SBMA allays concerns of cargo operators
SUBIC BAY FREEPORT — The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority has allayed the concerns of Subic Bay Freeport Zone cargo operators over its approval of an unsolicited proposal for the development, management and operation of the Freeport’s biggest bulk and break-bulk cargo terminal and other support areas.
The SBMA Board of Directors, pursuant to its 2008 Joint Venture Guidelines, accepted in principle the unsolicited proposal of Harbour Centre Port Terminal, Inc. in November of last year.
The understanding is called the “Subic Agro-Industrial Logistics Port – A Proposal for Private-Public Partnership (PPP) Between Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority and Harbour Centre Port Terminal, Inc.”
SBMA Administrator Armand Arreza, in a letter to Mario Yapjoco, president of Amerasia International Services, Inc., one of the largest and long-time cargo operators at the Freeport, assured existing cargo operators that the proposal will not prejudice SBMA’s existing contractual obligations over areas that are covered by the activities of the joint venture.
He stressed that “the acceptance of the unsolicited proposal was only for the purpose of authorizing the JVSP to commence further negotiations with HCPTI on the terms, conditions and scope, as well as the legal, technical and financial aspects of the proposed venture.
“This acceptance did not constitute a binding contractual agreement on the part of SBMA,” Arreza said.
Yapjoco earlier pointed out what seemed to be a preferential treatment for Harbour Centre, a cargo operator which has yet to establish a track record at the Subic Bay Freeport.
He said the joint venture agreement constitutes a “restraint of trade or commerce and prevents free competition without the benefit of any legal, equitable or moral justification or rationalization.”
Yapjoco further appealed to SBMA to “protect our legal rights as we have a valid and subsisting contract with the agency. We also plead to the SBMA to protect our substantial capital investments and the jobs of the hundreds of people we employ.”
Established in 1996 and operating as a bona enterprise and cargo handling operator at the Subic Bay Freeport since February 1997, Amerasia secured a 25-year lease contract with SBMA since 2007.
It employs an average of 300 people on a monthly basis, benefiting at least 300 families.
The company has also poured in about P100 million investments in equipment and more for its marketing and promotion for the Freeport.