Val A. Villanueva

230 posts
Val A. Villanueva-Businesswise

A worried transport sector in limbo

The decision of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) on March 8 to allow the operations of the Provincial Public Utility Buses (PUBs) on inter-regional routes has not lifted the spirits of bus operators whose bottom line has been languishing in the red.

Val A. Villanueva-Businesswise

A tale of two banks

The year 2021 ended with the proverbial bang, but not in a good way for at least two banking institutions. The last month of the year saw two banking issues emerge from the woodwork. One is the unfortunate Banco de Oro hacking incident, which affected over 700 BDO Unibank accounts, each depositor losing between P25,000 and P50,000, after being taken over by a certain “Mark Nagoyo.” The other one is the lesser-known Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC) fund scam where a foundation and a handful of other clients of the bank complained they were victimized by a branch manager, involving millions of pesos.

Val A. Villanueva-Businesswise

The polarizing effect of the pandemic

“Loose lips sink ships.” This American English idiom has often characterized President Duterte’s brand of messaging since becoming president in 2016. His penchant for shooting from the hip and his constant flip-flopping on what he publicly declares have kept his communications team scrambling to “massage” his seemingly thoughtless remarks.

Val A. Villanueva-Businesswise

Natural gas, a vital bridge to net-zero carbon future

For the past week or so, the United States has been experiencing the weirdest weather ever. For instance, the people of Hawaii spent the weekend of December 3 worrying about a blizzard warning issued a day before. While rainfall was inexplicably drenching the Pacific Northwest, irrationally warm temperatures swathed across the Midwest and South, and a major snow famine in the Rockies signaled that Denver’s first winter snowfall has been delayed.  

Val A. Villanueva-Businesswise

New Covid variant a litmus test to govt pandemic response

I just had a lengthy phone conversation with a dear friend who had just survived the Delta variant of Covid-19. He was fully vaccinated with Sinovac and in the pink of health before the virus struck, and with no known comorbidities. And yet, his Covid attack was so severe that he was given only an 8 percent chance to live. Due to extreme breathing complications, my friend was intubated and medically induced into a coma. His pneumonia caused his left lung to collapse, and other vital parts of his body were in severe stress.

Val A. Villanueva-Businesswise

Welcome to the Barnum and Bailey Show

President Duterte has doubled down on his claim that an unnamed presidential candidate is doing cocaine. He further ratcheted up his allegation by saying that this presidential aspirant who comes from a wealthy family “whose last name means strong” does the illegal act in places like on a yacht or a private plane.

Val A. Villanueva-Businesswise

Malampaya’s ‘fire sale’ to Udenna

There seems to be a disturbing pattern in the way President Duterte shields his political allies and friends from accusations of wrongdoing. Time and time again we see him going ballistic on issues—his drug war, pandemic handling, corruption, etc.—whenever friends and allies are caught or exposed for alleged irregularities. Those at the receiving end of the “presidential wrath” are often bombarded with expletives, insults, and veiled threats.

Val A. Villanueva-Businesswise

Despite Chief Justice’s order, delays still hound infra project

The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) on August 24 opened the 5.14-kilometer Cavite-Laguna Expressway (CALAX) subsection 5 in the province of Cavite, with former DPWH Secretary Mark Villar cutting the ceremonial ribbon. Subsection 5 traverses the Silang East Interchange to the Sta. Rosa-Tagaytay Interchange. It is expected to service roughly 5,000 motorists daily, in addition to the already 10,000 users of subsections 6, 7 and 8 from Sta. Rosa to Mamplasan. The whole Laguna segment is expected to serve around 20,000 vehicles.

Val A. Villanueva-Businesswise

The ‘Kodigo scenario’

The name of the Philippine presidential palace Malacañang is traditionally attributed to the phrase “may lakan diyan,” indicating the presence there of a nobleman or more precisely a strong leader. Yet, we seem to be once again at the risk of falling prey to the stars in our eyes and installing a papier-mache proxy in the presidential palace, instead of the strong leader the country needs. Former actor Isko Moreno, aka Manila Mayor Francisco Domagoso or “Yorme,” caused a stir when he announced his intention to run for president in 2022, and pundits are wondering: is this the healing that the Philippines actually needs, with a clear and decisive break from Dutertismo? Is “Yorme” Duterte’s and his cronies’ ticket to a golden parachute?

Val A. Villanueva-Businesswise

Power crisis looms

During a virtual forum on August 17, the Department of Energy (DOE) warned of “thin power reserves” that could likely coincide with the 2022 general election on May 9, 2022, with the temperature expected to peak around that time.

Val A. Villanueva-Businesswise

The ‘Delta pandemic’ and the 2022 polls

The near riot caused by people flooding vaccination centers a day before Metro Manila and Calabarzon went into a lockdown may very well be considered a reflection of the mounting fear and exasperation Filipinos feel about the inability of the government to contain a pandemic that has sapped them physically, emotionally and financially.

Val A. Villanueva-Businesswise

Budget delays hijack pandemic, critical projects

The legislative arm of government has been clamoring for the timely and efficient release of funds meant for pandemic response. This has been an ongoing plea since October of last year, but it seems that the senators’ cries have fallen on deaf ears as the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), who earmarked more than P160 billion “for later release” (FLR)—much to the chagrin of legislators and citizens alike—has decided to withhold the fund with no plausible explanation.

Val A. Villanueva-Businesswise

The unsinkable virus

The global and local threat of the Covid-19 remains critically high, despite the availability of vaccines meant to slow it down, if not to completely eradicate it.

Val A. Villanueva-Businesswise

My friendship with PNoy

I met PNoy—the late former President Benigno Simeon Aquino III—during the tumultuous years following his father’s death on August 21, 1983. PNoy was then working for Mondragon Industries Philippines Inc. as an assistant retail sales supervisor and assistant promotions manager for the Nike brand, while I was the assistant marketing and PR director of the newly minted Wendy’s chain of fast-food restaurants under Wenphil Corp. which was headed by Jose T. Pardo, current  Chair of the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE).

Val A. Villanueva-Businesswise

Long-drawn COA action on tax-credit schemes questioned

For a surprisingly long time, the Philippines has relied on the use of tax credit certificates as incentives to export firms in the hope of enhancing national competitiveness in an increasingly market-driven global economy. Although TCCs are refunds—instead of returning cash—the government, through the Department of Finance (DOF) issues certificates that applicant firms can use to pay their liabilities, including taxes or debts to creditor firms. TCCs are as good as cash. What makes the scheme unique is that TCCs are transferrable to other users.

Val A. Villanueva-Businesswise

Hall of blame in Luzon power mess

For once, I couldn’t agree more with Sen. Manny Pacquiao when he jabbed at Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi’s alleged incompetence, accusing the latter of undermining his duties as a Cabinet member in favor of a political agenda.

Val A. Villanueva-Businesswise

EWC, energy firms, ready for post-Covid economic rebound

The Philippine unit of Energy World Corp. (EWC) of Australia, which is in the final touches of building its transmission facilities in its liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant in Pagbilao, Quezon, is raising AU$65 million through a fully underwritten non-renounceable one-for 2.21 entitlement offer.

Val A. Villanueva-Businesswise

Riding out the pandemic: To each his own

IN his recent televised public address, President Duterte told us not to worry about the pandemic. The government is not without a backup plan, he said, as he threatened to take over hotel establishments if and when the crisis overwhelmed the country’s health facilities.

A year of ‘excellently’ living dangerously

IT has been more than a year since the pandemic started wreaking havoc around the world. While other countries seem to have gotten some semblance of normalcy, the Philippines has yet to strike a good balance between economic survival and health issues. The result is a distorted picture of a zero-sum game in which the Duterte administration loses in both health and economic fronts.

Val A. Villanueva-Businesswise

A year of ‘excellently’ living dangerously

IT has been more than a year since the pandemic started wreaking havoc around the world. While other countries seem to have gotten some semblance of normalcy, the Philippines has yet to strike a good balance between economic survival and health issues. The result is a distorted picture of a zero-sum game in which the Duterte administration loses in both health and economic fronts.

Val A. Villanueva-Businesswise

China fortifies foothold on PHL’s telecoms

A Filipino-American reader residing in Daly City in California, USA, sent me a long message unleashing a mouthful against the Philippine government’s footsie-play with China, despite the latter’s unapologetic grabbing of the country’s islands in the West Philippine Sea.

Val A. Villanueva-Businesswise

‘Railroad robbery’

Investigating what went terribly wrong in the procurement process of Light Rail Transit-2 (LRT-2) was one of the last official actions of the late Dante Jimenez, chairman of the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC), before he succumbed to aortic aneurism on January 29 this year.

Val A. Villanueva-Businesswise


This and future generations would not be wrong to consider 2020 as the year, to quote wartime US President Franklin D. Roosevelt, that will live in infamy.

Val A. Villanueva-Businesswise

Defending the forest

IT looks like the Duterte administration—probably alarmed at how ill-prepared its different agencies were in responding to the three cyclones that recently devastated the country—has taken a proactive tack in dealing with natural calamities.

Val A. Villanueva-Businesswise

PHL drowns in the flood of cyclical neglect

Members of both houses of Congress are pushing for “the widespread probe on severe flooding” caused by Typhoon Ulysses, even as President Duterte ordered the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to investigate illegal mining and logging activities in Cagayan Valley.

Val A. Villanueva-Businesswise

PHL needs to avert energy crisis

What is mind-boggling is how the government can wave an SOS flag to new LNG investors to come in, even as it drags its feet on giving the go-signal to the LNG Pagbilao Project that is already prepared, ready and able to provide power to the country.

Ramon Ang’s ‘Midas touch’

Ramon See Ang, president and chief executive officer of Top Frontier Investment Holdings Inc., the largest shareholder of San Miguel Corp., doesn’t just dream; he plans. And when he does, he’ll make sure his plan comes to fruition.

When the message is massaged

Two words recently sent into a tailspin a nation that has been reeling for almost half a year from the Covid-19 pandemic and the havoc it is wreaking in the economy. “Perpetual isolation”—these words were probably meant to assure an already stressed-out public that all is well with President Duterte who was rumored to have been airlifted to Singapore for medical treatment.

Nuke power in PHL back on the agenda

One of President Duterte’s “achievements” during his official visit to Russia on October 2, 2019, was a memorandum of intent signed by officials of both countries “to jointly explore the prospects of cooperation in the construction of nuclear power plants in the Philippines.” A proposal to build a floating nuclear power plant in the country was also broached by Russia.

The pandemic diaries

The Philippines now faces the ignominy of being dead-last among countries considered safest in Asia-Pacific in the wake of the pandemic, according to the list prepared by Hong Kong-based venture capital firm Deep Knowledge Ventures.

The pandemic diaries

Unless things turn out for the worse, it looks like the country is about to face the new normal after May 31. The government has approved the recommendations of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on Emerging Infectious Diseases that would put many areas in the country under general community quarantine  (GCQ) with eased restrictions after May 15, while some “pandemic hot spots” will be put under modified  enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) up to the end of the month.

The pandemic diaries

It’s been almost eight weeks since we were all placed under house arrest. The pandemic, the cause of it all, has shown no visible signs of slowing down despite global efforts to institute stringent measures to stop it from possessing and thriving inside human hosts.

The pandemic diaries

The pandemic wreaking health havoc worldwide has likewise rewritten how global business works. It is now unsure how to cope with the novel no-demand-no-supply economy. The crisis has now crept into the oil market, disrupting the global demand for energy. Devoid of a timeline on when the lockdown ends in the developed world, the oil market painfully wilts from protracted oversupply.

The pandemic diaries

AS of April 15, 2020, the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases worldwide has reached 1,998,111 with the death tally at 126,604 and recoveries at 478,659. The United States tops the list with 613,886 confirmed cases, 26,047 deaths, and 38,820 recoveries.

Perfect economic storm

Covid-19 undoubtedly brought about catastrophic human miseries around the world. But its economic fallout is even more mind-boggling and distressing. The economic ambiguity the pandemic has triggered will set back the world’s economy by about $1trillion in 2020.

The smell of death

Surreal. The past few weeks have seen the world as we know it turned upside down. The usual hustle and bustle, crowded and noisy bodies and moving machines traversing the busiest of thoroughfares around the globe have been effectively silenced.


“IN every epoch, maybe noong una, Bubonic Plague, mga gago tao noon, tamang tama lang. Tapos ’yung Spanish Flu, right before the wars. Kawawa yung mga tao pero mas kawawa ’yung sa Middle East. The so-called Roman Empire. You have read the inquisition, kung may birth mark ka you are a witch and you’re burned at stake.”

House probes PSALM books; SMC cries foul

Our exposé on the inability by the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (PSALM) to collect overdue accounts from Independent Power Producer Administrators (IPPAs) and electric cooperatives has pried open a scheme by which congressmen allegedly act as protectors of some of those in the list.

ChinaTel disenfranchisement

AS I have previously written, it doesn’t take might and power to overhaul the country’s Jurassic telecom infrastructure. Globe Telecom Inc., and Philippine Long Distance Telephone Inc., may have a vast war chest and a gigantic bandwidth. The problem is in their finding ways to make effective and efficient use of the resources at their disposal in a not-so-friendly environment, which has, thus far, stalled their expansion plans.

China-made viruses

AN old joke narrates that if Adam and Eve were Chinese, we would not have inherited the sin of disobedience that Christians refer to as the original sin. The couple would have instead devoured the serpent, which tempted Eve to eat the forbidden fruit in Paradise.

Draped in a veil of gray

Without traffic, our house is only a 15-minute drive to Tagaytay. The road to that cool and popular holiday town south of Manila, dotted with hotels, restaurants, and pasalubong stores, offer locals and tourists a vantage view of the idyllic, bluish Taal Lake and, the world’s smallest, Taal Volcano.

Sulu natural gas find, bigger than Malampaya’s

Amid the gaffes of the administration of  President Duterte—from his failed drug war which his men are now blaming on Vice President Leni Robredo who was appointed as drug czar but fired even before she got to warm her seat, to the national embarrassment the country has been getting for its unpardonable solecisms in hosting the biennial Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games)—comes a whiff of good news from the south.

China Telecom’s tower inside PHL military camp, act of treason?

Perhaps today’s youth should watch the movie Midway, which is still showing in theaters as I write this. It vividly narrates how the United States and Japan, battled for control of Midway Atoll—a shambolic, autonomous territory of the US that up to now is the only island in the Hawaiian archipelago that does not belong to the state of Hawaii.