Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Monday, March 22, 2010

Job losses warned at Subic port

Cargo handler Amerasia International Services Inc. has warned of the "serious repercussions" on jobs at the naval supply depot once the contract between Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) and the Harbour Centre Port Terminal Inc. (HCPTI) is enforced.

"I wish to emphasize the great damage, prejudice and loss that would be inflicted on innocent parties, the current locators/cargo handling operators, including thousands of their employees that will be displaced when the SBMA-HCPTI contract is enforced," Eulalio Ventura, counsel of Amerasia, told the SBMA board in a meeting on Friday.

Ventura said SBMA committed to respect the lease contract of Amerasia at the NSD but would no longer allow it to operate as cargo handling operators in the areas awarded to HCPTI.
Stevedoring and arrastre are major job generators. Amerasia alone employs about 300.

This is despite an earlier pronouncement of SBMA that the SBMA-HCPTI contract will be without prejudice to Amerasia’s contractual rights.

Ventura said the manner of respecting Amerasia’s 25-year contract is "absolutely meaningless and absurd because our client’s contractual rights will be violated."

The contract states that "the lessee shall use the leased property strictly for its business of providing cargo handling services....Use of the leased property other than the intended use shall not be permitted without the prior consent of the lessor."

"The assurance made by Mr. (SBMA Administrator Armand C.) Arreza to Amerasia that the SBMA-HCPTI contract contains a provision about SBMA’s commitment to honor existing contract was false, misleading and ill motivated," Ventura said.

Amerasia and other cargo operators said at the hearing conducted by the SBMA board that the high tariff is only one of the many legal flaws of the SBMA-HCPTI joint venture.

He said locators/cargo handling operators were granted authority to increase tariff rates by 25 percent about four years ago although it was never implemented.

On March 5, however, the SBMA board issued a resolution approving a 95 percent increase in tariff rates in favor of HCPTI.

"This would give HCPTI an annual revenue/income of P300 million. HCPTI can give you P50 million annually and they will still make good money out of the tariff income," Ventura said.

SBMA approved the unsolicited proposal of HCPTI last November 20 entitled "Subic Agro-Industrial Logistics Port – A Proposal for Private-Public Partnership between Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority and Harbour Centre Port Terminal Inc."

Under the agreement, HCPTI shall be SBMA’s exclusive cargo handler of bulk (excluding fertilizer), break-bulk and general cargo for a period of 25 years. - Irma Isip - malaya.com.ph

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