Making Philippines proud
Making Philippines proud
HIDDEN AGENDA - Mary Ann LL. Reyes (The Philippine Star) - February 17, 2019 - 12:00am

Where would Philippine sports be, if not for private organizations which spend their valuable resources to give our local athletes the much-needed exposure in the international sporting scene?

Mighty Sports Apparel and Accessories, led by brothers Caesar and Alex Wongchuking, is becoming a force to reckon with in the sporting arena, most recently, when they led the Mighty Sports team to a podium finish at the Dubai International Basketball Invitational Championship against taller, tougher and more established teams from the Arab nations.

It was not easy for the Wongchuking brothers, and coach Charles Tiu, to assemble and develop a formidable team in such a short period of time. This was their second time to join the prestigious Dubai tournament, their first in 2016 when the Mighty Sports team won only one of five of their games. This time, however, the team, led by Justin Brownlee, Randolph Morris, UP’s Juan Gomez de Liano, Fil-Am players Jeremiah Gray and Roosevelt Adams, former LA Lakers star Lamar Odom, Santi Santillan, Jett Manuel and Jason Brickman, were able to finish in third place and sweep the elimination round. Also in line-up were Troy Rike, Gab Banal, Joseph Yeo, Justin Gutang and Angelo Wongchuking.

The Dubai Invitational tournament is, however, not Mighty Sports’ first foray into international basketball competitions.

In 2016, Mighty Sports represented the Philippines in the William Jones Cup held in Taiwan, winning the championship. In the same year, the team was invited to Singapore’s Merlion Cup Tournament as the Philippines’ representative where it placed second.

Mighty Sports has also returned to domestic basketball after it entered in a partnership with the Bulacan Kuyas of the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League. The team is now named Bulacan Kuyas-Mighty Sports as part of the agreement.

Despite the challenges, the Wongchuking’s love for the sport is what keeps them going. Mighty Sports also supports other teams like the UP Maroons, College of St. Benilde Blazers, Xavier School, among others.

Hats off to DTI

Just recently, the Department of Trade Industry imposed provisional safeguard duties amounting to P210 per metric ton on cement imported from a number of countries.

According to Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, a preliminary investigation on cement imported from 2013 to 2017 has shown that increased imports are causing or threatening to cause serious injury to the domestic cement industry.

During the said period, the share of imports to total domestic supply increased from 0.02 percent in 2013 to 15 percent in 2017 while volume of cement imports increased by 72 percent in 2017 compared to the previous year.

In DTI Department Order 19-02, Lopez noted that during the 2013-2017 period, despite significant increase in market size, the market share of domestic manufacturers declined; domestic industry sales revenues went down by 12 percent in 2017 compared to the previous year; the weighted average landed cost of imports is lower than the average selling price of local cement indicating a price undercutting of 14 percent; and that cement manufacturers have been forced to reduce prices by almost 10 percent to compete with lower-priced imported cement. All these, he said, show that the domestic industry has suffered serious injury due to increased imports.

The provisional safeguard measures shall be imposed on imported cement for 200 days. The Tariff Commission will conduct formal investigations to determine whether there is a need to impose a definitive safeguard measure.

Cement manufacturing as the DTI puts it, is a strategic industry being a critical input to the Duterte administration’s Build Build Build program and in building decent homes for ordinary Filipinos.

 Unbridled importation could stunt the growth, or worse, even cause the demise of the local cement industry.

Should that happen, the country would be subjected to the vagaries of changing global demand, supply conditions, and volatility in landed cost, not to mention a perennial trade deficit.

 In the past five years, cement imports into the Philippines surged from a measly 3,558 metric tons in 2013, to more than three million metric tons in 2017, reaching almost five million in 2018. By allowing loose cement imports with zero tariff, pure importers’ share of the market grew from only 0.02 percent to 15 percent from 2013 to 2017.

Of course, the pure importers are moving heaven and earth against the move, warning of cement price increases due to a shortage resulting from the safeguard measures. But DTI believes that the  domestic capacity of 35 million metric tons a year and various capacity expansion projects are enough to meet growing local demand.

The DTI only acted with the best interest of the country in mind in imposing the safeguard measures. There is no need for its detractors to fool the people.

Not so Hidden Agenda

HISTORICAL WALK: Last Jan. 27, the historical ‘Save Manila Bay’ project kicked off with a 3.6-km walk led by DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu (center). Joining the event led by Commodore Bobby Joseph of Manila Yacht Club are the Rotary Club of Manila, Skal International Club of Makati, Network of Independent Travel Agencies and Services, and Manila Interline Club, among others. In photo are (from left) MMDA chairman Danny Lim, Joseph, Cimatu, Tourism Secretary Berna Puyat and DILG Secretary Eduardo Año.

For comments, e-mail at mareyes@philstarmedia.com

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