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US charges 2 Russian agents, 2 hackers in mass yahoo breach

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(Last Updated On: March 16, 2017)BY Eric Tucker, Associated Press

Two Russian intelligence agents and two hackers have been charged in a devastating breach at Yahoo that affected at least a half billion user accounts, the Justice Department said Wednesday in bringing the first case of its kind against Russian government officials.

The hack targeted the email accounts of Russian and U.S. officials, Russian journalists, and employees of financial services and other businesses, officials said.

“We will not allow individuals, groups, nation states or a combination of them to compromise the privacy of our citizens, the economic interests of our companies, or the security of our country,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Mary McCord.

One of the defendants, Karim Baratov, has been taken into custody in Canada. Another, Alexey Belan, is on the list of the FBI’s most wanted cyber criminals and has been indicted multiple times in the U.S. It’s not clear whether he or the other two defendants who remain at large, Dmitry Dokuchaev and Igor Sushchin, will ever step foot in an American courtroom since there’s no extradition treaty with Russia. The indictment identifies Dokuchaev and Sushchin as officers of the Russian Federal Security Service, or FSB.

But, McCord said, “I hope they will respect our criminal justice system.”

The charges arise from a compromise of Yahoo user accounts that began at least as early as 2014. Though the Justice Department has previously charged Russian hackers with cybercrime – as well as hackers sponsored by the Chinese and Iranian governments – this is the first criminal case to so directly implicate the Russian government in cybercrime.

The announcement comes as federal authorities investigate Russian interference through hacking in the 2016 presidential election. One of the defendants, Belan, was among the Russians sanctioned last year following those hacking efforts, though U.S. officials said the investigations were separate,

Yahoo didn’t disclose the 2014 breach until last September when it began notifying at least 500 million users that their email addresses, birth dates, answers to security questions and other personal information may have been stolen. Three months later, Yahoo revealed it had uncovered a separate hack in 2013 affecting about 1 billion accounts, including some that were also hit in 2014.

In a statement, Chris Madsen, Yahoo’s assistant general counsel and head of global security, thanked law enforcement agencies for their work.

“We’re committed to keeping our users and our platforms secure and will continue to engage with law enforcement to combat cybercrime,” he said.

Rich Mogull, CEO of security firm Securosis, said the indictment “shows the ties between the Russian security service and basically the criminal underground,” something that had been “discussed in security circles for years.”

Cyber criminals gave Russian officials access to specific accounts they were targeting; and in return, Russian officials helped the criminals to evade authorities and let them keep the type of information that hackers that hack for money tend to exploit such as email addresses and logins and credit card information.

Mogull said he was surprised the Department of Justice was able to name specific individuals and issue the indictment.

“We’ve come to expect that you don’t really figure out who performs these attacks,” he said. The fact that the indictment ties together the FSB and criminals is a new development, he said. “It will be very interesting to see what comes up in court, and how they tie those two together.”

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BIR rallies PDU30 supporters to support tax campaign in Davao

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(Last Updated On: March 16, 2017)Even in the land of the “Punisher,” Commissioner of Internal Revenue Caesar R. Dulay had to plead to the President’s supporters to rally behind the 2017 campaign of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to collect P1.829 trillion in taxes to fund the various programs of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte which are intended to improve the lot of Filipinos, especially the less fortunate.

The appeal was made during the 2017 Tax Campaign kickoff of BIR Revenue Region (RR) No. 19, Davao City at the Davao Convention Center.

Citing the President’s election campaign banner of “Tunay na Malasakit” and the BIR’s 2017 tax campaign theme of “Tunay na Pagbabago Para sa Bayan,” he said: “To realize true change, I humbly appeal to all you to cooperate and pay your taxes correctly to support the goals of this administration in the same way that you have supported and continue to support President Duterte as validated by his most recent high satisfaction rating. We seek the same show of support to the BIR from you.”

Drawing overflowing reception from the people of the place where he extensively practiced law, Commissioner Dulay delivered his keynote message in rather plain and simple yet effective manner.

As he is wont to do, he started by generously thanking the audience for responding to the invitation of the Bureau. He again underscored the most important presence of the taxpayers of the region.

Without fanfare, Commissioner Dulay pointed to the enormous task of the BIR to collect P1.829 trillion this 2017.

He said that about 80% of government tax revenues that support and fund the government’s expenses and delivery of public goods and services come from the BIR. Last year, the BIR collected P1.576 trillion.

He once again pointed out to the taxpayers of Mindanao, the people closest to the heart of the President, that of the assigned 2017 BIR collection goal, around P19 billion in revenue collection is expected to come from RR No. 19, Davao City and around P70 billion to P80 billion from the entire Mindanao.

He asked the taxpayers to support this tax drive to start by paying their income taxes this coming April 15, 2017, deadline for the filing of 2016 Income Tax Returns.

The President’s personal pick to head the BIR underscored the BIR’s response to the same call for change as crucial to the tax agency’s attainment of its assigned collection target. One is to promote ease of doing business by streamlining business and registration processes that will make compliance with tax obligations by the taxpayers easier.

Commissioner Dulay cited one instance where he had to ask one Revenue District Officer to immediately release the Certificate Authorizing Registration (CAR) covering the settlement of the required estate tax after he received a complaint that the said CAR was being withheld by the concerned examiner who asked for the presentation of the official receipt for the payment of the notarial fee in the execution of the deed of extra-judicial settlement.

The said receipt is not one of those required to be submitted for purposes of processing the settlement of the estate of a decedent.

To effect more changes in the BIR, the Commissioner said he welcomes proposals to amend existing revenue regulations that affect taxpayers, chambers of commerce and industry, and tax practitioners.

This is line with his open door policy to promote transparency, and to make his office be of service to taxpayers.

He urged all taxpayers to air their grievances using all available means, especially through the President’s 8888 Citizens’ Complaints Center. He asked the revenuers not to fear the complaints as they are meant to call the BIR’s attention to improve the delivery of frontlines services as long as they have done nothing contrary to law.

He echoed the earlier announcement by the region’s director to implement various priority programs to achieve the BIR’s goals as enunciated in the tax agency’s Strategic Roadmap and Collection Framework.

He again appealed to all taxpayers, “We have to meet our goal to support the operations of the government and even go higher so we can have more funds to share to our less fortunate countrymen. This way, we help and support the administration of President Duterte in his quest for ‘Tunay na Pagbabago Para sa Bayan.’ ”

Earlier, RR No. 19 – Davao City Regional Director Nuzar N. Balatero welcomed the participants that crowded the famed convention center in Mindanao. Mostly were taxpayers of the revenue region, members of different chambers of commerce and industries, professional organizations, academe, national government agencies, local government units, media, bookkeepers and tax practitioners.

Regional Director Balatero went on to disclose his region’s accomplishments and plans for the taxable year 2017.

RR No. 19 – Davao City collected P16.94 billion in 2016 as compared to its tax take in 2015 of P14.34 billion, for an increase of P2.60 billion or a growth rate of 18.15%. Of the P1.829 trillion goal of the entire BIR, about P19 billion was assigned to the region for 2017.

The unassuming regional director expressed confidence in meeting his region’s goal citing the various economic programs and activities of the region and the fact that Davao is a MICE (Meetings, Investments, Conferences, and Exhibitions) destination. He said that more economic activities being pursued by the government mean greater tax potential that can translate to greater opportunities. “We are ready to accept the challenges before us,” he quipped.

He then proceeded to discuss the BIR’s Strategic Roadmap and Collection Framework, both of which are intended to set the path to be taken by the Bureau in its drive to attain its goal. Among the programs and initiatives discussed to be undertaken by the revenue region this 2017 are the RATE Program, Oplan Kandado Program, Profiling and Benchmarking, Updating of Zonal Values, Risk-Based Audit, Broadening the tax base, and Expansion of the Compromise Settlement Program.

RR No. 19 – Davao City is composed of five (5) provinces (Compostela Valley, Davao Del Norte, Davao Oriental, Davao Del Sur, and Davao Occidental), six (6) cities, forty-three (43) municipalities, and one thousand one hundred sixty-two (1,162) barangays. In the political subdivision, the region belongs to Region XI. It has jurisdiction over five (5) Revenue District Offices (RDO), namely: RDO No. 112 – Tagum City (covers Compostela Valley, Davao Del Norte, and 3 cities); RDO No. 113A – West Davao City; RDO 113B – East Davao City; RDO 114 – Mati (covers Davao Oriental); and RDO 115 – Digos City (covers Davao Del Sur and Davao Occidental). The said RDOs are headed by Revenue District Officers Saripoden M. Bantog, Mary Ann B. Cervantes, Rodrigo L. Rivamonte, Daisy G. Franco, and Monib M. Dimakuta.

Speaking through her representative Gerardo Arangoso, Davao City Mayor Sara Z. Duterte for her part said that the kickoff program serves to commence this year’s tax drive and to present last year’s accomplishments. She further said that for the BIR to succeed, it needs the support from the citizens who pay their taxes. Taxpayers in return receive from government delivery of public goods and services. She called on everyone to comply with their tax obligations by paying their taxes (especially) this coming April 15, 2017.

Client Support Service Head Revenue Executive Assistant Beverly S. Milo explained the 2017 Tax Campaign Theme and Logo Rationale through an audio-visual presentation. She said that the BIR conducts information dissemination yearly to remind taxpayers of their obligation to RFP (Register, File, and Pay). She likewise outlined the thematic background of tax campaigns from 2014 to the present.

Department of Finance Undersecretary (USEC) for Revenue Operations Antonette C. Tionko, who is from Davao City herself, stressed that the government relies on the taxpayers’ support to achieve its goals, one of which is to reduce the poverty level from 21% to 14% at the end of President Duterte’s term.

She reiterated the government’s commitment to improve its delivery of services and to make life easier for taxpayers in complying with government requirements.

She cited as an example the BIR’s decision to do away with the required compilation certification in the filing of income tax returns since the same requirement that was imposed by the previous administration is inconsistent with the present administration’s thrust to simplify compliance.

USEC Tionko concluded her message by urging all taxpayers to comply by filing their tax returns and paying the taxes due thereon.

Capt. Ronald C. Go, President of the Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc., delivered the message of support for the taxpayers.

He looked at the election of President Duterte as the time to change and that there is a need for all to support the call for change. He vowed support for the BIR saying that the payment of taxes is for the country – a better society and a better Philippines.

A general recital of the Pledge of Commitment followed with the very important personalities, including revenue officials, affixing their signatures on the pledge panel.

Assistant Regional Director Abilia S. Bentulan delivered the closing remarks even as she thanked the very important personalities, including the taxpayers, who graced the occasion.

Among those who graced the kickoff program were Deputy Commissioner Lanee Cui-David, Assistant Commissioner Ma. Rosario Charo E. Curiba, RR No. 16 – Cagayan de Oro City Regional Director Hermeno A. Palamine, Revenue Data Center – Mindanao Head Agnes Zafe, Large Taxpayers Division – Davao Chief Avia B. Globasa, who introduced Commissioner Dulay, and Public information and Education Division Chief Reymarie T. de la Cruz, who coordinated Commissioner Dulay’s media activities. (PIA/BIR)

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Makati urges residents in danger zones to relocate

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(Last Updated On: March 16, 2017)Citing the danger of living along the West Valley Fault, the city government of Makati on Wednesday urged residents in the danger zones to relocate immediately.

Makati Mayor Abby Binay conducted a dialog with residents of Barangay Rizal to raise awareness about the West Valley Fault.

She also warned those who are living within the five-meter easement on both sides of the fault, declared as ‘danger zones’, of the risks they face if they do not relocate.

Speaking before over 345 residents and officials of Rizal, Binay urged concerned residents to relocate for their own safety as seismologists say the fault is already ripe for movement and could cause a 7.2 magnitude earthquake in Metro Manila.

The Makati Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (MDRRMO) has organized a series of dialogs for Rizal and three other barangays transected by the fault line, as part of the city’s thrust of building resilient and sustainable communities.

“We cannot predict exactly when the earthquake will happen, but it is inevitable. Earthquakes are not like typhoons, which can easily be detected through weather instruments. Thus, we must not be complacent,” she said.

Currently, there are 99 lots in Rizal tagged within the danger zone, while Comembo has eight lots, Pembo has 93, and East Rembo, 113.

Binay said that although there will be no forced eviction for residents who refuse to relocate, they would be asked to sign a waiver stating that they accept the risks, and that they expect no assistance from the city government.

She also clarified that the city government will not purchase affected lots.

“Mas importante ang buhay kaysa materyal na bagay,” said the mayor in response to concerns about investments made by residents in building their homes.

On the other hand, those who will agree to relocate will receive financial assistance from the city government.

Binay said that since most lots are usually occupied by more than one family, financial aid will be computed on a per household basis.

The mayor said the lots that will be vacated will be cleared of the structures and will be converted into linear parks.

For residents not living within the danger zone, the city government has partnered with Build Change, a non-government organization that will help them in assessment and reinforcement of their house structures.

The assembly was also attended by Second District Representative Luis Campos, Jr. and other city officials, together with representatives from the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs).

Jeffrey Perez, science research specialist of Phivolcs, advised residents to make their houses sturdy as he showed photographs of fault ruptures during the Luzon earthquake on July 16, 1990; Masbate earthquake on February 15, 2003; and the 7.2 magnitude earthquake in North Bohol on October 15, 2013.

Makati DRRMO head Richard Raymond Rodriguez said the WFV in Makati has an approximate length of almost three kilometers and transects four barangays in the city, and is expected to affect more than 400 households.

These are Comembo-0.16km; East Rembo-1.07kms; Pembo-0.82km; and Rizal-0.83km.

Last week, the dialog was held in Barangay Comembo where over 120 residents participated. The other two barangays scheduled next are Pembo on March 22 and East Rembo on March 29.

Meanwhile, the West Valley Fault Marker Installation Project, based on the Walk-the-Fault activity conducted by the city government and Phivolcs, will also be implemented soon in the four barangays.

The project aims to raise the awareness of residents and other stakeholders on the actual track of the WVF, based on the Walk-the-Fault activity jointly conducted by the Phivolcs and the city government.

The 155 identified areas for the markers and ‘mohons’ (concrete landmarks) in the four barangays are as follows: East Rembo (33 mohons and 27 markers); Comembo (three mohons and two markers); Pembo (34 mohons and 19 markers); and Rizal (20 mohons and 17 markers).

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Senate Unanimously Concurs in Accession to Paris Agreement

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(Last Updated On: March 16, 2017)The Philippine Senate on Tuesday unanimously concurred in the President’s accession to the Paris Agreement.

Twenty-two senators voted to approve the resolution seeking the Senate’s concurrence in the Paris Agreement.

Senator Loren Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Climate Change, sponsored the Committee Report on the accord.

“I wish to express my heartfelt thanks to my colleagues’ unanimous support on this historic day of the Senate’s concurrence in the accession to the Paris Agreement. I thank the President for signing the Instrument of Accession, the Cabinet Members for heeding the call for urgent climate action, and everyone who fought hard for this Agreement, including the individuals and organizations who have been fighting for climate justice and religiously taking part in the climate negotiations,” said Legarda, a UN Global Champion for Resilience.

The Senator explained the importance of the Agreement especially to a vulnerable nation like the Philippines.

“The Paris Agreement is a testament of solidarity and a call for global climate action. It shows that developing nations and the developed countries could pursue climate action and uphold climate justice together,” she said.

“This accord is a manifesto for climate justice. It also allows our country access to international climate finance mechanisms and to acquire support from developed countries for adaptation, mitigation, technology development and transfer, and capacity building,” she added.

Legarda explained that access to international funds could help finance the development and roll out of early warning systems, comprehensive risk assessment and management tools, and other capacity-building projects and programs that would make local communities more resilient to climate change.

The country’s accession to the Paris Agreement likewise strengthens its role in climate talks, which means that it can exercise governance, oversight, leadership, and decision-making in the implementation of the Agreement.

“The Paris Agreement is an embodiment of a legacy. This will go down in history as one of our shining achievements. The 17th Congress, under the Duterte Administration, can be regarded as the legislative assembly that championed climate action, environmental protection, and sustainable development,” Legarda concluded.

From the day the Paris Agreement was signed by more than a hundred countries on April 22, 2016 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York where Legarda was present, the Senator has called on the Philippines and all nations to immediately ratify the Agreement.

Legarda, principal author of the Climate Change Law and Chair of the Senate Committees on Finance and Climate Change, has been working behind the scenes in pushing for the Philippines’ ratification, explaining the Agreement to Cabinet members, including the President’s economic team, as well as to local government units, while also coordinating with various climate organizations on the way forward.

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Investors Flocking to PH for EV Industry

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(Last Updated On: January 7, 2017)
The Philippines is now the “it” country for investments in Asia. After becoming the second fastest growing economy in the world next only to economic giant China, all eyes are now on the Philippines as an investment haven.

With the unfavorable interest rate now being experienced by Japan, Rommel Juan, president of the Electric Vehicle Association of the Philippines (EVAP) said that it is more beneficial for Japanese businessmen to invest their money in business rather than to keep it in a bank.

“They have thus put the Philippines on top of their list for possible investments ahead of Thailand and Vietnam. And the electric vehicle industry is one sunrise industry they have set their eyes on,” said Juan.
He said Japanese EV companies Bemac, Prozza Hirose, and GMS have all set up shop in the Philippines.
“Taiwanese conglomerate Teco has partnered with Ropali and has set up Roteco to locally assemble electric jeepneys and tricycles,” he added.

Juan said that the Philippines now has the perfect environment for investment in the EV industry citing the following reasons, among others:

Huge domestic population

The Philippines now has a population of over 100 million people with the bulk of it at the productive working age of 22 years old. This means that there is a large consumer base that can be tapped to use the electric vehicle transport systems that will be set in place.

Inefficient Public Transport

The country probably has the most backward transport industry with inefficient public utility service anchored on buses, jeepneys and tricycles with drivers picking up and dropping off passengers anywhere they please.

And these vehicles are mostly dilapidated, antiquated smoke-belching jeepneys and tricycles with an average age of over 15 years.
Electric vehicles are the perfect alternative to replace these old vehicles as they offer an eco-friendly, quiet and comfortable ride.
And with the new EVs, Juan said we can implement the proper driver discipline and implement designated stops for these public transport vehicles.”

Huge population of Public Transport Vehicles to be Replaced
There are 370,000 registered public utility Jeepneys and 1.2 million registered tricycles. It can be assumed that there are a lot more unregistered ones (colorum).

This is a huge market in a country where it just experienced a record total auto industry sales of 310,000 units for 2015.
The EV sector can focus on the domestic market and then go for export to neighboring countries making the Philippines the EV manufacturing hub for Asia.

Government Support

The Board of Investments (BOI) is always open to assist foreign investors if they want to enter the Philippine market. Fiscal and non-fiscal incentives are now being proposed through legislation for EV players.

Many Capable Local Companies Ready for Foreign Tie Up

There are many local companies who have facilities for local EV production complete with all the government requirements.

They are EVAP members and foreign companies may just choose from any of them. Thus, foreign investors need not worry about entering the market by themselves.

Juan concluded that with all these factors in mind, the Philippines is on the perfect sweet spot for EV investments.

“EVAP will highlight the different domestic EV companies and their products in the upcoming Philippine EV Summit at the Meralco Multipurpose Hall on April 14-15, 2016. We invite all foreign players to come and have a look-see at the various opportunities available in the local EV industry. Finding a local partner would be a good way to jumpstart their entry and EVAP members would be more than willing to discuss business prospects with them,” he said.

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Statement of French President François Hollande at the Launch of the Manila Call to Action

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(Last Updated On: January 7, 2017)

 

The appeal has been launched and please allow me to thank the Senator, as well as the French actress Marion Cotillard, for reading it.

We are here together, political leaders, representatives of major NGOs, academics, cultural figures, to convince the world to mobilize the public opinion. And please allow me to thank Nicolas Hulot for taking this initiative because if we want to succeed in December, the diplomats must be at their best, of course they are. We will also lead the UN bodies to support that process, and they are ready to do so.

We will also need to have the necessary discussions with the world leaders so that commitments are made, but we will also, and before all, need the public opinion to mobilize and this is the purpose of this appeal – an appeal being launched here in Manila.

In the eyes of the world, Manila is a symbol of suffering and hope. Suffering is that which unfortunately was the suffering of the victims of typhoons, tsunamis, disasters, earthquakes – hundreds and thousands of Filipinos were displaced. The suffering is also that threatening us in the case of the rise of the sea level given the intensity and the number of storms as well. Nonetheless, there is hope here in Manila. The hope of a people which is resisting, fighting, and which is rising given the challenge in getting organized.

And this is why we wanted to do it in Manila. We wanted the appeal to be launched here.

What is its purpose? Its meaning? It is thought that in Paris, on the occasion of that climate conference, we can reach a comprehensive and binding agreement. Country by country, in order to make sure that the world will not face global warming that would lead to even worse disasters than the ones we’ve been facing.

And we needed a voice like yours, President Aquino, the voice I heard on the occasion of international summits, in the UN when you said that we could all do something, play our role, do our part. We needed other voices as well, multiple voices, those we’re hearing here. We needed the voice of France because France, of course it is both a duty and an honor, France knows when it is necessary to do so, face up to its responsibilities, as we’ve shown in other circumstances, facing other challenges.

So what is now the purpose of this appeal? It is an appeal for justice. The Manila appeal is for the world to be more firm between developed countries and fragile ones, between rich countries and poor ones, between generations as well. Those who had all their time to extract resources from the planet and who now have a duty – the duty to act so that their children, their grandchildren as well, can simply live on this planet.

Justice is also to make sure that the progress of science, the economy, the technology, everything is at the service of the protection, prevention, everything rather than the destruction of our planet. This is the reason that an alliance must be found between all the forces that are the states, as well as economic forces, that of NGOs, cultural forces, so that we can make this appeal live.

This appeal is also that of imagination, and through the Green Fund and the innovating financing, everything that we can do to mobilize resources and allocate them, put them at the service of development. The Manila appeal is an appeal for invention because climate change means that we have a duty, but it is also an opportunity because it will allow us to invent a new form of growth, a green growth.

We will be better. Better, because we have no alternative. Better for renewable energies, better at storing energy, better to organize our cities or transport, better at imagining carbon free technology, organizing our taxes, better as well at organizing competition between companies or businesses with a carbon price. And this is the purpose of the agenda of solutions that will translate our inventions.

Lastly, the appeal of Manila is for a new world because what is at stake is a new form of development, more firm, more respectful, a world where we can say to ourselves that what we are doing is useful, a world where each and every country will face up to its responsibilities depending on its capacities, a world with a new form of solidarity between wealthy and emerging countries.

Many at some point in their political approach have considered a new world, but they did not necessarily build a better world, and what we have in mind is a world where we can live that is human, and it is on this that we can agree.

As Levi Strauss was saying, the rainbow of human cultures will end up sinking in the vacuum generated by our fury. So we have to put an end to this fury and put in the sky the rainbow of human cultures. This new world, we can shape it over the next 300 days before we meet in Paris, and I’m calling upon all the heads of state and governments to do their utmost so that an agreement can be found. I’m launching an appeal for the citizens, for the youth, as well as the economic stakeholders, as well as academics, artists everyone to commit themselves, to get organized, so that we can rise to the challenge to defend this cause on which we can all agree.

There’s those who watch history happen, and those who are making it. And today, we have to write history. This is what we will be doing in Paris in 300 days.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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Petron Doubles 2015 Income Amid Weak Oil Prices

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(Last Updated On: January 6, 2017)

 Despite the slump in global oil prices, the Philippines’ leading oil refining and marketing company Petron Corporation reported a consolidated net income of P6.3 billion in 2015, more than double the previous year’s earnings of P3 billion.

According to Petron, the increase was driven by a surge in sales volumes, better refining margins, and effective risk management.

All business segments in Petron’s Philippine and Malaysian operations contributed to volume growth as combined sales volumes reached 98 million barrels in 2015, a 13 percent growth from 2014’s 86.5 million.

In its home market, Petron increased sales with strong demand coming from Reseller, Industrial, and LPG segments.

Volumes from service station sales grew by 11 percent while LPG grew another 16 percent over the period compared to 2014.

Meanwhile in Malaysia, the Company’s rebranding and upgrading program reaped dividends. Retail gasoline volumes, for instance, grew by 11 percent.

Even with robust volume growth, 2015 registered lower sales revenue of P360.2 billion, a 25 percent decrease from P482.5 billion the previous year due to a near 50 percent drop in oil prices.

Benchmark Dubai crude averaged US$51 per barrel last year from US$97 the previous year. Dubai is currently averaging around US$30 per barrel.  The Company’s performance was bolstered by proactive risk management to mitigate the impact of inventory losses and currency depreciation.

Despite weak oil prices in 2015, the differential between crude and finished products remained strong and the mix of higher value products improved, supporting refining margins.

As a result, Petron’s operating income reached P18.1 billion last year, a 138 percent increase from only P7.6 billion in 2014.

“Petron beat expectations and posted solid results last year. Low domestic prices and continued growth in the Philippine and Malaysian economies, coupled with our strategic investments, enabled us to reach record-breaking sales volumes,” Petron President Ramon S. Ang said.

 “We are right where we want to be as we continued to grow our business profitably and sustainably,” Mr. Ang added.

Petron’s sales performance in the Philippines was supported by the initial test run and commissioning of its US$2-billion refinery upgrade project in 2015.

In preparation for full operations this year, Petron’s refinery has hit a utilization rate of nearly 90 percent with an average run of nearly 160,000 barrels per day in the first two months of 2016.

The Company also continues to aggressively expand its service station network in both countries to push more profitable domestic sales.  As of end 2015, there are over 2,200 stations in the Philippines and another 570 in Malaysia.

“We are definitely on track to deliver better results this year as we reap the benefits of our expansion and upgrading projects. We are well-positioned to take advantage of business opportunities in the downstream oil industry and sustain our growth momentum,” Ang said.

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Manila call to action on climate change

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(Last Updated On: January 7, 2017)

President Benigno Aquino 3rd and visiting French President Francois Hollande called on the rest of the world to act on climate change as they launched the Manila Call to Action on Climate Change following their bilateral meeting in Malacañang.

“Our Manila Call to Action on Climate Change represents solidarity in action. We are hopeful that this joint call will help us gain momentum for a truly global initiative to address climate change,” Aquino said.

“This statement, thus, is a welcome call to action: No longer can we be paralyzed by debates over the obligations of individual countries; all of us must do everything we can, in the quickest and most impactful way possible,” he added.

He said nations can unite to overcome the problem or together reap the consequences of apathy.

Aquino lamented that the Philippines has found itself at the forefront of climate change as he cited the destructive typhoons in recent years such as Yolanda.

He said the Philippines intends to attend and utilize every forum to voice the sentiments of those who are at the receiving end of global climate change.

“We will try to strive a consensus with every entity so that they can contribute the most at the quickest possible time,” he said.

Hollande sought Aquino’s support on the issue of climate change in light of preparations being made for the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties, or COP21, to the United Nations Framework Convention Climate Change in December this year.

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