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By On July 25, 2018

IMF Staff Completes 2018 Article IV Mission to Philippines

IMF Staff Completes 2018 Article IV Mission to Philippines

July 25, 2018

End-of-Mission press releases include statements of IMF staff teams that convey preliminary findings after a visit to a country. The views expressed in this statement are those of the IMF staff and do not necessarily represent the views of the IMF’s Executive Board. Based on the preliminary findings of this mission, staff will prepare a report that, subject to management approval, will be presented to the IMF's Executive Board for discussion and decision.
  • The Philippine economy continues to grow strongly, with real GDP projected to expand 6.7 percent in 2018 and 2019. The medium-term economic outlook also remains favorable.
  • However, near-term risks have increased, stemming from rising inflation and a changin g external environment that poses great uncertainty.
  • To strike the right balance between growth and macroeconomic stability, policies need to be adjusted to reduce inflationary pressures, while structural reforms should continue to support inclusive growth.

An International Monetary Fund (IMF) staff team led by Luis E. Breuer visited Manila and Bohol from July 11âˆ'25, 2018. At the conclusion of the visit, Mr. Breuer issued the following statement:

“The Philippine economy is performing well. Real GDP grew 6.7 percent in 2017 and the team projects that this rate will be sustained in 2018 and 2019, underpinned by strong consumption and investment, including public investment.

“Rising international oil prices, external pressures on the peso, one-off effects of higher excise taxes, and domestic demand pressures have led to a rapid increase in inflation, to 5.2 percent in June 2018 with year-to-date inflation averaging 4.3 percent . The current account deficit is expected to rise to 1.5 percent of GDP by end-2018, reflecting increased imports of capital goods and raw materials. Foreign direct investment, which reached a record level of US$10 billion in 2017, is expected to moderate somewhat this year. The peso has depreciated by about 7 percent against the U.S. dollar since the beginning of 2018 and gross international reserves, at US$77.7 billion at end-June, remain more than adequate.

“The medium-term economic outlook remains favorable, but short-term risks have risen. Real GDP growth is projected at just under 7 percent over the medium term. Inflation is projected to gradually fall to under 4 percent in 2019 and move toward 3 percent over time. The current account deficit is projected to remain manageable, financed largely by foreign direct investment. Downside risks stem mainly from rising inflation, continued rapid credit growth, higher U.S. interest rates and U.S. dollar, volatile capital flow s, and trade tensions.

“Against the backdrop of a shifting economic environment, our discussions focused on the need to support growth while safeguarding macroeconomic stability by adjusting policies and maintaining a healthy external position. This would require:

  • Maintaining a broadly unchanged fiscal deficit in 2018 and 2019â€"at around 2.4 percent of GDPâ€"to support efforts to contain inflationary pressures. Rising tax revenues, including from tax reform, and the reallocation of spending from nonpriority programs can support expanding public investment at a pace that protects stability while sustaining strong growth.
  • Further tightening monetary policy to anchor inflation expectations, conditional on domestic and external developments. The BSP’s recent decisions to increase the policy rate twice were appropriate. The team welcomes the BSP’s announced readiness to take further action to safeguard price stability and continued progress i n modernizing monetary operations and reforming the capital markets.
  • Maintaining exchange rate flexibility to support the economy’s ability to adapt to external shocks.
  • Pursuing measures to safeguard financial stability amid continued rapid credit growth and rising corporate debt. The team welcomes recent progress on risk management and supports the authorities’ plans to introduce countercyclical capital buffers for banks. Efforts to close data gaps on nonbank financial institutions and conglomerates should continue.
  • Sustaining and even deepening the authorities’ reform program, including amendments to the BSP Charter, streamlining tax incentives, opening new sectors of the economy to private investment, further improving the business environment, including through better infrastructure, and modernizing the legal framework on bank secrecy and anti-money laundering and financing of terrorism.

“The Philipp ines has been one of the region’s strong economic performers over the past years, reaping the fruits of prudent policies and critical reforms. The team welcomes the authorities’ strategy of maintaining policy continuity, while adapting to emerging challenges, and taking advantage of the strong economy to implement reforms to improve inclusive growth and job creation. This strategy has served the Philippines well.”

The team would like to thank the authorities in Manila and Bohol for the fruitful discussions and their strong support and gracious hospitality.

IMF Communications Department
MEDIA RELATIONS

PRESS OFFICER:

Phone: +1 202 623-7100Email: MEDIA@IMF.org

Source: Google News Philippines | Netizen 24 Philippines

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By On July 24, 2018

Under Duterte, Philippines ranked Asia's most dangerous country for environment defenders

Environmental activists, like these ones patrolling a forest in Palawan, are under threat according to a new study by international watchdog Global Witness. The study said 48 environmental campaigners were murdered in 2017, a 71 percent increase from the 28 killings in 2016. Karl Malakunis, AFP/file

First of two parts

MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte campaigned with a promise to halt environmental destruction and protect besieged indigenous communities.

But he enters his third year in power with the Philippines still ranked as Asia’s most dangerous for environmental defenders.

International watchdog Global Witness said 48 environmental campaigners were murdered in 2017, a 71 percent increase from the 28 killings in 2016.

  • Record 207 environmental activists killed last year

"That is the most murders ever recorded in Asia in a single year," said the global organization that tracks natural resource exploitation, conflict, poverty, corruption, and human rights abuses.

Its 2017 report “At What Cost?” highlights cases in the Philippines and Mexico.

The report links 20, or almost half of the killings in the Philippines, to struggles against agribusiness.

It said soldiers are the suspects in 56% of the murders.

More than half of the killings or 67% occurred in Duterte’s resource-rich home island of Mindanao in the country’s southern part.

"The backdrop to this rising death toll is a president who is brazenly anti-human rights, the militarization of communities, multiple armed groups and the failure of government bodies to provide protection for at-risk activists,” the NGO said.

The Philippines has drawn negative attention for years for attacks on environmental activists, but Global Witness said killings have “risen dramatically” since Duterte assumed the presidency in May 2016.

The watchdog’s 2015 report recorded 30 murders of environmentalists. The number increased to 44 between July 16 and June 2017, with 24 recorded in the first six months of Duterte’s second year in office.

  • 33 environmental activists killed in PH in 2015: report
  • PH tops list of deadliest countries for green crusaders in Asia, third in the world
  • Environmental lawyer murdered in Bohol

FROM MINING TO AGRIBUSINESS

In his State of the Nation Address in July 23, Duterte claimed environmental protection as his top priority despite the exit last year of fierce environment department secretary Gina Lopez.

Duterte ordered mining firms to repair the damage done to the environment.

"Try to change management radically because this time, you will have restrictive policiesâ€"a prohibition of open-pit mining is one,” he warned.

"It is destroying my country. It is destroying the environment. It will destroy the world of tomorrow or our children," the President said.

  • Duterte tells miners: 'Don't destroy the environment'

Despite Duterte’s continuing tough rhetoric, local NGO Kalikasan Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment said the number of commercially operating large-scale mines increased from 41 to 50 in 2017.

"The ongoing government review of closed or suspended big mines is also expected to absolve 24 of the 28 projects,” said Leon Dulce, the group’s national coordinator.

Disputes between miners and indigenous groups accounted for 11 of the 33 killings of Filipino environmentalists in 2015. Twenty cases were tracked to large-scale agribusiness companies.

That year, paramilitary troops killed two Lumad leaders and a head teacher of an award-winning alternative school in Lianga, Surigao del Sur.

Soldiers killed 5 male relatives, including a blind septuagenarian and a minor in Pangatucan, Bukidnon.

Both incidents were extra-judicial killings, said the Commission on Human Rights.

In 2017, the number of people killed worldwide while protesting against large-scale agriculture more than doubled compared to 2016.

"For the first time, agribusiness surpassed mining as the most dangerous sector to oppose, as 46 defenders who protested against palm oil, coffee, tropical fruit and sugar cane plantations, as well as cattle ranching, were murdered in 2017,” Global Witness said.

Eight of these were Lumad kin fro m Lake Sebu in South Cotabato.

A military attack on Barangay Ned on December 3, 2017 killed Lumad chieftain, Datu Victor Danyan, and seven other relatives.

Five more residents of the village were wounded in the attack, which sent the small hamlet’s residents fleeing to nearby villages.

Military officers claimed they killed New People’s Army (NPA) rebels, who fled to the hamlet after attempting an ambush.

Local officials and church leaders disputed the claim, saying Dayan was a familiar and respected negotiator for indigenous communities battling a coffee plantation firm.

The slain datu’s daughter and sister have also testified that he was at home while the other victims were farming within eyesight when soldiers opened fire.

Dulce said the President’s thrust to open indigenous lands to industrial plantations would lead to more violence in rural communities.

Duterte last year announced that he would allo cate 1.6 million hectares of land, mostly in Mindanao, for industrial plantations

Source: Google News Philippines | Netizen 24 Philippines

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By On July 24, 2018

Shropshire baby granted passport to leave Philippines

Shropshire Shropshire Shropshire baby granted passport to leave Philippines

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionShropshire couple in passport row see baby via internet

A couple will be able to bring their baby daughter home, four months after she was born in the Philippines.

Henry and Shane Curteis from Shropshire were visiting Mrs Curteis' parents when she gave birth.

They then had difficulties getting Selene a p assport resulting in the couple leaving her in the country in May.

Passports are not issued until checks are "satisfactorily completed", the Home Office said.

  • Midlands Live: Employees to start being drug tested by council; Corrosive substance thrown at woman

Selene has been cared for by her grandparents.

The family said they had provided all the necessary information to the Passport Office as requested, but were told it had not been received.

Both her parents are British citizens, Mr Curteis, 62, by birth and Mrs Curteis, 32, a citizen since January 2016.

Mr Curteis, a jeweller, had said he was frustrated that the family had not been given an expected deadline for when the issues would be resolved.

But after their meeting just over a week ago, the passport was approved.

Image copyright Henry Curteis
Image caption Baby Selene has been cared for by her grandparents in the Philippines, while her parents try to secure a passport for her

Mr Curteis said it had been eventually treated as a special case, but it should not have been.

"It is just an ordinary straightforward case where it was looking like we were going to be waiting five or six months from the birth of the child."

A Home Office spokesperson said: "We always aim to process applications as quickly as possible, although Her Majesty's Passport Office will not issue a passport until all checks upon nationality, identity and eligibility are satisfactorily completed."

Image copyright Henry Curteis
Image caption The Curteis family have been separated from their third child since May

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Source: Google News Philippines | Netizen 24 Philippines

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By On July 24, 2018

US Air Force is giving away retired turboprop light attack aircraft to Philippines

MELBOURNE, Australia â€" Sources in the Philippines have confirmed that it is the unidentified destination country for turboprop light attack aircraft, which the U.S. Air Force planning to have the planes disassembled before being shipped overseas.

The sources said the government of the Philippines had been offered the North American OV-10 Bronco twin-turboprop light attack aircraft earlier this year after it had requested the transfer of spare parts for the type that were being stored by the U.S. government, and the Philippines subsequently inspected the aircraft and found them suitable for use.

Defense News understands the aircraft, which have been retired from U.S. military since the mid-1990s, will be provided free-of-charge to the Philippines, most likely as part of an assistance package to the country’s military. However, the south-east As ian country will be liable for the costs of transporting them from the United States, with the transfer expected to take place later this year and the aircraft expected to be ready for service in early 2019.

A Philippine Air Force pilot checks the controls of one of four OV-10
A Philippine Air Force pilot checks the controls of one of four OV-10 "Bronco" attack aircraft donated by Thailand to the Philippines. (Photo credit should read JAY DIRECTO/AFP/Getty Images)

In a solicitation posted on the fbo.gov website on July 19, the U.S. Air Force Materiel Command’s Life Cycle Management Center at Hill Air Force Base, Utah said it was seeking bids to disassemble four Rockwell OV-10 Broncos which will then be crated, shipped over seas and reassembled for a Foreign Military Sales case.

The solicitation also noted that the four aircraft are a mixture of two OV-10A and two OV-10G+ aircraft. The aircraft were formerly owned by NASA, with the two OV-10G+ heavily modified in 2015 and used by U.S. Special Operations Command for combat evaluation in the campaign against the Islamic State in the Middle East before being returned again to NASA.


The USAF solicitation hints at these modifications, noting that the two OV-10G+ aircraft had “over 5,000 new wires installed” during their last upgrade, with the bid winner needing to pull back the wiring for storage into the fuselage prior to their being shipped overseas where the wires will be rerouted as part of the reassembly process.

Earlier documents relating to the modifications had indicated that the aircraft were modified with a L3-Wescam MX-15Di Eletro-Optical turret, Link 16 tactical datalinks, full -motion video, a glass cockpit and the ability to fire the BAE Systems Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System GPS-guided rocket.

The OV-10G+ were demilitarized and returned to NASA following the trials, having flown 120 combat sorties in less than three months. However, the Philippines is hoping to re-activate at least some of the modifications upon re-introducing the aircraft into its inventory.

The Philippines is the last operator of the OV-10 Bronco, with its air force currently operating between eight and 10 aircraft. It also possesses several airframes that have been put into storage. The country has previously upgraded its OV-10s to employ laser-guided bombs designated by troops on the ground, although these were not used during its recent operations against Islamic State-affiliated militants in the south of the country where only unguided rockets and bombs were used.


Source: Google News Philippines | Netizen 24 Philippines