20 February 2015

Sumitomo Bank officials call on President Aquino
President Benigno S. Aquino III received the officials of Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp. (SMBC) during a courtesy call at the Music Room of Malacañang Palace on Friday.

Led by its President and Chief Executive Officer Takeshi Kunibe, SMBC, Japan’s second largest bank, is set to open its first branch in the Philippines this year.

It is the first foreign bank approved by the government following the lifting of foreign ownership restrictions in the banking industry under Republic Act (RA) 10641 that amended RA 7721.

The application of SMBC and its request for liberalization of the banking sector were among the topics expected to have been discussed during the courtesy call.

The SMBC submitted its application for a Philippine banking license in December last year and is scheduled to open its first branch in Makati City this summer.

The bank will have 40 to 50 employees who will handle basic services, such as deposits, loans and foreign currency trading, as well as trade financing and cash management services.

It has also been allowed by the government to apply up to a maximum of six branches under the amended law.

The opening of SMBC in Manila is expected to draw more Japanese investors to the country.
The bank earlier cited the Philippine’s strong economic performance as the main reason that led to its decision to set up a branch in the country.

The Philippine banking system is the only county in the world which received a positive outlook from Moody’s last January 15.

Kunibe was joined by other SMBC officials, namely Shosuke Mori, Managing Director and General Manager of the Planning Department of the bank’s International Banking Unit; Yukio Asahina, Chief Representative of SMBC’s Manila Representative Office; Atsushi Fukui, Joint General Manager of SMBC Manila; and Akihiro Tada, Deputy Chief Representative of SMBC’s Manila Representative Office.

President Aquino, meanwhile, was joined by Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima and Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo. PND (jb)

Unilever Chief pays courtesy call on President Aquino
The highest official of one of the world’s largest consumer goods companies paid a courtesy call on President Benigno S. Aquino III at the Music Room of Malacañang Palace on Friday.

Unilever Chief Executive Officer Paul Polman met with the President, who was accompanied by Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo, and Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala.

This was the second time Polman paid a courtesy call on the President. The first was on March 14 last year when Polman discussed Unilever’s plan to expand its manufacturing facilities in General Trias, Cavite, which was approved by the Board of Investments (BOI) last December.

With an estimated investment of P9.45 billion, the expansion is projected to generate 900 additional jobs and will start its operations in August 2016.

Among the topics expected to be discussed during the courtesy call were the potential establishment of back office support for Unilever in the country and the sourcing of raw materials from local farmers, which was also tackled during the first meeting between Polman and the President.

Unilever plans to source all its agricultural raw materials locally. The company already purchases local tamarind, purple yam (ube), mango purée and bits, and coconut powder. As of last year, a total of 735 farmers have been linked to Unilever’s supply chain network.

Unilever is a British and Dutch multinational corporation co-headquartered in London, United Kingdom and Rotterdam, in The Netherlands.

The company began as Philippine Refining Company in the Philippines in 1927 but was renamed Unilever Philippines, Inc. in 1994. It has manufacturing facilities in Paco, Manila; Manggahan, Pasig; and General Trias, Cavite.

Its product brands sold in the country include Axe, Clear, Close Up, Cream Silk, Dove, Eskinol, Knorr, Lipton, Pond’s, Rexona, Selecta, Surf, Lady’s Choice, Pepsodent, and Vaseline.

Unilever is recognized annually as one of the country’s Top 20 taxpayers. In 2013, it generated P40 billion in revenues and paid P1.9 billion in taxes. It employed 1,800 people in 2014.

The company also supports the government’s thrust to provide human development initiatives to Filipinos through various programs, such as “Pledge Hands to Save Lives”, “SuperStores” and linking small farmers to its supply chain.

Unilever channeled an estimated US$1 million in cash and in kind to victims of Typhoon Yolanda in 2013.

Polman was joined by Unilever Philippines Chairman Rohit Jawa; Vice President for Corporate Affairs and Sustainability Ramon Gil Macapagal; and Vice President for Customer Development Carl Cruz. PND (jb)

President Aquino not bothered by calls for his resignation, Palace official says
President Benigno S. Aquino III will continue to fulfill his duties as chief executive until his term ends in June next year, despite calls for his resignation, a Palace official said on Friday.

Calls for the President’s resignation have mounted following the bloody clash in Mamasapano, Maguindanao that left 44 members of the police’s elite force dead.

In a press briefing in Malacañang, Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said the President has no intention to step down and will finish his term next year.

Valte observed that some of the groups demanding that the President resign have been making the same calls in the past few years.

However, their moves have not borne fruit because they have not gained the support of the majority of the people, she said.

Asked if she thinks the administration could overcome the current challenges, Valte said the country could move on once the truth comes out.

“The administration and the President are no stranger to issues, the national issues that confront us, and we hope that in due time, questions will be answered as well. We hope to move on and to properly find a resolution to all of these issues,” she said.

The Palace official also denied the existence of an exit plan for the President, calling the reports untrue.

“The President will step down on June 30, 2016. Any report or story of any other exit plan apart from that is fictitious,” Valte said.

As to the role of the President in the January 25 law enforcement operation to arrest two terrorist suspects, Valte said the result of the investigation being conducted by the Philippine National Police’s Board of Inquiry will bring more information to light.

“We all want justice and we all want full accountability. And part of that would be waiting for the results of the investigation to see what it will yield,” she said.

Apart from the police, the Senate, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the Commission of Human Rights and other organizations have launched separate investigations on the Mamasapano incident.

A number of lawmakers have pointed out that the incident might derail the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law, which is expected to put an end to the decades-long separatist war in Mindanao.

Backers of the Bangsamoro Basic Law want its immediate passage prior to the creation of a transition authority in preparation for an election next year to put up a Bangsamoro leadership. PND (as)