Ayala-led Prime Orion planning to develop 2 industrial parks

AYALA-LED Prime Orion Philippines, Inc. (POPI) is riding on the country’s manufacturing resurgence, as it targets to become the largest player in the real estate logistics and industrial sector.

POPI President and Chief Executive Officer Maria Rowena Victoria M. Tomeldan said in a briefing on Thursday the goal is to build a hub in key cities across the country starting with the launch of two industrial parks by the first half of next year.“Because of the economic fundamentals of the country, the manufacturing sector is enjoying growth. We want to seize the opportunity to bring them (locators) all in,” Ms. Tomeldan said.

Kicking off the expansion will be a 60-100 hectare industrial park in Cagayan de Oro near the Laguindingan airport that will make available 42 parcels of land consisting of smaller lot cuts of 7,000 square meters compared to the usual size of one hectare in Luzon.

The second industrial park will rise in central Luzon, but Ms. Tomeldan declined to disclose the specific location.

Moving forward, the intention is to keep a balanced portfolio mix of lots for sale and warehouse facilities within the estate that will generate recurring earnings for the company, she said.

Ayala Land, Inc. is set to own 64% of POPI after engaging in a P3-billion share-swap deal that transferred the former’s 75% stake in Laguna Technopark, Inc. (LTI) into the listed firm. The property giant is keen on further raising its stake in POPI “if there is an opportunity,” Ms. Tomeldan said.

The infusion of LTI into POPI, owner of the Tutuban Center in Manila, set the stage for the latter’s venture into the real estate logistics and industrial estate business. LTI, which posted revenues of P1 billion and a net income of P300 million in 2016, manages the 460-hectare Laguna Technopark in Santa Rosa and Biñan, and 135-hectare Cavite Technopark in the municipality of Naic.

As part of its transformation, POPI maximized the value of its 14-hectare Lepanto property in Calamba, Laguna by shifting subsidiary Lepanto Ceramics’ focus from tile manufacturing to real estate warehouse operations.

The company upgraded the common areas of the Lepanto Industrial Complex, initiated rehabilitation program, and converted formerly non-leasable areas into leasable spaces.

The retail business also continued to undergo a massive metamorphosis. POPI turned the Tutuban railway station building into a model for adaptive reuse of a built heritage site. Major facility upgrades, the re-zoning of the mall, and the introduction of unique retail and wholesale concepts allowed the company to improve profit margins for the year.

So far, POPI has spent P500 million to renovate the Tutuban commercial complex, with a gross leasable area of 53,000 square meters.

POPI generated earnings of P18.6 million last year, a turnaround from the net loss of P414.9 million which included provision for probable losses of P235 million.

Consolidated revenues fell 27% to P630.2 million from P860.1 million, as it winds down its non-core issuance business. The decline was tempered by higher rental revenues from Tutuban Center and Lepanto warehouse.

Shares in POPI fell eight centavos or 2.45% to end at P3.19 each on Thursday.

Filinvest unit, DENR to pursue Misamis carbon sink program

MANILA, Philippines — Gotianun-led FDC Utilities Inc. (FDCUI) has partnered with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to pursue its carbon sink program in Misamis Oriental.

In a statement, FDCUI said its wholly-owned subsidiary FDC Misamis Power Corp. signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with DENR-Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) in Region 10 and Barangay Sambulawan to establish a man-made forest in Misamis Oriental.FDC Misamis also envisions to make the area not just a carbon sink forest per se but as a potential watershed or natural park that can be a source of clean potable water.

“The primary purpose of the project is to help sequester carbon emission to maintain the air quality in the province.

“This is more than just for compliance purposes,” FDCUI president and CEO Juan Eugenio Roxas said.

He was referring to one of the conditions stipulated in the Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) granted by DENR-EMB to FDC Misamis for operating a 3×135-MW circulating fluidized bed thermal coal power plant in Villanueva town.

The first phase of the program involves a 20-hectare land area in Bgy. Sambulawan, El Salvador City.

DENR-EMB Region 10 director Sabdullah Abubacar said the program is crucial as it is seen to industrialize the country and address global warming.

“FDC Misamis’ carbon sink program, therefore, is a manifestation of the firm’s real commitment to provide the much needed power in Mindanao, but with intent to reduce carbon footprints in the country by 70 percent,” he said.

In late 2016, FDC Misamis secured regulatory clearance to start commercially operating its 3×135-MW power plant, which was inaugurated by President Duterte in September 22, 2016 as the first power plant commissioned under his administration.

Located in the PHIVIDEC Industrial Estate in Villanueva, Misamis Oriental, the power plant is a multi-billion peso investment that uses the latest in clean coal technology: the circulating fluidized bed boiler technology.

FDC Misamis is a subsidiary of FDC Utilities. Inc. and a member of the Filinvest Development Corp., the holding company of the Gotianun-led Filinvest Group, which has interests in property development, banking and financial services, hotel and resort management, power generation and the sugar industry.

Philippines gets China grant to boost rice production

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine government on Tuesday secured a RMB27.52 million (approximately P226.93 million or $4.36 million) Chinese grant that aims to modernize the Philippines’ hybrid rice center.

In a statement released on Friday, the Department of Finance said the agreement will boost the country’s palay production.The deal will be implemented by the Department of Agriculture and will cover Phase III of the Technical Cooperation Project for the Philippines’ Agricultural Technology Center.

This aims “to contribute in boosting the rice production capacity of the Philippines towards rice sufficiency by upgrading the Philippine Sino Center for Agricultural Technology’s hybrid rice technology research and demonstration center into a Modern Hybrid Rice Breeding Station and Technology Demonstration Center,” the DOF said.

The agreement is one of the three accords with China that were signed during the recent visit of President Rodrigo Duterte to attend the annual Boao Forum for Asia in Hainan, China.

The Philippines also on Tuesday signed a loan agreement with China to help fund the construction of the Chico River Pump Irrigation Project in Northern Luzon, and a separate accord on economic and technical cooperation.

Despite Duterte’s warm relations with China, the Philippines has a long history of mistrust of it as the two countries continue to spar over the South China Sea.

DBP vows more loans for infra, environmental projects

By Daxim L. Lucas
Philippine Daily Inquirer / 03:55 PM April 13, 2018
http://business.inquirer.net/249124/dbp-vows-loans-infra-environmental-projects

The Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) has vowed to allocate more funds for loans to infrastructure and environmental projects to provide more potable water and improve waste management in far-flung areas of the country, its chief said.

The bank is prepared to provide assistance to towns and municipalities that seek to improve long-term water availability and accessibility, and to undertake projects that would reduce air and water pollution, improve solid waste management, and advance climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction, DBP president and CEO Cecilia Borromeo said in a press statement.“DBP remains committed to providing ready and accessible financing for local government units for their development projects on water availability as well as solid waste management and sanitation,” she said.

The state-owned financial institution is the eighth-largest bank in the country with more than P600 billion in assets as of end-March 2018.

The bank provides financial support to four major areas namely, infrastructure, small and medium enterprises, social services and environment.

Last year, the bank released P76.23 billion in loans for infrastructure and logistics projects as well as P57.06 billion in funding assistance for environmental projects.

The bank’s water projects are funded under its Water for Every Resident Program, while its support for environment initiatives are carried out through its Green Financing Program.

Borromeo said DBP is also ready to provide financial assistance to local governments to improve their water sanitation and sewerage systems and facilities, especially in known tourist destination areas in the country.

“We are one with government’s efforts to directly address these environmental concerns and preserve the natural ecosystem of these tourist spots,” the DBP chief said.

Duterte admin to make Clark ‘the next big metropolis’

By Ben O. de Vera
Philippine Daily Inquirer / 05:37 PM April 13, 2018
http://business.inquirer.net/249130/duterte-admin-make-clark-next-big-metropolis

CLARK FREEPORT ZONE-The Duterte administration is set to make the Clark Freeport Zone “the next big metropolis” with several flagship infrastructure projects seen bolstering economic activity in the former US military base.

“Clark will soon be the showcase of the Duterte administration’s economic strategy. We expect this area to be the growth driver for central and northern Luzon,” Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III told reporters in a press conference during the roadshow here for the Philippines’ hosting of the 51st Asian Development Bank annual meeting on May 3-6.Clark was “ideally suited to be a center for agro-industrial activities as well as home to cutting-edge technology companies and world-class sports facilities,” Dominguez said.

Also, “with the recent groundbreaking of the 40-hectare piece of land where the National Government Administrative Center will be developed, the New Clark City will house various backup government centers that will ensure continuous business operations and services in the country at the onset of a natural disaster,” Dominguez added.

As such, “Clark, in the near future, will be the next big metropolis,” Dominguez said.

The Finance chief noted that at least two soon-to-rise big-ticket infrastructure projects would benefit Clark.

The P211.43-billion Philippine National Railways North 2 project will connect Malolos, Bulacan to Clark Airport and Clark Green City.

Based on earlier documents, the Japanese government will finance the 69.5-kilometer PNR North 2, with the loan agreement expected to be signed by the fourth quarter of this year, following National Economic and Development Authority Board approval in June last year.

Another major infrastructure project in the freeport is the P12.55-billion new terminal building of the Clark International Airport, which Dominguez said, “will increase the airport’s capacity by eight million per year and will help pave the way for accelerated growth in Central Luzon and nearby areas.”

As a whole, the government plans to invest “heavily” on infrastructure in central and northern Luzon “to have major alternative growth areas,” according to Dominguez.

“In fact, three of the Duterte administration’s flagship infrastructure projects already approved by the Neda Board are in central and northern Luzon, [including] the P4.37-billion Chico River Pump Irrigation Project, under which 8,700 hectares of agricultural land will be irrigated, benefitting 4,350 farmers and serving 21 barangays in the Cagayan Valley and Kalinga,” Dominguez said.

Last Tuesday, the Philippine and Chinese governments signed the P3.135-billion loan agreement for the Chico River Pump Irrigation Project, the first flagship infrastructure project to be financed by the mainland under the Duterte administration’s “Build, Build, Build.”

The Chinese loan for the project to be implemented by the National Irrigation Administration was slapped an interest of 2 percent per annum, maturing in 20 years inclusive of a seven-year grace period.

Government eyes turning NAIA into real estate development hub

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines’ transportation chief on Friday disclosed that the government is considering closing the 70-year-old Ninoy Aquino International Airport and transforming it into a real estate development area, saying the country’s premier gateway “will not last forever.”

Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said the economic team is eyeing to turn the overstretched airport into a property development area that will be bigger than the Bonifacio Global City, the capital’s newest financial district in Taguig City, Manila.“It will be eight to nine years at most 10 years… that is the life span of NAIA. Why? Because of the congested area and because of the technology at the airport,” Tugade said during the second leg of the Philippine Economic Briefing 2018 in Clark, Pampanga.

Two consortiums have submitted their separate unsolicited proposals to upgrade Manila’s aging airport.

In February, a team of tycoons, which has a combined capitalization of more than P2.2 trillion, said they submitted a $6.7-billion offer to rehabilitate NAIA.

Listed builder Megawide Construction Corp. and its Indian partner, GMR, later announced they want to give NAIA a $3-billion makeover.

Seeing the deterioration of the Manila airport, Tugade said the government is “entertaining” proposals to build airports outside the capital, including offers to establish new and modern airports in Bulacan and Sangley Point in Cavite.

Shift in strategy to speed up infrastructure projects — Department of Transportation

CLARK FREEPORT ZONE, Philippines  — The government agencies leading massive airport, railway and road projects have vowed to hasten the completion of the crucial infrastructure buildup.

Transport Secretary Arthur Tugade said the agency is currently evaluating proposals for the establishment of international airports outside Manila as the congested Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) is nearing the end of its lifespan.He told participants of the second leg of the Philippine Economic Briefing organized by the Investor Relations Office (IRO) the proposed airports in Bulacan and Sangley in Cavite are welcome developments as NAIA “will not last forever.”

“NAIA will not last forever because it is presently situated in a place which is overly congested, and technology and airline travel have improved. My fear is that the lifespan of NAIA would just be eight or 10 years,” he said.

Tugade said the Department of Transportation would entertain unsolicited proposals for the government’s massive infrastructure build up on a “first come, first serve” basis.

“I will entertain them. First come, first serve, because if you develop runways in Bulacan and Sangley, you will have added capacity of runways,” Tugade said.

Diversified conglomerate San Miguel Corp. (SMC) has already received the green light from the National Economic and Development Authority’s Investment Coordination Council (NEDA-ICC) for its proposed P700-billion airport project in Bulacan.

SMC’s proposed 1,168-hectare airport and a 2,500 city complex, however, is still subject to the approval of the Cabinet-level NEDA Board headed by President Duterte and a Swiss challenge from other interested parties.

On the other hand, the Tieng-led ARRC has submitted a new unsolicited proposal to reclaim some 2,500 hectares of land in new Sangley point in Cavite which will be developed into a regional airport hub named Philippine Sangley International Airport.

In 2016, ARRC and Belle Corp. of retail and banking magnate Henry Sy submitted a $50 billion proposal to build an international airport and seaport project in the former US naval base in Cavite.

Tugade said the government envisions the establishment of an economic development zone in NAIA anchored on real estate development projects.

A superconsortium composed of the country’s biggest conglomerates – MVP Group, LT Group Inc., Aboitiz Equity Ventures, Filinvest Group, JG Summit Holdings, Ayala Corp., Alliance Global of taipan Andrew Tan has committed P350 billion ($6.7 billion) to rehabilitate the 70-year old NAIA.

On the other hand, Megawide Construction Corp. and its Indian partner GMR made a counter offer to spend P160 billion ($3 billion) to decongest and expand NAIA.

Tugade said NAIA is now the 10th most improved airport in the world from being the worst airport, while eight airports in the country – NAIA, Iloilo, Bacolod, Davao, Laguindingan, Kalibo, Tacloban, and Puerto Princesa received one-star rating for on-time performance.

He said the government has also installed 10 radars covering 100 percent of the Philippine airspace from only three, while the communications navigation surveillance/ air traffic management system was inaugurated last Jan. 16.

Tugade said the administration also plans to roll out 1,900 kilometers of railways by 2022.  These include PNR Bicol, PNR Clark, and the Metro Manila Subway.

Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar said the Duterte administration is undertaking the boldest and most ambitious infrastructure program in history with 5.4 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) allocated for infrastructure projects under his first year versus the 2.5 percent of GDP average under the past six administrations in 50 years.

Villar said the “Golden Age of Infrastructure” involves P8 trillion worth of  projects between 2017 and 2022.

For this year alone, Villar said the DPWH is spending P148 billion for traffic decongestion, P101.5 billion for integrated and seamless transport system, P49.8 billion for convergence and rural road development, and P165 billion for livable, sustainable and resilient communities.

Philippine banks to remain strong — BMI

By Melissa Luz T. Lopez
BusinessWorld / 12:02 AM April 13, 2018
http://bworldonline.com/philippine-banks-to-remain-strong-bmi/

PHILIPPINE BANKS are broadly expected to remain strong this year, BMI Research said, but could see a bigger share of problem loans as interest rates keep rising.

Analysts at the Fitch Group unit said the Philippine banking system will remain “stable” through 2018 backed by ample capital buffers against a robust economic backdrop, but noted that an expected pickup in interest rates may affect lending activities.“[W]e believe that the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) will likely gradually unwind its loose monetary policy stance over the coming quarters as global interest rates and domestic inflation continue to rise. This will likely weigh on loan growth to some extent, while credit stress could start to rise, and eat into the profitability of banks over the coming quarters,” BMI analysts said in a report published this week.

BMI is expecting two rate hikes from the central bank in order to contain the impact of inflation and maintain price stability, amid expectations that the pace of price increases will quicken further in the coming months.

Inflation has averaged 3.8% during the first quarter under the 2012 base year, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority. This settles close to the high end of the BSP’s 2-4% target range, with central bank officials saying that they remain watchful of price dynamics in order to arrive at a “measured” policy response.

Higher policy rates would mean that market rates will also rise, driving up loan costs for borrowers.

“This should see banks adjust their lending rates higher, leading to a slowdown in loan demand. A higher interest rate environment could in turn see credit risk increase in the medium term as it impacts borrowers’ cash flow and ability to service debt, while also weighing on the value of collateral supporting the loan,” the research firm said, noting that credit growth will also decelerate from current levels.

Higher interest rates could likewise turn more loans sour, but unlikely to reach an alarming level relative to total bank credit.

“We expect the NPL (non-performing loan) ratio to remain fairly low at under 2% in 2018 given that it is a lagging indicator. Meanwhile, the economy remains on a solid footing, which should be broadly supportive of borrowers’ credit profile, albeit rising interest rates could see a gradual deterioration in asset quality beyond the near-term,” BMI said.

The Fitch unit expects the Philippine economy to expand by 6.3% this year — still “impressive” compared to regional peers albeit slower than the 6.7% growth in 2017 and below the government’s 7-8% goal. The growth will be driven by a young workforce, a strong public infrastructure drive, and “deepening” economic ties with China, BMI said.

Data management company sees opportunities in Philippine market

By Patrizia Paola C. Marcelo
BusinessWorld / 12:03 AM April 13, 2018
http://bworldonline.com/data-management-company-sees-opportunities-in-philippine-market/

DATA management company Veritas Technologies LLC is looking to take advantage of opportunities in the Philippine market, amid the rising interest of corporations, government agencies, and organizations in information management.

Veritas Managing Director for Asia South Region Ravi Rajendran said the company is targeting small and medium businesses and government agencies, aside from their current client base that includes banks and telecommunications companies.“The reason why we see a lot of opportunity of the Philippines, I foresee an interest in information management,” Veritas Managing Director for Asia South Region Ravi Rajendran said in a media roundtable on Thursday.

Mr. Rajendran noted this is a trend not just in the Philippines but also in other Southeast Asian countries.

The company believes its multi-cloud solutions, which aims to serve heterogeneous storage and data environments of companies, is its advantage. The multi-cloud solution aims to help companies get to the cloud, from the cloud, or between various clouds.

Veritas has partnerships with cloud providers, including Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure, IBM Cloud, and Amazon Web Services.

“We can provide solutions that can run on all types of software,” Reina E. Putong, senior business development manager at Wordtext Systems, Inc., the local distributor of Veritas, said.

Ms. Putong said they see big potential in serving the government with their data needs.

Veritas’ Mr. Rajendran noted there is an increase in governments’ interest in information management in the region.

“We’re starting to tap those institutions to address their concerns because they have multi-platform environment,” Ms. Putong said.

FDI inflows seen to hit record $12 billion this year

By Lawrence Agcaoili
The Philippine Star / 12:00 AM April 14, 2018
https://www.philstar.com/business/2018/04/14/1805688/fdi-inflows-seen-hit-record-12-billion-year

CLARK FREEPORT ZONE – The inflow of foreign direct investment (FDI) may reach $12 billion this year on the back of the country’s strong macroeconomic fundamentals, according to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia told participants of the Philippine Economic Briefing organized by the Investor Relations Office that the projected FDI inflows are stronger than the record high $10.05 billion registered in 2017.“We could easily reach $12 billion this year,” Pernia said as FDI inflows amounted close to $1 billion in January.

According to central bank data, FDI inflows jumped 57 percent to $919 million in January from $587 million in the same month in 2017.

Equity placements zoomed by a dramatic 647 percent to $531 million in January from a year-ago level of $71 million, while equity outflows surged by 340 percent to $58 million from $13 million.

Capital placements were sourced largely from Singapore, China, Taiwan, Japan, and the US and were invested mainly in manufacturing; financial and insurance; real estate; electricity, gas, steam and air-conditioning supply and wholesale and retail trade activities.

According to central bank data, non-residents’ investments in debt instruments or lending by parent firms abroad to their local affiliates declined by 16.7 percent to $381 million from $458 million, while reinvestment of earnings went down by 8.4 percent to $65 million from $71 million.

The Philippines has recorded record levels of FDI inflows for two consecutive years at $10.05 billion last year and $8.28 billion in 2016.

The Philippines may post a gross domestic product (GDP) growth of between seven and eight percent this year from the average growth of 6.8 percent over the past two years.

Pernia said the Philippine economy may grow by 6.8 percent this year, overtaking China’s 6.4 percent and placing next to India’s 7.8 percent.

“In 2018, Philippine GDP growth could be the second fastest, next only to India,” he said.

China was the fastest growing economy in Asia last year with growth of 6.9 percent followed by Vietnam with 6.8 percent and the Philippines with 6.7 percent.

Pernia said the massive infrastructure program of the Duterte administration would continue to provide more opportunities such as investments, job creation, connectivity and dependable delivery of public services.

The government has committed P8.4 trillion to ramp up infrastructure spending until the end of President Duterte’s term in 2022.

To help achieve stronger economic growth and lure more investors, Pernia said the government needs to further liberalize its rules on foreign investments and accelerate infrastructure development.

He said there is also a need to expand the country’s export markets instead of the traditional markets and lift the quantitative restrictions on rice imports.

On the local front, Pernia said there is a need to ease and eliminate red tape to hasten the processing of business permits and licenses, implement the national ID system, as well as the timely execution of the national budget.

Furthermore, Pernia also cited the need to complete the passage of the comprehensive tax reform program (CTRP) that started with Republic Act 10963 or the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law.

“If we could do all these, we would sustain and accelerate our economic performance in the coming years,” Pernia said.

PAL to beef up regional hubs in Davao, Clark, Cebu

By Maya M. Padillo
BusinessWorld / 12:04 AM April 13, 2018
http://bworldonline.com/pal-to-beef-up-regional-hubs-in-davao-clark-cebu/

DAVAO CITY — Philippine Airlines, Inc. (PAL) is now putting focus on the expansion of domestic and international flights to and from major airports outside the capital, particularly Davao in Mindanao, Clark in Pampanga, and Cebu in the Visayas.

“New hubs mean new hopes for a growing economy. Philippine Airlines is no longer just a Manila-centric airline. The future of Philippine aviation lies in the new economic centers of the country, here in Mindanao, in the Visayas, and other parts in Luzon,” said Jaime J. Bautista, PAL president and chief operating officer, during a press briefing here Thursday.Mr. Bautista said the country’s flag-carrier, now a four-star rated airline, will be able to fly more routes with the delivery of new airplanes.

He said they are now increasing the Davao-Bohol flights to a daily service, and plan to increase Davao-Clark flights in the coming months.

“Last month in time for Holy Week we opened a link from Davao to Siargao, a fast-rising destination for surfers and adventure seekers. Siargao joins Tagbilaran, Zamboanga, Manila, Clark and Cebu as destinations that we now serve from Davao,” he said.

The PAL executive said they are currently working on market evaluations for international routes from Davao, including flights to and from Palau where a group of businessmen are in talks with the airline.

“(Tourism) Secretary (Wanda Corazon Tulfo) Teo also challenged us to consider international routes from Davao and we will unveil such plans in the coming months,” he said.

Also in the pipeline is the Cebu-Los Angeles service, which would come before flights between Davao and the US mainland.

To compensate for the impending six-month closure of Boracay and the temporary cancellation of flights, Mr. Bautista said they are looking at increasing flights to other tourist destinations around the country.

“We expect Visayas, Mindanao, and Palawan to benefit as we re-direct flights from China, Korea, and Taiwan to Cebu and Puerto Princesa with some traffic flowing on to Siargao, Camiguin, Coron and Butuan,” he said.

PAL is targeting to ferry up to 17 million passengers this year with its existing fleet of 85 aircraft.

Mr. Bautista said the flag carrier is aiming to have 100 aircraft and a five-star rating by 2020.

“But we are not merely adding more planes, we are constantly upgrading the cabins, seats, amenities, inflight entertainment and technology,” he said. PAL has been certified as a four-star airline by Skytrax, the London-based international air transport rating organization. This made PAL the first and only airline in the country to have a four-star rating.

LTFRB orders Arcade City to ‘cease and desist’

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines’ transport regulator has ordered ride-sharing startup Arcade City to “cease and desist” for operating as a transportation network company without coordinating with the agency.

In an advisory dated April 2, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board, or LTFRB, said it would be constrained to take legal actions against Arcade City should the company defy the order.“LTFRB is strongly warning Arcade City to cease and desist from launching its mobile application on 16 April 2018, and to stop all bookings made with this application/platform as those who are operating are considered colorum,” the regulator said.

Arcade City was first launched in Austin, Texas in 2016 after the withdrawal of Uber and Lyft. The platform allows drivers to set their own rates while riders are free to choose their own driver.

In a report by GMA News on Friday, Arcade City CEO and founder Christopher David said his company would push through with the launching of its mobile app next week despite the LTFRB’s directive.

‘Different model’

David also denied LTFRB’s claim that Arcade City is a transport network company.

“It is a different model than Uber’s, and governments are not accustomed to working with models like ours. We hope they are willing to work with this new model,” David was quoted as saying.

“Hopefully the LTFRB spends more time processing applications of transport network vehicle services and drivers, less time on making threats to companies trying to help,” he added.

Claiming to be an alternative for Uber, Arcade City last year announced that it was recruiting and activating drivers across the Philippines.

According to GMA News, more than 20,000 drivers and riders in the Philippines have signed up in the Arcade City mobile app since 2017.

The LTFRB’s cease and desist order against Arcade City came as Uber prepares to exit the country after the California-based ride-hailing company sold its Southeast Asia businesses to regional rival Grab.

But the Philippine Competition Commission had ordered Uber and Grab to delay the integration of their businesses and continue their separate operations while the antitrust agency examines the domestic implications of the merger. The pair was slapped with a similar command in Singapore.

Parañaque Integrated Terminal on track to open in second quarter — Department of Transportation

MANILA, Philippines — The Parañaque Integrated Terminal Exchange is on track to open within the quarter, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) said.

According to the DoTr, the project is already 75.01 percent complete as of March 24.“Once fully operational come second quarter of 2018, this intermodal transport hub will interconnect LRT (Light Rail Transit) Line 1, city and provincial buses, as well as UV express and PUJ (public utility jeepneys) routes – all for the benefit of approximately 200,000 passengers daily and the decongestion of traffic volume in EDSA,” the DOTr said.

Earlier, the DOTr said the project could be completed in April.

The project is being built by the consortium of Megawide Construction Corp. and WM Property Management Inc. which bagged the contract under the public-private partnership (PPP) program during the previous administration.

It involves the design, construction, as well as financing of an integrated transport hub within a site area of 4.59-hectares.

The project will also include passenger terminal buildings, arrival and departure bays, public information systems, ticketing and baggage handling facilities, and park-ride facilities.

Apart from building and handling the operations and management of the facility, the consortium can also undertake commercial development and collect revenues generated from the same.

The project will allow passengers from the Cavite side to safely and conveniently transfer facilities.

It is also expected to contribute in the reduction of vehicle volume, as well as improve major thoroughfares, particularly EDSA.

In addition to the transport hub in Parañaque, Megawide  is involved in another PPP project, the Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA) passenger terminal building.

Megawide with GMR Infrastructure Ltd. of India took over operations of the MCIA in November 2014.

The group of Megawide and GMR also won the construction contract for the Clark International Airport’s new terminal building.