Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Taiwan Comes to Aid of its Investors at Subic

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT ZONE, Philippines -- The Taiwan Economic and Cultural Office (TECO), Taipei's de facto embassy in the Philippines, has come to the aid of a Taiwanese investor that has been locked in a business dispute with the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA).

TECO Representative Wu Hsien Shin has written Trade and Industry Secretary Peter Favila to ask for prompt conclusion of the conflict between Subic Bay Golf and Country Club Inc. and the SBMA, said SBMA administrator Armand Arreza and Subic Bay Golf manager Jack Ho in separate interviews.

The row attracted top-level attention after the SBMA terminated the golf company’s 50-year lease contract.

The SBMA has recovered the property and has been operating the golf club since June 8 because of Subic Bay Golf's alleged failure to pay lease amounting to $350,000 and P16 million, violations of sanitation, environmental and labor laws, and failure to construct 100 villas as required in the contract.

Ho called the takeover “unlawful” because SBMA officials ignored an injunction order and writ of preliminary injunction issued by an Olongapo City judge, Ramon Caguioa, on May 24 and June 12, respectively.

Ho said the takeover happened while Subic Bay Golf was trying to comply with its obligations.
He also said the National Bureau of Investigation and the Philippine National Police had not assisted the five sheriffs in enforcing the writ. He claimed that the SBMA “used force” when it removed the club’s officials out of the premises.

“What kind of country is this?" Ho said. "There is no law. SBMA is practicing martial law.”
Arreza said the SBMA was simply following the provisions of the contract.
“This is purely a contractual matter,” Arreza said.

He said the TECO had been advised that the proper recourse at this point was for Subic Bay Golf to appeal to the SBMA board for reconsideration of the contract termination.

Arreza said that for him “there is no room for negotiation” because Subic Bay Golf failed to fulfill its commitments even after the SBMA restructured its debts and gave it time to correct the violations.

Arreza denied an allegation Ho made that the SBMA took over the golf course to favor a South Korean investor.

Ho’s group started doing business in the Subic Bay Freeport Zone in 1997.

By Tonette Orejas

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