Business opportunities for the country

Jan 21, 2017

I will be among the first to laud the excellent performance and good business practice of thePhilippine Economic Zone Authority under Director General Lilia de Lima who retired June of last year. In our many interviews with Director de Lima over perhaps a decade, the gracious lady was the epitome of a great leader, incorruptible and relentless in pursuing her single mission: attract more foreign direct investments in the country. Kudos Madame Director General, we salute you.

PEZA is now under a new chief, Director General Charito Plaza who, we pleasantly note, is not wasting any time in continuing the world with new ideas heretofore untried. She is bent on developing new types of eco zones throughout the country, prominent among which is the development of a defence industrial economic zone. There are billions to be made in the defence sector, and Director Plaza knows this too well. These eco zones can be used to manufacture anything from airships to military equipment like tanks, from drones to combat clothing.

A 3,000 hectare space in Hermosa, Bataan is being eyed for this proposed development. The land was donated by the Mayor of Hermosa precisely for this development, aware of the employment potentials and other benefits to the town. Also, the proposed eco zone is situated strategically next to the existing 300-hectare arsenal of Camp HeneralAntonio Luna under the Dept. of National Defence. A private developer could be tapped to develop this huge property, and Director Plaza is now on the lookout for a competent, reliable partner for this.

According to PEZA, they are even open to exchange deals for investors willing to come in. Our Dept. of National Defence is in the process of modernizing the military and upgrading our equipment. Investors who come in may opt to pay their rents of the eco zone facility through much-needed products like military equipment, arms, etc. Even the Philippine National Police, also in need of modernization and upgrading of their equipment, could be one of the beneficiaries of such a deal and perhaps even the transfer of technology from these investors.

Currently, Armscor is the only local manufacturer legitimately exporting arms, and may I add that the company has made a name in the global arms trade because of their excellent firearms and ammunitions. Their Rock Island Armory in the United States has been featured on the cover of well-known arms magazines several times.

Director Plaza is now eyeing to put the Philippines on the map of defence materials. According to her, she raised this issue with some foreign investors in Qatar during an exhibit of military equipment and she was inspired by the positive response. In these uncertain times where war rages in different parts of the globe and the threat continues every day, many countries are now fortifying their defines equipment like never before.

Director General Plaza says that PEZA is also looking at more areas for development into defence eco zones: in Puerto Princesa where they have identified a 1,500 hectare space; at least two areas inMindanao, two in Luzon and one in Zambales.

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Over a period of nine years during the Marcos dictatorship, the government collected levy of between P20 to P76.00 per 100 kilos of the first sale of copra, promising them full development of the coconut industry and a share in the fruits of the investments of these funds. Now, the coco levy fund has ballooned to P75 billion, money which the 3.5 million coconut farmers who were taxed can certainly use and enjoy. Unfortunately, proof of payment is required of these farmers, and most of them have lost their receipts or other proof of payment over the last four or so decades. The government has set a registry period for the coconut farmers which will end in February of this year, and the Philippine Statistics Authority's estimate of registrants is only 1.9 million. Most probably, many of them have passed away, considering the time lapsed. Only about 5% of these farmers are now eligible to receive direct cash from the coco levy fund, which means that only 175,000 will finally realize the refund of the taxes wrongfully levied on them.

With luck, the distribution of cash to these eligible farmers with proof of payment will happen before June of this year. The TRO issued by the Supreme Court on the disposition of the coco levy fund is expected to be lifted soon.

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The Philippines' rubber industry lags sorely behind Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam and Indonesia . These countries no longer sell raw rubber in their local market. Now, the Philippine Rubber Research Institute (PRRI) is looking to give our local rubber industry a shot in the arm through the manufacture of condoms. The Philippines, according to PRRI Executive Director Rodolfo Galang, needs a plant that could process latex which is needed to make condoms. We have twenty five natural rubber-processing plants in the Philippines, but most of them serve the needs of tire manufacturers.

Actually, these plants can manufacture other products aside from condoms like medical gloves and catheters, but since the Philippines imports all these, including condoms from our neighbors who have a more developed rubber industry, PRRI thinks condom manufacturing can be a viable business, especially now that the Dept. of Health has a condom-distribution program.

Our rubber consumption in the country is much less than our production, so we export our surplus to South Korea, Malaysia, Japan and China. The PRRI is looking at more intensified replanting of rubber, so we can expect to have better harvest in the coming years.

Mabuhay!!! Be proud to be a Filipino.

For comments and inquiries (email) sunshine.television@yahoo.com

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About the Author

Ray Butch Gamboa graduated from the College of Arts and Letters of the University of Sto. Tomas. It was a course that should have been preparatory to a law degree, but the call of broadcasting aborted his plans.

At the age of 16, while still a student, Butch tried his hand at disc jockeying, landing a job at Mareco Broadcasting Network's AM stations DZBM and DZLM. From there, Butch moved on with his illustrious career as a popular disc jockey, riding the airwaves of Bob Stewart's middle-of-the-road music at DZXX, and ending his disc jockeying career at ABS-CBN's DZYL and DZQL.

From there, he stayed on with ABS-CBN, covering live the proceedings at the Manila Stock Exchange and eventually entered into the world of television sales as an account manager for the premier channel of ABS-CBN Channel 2.

In the early 70's, at the outbreak of Martial Law, Butch was one of the thousands of professionals who woke up jobless when then President Marcos declared the new status of the nation. With the closure of ABS-CBN, Butch ventured into different fields outside of broadcast. He tried his hand and with ease and success at export (Costume jewelry), real estate (brokerage), and restaurants (fast food).

In 1987, after the revolution, with the broadcast industry back to its free state, and with its irresistible call ringing in his ears, Butch made his inevitable comeback and pioneered in a local motoring show, producing Motoring Today on Channel 4 and co-hosting with local motor sports' living legend Pocholo Ramirez.

After 4 years, he ventured into another pioneering format by producing and hosting Business & Leisure, which was originally aired on ABS-CBN's Channel 2. The format eventually espoused similar ones in other different channels. But the clones in due course faded away leaving the original staying on airing on Channel 4 and eventually on Shop TV on Sky Cable's Channel 13.

The following year, the pioneering spirit in Butch spurred him to produce another TV show, Race Weekend, also on Channel 4, covering circuit racing at the Subic International Raceway after the motor sport's hiatus of 17 years. But when similar shows with duplicated formats sprouted, he decided to give way and ended the program after a year, although still enjoying unparalleled viewership.

In 1998, when the local automotive industry was in a slump, Butch contributed his share to help the ailing industry by producing another popular motoring-related show, this time exclusive to the automobile and its industry—Auto Focus, which became a vehicle for local automotive assemblers and importers to showcase their products and dwell on the industry's latest technological developments.

In 2003, Butch teamed up with his brother, Rey Gamboa who was a former Shell executive and presently one Philippine Star's business columnist to co-produce and co-host the TV show Breaking Barriers on Channel 13. It is a talk show that features guests who are in the news and in the middle of controversies. The program ventures to draw deeper insights into current issues to learn how they impact to our daily lives.

Today, Motoring Today on its 28th year of service to the general motoring public still enjoys its unprecedented loyal vierwership nationwide while Auto Focus, after 16 years has firmly established its niche viewership among automobile enthusiasts and on the other hand Business & Leisure is on its 24th year dishing out current business issues and lifestyle features.

Today, aside from writing weekly columns for the Philippine Star (Motoring Today on Wednesdays and Business & Leisure on Saturdays) and executive producer / host of weekly TV shows (Motoring Today, airs Sundays on Solar Sports Channel 70, Business & Leisure, airs Tuesdays on Shop TV, Sky Cable Channel 13 and Auto Focus airs Thursdays on Shop TV, Sky Cable Channel 13, Ray Butch Gamboa is currently the Chairman and CEO of Sunshine Television Production and Marketing Services Corp., President of Gamcor Management and Development Corp., Chairman of Asia-Pacific Realty Corporation, President and Chairman of Socio-Communication Foundation for Asia and Founding Chairman of the Society of Phil. Motoring Journalists (SPMJ)