Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Subic to train Guam OFW

Guam senators eyeing Subic Freeport as training center

Filipino workers to be deployed for transfer of US bases

By Ben Arnold O. de Vera, Manila Times Reporter

The Subic Bay Freeport Zone will serve as a training hub for Filipino workers who will be hired for the infrastructure projects that will pave the way for the transfer of US bases to Guam, the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) said.

In a statement, SBMA said Guam Senators Judith Guthertz and Rory Respicio recently visited the freeport and inspected its skills-training facilities. SBMA said the senators told Freeport officials “to form a Philippine delegation to Guam to expedite the setting up of the Subic Bay training center.”

Also, the visiting Guam officials signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Feliciano Salonga, SBMA chairman, and Armand Arreza, SBMA administrator.

“As we sign this MOU, we’re holding true to our pledge that we have an obligation as senators from Guam to ensure that foreign workers that will go to Guam will not be exploited,” Respicio, who heads Guam’s Committee on Foreign Affairs, said.

“[The Philippines] will likely be the source of labor for the Guam buildup . . . You have the facilities here; the Philippines is poised to grab this opportunity, so you have to be prepared,” Respicio added.

Guthertz, who chairs Guam’s Committee on the US Military Buildup, noted that “[Filipino workers] built Guam after the brutal World War II.”

In response, Salonga said a soon-to-be-formed Philippine representation “will ensure that Filipino workers will get a first shot at this massive employment opportunity.”

“This project [transfer of US military personnel from Okinawa, Japan, to Guam] costs $15 billion, and 20,000 foreign workers are needed. We must not let this opportunity slip from our hands,” he said.

Salonga said this Philippine panel would address labor concerns, such as putting up legal and technical requirements for the proposed training center, and the mass deployment of Filipino workers.

Also, he said this representation would ensure that the Freeport’s training facility conforms to standards set for the various infrastructure projects that will be undertaken in Guam.

Guthertz said construction activities will start next year, and are targeted for completion by 2014. The 14,200 troops currently stationed in Okinawa, and their 38,070 depen dents will be relocated to Guam beginning 2012 until 2016

Sen. Guthertz (middle) in a meeting with Mayor Gordon and Councilor Piano

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