Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Zambales folks urge immediate implementation of port project

By. Jonas Reyes – Manila Bulletin

Masinloc, Zambales – Residents of this coastal town are urging the immediate implementation of the proposed P4.5-billion commercial port project here, which is designed to compliment ongoing development projects in the Central Luzon growth corridor.

Masinloc Vice Mayor Roberto Eamilao, a staunch supporter of the project, said the proposed commercial port would bring about the sustainable development of the northern half of Zambales, which has been largely left behind in terms of infrastructure development.

The Masinloc commercial port project will be our equalizer, Eamilao told newsmen over the weekend.

This is our only hope of finally bringing Masinloc and the northern towns into the sphere of development, as well as to help realize the potentials of Central Luzon, he added.

Eamilao said the Masinloc port project already has a willing investor the Rizhao Development Corp., a transportation and logistics firm backed by Chinas Rizhao Port Group.

Eamilao said Rizhao plans to renovate the aging ore-loading pier in this town, expand its storage yard, and upgrade its cargo-handling capacity from the current 500 metric tons to a maximum of 4 million tons.

Rizhao also seeks to establish an industrial park two kilometers away from the port to serve as a logistics and warehousing center for the plot project, as well as a site for a ferries nickel smelting plant for ores coming from various mining towns in the province.

The smelting plant project, proposed to be built in a 50-hectare area, was among the project endorsed by the Philippine government when a trade delegation visited Beijing on August 8, Eamilao said.

Eamilao, who first broached the commercial port project when he won as Masinloc mayor in 1998, said the Rizhao proposal appears to be highly feasible because the company has already formulated an integrated port development scheme to ensure the sustainability of the project.

Under the plan, Rizhao will also seek out investor companies who locate in the industrial park, as well as deploy small cargo vessels to various commercial ports in the country to load export products bound for China.

The Masinloc port will then largely be used as a transshipment point for exports that will be transported to China via bigger cargo ships and container vessels, Eamilao explained,

Eamilao, however, disclosed that the Rizhao proposal is endangered by vaccilation among some members of the town council, who had earlier noted in the approving resolution that the eventual realization of the project will greatly help in the economic development not only of the barangay, but also of the municipality of Masinloc and the province of Zambales.

Now they are saying that there are environmental concerns yet to be addressed, that there will be some mangroves that will be destroyed, and that there should be strict compliance in permitting requirements, Eamilao lamented.

I see this as simply delaying tactics, but for what ultimate purpose, I really don’t know, he added.

Eamilao pointed out that Rizaho had already secured clearance for the project from the local Protected Area management Board (PAMB), which has administrative jurisdiction over Masinloc’s Oyon Bay Marine Reserve, where the project will be party located.

The PAMB clearance, documents showed, was granted to Rizhao on July 8 this year, while an Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) for the project was given by the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Region III on September 2, 2008.

Clearly, the PAMB clearance and the EMB (ECC) are concrete proofs that the proposed port development project has undergone through deliberation and evaluation, Eamilao said.

He added that aside from the environmental clearances, approval of the project has also been given by Brgy. Baloganon, the host barangay, through a resolution dated July 7, 2008, and by the town council through the June 11 resolution that it later recalled.

It is worthy to note that the two resolutions were both passed and approved after the issuance of a Mayor’s Permit by Mayor Jessu Edora in May 2008, Eamilao Said.

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