Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Taiwanese investors to sue SBMA over takeover of golf course

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT -- Taiwanese investors are set to file on June 12 contempt charges against officials of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority for the alleged illegal takeover of the Subic Bay Golf and Country Club Inc. (SBGCCI) here over debts and labor and sanitation violations.

Jack Ho, manager of the SBGCCI, said the SBMA proceeded with the takeover although Judge Ramon Caguioa of the Olongapo Regional Trial Court has issued an injunction order on the agency on May 24 and as the company continued to exert efforts to comply with its obligations.

“The SBMA seemed to be above the law. Our company president, Susan Ho, is the chair of the Subic Bay Taiwan Chamber of Commerce. Its members include Acer, Hitachi and so on. This illegal takeover will send a very, very bad signal to foreign investors,” Ho told the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

“[It means that] the investment of foreign investors can be taken any time, any day,” Ho said.

In a statement, the SBMA confirmed it “recovered possession and took over the management” of the club after the board of directors terminated the lease contract of the SBGCCI on Thursday.

Ramon Agregado, SBMA senior deputy administrator for support services, and Raul Marcelo, SBMA deputy administrator for tourism, delivered the notice of lease termination at around 5 p.m. on Friday.

Agregado posted the notice at the door of the club’s administration office when club officials refused to accept the notice.

He said the SBMA board ended the lease as well as the development contract agreement with the Universal International Group (UIG), which owns the SBGCCI, for “failure of the latter to settle its obligations with the SBMA.”

According to him, the UIG owed the SBMA $350,000 and P16 million in rentals. It also failed to stop labor and environmental violations, defaulted in delivering on its commitment to build 100 condominium units and 80 villas, and fell short in upgrading the facility into a world-class sports and leisure destination.

The UIG, Agregado said, were reminded of these through a letter on Dec. 8, 2006.

He said the SBMA did not violate the injunction order when the “cease and desist order” against the SBGCCI was implemented.

“What we did was we terminated the lease agreement and recovered the properties of the whole facility,” he said.

Ho on Sunday said the SBMA officials harassed the employees who sided with the management by refusing them entry into the zone. On Friday, he said SBMA policemen had hurt some of the employees.

“What kind of a country is this?” he asked.

He also rued that the Olongapo City police did not act on SBGCCI’s request to help stop the takeover on the strength of the injunction order.

Director General Oscar Calderon, chief of the Philippine National Police, on Sunday said the PNP could not intervene until the court ordered it to do so.

Ho said the SBGCCI and UIG invested more than P1 billion on the project.

“We came to invest because we believe in this country and we are very sad that we are being treated like this,” he said.

In the SBMA statement, Marcelo assured that the employees would be retained as the golf course would continue its operations.

He said the club’s members expressed “full support over the recent change in the management of the golf course.” Tonette Orejas, Inquirer Central Luzon

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