Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Friday, April 30, 2004

GMA: No limit to Subic

By Anthony Deleon, Central Luzon Bureau

The $215-million Subic port rehabilitation project broke ground on Thursday with President Arroyo expressing confidence on the “limitless potential” of Subic as the new container-transport hub in Central Luzon.

“I see no limit to the potentials of the Subic Freeport as a container-transport hub. With strategic location and its port facilities, Subic promises to be a major regional hub for port operations,” Mrs. Arroyo said in a message, which was read by Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Joaquin Lagonera.

In her message, the President urged the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) “not to lose its momentum in making Subic a regional container terminal, an industrial hub, a tourism haven and a cultural and information technology center, all rolled into one.”

In response to the Presi­dent’s call, Chairman Felicito C. Payumo of the SBMA assured the Subic port development project will be the major portal of the new Global Gateway, an alliance between the Subic Freeport and the Clark Zone that will benefit not only Central Luzon but the entire country as well.
Payumo added that the project involves the construction of new modern container port through the special yen loan assistance granted by the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC).

“With the construction of this new container port, we shall partake not only of this trade but of the predicted capacity shortage estimated at 40 million tons,” Payumo said, noting that the Subic port will become the alternative port to decongest the metropolis.

Furthermore, he said the project would enable the port of Subic to increase its cargo-handling capacity from the present 53,000 to 600,000. The first berth with a capacity of 300,000 tons will be finished by 2005-2007 and the second berth in 2009.

Meanwhile, Minister Akio Egawa, Japan’s deputy chief of mission, said his country is grateful for the opportunity to strengthen ties between the Philippines and Japan through the port development project.

“We are now even more pleased that through the Subic Bay Port Development Project, we have an opportunity to further strengthen our special relationship,” Akio said.

Last month, Penta Ocean Corp., with its partners Shimitsu Corp. and TOA Corp. has been awarded the port modernization project after successfully passing the comprehensive evaluation conducted by the Bids and Awards Committee (BAC).

The committee noted that Penta Ocean group submitted the lowest financial tender of P5.22 billion, which was about 25-percent lower than BAC’s estimate of P6.99 billion, or up to P1.77 billion in savings for the project. Toyo Corp. offered P5.59 billion or about P360-million higher than the winning bid.

The bidding was conducted in the presence of representatives of the Commission on Audit, members of the Press, the Subic Bay Chamber of Commerce, and the SBMA to ensure transparency

Thursday, April 29, 2004

$215-M port devt project takes off

The controversial $215-million Subic Port modernization moves a step closer to reality with the project’s groundbreaking ceremony today at the Leyte Wharf in Cubic Point.

President Arroyo will lead the throng of national, regional and local officials as well as business leaders in witnessing the rites of passage of this huge project, which is touted to be the catalyst of growth not just in Subic, but also the entire Central Luzon.

The port project, along with the construction of a $425-million, 94.5-kilometer expressway linking the Subic Bay Freeport, Clark Economic Zone in Pampanga and Luisita Industrial Park in Tarlac, is being funded by the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC).

Penta Ocean-ShimizuToa, a Japanese consortium with the lowest bid, will build the port that will enable Subic to increase its cargo-handling capacity by as much as 900,000 twenty equivalent units, or TEUs. The existing port facilities at Subic reportedly handles less than 60,000 TEUs.

Central Luzon officials who have expressed full support for the project are confident the completion of both the port and the road projects will result in the region’s becoming a major gateway for international trade and investment.

Gov. Josie de la Cruz of Bulacan, also the chairperson of the Central Luzon Regional Development Council, was quoted earlier as saying the container terminal project in Subic will boost Central Luzon investment and provide the needed resources and employment for the region.

“Definitely, it will further improve the region’s contribution to government efforts to attract more businesses in the country,” de la Cruz said.
Pampanga Rep. Oscar Rodriguez, who recently announced that President Arroyo has given the go signal for the project, has said he is pushing for fast-tracking the project.

Investors based in Subic has also lauded the implementation of the project, noting it will result in the influx of more investors here.Ichiro Tsuji, president of Subic Techno Park, an industrial park developed for Japanese businessmen, said the expected arrival of more Japanese investors in Subic is an offshoot of the support being provided by the Japanese government, which approved the concessional loan to the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority.

“The Japanese investors wanted to see the speedy realization of these two major projects as it will further strengthen the trade relations between the Philippines and Japan,” Tsuji said. SBMA Chair Felicito Payumo said the development of the port, along with construction of the road under the Global Gateway concept, envisions Central Luzon as the growth center, linking seven development areas and breathe life to the region’s declining growth and in the equitable distributions of the region’s wealth.

The port project has been the subject of controversies for the past several months because former tourism secretary Dick Gordon, his wife, Mayor Kate Gordon of Olongapo and his brother, Congressman Bong Gordon of the First District of Zambales, had strongly opposed it.

Mobilizing their supporters and other groups, the Gordons led rallies here and in Manila to convince the national government not to support the project. - Patrick Roxas, Central Luzon Bureau Chief

Friday, April 23, 2004

Subic Hot cars recovered in Laguna

Ten imported luxury vehicles smuggled out of the Subic Bay Freeport last week were recovered in two towns in Laguna on Wednesday by agents of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) based here.

Capt. Elpidio Manuel, the Customs Enforcement and Security Service-Customs Police District (ESS-CPD) commander, said a team, headed by his deputy ESS-CPD antismuggling unit chief, Capt. Marlon Alameda, seized in a raid the luxury vehicles, composed of 6 Nissan Serena vans, 3 Mitsubishi Delicas and an Isuzu Big Horn.

Manuel said the vehicles have no documents for importation, and smuggled out of Subic last week from the yard of Four-D Trading Co., a registered locator at the Subic Bay Freeport on Corregidor Highway, Naval Magazine Area.

The 10 luxury vehicles were seized while being sold in two motor shops in Barangay San Vicente, in Biñan and in Santa Rosa, both in Laguna.

According to Manuel, the recovery of the said vehicles were the result of a surveillance and intelligence networking by agents of ESS-CPD in Subic who noted an increased report of smuggling of luxury vehicles at the Tipo Gate last week.

Andres Salvacion, the Customs-Subic Port deputy collector for assessment, said the recovery of the luxury vehicles saved the government at least P3 million, and foiled the attempt of big-time smugglers to sell it in the black market.

Customs officials said the recovered vehicles, presently impounded at the Customs office in Subic, will be auctioned in favor of the government

Saturday, April 17, 2004

Php240-M Subic island resort opens in the Philippines

Grande Island will be latest addition among several tourism facilities that the Freeport zone has to offer to draw more foreign and local tourists.

“This will definitely boost tourism industry here in Subic Freeport because the island is a perfect site for relaxation comparable to popular resorts in Asia,”

Philippine Tourism Authority (PTA) General Manager Robert Dean Barbers who graced the recent opening ceremony noted that Grande Island and Subic Freeport as a whole will be included among the top destinations in the country being marketed by the government through the various Philippine tourism offices abroad.

“The huge investments infused in Grande Island only showed that investors still have the confidence in our country despite being tagged by some skeptics as a terrorism haven,” Barbers said.

Barbers also vowed to include Subic in the WOW Philippines Program of the Department of Tourism and the PTA’s Boosting Eco-Socio Tourism (BEST) or Beautiful and Exciting Site Trips project.

The resort’s chief operating officer Francis Elum said that the island boasts of a two-hectare seawater lagoon, whitesand beach, 20 quadruplex chalets along the beachfront area and a classy 14-room hotel.

Grande Island also invested about R160 million for the purchase of two airconditioned 250-seater ferry yachts to transport guests to the island and enjoy a cruise around the pristine waters of Subic Bay. To date, the company has a total investment of R400 million.

“The project was envisioned to provide family entertainment and combine the convenience and luxury of modern-day amenities with the charm of an island experience for both local and foreign tourists to enjoy,” Elum noted.

The master plan for the development of Grande Island formerly known as the “Fort Wint,” also includes the restoration of historical sites such as the three US artillery areas and the preservation of the forested areas to maintain ecological balance in the island resort.

Elum also stressed that historians need not worry about Grande’s value as an historical icon, because all the war battery sections of the island will remain untouched and instead cleaned up and maintained for people to visit and see.

“We are glad to help develop Grande. This is our way of also helping make Subic a world-class destination for tourists. It is like having an island paradise right in the heart of the country’s economic growth areas,” he added.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

The world’s sweetest mangoes are in Zambales

Mango is a favorite tropical fruit grown from the earliest times in Zambales as attested by the century-old trees found all over the province.

Zambales became famous worldwide when in 1995, it was featured in the Guinness Book of World Records as the producer of the sweetest mango in the world. The fruit was traced in the island of Masinloc town.

The annual “Dinamulag Mango Festival,” which started last Tuesday (April 13) and will run until April 16, is a testament of the provincial government’s support to mango farmers “who are small growers confronting everyday needs and farming activities, struggling to attain and live decent lives,” said Zambales Governor Vic Magsaysay.

Magsaysay pooled together non-government agencies and other government institutions for the fun-filled events to be held in the four-day festivity, including a grand parade and street dancing competition.

Mango events linedup are “mango eating,” mango “pinaka,” mango picking and recipes showcase, and beach events like sand castling competition, beach volleyball and bikini open. Also in the program are the folkdance and singing competitions, the Dinamulag battle of the bands and the Bb. Zambales 2004 Pageant Night.

The Provincial Tourism Office headed by Ma. Kathrina Salumbides said billboards bearing the event were placed on different entry points leading to the province to attract more visitors.

“Dinamulag Festival is being developed to attract local and foreign tourists the way Baguio’s Flower Festival fascinated them,” Salumbides said.

She added that the provincial government is also promoting Zambales as a tourist destination for its white sandy beaches which abound in the province, it being along the coast bounded by the South China Sea on the West. Resort business is also among its growing industries.

The term “Dinamulag” is a Sambali dialect word meaning carabao, as evidenced by the dominant variety of mango in the province.

These locally produced mangoes have savoring juicy sweetness and the almost absence of fibrous materials in the flesh that are not apparent in other mango fruits grown in other prov

Saturday, April 10, 2004

SBMA Abuse & mismanagement

THERE was a time when the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority was limited by law to granting tax-free importation only to machinery and equipment, the same to be used by industries inside the economic zone.

If that original law were kept intact, there would be no smuggling of new and used cars, cigarettes, groceries, and whatever an enterprising importer could imagine.

But they refined that law, removing one limitation after another and today, the SBMA has become a smuggler’s paradise. Gen. Jose Calimlim, a newly appointed SBMA official, calls it the "hub of smugglers," where billions in revenue are lost every year.
The battered law now allowing all kinds of importations states that such imports, whether cars or cigarettes, must not be taken out of the economic zone.

That law is flouted every day. Right-hand drive cars cannot be imported, but they are brought in unlimited numbers. Expert mechanics move the steering wheel and the dashboard gauges to the left. They are freely auctioned off, devastating the local car industry.

If the shiploads of cigarettes were smoked by every man, woman, and child in the zone, including the transient workers, they would have coughed themselves to early graves.



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