Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Fate of shipyard project rests on Hanjin: Guv

THE fate of the botched $2-billion shipyard project in Misamis Oriental now rests in the hands of South Korean giant Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction Corp., Governor Oscar Moreno said Friday.

Whether Hanjin left for good or resume operations -- as it had earlier promised – will be known come September, when the initial land lease agreement between the South Korean firm and the Phividec Industrial Estate expires, he said.

“Suffice it to say that Hanjin has not left the project hanging, as evidenced with the continuing discussions between them and the Phividec,” Moreno told reporters during an open forum at the expanded meeting of the Regional Development Council (RDC).

Press Secretary Jesus Dureza, who was guest speaker at the RDC meeting, echoed the same sentiment.

"The Palace is doing all it can to normalize at once the operations of Hanjin's shipyard project inside Phividec," Dureza said.

But the two officials are open to the possibility that, as a result of the negative publicity of Hanjin's shipyard project in Subic, the South Korean firm may withdraw its investments in Misamis Oriental.

"Hanjin is a multinational company and it has plenty of countries to choose from where its investments can be safely assured," Moreno said.

He added: "But we have to remember that the Misamis Oriental project would be the fourth largest shipyard in the world. So we must do what we can to bring Hanjin back."

Hanjin pulled out from the Phividec project last March, leaving in its wake torrent of extortion and bribery counter allegations involving two town mayors -- Villanueva's Juliette Uy and Tagoloan's Paulino Emano. Both mayors denied they had tried to extort Hanjin.

The project would have employed around 40,000, officials said.

Even with the uncertainty of Hanjin resuming operations, Moreno said the Provincial Government was still intensifying its relocation effort of affected Phividec settlers.

"Half of the engineering resources of the province is currently devoted to the relocation efforts. This will ensure that by mid-August, all affected areas are cleared for industrial use," Governor Moreno said. SunStar

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