Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Monday, December 27, 2004

SBMA execs say Subic not garrison state

By Allan Macatuno Inquirer News Service

Officials of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) belied reports that this freeport zone had turned into "a restricted port and a garrison state," saying it remained an investor-friendly community."Subic is neither a restricted port nor a garrison state and will never be.

It has not been militarized contrary to reports," said SBMA Administrator Alfredo Antonio.Antonio was reacting to allegations by several investors here that the freeport had become a "restricted port" and a militarized area when SBMA officials recently suspended the issuance of import permits.

Some businessmen said the suspension has forced them to close shop and also caused the non-payment of workers' wages.Antonio denied reports that manufacturers had been prevented from importing raw materials or component parts needed in their own production processes."This will never happen in our term because we are committed to transforming Subic into an international service and logistics hub in Southeast Asia as President Macapagal-Arroyo has envisioned and outlined in her 10-point economic program," he said.

He said the President's vision for SBMA would not be realized if the freeport's policies and directions were restricted.During a discussion with the Inquirer here on Dec. 17, Antonio said the only thing the SBMA had been strict about was the importation of used motor vehicles, which "was suspended in compliance with the President's directive."

"All the rest--trucks, generator sets, emergency vehicles and other non-restricted items including, of course, raw materials--are issued import permits as usual," he said."Sometimes when you are strict, that doesn't mean you are creating a garrison [state] and a militarized area," said retired Lt. Gen. Jose Calimlim, senior deputy administrator for operations and chief of the intelligence and investigation office of the SBMA


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