WATCH: DENR Sec. Gen. Roy Cimatu addresses foreign business leaders

IN FOCUS: General Roy Cimatu, DENR Secretary
15 June 2017, Makati Shangri-la

TALKING POINTS:
1. Joint Crediting Mechanism (JCM) between Japan & the Philippines
2. Environmental Clearances for Investors
3. Waste to Energy Projects through the aid of foreign countries
4. Water Security through DENR’s National Water Security Roadmap
5. Developments in the Philippine Mining Industry and the new fiscal regime

 

JOINT FOREIGN CHAMBER MEETING:
European Chamber of Commerce (ECCP)
Australian-New Zealand Chamber of Commerce (ANZCHAM)
American Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM)
Canadian Chamber of Commerce (CANCHAM)

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All rights reserved © Maria Paula Tolentino

From Black Sand Mining to the Great Silk Road

On May 20 2017, ten foreigners were arrested by NBI agents for extracting black sand and lahar from the mouth of Macolcol river in Zambales province. NBI Deputy Director Czar Nuqui identified them as Zhining Tang, Liao Nantu, Yichang Lin, Zhibin Xu, Jingwei Chen, Hongming Zhou, Wen Haihu, Yong Wang and Tang Peilong, all Chinese nationals; and Afrixon Hary, an Indonesian.

The NBI received information that the dredging activities lacked permits to operate from the MGB, DOLE and the Maritime Industry Authority.

The suspects were arrested as they were caught operating the dredging vessel, siphoning black sand and transporting its cargo to the mother vessel.  While the ship’s country of origin was still being determined, NBI personnel reported that the vessel’s name was “written in Chinese characters”. Seized from the operation were five vessels consisting of a dredger vessel, a tugboat, and three dumb barge.

Nuqui said lahar and black sand collected from the river were “intended for the foreign market,” as minerals such as magnetite could be extracted from these. The foreigners apparently were commissioned by local firms. The men are facing 10 years of imprisonment for violating Republic Act No. 7942 (Philippine Mining Act of 1995).

black sand mining_zambales macolcol river

Illegal black sand mining is found at the mouth of Macolcol River at San Felipe Zambales. Ten Chinese nationals and an Indonesian were arrested and are now facing 10 years of imprisonment for violating Republic Act No. 7942 otherwise known as the Philippine Mining Act of 1995.

 

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The infamous Silk Road of China was once believed to be the great artery of trade and culture that connects the West to the great kingdoms of the East. This belief is once again made possible through President Xi Jinping’s One Belt, One Road Initiative.

The “One Belt” refers to the Silk Road Economic Belt while the “One Road” refers to the 21st-century Maritime Silk Road. Jointly, they’re meant to be a revival of the ancient Silk Road trading routes. Under President Xi’s leadership, China will take those ancient trading routes and plow in billions of dollars in infrastructure mostly centered around transport and energy (roads, bridges, gas pipelines, ports, railways, and power plants) to connect various countries along the way. In essence, it will be easier to trade with China, the world and vice versa.

The project is considered as China’s masterstroke to establish itself as a world-leading economy and superpower, particularly in the South Asian region. China has already invested billions of dollars in several South Asian countries (Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan) to improve their basic infrastructure, with important implications for both China’s trade regime and military influence.

Critics claim that it facilitates Chinese economic and strategic domination of the countries along these routes. This is a strategy to push China to take a larger role in global affairs, and the desire to coordinate manufacturing capacity with other countries in areas such as steel manufacturing. This initiative will pave the way of extending Chinese influence for regional leadership in Asia (versus President Trump’s America First initiative).

On the economic front, China has been criticized for using its massive financial assets to dominate smaller economies through long-term control of infrastructure, natural resources, associated land assets, and through offering less than desirable credit terms for infrastructure loans. Further, the ‘production capacity cooperation’ involves the transfer of Chinese-owned production capacity to countries where production is cheaper that can result in China exerting some control over local markets, labor and export policies.

Where is the Philippines in all of these?

Plenty.  Now that we are in the Golden Age of Infrastructure with a slogan proposing to “Build, Build, Build”, the Duterte administration has been making loans from its neighbors particularly China to help achieve this. The Duterte administration is making sure that this relationship will reap its rewards.

The brazen and aggressive illegal black sand mining that happened in Zambales is just a speck of what the China-Philippine partnership can do to our shores. With steel manufacturing a priority in China, the Zambales case is no coincidence and will most likely happen again especially now that the pact (and fate) between these two countries are inevitably sealed.

one belt one road

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s One Belt, One Road Initiative aims to bring together the following countries, the Philippines included, to advance each other’s economy. This initiative will pave the way of extending Chinese influence for regional leadership in Asia. Photo credits to thevolatilian.com

 

 

References:
Foreigners nabbed for black sand extraction.
Foreigners charged for illegal extraction of minerals in Zambales.
What is China’s One Belt One Road.
China’s Road. 
Guide to Understanding China’s One Belt One Road Forum for its New Silk Road. 

An Economy Built on Mining – Learning from South Africa

On 11 March 2017, President Rodrigo Duterte says he is willing to let go of the P70-billion earnings the government collects from mining operations. “We can live without it. I would rather follow Gina. Maghanap-buhay na lang tayo ng iba, get the P70 billion somewhere else and preserve the environment. ‘Wag na tayong magbolahan,” he said on Saturday.

P70-billion is no small amount. This is a substantial amount of money which can be used to develop areas and communities that are beyond the reach of the government. A substantial amount of money that can be utilized by the Filipino people whose battle-cry has long been ‘inclusive growth’.

Based on the World Bank for the current 2017 fiscal year, and calculated using the World Bank Atlas method:

Low-income economies are defined as those with a GNI per capita of $1,025 or less.

Lower middle-income economies are those with a GNI per capita between $1,026 and $4,035. Fifty-two (52) countries including the Philippines are in this bracket.

Upper middle-income economies are those with a GNI per capita between $4,036 and $12,475. Fifty-six (56) countries including South Africa are in this bracket.

While High-income economies are those with a GNI per capita of $12,476 or more. Seventy-nine (79) countries such as Australia, Canada, and the United States are included in this list.

How can a country such as the Philippines move from a low-income economy to a high-income one? The best way is to take a long hard look at its neighbors.

Though jumping from a low-income economy to a high-income one may be a tall order, and the Philippines using the mining models of Australia, Canada and the US are too idealistic, it would be to the country’s best interest to redirect its gaze to a country with similar trades, businesses and the challenges that go with it. When it comes to minerals development, South Africa is the country closest to the Philippines.

The billion dollar question (no pun intended) which begs to be answered: Can an economy be built on mining?

South African Ambassador to the Philippines, His Excellency Martin Slabber shares with us his insights on what Africa was, to what it is now because of mining. A privileged discussion, this story was crafted in the hopes of giving the Philippine government a glimpse of “what our economy could be” if ethical and responsible mining practices were done in the Philippines.  

For the full story, refer to page 38 of the Philippine Resources Journal with the subject – An economy that was built on mining: How the Philippines can learn from South Africa by Maria Paula Tolentino

For more information about this story, contact its author:
MissTolentino  
Twitter – @misstolentino22  
Facebook – www.facebook.com/misstolentino22/

An Epic Fail for Pub Crawl Event

Last Saturday evening, I was invited to this event called Pub Crawl.

A friend said it was an event where a group of people would rendezvous at a particular point and then hop from one pub to the next. Thinking that we would be pub hopping to new finds around Makati City, I agreed. Who wouldn’t want to know the newest pubs in the place where I live right? Also, knowing what a decent pub was, I figured there was a little bit of English elegance to it. Boy, was I wrong.

In my line of work, I meet a lot of people. Most, if not all, are business owners and/or are high caliber professionals in the industries I am involved in. I do not exaggerate. I attend so many events and are involved with so many groups, projects and companies, networking has become second nature to me.

Part of the success of my networking experience is that in every event, or group I get involved in, there has always been common ground. It’s either we have common friends, or is connected some way to my family, or we come from the same industry, or we’ve worked on a project together in the past — friends introduce me to their friends who they think could add value to each other’s professions and businesses. People adding value to one another.

There was nothing of value from the event I attended last Saturday night. In fact, I was so embarrassed to be around the group I refused to have my picture taken. It was that bad.

The profile of the group was young, their background – unknown. Obviously, it was not the crowd for someone who talks to so many high-caliber professionals on a day to day basis. I was so angry at myself for letting my friend talk me into it, I was seriously fuming on my way home. I have never been so humiliated and embarrassed in my life.

Upon arrival at Z Hostel (why Rommel and his team would cater to events such as this is beyond me), I immediately asked for the agenda: What pubs we were going to, etc. No one could provide me with concrete information. In fact, one of the organizers said it was a secret. A surprise.

My initial thought was: A secret? A surprise? As a paying customer, wouldn’t I want to know where I was being taken to? What if this was an organized attempt to profile and eventually kidnap their customers? (I’m exaggerating but you get the drift). As I looked around the room, I found a lot of sleazily dressed women with thick layers of make-up puffing on their cigarettes and drinking cheap beer. “What you are, you attract” couldn’t have been more true at this stage. From that point on, I knew I wasn’t going to enjoy the rest of the evening.

Second, they made us wear these awful, awful, awful yellow shirts. They didn’t even buy decent name tags to go with those shirts. To cut costs, one of the organizers wrote on my Php 500 brand new shirt with a marker. They should have written “desperate” on each of the participants forehead while they were at it! Just thinking about this particular incident makes me cringe.

The event had the feel of a school field trip except there was no principal or teacher. The event was immensely juvenile. To put it subtly, it was a hook-up joint. A twist to the usual networking-masked-as-speed-dating-events you hear about.

My gut was right from the start. I should have listened to it. But the good news was that, after my walk out, I gave my shirt to our houseboy in my building. It fit him like a glove.

Bleeding Passions

I bleed every time I write.

When I say bleed, I literally mean exhausting every ounce of energy in me. Whenever I’m in the zone, I can’t be bothered ‘lest I look at the nuisance with murderous eyes. Inspiration comes in bursts, and seizing those moments are critical in the writing process.

I am done with sitting on the computer all day long and drawing blanks. It simply does not work for me. What works though are solitary walks, being with nature, exercise, reading, music. Just taking a good time out from the ‘job’ of writing.

So don’t be surprised if some writers you know are pretty sensitive when it comes to their copy. Each end product that comes out of every endeavor is, after all, a summation of their energies, all poured into a piece of paper.

With years of doing this for a living, some writers such as myself, are now more open to suggestion and criticism. Growing up means being open to improving your craft. But there will always be the problem of getting inspiration. Finding inspiration is the constant struggle for every single project I accept, not the criticism, nor the deadline.

How I wish that by simply accepting money and automatically churning content were that easy. It’s much more complicated than that: I need to know if the copy is worth my time, if the owners are worth my energy or if their business goal and passions are meshed with how to improve a particular system.

Obviously, being your text-book systems builder, I like to improve things. And this translates to how I work as well. If the copy that I churn from my fingertips help a business or a friend in improving a particular system, culture, business, etc. then I go for it with all my might. Nothing done in halves. A project/vision/team/person should be worth my energy, my ideals, my passions. Otherwise, I turn it down.

A few weeks ago I’ve been distraught. I haven’t been able to create. There were days of crying spells. I couldn’t eat and sleep. I felt like I was loosing my mind.

Then, unexpectedly, a family concern came up. The timing of it all. I’ve just successfully inked a major project with a very important client, when personal concerns such as hospitalization comes up. Two nuclear bombs on opposite ends. How lovely.

But surprisingly, during those days in the hospital, I’ve been able to write excellently given the dire situation I was in.

I wrote in the cath lab, the patient’s room, brainstormed on the nurses station while blatantly questioning the nurses’ competence, the timing of the patient’s food, the ambulance MD who hit on every single female nurse (and had the death glare of his life when he tried to get chummy with me), the billing clerks at the hospital…every angst I had during that hospital stint, I took out on the hospital staff and put in my writing. I had laser-like focus.

The hospital distraction helped me construct, compose, create. I was argumentative, fiery and passionate: the best recipe for creating, for writing.

I still have to finalize and close the current project, but the momentum has now resurfaced. Sometimes, it takes a life hurdle to shake you senseless and tell you ‘Get a grip! You got this’.

I may have bled buckets the past few weeks but every drop was well worth it.

Have you gone through the same dry-spells? How did you get your groove back on track?