Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Tourist Industry Thoughts

Along with our hopes for our projects we also support future development whether by us or others. When I first visited the Philippines in October 2004, I saw great potential for a Tourist Industry. As I contemplated the thought of a resort, restaurant, or other business I was struck by the non-availability of certain necessities for a Tourist Industry. The ones that come to mind are; Building Supplies and Hardware, Concrete and Concrete Block, Packaged Meats, Dairy Products, Resorts other that Beach Resorts, Restaurants, and many other features that would draw tourists to this area. A clear Development Plan is desperately needed right now to avoid problems faced by other areas like overcrowded, partially run down establishments, increase in crime, etc. This community should draw on the knowledge from a wide range of individuals, some may be waiting to be asked.
There are many nearby areas suitable for improvement as Tourist destinations that quickly need to be assessed and developed to spur growth and economic improvement in our community. A quick search on the internet turns up dozens of articles on Lianga and surrounding communities rich in attractions to be developed. Listed below are a few that I recently visited and a few of the possible avenues of marketing, for attracting visitors here, by using internet forums as a mode of advertising.

What better time for our community to take drastic steps in promoting and developing Tourism? Our new President has made promises that would support the goals of development of the Tourism Industry here in Lianga.

The AQUINO PROMISES TRACKER aims to monitor the promises made by President Benigno Aquino III to the Filipino nation. http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/aquino-promises

Promise 87: Promote the Philippines as a prime tourist destination
Tourism, Economy
Posted at 07/25/2010 1:27 AM | Updated as of 07/26/2010 7:00 PM
Noynoy Aquino will promote the Philippines as a prime destination that offers world-class tourist facilities and products through sustainable economic development while protecting and preserving the environment.

Promise 88: Improve infrastructure to tourism sites
Tourism, Economy
Posted at 07/25/2010 1:28 AM | Updated as of 07/26/2010 7:01 PM
We will have a complementary infrastructure system that will include the construction and repair of roads, bridges, airports and seaports to increase accessibility to our sites.

To support the Tourism Industry there are some lacking infrastructure and vital services that must be developed. Some of those are in the process now; Gas Station near Pugad, Zipline at Seahoy Beach Resort, Gas Station in St. Christine, Ice Plant in St. Christine, all coming in the future if all goes well. Yet there are some lacking possibilities that would enhance the services offered to tourists. If there are local residents’ willing to step up and provide these needed developments, now is the time to make quick acknowledgement of those steps to avoid over competition. The President supports business investments; providing a climate for loan support and foreign investors.

Promise 10: Target key industries with greatest potential for growth
Posted at 07/25/2010 12:10 AM | Updated as of 07/26/2010 10:50 AM
We will have broad based and inclusive economic growth through increased incomes by generating quality jobs and attracting more investments.

Promise 16: Lower cost of doing business in the country
Posted at 07/25/2010 12:16 AM | Updated as of 08/09/2010 2:54 PM
(UPDATE: August 9, 2010) We will increase investments to provide quality jobs for Filipinos by lowering the costs of doing business in our country.

The table below, by “The World Bank Group - The Doing Business project...” ranks this country against 183 economies and shows a disturbing pattern, this country ranked lower in 2010 than in 2009, and is near the bottom in some areas.

Ease of...
Doing Business 2010 rank
Doing Business 2009 rank
Change in rank
Doing Business

I can personally attest to the many problems faced by investors, and local entrepreneurs in doing business here.

If President Aquino is to make major advances in the economy it will take citizens working with government, investors, and financiers to achieve the greatest goal.

The President continues with several promises that would greatly benefit the whole of Mindanao including our community. We should help the President fulfill his promises while helping ourselves and our communities improve economically.

Promise 73: Jumpstart economic development in Mindanao through state enterprises partnering with private firms
Mindanao, Economy
Posted at 07/25/2010 1:13 AM | Updated as of 07/26/2010 6:46 PM
My administration will establish state enterprises that will partner with potential private investors or extend guarantees to them to spread the risks.

Promise 94: Promote use of engineering and technology towards sustainable development
economy, education
Posted at 07/25/2010 1:34 AM | Updated as of 07/26/2010 7:07 PM
An Aquino administration will partner with the private sector in building infrastructure for urban and rural agriculture and renewal energy initiatives, and in applying appropriate technologies for sustainable development.

Promise 95: Strict enforcement of existing environmental laws
Economy, Tourism
Posted at 07/25/2010 1:35 AM | Updated as of 07/26/2010 7:07 PM
Strict enforcement of existing environmental laws like the Clean Air, Water, and Solid Waste Acts, coupled with sound mechanisms to ensure compliance.

Promise 102: Intensify drive versus tax evaders
Posted at 07/29/2010 5:54 PM | Updated as of 07/29/2010 5:56 PM
Among his measures to shore up government revenues is to go after tax evaders.

Promise 24: Reintroduce technical and vocational education in public high schools
education, economy
Posted at 07/25/2010 12:24 AM | Updated as of 07/26/2010 11:20 AM
Half our high school graduates want to work upon graduation but do not have enough technical education. We need to provide an education alternative to better prepare students for the world of work.

Promise 44: Create large-scale public works programs to employ urban poor
Urban Poor, Economy
Posted at 07/25/2010 12:44 AM | Updated as of 07/26/2010 6:11 PM
We will create large-scale public works programs that can generate substantial number of jobs for poor men and women.

Promise 45: Working with LGUs in solving housing problems
Urban Poor
Posted at 07/25/2010 12:45 AM | Updated as of 07/26/2010 6:11 PM
We will work with Local Government Units for the full implementation of the provisions of the UDHA and to empower them to address the housing needs of their constituents.

Promise 67: Transparency in use of public funds of LGUs
Posted at 07/25/2010 1:07 AM | Updated as of 07/26/2010 6:43 PM
I will ensure that all fund releases to all LGUs will be transparent and its utilization fully accounted for.

Promise 70: Improve total road network in Mindanao
Mindanao, Economy
Posted at 07/25/2010 1:10 AM | Updated as of 07/26/2010 6:44 PM
During my term, I will improve Mindanao's total road network by bringing its current paved road ratio closer to the national average. This will lower transport costs and post-harvest losses.


Monday, August 30, 2010

Dealing with Problems

An attempt to Do Business in the Philippines
thoughts of an American investor

For two years now, we have tried to establish some businesses in the Municipality of Lianga, Surigao del Sur.  (See http://benjieinlianga.blogspot.com/2009/03/marks-travails.html and http://stchristine.blogspot.com/2008/07/vision-for-future.html)

Our project with Phoenix Petroleum is waiting for us to acquire the Title for the 7000 sq. mt. portion of Lot 2169. My plan has always remained on course, albeit slower than I expected. Many of the obstacles that have slowed our progress continue to slow us from providing the economic benefits to this community that we initially sought. The DENR CENRO has refused since April 3, 2008 to provide us the requested Survey Authority for Lot 2169 claiming the request was lost. A second attempt was made on July 7, 2010, where the DENR supported the false claims presented by Mr. Bienvinido V. Estrebillo, and refused to issue the Survey Authority until an arrangement could be made with the claimant.

On August 25, 2010 we held a meeting with the Interim CENRO, PENRO, and DENR Officials or employees, presenting my request for an end to the many obstacles. I provided documentation that showed the ownership trail at least back to the CAD Survey in 1989, approving Pacifico Ballares (on April 25, 1995) as survey claimant (Certified Copy DENR FORM NO. 700-2A). 

Philippine Local Government Code of 1991; “CHAPTER 4 - The Sangguniang Barangay, SECTION. 391. Powers, Duties, and Functions, The Sangguniang Barangay, as the legislative body of the Barangay, shall:, (12) Authorize the Punong Barangay to enter into contracts in behalf of the Barangay, subject to the provisions of this Code; (f) Adopt measures to prevent and control the proliferation of squatters and mendicants in the Barangay;”. During our meeting I asked whether there was ever a Survey Authority on Lot 2169 sub-dividing it for ownership by someone other than Pacifico Ballares, their response was “No”. Without a prior Survey Authority there is only one owner of that Lot, and it was the responsibility of the Barangay to protect that lot while under protest.
On May 27, 2008, the Lianga Municipal Assessor certified that: "...per office records Tax Declaration/ARP No. 99-11-001-00682 is declared in the name of PACIFICO BALLRES [sic] with an area of 2.1385 has. Located at Barangay St. Christine, Lianga, Surigao del Sur, is appearing to have no existing improvements." 

The Beginning of the Story 
A protest by the Barangay lasting for more than 12 years, with its Captain at the time, mounting the protestations prevented any development on some of the land areas of Barangay St. Christine. Barangay Resolution No. 114, Series of 2008 resulting from a Regular Session of the Sangguiniang Barangay on April 7, 2008, withdrew the 12 year protest on Lot 2169, paving the way for some much needed community development. The community had suffered years of neglect from a lack of development after a Georgia Pacific company "Lianga Bay Logging Company " (See: http://benjieinlianga.blogspot.com/2006/08/about-lianga.html) ended its operation.

In an agreement on August 13, 2008, between Barangay St. Christine Council, Pacifico Ballares (March 16, 2000 CENRO Certification as Owner), and Mark and Merejen Borders, the protest was withdrawn by the Barangay, and a waiver of rights declared by Pacifico Ballares. We would complete a Sub-Division Plan and Survey; awarding Lot 2169B - 7,385 sq. mt. by Deed of Donation to the Barangay, Lot 2169C - 7,000 sq. mt. to Pacifico Ballares, and Lot 2169A - 7,000 sq. mt. by Deed of Sale to Merejen Borders in return for our support of a future Barangay Market on Lot 2169B. In return the Barangay was tasked "shall likewise undertake to clear the area of unlawful occupants including the adjacent area where the gas station will be erected." So why are we even dealing with this issue?

Mysteriously appearing documents?
Mr. Estrebillo's documents claim a 450 sq. mt. area as Lot 2169D, it is strange that his claim is not Lot 2169B, or F, or G. It is Lot 2169D because our Survey Authority was requested in April 3, 2008 for Lot 2169A, B, & C. Some of the documents presented by Mr. Estrebillo were obviously produced here at the DENR in Lianga. I can confirm this because during one of my waits for a meeting that never took place, I witnessed one of the DENR employees prepare a similar document as presented by Mr. Estrebillo. This is really not Rocket Science folks.

A meeting scheduled for August 31, 2010 was not held because the Interim CENRO did not appear. A rescheduled meeting will be held on September 2, 2010 where I will provide the DENR one final opportunity to choose to do the right thing and award us our Survey Authority. I will post an update after the meeting. 

Results and what is lost
The DENR has held up the progress of our projects to help benefit the community. They do this to an individual, who's first act upon coming to live here with his wife in April 2007, was to donate 430,000 pesos in materials for Barangay St. Christine to improve the Water System, supplying water to much of the Barangay (Purok 3, 4, 5, and 6). This was an outright "Donation" never to be repaid and no special favors requested. In fact the only thing that was asked of the Barangay was for them to provide free water to all schools, day cares, medical facilities, churches, and government buildings. The very next project was providing 63,593 pesos for the refurbishment of the Barangay Hall. For anyone who is counting the following list might be helpful.

Barangay Liatimco
Loan for Seaweed Buying
Barangay San Isidro
Loan for Cementing Basketball Court
Barangay St. Christine
Loan to cover check from Government
Barangay San Isidro
Dance Contest Prizes
Barangay St. Christine
Loan for Fiesta Expense
Barangay Saint Christine
Dance Contest Prizes
Barangay St. Christine
Loan for DENR Payment for Land Sketch
Lianga Tennis Club
Tournament Prize and Court Improvements
Lianga Tennis Club
Bike Race Prize
Lianga Youth Basketball
Donation for Uniforms

I think our actions helping the community deserves the respect with which we hold the community. We have further plans to aid the community on other projects in the future including the Public Market, and continued work on the Water System.

The Future
Our business plans for Lot 2169A calls for the employment of 40 employees at the sawmill, 16 employees at the Gas Station, and 10 employees at the Ice Plant. Those numbers will be reached hopefully within a year of the start of each business. Our employees will earn a reasonable wage while the businesses are below the requirements for minimum wage. But as the businesses grow and our employment reaches 10 or more, then we will strictly follow the minimum wage requirements for this Region. We will also adhere to the requirements for SSS and PhilHealth.

Check the Comments where I will post updates that are time stamped as I fill in future information.