Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Olongapo plans ahead of US base’s move from Okinawa

OLONGAPO CITY — City officials are in deep preparation to ensure that former workers in the defunct Subic Naval Base would get priority jobs in Guam once the Pacific territory becomes a beehive of construction for the planned transfer of the US military from its base in Okinawa from 2010.

They have began to build up a database of the workers, met with United States legislators and members of the Guam Buildup Oversight Committee, and is also exploring a sisterhood agreement with Agana.

They are also developing training modules to facilitate refresher training and retraining in other jobs of the former workers.

Mayor James Gordon Jr. said although the workers already enjoy a “definite advantage” after working under the Americans in Subic for decades, they are “not resting on their laurels” and this is the reason they are busy with their preparations.

“Aside from being hard working, skillful and, most important, proficient in the English language, many Olongapeños have prior experience working in the US Naval Base here,” added Gordon.

By Gordon’s account, around 20,000 mostly construction-related jobs will be opening in Guam starting in 2010 when relocation from Okinawa starts under a $20-billion budget.

Gordon said Guam officials and the US Navy have already expressed preference for former Filipino base workers from Olongapo because of the latter’s unique training and experience under the US Navy.

But closer ties with Guam—the target of Olongapo’s sisterhood initiative—would also provide “special privileges and opportunities” to Olongapo and its army of willing workers, he said.

Gordon reported that he and Guam Sen. Eddie Calvo have already covered the initial formalities toward the signing of a sister-city agreement, which will spell out possible areas of mutual help and cooperation, including the priority hiring of the former workers.

The Olongapo City government has also tapped the Philippine Association of Service Exporters Inc. for help in training and retraining the workers. Written by Henry Empeño - Business Mirror Correspondent

Mayor Gordon and Councilor Piano met with Guam Governor Felix Camacho, local businessmen, navy officers and French consul onboard French Frigate berthed inside US Naval Base in Guam. Photo by Guam Task Force vice chairman Ronnie Lopez

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