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Rating Action:

Moody's upgrades Philippines to Ba1; outlook stable

29 Oct 2012

Singapore, October 29, 2012 -- Moody's Investors Service has today upgraded the foreign and local currency long-term bond ratings of the Government of the Philippines to Ba1 from Ba2. The ratings outlook is stable.

The key drivers for the decision are:

1. The country's improved economic performance and continued fiscal revenue buoyancy in the face of deteriorating global demand;

2. The Philippines' enhanced prospects for growth over the medium-term; and

3. The stable financial system that poses limited contingent risks and provides a stable source of financing for the government.

Moody's also raised the Philippines' long-term foreign currency (FC) bond ceiling to Baa2 from Baa3 and upgraded the long-term FC deposit ceiling to Ba1 from Ba2. The short-term FC bond ceiling of P-3 and the short-term FC deposit ceiling of "Not Prime" are unchanged. The outlook for these ceilings is stable.

These ceilings act as a cap on the ratings that can be assigned to the FC obligations of other entities domiciled in the country. The Philippines' local currency (LC) bond and deposit ceilings of A2 are also unchanged.

In a related rating action, Moody's upgraded the issue ratings for rated liabilities of the country's central bank, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), to Ba1 from Ba2 with a stable outlook.

RATIONALE FOR THE UPGRADE TO Ba1

Despite the headwinds from softening external demand, the Philippines has demonstrated considerable economic strength and fiscal resilience. In contrast to similarly rated countries, the country is poised to record a combination of faster growth, lower inflation, exchange rate appreciation, and an increase in foreign exchange reserves, while maintaining trend debt consolidation.

In addition, cyclical features support improved prospects for growth in the medium-term. Despite the lack of progress in its public-private partnership program, the government's spending on infrastructure has picked up, but its fiscal impact has been mitigated by the continued gains from enhanced revenue administration. Also, remittance inflows continue to increase despite the global economic slowdown, which further underscores their role in sustaining private consumption and maintaining a healthy current account surplus.

Over the longer term, the landmark peace agreement signed between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) may have wider beneficial effects on investment and economic growth in Mindanao--the country's largest island--which has untapped agricultural and mining potential.

The government's renewed focus on the mining sector could also provide further diversity to the economy and an additional stream of revenue for the government--although such intentions have faltered in the past.

The banking system provides an additional source of credit strength in two ways: 1) the lack of contingent risks to the government's balance sheet; and 2) a stable source of financing for government debt. The Philippine banking system as a whole remains reasonably capitalized, profitable, well-managed, and very liquid. Nearly a third of the government's LC-denominated debt is held by Philippine banks, while ample FC liquidity has also contributed to the substantial domestic absorption of FC-denominated government debt.

In addition, the Philippines' rating continues to be anchored by important strengths: 1) macroeconomic stability as reflected in the success of the central bank's inflation targeting regime; and 2) a healthy external payments position comprised of a structural current account surplus and, recently, increased FDI and portfolio inflows. Also, the Philippines is now a net external financial creditor: the central bank's stock of foreign exchange reserves is larger than the country's stock of external debt.

Taken together, these strengths have contributed to the appreciation of the peso and lower interest rate costs for the government. These have in turn helped accelerate the process of debt consolidation, thus addressing the relatively high stock of debt, a constraint on the Philippine rating.

The long-term FC deposit ceilings have been maintained at the same level as the government bond ratings. The likelihood of a bank default on a FC deposit or other FC short-term liabilities is mitigated by the presence of ample liquidity in the Philippines' foreign currency deposit units (FCDUs).

WHAT COULD CHANGE THE RATING--UP

Further progress in addressing the country's key weaknesses may prompt a positive rating action: the passage and effective implementation of structural revenue reforms; a more rapid reduction in the general government debt stock; and an acceleration of investment spending that ensures a higher economic growth trajectory.

WHAT COULD CHANGE THE RATING--DOWN

A negative rating action could be prompted by the emergence of macroeconomic instability that leads to a substantial deterioration in fiscal and government debt metrics, an increase in debt servicing costs, and/or an erosion of the country's external payments position.

METHODOLOGY

The principal methodology used in this rating was Sovereign Bond Ratings published in September 2008. Please see the Credit Policy page on www.moodys.com for a copy of this methodology.

REGULATORY DISCLOSURES

The Global Scale Credit Ratings on this press release that are issued by one of Moody's affiliates outside the EU are endorsed by Moody's Investors Service Ltd., One Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E 14 5FA, UK, in accordance with Art.4 paragraph 3 of the Regulation (EC) No 1060/2009 on Credit Rating Agencies. Further information on the EU endorsement status and on the Moody's office that has issued a particular Credit Rating is available on www.moodys.com.

For ratings issued on a program, series or category/class of debt, this announcement provides relevant regulatory disclosures in relation to each rating of a subsequently issued bond or note of the same series or category/class of debt or pursuant to a program for which the ratings are derived exclusively from existing ratings in accordance with Moody's rating practices. For ratings issued on a support provider, this announcement provides relevant regulatory disclosures in relation to the rating action on the support provider and in relation to each particular rating action for securities that derive their credit ratings from the support provider's credit rating. For provisional ratings, this announcement provides relevant regulatory disclosures in relation to the provisional rating assigned, and in relation to a definitive rating that may be assigned subsequent to the final issuance of the debt, in each case where the transaction structure and terms have not changed prior to the assignment of the definitive rating in a manner that would have affected the rating. For further information please see the ratings tab on the issuer/entity page for the respective issuer on www.moodys.com.

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Information sources used to prepare the rating are the following: parties involved in the ratings and public information.

Moody's considers the quality of information available on the rated entity, obligation or credit satisfactory for the purposes of issuing a rating.

Moody's adopts all necessary measures so that the information it uses in assigning a rating is of sufficient quality and from sources Moody's considers to be reliable including, when appropriate, independent third-party sources. However, Moody's is not an auditor and cannot in every instance independently verify or validate information received in the rating process.

Please see the ratings disclosure page on www.moodys.com for general disclosure on potential conflicts of interests.

Please see the ratings disclosure page on www.moodys.com for information on (A) MCO's major shareholders (above 5%) and for (B) further information regarding certain affiliations that may exist between directors of MCO and rated entities as well as (C) the names of entities that hold ratings from MIS that have also publicly reported to the SEC an ownership interest in MCO of more than 5%. A member of the board of directors of this rated entity may also be a member of the board of directors of a shareholder of Moody's Corporation; however, Moody's has not independently verified this matter.

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Please see www.moodys.com for any updates on changes to the lead rating analyst and to the Moody's legal entity that has issued the rating.

Christian de Guzman
Vice President - Senior Analyst
Sovereign Risk Group
Moody's Investors Service Singapore Pte. Ltd.
50 Raffles Place #23-06
Singapore Land Tower
Singapore 48623
Singapore
JOURNALISTS: (852) 3758 -1350
SUBSCRIBERS: (65) 6398-8308

Bart Oosterveld
MD - Sovereign Risk
Sovereign Risk Group
JOURNALISTS: 212-553-0376
SUBSCRIBERS: 212-553-1653

Releasing Office:
Moody's Investors Service Singapore Pte. Ltd.
50 Raffles Place #23-06
Singapore Land Tower
Singapore 48623
Singapore
JOURNALISTS: (852) 3758 -1350
SUBSCRIBERS: (65) 6398-8308

Moody's upgrades Philippines to Ba1; outlook stable
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