Alona, thus the name stuck to the beach.

Now a home to some of the best beach resorts in Bohol, Alona has lately seen the proliferation of dive boats and island hopping ferry boats anchoring just right in the beach front, obstructing the gorgeous sunset and the splendid blue horizon.

Recently however, the local government unit of Panglao, the beach resorts and the Philippine Coast Guard partnered to clean up the beach front, according to Tagbilaran District Commander Lieutenant Junior Grade Jimmy Berbo.

Along this, citing Headquarters of the Philippine Coast Guard Memorandum Circular 03-14 dated April 2014, the government asserts safety of beaches in front of resorts.

The MC ruled out that resort owners must put up adequate number of buoys attached with a safety net to be spread in an area where there is an abrupt change in depth, and if there are none, the same buoys shall designate the boundaries for safe swimming.

Moreover, for safety purposes, in thses designated areas, no boats, bancas or other crafts are allowed to enter.

The policy however remains unimplemented until recently, Lt. Berbo shared.

While the memorandum also allows the resort owners to designate a portion of the beachfront for loading and unloading resort guests,  the LGU under Mayor Leonila Montero has designated a single pick up and drop off station for guests on to dolphin and whale watching tours, dive tours as well as for island hopping tours, Coast Guard sources revealed.

The Coast Guard said the new pick up and drop off station for boats is the municipal port behind the Panglao Church Complex, and authorities have started to implement the changes recently.

The disappearance of the eyesores in Alona beach elated observers who agreed, having boats in front of the resorts is waiting for an accident to happen.

As of the second week of April, the beach fronts started to be cleaned of boats, while the town also caused the tables set up by resorts near the beaches moved, following the policies on public access.

When these changes would allow the ASEAN guests to marvel at the beaches, police regional director PCSupt Noli Taliño has said they would implement a no-sail, no-flight zone in front of Hennan Resort.

This is for the safety of ASEAN guests having their meetings at Henan from April 18-21.

General Taliño said they would coordinate with the PCG, Maritime Police and the Philippine Navy to put up the demarcation lines to mark the no sail zones and guard it.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Air Force would monitor compliance of the no-flights over Hennan and hail any pilot who breaks the command. (rahc/PIA-7/Bohol)

500 yards, boats are now banned to dock here, an area that used to be crowded by dive and tour boats, as the government implements beach safety along Bohol showcase window of its world class beaches. (foto by Ric Obedencio)