Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Monday, November 17, 2008

Displaced Subic folk sue SBMA, Hanjin

At least 26 residents displaced from their lands in Subic, Zambales, have asked a court to order the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority and the Korean-owned Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction Philippines Inc., to return them to their property.

In a civil case filed at the regional trial court in Olongapo City on Nov. 13, Ludivico Salcedo and his group pleaded for their return to Sitio Agusuhin in Barangay Cawag, most of which have been occupied by Hanjin’s 315-hectare shipyard.

The complainants said they had lived and farmed in the area “since time immemorial” and were disturbed only in 2000 when the shipyard project began.

They asked the court to compel the SBMA and Hanjin to comply with their obligations as stated in a lease contract with some 400 Agusuhin residents.

In the contract, they said the SBMA and Hanjin committed to “work together for the settlement of right-of-way requirements and relocation of the school and settlers found within the proposed site not later than March 31, 2006.”

The SBMA and Hanjin promised to “shoulder the cost of the compensation of affected settlers while the SBMA will be responsible for the relocation of the public facilities.”

Salcedo and his group complained that they had not received compensation as well as safe and adequate resettlement.

SBMA Administrator Armand Arreza and Hanjin general manager Pyeong Jong-yu did not reply to text messages seeking their reactions to the filing of the civil case.

Arreza had said in previous interviews that the Agusuhin area, including the Redondo Peninsula, forms part of the territory of the Subic Bay Freeport.

Because that was so, the SBMA has every right to lease the property to its investors like Hanjin.

Documents showed that Hanjin bought P18.28 million worth of supplies for 33 facilities in the resettlement.

Based on the purchase order, Hanjin intended the supplies for five rooms as teachers quarters, 18 classrooms and a library, three toilets and a lavatory, three elevated water tanks, two flag poles, two school stages and a plaza stage, two chapels, a church, three shallow well hand pumps, a day care center, a school gate and marker, a health center, a playground and a basketball court.

Most of these had not been built and an assessment made by the Department of Public Works and Highways in August 2007 showed that the facilities built there amounted only to P3 million.

The Task Force Hanjin of the Zambales provincial government reported the absence of bidding for the construction of public facilities.

Subic Mayor Jeffrey Khonghun has denied a direct hand in the project. By Tonette Orejas, Inquirer Central Luzon

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