Monthly Archives: October 2010

International body, local realtors’ group ink accord

The Philippine Star
October 29, 2010

MANILA, Philippines – The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), the “voice for real estate”, representing over 1.1 million members in the United States and across the globe, announced its intentions to transfer the affiliation in the Philippines to the much awaited PRC-PBRES Accredited Integrated Professional Organization (AIPO) as provided in the Real Estate Service Act of the Philippines to create synergy, unity and at the same time obtain the maximum benefits as industry partners. This transfer will be done to fall in line with the Philippine government’s decision in passing into law, the R.A. 9646 or Real Estate Service Act of 2009.

The historic agreement will unite all real estate professionals in the Philippines. Members of this body will pay a special assessment to include international REALTOR membership in NAR which will entitle them to special benefits including usage of the REALTOR logo and trademark, access to the largest online real estate library in the world, a searchable international broker directory. And other tools to increase professionalism and international business.

Real estate practitioners play a vital role in the social, political, economic development and progress of their respective countries by promotion of the real estate industry in this competitive global market place. Strict regulations and guidelines that will be set forth by the board shall uplift the standards of all practitioners and be in parallel with the international real estate community and be competitive in the global market. Asuncion “Shonee” Henry, NAR’s Liaison to the Philippines, added that “the diaspora of our citizens throughout the world require that a strong national body serve to be a catalyst for the transfer of real property; this historic alliance will enable international business to the broker level in a profitable and ethical manner”. Jeff Hornberger, NAR’s Director of Global Alliances, added that “NAR applauds the Philippines in creating this new group; we’ll be working closely with the AIPO to bring international member benefits to REALTOR members in the Philippines”. NAR congratulates Hon. Dr. Eduardo G. Ong, chairman for the Professional Regulatory Board of Real Estate Service (PBRES) of the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) as well as he newly appointed Commissioners of the Board of Real Estate Service.

Annual individual membership can be obtained by applying and paying the international membership dues through the AIPO. Member in good standing and abide by the Code of Ethics of the National Association of REALTORS®. Only members of AIPO who pay international dues can use the REALTOR logo and trademark.

Govt out to privatize 4 ports in Mindanao

Businessweek Mindanao
By NELSON V. CONSTANTINO
October 19, 2010

THE Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) is keen to push ahead with its decision to privatize at least five state-controlled ports, including four in Mindanao as part of the Aquino administration’s strategy to allow the private sector help the government in funding infrastructure projects.

The first targets will include the Iloilo Commercial Port Complex, those in Cagayan de Oro, Ozamiz, Zamboanga and General Santos, as well as the roll-on, roll-off ports belonging to the Strong Republic Nautical Highway.

The PPA owns and controls more than a hundred ports all over the country. At the same time, however, PPA General Manager Juan C. Sta. Ana said he would continue to improve the operations of profitable government ports.

“We subscribe to the basic notion that the private sector is the engine of growth. For this reason, we should continue to encourage more private-sector participation in the management, operation and development of ports,” Sta. Ana, in a statement, said.

Over the past years, the PPA was only able to privatize a handful of ports. The most recent was the Batangas Port, which has been idle for two years before its takeover by Asian Terminals Inc. (ATI), and the Manila North Harbor. Some of the port holdings privatized included the Manila International Container Terminal operated by the International Container Terminal Services Inc. and the Manila South Harbor of ATI. The PPA, one of the most profitable of the government-owned and -controlled corporations, was able to devolve some of the local ports to municipal governments the last few years.

Sta. Ana said the government is reducing its presence in these port facilities in line with the government’s private-public partnership.

He added he expects all of the PPA’s more than 100 ports to be privatized before the end of the Aquino administration in 2016.

Three of the five ports already have private cargo-handling operators.

A subsidiary of International Container Terminal Services Inc (ICTSI) operates Davao port; Oro Port runs Cagayan De Oro port; and Asian Terminals Inc and ICTSI jointly operate General Santos.

These ports handle the bulk of local and international trade in Visayas and Mindanao.

For now, the port of Cagayan de Oro and Mindanao International Container Terminal Port (MICTP) ranked second only to Cebu City in terms of revenue collection in the Visayas-Mindanao region.

During the first quarter of this year, MICTP posted more than fifty percent increase in its containerized cargo handling compared to last year. Data showed that containerized volume reached 37,940 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU) during January to March, way above previous year’s 24,868 TEUs.

MICTP Seaport Department Head Dante Clarito attributed the increase to the continued growth of the manufacturing sector and the robust mining industry in the region.

Tampakan: a multi-billion dollar copper-gold project in Mindanao

By Joe Palabao
BusinessWeek Mindanao
October 11, 2010

GENERAL Santos City––With an estimated resource totaling to 2.4 billion metric tonnes at a grade of 0.6% copper and 0.2 grams per ton gold, the Tampakan deposit is one of the largest undeveloped copper-gold deposits in the Southeast Asia-Western Pacific region. Experts say the Tampakan mine has the potential to become the largest mine in the country, and the fifth largest copper mine in the world by 2016.

The multi-billion dollar project is being undertaken by the Sagittarius Mines, Inc. (SMI) which today holds a Financial and Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) with the Philippine government to explore and develop the project.

SMI operates the Tampakan Copper-Gold Project in Mindanao as a joint venture between Xstrata Copper, a global diversified mining group in London and Swiss stock exchanges acquiring (62.5%) share, Indophil Resources NL, an Australian-listed exploration company with (34.2%) share.

The project is expected to contribute USD37 Billion (PhP1.85 trillion) to the Philippine economy over the life of the mine. The project will have the potentials of creating more than 12,000 jobs during the mine construction and actual operation.

The Tampakan Mine Project is approximately 50 kilometers of north General Santos City and it straddles the boundaries of the four provinces of South Cotabato, Davao del Sur, Sultan Kudarat, and Saranggani.

The Project involves the development and operation of an open-pit mine and associated infrastructure within the proposed mine lease boundary.

A port, power station and filter plant to service the Tampakan Mine Project and a copper-gold concentrate pipeline system, electricity transmission line system and ancillary access roads connecting the Tampakan Mine with the port, power station and filter plant and a substation.

In a related development, the SMI will manage the Tampakan project with the aim at delivering industry-leading returns for their shareholders.

The project can be achieved through genuine partnerships with employees, customers, shareholders, which are based on integrity, co-operation, transparency and mutual value-creation.

To date the Project has benefited the host municipalities and surrounding communities in terms of employment, business development projects, taxes and fees.

In 2009, it has contributed PhP830.6 million to Mindanao economy through employment of more than 1,300 people and contractors, including a weekly average of 202 local community residents working on the project’s drilling, annual wages, local purchase of goods and services, power and fuel charges, community partnerships, sponsorships and donations.

SMI has also complied with the national regulatory framework for indigenous peoples (IPs) in respecting Indigenous Peoples Rights, and is committed to adopting the best available technologies and management practices on the natural environment and continues to demonstrate its commitment to corporate social responsibility by contributing to the social, economic and institutional development of the concerned communities being developed.

Serene spaces for a happy home

The Philippine Star
October8, 2010

The keys to happiness are actually less complicated than you think. In his much acclaimed book, The Happiness Hypothesis, Psychology Professor Jonathan Haidt lists several life conditions that ancient wisdom and research have proven to be accurate precursors to happiness and contentment.

Despite what many might think, a joyful life does not automatically stem from such things as material wealth. More than anything, happiness comes from the simple things in life: enjoying hobbies or sports, reading good books, or forging meaningful relationships. Even the amount of control you feel over situations affects overall happiness and contentment. But while most people might be visiting different places or even going abroad to fulfill the conditions for happiness.

A location you’ll love

Haidt also suggests that lasting happiness is obtained through lasting relationships and a strong sense of community. It’s also interesting to note that Ruut Veenhoven, professor of sociology at Erasmus University Rotterdam in the Netherlands and director of the World Database of Happiness, states that happiness is all about investing in good relationships. His studies show that those who take time to have a drink with friends after work tend to be happier than those who don’t.

Despite preconceived notions that material wealth and luxury bring contentment, it seems like the secret to real, long-term happiness lies in a happy, serene home that allows you to enjoy work, hobbies and even the company of friends and family.

Tax on idle land readied

BY JAMES KONSTANTIN GALVEZ
The Manila Times
October 5, 2010

THE Aquino administration plans to impose a tax on all idle agricultural properties in a bid to shore up its revenues amid a record budget deficit this year. On the sidelines of the launch of the government’s Food Supply Chain Program, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima said the idle land tax is mandated in the Local Government Code (LGC) and Agricultural and Fisheries Modernization Act (AFMA), enabling local government units to compel landowners to put their agricultural land to productive use.

The Finance chief said making productive use of idle land would help augment the country’s food supply.

The LGC considers idle land tax as a revenue-raising measure while the AFMA treats it as a form of a penalty for agricultural inactivity.

Under both laws, the municipal treasurer should collect the idle land tax.

The municipality however does not retain the proceeds as these accrue to the general fund of the province as per the LGC mandate, and to the national treasury in the case of AFMA.

Purisima said the idle land tax can augment local government revenues, adding that the tax rate could go as high as 5 percent.

With more local revenues at their disposal, local governments may reduce their dependence on internal revenue allotments, he said.

“It will serve as a means to encourage optimum use of agricultural land,” he also said.

Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said the agency would also push for the idle land taxation to address the 2013 rice self-sufficiency target of the country.

“We have to increase production, and we can do this by forcing these landowners to use these agricultural lands in agriculture purposes,” Alcala said.

He, however, admitted that the legal definition of “idle land” is vague and as a result, the taxes were not collected in the past.

With its top revenue agencies missing their monthly goals, the government has been looking for ways to keep its budget deficit from exceeding the P325-billion ceiling.