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Business (66)

Eagle rises on debut, preys on top prize

 

Shares of Eagle Cement Corp., which aims to be the country’s leading cement producer in the next few years, outperformed the stock barometer on inaugural trading yesterday.

Eagle gained P0.30 or 2 percent to close at P15.30 per share from its initial public offering price of P15 per share. It was the most actively traded company, with total traded value reaching P967.95 million.

The cement firm opened at P16 and hit a high of P16.12, but gave up earlier gains as some investors pocketed gains. Based on yesterday’s closing, the firm had a market capitalization of P75 billion.

On the other hand, the main-share Philippine Stock Exchange index added 18.54 points or 0.24 percent to close at 7,886.03.

Eagle’s offering was oversubscribed by over three times the base offer, its president John Paul Ang said in a press briefing after the company’s listing on the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE).

Eagle chair Ramon S. Ang said the cement company was facing a “very good future.” In two to three years, the company hopes to boost its market share to 25 percent from 14 percent at present, making it the largest cement company in the country.

But by next year, the older Ang said Eagle should already be number one in terms of capacity. “If we’re able to sell seven million [tons], Eagle will be number one right away,” he said.

He estimated Eagle’s sales volume could expand by around 25 percent next year.

In his remarks prior to the listing, PSE chair Jose Pardo said: “Filipino businesses can derive inspiration from Eagle Cement’s story. I believe there are local corporations that are ready to expand operations or offer more products to the market. This market debut shows that tapping the stock market is a viable financing option for growth and expansion. We have seen family businesses open their doors to the public through the years.”

Online stock brokerage COL Financial also sees bright prospects for Eagle, saying it was “poised to benefit from the Philippines’ growing construction industry due to the country’s GDP (gross domestic product) growth and the government’s plan to boost infrastructure spending.”

At present, Eagle is the fourth largest cement producer in the country in terms of capacity. The three bigger players are all multinational firms.

The local firm has a production capacity of 5.1 million tons a year, or a total of 130 million 40-kilo bags of cement. It is already completing its third production line in Bulacan, which will raise production capacity to 7.1 million metric tons per annum by 2018.

IPO proceeds will be used to partially finance the construction of a two-million metric ton cement plant in Cebu, which will become its fourth production line. This plant is set to raise production capacity to 9.1 million metric tons per annum by 2020.

“And whenever there’s an opportunity to invest, to acquire anything whether mining rights or existing plant or whatsoever, the company will definitely pursue it,” the older Ang said, adding that acquisition would hasten the company’s growth.

Eagle sold 500 million primary common shares with an over-allotment option of up to 75 million secondary shares. Its ticker symbol is “EAGLE”.

 

 

 

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PAL feels pinch of Mindanao issues

By: Miguel R. Camus - @inquirerdotnetPhilippine Daily Inquirer

Flag carrier Philippine Airlines is bracing for fresh challenges in 2017, as it deals with potential lower traffic following the declaration of martial law in Mindanao apart from fierce competition and the higher cost of fuel, for which cost-savings measures are already being implemented.

PAL president Jaime Bautista said during the company’s annual meeting yesterday that revenues would take a hit after President Duterte ordered martial rule in Mindanao, in response to a Muslim extremist attack in Marawi City.

“The present situation in Mindanao will result in some cancellations and rebookings, which we are now experiencing,” Bautista said, adding these were on both domestic and international flights.

He said it was still too early to asses the full impact, given that the situation in Mindanao had yet to be fully resolved.

“We don’t know yet how much more we will expect,” said Bautista, as he noted that cancellations so far had been minimal.

The issues in Mindanao came as PAL was already expecting operating difficulties in 2017, and in the midst of the airline’s negotiations to take in a foreign strategic partner within the year.

“The outlook is that competition will remain stiff, there is still overcapacity in the market,” Bautista said.

He was mainly referring to the Middle East. PAL announced this week it would suspend flights to Abu Dhabi on July 8 this year. A day after, Cebu Pacific Air said it would also suspend flights to Doha, Qatar; Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait over the next two months.

Moreover, higher costs were cutting into PAL’s bottomline. Bautista said the carrier had implemented a freeze-hiring policy on certain positions. He added that PAL would study its fuel hedging policy and implement fuel saving measures.

There was also the option to increase ticket prices, should the cost of fuel continue to rise.

“We may impose higher fares for us to be able to recover additional costs,” Bautista said.

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PAL’s listed operator, PAL Holdings Inc., swung to a loss in the first quarter of 2017 as the airline saw the price of fuel jump by over 50 percent.

PAL Holdings Inc. posted a net loss of P1.13 billion from January to March this year, a reversal of the P2.9 billion profit announced in the same period last year.

The carrier, nevertheless, saw better sales during the period. PAL Holdings said total revenue hit P33.32 billion in the first quarter, up 14.4 percent, as it added more flights and served more passengers. However, this was not enough to offset a steep increase in terms of costs.

Inquirer calls for support for the victims in Marawi City

Responding to appeals for help, the Philippine Daily Inquirer is extending its relief to victims of the attacks in Marawi City

Cash donations may be deposited in the Inquirer Foundation Corp. Banco De Oro (BDO) Current Account No: 007960018860.

Inquiries may be addressed to Inquirer’s Corporate Affairs office through Connie Kalagayan at 897-4426, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and Bianca Kasilag-Macahilig at 897-8808 local 352, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Sy companies lead Forbes list of largest PH public firms

By: Daxim L. Lucas - Reporter / @daxinqPhilippine Daily Inquirer

Eight of the country’s largest corporations—the holding firms of Philippine conglomerates and some of their large operating units—were named among the world’s biggest public companies in a list published by US-based business magazine Forbes.

Together, these Filipino corporate giants on the list had a combined market value of $72.4 billion or P3.6 trillion at current exchange rates.

Their combined sales hit a total of $40.6 billion, or P2 trillion, accounting for roughly 14 percent of the country’s $300-billion economy.

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In terms of asset concentration, these eight firms held $176.6 billion worth of assets, equivalent to P8.8 trillion pesos.

The Forbes list was led by SM Investments Corp. of the Sy family at the 823rd spot on the 2,000-company roster. The family’s patriarch, Henry Sy Sr., is also listed by the influential magazine as the country’s richest man.

SMIC booked $7.3 billion in sales last year, $650 million in profits, $17.3 billion in assets, and $17.8 billion in market value.

Not surprisingly, the second largest publicly listed Filipino firm is another Sy firm, BDO Unibank, coming in at the 1,018th spot.

This was followed by JG Summit Holdings Inc., the flagship company of the Gokongwei family, at the 1,151st spot.

“Forbes’ 2017 Global 2000 list faces much pressure amid unsteady geopolitical climates and slowing economies,” Forbes Media’s deputy editor for investing Halah Touryalai said in a statement. “Yet, in aggregate, these 2,000 companies have managed to come out stronger than last year, with increased sales, profits, assets and market values.”
“Despite slowing GDP figures, China and the US, whose companies make up more than 40 percent of the list, continue to dominate the top 10 list with financial giants,” he added. “This list illustrates that in spite of headwinds, the world’s dominant companies remain a steady force in an unpredictable and challenging environment.”

Taking fourth place among Filipino corporate giants was Ayala Corp., controlled by the Zobel family, with a global rank of 1,176.

This was followed by Top Frontier Investment Holdings of Ramon Ang at the 1,228th spot. The holding firm has interests in the energy sector and also holds the businessman’s stake in conglomerate San Miguel Corp.

Rounding out the list of the largest Philippine listed firms were Metropolitan Bank and Trust Co. of taipan George Ty (1,531st globally); Aboitiz Equity Ventures of the Aboitiz family (1,793rd), and Manila Electric Co., the country’s largest electricity distributor, controlled by the Metro Pacific group of Manuel Pangilinan (1,947th).

The ranking is based on a mix of four metrics: sales, profits, assets and market value.

Forbes’ list revealed that China’s banking giants hold steady at the top of the 2017 Global 2000 list. Industrial & Commercial Bank of China has been No. 1 for the fifth consecutive year. China Construction Bank remains No. 2. The other two of China’s “Big Four” banks – Agricultural Bank of China and Bank of China – dropped down on the list, but remained in the top 10. Berkshire Hathaway, the largest company in the United States, moves one spot up to No. 3. Others in the top 10 are JPMorgan Chase (No. 4), Wells Fargo (No. 5), Agricultural Bank of China (No. 6), Bank of America (No. 7), Bank of China (No. 8), Apple (No. 9) and Toyota Motor (No. 10).

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Martial law in Mindanao deemed overkill by bank, welcomed by BSP

MANILA — The declaration of martial law in Mindanao was deemed to be an “overkill” by ING Bank Manila, although Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Amando M. Tetangco Jr. said Wednesday that government moves to suppress terrorist activities in the war-torn island would improve investor sentiment moving forward.

In a note to clients, ING Bank Manila senior economist Joey Cuyegkeng said a declaration of a state of emergency would have been “more appropriate” as the declaration of martial law “implies that the government has lost control of the situation in Mindanao when in fact the incident is isolated.”

“But the President has threatened in the past weeks to impose martial law as a result of movements of terrorist groups as well as military activities of the military arm of the communist party. His intentions are likely to give him more leeway to address the overall peace and order situation in the island including activities of not only extremist groups but likely also to address activity of the armed wings of the communist party,” Cuyegkeng said.

In terms of impact on the domestic financial markets, Cuyegkeng said it would likely be “limited,” adding that “calm likely to return after the initial reaction.”

“The problem is that markets are also affected by the surprise Moody’s credit rating downgrade of China by one notch this morning,” Cuyegkeng said, as the debt watcher warned that “China’s financial strength will erode somewhat over the coming years, with economy-wide debt continuing to rise as potential growth slows,” reports said.

But for Tetangco, the declaration of martial law covering the entire Mindanao was “a very decisive move in the part of the government,” as he noted that its main objective was to “improve the security and peace and order situation, which should lead to even greater confidence down the road.”

“There may be some transitory or temporary cautiousness, but in the end I think it will lead to a positive impact on sentiment,” Tetangco told reporters on the sidelines of the special testimonial luncheon in his honor that was hosted by seven local and foreign business groups.

Tetangco said the BSP has been monitoring the situation of bank offices and branches in Mindanao, “and the reports were it’s business as usual so far.”  SFM

 

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DOTr to fund regional airports projects via ODA or GAA

The five regional airports previously scrapped from the pipeline of public-private partnership (PPP) projects will instead be funded by the government or by foreign assistance, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) said Wednesday.

The development, and operations and maintenance of the five regional airports will instead be executed using either official development assistance (ODA) or under the General Appropriations Act (GAA), which is the yearly budget allocation approved by Congress, the DOTr said.

The five regional airports project has a combined value of P108.19 billion: the P20.26 billion Bacolod-Silay Airport, the P30.40 billion Iloilo Airport, the P40.57 billion Davao Airport, the P14.62 billion Laguindingan Airport and the P2.34 billion New Bohol Airport.

“The expansion and upgrading of the airports via the GAA make the projects cheaper as cost of money is lower, thus, more beneficial to the public,” DOTr OIC and Undersecretary for Aviation Manuel Antonio Tamayo said.

"Through this decision, we expect project completion to be faster and more efficient. Further, this would help avoid legal issues with concessionaires that may cause regrettable delays," he added.

On Tuesday, the PPP Center announced that the DOTr has terminated the five regional airports project as a PPP venture.

In 2014, the PPP Center said it intended to bid out the bundled operation and maintenance of the airports under a single PPP project.

Among the companies that pre-qualified to make a bid for the project were:

  • Filinvest-Jatco-Sojitz Consortium (composed of Filinvest Development Corporation, Japan Airport Terminal Co. Ltd, and Sojitz Corporation)
  • GMR Infrastructure and Megawide Consortium (Megawide Construction Corporation, and GMR Infrastructure-Singapore Pte. Limited)
  • Maya Consortium (Aboitiz Equity Ventures Inc. and VINCI Airports SAS)
  • Philippine Airports Consortium (Metro Pacific Investments Corporation and Philippines Airport Management Company)
  • SMHC-IIAC Airport Consortium (San Miguel Holdings Corporation and Incheon International Airport Corporation)

Under the new terms approved by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) in November 2016, the five airports PPP was unbundled into five separate projects.

The DOTr said it has ordered a refund of the fees paid by the companies that prequalified for the bundled projects and the bidding prospectus for the unbundled projects "at the soonest possible time."  Jon Viktor Cabuenas/VDS, GMA News

 
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Partners Group to acquire SPi Global, says PLDT

Partners Group. has agreed to acquire outsourcing company SPi Global Holdings Inc., which is partly owned by Pangilinan-led PLDT Inc., for $330 million.

In an emailed statement, PLDT said the global private markets investment manager will acquire its 18.32-percent stake, held by subsidiary PLDT Global Investments Corp. (PGIC), and the remaining stake from CVC Capital Partners Asia III.

"Completion of this acquisition by Partners Group will be subject to certain closing conditions. Cash distributions to PLDT will be determined after the acquisition is completed," the company said.

SPi is one of the world's largest and most diversified BPO service providers in terms of clients, geographic presence and capabilities.

It provides domain expertise in customer interaction, healthcare and publishing markets.

PLDT sold part of its BPO businesses in 2013, which at that time was owned wholly-owned subsidiary SPi Global, to Asia Outsourcing Gamma Limited – a company controlled by CVC Capital.

PLDT reported a 26 percent drop in core net income to P5.3 billion in the first quarter of the year, as revenue fell by 8 percent to P42.779 billion.  Jon Viktor Cabuenas/VDS, GMA News

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PG&E, CA Fire Safe Councils Join Forces to Combat Wildfire Risk

San Francisco, Calif.—Even though the drought emergency is over, the damage has already been done. The drought and bark beetle infestation have killed more than 100 million trees in California, and U.S. Forest Service scientists expect elevated levels of tree mortality to continue into this year in some areas. That’s why Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) is working with local Fire Safe Councils, providing nearly $2 million in project funding to reduce the threat of wildfires.

“Nothing is more important than the safety of our customers, employees and the communities we serve. While most California counties received significant rainfall this winter, the tree mortality crisis will linger for years. And, as the Governor points out, the next drought could be around the corner. That is why we’re taking extraordinary measures to protect our electric infrastructure, and help local Fire Safe Councils dedicated to making communities more fire safe,” said Kevin Dasso, PG&E vice president of Electric Asset Management.

This year, PG&E will be funding 43 local Fire Safe Council and other 501(c)3 projects in 21 counties. Projects include fuel reduction, shaded fuel breaks, emergency access and chipping programs. This is the fourth consecutive year PG&E has funded local Fire Safe Council projects to help residents protect their homes, communities and the environment from wildfire. Many are focused on creating fuel breaks and emergency access to help CAL FIRE and local fire departments safely fight wildfires when they do occur. 

"The drought in California has been declared over, but the ongoing threat of wildfires due to hot weather and rapid brush growth from the heavy rains, is now facing many communities in the state. The California Fire Safe Council (CFSC) is a leader in encouraging statewide fire prevention programs, and values the continuing collaboration and financial support that PG&E provides to California communities to implement fire prevention programs. It allows these communities to meet their fire prevention needs to protect lives, homes and properties," said Jerry Davies, Chairman of the California Fire Safe Council.

Working to Reduce Wildfire Threat

 

PG&E is working hard to reduce the threat of wildfires. The company inspects all of its overhead electric lines each year and also inspects trees along power lines in high fire-danger areas twice a year. As a result of these inspections, PG&E removed more than 236,000 dead or dying trees last year to prevent them from contacting power lines, starting wildfires or contributing to other public safety risks. This is in addition to the 1.2 million trees that PG&E works each year.  

The company also created a dead tree wood clean-up program to help its customers. PG&E will manage the wood on property or haul away wood from dead trees felled by the company to protect power lines, at no cost to the homeowner, in qualifying counties where tree mortality is high. The wood is being sawn for use as lumber or chipped for use in biomass facilities to generate renewable energy. 

As part of its summer fire detection patrols, PG&E will fly five planes over routes in the daytime, which is when fires are most likely to spark. Last year, PG&E detected and reported more than 140 fires, supporting a quick response to fires before they spread. 

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Sun Life’s mutual funds breach P60B

The mutual fund unit of Sun Life of Canada – which is increasingly targeting millennials or young adults as investors – has breached the P60-billion mark in terms of assets under management (AUM).

This AUM level, a record high for Sun Life Asset Management Co. Inc. (SLAMCI), gives it a market share of about a quarter of the P240-billion Philippine mutual fund industry. This also makes it the second largest player in this segment of the fund management business.

Gerard Bautista, SLAMCI head for bank and alternative channels, said the AUM level as of Tuesday breaching the P60-billion mark was a new milestone for the company. The company has a base of 131,000 clients who are invested in 11 mutual funds managed and distributed by the group.

SLAMCI’s AUM level has expanded by around 20 percent from the end-2016 level of close to P50 billion.

About 30 percent of SLAMCI’s client base consisted of millennials and the number is still growing, Bautista said. Each millennial investor has an average investment of P8,000 to P10,000.

SLAMCI has tapped Sun Life group’s brand ambassador, 27-year-old actor Matteo Guidicelli, to launch a new investment campaign that explains investing in mutual funds in a language and visual presentation appealing to young people.

Mutual funds pool people’s money into funds that are managed by professionals, giving investors the benefit of diversification and expert fund management. In the case of SLAMCI, investors typically keep their investment for at least three years.

In a press briefing on Wednesday, Bautista noted that Guidicelli was invested in equity funds and was meticulous in monitoring which companies his funds were invested in.

The actor said he automatically sets aside 10 percent of his earnings to investments.

Mylene Lopa, chief marketing officer at Sun Life Financial group, said eight out of 10 millennials claim to budget carefully but four out of 10 would like to spend their money even before they get it.

Citing results of the group’s previous surveys, Lopa said one out of three millennials believes that credit card would enable him to buy what he wants.

As a positive indicator, Lopa said 80 percent of millennials believe that it’s important to invest for the future. However, she said 87 percent of them don’t own any financial investment.

Only less than 1 percent of millennials invest in shares of stocks and managed funds, Lopa said.

As such, Lopa said the Sun Life group would like to reach out to millennials. “They are the next leaders. They will be the shapers of the Philippines in the next few years. They will be raising kids in the next few years. If we start with them, we’ll start the virtuous cycle of financial literacy,” she said.

Of SLAMCI’s P60 billion AUM, almost half consisted of equity funds while money market funds accounted for 30 percent. The rest consisted of US dollar-denominated funds and other funds.

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Tax reform revenues, domestic loans to fund Duterte’s infra buildup

MANILA — Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III reiterated on Wednesday that the Duterte administration’s planned infrastructure buildup would be funded mainly by revenue gains from comprehensive tax reform as well as local borrowings to avoid falling into a “debt trap” even as it secures more loans from China.

“The government will take advantage of the excess liquidity in the domestic market by borrowing 80 percent from banks and other financial institutions here, while tapping only 20 percent of its loans from overseas lenders,” Dominguez said in a statement, referring to the administration’s borrowing program for the next six years to finance the wider budget deficit of 3 percent yearly in order to spend more on building infrastructure.

“We will invest wisely and gain from the investments we have made to pay for the country’s debts,” Dominguez added, in reaction to an opinion piece of Corr Analytics founder Anders Corr published on Forbes, which claimed that Philippine debt, including interest, could jump to $452 billion from $167 billion at present on the back of plans to borrow more from the Chinese government.

“High rates of interest that China, the most likely lender, could impose on the new debt could balloon it to over a trillion US dollars in 10 years. More likely according to my analysis, at 10-percent interest the new debt could go to $452 billion, bringing the Philippines’ debt-to-GDP [gross domestic product] ratio to 197 percent, second-to-worst in the world… Dutertenomics, fueled by expensive loans from China, will put the Philippines into virtual debt bondage if allowed to proceed,” Corr said.

But Dominguez said “the Duterte administration will exercise fiscal prudence and responsibility to ensure that its unmatched public investments in infrastructure would create a lot more jobs and business opportunities, which, in turn, would sustain the country’s growth momentum and accelerate poverty reduction.”

“The government will only resort to financing its ambitious infrastructure buildup through borrowings — and mostly from local sources — if the economy can grow to finance its debts,” Dominguez said.

According to Dominguez, “the Duterte administration is bent on having its comprehensive tax reform program (CTRP) approved in Congress so that it could help raise enough revenues to bankroll the government’s ambitious plan to modernize the country’s infrastructure backbone so the Philippines could catch up with its more vibrant Southeast Asian neighbors.”

“The first package of the CTRP would serve as the cornerstone of the funding for the government’s ‘build, build, build’ program,” according to Dominguez, referring to the measure aimed at bringing down personal income tax rates while imposing higher taxes on oil, vehicles as well as sugar-sweetened drinks.

During their presentation of Dutertenomics on the sidelines of the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing early this week, Budget Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno said that “in order to fund our projects, whether through borrowings or by paying as you go, we have to raise an additional $7 billion of taxes every year” to increase the share of revenues to GDP to 28 percent by 2022 from 16 percent in 2015.

Diokno said the Duterte administration would spend a total of P8.4 billion on infrastructure.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia said during the recent World Economic Forum on Asean in Cambodia that the administration “will raise infrastructure spending up to 7.4 percent of GDP in 2022, with the thrust of rural and regional development: to build major connectivity networks, spawn new growth centers nationwide, support production value chains reaching deep into rural areas, and better protect local communities from calamities.”

“We plan to pour in up to $170 billion for public infrastructure from 2017 to 2022, making this period ‘the golden age of infrastructure’ in the Philippines. We also plan to complement public spending with private investment through public-private partnerships or PPP currently with our robust pipeline of at least 40 major projects amounting to more than $25 billion,” added Pernia, the head of the state planning agency, National Economic and Development Authority.

“Based on our calculation, we expect this planned infrastructure spending to supplement our GDP growth by 3.4 percentage points on average annually, and create more than one million additional jobs a year over the next six years,” according to Pernia. 

 

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Gov’t must implement mining laws

Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III yesterday reiterated that as mandated under the law, the government would implement mining rules and regulations, whether critics like it or not.

Dominguez said that “those who have a beef with the country’s laws that allow mining should do themselves a favor by working on having them repealed or amended by the Congress rather than training their guns on those who believe it is part of their duty as civil servants to uphold the laws of the land.”

“If certain quarters think the law is unfair, they should work to change the law, as violation of the laws is not an option for any government official or any good citizen for that matter,” according to Dominguez, who co-chairs the interagency Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC).

Last week, Dominguez had noted that “one could be environment-friendly and business-friendly at the same time. They are not mutually exclusive inclinations (and only) the zealots think they are.”

The local mining industry took center stage under the Duterte administration following the appointment of environmentalist Regina Lopez as secretary of environment and natural resources.

In February, Lopez ordered the closure of 23 mining operations as well as the suspension of five others in 10 provinces. She later also ordered the cancellation of 75 mineral production sharing agreements entered into by the government with mining companies.

Affected firms had complained that Lopez’s orders were issued without due process, although she had claimed that the companies had been informed about the audits.

Lopez’s appointment as head of the DENR, however, was rejected by the Commission on Appointments earlier this month.

For his part, Finance Undersecretary Bayani Agabin said: “We are a government of laws, not of men. The Mining Act sets the terms and conditions under which mining should be conducted as well as the conditions for its suspension or cancellation. It is the duty of government officials to implement the law.”

Agabin added that “if [critics] think this [mining law] is unfair, then they should go to Congress to have it amended.”

Last week, Dominguez said the Duterte administration “will be firm but fair” while also ensuring good and strong governance in order to attract more investments in the extractive industries as well as assure sustainable forestry and mining.

“[The administration] is committed to bring forth strong, but not arbitrary, governance. It will abide by global best practices in ensuring sustainable development. All these become possible because of transparency in our processes,” Dominguez said.

“Never again should suspensions be meted out on the basis of unseen audits. Never again should honest industries be subjected to levies without legal basis,” according to Dominguez.

The MICC, co-chaired by the finance and environment secretaries, is currently undertaking a three-month review of Lopez’s orders on top of the review of all other mining contracts across the country as mandated under the law.

 

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