Saturday, October 06, 2012

Myanmar Extends Fight Against Drug

Myanmar has extended its 15-year drug eradication plan by another five years, Xinhua reported Saturday.

The programme was to end in 2014 but has now been extended till 2019.

The Golden Triangle, covering an area of 950,000 sq km, is one of Asia's major illegal opium-producing areas. The region overlaps with Myanmar, Vietnam, Laos and Thailand.

Myanmar is taking a lead role in fighting drugs and is increasing cooperation with various stateholders, Home Minister Lieutenant-General Ko Ko said.

He called for realizing ASEAN's (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) objective of eradicating drug use within member countries by 2015.

Ko, who chairs the Central Committee for Drug Abuse Control, stressed the need for effective programmes in schools, workplace and community the tackle the menace.

He said the government has intensified efforts to destroy poppy plantations and control drug traffickers. Ko said about 3,900 offenders were punished in 2011.

Most of the world's heroin came from the Golden Triangle until the early 21st century when Afghanistan became the world's largest producer.-Daijiworld (October 06, 2012 3:42PM)

Jakarta's election and its message to the world

Indonesia's Jakarta has just conducted its gubernatorial election. Against the odds, newcomers, Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and his running mate, Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, emerged the winners.

As soon as pollsters revealed their quick count results on that election day on Sept. 20, my mother, a lifetime Jakarta citizen, sent me a message, saying, "Today we welcome a Chinese-Indonesian as deputy governor of Jakarta. You are right, times have changed!"

The times, indeed, really have changed, a new era of Indonesian pluralism has come to the fore. My mother's view is a reflection of other ordinary Indonesians of her generation, who were guided by the old paradigms; pessimism and scepticism about the likely changes in Indonesia concerning democracy and pluralism.

Nevertheless, beyond domestic politics and how it affects ordinary citizens, the victory of Jokowi and Ahok in the Indonesian capital's election is indeed an important milestone in the country's quest for a bigger role on the international stage. But what does this election result actually mean to the world?

The most important lesson we can take from the election is the image of Indonesia as a pluralist and democratic country.

It is a very clear message to the world that the largest Muslim-majority country chose a member of a minority group, both ethnically and religiously, as deputy governor of the national capital.

How can this unprecedented phenomenon send an important message to the world?

First of all, we have to consider the history of pluralism in the capital. Acts of violence targeting Chinese-Indonesians ahead of the regime change in May 1998 inflicted deep wounds on pluralism in Jakarta. But Ahok's election as second-in-charge in the capital means Jakartans have left religion and ethnicity behind, despite the widespread ethnic and religious slurs targeting Jokowi and Ahok.

The Indonesian government needs to exploit this sign of maturity to reaffirm the country's credentials as a predominantly Muslim yet democratic, pluralistic and non-aligned nation. With the third-fastest growing economy among the G-20 countries after China and India, plus political stability, the republic surely has to aim for a greater international role.

Chairing Asean in 2011 has given Indonesia opportunities to actively represent Asean in global forums such as the G-20 and the United Nations Security Council. However, following the Jakarta election, Indonesia can stake a claim to a role beyond that of promoter of the "Asean Community in a Global Community of Nations", which was the theme of the Asean chairmanship in 2011.

The strengthening of its pluralistic image resulting from the Jakarta election can further lay the foundation for Indonesia's "active" participation on the world stage, as mandated by the Constitution, particularly its preamble.

As a nation that that upholds pluralism, Indonesia stands a bigger chance of bridging conflicts, for example, between the Muslim world and the West.

Indonesia can support the causes of the Muslim world under "Muslim brotherhood", but at the same time encourage democratisation in the world.

Indonesia's US$2 million worth of food assistance to North Korea recently marked a new twist in decades of good relationship between the two countries, proving not only Indonesia's commitment to an active and independent foreign policy but also its readiness to help any country in need.

With such potential, Indonesia should not only "navigate in the turbulent world" as President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono put it. Indonesia today has arrived at the right moment to steer between many reefs and at the same time help guide other ships on to the right course.

The people as stakeholders of this foreign policy should however reap all these dividends. They are responsible for advocating the pluralistic character of the nation.

Foreign policy analysts such as Robert Putnam, Peter Katzenstein and Kenneth Waltz have paid considerable attention to the importance of domestic politics in foreign policy.

In this sense, therefore, keeping a democratic and pluralistic society intact is a must in supporting and enhancing Indonesia's global role.

The recently concluded Jakarta election is just a starter. There are more challenges that need addressing before Indonesia can boast its adherence to pluralism.-Asia News Network (October 06, 2012)

Storm Gaemi to hit central Vietnam, coffee at risk

Tropical storm Gaemi is forecast to slam into Vietnam's central coast later on Saturday, dumping heavy rains and strong winds in the Central Highlands coffee belt, which could result in a decline in output, the government and traders said.

The storm, the seventh to hit Vietnam this year, would be centred near the coastal provinces of Binh Dinh and Phu Yen, with winds travelling at up to 74 km (46 miles) per hour, a government statement said.

It would weaken after landfall and move further west by Sunday, dumping wind and heavy rains in the northern part of the Central Highlands while en route to Cambodia, the statement said.

"Rain may not harm coffee cherries now but strong wind can cause young cherries to drop," said a coffee trader from Daklak, the country's largest coffee growing province and one of the five provinces in the Central Highlands.

The northern part of the region includes the provinces of Kontum and Gia Lai, which are the smallest in terms of coffee areas among the five, ranking after Daklak, Lam Dong and Dak Nong.

Around 80 percent of Vietnam's coffee comes from the region, where harvesting of the new 2012/2013 crop will begin in 10 days, with output initially expected to ease 7-10 percent from a record high 1.6 million tonnes in the previous 2011/2012 season.

A larger decline could tighten supply from the world's largest robusta producer, putting pressure on prices. Demand for robusta is expected to be strong in the current season, with steady buying seen in Europe's market this week.

Vietnam, with a north-south coastline, is widely exposed to storms and typhoons. More than 200 people have been killed or missing in the first nine months due to natural disasters including floods and landslides, government data show.-The Star Online (October 06, 2012)

Laos warns southern, central provinces of typhoon Gaemi

Lao Government Office has warned local residents and authorities in southern and central Laos of typhoon Gaemi's approach, which is threatening to bring flooding, strong winds, and landslides.

The tropical storm will move into Vietnam tonight, and is predicted to pass through Xekong, Attapeu and Champassak provinces from Saturday through to Monday, according to the Meteorology and Hydrology Department.

Typhoon Gaemi formed as a tropical depression in the central part of the South China Sea.

The department warned of light to heavy rains and strong winds through the southern provinces and centrally from Borikhamxay to Attapeu provinces.

The storm coincides with National Teachers' Day tomorrow, and schoolchildren will be on holiday on Monday. Families have been asked to keep an eye on their children in areas where there are weather alerts.

The department has also urged locals to listen out for weather forecasts.

Earlier this year, flooding caused by heavy rain destroyed many homes and killed people in the country's north, with Luang Prabang province the worst hit.

Rice and other commercial crops, roads, irrigation systems and businesses were also affected.-Yahoo News (October 06, 2012 4:12PM)

China offers Asean $474-M fund

Officials disclosed that China has offered a three-billion-yuan ($474 million) maritime cooperation fund with the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), some of whose members have territorial disputes with Beijing.

Vietnamese Deputy Foreign Minister Pham Quang Vinh said China announced the fund yesterday at the inaugural maritime forum of ASEAN and eight of its partners, including Japan, China, South Korea and the United States.

Pham said ASEAN and China are discussing possible activities to finance. ASEAN and China cooperate in maritime issues including navigation safety, biodiversity and search and rescue.

Tensions have flared over claims by China, the Philippines and Vietnam to South China Sea islands and waters believed to be rich in gas and oil. ASEAN members Brunei and Malaysia also have been embroiled in South China Sea rifts.

Territorial disputes were among the issues raised during the First Expanded ASEAN Maritime Forum (EAMF) and participating delegates agreed that measures are needed to contain the problem.

Officials of Vietnam and the United States said yesterday that “rules of the road” are needed to discuss various problems including territorial disputes that were highlighted during the meeting of the 18 countries, including 10 ASEAN member states.

The 3rd ASEAN Maritime Forum (AMF) that was chaired by Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for Policy Erlinda Basilio was held in Manila last Oct. 3 to 4.

Pham said the participants agreed that the territorial disputes should be resolved through international law, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and other documents that have been adopted by the parties concerned including the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC).

“Among the challenges we are discussing also is the presence of territorial disputes and we discussed in a way how to contain it and how to ensure an environment of peace, stability and maritime security so that we can enhance cooperative activities,” Pham told reporters.

He said the delegates discussed them in general and underlined the importance of UNCLOS and international law.

Also tackled were issues on enhancing the areas of cooperation in the field of maritime and questions related to UNCLOS, the important document related to maritime cooperation and as a framework for order at sea, areas for possible cooperation within the framework of the expanded ASEAN maritime forum and maritime environmental protection.

“We actually identified that there is the challenge of territorial dispute. Everyone acknowledged the presence of territorial disputes, including all parties that have spoken this morning and we expect the need for ensuring the environment of peace, stability and maritime security including the parties need to abide by international law and UNCLOS so as not to allow the territorial disputes to become complex,” Pham added.

US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Joseph Yun said the US did not give its view on territorial disputes during the meeting hosted by the Philippines, but he pointed to the need for rules and framework.

“I don’t think we gave any view on territorial disputes. I’m not sure how we touched. There was not much discussion on territorial disputes but we need rules of the road, the framework on how we discuss various problems including territorial disputes, on fishing and natural resources exploitation,” Yun said.

“I think there is a degree of feeling that this is not the forum where we discuss issues in depth and so it is not everyday you go about discussing everything. This is why I characterize this is foremost about cooperation and collaboration,” he said.

The ASEAN member-states discussed various cross-cutting maritime issues in ASEAN, as well as ways of enhancing cross-sectoral maritime cooperation, in line with the activities listed in the ASEAN Political Security Community blueprint. They also discussed recommendations made in previous meetings of the ASEAN Maritime Forum.

Experts from different sectors dealing with cross-cutting maritime issues were invited to provide information and share their views on these issues.

The ASEAN member-states discussed and exchanged views on maritime security and cooperation in ASEAN; maintaining freedom and safety of navigation and addressing sea piracy; protecting the marine environment and promoting eco-tourism and fishery regime in East Asia; and future work of the ASEAN Maritime Forum.

They agreed that maritime security and cooperation should contribute to the three pillars of ASEAN community building, namely, the ASEAN Political Security Community, the ASEAN Economic Community, and the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community.

ASEAN made an assessment of the current status of regional maritime security and cooperation and shared country perspectives on the current prospects and challenges concerning maritime cooperation.-The Philippine Star (October 06, 2012)

Malaysian duo charged with abusing Indonesian maid

A Malaysian couple has been charged with beating, scalding and exploiting their Indonesian maid in the latest such abuse case in Malaysia despite new rules to better protect domestic workers, a prosecutor said Saturday.

A series of cases involving the abuse of Indonesian maids by their Malaysian employers has strained ties between the Southeast Asian neighbors. Indonesia this year lifted a three-year ban on sending maids to Malaysia after the countries agreed to better protect the workers, including giving them one day off per week.

Prosecutor Chuah Shyue Chien said Mohamad Shukur Suradi, 28, and his wife, Daeng Norulasyikin Bachok, 27, pleaded not guilty Friday to causing grievous harm to their 21-year-old maid, Marsini, who like many Indonesians uses one name.

Chuah alleged that the couple used a knife, a golf club, a clothes hanger and a belt to hit Marsini and scalded her with hot oil and water between July and Sept. 23 at their home in southern Johor state.

The car salesman and his teacher wife also were charged under the Anti-Human Trafficking Act with exploiting Marsini by making her work long hours and working against her will, Chuah said.

They face up to 35 years in jail and whipping if convicted for both offenses.

Chuah said Marsini, who started working for the couple in January, managed to escape from her employers and lodged a police report. He said she is currently in a shelter home to nurse her injuries.

The couple has been freed on bail, with a court date set for Oct. 16.

Indonesian Embassy officials could not be reached immediately for comment.

More than 200,000 Indonesian maids work in Malaysia. Indonesian officials say hundreds complain every year of mistreatment, overwork and unpaid salaries.-The Philippine Star (October 06, 2012 12:00AM)

Friday, October 05, 2012

PHL Peso forecast to end year at 40.80/dollar

The local currency the peso, which appreciated the past four weeks by around half a percent, closed 12.5 centavos higher on Thursday at P41.47 per dollar, boosting the likelihood that the local unit would gain more strength and end the year at about P40.80 per dollar under a foreign bank forecast.

At this level, the peso already exceeded the three-month outlook that the Manila unit of Citigroup released on Monday, when its chief economist for Asia and the Pacific said the currency should soon hit P41.50 per dollar.

Jonathan Ravelas, chief market strategist at Banco de Oro Universal Bank, said in a text message that the
market anticipates the peso to take the high road and gain even more strength as worker remittances flow more copiously in the remaining months of the year.

Money sent home by some 8 million overseas Filipinos has exceeded $11 billion in only the first half and should grow by at least 5 percent more than last year’s $22.3 billion.

Ravelas said that with the equities market index looking to hit 5,500 points, a surge in foreign buyers at the Philippine Stock Exchange should not come as a surprise.

As for the peso, he added, the exchange rate should not stray beyond P41.50 per dollar near-term.

Some traders said currencies in the region proved resilient also on Thursday no matter the impact of higher-than-anticipated jobs data in the US, which remains the largest trading partner of the Philippines.

Citi economist Johanna Chua, however, said yield-seeking foreign funds have since looked toward emerging markets like the Philippines whose growth and inflation dynamics offer the best possible returns and only minimum risk.

Also, the US Fed decision to embark on a third round of quantitative easing dubbed as QE3 adds pressure on fund managers to deploy the additional liquidity in so-called safe havens where returns are more or less guaranteed.

The problem with this is that there are few remaining safe havens that could be found anywhere at present and this was why emerging markets like the Philippines have become net recipients of foreign fund flows.

Countries not sensitive to asset- or property-price pressures should become natural targets for the yield-seeking foreign funds, Chua said.

QE3 has resulted in potentially more dollar liquidity than there are places to invest them in safely and destinations like the Philippines where inflation is benign and its fiscal sector continuing to consolidate have become attractive places for the fund managers, she added.

The peso averaged around P44.55 from 1998 up to present but has weakened past P56 per dollar at one point under the administration of then-President Joseph Estrada whose style of government partly led to his eventual ouster in 2001.-Black Pearl (October 05, 2012)

Storm to hit central Vietnam tomorrow afternoon

Gaemi Tropical Storm is likely to hit two Vietnam central coastal provinces of Quang Ngai and Binh Dinh tomorrow afternoon, according to the National Centre for Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting.

At 1 p.m. yesterday, the storm was about 670 kilometres southeast of Hoang Sa Islands (also known as Paracel) with wind gusts of 75-88 kilometres per hour.

The centre forecast the storm would grow stronger in the next 24-48 hours.

By 1 p.m. tomorrow afternoon, it will be around 180 kilometres east of the coastline of Quang Ngai and Binh Dinh provinces with wind speeds in the eye of the storm expected to be as high as 102 kilometres per hour.

The centre's director Bui Minh Tang said at an urgent meeting yesterday that Gaemi, the seventh of the year to hit the East Sea, was progressing in a complicated path.

The Central Highlands and some areas to the south will be hit by heavy rains and local residents should be vigilant for resulting dangers, with landslides expected in mountainous areas and flooding likely to occur in low-lying areas.

Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Cao Duc Phat asked vulnerable provinces to monitor the storm's direction and watch over the operation of boats at sea.

He also ordered localities to have their boats anchored safely and work out plans of evacuation if possible.

Yesterday, the central Steering Board for Flood and Storm Prevention banned boats from going out to sea in the central province of Quang Ngai.

The Ministry of National Defence appointed more than 31,000 soldiers to be ready for rescuing work in the storm.

By 3 p.m. yesterday, the central Steering Board guided more than 48,000 boats and over 238,000 fishermen to safety.

Central provinces' authorities have also assigned officers to the scene to help locals deal with the storm.

The Quang Binh Border Guards assigned 100 servicemen and 10 canoes to be ready in case of breakdown.

The Quang Nam Province evacuated residents living in coastal areas.

According to Viet Nam News reporter based in central Da Nang City, nearly 2,000 fishing vessels with 8,900 fishermen have docked safely.

"We had informed all vessels on the sea and they were on the way home. The farthest vessel, which fished southwest of Hoang Sa Islands, received alarming snals on Monday and was speeding home," said Van Cong Luong, head of the city's Flood and Storm Prevention office.

The centre has prepared an evacuation plan for five at-risk households in Hoa Vang district's Hoa Bac and Hoa Phu communes in case a flood occurs after the storm.-Asia News Network (October 05, 2012)

Cambodia, Thailand to withdraw forces from border: official

Cambodian Defence Minister Tea Banh said yesterday that Cambodia and Thailand would comply with the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and withdraw forces from the 12th century Preah Vihear Temple (north Thailand).

"We have not yet complied 100 percent with the ICJ demands but we have reached a good stage. We also need some time," he told reporters. "We have agreed to the ICJ demands but are waiting for a good situation so we can do it perfectly."

On July 18 last year, the ICJ ruled that Cambodia and Thailand should withdraw their armed forces to no more than 17 kilometres from the temple.

The ruling followed Cambodia's complaint against Thailand for opening fire on the temple and Cambodian soldiers.

Cambodia has also asked the ICJ to explain its ruling in 1962 that the Hindu temple is located in Cambodian territory. 

Thailand has never recognised the ruling and sent troops into the area in 2008, leading to clashes and deaths on both sides.-Asia News Network (October 05, 2012)

Vietnam's dissident poet Thien dies

Vietnamese dissident poet Nguyen Chi Thien has died aged 73 (AP)
Vietnamese dissident poet
Nguyen Chi Thien has
died aged 73 (AP)
A Vietnamese dissident poet who spent nearly 30 years in communist prisons in his native country has died after a long bout of lung illness.
Close friend Hanh Thang-Thai said 73-year-old Nguyen Chi Thien died on Tuesday after spending several days in a Southern California hospital.

Thien first went to prison in 1960, after telling Vietnamese high school students that, contrary to their textbooks, the end of the Second World War was not the result of a Soviet attack, but rather US nuclear attacks in Japan.

In 1977, he was released from prison long enough to write down poems he had memorised in captivity, a manuscript that became known as Flowers of Hell. He was promptly sent back to prison.

He won the International Poetry Award in Rotterdam in 1985.-Belfast Telegraph (October 05, 2012)

Korean Tourists Rescued as Boat Sinks off Thailand

A speed boat carrying more than two dozen South Korean tourists sank Friday as it returned from an island near Thailand's popular seaside resort town of Pattaya. All the passengers were rescued, and one was injured, police said.

The boat started to sink about 100 meters (328 feet) from a pier in Pattaya due to a leak on its floor, police Col. Thammanoon Mankong said.

He said the 27 South Korean tourists were rescued by authorities and crew from nearby boats. One of the tourists was slightly injured and taken to a hospital. The boat's crew members also were rescued.

The boat was returning from Lan Island, a popular getaway for snorkeling and swimming day trips in the Gulf of Thailand, 7 kilometers (4.4 miles) west of Pattaya.

Pattaya, one of the most popular destinations for foreign tourists in Thailand, is 100 kilometers (60 miles) southeast of Bangkok.-ABS News (October 05, 2012)

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Indonesia no more exporting polyester

Indonesia no more exporting polyester
Indonesian Government will stop exporting polyester due to insufficient supply for local demand. Several small and medium industries (SMI), mainly textile industry, complain the shortage of supply of staple in Indonesia.

"We must stop exporting polyester because we cannot fulfill local demand," Director General of SMI at the Ministry of Industry, Euis Saedah, said on Wednesday.

The price of raw materials of cotton is also surging and such condition potentially hampers the production of clothes and batik. SMI also faces difficulty on accessing capital and target market.

Saedah said government would build a terminal of raw materials for SMI. "It is to support SMI so that they can compete with imported products," she said. Government will also seek the investors for the terminal.-Republika Online (October 04, 2012 19:45WIB)

Philippines among countries extremely vulnerable to climate change impact - consulting firm

The Philippines is among the countries with the fastest growing populations that are extremely vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, according to the latest release of Maplecroft's Climate Change and Environment Risk Atlas.

Maplecroft, a global risk and strategic consulting firm based in Bath, United Kingdom, whose work includes analyzing key political, economic, social and environmental risks impacting global business and investors ranked the Philippines in 10th place in its new Climate Change Vulnerability Index, along with other countries with high population growth such as strategically emerging economies Bangladesh (ranked 2nd), Vietnam (23rd), Indonesia (27th), and India (28th).

These countries are among 30 that Maplecroft rated as "extreme risks."

The top 10 are Haiti, Bangladesh, Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe, Madagascar, Cambodia, Mozambique, DR Congo, Malawi and the Philippines.

Of these, Bangladesh and the Philippines are among the world’s fastest growing economies with growth rates of 6.6 and 5% per annum, respectively.

The CCVI includes subnational maps and analyses of climate change vulnerability and the adaptive capacity to combat climate change in 193 countries. It features an improved methodology analyzing the exposure of populations to climate related natural hazards and sensitivity of countries in terms of population concentration, development, natural resources, agricultural dependency and conflict.

Maplecroft also identified and rated as "extreme risks" six of the world's fastest growing cities, including the major Asian economic centers of Calcutta, Manila, Jakarta, Dhaka and Chittagong, and Addis Ababa.

It rated Guandong, Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Karachi and Lagos as "high risk".

Population growth in all these cities, combined with poor government effectiveness, corruption, poverty and other socio-economic factors, increase the risks to residents and business, Maplecroft said.

Infrastructure will struggle to adapt to large population increases in the future, making disaster responses less effective, even as disasters may become more frequent. This has implications for buildings, transportation routes, water and energy supply and the health of the residents, it added.

“Cities such as Manila, Jakarta and Calcutta are vital centers of economic growth in key emerging markets, but heat waves, flooding, water shortages and increasingly severe and frequent storm events may well increase as climate changes takes hold,” said Dr. Charlie Beldon, principal environmental analyst at Maplecroft, in a statement. 

"The impacts of this could have far reaching consequences, not only for local populations, but on business, national economies and on the balance sheets of investors around the world, particularly as the economic importance of these nations is set to dramatically increase," he added.

Climate change and population growth form the two greatest challenges facing the world over the next century. The UN’s State of the World’s Population Report 2011 revealed that the world’s population has now reached 7 billion.

Most exposed to flooding, typhoons

“The expansion of population must be met with an equal expansion of infrastructure and civic amenities. As these megacities grow, more people are forced to live on exposed land, often on flood plains or other marginal land," Beldon said. “It is therefore the poorest citizens that will be most exposed to the effects of climate change, and the least able to cope with the effects.”

The Maplecroft research also identified Manila as “extremely vulnerable” to the effects of climate change due to a combination of exposure to hazards, poor socio-economic factors and a low capacity to adapt.

Manila is predicted to grow by 2.23 million residents between 2010 and 2020, an increase of nearly 20%. It is particularly at risk of flooding and typhoon activity, having the highest exposure to these events out of the twenty growth cities. 

Maplecroft urged the government to prioritize improvements to Manila’s capacity to adapt to the effects of climate change.

"Although climatic risks may increase for all cities, the impacts of this will be felt more keenly in cities like Manila which are naturally exposed to more of these hazards and have burgeoning population. Urban sprawl onto flood plains as well as the loss of urban green spaces could see large areas of cities at risk from flooding leading to considerable infrastructure damage and health risks," it said.

Maplecroft also noted that the Philippines' resilience to natural hazards has been severely tested in recent years, with severe floods affecting Luzon and the National Capital Region. It said that that in the last 20 years, the Philippines recorded at least 274 natural disasters.

Highest financial risk

In its 2nd Natural Hazards Risk Atlas, Maplecroft identified the Philippines, Myanmar, India and Vietnam as among the 10 countries facing the highest financial risk from natural hazards due to the high exposure of their cities and trading hubs to flooding, earthquakes and tropical cyclones.

Rounding off the top 10 are Bangladesh, Dominican Republic, India, Honduras and Haiti.

Aside from having the greatest proportion of their economic output exposed to natural hazards, these countries also demonstrate poor capability to recover from a significant event, thus exposing investments in these countries to risk of supply chain and market disruptions, Maplecroft said.

This could exacerbate other risks like society unrest, food security, corruption and the rule of law even leading to increased political risk, it added.

According to Maplecroft, high levels of economic exposure, coupled with weak resilience, means the fallout from a large natural disaster would likely be felt keenest in these countries.

"The resulting impacts in the Asian growth economies of Bangladesh, the Philippines, Myanmar, India and Viet Nam would not only include disruptions to their domestic economies, but also to the operations and supply chains of many of the world’s largest corporations who invest in these locations because of their significant growth opportunities."

 “High exposure to natural hazards in these countries are compounded by a lack of resilience to combat the effects of a disaster should one emerge,” Helen Hodge, head of Maps and Indices at Maplecroft, said in a statement. “Given the exposure of key financial and manufacturing centers, the occurrence of a major event would be very likely to have significant impacts on the total economic output of these countries, as well as foreign business.”

Maplecroft noted that the impacts in these countries are heightened by their fragile economies and it could take them years to bounce back from an event on the scale of last year’s Japan earthquake and tsunami.

A year after the fourth largest earthquake ever recorded, the Japanese economy has returned to the economic output levels and growth forecasts prior to the disaster.

The Natural Hazards Risk Atlas has been developed by Maplecroft to help companies assess and compare natural hazards risks across 197 countries and builds on research undertaken by Maplecroft with UN OCHA. It includes 29 risk indices and interactive maps that measure physical exposure to 12 different natural hazards, in addition to calculating overall economic exposure and socio-economic resilience to large events.

Maplecroft said Japan, China, Taiwan and Mexico have the highest economic exposure to natural hazards in absolute terms.

Economic losses for 2011 are estimated at US $380 billion by Munich Re, with the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan accounting for approximately 55 percent of the total. 

However, major economies such as Japan have the capacity to recover relatively quickly from natural disasters due to entrenched resilience factors including: economic strength, strong governance, established infrastructures, disaster preparedness and tight building regulations -- factors that are, according to Maplecroft, largely ineffective in many of the emerging growth economies. 

“As the global influence of emerging economies increases; the importance of their inherent natural hazard exposure will have wider and deeper global implications,” Hodge said. “The test for emerging and developing economies is to build a stronger capacity to meet the challenge of hazard prone environments. Failure to do so will risk their ambitious economic growth when the inevitable natural hazards strike.”

"This presents an exciting opportunity for business to contribute to reducing risk and thus to enhance their own security in the future economic growth environment. As the middle classes grow in these emerging economies the appetite for insurance will also grow, incentivising stronger disaster preparedness," Maplecroft CEO Alyson Warhurst said.-Interaksyon (October 04, 2012 6:39PM)

Eight Bangkok areas face flooding

Eight key areas in Bangkok could be under as much as 30 centimetres of water for up to two weeks this month, especially when Tropical Storm Gaemi brings in torrential rain this weekend, a Bangkok seminar on flood prevention was told yesterday.

The volume of rain brought by the storm could average 800 millimetres this month alone, compared with Bangkok's annual average of 1,500mm, said Associate Professor Sujarit Khoonthanakulwong, from Chulalongkorn University's faculty of engineering. The faculty hosted the seminar.

In addition to Gaemi, two more storms are believed to be heading to northern Thailand via Vietnam, which could bring huge volumes of rain in the north and the upper central region.

"The resulting torrential rain will increase the volume of water in the north and central regions, prompting floods in Bangkok," he said.

Because of the many flood-prevention measures put in place, Bangkok is safer from widespread inundation but is still vulnerable because the heavy downpours could result in rainfall levels exceeding 100mm per day, while Bangkok's drainage capacity stands at 60mm.

"Widespread flooding for longer periods in Bangkok is not beyond expectation if it cannot be drained in the first hour," Sujarit said.

In the lower North, especially the Bang Rakam plain in Phitsanulok province and low-lying Ayutthaya province in the central region, there is a possibility for the floods to continue into November. To extend the farming season, water should not be released until early December.

Phaisal Santithammanont, another speaker from the faculty, said a new network of ground control-point stakes, used as references to measure the mean sea level to help with flood prevention, would have to be built because they are either damaged or worn out. He said this could cost as much as 100 million baht, because there are at least 1,000 stakes in Bangkok alone.

The Science and Technology Ministry's project to reinstall stakes, initially in Bangkok, will also allow untrained members of the public to read mean sea levels themselves, and this might lead to misunderstanding, he added.

Provincial authorities and irrigation officials in Samut Prakan said yesterday that Bang Phli, Suvarnabhumi Airport and other key business areas in the province should not be flooded this year thanks to the preventive measures put in place. The areas were flooded last year because they are lower than Bangkok and Nakhon Nayok and ended up getting run-offs from both provinces.

Senior irrigation official Surach Thanoosil said he could provide 100-per cent assurance because a large number of pumps were ready for the job and that waterways and sewers had been dredged.

"The toughest period will be this weekend when Gaemi arrives in Thailand, because Samut Prakan is only vulnerable to rainwater, not run-offs from the north," he said.-Asia News Network (October 04, 2012)

Philippines won’t back down in disputed sea, says official

Even as it continues to nurture longstanding ties with China, the Philippines will not back down from asserting its claims in the disputed West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) using international law and without resorting to force.

At a high-level gathering of United States and Philippine officials in Washington DC recently, Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said the West Philippine Sea is “a core national interest of the Philippines”, and the country would pursue its claims there within a framework of diplomacy, international law and cooperation.

And while China is one of the country’s biggest trading partners, the Philippines will push for its claims in the resource-rich territories within the West Philippine Sea, including part of the Spratlys, the Panatag Shoal and the Recto Bank.

“The West Philippine Sea remains a focus of concern for the Philippines, for the region and for the international community and as we have maintained many times before, a rules-based approach is the only legitimate and viable way to address the issue,” Del Rosario said in remarks at the Philippine Conference at the US capital last week.

Del Rosario spoke at the September 26 conference which was sponsored by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a US nonprofit, and the US-Philippine Society, before addressing the United Nations General Assembly. Finance Secretary Caesar Purisima and Justice Secretary Leila de Lima also spoke at the event.

In the audience were Kurt Campbell, US State Department Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, and Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Cuisia.

In his speech, which was posted on the CSIS website, Del Rosario, the country’s former ambassador to the United States, welcomed US moves to boost its presence in the Asia Pacific.

“American attention is once again moving out east, towards the Western Pacific and the maritime margins of Eastern Asia,” he said.
Such a presence was “important to maintain the regional balance,” he said.

“The geostrategists would present this as part of the new US strategic pivot to Asia. Business leaders would argue that such a shift is logical given the increasing geoeconomic weight of East Asia. We, however, prefer to see this as America’s coming home,” he added, citing US history of naval presence in the region.

According to Del Rosario, the Philippines and China were in a “very challenging” period in their relations.

He said the West Philippine Sea issue does not constitute the sum total of the country’s relations with China.

He said that as the Philippines pushes for a peaceful resolution of the disputes, the country would build a “minimum credible defence posture” to safeguard territorial interest in the contested waters, assuring that such “posture is and will remain entirely defensive”.

“There is a wise saying that good fences make good neighbours. Drawing this to heart, the Philippines has been taking steps to build a minimum credible defence posture sufficient to defend the nation’s boundaries and sovereignty at sea,” said Del Rosario.

He reiterated that the Philippines “does not seek to isolate one country or even force the resolution of disputes”.

“Our core interest lies in being able to contribute in ensuring that global security and economic system is based firmly on the rule of law. We are firmly committed to helping build an international system that will be just and fair to all states regardless of econ size and power,” said Del Rosario.-Asia News Network (October 04, 2012)

Massive strike in Indonesia shuts factories

Hundreds of thousands of factory workers across Indonesia took to the streets to demand higher wages and an end to a hiring system that deprives contract or temporary workers of basic entitlements like overtime pay and medical benefits.

Yesterday's one-day walkout is believed to be the country's first coordinated national strike.

Police estimated that 750,000 workers in at least 12 provinces joined the protests, while union leaders put the number at two million, according to wire reports.

Industrial cities and districts from Depok and Bekasi to Batam island were overrun with protesters. An official from the chamber of commerce in Batam said about 200,000 workers walked off their jobs, causing an estimated US$10 million in business losses.

The capital city was not as badly affected by the protests - the second in a week. Last Thursday, 10,000 workers rallied in front of government buildings here to push similar demands.

Said Iqbal, chairman of the Indonesian Metal Workers Federation, told The Straits Times: "There has been too much talk and little progress. We want a one-year suspension of outsourcing practices that violate the law while the government works out how best to implement regulations."

Indonesia's labour law allows contract workers to be employed in five sectors, but lax monitoring allows companies outside these sectors to flout the regulation and hire workers on the cheap from so-called outsourcing companies.

The latest labour protests come at a time when the government is actively wooing investors to sink their money in Southeast Asia's largest economy, with its relatively younger and cheaper workforce, to build much-needed infrastructure.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono called the strike unfortunate because it could discourage foreign investment, his spokesman Julian Pasha said.

Last year, Indonesia posted strong growth of 6.5 per cent and attracted record foreign direct investment of US$20 billion.

However, its disgruntled workers have been increasingly taking to the streets to pressure the government to raise wages and offer the benefits due to them.

Economists have pointed out that while workers' wages in 2010 went up by about 7 per cent, the inflation rate was 16 per cent in the same period.

More than 60 per cent of Indonesians work in the informal sector, which means they have no contracts, no fixed work hours, no overtime pay and no benefits.

"In the last five years, we recorded an increase in the number of violations by companies in the areas of outsourcing, freedom to join unions and minimum wage," said Febi Yonesta, chairman of the Jakarta Legal Aid Institute.

"This has been worsened by weak implementation of laws and failure by Manpower Ministry officials to conduct regular checks."

On May 1, Manpower Minister Muhaimin Iskandar promised to revise labour laws to ensure that outsourced workers receive the same benefits as permanent ones. But yesterday, he said the government needs more time.

Union leader Said Iqbal said talks with the government would continue, but warned that workers would go on strike again in two weeks if there is no progress.

"We want the government to realise that workers cannot be shortchanged anymore."-Asia News Network (October 04, 2012)

ADB slashes Vietnam growth forecasts

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has lowered its forecast for Vietnam's economic growth this year to 5.1 per cent, predicting growth of 5.7 per cent next year in the context of continued weakness in external markets and domestic credit.

In April, the bank had forecast GDP growth of 5.7 per cent this year and 6.2 per cent next year.

Vietnam has been an export-dependent country relying heavily on the European and US markets, which were also experiencing slowed growth, said ADB economist Dominic Mellor, at a press conference here yesterday.

"However, there are signs that GDP is picking up due to the cyclicality of GDP, fiscal policy easing and consumption boosted by lower inflation," Mellor said.

ADB country director for Vietnam Tomoyuki Kimura said that inflation was projected at about 7 per cent this year, well below the previously-projected 9.1 per cent due to a sharp decline in food prices and weaker-than-anticipated domestic demand.

Stabilisation measures taken last year dampened demand, slowing the trajectory of economic growth, Kimura said. GDP therefore grew at a modest 4 per cent year-on-year in the first quarter and 4.7 per cent in the second quarter, resulting in growth of just 4.4 per cent in the first half of the year.

Next year, inflation was forecast to quicken to 9.4 per cent because of increases in global food prices and recovering domestic demand, while fiscal policy was likely to be relaxed, he added.

Kimura acknowledged important steps taken to date to restructure the nation's banking system, such as the mergers of several weak banks. However, he raised concerns over the risks of rampant cross-holdings among banks.

While a large bank with a stake in smaller ones could support the liquidity of these banks in difficult times as well as support these banks in improving governance, Vietnam needed clearer regulations on the issue to ensure banks were transparent in publishing these cross-holdings, he said.

The banking sector has been vulnerable as businesses have struggled and property prices fallen, putting bank earnings under pressure, Mellor said.

"Reported capital adequacy ratios appear adequate, but uncertainties remain due to the scale of bad debts, exposure to state-owned enterprises and cross-holding between banks."

Interest rates needed to be targeted at stabilising the value of the dong, which could be bolstered by strong trade and capital flows that helped improve foreign reserves, Mellor added.

The ADB's Asian Development Outlook Update said merging weaker banks was an important step. The authorities have also considered establishing a state asset management company to buy bad debts from banks, but no progress on the proposal was evident, the report noted.

The report said that, to attract foreign capital and expertise into banks, the government was considering an increase in the cap on foreign ownership in credit institutions. However, strains in the domestic banking system and reduced appetite for risk among international banks suggested that drawing substantial foreign investment might be a challenge at this time. It might also be difficult in the current environment to raise capital through the domestic securities market.

"The focus needs to remain on structural reforms," said Kimura, adding that a government commitment to a credible reform roadmap with time-bound actions should help revive lending and improve market confidence.

He said confidence in the government's willingness to address structural reforms would be enhanced with more data on the progress these reforms were achieving towards targets. Greater disclosure of financial information on state-owned enterprises and banks would provide a strong signal to the market that the government was committed to reform.-Asia News Network (October 04, 2012)

Coca-Cola and Samsung remove advertisements on Vietnam site

Coca-Cola and Samsung have pulled their advertising from a popular Vietnamese website notorious for providing unlicensed downloads of Western and local songs, in a rare victory against online piracy in a country where it has grown unchecked.

The companies abandoned after The Associated Press alerted them to local and international concerns about the website, which is the sixth-most visited in the nation of 87 million people.

Zing's audience of young, tech-savvy Web users has made it attractive to companies wanting to promote their products in a fast-growing Asian market where some 30 million people are online. It was unclear if the companies were ignorant of the content of the site or chose to ignore it.

Besides Coca-Cola Co. and South Korea's Samsung, other multinationals that have advertised on Zing include Canon, Yamaha, Intel and Colgate Palmolive. Zing said in a statement it couldn't comment.

The presence of international advertising added to the legitimacy of Zing, causing particular anger among Vietnamese artists who felt the site was profiting from their work without compensating them. After being contacted by The AP, Samsung and Coca-Cola said in separate statements they had withdrawn their ads.-The China Post (October 04, 2012 11:52AM)

Russian plane arrives to Thailand to take injured Russian tourist

Russian plane arrives to Thailand to take injured Russian tourist
A Russian emergency airplane, which was dispatched to take an injured Russian tourist, landed in Thailand, a source in the information department in the Ministry of Emergency Situations told Itar-Tass on Thursday.

“The airplane Il-62, which was dispatched to evacuate the injured Russian woman, landed at 07:17 Moscow time in Thailand. The airplane was carrying six rescuers from the Tsentrospas emergency task force and the medics of the all-Russian emergency medicine centre Zashchita,” the source said.

The Russian female tourist got infected with fever during her vacations on the Samui Island. The woman was brought to the local hospital, but then she was transferred to the specialized hospital in Bangkok at the request of her relatives and with the assistance of the embassy and the insurance company. She is about to be transported for treatment to Moscow over medical symptoms.-Itar Tass (October 03, 2012 9:22)

Cambodia to renew Water Festival in Nov.

Cambodia will restart its annual Water Festival celebration on Nov. 27-29 after last year's cancellation due to flood devastation, Prime Minister Hun Sen said Thursday. "This year's Water Festival will be celebrated on schedule at any cost after last year's halt,"he said during a graduation ceremony of students at the Human Resources University.

Last year's festival was canceled due to flood devastation that killed at least 250 Cambodian people and affected some 1.4 million across the country.

Water Festival is the largest annual festival in the Southeast Asian nation. Around 3 million Cambodians, especially those from rural areas, converge in Phnom Penh, capital of Cambodia, to enjoy the regatta.

Meanwhile, the premier also appealed to people to continue to be on high alert to avoid dangers and property damage due to floods.

Cambodia's eight provinces have been hitting by flash floods since early last month. According to a report of Cambodian Red Cross, the floods had killed at least 14 Cambodian people so far, and some 14,100 families have been affected.

In addition, about 140 schools have been submerged, affecting some 49,000 students, Sam Sereiroth, secretary-general of the education secretariat at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, said Wednesday.-Sina English (October 04, 2012 5:56GMT)

Vietnam's Trade With China Flourishes Despite South China Sea Tensions

Tensions between Vietnam and China resurfaced in July over disputed territory in the South China Sea. Despite the nationalist bickering, trade between the Asian neighbors continues to flourish. But unlike China, Vietnam has welcomed U.S. involvement in the dispute.

Despite nationalist tensions, business along the border of Vietnam and China is flourishing.

Officials in Lang Son Province say close to $3 billion in agricultural and electronic goods are traded every year with China.
"In the field of trading recently, as you know, it is happening normally, there are no obstacles," said Nguyen Van Chuong, director of the Tan Thanh customs office, who says trade is increasing annually by 20 percent. "Both sides create good conditions for the exchange of goods. You can see the trucks are passing very well now," he added.

Vietnam allowed a series of rare public protests against China in July after Beijing made deals for oil exploration in territory Vietnam disputes in the South China Sea.

The Hong Ji ship from China gets coal at a port of the Cua Ong Coal Preparation Company in Cam Pha town, in Vietnam's northeast Quang Ninh province, September 21, 2010.-Laos News (October 04, 2012 )

Navy holds 3 boats with P20-M smuggled goods from Malaysia

Naval authorities in Mindanao apprehended three vessels containing over P20 million worth of smuggled goods from Malaysia last September 23, belated reports show.

Capt. Rafael Mariano, deputy commander of the Naval Forces Western Mindanao for Fleet Operations, said vessels from Naval Task Force 61 stationed in Jolo, Sulu, spotted three motor launch vessels at about two nautical miles north of Tulian Island in Sulu. 

Navy personnel boarded the vessels identified as M/L Menham-H, M/L Al-Kausar and M/L Okey, owned and operated by Hadji Hamsi Hamsiradji, Albasher Salim Sanka, and Hadji Jamar Mansul respectively. The Navy personnel discovered tons of smuggled goods such as rice, biscuits and noodles.

M/L Menham-H contained 13,855 sacks of rice, 145 boxes of Maggi Kari noodles, 100 boxes of Chong Yuan Biscuits, 100 pcs. used white containers, 91 bundles of udang noodles, 50 boxes of BT lights white candles, 20 boxes of Boy-Boy/Pollo Choco Sandwich, 5 boxes of black tea, 5 pcs. of empty LPG tanks, 4 pcs. vehicle tires, one new plastic drum, and one portable generator with a total market vale of P10.3 million.

M/L Okey had P7.7 million worth of goods on board consisting of 10,000 sacks of rice, 250 boxes of cooking oil, 100 boxes of 3-in-1 coffee, 180 pcs. of used white container, 60 pcs. used plastic water containers, and 2 pcs. of blue drum.

M/L Al-Kausar had 2,980 sacks of rice with an estimated market value of P 2,145,600.

Total value of seized goods is at P20,145,600.

All goods were turned over to the Bureau of Customs at the Sub-Port of Jolo, Sulu last September 26.-Interaksyon (October 04, 2012 3:15PM)

Phl seeks Southeast Asian watch of troubled waters

The Philippines is proposing that Southeast Asian countries create a regional information-sharing system to better watch waters troubled by territorial disputes, piracy, smuggling and rapid degradation of marine resources.

Philippine officials made the proposal Wednesday at the start of a three-day maritime forum in Manila organized by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Indonesia made a similar proposal at the conference, which was attended mostly by senior diplomats and private maritime experts.

The annual conference, now in its third year, is among efforts by ASEAN's 10 members to weld their diverse region of more than 500 million people into a European Union-like economic, political and security bloc by 2015 as a counterweight to Asian powerhouses like China.

Organizers were careful to point out that proposals like the offshore information-sharing system were not aimed at China, which some governments have accused of bullying smaller countries and aggressively asserting its territorial claims in the South China Sea.

"This forum is a platform for regional cooperation," said Philippine Foreign Undersecretary Linda Basilio, who led the Manila conference. She said the South China Sea disputes were off the agenda.

ASEAN, founded in 1967, decides by consensus, meaning even one member can effectively block a proposal. China does not belong to the bloc, but some ASEAN members, including its current chairman, Cambodia, have close ties with Beijing.

Tensions have flared recently over territorial disputes in the region, including rival claims by China, the Philippines and Vietnam to South China Sea islands and waters that are believed to be rich in gas and oil and straddle busy shipping routes.

Two other ASEAN members — Brunei and Malaysia — also have been embroiled in South China Sea territorial rifts.

China has opposed any attempt to bring the disputes to international forums, including ASEAN, preferring to negotiate one-on-one with rival claimants. It has warned the United States, which has been reasserting its role as an Asia-Pacific power, to stay away from the sea disputes.

Despite the focus on regional cooperation, Vietnam's delegation briefly touched on the territorial disputes in Wednesday's conference, reiterating its adherence to a peaceful settlement of the conflicting claims.

The Philippine proposal says robust information sharing in the region will allow each country to better deal and respond to cross-border threats which would be difficult to monitor alone.

"These maritime security concerns are increasingly trans-boundary and multi-dimensional in nature," the proposal said. "It would not be possible for one nation to single-handedly address some of these maritime challenges."

ASEAN can tap existing information-sharing arrangements in the region, such as those dealing with sea accidents, piracy, and joint border patrols by some countries, to create an information-sharing system that adheres to international laws, according to the proposal.-Black Pearl (October 04, 2012 1:30PM)

Philippines growing more quickly than thought, says ADB

In another sign of the Philippines' improving prospects, the Asian Development Bank raised its forecast of 2012 GDP growth from 4.8 per cent to 5.5 per cent, according to the lender's updated Asian Development Outlook 2012 released on Wednesday.

The Philippines was one of a handful of countries that escaped the ADB's sharp scaling down of forecasts for the region, which is now seen growing by 6.1 per cent this year instead of the 6.9 per cent in the bank's original projections released in April.

The ADB said it raised its forecast for the Philippines after the economy grew by a better than expected 6.1 per cent in the first half of the year. The government itself expects growth to reach 5 to 6 per cent this year from 3.9 per cent last year.

Apart from higher growth, the ADB is also predicting slightly lower inflation and an improved current account balance in 2012. It sees consumer price inflation at 3.4 per cent, down from its original forecast of 3.7 per cent. The current account balance is seen rising to 2.6 per cent of GDP, up from the original forecast of 2.1 per cent.

This leaves the central bank, which has recently cut rates to record lows, with more room to ease monetary policy and sustain growth momentum amid tougher global economic conditions. The ADB said:

There is room for further policy support for economic growth if required. Modest inflation (well within the central bank's 3.0-5.0% target range), a strong external position, and an appreciating currency suggest that monetary policy can stay accommodative, at least in the near term. Fiscal outlays fell $2 billion short of the budgeted amount in the first half of the year, despite the boost in government spending.

But the bigger challenge facing Philippine policy makers is making sure the benefits of economic expansion are enjoyed by everybody. Despite faster GDP growth, joblessness remained high at 7 per cent in the first half of the year, while under-employment rose to a six-year high of 22.7 per cent.

It's not going to be easy. The government must make progress removing stumbling blocks that have hampered agriculture and industry, the main sources of jobs.

Benjamin Diokno, an economist and former budget secretary, wrote a newspaper column outlining what needs to be done to make growth more inclusive:

Agriculture, which employs about one-third of the country's labor force, has to find new life. A big part of the sector's growth is retarded by the uncertainty brought about by agrarian reform. Injecting new life in the industrial sector, the source of many productive, decent jobs, requires better infrastructure, specifically better roads so that goods can be transported from one point to another at less cost.

Philippine Peso Little Changed as Europe Damps Investor Appetite

The Philippine peso was little changed, after gaining the most in more than two weeks yesterday, on concern a prolonged slowdown in Europe will damp demand for emerging-market assets. Government bonds fell.

Euro-area retail sales contracted for a 12th straight month in August from a year earlier, data showed today. The European Central Bank meets tomorrow, when officials are expected to leave borrowing costs unchanged at a record-low 0.75 percent, according to a Bloomberg survey. The peso climbed yesterday after a surprise jump in U.S. manufacturing boosted the Asian nation's export outlook, while the Asian Development Bank upgraded the nation's growth forecast today.

"The good U.S. data has been neutralized by concern over Europe," said Jonathan Ravelas, chief market strategist in Manila at BDO Unibank Inc. "Investors still have this guarded optimism on the Philippines."

The peso closed at 41.600 per dollar compared with 41.605 yesterday in Manila, according to Tullett Prebon Plc. It dropped as much as 0.2 percent earlier. The currency touched 41.590 on Oct. 2, the strongest level since Sept. 20. One-month implied volatility, a measure of exchange-rate swings used to price options, was unchanged at 5.3 percent.

The Asian Development Bank lifted its 2012 economic growth forecast for the Philippines to 5.5 percent from 4.8 percent. The peso has strengthened 5.4 percent this year, the best performance in Asia.

Consumer prices rose 3.8 percent in September from a year earlier, the same as in August that was the fastest since January, according to the median estimate of economists in a Bloomberg News survey before a report due Oct. 5.

The yield on the 4.75 percent notes due September 2022 increased three basis points to 4.75 percent, according to prices from Tradition Financial Services.-Rebuilding for the Better Philippines (October 04, 2012 11:00AM)