Marcos pitches PH as key player in Indo-Pacific

MANILA: President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Tuesday touted the economic strengths of the Philippines as he positioned the country to become a key player in the Indo-Pacific region.

Speaking at the 6th Indo-Pacific Business Forum at the Bonifacio Global City, Taguig, Marcos cited the country’s outstanding economic record and soaring foreign investments which will make the country a major contributor to the Indo-Pacific region’s economic activity.

Marcos said the Philippine economy grew by 5.5% last year, surpassing major economies in Asia. He added that foreign direct investments (FDI) continue to flow in with four consecutive months of expansion.

The President noted that the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) partner countries play a significant role in the country’s robust economic growth, contributing substantially to the Philippines’ FDI and approved investments.

The forum, according to the President, provides a platform for the country to ‘showcase our investment opportunities, economic potential
, and ongoing development projects, solidifying our leadership role in the Indo-Pacific region.’

‘As the Philippines occupies a strategic position in the Indo-Pacific, we are leveraging our strategic geopolitical location, economic engagements, and participation in regional agreements,’ Marcos said.

‘With this region accounting for over one-third of global economic activity, this presents immense opportunities for our nation,’ he added.

Game-changing legislations

In his speech, Marcos also cited ‘game-changing’ reforms that his administration has pushed for to provide investors with a conducive business environment.

The President identified the reforms such as the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) ACT, the Ease of Doing Business Act, and the Green Lanes for Strategic Investments Executive Order.

He said the CREATE More Act ‘represents a significant leap forward’ as the Philippines expands and refines the incentives introduced under the CREATE Act, making the country even mor
e attractive for investments.

‘Through these reforms, we assure you that the Philippine government is fully committed to supporting and facilitating your business endeavors in our country. We extend our hand in partnership and stand ready to provide any assistance that you may require as you navigate the business landscape in the Philippines,’ Marcos said.

Smart, sustainable transport

Likewise, the Chief Executive emphasized the importance of a sustainable and efficient transport system to the country’s socioeconomic growth.

Marcos said he has directed the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Department of Transportation (DOTr), and the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) to develop and implement transportation projects that meet the needs of Filipinos and businesses, adding that the government is embracing new technologies in making the country’s transport systems smarter and more responsive to changing needs.

‘There is a long way to go still, but we are committed to making the Phi
lippines a leader in smart and sustainable transportation. And we believe that with the right investments and partnerships, we will achieve that goal,’ he said.

Infra projects

Marcos also invited foreign investors to participate in his administration’s “Build Better More” infrastructure program, which includes 185 high-impact projects worth PHP9.5 trillion.

“These projects contribute to our goal to be the next logistics hub in Asia,” he said.

The Chief Executive said a whole-of-nation approach, particularly private investments, is necessary to achieve this goal.

“Therefore, we invite foreign investors to participate in this endeavor through public-private partnerships, engineering, procurement, and construction contracts, and for feasibility studies, as well,” he said.

Source: Philippines News Agency

Universal social pension for seniors bill gets House final nod

MANILA: The House of Representatives on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved on the third and final reading a measure granting universal social pension to all Filipino senior citizens.

With 232 affirmative votes, the chamber passed House Bill (HB) 10423, which seeks to expand the current social pension program to include all senior citizens, not just indigents.

Under Republic Act No. 7432, indigent senior citizens are entitled to a monthly stipend of PHP1,000 to augment their daily subsistence and other medical needs.

If the bill is enacted into law, senior citizens who are not considered as indigents shall receive a monthly stipend of PHP500.

The bill also stipulates that within five years, all senior citizens will also be entitled to a universal social pension equivalent to at least PHP1,000, regardless of any other pension benefits they may receive from other pension providers.

United Senior Citizens Party-list Rep. Milagros Aquino-Magsaysay, author of the bill, said the approval is a “significant step” to
wards ensuring the health and well-being of all senior citizens.

“The passage of the Universal Social Pension Bill is not just for those who have walked before us, but for the generations whose journeys have only begun,” Aguino-Magsaysay said. “It ensures that no Filipino senior citizen today or tomorrow will ever be left behind or forgotten. It is about time that all Filipinos have a pension.”

The bill seeks the transfer of the program’s management from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to the National Commission of Senior Citizens (NCSC) within three years.

The DSWD, in consultation with the Department of Budget and Management and other stakeholders, shall be tasked with reviewing and, if necessary, adjusting the amount of social pension every two years, taking into account the diverse needs of senior citizens and relevant economic indicators.

Under the proposed law, senior citizens shall have the right to waive benefits or opt out of the universal social pension program.

g to DSWD data, there are around 4 million indigent senior citizens out of about 12 million senior citizens nationwide.

Bills enhancing benefits for seniors, PWDs

The House also unanimously approved on third reading three measures seeking to expand the benefits of senior citizens and persons with disability (PWDs).

A total of 235 lawmakers voted in favor of HB 10312, which proposes that the mandatory 20 percent discount, value-added tax exemption, and special discount on the purchase of basic necessities and prime commodities granted to senior citizens and PWDs be applied in addition to any prevailing promotional offers or discounts extended by business establishments.

It also clarifies that discounts granted to senior citizens and PWDs are deductible expenses of business establishments.

With 235 affirmative votes, the chamber also passed HB 10313, which mandates a dedicated section in the eGov PH Super App to assist senior citizens and persons with disabilities in accessing government services, includin
g healthcare, livelihood, social services, and informational resources.

Digital copies of the senior citizen identification (ID) or PWD ID shall be issued through the eGov PH Super App.

These digital copies shall be considered as a valid proof of identity of any senior citizen or person with disability for purposes of availing the rights and privileges they are entitled to under existing law.

The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) shall be responsible for the integration of database of senior citizens and PWDs, as well as the integration of business establishments in the eGov PH Super App.

HB 10314, which seeks to rationalize the benefits and privileges of senior citizens and PWDs to ensure equitable access to essential services, was also approved with 236 yes votes.

The bill introduces a 20 percent discount and value-added tax (VAT) exemption on parking fees and the use of expressways and skyways, as well as the grant of a 15 percent discount on the monthly utilization of wat
er and electricity supplied by public utilities for the first 100-kilowatt hours of electricity and 30 cubic meters of water per month.

It also provides employers a tax deduction of 25 percent of the salaries and wages paid to senior citizen and PWD employees.

Agusan del Sur Representative Alfelito Bascug said the proposals would benefit around 12 million senior citizens and 1.5 registered PWDs.

“This will afford our PWDs and senior citizens greater financial relief as they struggle to have their budget for medical and food expenses at par with inflation,” Bascug said. ‘This vital legislation will surely uphold the preferential benefits rightfully deserved of these vulnerable sectors.’

Other bills approved on final reading include House Bill 10174, which converts the Dr. Eva Macaraeg-Macapagal National Center for Geriatric Health as the National Center for Geriatric Health and Research Institute and House Bill 10188, which seeks to shield senior citizens from fraudulent acts committed through the internet
, mail, and telemarketing.

Source: Philippines News Agency

Gov’t to monitor impact of U.S. tariff hikes on some Chinese imports: finance minister

SEOUL, Finance Minister Choi Sang-mok said Tuesday the government will closely monitor the impact of Washington’s recent decision to raise tariffs on some Chinese imports.

The remark came as the United States announced last week its plans to raise tariffs on around US$18 billion worth of imports from China, focusing on strategic sectors, such as solar cells, semiconductors and electric vehicles.

“While South Korea has been posting an export growth for seven consecutive months, the uncertainties in the global economy and trade environment have been growing,” Choi said during a meeting with trade experts, referring to the latest U.S. tariff hikes.

“In response, we need to assess the impact on the South Korean economy based on previous trade dispute cases and the current trade trend between the U.S. and China, and come up with measures to prepare for various potential scenarios,” Choi added.

Experts also urged the government to implement tailored measures for different businesses, including those operating
in China and those competing with Chinese firms, as well as to monitor Beijing’s response to the new U.S. tariff policy.

South Korea will continue to communicate with local businesses to help them maintain competitiveness in the global market, Choi added.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

FM Cho discusses cooperation with Latin America with top envoys to S. Korea

SEOUL, Foreign Minister Cho Tae-yul has discussed ways to expand cooperation with Central and South American countries during a meeting with the ambassadors from the region, his office said Tuesday.

The discussion took place Monday during a tea meeting that Cho hosted for the top envoys from 17 countries, including Mexico, Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Colombia and Paraguay, the foreign ministry said in a release.

Cho said at the gathering that Central and South American regions have been “grateful friends” to Korea and showed “true friendship and solidarity,” highlighting that South Korea’s recent establishment of diplomatic relations with Cuba “completed the network” of its diplomacy with the region.

Noting that cooperation with South Korea has increased in areas like defense, aerospace and electric vehicles, Cho expressed hope to continue the partnership at all levels, including at the Group of 20 summit set for November and other upcoming events, his office said.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

Palawan students get robotics lessons

PUERTO PRINCESA: Some 50 youngsters in this city with high aptitudes for science were given the tools they need to pursue careers in robotics, thanks to the efforts of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and several technology companies.

Ranging from Grade 7 to 11, these students of the Puerto Princesa City National Science High School (PPCNSHS) began on Monday their journey to higher learning through the Invent School Program.

In an interview, Jane Favila, a PPCNSHS science teacher and program focal person, said the first day of the Invent School Program would see its participants being schooled on various research methods.

The youths will then be given hands-on experiences in using state-of-the-art equipment recently donated to the school by Vivant Corporation, a Cebu-based holding company that is heavily invested in technology.

‘What we are really trying to develop is their creative thinking and problem-solving skills. We are fortunate that we received sophisticated equipment from the priva
te sector. These are expensive equipment and we cannot afford to acquire them,’ Favila noted.

Favila pointed out the PPCNSHS faculty members also need to get acquainted with their new scientific tools and have been undergoing familiarization sessions.

Meanwhile, other tech companies such as e-Robotica and education company Felta have also contributed to advance the school’s robotics program, she added.

The Invent School Program was spearheaded by the DOST’s Technology Application and Promotion Institute-Palawan through the Provincial Science and Technology Office.

It aims to teach the process of invention in a fun way through games and workshops.

Source: Philippines News Agency

(LEAD) Seoul shares end lower ahead of Fed minutes release

SEOUL, South Korean stocks ended lower Tuesday ahead of a release of the minutes of the U.S. Federal Reserve’s latest monetary policy meeting. The local currency fell against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index shed 17.96 points, or 0.65 percent, to close at 2,724.18.

Trade volume was moderate at 547.5 million shares worth 10.02 trillion won (US$7.3 billion), with losers beating winners 585 to 290.

Individual investors purchased a net 501.7 billion won worth of local shares, while foreigners sold 165.3 billion won and institutions dumped 328.4 billion won.

Institutions purchased a net 397.5 billion won worth of local shares to push up the index, while individual investors sold a net 365.6 billion won and foreigners dumped a net 30 billion won.

Overnight, major U.S. stock indexes closed mixed, with the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite up 0.7 percent to hit a record high on chip rally and SandP 500 up 0.1 percent. The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended 0.5 percent lower.

Experts s
aid investors remained cautious waiting for the first-quarter earnings report by artificial intelligence chip giant Nvidia and the minutes of the Fed’s May meeting Wednesday (local time).

In Seoul, most big-cap shares ended in the negative territory.

Tech behemoth Samsung Electronics lost 0.63 percent to 78,400 won, while No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix gained 1 percent to 192,000 won.

Leading battery maker LG Energy Solution slid 2.02 percent to 364,500 won, and its smaller rivals Samsung SDI and POSCO Future M both plunged 2.95 percent to 411,500 won and 263,000 won, respectively.

Steel giant POSCO Holdings retreated 1.87 percent to 393,500 won, and top chemical producer LG Chem dropped 1.79 percent to 384,500 won.

Auto shares were mixed.

Top carmaker Hyundai Motor added 1 percent to 253,000 won, but its smaller affiliate Kia went down 0.44 percent to 114,400 won.

IT services company Samsung SDS jumped 4.99 percent to 166,100 won.

The local currency ended at 1,363.30 won against the greenback, down 7.4 won
from the previous session’s close.

Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed higher. The yield on three-year Treasurys lost 0.1 basis point to 3.411 percent, and the return on the benchmark five-year government bonds declined 0.3 basis point to 3.441 percent.

Source: Yonhap News Agency