Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Ebdane puts Hanjin bosses in place

REDONDO Peninsula, Subic — Used to having their way at their shipbuilding fiefdom here, officials of Hanjin Heavy Industries Corp. Philippines (HHIC-Phil) nevertheless received an earful from Zambales Gov. Hermogenes Ebdane Jr. when they tried to bar the entry of some government personnel who accompanied the provincial executive in his visit on Thursday.

Ebdane, who was invited by Hanjin for an audience regarding various concerns and proposals, was with personnel from the provincial offices of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Agrarian Reform and the Philippine National Police (PNP) when others in his entourage were stopped at the gate.

Ebdane, however, held his ground, reminding officials at the Korean shipyard who’s in charge.

“You are still in the Philippines, right?” Ebdane told Taek Kyun Yoo, who is HHIC-Phil’s general manager for external business.

“If you’re not letting them in, then I won’t get in, too,” Ebdane said, thereby obliging Yoo and a Korean security official to relent and allow the visitors entry.

The incident reportedly marked the first time that Hanjin officials here relaxed their strict security protocol at the shipyard, which some observers described as “discriminatory.”

“We really wanted to clap our hands and cheer on Governor Ebdane for what he did,” said a female employee at the Iba capitol, who was in Ebdane’s group. “It’s about time somebody put the Koreans in place.”

The source recalled that in December 2007, then Zambales Gov. Amor Deloso was not allowed entry by Hanjin security officers when he tried to join then Vice-President Noli de Castro during the latter’s visit at the shipyard. The security guards said that Deloso’s name was not in the guest list.

In Ebdane’s case, however, the new provincial executive asserted his authority and reminded the Koreans that they asked for the dialogue in the first place.

Yoo, who met with Ebdane at the office of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) in Castillejos town before proceeding to the shipyard, had sought the governor’s assistance on various concerns, including a land conversion permit that HHIC-Phil has applied for almost a year ago.

Despite the scene at the Hanjin gates, the dialogue ended well. Ebdane pledged his assistance on the land conversion issue and gave instructions to the DAR office to speed up the release of the permit that HHIC-Phil needs for the construction of a 1,300-unit housing project for Hanjin employees in Castillejos.

Ebdane and Yoo also resolved complaints about “squatter food stalls” that line up the roadside going to the Hanjin gates, with the governor advising Hanjin to simply adopt the place for its corporate responsibility project, instead of treating it as a problem.

“It would be best for both parties if Hanjin would build a better structure for the use of the vendors,” Ebdane told Yoo. “Meanwhile, the traffic problem at the food stalls can also be solved by building a parallel service road that the vendors can use.”

In the same occasion, the various parties also discussed concerns on peace and order in the area, as well as the problem of soil erosion that has caused damage to roads leading to the shipyard, and the need to put up a wharf for Subic fishers who were displaced when Hanjin built its shipyard in 2006.

Ebdane also called on HHIC-Phil to resolve the issue on the shuttle service for Hanjin workers, as well as tend to the growing garbage problem that threatens the local environment, especially the waters of the nearby Subic Bay. Written by Henry Empeño / Correspondent businessmirror.com.ph

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