TCRLA_Public/191025.mbx        T R O U B L E D   C O M P A N Y   R E P O R T E R

                 L A T I N   A M E R I C A

          Friday, October 25, 2019, Vol. 20, No. 214

                           Headlines



B R A Z I L

BRAZIL: 6 in 10 Firms Opened in 2012 Closed Down Within Five Years


D O M I N I C A N   R E P U B L I C

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: Dollar Continues to Rise Despite Measures
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: No Condition for Fiscal Adjustment, IMF Says


M E X I C O

[*] MEXICO: Business Community Gears Up For Cannabis Boom


P U E R T O   R I C O

FIRST BANCORP: Fitch Affirms B+ LT IDR, Outlook Stable
PUERTO RICO: Debt Cancellation Proposal for Flounders at Hearing


V E N E Z U E L A

NYNAS AB: To Suspend Imports of Venezuelan Oil Due to Sanctions

                           - - - - -


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B R A Z I L
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BRAZIL: 6 in 10 Firms Opened in 2012 Closed Down Within Five Years
------------------------------------------------------------------
The Rio Times Online reports that approximately 40 percent of the
597,200 companies in Brazil that set up in 2012 were still active
in 2017. This figure, used as a survival rate, suggests that six
out of ten companies in Brazil ceased operations in the five years,
according to The Rio Times Online.

The data are from the Business Demographics and Entrepreneurship
Statistics, released on October 17, by the Brazilian Institute of
Geography and Statistics (IBGE), the report notes.

In 2017, the survey shows that there were some 4.5 million
companies in Brazil, 22,900 less than the previous year, the report
adds.

                  About Brazil

The Federal Republic of Brazil is the largest country in Latin
America.  Sao Paulo is the most populated city and Brasilia is the
capital.  The federation is composed of the union of 26 states,
the Federal District and more than 5,000 municipalities.  Its
government is headed by President Jair Bolsonaro.  Among other
things, Brazil's government is hounded by corruption allegations.

Brazil has an advanced emerging economy.  Amid growth in recent
decades, the country entered an ongoing recession in 2014 amid a
political corruption scandal and nationwide protests.

Standard & Poor's credit rating for Brazil stands at BB- with
stable outlook (January 2018). Moody's credit rating for Brazil was
last set at Ba2 with stable outlook (April 2018). Fitch's credit
rating for Brazil was last reported at BB- with stable outlook
(February 2018). DBRS's credit rating for Brazil is BB (low) with
stable outlook (March 2018).




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D O M I N I C A N   R E P U B L I C
===================================

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: Dollar Continues to Rise Despite Measures
-------------------------------------------------------------
Dominican Today reports that the dollar rate has continued to
increase in the Dominican Republic despite the measures that the
Central Bank has applied to prevent it, according to press
reports.

The same round the 53 pesos per dollar and economists predict that
there could be new increases, according to Dominican Today.

Businessmen, merchants, and economists attribute the stability to
the tension generated by the conflict in the governmental Dominican
Liberation Party, the report notes.

On Sept. 16, the Central Bank injected more than $ 100 million into
the foreign exchange market in order to stabilize it, the report
adds.

                  About Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic is a Caribbean nation that shares the island
of Hispaniola with Haiti to the west. Capital city Santo Domingo
has Spanish landmarks like the Gothic Catedral Primada de America
dating back 5 centuries in its Zona Colonial district.

The Troubled Company Reporter-Latin America reported on April 4,
2019 that the Dominican Today related that Juan Del Rosario of the
UASD Economic Faculty cited a current economic slowdown for the
Dominican Republic and cautioned that if the trend continues,
growth would reach only 4% by 2023. Mr. Del Rosario said that if
that happens, "we'll face difficulties in meeting international
commitments."

An ongoing concern in the Dominican Republic is the inability of
participants in the electricity sector to establish financial
viability for the system.

Standard & Poor's credit rating for Dominican Republic stands at
BB- with stable outlook (2015). Moody's credit rating for Dominican
Republic was last set at Ba3 with stable outlook (2017). Fitch's
credit rating for Dominican Republic was last reported at BB- with
stable outlook (2016).


DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: No Condition for Fiscal Adjustment, IMF Says
----------------------------------------------------------------
Dominican Today reports that the Dominican Republic lost the
opportunity to make the fiscal adjustments that the International
Monetary Fund (IMF) has suggested on more than one occasion to make
the economy sustainable.

This statement was made by economist Antonio Ciriaco Cruz when
asked by the media about the recommendations made by the IMF,
according to Dominican Today.

"I think the country lost a great opportunity to make important
structural reforms," he said, the report notes.

Ciriaco explained that some reforms, such as the fiscal pact, due
to their nature and complexity have not been carried out, and
therefore it is not the right moment for its realization since the
economy is growing at a slower pace than in previous years, the
report relays.

"Fiscal reforms are carried out at a time when the economic cycle
is expanding to prevent affected sectors from feeling their income
depleted," he said.

The economist also said that the world economic situation has
slowed down, as the IMF has affirmed and that it could end up with
growth below 3.0% this year, the report discloses.

"The growing trade tensions between China and the USA, the European
Union and the USA, Brexit and geopolitical conflicts have generated
great uncertainty about the future of the world's major economies,"
he added.

He considered that this has slowed investment flows and decisions,
damaging investment and private consumption, the report relays.

                                  Debt

Ciriaco said the country's debt will have no solution without a
fiscal agreement, the report notes.

"Otherwise, the consolidated debt of the public sector could end at
the end of this year at 57% of GDP and with interest payments of
around 3.5% of GDP, this being a great restriction for public
investment," he said, the report notes.

                  Know More IMF Recommendation

The IMF report, published in August 2019, reiterates the need to
implement reforms that provide solutions to "bottlenecks," the
report relays.  Among the most repeated issues are his alert for
public debt and the need for fiscal adjustment, the report adds.

                  About Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic is a Caribbean nation that shares the island
of Hispaniola with Haiti to the west. Capital city Santo Domingo
has Spanish landmarks like the Gothic Catedral Primada de America
dating back 5 centuries in its Zona Colonial district.

The Troubled Company Reporter-Latin America reported on April 4,
2019 that the Dominican Today related that Juan Del Rosario of the
UASD Economic Faculty cited a current economic slowdown for the
Dominican Republic and cautioned that if the trend continues,
growth would reach only 4% by 2023. Mr. Del Rosario said that if
that happens, "we'll face difficulties in meeting international
commitments."

An ongoing concern in the Dominican Republic is the inability of
participants in the electricity sector to establish financial
viability for the system.

Standard & Poor's credit rating for Dominican Republic stands at
BB- with stable outlook (2015). Moody's credit rating for Dominican
Republic was last set at Ba3 with stable outlook (2017). Fitch's
credit rating for Dominican Republic was last reported at BB- with
stable outlook (2016).




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M E X I C O
===========

[*] MEXICO: Business Community Gears Up For Cannabis Boom
---------------------------------------------------------
EFE News reports that business leaders and industry representatives
said they were "optimistic" that the marijuana legalization
legislation being debated by Congress could lead to a "green
economy boom" in Mexico.

Guillermo Nieto, president of the National Cannabis Industry
Association (ANICANN), said he expected marijuana to be legalized
soon, creating a market potentially worth $5 billion annually by
January 2021, according to EFE News.




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P U E R T O   R I C O
=====================

FIRST BANCORP: Fitch Affirms B+ LT IDR, Outlook Stable
------------------------------------------------------
Fitch Ratings affirmed the Long-Term Issuer Default Rating of First
BanCorp at 'B+' following the announcement that FBP will acquire
Banco Santander Puerto Rico. FBP's Rating Outlook remains Stable.
Fitch upgraded FPB's Long-Term IDR on May 1, 2019 reflecting the
resilience of the company's financial profile despite a challenging
operating environment in recent years.

The transaction is valued at $1.1 billion, financed by 100% cash.
The deal represents a price-to-tangible book value of 1.06x for
BSPR. The company expects the deal to have an internal rate of
return of approximately 20%, and fully phased-in cost saves are
expected to be 35% of BSPR's non-interest expense base. The
transaction is expected to close in mid-2020, subject to
shareholder and regulatory approvals.

KEY RATING DRIVERS

IDRs and VRs

The affirmation reflects Fitch's view that the BSPR transaction is
in line with Fitch's expectations that FBP would pursue an
acquisition in order to build out its franchise and gain further
operating efficiencies. Fitch believes the transaction augments
FBP's market share in Puerto Rico. FBP's proforma loan and deposit
market share would increase to around 30% and 20%, from 19% and
11%, respectively. This would solidify FBP's market position as 2nd
in Puerto Rico, following OFG Bancorp's acquisition of Scotiabank
de Puerto Rico announced in June 2019.

The degree to which the transaction will strengthen FBP's funding
profile will depend heavily on the level of customer attrition. FBP
has disclosed expected deposit attrition of approximately 20%.
Fitch believes there is uncertainty over the level of attrition
that FBP could ultimately experience as FBP lacks Santander's brand
recognition and international capabilities, and has a relatively
weaker product and service offerings compared with its larger
competitor on the island, Popular, Inc. (BPOP; BB/Stable). Using
the proforma data provided at the announcement, FBP's
loan-to-deposit (LTD) ratio will fall to just under 84%. However,
given the expected deposit attrition, Fitch expects that FBP's LTD
ratio will drift into the low-to-mid-90% range over time compared
to the 100% LTD ratio it reported at 2Q19. This expectation is
incorporated into the affirmation and the Stable Rating Outlook.

Importantly, FBP will not assume any of the BSPR's non-accrual
loans in the transaction, which Fitch views positively given FBP's
heightened level of non-performing assets relative to BPOP and
banks on the U.S. mainland. Fitch estimates that FBP's
non-performing assets (including accruing troubled debt
restructures) to loans and other real estate owned will fall
approximately 150 bps upon close of the transaction, a credit
positive.

FBP's CET1 capital ratio is expected to fall to 15.3% as a result
of the transaction from 20.6% as of 2Q19 (excluding the impact of
CECL implementation). In Fitch's press release dated May 1, 2019,
Fitch incorporated the expectation that FBP's capital ratios could
come down should FBP pursued merger and acquisition (M&A)
opportunities. Fitch expects that capital will increase from
proforma levels following the close of the transaction.

LONG- AND SHORT-TERM DEPOSIT RATINGS

FBP's uninsured deposits at its subsidiary bank are rated one notch
higher than FBP's Long-Term IDR because U.S. uninsured deposits
benefit from depositor preference. U.S. depositor preference gives
deposit liabilities superior recovery prospects in the event of
default.

HOLDING COMPANY

FBP has a bank holding company (BHC) structure with the bank as the
main subsidiary. The company's IDRs and VRs are equalized with
those of the operating company and bank, reflecting its role as the
bank holding company, which is mandated in the U.S. to act as a
source of strength for its bank subsidiary. Double leverage is
below 120% for the FBP parent company.

SUPPORT RATING AND SUPPORT RATING FLOOR

The Support Rating of '5' and Support Ratings Floor of 'NF' reflect
Fitch's view that FBP is not considered systemically important, and
therefore the probability of support is unlikely. The IDRs and VRs
do not incorporate any support.

RATING SENSITIVITIES

IDRs and VRs

Fitch views FBP's ratings as well situated at their current levels
until the transaction receives regulatory approval and closes to
allow time for the results of the transaction to be assessed. FBP's
market position relative to BPOP has historically been considered a
limiting factor to its ratings. Should customer attrition be
manageable and result in a sustainably improved market position in
Puerto Rico, positive momentum could develop over time.

While not expected, Fitch could take negative action should FBP
engage in additional M&A resulting in capital ratios falling
further than FBP's proforma projections. Conversely, positive
rating momentum could develop over time should FBP continue to
reduce its level of nonperforming assets to be more in line with
peers while maintaining capital levels in-line with or higher than
peers.

FBP's operating environment continues to be a higher influence
factor on its ratings. Therefore, FBP's ratings would be sensitive
to Fitch's assessment economic and demographic trends in Puerto
Rico over the medium- and long-term time horizons. Fitch expects
that Puerto Rico's economy will likely grow over the next few years
but that longer-term growth prospects are less certain and are
dependent on the effectiveness of fiscal and structural reforms in
Puerto Rico.

FBP's ratings could also be sensitive to environmental factors such
as severe weather events that result in weaker demographic or
economic growth trends and/or sustained asset quality
deterioration.

LONG- AND SHORT-TERM DEPOSIT RATINGS

The ratings of long- and short-term deposits issued by FBP's
subsidiary are primarily sensitive to any change in the company's
IDRs. FBP's deposit ratings could be similarly affected should the
company's Long-Term IDR change.

HOLDING COMPANY

If FBP became undercapitalized or increased double leverage
significantly, Fitch could notch the holding company IDR and VR
down from the ratings of the bank subsidiary. Additionally, upward
momentum at the holding company could be limited should FBP manage
its holding company liquidity aggressively over time.

SUPPORT RATING AND SUPPORT RATING FLOOR

The Support Rating and Support Rating Floor are sensitive to
Fitch's assumption around capacity to procure extraordinary support
in case of need.


PUERTO RICO: Debt Cancellation Proposal for Flounders at Hearing
----------------------------------------------------------------
Karen Pierog at Reuters reports that some of Puerto Rico's
government officials asserted at a congressional hearing that a
2016 U.S. law that authorized federal oversight for Puerto Rico
should not be amended to allow for the cancellation of unsecured
debt.

The House Natural Resources Committee, which oversees U.S.
territories, is mulling changes to the PROMESA Act, which created a
financial oversight board and a pathway for Puerto Rico's 2017
bankruptcy filing, according to Reuters.

A discussion draft of amendments to the law included a proposal
allowing Puerto Rico lawmakers to discharge debt not secured by
collateral for repayment, the report notes.

Reuters says that Omar Marrero, Puerto Rico's chief financial
officer, said the move would increase future borrowing costs.

"Instead of being able to fully access the bond market in the
future, we will be limited to only the least-optimal mechanisms for
funding future projects such as secured or high-interest bonds," he
said, the report discloses.

Natalie Jaresko, the oversight board's executive director, said the
debt cancellation proposal "may make it harder and more expensive"
for the board to restructure Puerto Rico's existing debt through
the ongoing bankruptcy process, leaving less money available for
critical services for residents, Reuters says.

In September, a proposal to restructure Puerto Rico's core
government debt, consisting of $35 billion of bonds and claims and
more than $50 billion of pension liabilities, was filed in U.S.
federal court by the board, the report relates.

Reuters notes that Puerto Rico legislative leaders testifying at
the hearing contended that the solution for the island's problems
is statehood and not the PROMESA Act.

U.S. Representative Raul Grijalva, a Democrat who chairs the
Natural Resources Committee, said another hearing will be held so
other parties, including labor and the private sector
representatives, can testify, the report relays.

"I plan on doing all that I can to prevent the oversight board from
using the existing provisions of PROMESA as an excuse to cause
further suffering to the residents of Puerto Rico," he said, the
report notes.

But U.S. Representative Rob Bishop, a Utah Republican, dismissed
some of the amendments as "political pandering to special interest
groups," adding that they will not go anywhere in the
Republican-controlled Senate, the report relays.

Other proposed changes to the law included requiring the U.S.
government to fund the oversight board; defining essential services
in Puerto Rico as education, public safety, healthcare and
pensions; ordering an audit of the island's debt; and appointing a
coordinator to administer federal funds for reconstruction efforts
in the wake of 2017's Hurricane Maria, the report adds.

                    About Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico is a self-governing commonwealth in association with
the United States that's facing a massive bond debt of $70 billion,
a 68% debt-to-GDP ratio and negative economic growth in nine of the
last 10 years.

The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico has sought bankruptcy protection,
aiming to restructure its massive $74 billion debt-load and $49
billion in pension obligations.

The debt restructuring petition was filed by Puerto Rico's
financial oversight board in U.S. District Court in Puerto Rico
(Case No. 17-01578) on May 3, 2017, and was made under Title III of
2016's U.S. Congressional rescue law known as the Puerto Rico
Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act ('PROMESA').

The Financial Oversight and Management Board later commenced Title
III cases for the Puerto Rico Sales Tax Financing Corporation
(COFINA) on May 5, 2017, and the Employees Retirement System (ERS)
and the Puerto Rico Highways and Transportation Authority (HTA) on
May 21, 2017.  On July 2, 2017, a Title III case was commenced for
the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority ("PREPA").

U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts has appointed U.S. District Judge
Laura Taylor Swain to oversee the Title III cases.  The Honorable
Judith Dein, a United States Magistrate Judge for the District of
Massachusetts, has been designated to preside over matters that may
be referred to her by Judge Swain, including discovery disputes,
and management of other pretrial proceedings.

Joint administration of the Title III cases, under Lead Case No.
17-3283, was granted on June 29, 2017.

The Oversight Board has hired as advisors, Proskauer Rose LLP and
O'Neill & Borges LLC as legal counsel, McKinsey & Co. as strategic
consultant, Citigroup Global Markets, as municipal investment
banker, and Ernst & Young, as financial advisor.

Martin J. Bienenstock, Esq., Scott K. Rutsky, Esq., and Philip M.
Abelson, Esq., of Proskauer Rose; and Hermann D. Bauer, Esq., at
O'Neill & Borges are on-board as attorneys.

McKinsey & Co. is the Board's strategic consultant, Ernst & Young
is the Board's financial advisor, and Citigroup Global Markets Inc.
is the Board's municipal investment banker.

Prime Clerk LLC is the claims and noticing agent.  Prime Clerk
maintains a case web site at
https://cases.primeclerk.com/puertorico

Epiq Bankruptcy Solutions LLC is the service agent for ERS, HTA,
and PREPA.

O'Melveny & Myers LLP is counsel to the Commonwealth's Puerto Rico
Fiscal Agency and Financial Advisory Authority (AAFAF), the agency
responsible for negotiations with bondholders.

The Oversight Board named Professor Nancy B. Rapoport as fee
examiner and to chair a committee to review professionals' fees.

                    Bondholders' Attorneys

Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP and Toro, Colon, Mullet, Rivera
& Sifre, P.S.C. and serve as counsel to the Mutual Fund Group,
comprised of mutual funds managed by Oppenheimer Funds, Inc., and
the First Puerto Rico Family of Funds, which collectively hold over
$4.4 billion of GO Bonds, COFINA Bonds, and other bonds issued by
Puerto Rico and other instrumentalities.

White & Case LLP and Lopez Sanchez & Pirillo LLC represent the UBS
Family of Funds and the Puerto Rico Family of Funds, which hold
$613.3 million in COFINA bonds.

Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, Robbins, Russell,
Englert, Orseck, Untereiner & Sauber LLP, and Jimenez, Graffam &
Lausell are co-counsel to the ad hoc group of General Obligation
Bondholders, comprised of Aurelius Capital Management, LP, Autonomy
Capital (Jersey) LP, FCO Advisors LP, and Monarch Alternative
Capital LP.

Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP and Reichard & Escalera are
co-counsel to the ad hoc coalition of holders of senior bonds
issued by COFINA, comprised of at least 30 institutional holders,
including Canyon Capital Advisors LLC and Varde Investment
Partners, L.P.

Correa Acevedo & Abesada Law Offices, P.S.C., is counsel to Canyon
Capital Advisors, LLC, River Canyon Fund Management, LLC, Davidson
Kempner Capital Management LP, OZ Management, LP, and OZ
Management
II LP (the QTCB Noteholder Group).

                          Committees

The U.S. Trustee formed an official committee of retirees and an
official committee of unsecured creditors of the Commonwealth.  The
Retiree Committee tapped Jenner & Block LLP and Bennazar, Garcia &
Milian, C.S.P., as its attorneys.  The Creditors Committee tapped
Paul Hastings LLP and O'Neill & Gilmore LLC as counsel.

                         Puerto Rico PBA

The Puerto Rico Public Buildings Authority --
http://www.aep.gobierno.pr/-- is a public corporation created by
Act No. 56 of June 19, 1958, as amended.  The Authority is charged
with satisfying the needs of design, construction, remodeling,
improvements, operation and maintenance of the structures that the
agencies, corporations and instrumentalities of the Commonwealth of
Puerto Rico need to offer their services.  Among the facilities
that the Authority designs, builds and preserves are: schools,
hospitals, police facilities, prisons, fire stations and government
centers, among others.  In addition, the Authority provides
property leasing services and new spaces for server storage (Data
Center).

The Puerto Rico Public Buildings Authority, a/k/a Autoridad de
Edificios Publicos de Puerto Rico (AEP), commenced a Title III case
under PROMESA on Sept. 27, 2019 (Bankr. D.P.R Case No. 19-05523).




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V E N E Z U E L A
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NYNAS AB: To Suspend Imports of Venezuelan Oil Due to Sanctions
---------------------------------------------------------------
Marianna Parraga at Reuters reports that European refiner Nynas AB
said it will suspend imports of Venezuelan crude following changes
to a license allowing it to operate under U.S. sanctions, and added
that it was looking to shift to alternative sources of oil.

Nynas, owned by Venezuela's state-run PDVSA and Finland's Neste
Oil, operates specialty refineries in Sweden, Germany and England
mostly for asphalt production, according to Reuters.

In January, the refiner received a license from the United States
allowing it to operate under sanctions imposed on its parent
company, PDVSA, the report notes.  But the Treasury Department
introduced changes to the permit effective immediately, the report
relays.

The modified version of license GL 13D, which allows Nynas to
operate through April 2020, said it does not authorize "any
transactions or dealings related to the purchase or acquisition of
Venezuelan-origin petroleum or petroleum products, directly or
indirectly, by Nynas or any of its subsidiaries," the report
discloses.

"The GL 13D allows for the continued sale of products of Venezuelan
origin that are already in inventory. However, it limits new
sourcing by Nynas of Venezuelan-origin petroleum or petroleum
products," the company said in an emailed statement.

Nynas also said it is processing other crude grades, including oil
from the North Sea and Australia, and it has begun a "flexibility
program" at its refineries to completely shift to alternative crude
oil and raw materials, the report notes.

PDVSA did not reply to requests for comment.

Nynas mostly buys and processes naphthenic crudes, which are good
for asphalt production and also are difficult to source, the report
relates.  Venezuela's Western crude grades had traditionally been
Nynas' primary source of oil, the report notes.

The refining firm said the license renewal provides "good evidence
that the U.S. authorities have listened to the Nynas message
regarding supplier and customer concerns," the report relays.

                         Inventory Build

The suspension of the supply contract between PDVSA and Nynas could
constrain the Venezuelan state company's dwindling cash flow while
adding to mounting inventories of unsold oil that have forced it to
cut output in recent months, the report relays.

Nynas is one of only two buyers of PDVSA's Western crudes left
after sanctions and among the few cash-paying customers to the
state-run oil company, the report notes.

"This might be as harmful for us as for Europe's asphalt market," a
PDVSA executive said, the report discloses.

PDVSA's oil production declined again in September amid power
outages, equipment theft and a fast accumulation of crude stocks as
sales shrank further, the report relates.

"This could result in the shut-in of approximately 50,000 barrels
per day from the Petrozamora joint venture," said David Voght from
consultancy IPD LatinAmerica, referring to the project that
produces the crude grades Nynas typically buys, the report notes.

The U.S. Treasury Department granted a three-month renewal to
Chevron Corp's license to operate in Venezuela, along with U.S. oil
service firms Schlumberger, Halliburton, Baker Hughes and
Weatherford International, the report says.

Chevron is scheduled to take a cargo of Venezuelan crude this
month, according to a PDVSA document seen by Reuters.



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S U B S C R I P T I O N   I N F O R M A T I O N

Troubled Company Reporter-Latin America is a daily newsletter
co-published by Bankruptcy Creditors' Service, Inc., Fairless
Hills, Pennsylvania, USA, and Beard Group, Inc., Washington, D.C.,
USA, Marites O. Claro, Joy A. Agravante, Rousel Elaine T.
Fernandez, Julie Anne L. Toledo, Ivy B. Magdadaro, and Peter A.
Chapman, Editors.

Copyright 2019.  All rights reserved.  ISSN 1529-2746.

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.


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