Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Subic dev’t turning tillers, fishers to factory workers

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT, Philippines—A proud President Macapagal-Arroyo on Friday said the development of this freeport, particularly with one of the world’s largest shipyards being built by a Korean company, has impressed her greatly.

Built at one of the deepest portions of Subic Bay, the shipbuilding facility of Hanjin Heavy Industries Corp. Ltd. (HHIC) at the Redondo Peninsula here has generated employment for about 10,000 workers from the outlying fishing and farming communities in Zambales, Bataan and Olongapo City.

The figure is dramatically up from the 2,400 workers that Hanjin employed when it started activities here last year.

“We are impressed by the surge of development happening here to create jobs and bring prosperity to the people,” Ms Arroyo said during the inauguration Friday of the Subic-Cawag-Balaybay Road.

The P650-million, 16.15-km road connects the Hanjin shipyard to a community of farmers and fishermen “now slowly being converted into a community of factory workers.”

“Congratulations to our fishermen, farmers and formerly plain housewives who are now expert workers,” Ms Arroyo told about 100 Hanjin executives, local officials and workers here.

The road is a legacy of outgoing Gov. Vicente Magsaysay to the people of Zambales, she said.

“We are delivering to you a world-class road leading to a world-class ship-building facility,” Magsaysay, who ran but lost in the recent senatorial race, told the President.

The access road is the fulfillment of the memorandum of understanding between the Department of Public Works and Highways, the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority and HHIC.

“[It] is an expression of the national government’s commitment to support the investment project of the HHIC that will not only help provide easy access for manpower and construction materials for the Hanjin plant but will also serve as an important tool to help alleviate unemployment, particularly in the nearby communities,” SBMA Administrator Armand Arreza said.

The road, Ms Arroyo said, was financed with funds generated by the value-added tax (VAT).

“We needed to spend P650 million, value-added taxes went to this road,” she said.

“The difficult and politically unpopular steps we took to raise taxes are bearing fruit. We are now making significant investment in people and infrastructure.

“This includes billions of pesos in programs to promote human capital like education, health care, social services and training like the welders’ training center that we put up here in Subic.”
By Ansbert Joaquin - Inquirer

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