Iloilo Could be the Next Growth Area in the PH

Among the regions in the Philippines, it looks like Iloilo is the next growth area, with the British Chamber of Commerce Philippines (BCCP) targeting to bring 50 British or Filipino companies to the region next month.

According to BCCP executive chair Chris Nelson, there are expectations that the island group would grow faster than the rest of the country, thanks to strong performance in terms of agribusiness, manufacturing and information, and communications technology. Iloilo is also a consistent entry in the 10 most competitive cities by the National Competitiveness Council.

According to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), the region is expected to grow by 7.7 to 8.3 percent over the next five years. The entire country is expected to grow 7-8 percent annually until the end of the Duterte administration in 2022.

The Iloilo trade mission follows a successful mission where the chamber brought 50 businesses in Davao City. To date, two companies have already set up shop while the others are discussing plans.

This time, Nelson is targeting to exceed the number of businesses opening. He is expecting half of them to be British companies. So far, 12 have signed up.

ARMM Supports Agriculture Through Infra Projects

In an effort to support agrarian reform in Maguindanao, the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) has turned over 46 infrastructure projects worth P13.6 million to beneficiaries and communities in the region.

As part of the initiative, beneficiaries and their communities can develop agriculture-based enterprises to improve farm productivity and increase household income.

According to Dayang Carlsum Sangkula-Jumaide, DAR-ARMM secretary, communities received 24 socialized housing units, two community warehouses, and two solar dryers, which were delivered last January in the towns of Rajah Buayan and Sultan Sa Barongis.

On top of that, 16 socialized housing units, one community warehouse and one solar dryer were also turned over to beneficiaries in Mamasapano.

The projects are funded by the Kalilintad sa Kangilupa component of the Humanitarian and Development Assistance Program (HDAP) of the ARMM government. It has a total funding allocation of P100.4 million, which will be used for social infrastructures, provision of farm inputs, training and capability building, and provision of common service facilities like mobile rice mills, rice threshers and huskers, corn shellers, and more.

Duterte Promises Free Education For All

At two-day Mindanao IP leaders’ congress in Davao City, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte said before a crowd of lumad parents that the government is offering free education to all.

He said, “If you want your child to go to Ateneo or La Salle or my school, San Beda, go ahead. Whoever wants to do that, it’s free.”

Duterte added that lumad mothers can also learn new skills without having to worry about their small children. In Davao City, child minding centers can accommodate children while parents are out for work.

However, the president said that it is important for the lumad community to distance themselves from communist rebels, saying “Do not look for war, it has not given you anything at all.”

Here’s How the Government is Going to Draw More Tourists to the PH

There’s plenty to see and do in the Philippines but the number of tourists who visit each year is lower compared to its neighbors. To further increase the number of visitors, the government is implementing a “Bring Home a Friend” program where Filipinos who bring a foreigner home can win prizes like gift certificates worth P200,000, a Toyota Vios, and a P7 million condominium in Manila.

According to Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo, the initiative aims to meet the government’s goal of bringing in 7.4 million arrivals in 2018, compared to last year’s 6.6 million. By 2022, the target is 12 million tourists. In comparison, reports by the United Nations World Tourism Organization revealed that Malaysia had 26.8 million arrivals and Thailand had 32.6 million.

The government is also aiming to raise P473 billion in revenue from foreign visitors and P2.13 trillion from local tourists this 2018.

Even if the lack of infrastructure and safety concerns have become issues, Teo revealed that this has not stopped tourists from coming into the Philippines, with China, South Korea, and the US drawing in the most visitors. Some of the most popular spots are beaches like the ones in Boracay and Palawan.

Teo added that the real challenges are poor infrastructure and weak promotion. To solve this, she’s planning to build more airports and ports.

US Embassy Begins Rehab Projects in Mindanao

After a five-month battle between government forces and ISIS-inspired terrorists in Marawi, the United States Embassy has initiated an P18.5 million #ForMindanao campaign to help people in the region.

The campaign, led by Philippine alumni of US government-sponsored exchanges, will benefit 13,500 people, including out-of-school youth, students, women, and internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Mindanao.

According to the embassy, humanitarian response began hours after the outbreak of fighting. Individual exchange alumni and US exchange alumni chapters raised P2.2 million in food, hygiene kits, and clothing, which benefited 20,000 people.

US exchange alumni from universities also raised P85,000 for the #MealsforMarawi campaign, which conducted Ramadan iftars that fed more than IDPs. The US alumni chapter in Davao collaborated with the Rotary Club to deliver food, clothing, and basic medicine to nursing mothers in IDP camps.

Soon, teachers and women’s cooperative leaders who joined US government training programs can apply for 15 P100,000 grants to help schools and communities. The embassy will also launch four alumni-led projects of P1 million each.

The support of the US embassy is part of its promise to donate P1 billion for recovery and rehabilitation of Marawi through the US Agency for International Development (USAID).