Tuesday, September 02, 2003
Philippines economic and corporate news summary JDO09
ADB approves 150 mln usd loan tied to Philippine financial sector reforms
Forex - Philippine peso closes stronger vs US dollar on technical correction
Philippines' PLDT declares cash div on convertible preferred stocks
Philippines aims to boost annual auto output to 200,000-300,000 units in 3 yrs
Philippine National Oil says considering jv with Iranian Petrochemical
Philippine 3-yr T-bond coupon 10.125 pct; Treasury makes partial award
Philippine Innove takeover of Globe's wire-line, data ops effective Oct 1
Philippine Treasury to issue 6.00 bln pesos of promissory notes
Manila shares close higher on technical recovery
Philippine Aug customs collections 8.33 bln pesos, 4.50 pct lower than target
Forex - Philippine peso extends gains in cautious trade
Philippine end-July M3 up 3.30 pct yr-on-yr vs 6.20 pct rise in June
Philippines' ABS-CBN seeks creditors to settle 70 mln peso debt - report
Philippines' PNOC-EC says four firms show interest in Malampaya unit shares
Manila shares outlook - Mixed to lower on profit-taking
Philippines' Equitable PCI Bank in talks for sale of idle assets - report
Philippines' BCDA, Alliance Global sign deal for Fort Bonifacio development
Monday, September 01, 2003
Bali bomber Amrozi claims role in bombing at Philippine ambassador's residence
Philippines economic and corporate news summary JBQ07
Philippine govt has extra 24 bln pesos to settle unpaid accounts - Boncodin
Indonesian minister pleges help in Philippines manhunt for JI bomber
Forex - Philippine peso closes stronger as exporters unload dollars
Philippine peso's weakness due to 'too much politics' - Buenaventura
Philippines' Arroyo says more funds will be used to develop Clark airport
China's Wu calls for new global order based on equality
Philippine Treasury rejects all bids at T-bill auction
Philippine ICTSI says looking at port ops in Trinidad and Tobago, Puerto Rico
Manila shares close higher on technical bounce
Philippines' Digitel says NTC approves transfer of wireless permit to unit
Manila shares firmer midmorning on bargain-hunting
Filipino Fund's 15.83 mln shares sold in several blocks at 5.70 pesos each
OUTLOOK-Philippine Aug CPI seen up 3.00-3.20 pct yr/yr vs July 3.30 pct rise
STOCK ALERT - Philippines' PLDT firmer on FY earnings prospects, ADR gain
Philippines may have exceeded budget deficit ceiling for August - Boncodin
Philippine seen needing 6.00 bln usd in new loans to pay 2004 obligations
|Philippines economic and corporate news summary JDO09|
BEIJING (AFX-ASIA) - A summary of Philippine economic and corporate news at 1000 GMT:
-Aug customs collections 8.33 bln pesos, 4.50 pct lower than target
-End-July M3 up 3.30 pct yr-on-yr vs 6.20 pct rise in June
-3-yr T-bond coupon 10.125 pct; Treasury makes partial award
-Philippine Treasury to issue 6.00 bln pesos of promissory notes
-Philippines aims to boost annual auto output to 200,000-300,000 units in 3 yrs
-Philippine Innove takeover of Globe's wire-line, data ops effective Oct 1
-Philippine National Oil says considering jv with Iranian Petrochemical
-PLDT declares cash div on convertible preferred stocks
-Philippine Kuok unit to launch residential condominium project
-BCDA, Alliance Global sign deal for Fort Bonifacio development
|ADB approves 150 mln usd loan tied to Philippine financial sector reforms|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - The Asian Development Bank said it approved today a 150 mln usd program loan tied to reforms that will strengthen the Philippines' financial sector.
The Manila-based institution said its Second Non-bank Financial Governance Program for the Philippines, under which the 15-year loan has been approved, will address graft and corruption in the country's financial markets, improve transparency, strengthen investor protection, and promote the mobilization of domestic savings.
The non-bank sector comprises the Philippine Stock Exchange, investment houses, finance companies, broker-dealers, mutual funds, investment management companies, and insurance companies.
The ADB said that the program will help strengthen the institutional and policy framework, establish an effective anti-money laundering regime, boost the supervisory functions of the Securities and Exchange Commission, and promote investor protection and confidence in the PSE.
"A more transparent non-bank financial sector based on international standards will improve investor confidence and attract higher levels of investment to the Philippines," said Noy Siackhachanh, director of ADB's governance, finance, and trade division.
|Forex - Philippine peso closes stronger vs US dollar on technical correction|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - The peso closed stronger, extending gains on a technical correction and in the absence of any legitimate demand for US dollars, dealers said.
The peso closed at a day-high of 54.825 to the US dollar, its strongest finish since Aug 8, when it closed at 54.710. It hit an intraday low of 55. 000, with volume reaching 103.00 mln usd.
The local unit closed at 54.960 yesterday.
"The peso is undergoing a technical correction after slipping from 53/dollar levels in July to 55/dollar levels in August," a commercial bank dealer said.
"There is no legitimate demand for dollars at the moment, maybe because of hedging activities recently by importers and other corporates with future dollar requirements," another dealer said.
Dealers said there was some follow-through dollar selling, probably by those who had accumulated more than what they needed.
They said the central bank was not in the market today.
The first dealer sees the dollar-peso supported at 54.800, while the second dealer expects the peso to strengthen up to 54.700 in the next few sessions.
"But the political situation ahead of next year's elections will continue to plague the peso," the first dealer said.
"I'm also cautious because the import season has yet to end. We don't expect big inflows until early November."
The peso usually gets a strong boost during the Christmas season, when Filipino contract workers overseas repatriate funds for the holidays.
|Philippines' PLDT declares cash div on convertible preferred stocks|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co said it has declared cash dividends of 1.00 per share for its series B, F, Q, V, Z, E, K, 0, and U 10 pct cumulative preferred stocks.
Holders of B,F,Q,V, and Z stocks on record as of Sept 16 will be paid dividends on Sept 30, while holders of E,K,O, and U stocks on record as of Sept 25 will be paid on Oct 31.
In a disclosure to the stock exchange, PLDT said it will also pay a dividend of 1.029412 usd per share to holders of its Series III convertible preferred stock. The record date was set for Sept 25 and payment date is on Oct 15.
PLDT said it will pay a total of 12.42 mln pesos in dividends on Sept 15 to Series IV cumulative convertible preferred stock holders on record as of Sept 12.
PLDT said it set a record date of Sept 19 and payment date of Oct 15 for its dividends of 4.675 pesos per share for its Series V convertible preferred stock; 0.09925 usd for Series VI convertible preferred stock; and 10.179725 yen for Series VII convertible preferred stock.
(1 usd = 54.825 pesos)
|Philippines aims to boost annual auto output to 200,000-300,000 units in 3 yrs|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - The government is aiming to boost annual automobile output to 200,000 to 300,000 units within three years, Trade Undersecretary Gregory Domingo said.
Of the targeted figure, at least 150,000 units will go to the domestic market while the rest will be exported, he said.
Local assemblers now produce 80,000 completely-built up units annually, all for the domestic market.
The local unit of US automaker Ford has begun producing vehicles for export while the local assembler of Japan's Honda has committed to do likewise by 2005, Domingo said.
He said two more assemblers may begin producing autos for export by 2007, adding the government was readying an incentive package for the industry.
The targeted volume of 200,000-300,000 units a year is the level where the Philippines "will be able to produce economic quantities for the auto industry," he said.
The current output level is too small, Domingo said, adding that with such quantities, it would be easier to just import all vehicles.
Domingo also cited the recent passage of a law rationalizing taxes on motor vehicles which would further encourage local investment.
He noted the government had also recently banned the import of used vehicles although this was still being challenged in court.
Domingo expressed confidence foreign auto industries would decide to expand production in the Philippines, citing the presence of "good support industries" and a well-trained workforce.
|Philippine National Oil says considering jv with Iranian Petrochemical|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - The state-owned Philippine National Oil Co (PNOC) is considering a joint venture with Iranian Petrochemical Commercial Co (IPCC) on both the mid-stream and downstream petrochemical industries in the Philippines, PNOC president Thelmo Cunanan said.
"We are conducting our due diligence and IPCC is also conducting its own due diligence. We are studying how to bring Iran in joint venture with PNOC in the integrated petrochemical industry," he told reporters.
He said the parties had signed a memorandum of understanding on the partnership as early as January this year.
"We (at PNOC) are looking at product lines which are not manufactured in the Philippines so as not to compete with the existing petrochem companies' products," he added.
Cunanan said Iranian Petrochemical may also take a look at the country's first naphtha cracker project that has long been planned but could not be started for various reasons.
He said the project is likely to be delayed further, with PNOC now looking at ways to first develop the mid-stream petrochemical industry.
"It will be some sort of re-prioritizing. We decided to first look at ways to help the mid-stream players in the the petrochemical industry before putting up the naphtha cracker plan which is in the upstream," he said.
He said, however, that the local industry can survive even without the naphtha cracker facility as it can source the feedstock from other countries like South Korea, Taiwan, or from the Middle East.
PNOC has already invested about 1.00 bln usd in developing a "petrochemical park" in Bataan province, north of Manila.
|Philippine 3-yr T-bond coupon 10.125 pct; Treasury makes partial award|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - The coupon for the three-year Treasury bond was set at 10.125 pct at today's auction, the Bureau of Treasury said.
The three-year T-bonds drew tenders of 8.390 bln pesos, but the agency made a partial award of only 2.50 bln against an offering of 3.0 bln pesos after government security dealers tried to bid up the rate.
(1 usd = 54.900 pesos)
|Philippine Innove takeover of Globe's wire-line, data ops effective Oct 1|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - Innove Communications Inc's takeover of the wire-line and data businesses of Globe Telecom Inc will take effect on Oct 1, Innove chief operating officer Gil Genio said.
Innove, formerly know as Isla Communications Inc, is a wholly-owned unit of Globe and has more than 24.00 bln pesos in assets and 8.00 bln pesos in annual revenues, 2.00 bln in annual operating profit and zero debt, Genio said.
Globe has set aside capital expenditure for this year of 400.00 mln usd for its wire-line and data operations and it will be financed with Innove's operating cash flows.
"We believe the move to house Globelines (Globe's wire-line brand) and GlobeQUEST in a single company will give Innove a unique starting point as a financially strong and focused wire-line company," Genio said at a news briefing.
While he declined to provide earnings forecasts, Genio said the future still looks good for the wire-line and data businesses in the Philippines.
"We still believe that not all telecommunications needs (in the Philippines) will be served by the wireless segment," he said.
The integration of the wire-line and data operations of Globe and Islacom will benefit both their customers and the group, he said.
For customers, the benefit will mainly be in terms of fast delivery of integrated services. For Globe, it should translate to improved revenues as it becomes "customer-focused" entity.
However, while Globe Telecom will be known as a purely wireless company, the financial positions of all its businesses remain integrated, transparent and reflected in a single financial statement.
Genio said there are no plans for now to seek a separate listing for Innove.
He added that the separation of business segments should also facilitate partnerships with other business groups going forward.
(1 usd = 54.90 pesos)
|Philippine Treasury to issue 6.00 bln pesos of promissory notes|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - The Bureau of Treasury said it will issue a total of 6.00 bln pesos worth of five- and seven-year promissory notes next week, a Treasury official said.
Deputy national treasurer Mina Figueroa said the Treasury will also cancel the auction of the four-year T-bonds originally scheduled for next week to facilitate the promissory notes issue.
"There has been huge demand for promissory notes because it reduces banks' non-performing loans," Figueroa said.
Banks do not book promissory notes as part of their loan portfolios.
(1 usd = 54.900 pesos)
|Manila shares close higher on technical recovery|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - Share prices closed higher for a second straight day on sustained technical recovery, dealers said.
The composite index closed up 16.18 points or 1.35 pct at 1,218.10 on 123. 94 mln shares worth 321.40 mln pesos. It traded between 1,203.40 and 1,218.10.
Dealers said renewed interests in Philippine Long Distance Telephone and Globe Telecom supported the market's rise.
PLDT was top-traded, up 20 pesos at 565 on 149,240 shares.
Globe Telecom rose 25 pesos to 650 on 34,310 shares.
However, dealers said investors remain bearish about the local economy amid lingering security concerns and political mudslinging ahead of next year's presidential elections.
"The local bourse is going up on thin volume, partly fuelled by rallies from overseas markets," AB Capital Securities research director Jose Vistan Jr said.
He, however, said the Philippines remains to be less attractive than its regional neighbors given ongoing political mudslinging and lingering domestic security concerns.
Three Senate committees are currently investigating alleged corruption and money laundering accusations against the husband of President Gloria Arroyo.
Westlink Global Equities analyst James Lago said investors may have shifted to the Asian and European equities markets since Wall Street was closed on Monday in celebration of Labor Day.
"This rally we're having right now is very shallow. Our bias for the near-term remains bearish," Lago said.
SM Prime was up 0.10 pesos at 5.50 on 12.40 mln shares.
Ayala Land gained 0.20 at 6.00 on 4.65 mln shares, while parent Ayala Corp was unchanged at 4.25 on 2.35 mln shares.
Bank of the Philippine Islands was unchanged at 41.00 on 748,000 shares.
Meralco B, open to foreigners, was up 0.50 at 20.50 at 255,000 shares, while Meralco A was steady at 12.75 on 180,000 shares.
Meralco parent firm First Holdings was up 0.25 at 17.00 on 637,000 shares.
Benpres Holdings Corp, parent of First Holdings, was up 0.01 pesos at 0. 55 on 8.19 mln shares.
Equitable PCI Bank was up 1.00 peso at 33 on 164,300 shares. The bank has said it is in talks with foreign investors for the sale of its non-performing assets.
The all-shares index was up 4.03 points at 776.03.
The commercial-industrial index gained 22.47 to 1,787.09, while property was up 12.98 at 524.35.
Mining was unchanged at 1,184.02, while oil was steady at 1.41.
Banking and financial services gained 1.86 to 419.12.
(1 usd = 54.900 pesos)
|Philippine Aug customs collections 8.33 bln pesos, 4.50 pct lower than target|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - The Bureau of Customs said it has so far booked 8.33 bln pesos in August collections, 4.50 pct less than its 8.72-bln peso target for the month, data from the agency said.
The BoC, however, said customs collections in the January to August period were 7.90 pct or 5.18-bln peso higher than target. No actual figure was provided.
Budget Secretary Emilia Boncodin earlier said the government may have exceeded its 8.11 bln peso budget deficit ceiling for August after breaching its expenditure program for the month.
However, the budget deficit for the January-August period will still come in lower than the 127.00 bln peso target, she added.
Under the plan, government must contain expenditure at 59.57 bln pesos for the month, while revenue should reach at least 51.45 bln to meet the deficit target.
(1 usd = 54.901 pesos)
|Forex - Philippine peso extends gains in cautious trade|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - The peso extended gains in early trade on caution about bidding up the US dollar on expectations that the central bank is ready to intervene in the market if the local currency slides again, dealers said.
Some exporters have also been selling dollars in small amounts, but the overall mood is still cautious with the market closely watching developments on the political front, they added.
At 10.22 am, the peso averaged 54.914 to the dollar after trading at a 54.860-55.000 range on volume of 30.00 mln usd. It closed at 54.960 yesterday.
"More than anything else, I think this (recovery of the peso) is because the market is just cautious and expects the central bank to intervene as soon as it sees renewed pressure on the peso," a commercial bank dealer said.
"The market remains largely concerned about the political situation, particularly with regards to the corruption allegations against the president's husband."
At least three Senate committees are holding a joint hearing on the allegations.
The dealer expects the peso to have already hit its strongest for the day at 54.860.
|Philippine end-July M3 up 3.30 pct yr-on-yr vs 6.20 pct rise in June|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - The country's M3, or domestic liquidity, grew 3.30 pct year-on-year to 1.61 trln pesos as of end-July, according to data on the central bank's website.
The central bank earlier reported M3 grew 6.20 pct year-on-year to 1.65 trln pesos in June, faster than the 3.90 pct rise in May.
(1 usd = 54.916 pesos)
|Philippines' ABS-CBN seeks creditors to settle 70 mln peso debt - report|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corp has yet to find a creditor that would lend it 70 mln pesos to settle outstanding obligations with Standard Chartered Bank, the Manila Times newspaper reported, citing the company's chief financial officer Randolph Estrallado.
"So far, we are talking to a lot (of potential creditors) but none that is near completion," Estrallado was quoted to have said.
Standard Chartered is the company's only short-term creditor which did not agree to extend the repayment of its loan after it declined to be covered under an exchangeable notes facility agreement ABS-CBN executed with other creditors recently.
(1 usd = 54.960 pesos)
|Philippines' PNOC-EC says four firms show interest in Malampaya unit shares|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - At least four Asian companies have expressed interest in purchasing shares in the soon-to-be-privatized PNOC-Malampaya Production Corp, company officials said.
PNOC-Malampaya, a unit of state-run Philippine National Oil Co, owns a 10. 0 pct stake in the 4.50 bln usd Malampaya natural gas-to-power project.
PNOC officials, who attended the first leg of the firm's international road show, said companies that have signified interest in PNOC's gas unit were Pertamina of Indonesia, Thai National Oil and two other oil firms, one each from Japan and Korea.
PNOC plans to sell at least 49.0 pct of the new company to the public.
The Malampaya gas project is being undertaken by a consortium that also includes Shell Philippines Exploration BV and ChevronTexaco group.
(1 usd = 54.960 pesos)
|Manila shares outlook - Mixed to lower on profit-taking|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - Share prices will likely open mixed to slightly lower as investors are likely to want to pocket yesterday's slight gains, dealers said.
They said sentiment remains bearish in light of the continued political mudslinging and domestic security concerns ahead of the 2004 presidential elections.
The composite index closed up 9.09 points, or 0.76 pct, at 1,201.92 yesterday.
"It is still early to say if (yesterday's) technical rally will sustain. On the one hand, the market has broken back above the 1,200 resistance level and, on the other, the level of gains, as well as supporting volumes have been minimal," BPI Securities said in its daily note to investors.
It said today's trading activity will provide a better indication of whether the market is on track towards consolidation or if it will return to a downtrend.
(1 usd = 54.960 pesos)
|Philippines' Equitable PCI Bank in talks for sale of idle assets - report|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - Equitable PCI Bank is discussing with several foreign investors the sale of its non-performing assets, the BusinessWorld newspaper reported, quoting bank president Rene Buenaventura.
Buenaventura said the bank is in talks with Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs and Lehman Brothers for the sale of its foreclosed assets under the special purpose vehicle law.
The law has paved the way for banks to dispose of billions in idle assets through sales at substantial discounts. In turn, selling banks will be allowed to stagger booking losses arising from the sale as a deduction from income over a seven-year period.
Buenaventura said Equitable PCI intends to sell a third of its 13 bln peso worth of foreclosed assets.
(1 usd = 54.960 pesos)
|Philippines' BCDA, Alliance Global sign deal for Fort Bonifacio development|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - State-run Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) and Alliance Global Group Inc have signed a joint venture agreement for the joint development of a 25-hectare property at Fort Bonifacio in Taguig City.
Alliance Global gave BCDA a downpayment of 942 mln pesos, BCDA president and chief executive officer Rufo Colayco said.
The state-run firm will get a 35 pct share of revenues generated from the sale of subdivision lots, while Alliance Global will get 65 pct.
The BCDA and Alliance Global will receive 21 pct and 79 pct, respectively, from the sale and lease of residential and condominium spaces.
Earlier, Alliance Global has committed to invest 5.86 bln pesos over the next seven years in the development of the 25-hectare Fort Bonifacio property.
Its price offer consisted of an up-front cash payment of 942.24 mln pesos and a guaranteed annual revenue stream of 1.80 bln pesos over a 15-year period.
The property, called Lawton Parkway, is a few hundred meters away from the Market! Market! property project of Ayala Land Inc, which also offered to acquire the BCDA property.
Ayala Land, together with the Campos group's Greenfield Development Corp, has acquired a controlling stake in Bonifacio Land Corp, developer of Fort Bonifacio Global City.
(1 usd = 54.960 pesos)
|Bali bomber Amrozi claims role in bombing at Philippine ambassador's residence|
JAKARTA (AFX-ASIA) - Amrozi, an Indonesian who has been sentenced to death for the Bali blasts, testified in court that he was involved in the bombing of the Philippine ambassador's residence in Jakarta in 2000, Agence France-Presse reported.
The car bomb on Aug 1, 2000, killed two people and injured 21 others, including ambassador Leonides Caday. Prosecutors said the residence bombers wanted to avenge the death of fellow Muslims in the separatist conflict in the southern Philippines.
Amrozi, the first person convicted for last October's bombings in Bali, was testifying in the trial of Abdul Jabar, who could also face a death sentence if convicted under a 1951 emergency law.
Prosecutors have said Jabar conducted the bombing jointly with other suspects including Amrozi, Edi Setiono, Asep alias Darwin and Fathur Rohman al-Ghozi. Al-Ghozi escaped a Manila police cell on July 14 while serving a 12-year sentence for possessing a ton of explosives.
Amrozi testified that al-Ghozi bombed the ambassador's residence.
"Yeah, that's right. Al-Ghozi told me when we were in Surabaya that he detonated that bomb," Amrozi said. "So I'm surprised that Abdul Jabar became the accused."
Al-Ghozi, whose statement to Indonesian police was read out in court, said the plan to bomb the Philippine residence was hatched during a meeting between him, the defendant and Usman at the latter's rented house in Jakarta.
He also said in the statement that he was the one who pushed the button to trigger the explosion.
Amrozi said he purchased a van and took it from East Java to Jakarta with a man called Mubarok, who is on trial for the Bali attack. The van was loaded with 200 kilograms (440 pounds) of explosive ingredients that were mixed en route.
|Philippines economic and corporate news summary JBQ07|
BEIJING (AFX-ASIA) - A summary of Philippine economic and corporate news at 1000 GMT:
-China, Philippines sign 1 bln usd currency swap agreement
-China's Wu calls for new global order based on equality
-Philippine seen needing 6.00 bln usd in new loans to pay 2004 obligations
-Philippines may have exceeded budget deficit ceiling for August - Boncodin
-Indonesian minister pledges help in Philippines manhunt for JI bomber
-Philippine peso's weakness due to 'too much politics' - Buenaventura
-Philippine Treasury rejects all bids at T-bill auction
-US policy on NKorea key obstacle to ending nuclear crisis - China says
-Philippines' Arroyo says more funds will be used to develop Clark airport
-Digitel says NTC approves transfer of wireless permit to unit
-Philippine ICTSI says looking at port ops in Trinidad and Tobago, Puerto Rico
|Philippine govt has extra 24 bln pesos to settle unpaid accounts - Boncodin|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - The Department of Budget has generated up to 24 bln pesos in savings as of end-July, which it could use to settle the national government's accounts payable without worrying about bloating this year's expenditures, Budget Secretary Emilia Boncodin said.
"If that level (of savings is sustained), I will use part of the 24 bln pesos to pay for accounts payable mostly to construction (firms)," she said during the government's mid-year economic briefing.
After capping its budget deficit at 79.60 bln pesos in the first half to June against a ceiling of 102.20 bln, the government has decided to spend more in the second half by paying amounts owed to contractors and suppliers in an effort to boost the economy.
Boncodin said the budget department had scheduled fund releases for more accounts settlements in July and August, but did not provide figures.
She noted, however, that expenditures for August have exceeded the target by about 3.0 bln pesos.
(1 usd = 54.96 pesos)
|Indonesian minister pleges help in Philippines manhunt for JI bomber|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - Indonesia Security Minister Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono today pledged his country's help in the manhunt for convicted Indonesian Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) bomber Fathur Rohman al-Ghozi, who escaped from a jail here, Philippines National Security Adviser Roilo Golez said in a statement.
Yudhoyono called on President Gloria Arroyo here and pledged Jakarta's "assistance and cooperation in the manhunt for al-Ghozi," Golez said.
"Yudhoyono said that this will be in the form of intelligence sharing and manhunt and arrest, should al-Ghozi manage to escape to Indonesia," Golez said, stressing that both governments "believe al-Ghozi is still in the Philippines."
Al-Ghozi and two Filipino Abu Sayyaf guerrillas escaped from a police prison here on July 14.
Al-Ghozi had been serving a 17-year prison term for procuring more than a metric ton of explosives, which he subsequently confessed was to have been used in a bombing campaign in Singapore.
He also said some of the explosives were used in a wave of bombings that killed 22 people in Manila in Dec 2000.
One of the two rebels who escaped with him was subsequently shot dead on the southern island of Mindanao last month.
Golez said Arroyo also ordered him to "study the new security systems and procedures Indonesia adopted for hotels and other establishments, as a result of the Mariott Hotel bombing," which has been blamed on the JI.
The JI is waging a region-wide bombing campaign in support of a bid to set up an Islamic superstate in Southeast Asia. Security officials say it has links to the al-Qaeda network blamed for the Sept 11, 2001, attacks in the US.
|Forex - Philippine peso closes stronger as exporters unload dollars|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - The peso closed stronger as exporters unloaded dollars, dealers said.
They said at this point, the exporters do not see the possibility of the local unit hitting fresh lows for this year.
The peso closed at 54.960 to the dollar after trading between 54.950 and 55.080 on volume of 77.50 mln usd. It closed at 55.020 on Friday.
Dealers said the regional currencies' strength also encouraged some support for the peso.
"Exporters are convinced at this point that we have already seen the peso's weakest level for this year, and that is 55.600. That's why they are unloading their dollars," a commercial bank dealer said.
Early in the session, the market tested the 55.080 level, "but there was no demand (for dollars) at that level," the dealer said.
Barring any further negative developments on the political front, to which the currency market has become very sensitive, the dealer sees the dollar initially supported at the 54.700 in the coming sessions.
Friday's slip to the 55.000/dollar levels was just a knee-jerk reaction to the unexpected resignation of Defense Secretary Angelo Reyes, the dealer said.
Dealers did not see the central bank in the market today.
Central bank governor Rafael Buenaventura said "too much politics" in the country has undermined sentiment towards the peso.
But he said at a mid-year economic briefing today that the local unit "remai ns generally competitive" with the Thai baht.
On Friday he said the peso may settle at "around 54" per dollar by year-end.
|Philippine peso's weakness due to 'too much politics' - Buenaventura|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - Central bank governor Rafael Buenaventura blamed "too much politics" in the country for the peso's weakness against the US dollar.
He said, however, that the peso "remains generally competitive with the Thai baht given a 12-16 peso premium" currently.
"The peso's weakness is brought about by too much politics. If we can surmount this, the peso should go back to normal levels," Buenaventura said at a mid-year economic briefing.
At the Philippine Dealing System, the peso closed at 54.960 to the dollar after trading between 54.950 and 55.080 on volume of 77.50 mln usd. It closed at 55.020 on Friday.
Buenaventura did not cite any "normal level" for the peso. He, however, said last week the local unit may settle at "around 54" to the dollar by year-end.
In the same briefing, Finance Secretary Jose Isidro Camacho said "the political noise fostered by the failed (July 27 military) mutiny and the destabilization moves (against the government) have significantly contributed to increased nervousness among investors, dampened tourist interest, and reduced business revenues."
Analysts have cited pre-election political and security concerns as among the major reasons behind the peso's and equities market's recent slides.
|Philippines' Arroyo says more funds will be used to develop Clark airport|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - President Gloria Arroyo said the government will deploy additional funds to develop the Clark airport at Pampanga, north of here.
She said Clark Development Corp has signed an agreement with the Manila Airport Authority to develop the Clark airport into a world-class terminal and operate it.
The agreement allows the use of some of the income from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila for the development of either Clark or the Diosdado Macapagal Airport, named after Arroyo's father, a former Philippine president.
Some 100.00 mln pesos in additional funds will be used to upgrade the airport, she said.
"They will spend for infrastructure development like apron construction. They will spend for the widening of the taxiway, they will spend for the procurement of ramps, they will spend for the procurement of additional X-ray machines to handle bigger luggages," she said in a speech during a visit to Pampanga.
Arroyo said the development of Clark airport will help ease congestion at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila.
The president added that, on Sept 28, her father's birthday, South Korean carrier Aseana Airlines will start its Clark service carrying Filipino contract workers returning from the Middle East.
The Clark airport is part of an economic zone which used to be the site of a US military base. In 1992, the Senate voted not to renew the military bases treaty with the US government, forcing Washington to turn over control of Clark and Subic naval base, which has also been turned into a freeport zone, to the government.
(1 usd = 55.04 pesos)
|China's Wu calls for new global order based on equality|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - China's number two leader Wu Bangguo called for a new global political and economic order to replace what he termed an "unfair and unjust" system, Agence France-Presse reported.
At a meeting of Asian parliamentarians here, the Chinese official also sought a new international security concept "featuring mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality and cooperation."
Wu said that while pursuing the goal of a new international order, efforts should be made to protect the role of the United Nations and make it more efficient in maintaining world peace.
China is the only Asian state among five countries with veto powers at the UN Security Council. The others with veto powers are United States, Russia, Britain and France.
Wu suggested that Asia spearhead moves to establish the new international order "that is fair and equitable" and "reflects the common interests of the majority of countries and people."
"It is incumbent on us to gradually adjust and reform what is unfair and unjust in the existing order and push for democracy in international relations," said Wu, the chairman of China's parliament, National People's Congress.
In his speech, Wu said the new order should require countries to respect and consult one another and seek common goals in the economic front.
"It is an order under which all countries enjoy mutual trust and peace in the area of security and learn from one another and work for common prosperity culturally," he said.
Without referring to the US-British invasion of Iraq, which was not specifically authorized by the UN, the Chinese leader said that "in spite of the new situation, the purpose and principles of the UN Charter remain an important legal base for the maintenance of world peace."
"The use of force brings no genuine peace," he said, calling on countries to "settle disputes and conflicts peacefully through negotiations and prevent war and conflicts."
Wu gave an assurance that China would not pursue aggression despite its growing economic clout.
"In the future, no matter how the international situation may change and how strong China's economy will become, we will unswervingly pursue our foreign policy of maintaining world peace and promoting common development," he said.
He said China, spearheading efforts to resolve the nuclear crisis in the Korean peninsula stemming from Pyongyang's nuclear programme, "cannot develop without peace and stability in Asia."
He warned that Asia's peace was "under challenge," citing the threat posed by terrorism, separatism and extremism as well as infectious diseases, cross-border crimes and ecological disasters.
Wu is in Manila to launch the fourth general assembly of the Association of Asian Parliaments for Peace (AAPP), a group of 37 regional parliaments.
Wu, who is the outgoing AAPP president, has given his support in principle for a feasibility study on the group's eventual evolution into an Asian parliamentary assembly on the model of the already-established European, Latin American and African parliaments, officials said.
|Philippine Treasury rejects all bids at T-bill auction|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - The Bureau of Treasury said it rejected all bids at today's auction of T-bills as bids were substantially higher than the average rates at the previous auction.
All three tenors -- 91-day, 182-day and 364-day bills -- were undersubscribed, with tenders totalling 6.359 bln pesos against the government offer of 9.500 bln.
(1 usd = 55.04 pesos)
|Philippine ICTSI says looking at port ops in Trinidad and Tobago, Puerto Rico|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - International Container Terminal Services Inc said it is looking at port operations in Trinidad and Tobago and in Puerto Rico.
"As a developer and manager of container terminals, exploring opportunities for new projects is done as a normal course of business for ICTSI," it said in a disclosure, but did not elaborate.
ICTSI recently took control of the Gdynia container terminal in Poland, in which it intends to invest an additional 80 mln usd to boost capacity.
It said it had already made an initial investment of 41 mln usd in the Gdynia project.
ICTSI closed up 0.05 pesos at 2.70 on 2.24 mln shares.
(1 usd = 55.041 pesos)
|Manila shares close higher on technical bounce|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - Share prices closed higher on a technical rebound following last week's sharp losses, dealers said.
The composite index closed up 9.09 points or 0.76 pct at 1,201.92 on 185. 37 mln shares worth 350.37 mln pesos. It traded between 1,192.04 and 1,209.43.
Dealers said a firmer peso and a stronger Wall Street also provided incentive for investors to re-enter the market.
They, however, said the low value turnover suggests the market's rise may reverse as early as tomorrow as investor sentiment continue to be generally negative on the back of political and security concerns ahead of the 2004 elections.
Investors are seen taking profit, instead of holding on to their investments, whenever selling opportunity arises, dealers said.
"The market has entered the election window where the index is seen to drift listlessly and (be) largely affected by every political issue moving forward," DA Market Securities president Nestor Aguila said.
"Given this trend, investors are likely to take profit for every climb. Who would want to be long in a market hounded by a lot of uncertainties?"
He expects investors to pocket today's gains as early as tomorrow.
Accord Capital Equities analyst Ron Rodrigo said most brokerage houses are now recommending selling on strength, since they do not anticipate a recovery in the local bourse in the medium-term given political uncertainties and the recent weakness of the peso.
Dealers said a lower-than-expected GDP of 3.20 pct year-on-year in the second quarter had also kept investors at bay.
"It appears the Philippine economy is not structured as initially perceived by the market," Aguila said, noting the market's run-up before June this year.
Bank of the Philippine Islands was top-traded, although unchanged at 41. 00 pesos on volume of 1.25 mln shares.
Philippine Long Distance Telephone was up 10 pesos at 545 on 65,370 shares.
Metrobank was up 1.00 peso at 28 on 372,700 shares.
San Miguel B, open to foreigners, was flat at 63 on 325,000 shares, while San Miguel A was steady at 55 on 47,400 shares.
Ayala Corp was unchanged at 4.25 on 3.74 mln shares, while Ayala Land was steady at 5.80 on 2.31 mln shares.
Meralco B, open to foreigners, was steady at 20, while Meralco A was up 0. 25 pesos at 12.75.
SM Prime was steady at 5.40 on 3.30 mln shares.
The all-shares index was up 3.96 points at 772.
The commercial-industrial index gained 13.32 to 1,764.62, while property was up 0.14 at 511.37.
Mining was down 26.06 at 1,184.02, while oil was unchanged at 1.41.
Banking and financial services gained 5.65 to 417.26.
(1 usd = 55.041 pesos)
|Philippines' Digitel says NTC approves transfer of wireless permit to unit|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - Digital Telecommunications Philippines Inc (Digitel) said the National Telecommunications Commission has approved the transfer of its provisional authority to operate a cellular service to its wholly-owned unit, Digitel Mobile Philippines Inc.
It gave no other details in its disclosure to the stock exchange.
Digitel launched early this year its wireless brand, Sun Cellular.
At 11.44 am, Digitel was untraded after closing previously at 0.59 pesos.
(1 usd = 55.04 pesos)
|Manila shares firmer midmorning on bargain-hunting|
(Updating with analyst comments, share prices)
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - Share prices were firmer midmorning on a technical rebound and bargain-hunting in select stocks after last week's sharp losses, dealers said.
At 10.32 am, the composite index was up 10.68 points, or 0.90 pct, at 1, 203.51 on volume of 97.94 mln shares worth 227.77 mln pesos.
Gainers outnumbered losers 19 to 5, while 23 stocks were unchanged.
Dealers said Friday's gains on Wall Street also provided investors the incentive to buy local stocks.
Leading gainers was Philippine Long Distance Telephone Corp, which was up 10.00 pesos at 545.00 on volume of 35,300 shares. Its American Depositary Receipts in New York rose 0.20 usd in line with Wall Street's strength.
"It is not surprising to see the market recover after we saw the index easily broke the 1,200-point major support level last week. This kind of rebound was quite expected," Accord Capital Equities analyst Ron Rodrigo said.
After declining sharply of late, some issues are now ripe for accumulation, including Ayala and Lopez-led stocks which succumbed to selling pressure in previous sessions, Rodrigo said.
Dealers said the hefty turnover value mid-session suggests investors have been re-assessing their positions in the local bourse, despite uncertainties on the political front.
Citiseconline.com analyst Mark Alan Canizares said Wall Street's gains on Fr iday and today's relatively steady peso also provided some inspiration.
The peso averaged 55.02 midmorning on volume of 6.00 mln usd. It closed at 55.02 on Friday.
"Recent data in the US suggests the expected recovery of the economy there is under way. As the US is a major trading partner, the Philippines should benefit from such a development," Canizares said.
However, dealers said investor sentiment remains generally cautious on prevailing political and security concerns.
Bank of the Philippine Islands was top traded, albeit unchanged at 41.00 pesos on volume of 948,900 shares.
SM Prime rose 0.10 pesos to 5.50 on 2.78 mln shares.
Ayala Corp was up 0.05 at 4.30 on 2.09 mln shares and Ayala Land up 0.10 at 5.90 on 822,000 shares.
Metrobank rose 1.00 peso to 28.00 on 302,200 shares.
The all-shares index was up 2.60 points at 770.39.
The commercial-industrial index was up 9.00 points at 1,760.30 and the property index up 8.14 at 519.37.
Mining was unchanged at 1,210.08, while oil was steady at 1.41.
Banking and financial services rose 6.51 to 418.12.
|Filipino Fund's 15.83 mln shares sold in several blocks at 5.70 pesos each|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - Filipino Fund Inc (FFI) shares totaling 15.83 mln were sold in several blocks in midmorning trade, data from the Philippine Stock Exchange showed.
BPI Securities handled the transactions with the shares sold at 5.70 pesos each.
No other details were immediately available.
Earlier, FFI said Vicsal Development Corp had offered to buy 16.10 mln of its common shares, representing a stake 67.51 pct, at 5.70 pesos each.
At 10.18 am, Filipino Fund was up 0.40 peso, or 7.55 pct, at 5.70 pesos.
(1 usd = 55.020 pesos)
|OUTLOOK-Philippine Aug CPI seen up 3.00-3.20 pct yr/yr vs July 3.30 pct rise|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - Data for August CPI, due to be released on Friday, will likely show a rise of 3.00-3.20 pct year-on-year compared with July's 3. 30 pct increase due to a substantially weaker peso and higher oil prices, economists polled by AFX-Asia said.
Month-on-month, August prices likely rose 0.40-0.50 pct, against a 0.10 pct increase in July.
The National Economic and Development Authority has forecast Aug CPI at 3. 20 pct, while the central bank has predicted an increase of 2.80-3.10 pct.
Victor Abola of the University of Asia and the Pacific said he expects August CPI to have risen 3.00 pct, an upward adjustment from his original forecast of 2.80 pct.
"Oil prices have been on the rise recently, while the peso has weakened sharply in recent weeks. We expect these to have a substantial impact on the prices of basic goods as well as on utility rates given the currency exchange rate adjustments embedded in the pricing mechanism of utilities," Abola said.
Local oil firms raised the prices of petroleum prices at least twice last month to reflect the higher cost of crude in the world market and a weaker peso versus the US dollar.
The peso hit an all-time closing low of 55.450 to the US dollar last week as the local currency plummeted immediately after the July 27 failed military mutiny. The peso closed at 54.010 on the Friday prior to the weekend mutiny.
The first oil price adjustment involved an average 0.60 pesos per liter hike in the the price of gasoline and 0.40 per liter for diesel.
Another price hike averaging 0.40 pesos per liter came into effect in late August.
SP/MMS chief macroeconomics forecaster David Cohen projected August CPI's rise at 3.20 pct year-on-year.
Month-on-month inflation could have been up 0.40 pct, he said.
"The oil price increase would be a more striking issue given its encompassing impact on prices," Cohen said.
He added the country's political problems ahead of the 2004 presidential elections could also have "potential impact on CPI if it does persist" as the uncertainty further weighs down the peso and dampens consumption.
A group of more than 300 rebel soldiers staged a military uprising at the country's premiere business district on July 27, urging President Arroyo and her cabinet to step down for alleged corruption in the military.
Political bickering, less than a year before the elections next May, has also begun. An opposition senator, who has expressed his interest to run in the presidential race, has accused the husband of President Gloria Arroyo of corruption and alleged money laundering. Arroyo has denied the accusations.
AB Capital Securities research head Jose Vistan, who is projecting August CPI to have risen 3.20 pct year-on-year, said price controls implemented by the government immediately after the failed uprising have partially prevented prices from drastically soaring.
He projects a 0.45 pct month-on-month rise in August.
"Producers and retailers were not yet confident to raise prices since conditions were not yet that stable and consumers were not spending as much," Vistan said.
Still, he expects inflationary pressure to build up starting this month given the impact of a weaker peso and ahead of the elections, which in the Philippines is a main pump primer of the economy and consequently of prices.
By September, CPI would have risen 3.60 pct and gone to a 4.00 pct rise in October, Vistan projects.
Still, he said the government's full-year target of 4.50-5.50 pct remains on track despite upward pressure as the year ends.
(1 usd = 55.020 pesos)
|STOCK ALERT - Philippines' PLDT firmer on FY earnings prospects, ADR gain|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - Philippine Long Distance Telephone was firmer in early trade on renewed buying interest amid bullish earnings prospects for the country's largest carrier, dealers said.
It also tracked the 0.20 usd gain of its New York listed ADRs, they added.
PLDT was up 15.00 pesos or 2.80 pct at 550.00 on volume of 34,140 shares.
Dealers said that investors resumed buying PLDT shares after recent technical corrections, as the company's own forecast of a 10 bln peso net profit for the whole year now looks easily achievable.
PLDT posted a full-year net profit of 3.10 bln pesos in 2002.
In the first half of this year, the company's net profit reached 6.60 bln pesos before provisions and 1.80 bln after provisions, with earnings boosted by its wireless business.
(1 usd = 55.020 pesos)
|Philippines may have exceeded budget deficit ceiling for August - Boncodin|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - Budget Secretary Emilia Boncodin said the government may have exceeded its 8.11 bln peso budget deficit ceiling for August after breaching its expenditure program for the month.
However, the budget deficit for the January-August period will still come in lower than the 127.00 bln peso target, he added.
"Most likely, we exceeded the (expenditure) target (for the month) by more than 3.00 bln pesos as we continued to settle account payables. But, on a cumulative basis, I think the expenditure level is still on track to meeting or coming in below the target," Boncodin said.
Under the plan, government must contain expenditure at 59.570 bln pesos for the month, while revenue should reach 51.455 bln at least to meet the deficit target.
(1 usd = 55.020 pesos)
|Philippine seen needing 6.00 bln usd in new loans to pay 2004 obligations|
MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - The government will have to borrow 6.00 bln usd from overseas markets starting this year to pay its own maturing obligations and those of the state-run National Power Corp in 2004, central bank governor Rafael Buenaventura said.
"Even if the government has raised funds (from local sources), it needs to borrow in dollars just enough to cover its maturing dollar obligations. Otherwise, it would impact on the country's gross international reserves and the peso," Buenaventura said.
Buenaventura said he expects the government to ask the central bank in the fourth quarter for approval of its pre-funding requirements for 2004.
He said the government will have to borrow at least 1.00 bln usd this year to meet obligations.
To meet the 6.00 bln usd in maturing obligations next year, the government will need 3.94 bln usd and Napocor the remainder.
(1 usd = 55.020 pesos)