Friday, December 17, 2004

BCDA, SBMA more harmonized

The new leadership of Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) and Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) have strengthened the complementation of these two special economic zones as the country’s international logistics hub. BCDA president and chief executive officer Narciso L. Abaya would like to ensure that adequate infrastructure will be built connecting both zones. Clark and Subic will be connected by an expressway.
It will also be complemented by the construction of North Rail. Economic activities generated from these two huge developments are expected to result in a spill over to the rest of Central Luzon. The commitment of both agencies will be forged during the Subic-Clark Alliance for Development Forum to be conducted next week. The forum will also be a venue for the new heads of agencies to be familiar with the SCAD concept and at the same time know the thrusts and future plans and projects of their counterpart agencies.
Abaya said the unified direction toward SCAD’s long-term plans and programs in relation to each agency’s plans and programs will be discussed. We want to identify the bottlenecks, policies as well and hope to address them holistically," he added

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Subic volunteers remembered

SUBIC BAY - Newly-installed officials of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) on Wednesday recognized the contribution of residents of Olongapo City and nearby areas who helped man the Subic Bay Free Port right after the former United States military base was turned over to the Philippine government in 1992.

In a program celebrating “Volunteers Day” here, SBMA Chairman Jose Licuanan III and SBMA Administrator Alfredo Antonio stressed that cooperation among various stakeholders in Subic is necessary for economic success.

Antonio and Licuanan, who took over the SBMA on October 16, joined local officials in paying tribute to Subic’s volunteers, mostly former base workers, who gave their services for free during the first few years of Subic under the Philippine-government management.

Sen. Richard Gordon, who became the first SBMA chairman, was the guest of honor during the celebration, which included a victory march from Mariquit Park in Olongapo to the free port’s central business district.

Antonio, who urged SBMA employees and former volunteers to work hand in hand to further develop Subic, stressed in his message the continuing need for individual initiative and selflessness that the Subic volunteers personified.

“You have proven what the Filipino is capable of becoming and achieving… Today, your greatest challenge is to inspire more Filipinos to become more genuinely committed to the common good,” Antonio said.

He also told the volunteers that the current SBMA administration is determined “to build upon whatever you have achieved and left here in Subic.”

Licuanan similarly praised the volunteers for helping build the foundation of the free port, adding that people working together for the common good “may be the only hope of our nation.”

Noting that the history of Subic mirrors that of the country, Licuanan said that volunteerism is necessary “if we are to dig ourselves out of this downward [economic] spiral.”

Meanwhile, Gordon recalled in an emotional speech the early days of SBMA when he called upon Olongapo residents to help him preserve the former military base.

“We have gone a long way. So many people said that it cannot be done, but here we are all today, celebrating Volunteers Day. We have gone through so much [and we have earned] the respect of the world because of our dedication and efforts,” Gordon told the volunteers.

During the program, Gordon also led the volunteers in offering flowers and prayers to former volunteer and SBMA chief operating officer Ferdinand Aristorenas who died in 2001.

Thursday, November 18, 2004







WHEREAS, the development of Subic and Clark as the best logistics hub in the region is the one of the ten points of the legacy agenda of the Administration;

WHEREAS, large-scale smuggling and fraud upon customs and other related practices undermine the economy and national security;

WHEREAS, the prevention and suppression of smuggling and other related practices against customs laws at the Subic Bay Freeport and all areas under jurisdiction of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) is one of the urgent concerns of the Administration;

WHEREAS, the empowerment of the Senior SBMA Official to combat violations of customs laws at the SBMA are is necessary to effective counteract this form of economic sabotage, strengthen the system enforcing revenue law, and hasten the realization of one of the 10-point agenda:

WHEREAS, the Administrative Code of 1987 vests the President with the continuing authority to recognize the Office of the President and to transfer functions of one department or agency to another:

NOW, THEREFORE, I, GLORIA MACAPAGAL-ARROYO, President of the Republic of the Philippines, by virtue of the power vested I me by law, do hereby order:

SECTION 1. EMPOWERMENT OF SENIOR SBMA OFFICIAL. The President shall designate a Senior SBMA official to combat smuggling, unlawful importations, and other frauds upon customs laws committed at the Subic Special Economic and Freeport Zone (SSEFZ) area. He shall be recognized as the SBMA Director for Anti-Smuggling.

SECTION 2. DETAIL OF PERSONNEL. The SBMA Director for Anti-Smuggling is hereby authorized to obtain the detail to him of personnel from the Intelligence Service Armed Force of the Philippines, the Armed Force of the Philippines, and the Philippine National Police. He is likewise authorized to obtain augmentation of personnel from the Bureau of Customs and the Department of Justice for the issuance of warrants of seizure and detention, investigation and prosecution. He shall designate his deputy.

SECTION 3. POWER AND FUNCTIONS. The SBMA Director for Anti-Smuggling shall have the following powers and functions:

Prepare and implement appropriate and effective measures to prevent and suppress large-scale smuggling and other prohibited and unlawful importations at the SSEFZ area.
Effects, subject to applicable laws, searches, seizure and arrest, and file administrative and criminal cases conformably with the provisions of the Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines, as amended, pertinent provisions of the Revised Penal Code, as amended. And the Rules of Criminal Procedure.
Conduct intelligence and counterintelligence operations, including the monitoring of situation, circumstances, and activities of individuals, groups and entities who are involved in or who are reasonably believed to be behind smuggling activities.
Select and recruit personnel from SBMA, and officers, enlisted personnel and civilian agents from the AFP, the PNP and the Coast Guard as well as Customs and DOJ personnel who will be in detail with him.
Enlist the assistance of any department, bureau, office or agency of the government to carry out its functions, including the use of their personnel facilities and other resources.
Conduct verification with the Bureau of Customs of all documents pertaining to the importation and the payment of duties and taxes of al imported articles.
Perform such functions and carry such activities as may be directed by the President.
SECTION. 4. SPECIAL PROCECUTORS. To assist the SBMA Director for Anti-Smuggling in the expeditious prosecution of criminal and other cases involving large-scale smuggling and customs frauds. DOJ layers shall be placed on detail with the SBMA Director for Anti-Smuggling as the need arises.

SECTION 5. AUTHORIZATION. The Commissioner of the Customs or his authorized representative shall, if necessary issue such authorization and orders required under the Tariff and Customs Code for all purposes relevant to the effective exercise and performance of the powers and functions of the SBMA Director for Anti-Smuggling.

SECTION 6. FUNDING. – Subject to the usual audit, the SBMA Director for Anti-Smuggling shall be provided with an allocation to be determined by the Chairman of the SBMA. To be sourced from the SBMA.

SECTION 7. OPERATING GUIDELINES. The SBMA Director for Anti-Smuggling shall adopt. In coordination with customs law enforcement agencies, such operating guidelines as may be necessary to implement this Executive Order. He shall submit to the SBMA Chairman reports of his activities with appropriate recommendations for the information and guidance of the SBMA Chairman.

SECTION 8. COORDINATING INSTRUCTIONS. Close coordination and cooperation shall be undertaken by the SBMA Director for Anti-Smuggling with the Bureau of Customs, Philippine Ports Authority, ISAFP, NICA, AFP, PNP, BIR, LTO, Philippine Coast Guard, SBMA, and all other agencies which may be involved in carrying out the mission and functions of the SBMA Director for Anti-Smuggling.

SECTION 9. REPEALING CLAUSE. All orders, issuances, rules and regulations or parts thereof which are inconsistent with this Executive Order are hereby repealed or modified accordingly.

SECTION 10. EFFECTIVITY. This Executive order shall take effect immediately upon its publication in a newspaper of national circulation.

Done in the City of Manila, this 18th day of November in the year of our Lord, Two Thousand and Four.


By the President:


Executive Secretary

Sunday, November 07, 2004


Senator Richard Gordon condemned the officials of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) for not having any official watchlist of top smugglers in the midst of investigations on alleged smuggling activities in Subic, Clark and other crucial exit points in the country. During the Senate investigative hearing today of the Senate Committee on Trade and Commerce, BOC Commissioner George Jereos admitted, through Gordon's prodding, that they do not have an order of battle against smugglers explaining that the bureau's head of intelligence has just resigned from his post two weeks ago, hence, they cannot produce the said information being asked. Gordon criticized the bureau officials' dereliction of responsibility, adding that they should be properly charged legally. “If there is no list, then you are all in neglect of duty, so gross that all of you are liable for the anti-graft and corrupt practice act because you are not doing your duty,” Gordon told the officials.
At an earlier forum with members of the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines today, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo reported strides under her administration against smuggling saying that the BOC and the law enforcement agencies such as the PNP and the AFP as well as the Coast Guard have an order of battle against an identified list of 200 smugglers. “I am flabbergasted that the BOC do not have the records and listings concerning the smuggling in the country,” Gordon said adding that “we are talking here not just of smuggling of cigars and liquors but also of vegetables, ‘ukay-ukay' merchandise, cellphones, drugs, and vehicles. There have been individuals convicted because of drugs but nobody has ever been jailed because of smuggling. It is time that we nail them.”
Gordon asked committee chairman Senator Mar Roxas to “subpoena the BOC of all the records including a watchlist of all the people involved in smuggling in Subic, Clark and other sensitive areas in the country” so that they will be able to identify who are involved and immediately take necessary actions against them. He also presented a partial listing of cigars and cigarettes brought in through Subic and Clark from 2001 to 2003. The records showed that 15 billion pesos worth of cigarettes and liquor have been brought in to Subic and Clark without any documentation on where they went

Tuesday, October 26, 2004






I, GLORIA MACAPAGAL-ARROYO, President of the Republic of the Philippines, by virtue of the powers vested in me by law, do hereby order:

Section 1. Jurisdiction. The Bataan Technology Park (BTP) is hereby placed under the jurisdiction of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA). All territories comprising the BTP shall henceforth be known as SBMA-Bataan:

Section 2. Economic Zone and Freeport. SBMA-Bataan shall follow all the rules of SBMA as an Economic Zone and Freeport.

Section 3. Regulatory Powers, Functions and Authority. The regulatory powers, functions and authority over BTP, henceforth known as SBMA-Bataan, are hereby transferred from the Bases Conversion Development Authority to the SBMA

Section 4. Management Structure. BTP, henceforth known as SBMA-Bataan, shall continue to be managed in accordance with the charter of Bataan Technology park, Incorporated. Its Chairman, Board, and President/Chief Executive Officer shall be appointed by the President of the Philippines. The Board is empowered to reorganize the management staff of SBMA-Bataan.

Section 5. Repealing Clause. All executive issuances, orders, rules and regulations, or any part thereof, which are inconsistent with any provision of this Executive Order are hereby revoked, amended or modified accordingly.

Section 6. Effectivity. This Executive Order shall take effect immediately.

Done in the City of Manila, this 26th day of October, in the year of our Lord, two thousand and four.


By the President:

Executive Secretary

Monday, October 18, 2004

New Subic chief says he'll put freeport in world map

Instead of making sudden changes, new Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority Chair Francisco Licuanan III said on Monday he would gradually usher in development inside this former American naval base.

Delivering his first ever public speech after President Macapagal-Arroyo appointed him to the post, Licuanan vowed to "build on what has been already built and go on from there."

"When you have accomplished a lot, you are expected to accomplish more," Licuanan said during the turnover ceremony of the SBMA leadership. He commended outgoing SBMA Chair Felicito Payumo for what Payumo has done during his six-year term.

"Frankly speaking, I have no doubts that Tong (Payumo) would go a long way," he said.

Licuanan said that when he was asked to take on the job, the only thing that "attracted" him was the potential of this freeport zone to compete globally.

"If we can't do it here in Subic, where else can we do it?" he asked.

The former president of Ayala Land Inc. also hailed the "wonderful dedication" and "hard work" put in by SBMA employees that helped Subic gain various awards and commendations.

"I urge you to join me in this new administration's quest to carry out our task and role in national development," he told SBMA officials and employees.

Alfredo Antonio, incoming SBMA administrator, vowed to help mitigate the country's deficit by being more efficient "so that every peso redounds to the improvement of the freeport's future income and economic growth."

Friday, October 08, 2004

SEA Canoe Championships attract 10 national squads

Familiarity of the venue gives Filipino athletes an edge in their bid to provide worthy competition against favored rivals in the fifth Southeast Asian Canoe Championships and the 3rd Junior Southeast Asian Canoe Championships which start today in Subic, Zambales.

This was the assessment of RP team coach Leonor Escollante who has been training her athletes since three weeks ago at the waterfront of the Fisherman's Wharf Resort inside the Subic Bay Freeport Zone.

Leading the host team's bid are Jonard Saren, Southeast Asian record holder of the 1000-m junior kayak single and Ryan Ronald Tabagan. Top bet for the 1000-m K1 is 17-year-old Marvin Amposta who will compete in both the junior and seniors competitions.

Norwell Cajes, who has been a consistent performer in the national pool's time trial, is expected to excel in the 100-m canoe singles.

April Mae Peñalosa, holder of the SEA junior 200-m kayak single, is the top bet in the women's side.

The Philippines grinds it out for three days against nine other Southeast Asian countries, including powerhouse teams Indonesia, Vietnam, Myanmar and Thailand which are expected to crowd it out at the top.

A total of 48 gold medals are up for grabs in the event supported by the PSC, PCSO, Philippine Convention and Visitors Corp., SBMA, Subic Fisherman's Wharf Resort, Subic International Hotel, SMC, Viva Mineral Water, Smart Addict Mobile, McDonalds-Olongapo, Coppertone Sport, Tribu Sandals, Subic Bay Medical Center, Astron Communication Systems, IDG Productions and Penta-Shimizu-Toa Joint Venture.

Gov't goes after Subic smugglers

PRESIDENT Macapagal-Arroyo has ordered the Bureau of Internal Revenue to shut down and attach the bank accounts of tax-delinquent auctioneers of secondhand, imported vehicles in the Subic Bay Freeport Zone.

"I have instructed the BIR to use all powers in its command to run after these unscrupulous auctioneers, including the power to garnish bank accounts and close down establishments once assessment of the unfulfilled tax obligations is final,'' the President said in a statement.

The President issued the order after a final assessment by the BIR had found that the government had lost P944 million in forgone revenues from the top three car auctioneers at Subic.

"This is really a good start for the BIR and Commissioner [Guillermo] Parayno, and I assure him of my full support,'' Ms Arroyo said.

The BIR has already issued warrants of garnishment on the bank accounts of four Subic auctioneers under the National Internal Revenue Code (NIRC) to satisfy the government's claim to unpaid taxes, particularly the 10 percent value-added tax (VAT) on sales. A garnishment is a warning to a third party, in this case the banks, to hold, subject to a court's direction, money or property belonging to a debtor who is being sued by a creditor.

The President also ordered the justice department to assist the BIR in the ensuing legal battle after some of the Subic auctioneers questioned the BIR's move in court. The auctioneers claimed that part of Subic Freeport's tax incentives was the 5 percent gross income tax to cover all tax dues of locators in the free port.

This is the President's first major directive aimed at addressing the the long-standing complaint of domestic car manufacturers against the entry of used, converted and imported vehicles into Subic. Ms Arroyo had promised to put a stop to the practice that has significantly eaten into the sales of Japanese and US assemblers in the country.

The issue was again raised by representatives of the the US-Asean Business Council when they met with the President last Wednesday.

Testimony at a Senate hearing this week suggested that Subic may have become a center for car smuggling.

Customs Commissioner George Jereos said right-hand-drive vehicles were illegally entering the free port with approval from Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority officials.

Sen. Richard Gordon, a former SBMA chair, said as many as 9,000 cars had entered the country illegally through the SBMA "in the past so many years."

At a press conference in the Senate yesterday, Gordon blamed prominent local and national officials in the "rampant smuggling" of right-hand-drive vehicles into Subic.

Gordon said that although the Department of Trade and Industry had declared that such importation was illegal under Republic Act 8506, SBMA chair Felicito Payumo continued to allow it.

In a telephone interview yesterday, Payumo belied Gordon's claim that he was behind the car smuggling in the free port.

"I don't know what he's talking about. There are no violations of law covering the importation conversion and selling of second hand vehicles inside the free port zone," Payumo said.

He said that during Gordon's term as SBMA chair, uncollected duties and taxes amounted to P335 million.

"The issue of conversion of right-hand drive vehicles had been discussed during the 12th Congress. It was impossible that during Gordon's term there had been no importation of brand new vehicles at all," he said.

"How can there be smuggling when importers of secondhand vehicles are paying duties and taxes?" he added.

In his testimony earlier this week, Jereos said the "smuggling" of mostly right-hand-drive vehicles through SBMA was being facilitated by importation permits.

He agreed that SBMA officials were responsible for the proliferation of right-hand-drive cars in the free port.

Gordon said the importers in collusion with SBMA officials justify the importation by allowing the conversion of the cars into left-hand-drive before they are taken out of the free port. After conversion, the cars are not registered or taxed accordingly and are then auctioned off per shipment or by lot.

The average registration fee for a converted car is only about P2,000 each, regardless of whether it is luxury car or sports utility vehicle.

Gordon said that the importers also pay bribes to evade proper payment of taxes: P25,000 to the Land Transportation officials (in Olongapo and Subic), P25,000 for Bureau of Internal Revenue, and P50,000 to SBMA

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

RP labor head promises to discourage unions

In order to clear investors' worries on labor disputes in the Philippines, the country's labor head visited Taiwan yesterday and promised to solve the problem in favor of employers.

"I will try everything legally and morally to protect the employers' interests in labor disputes, and in order to safeguard better communications between employers and labors an officer from the central government will station full time in the Subic Bay," said Patricia Sto. Tomas, Secretary of Philippines' Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

For the past six months the Philippine government has been sending friendly messages to lure more Taiwan investors.

The new government led by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo outlined a more liberated, incentive-driven Subic-Clark corridor for foreign manufacturers. However, in a labor-dominated country like the Philippines, organizing unions is a constitutional right. Thus, the underling threats of strikes and sabotage had frightened those who intended to launch production lines there.

Hoping to voice many Taiwan investors' concerns on the issue, Chinese National Association of Industry and Commerce Chairman Theodore Huang visited Philippines' labor officials several times and finally received a clear endorsement.

Because most of the foreign investors cluster in the Subic Bay, Tomas said she would travel more frequently from Manila to monitor the situation there.

With respect to the fact that the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) lacks sufficient power to tackle disputes, and that cases sent back to the central government cost time and money, Tomas also promised the dispute case could stay in the Subic Bay.

"The SBMA will be given broader authority to hear the case, and the central government will not interfere if the disputed parties wish so," she said.

Tomas stressed that only five percent of Philippine workers had joined unions. "There's no way that unions will definitely lead to strikes or sabotage."

"In many cases, Philippine workers prefer not to join the union because they have to pay monthly dues. DOLE will continue working on creative and positive ways for a win-win situation," she said

Saturday, September 18, 2004

BCDA president, directors take pay cuts

THE BASES Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) announced Thursday that the salaries and benefits received by its president and directors had been cut by as much as 72 percent in line with the government's efforts to cut expenses.

It said the annual pay of its president and chief executive officer Rufo Colayco was reduced by 58 percent to P1.79 million a year from P4.27 million, including the basic salary and all other benefits.

The BCDA said it also cut the compensation of its directors by 72 percent to P20,000 a month from about P71,400.

BCDA directors include Alvin Capino, Rafael Julian Azanza, Jesulito Manalo, Ari-den Sebastian, Gerardo Seno, Isaac Puno III, and Florencio Padernal.

A resolution on the pay cuts was passed last Sept. 22 to comply with President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's call for austerity in the wake of the current fiscal crisis.

The BCDA said the resolution would take effect on Oct. 1.

The BCDA, created by law in 1992, is tasked with converting former and present military bases into commercial or industrial hubs, and promoting social and economic development of the Central Luzon region in particular and the Philippines in general.

Earlier this week, two top officials of state-owned Philippine National Oil Co. (PNOC) resigned in the wake of a controversy on high salaries of executives in government-owned or -controlled corporations.

Resigned were Rufino Bomasang and Jose Gangan, presidents of PNOC Exploration Corp. and PNOC Petrochemical Development Corp., respectively.

The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA), which runs a free port built in a former American naval base at Subic Bay, said its pay rationalization plan would assure that the annual salaries and benefits of its officials were within the limits set by Malacañang.

SBMA senior deputy administrator Chito Cruz said a memorandum order dated June 25, 2001, specified that the pay package of SBMA officials should not exceed twice the standard rates for comparable national government positions.

Cruz said SBMA Chairman Felicito Payumo received P51,700 a month because he gave P33,342 of his pay to a scholarship support fund.

Cruz said the SBMA had cut the per diem of its directors to P20,000 a month from P60,000 because meetings were now held twice a month instead of thrice

Monday, August 30, 2004

House urged to probe Subic road project

THE President’s son, Rep. Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo of Pampanga, on Sunday sought a congressional inquiry into the delay in the completion of his mother’s pet project in Central Luzon, the Subic-Tarlac Expressway Project (SCTEP).

Arroyo, at the same time, urged concerned agencies like the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) to speed up the completion of the project saying, “Whatever delay is disadvantageous to the countryside.”

“I hope that the government agencies concerned like the NEDA will be able to pay its attention to this very vital project, which is expected to benefit our entrepreneurs . . . which is expected to bring progress and commerce,” he said in a telephone interview.

Arroyo said the continued delay in the project’s completion defeats its purpose, which is to propel economic growth and progress not only in Central Luzon but throughout the country as well.

He said that the project has been delayed for 22 months now, long enough after the NEDA approved the project at a cost of P15.247 billion in October 1999.

The P27-billion project, which is the seventh on the Arroyo administration’s 10-point agenda, is supposed to link the Subic Freeport in Zambales and the Clark Air Base in Pampanga to Tarlac.

It is expected to transform Central Luzon into an “economic superstar” by turning the region into an international transshipment hub and logistic center. It is also projected to create jobs and decongest Metro Manila.

The Bases Conversion Development Authority has been wanting to execute the project, but its efforts are being hampered by the insistence of Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Romulo Neri to have the project rebidded and redesigned so it would interconnect with the existing North Luzon Expressway (NLEX).

Neri sought to rebid the project owing to the BCDA’s alleged “procedural lapses,” an assertion that Rufo Colayco, BCDA president, strongly denied. Colayco said the Lopez-controlled Manila North Tollways Corp. (MNTC) stands to benefit from the rebidding.

Congressman Arroyo is among the signatories to an open letter to President Arroyo urging her “to instruct the project’s implementing agency, the Bases Conversion Development Authority and the National Economic Development Authority, to urgently resolve causes of delay so that the project can take off soon.”

Arroyo, along with other local officials, expressed alarm over the delay. “We have long waited for the completion of the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway Project, Madame President. We are very much concerned by the rapid and inevitable increase in the cost of project materials, and the fact that people in the region are already proposing for possible extensions of the road project to the northern and eastern sides. . . We cannot help but be anxious by the delay in the project’s implementation especially because we want to keep the momentum.

“We appeal to you, Madame President, to help us realize our aspirations the soonest possible time with the construction of the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway,” read the letter, which was also signed by Sen. Manuel “Lito” Lapid, Gov. Mark Lapid of Pampanga, Vice Gov. Joseller Guiao, Rep. Francis Nepomuceno and Archbishop Paciano Aniceto of the Archdiocese of San Fernando, Pampanga.

The letter also said that the four-lane 94.5-kilometer expressway, when completed, will be the backbone of a new economy in Central Luzon, creating the impetus for economic growth through efficient access to the seaport and airport. The project is also designed to provide the shortest, direct and efficient link among vital development areas in the region: The Central Techno Park in Tarlac, Clark Special Economic Zone in Pampanga and Subic Bay Freeport in Zambales.

“This in turn will help the region transform a globally competitive agro-industrial-logis­tical complex,” the officials said in the letter.

The other signatories to the open letter are Dennis Pineda, president of the Mayors’ League of Pampanga; Mayor Carmelo Lazatin of Angeles City; Mayor Oscar Rodriguez of San Fernando City; Mayor Exequiel Gamboa of Porac; Levy P. Laus, president of the PCCI in Pampanga; Renato Romero, private sector representative for Trade and Industry-Regional Development Council in Central Luzon;

George Sorio, president of Clark Investors and Locators Association; Rolando Peña, president of Metro Angeles Chamber of Commerce and Industry; Willy Ong, president of Filipino-Chinese Chamber-Angeles City; Carmen McTavish, chair of Clark Investors and Locators Association; Catalina Saplala, co-chair of the Regional Development Council in Central Luzon; Renato Tayag, private sector representative for agriculture-RDC in Central Luzon; Rosemarie Herrera, spokeswoman for Citizens’ Movement for Federal Philippines-Central Luzon and Charito Sebastian, professor of Economics, UP Extension Program-Pampanga.

Saturday, August 07, 2004

EO 340 Reorganizing SBMA






WHEREAS, one of the declared targets of the Government is to develop the Subic Special Economic and Freeport Zone [Subic Special Economic Zone] established under Republic Act No. 7227 approved on March 13, 1992 [RA 7227] and the Clark Special Economic Zone established by virtue of Proclamation No. 163 (s. 1993) as the best international service and logistics center in the region;

WHEREAS, the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority [SBMA], which was created by virtue of RA 7227, is the agency mandated to develop the Subic Special Economic Zone into a self-sustaining, industrial, commercial, financial and investment center to generate employment opportunities in and around the zone and to attract and promote productive foreign investments;

WHEREAS, Section 13 of RA 7227 provides that the SBMA Administrator who shall serve as the Chief Executive Officers thereof, shall also be the ex officio Chairman of the SBMA Board of Directors [SBMA Board];

WHEREAS, in view of the multifarious requirements, functions and responsibilities of the Administrator as ex-officio Chairman of the SBMA Board and as Chief Executive Officer of the SBMA, and to ensure the accomplishment of the Government’s target to develop the Subic Special Economic Zone as the best international service and logistics center in the region, there is a need to reorganize the SBMA Board by separating and allocating the powers, functions and duties of the Chairman of the SBMA Board and the Administrator as Chief Executive Officer of the SBMA;

NOW, THEREFORE, I, GLORIA MACAPAGAL-ARROYO, President of the Republic of the Philippines, by virtue of the powers vested in me by the Constitution and existing law, do hereby order:

SECTION 1. Reorganization. – The Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority [SBMA] shall be appointed by the President while the SBMA Administrator shall serve as ex-officio Vice-Chairman of the SBMA Board.

SECTION. 2. Powers and Duties of SBMA Chairman. – The SBMA Chairman shall be the head of the agency and as such, shall have the following powers, functions and duties:

To preside at all meetings of the SBMA Board;
To ensure that all policies, directives, plans and programs formulated by the SBMA Board are faithfully carried out by the Administrator as Chief Executive Officer of the SBMA; and

To exercise such powers and perform such functions and duties as the President may direct, or as may be assigned to him by the SBMA Board.
SECTION. 3. Powers and Duties of SBMA Administrator. – The Administrator, who shall be the Chief Executive Officer of the SBMA, shall have the following powers, functions and duties:

To execute, administer and implement the policies and measures approved and adopted by the SBMA Board;
To directly administer and supervise the operations and day-to-day business activities of the SBMA;
To represent the SBMA in all dealings with offices, agencies and instrumentalities of the Government and with all persons and entities, public or private, domestic or foreign, unless otherwise directed by the President or by the SBMA Board;
To execute on behalf of the SBMA, all contracts, agreements and other instruments affecting the interests of the SBMA duly approved by the SBMA Board;
To direct and supervise the preparation of the agenda for the meetings of the SBMA Board;
To preside at the meetings of the SBMA Board in the absence of the Chairman; and
To exercise such other powers, functions and duties as may be provided in the By-Laws and as may directed by the President or assigned to him by the SBMA Board.
SECTION. 4. Repealing Clause. - All executive issuances, rules and regulations or parts thereof which are inconsistent with this Executive Order are hereby revoked, amended, or modified accordingly.

SECTION 5. Effectivity. This Executive Order shall take effect immediately.

City of Manila, Aug 04 2004


By the President:

Executive Secretary

Monday, July 26, 2004

Refugee camp transformed into techno park

A VIETNAMESE executive in America who recently visited Morong, Bataan, cried after seeing the rickety wooden boat still standing. To him, it was more than a boat.

It was a symbol of the struggles he and the rest of the Vietnamese "boat people" had gone through decades ago to escape the oppressive socio-political environment in Vietnam, Cambodia and the rest of Indochina.

Looking back

He reminisced how 34 men, 20 women and 11 children (he was one of the children) set off from Phu Khang (in Nha Trang City, Vietnam) on two motorized light fishing boats and headed for the open seas on May 12, 1981.

For almost a week, these boats were adrift in the high seas, precariously keeping afloat amid storms. Somehow, these boats found its way to the Mabayo Beach, Morong, Bataan. During the '80s and into the early '90s, over 400,000 refugees from the Indochinese Peninsula made the 15.6-hectare Philippine Refugee Processing Center in Morong, Bataan their home. In its 14-year existence, this United Nations facility was, at one point, home to some 18,000 refugees and asylum seekers, and here they stayed until the United States and European governments could find host families for them.

When the UN wrapped up work here in 1994, it left behind an intact infrastructure-roads, sewerage and irrigation systems, buildings and houses. Power was still running.

Special eco-zone

Now, 10 years later, the Center is part of a 365-hectare Bataan Techno Park (BTP), a special economic zone primarily designed to host high-tech agriculture and aquaculture ventures. It is positioning itself as the next investor site outside the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority.

Morong's physical characteristics and the manpower availability would soon make it a center for modern agriculture and aquaculture technology focusing on biotechnology in partnership with the country's top scientists and agriculturists.

It would also focus on small and medium enterprises developing high-value indigenous products and generate sufficient quality employment.

BTPI recently acquired 2.7 million-pesos worth of communication equipment and services, making it now capable of 24-hour Internet connectivity, according to its president and CEO Isaac Puno III.

He added that with the installation of the communication facilities in BTP, specifically the satellite phones and the Internet connection, investors are now assured of reliable communication services within and outside the BTP complex.

Land-use categories

The 365-hectare fenced ecozone will be subdivided into three several land-use categories-117.30 hectares for agriculture, 10.42 hectares for commercial purposes and 1.97 hectares for a green buffer zone. On the other hand, 134.67 hectares were allotted for industrial purposes, 24.33 for institutional, 56.12 for open spaces, 5.82 for parks, 9.20 for residential and 5.40 for mixed residential and commercial use.

BTPI is a subsidiary of the Bases Conversion Development Authority, which has already infused 289 million pesos to jumpstart the technopark development. Another 108 million pesos was used for the construction of the 10-km backdoor access road from the Subic special economic and free zone to BTP.

Tissue culture

Said Irwin Jose M. Baylon, head of BTPI's planning and business development: "We have a tie-up with UP Los Baños and Diliman on tissue culture. Plant tissues derived from one original (fruit-bearing) plant will enable us to create up to a hundred thousand plants of the same kind that would not be prone to diseases and will bear fruit simultaneously."

This plan, however, seems to be long-term and would not be realized until the technology and knowledge transfer is complete. "People from UP need highly technical individuals (at BTPI) who know tissue culture. The educational attainment is still not that high because this is a fifth-class municipality," added Baylon.

More immediate plans would include an ostrich farm, coffee and banana plantations, and even a watermelon farm.


An organic farm for large-scale production of herbs for export is planned for BTP. Barnston Herbs International Inc., a multinational agriculture-based firm, will invest at least 30 million pesos within the next three years.

Barnston Herbs will lease 10 hectares of land for the first five years to be used for organic farming of culinary herbs, spices and high-value crops such as basil, chervil, chives, lemon balm, lemon grass, marjoram, mint and oregano.

Thirty workers will work initially at the herb farm-all residents of Morong. This will be done in coordination with the skill enhancement training of the BTP Labor Center, said Puno.

BTPI chair Rufo Colayco said what makes BTP a good investment site is that stakeholders are included in the development plan, implementation and monitoring. Some of these stakeholders are the BCDA, SBMA, the Bataan provincial government, Morong municipal government, the private sector, the Kasamaka multipurpose cooperative, the community, the Bataan Center for Innovative Science and Technology Inc. and the Department of Public Works and Highways.

Brigadier General Lysias C. Cabusao, BTP administrator, said that since it was declared a free zone, the whole area has been free from politicking and bureaucracy.

He added locators also have the advantage of easy access to SBMA facilities via the BTP-SBMA backdoor road. For groups on tour, there are picnic grounds, shrines, monuments, ample water, power and road infrastructure, and the security of a perimeter fence.

At present, facilities are available for lodging, conference and sports functions. There is even a paint-ball war game field and a jungle survival training that are being used for company team-building seminars.

For its first to third year, BTP aims to generate employment, and to achieve this the area is being promoted as a venue for out-of-town seminars, weddings, workshops and corporate programs. The combination of modern infrastructure such as office spaces, guesthouses, dormitories and cottages, and historical sites and markers from the turbulent Vietnam War era enhances BTP's attractiveness as an educational venue for an otherwise routine company trip, Cabusao said.

Furthermore, BTP is also being developed as an ecotourism site. It boasts of neighboring pristine beaches such as the Sudeco Beach Resort-a five-minute drive from SBMA southgate complete with a casino, nature trails, hotels and restaurants, snorkeling and diving sites.

The BPTI decided to hold on to the stone markers, sculptures, small temples, the rickety boat and some sacred spots in memory of those who searched for their freedom.

But like the refugees who have now found new beginnings in new lands, the former refugee center has also moved on and carved out a new beginning for itself.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

No nepotism, no hidden deals at SBMA’

By Reynaldo M. Garcia

IN a recent installment of his Manila Times’ weekly column, Hanging Habagat, entitled “Nepotism is Tong’s Folly,” Patrick Roxas named several SBMA officials and department managers and alleged that the only reason they were in the SBMA was because of their kinship with Chair Felicito C. Payumo.

Having worked with those named by Roxas, I feel it is my duty to come out with clarifications on the points that he has raised.

First of all, let me state that no Civil Service rules have been broken with the appointment of all people Roxas has named. According to CS guidelines, one must be within the third degree of consanguinity or kinship with the chair before nepotism can be proven.

Being this, no one among the officials named are related to Payumo within the first to third degree of consanguinity.

Let me also assure you that these people are highly qualified and competent to occupy the posts they were appointed to.

The lawyer Sergio Cruz was not appointed by Payumo, but by then President Estrada and the concurrent post that he holds does not give additional compensation. The treasury department of the SBMA can bear this out. The different position he has held is a sign of the confidence and belief in his expertise by the SBMA administration.

Sergio is a UP Law graduate and former governor for Central Luzon of the International Bar Association of the Philippines (IBP). While the lawyer Chito Cruz is a graduate of the Ateneo Law School.

Let me also counter the notion that delinquent SBMA investors are still delinquent to this day, no thanks to the Special Task Force that the SBMA created.

In fact, the Special Task Force has been commended on separate occasions for its achievements, having been able to collect a total of P1 billion in arrearages.

You will have to understand that these delinquent investors have arrears that accumulated from the previous administration. What we have done here is to create an amenable payment scheme, which would both be advantageous to delinquent investors and the SBMA.

Other managers he has mentioned don’t even fall as distant relatives; here are some to clear a few points:

The lawyer, Carlo Cruz, is a graduate of San Beda Law School, where he has also taught, and has authored several law books. He is not related to neither Payumo nor Chito Cruz. SBMA’s fire chief, Apolinar Salang, has been here since the US Navy days and previous SBMA administrations; his experience highly qualifies him for the post he holds.

The tourism manager, Armin Santos, is a former college professor from Olongapo City and is not related to Payumo whatsoever. Former public works deputy, Cesar Adamos, is a local engineer but has now since migrated to the US. Payumo did not know him before he was hired. Dr. Imelda Montemayor, who heads the Health and Welfare Group, is a doctor from Olongapo City. She is not related to the chair.

The contractor that Roxas names as Jun Sayo has never been awarded a bid nor has he actively participated in a bidding here in Subic. This can be checked with the project bidding and awards committee.

Roxas’ column also questions the presence of some businesses supposedly owned by some relatives. To this, let me say these are legitimate business ventures that have gone through the usual process of approval. One of them can be traced to having been related with Payumo within the third degree of consanguinity. In the case of former SBMA chair Dick Gordon, his sister maintained and ran Mountainwoods Inn in the Kalayaan area.

Roxas’ recent hits on the SBMA can be considered a vengeful act for his recent termination as an SBMA consultant.

Roxas’ consultancy was terminated because of a breach of trust with the SBMA, which is why he has been writing all of these negative articles, just at a time when Payumo’s post as SBMA chair is being coveted by a host of aspirants.

What makes this whole thing ironic is that he has pointed to his sources as former SBMA consultant Doring Rocha and employee Robert Pineda, both of whom were also relieved for breach of trust. Rocha and Pineda were terminated for their involvement in the disposal of an old batching plant.

One last point I would like to raise, which is contrary to Roxas’ statements, pertains to the recent privatization of Subic’s power plant. Roxas and his sources claim that there is P5-billion worth of unpaid utilities from some 40 locators here.

First of all, the total trade receivables in the Freeport, including lease rates and services, do not even run up to that figure. As of recent records, there is only a total of P218 million in utility receivables, P16 million of which are utilities incurred by the residential sector and P202 million by locators. These are overall outstanding accounts and not necessarily delinquent.

The privatization move made with the Aboitiz group is now being hailed as a model for other public utilities groups, which are opting for a similar move. The recent acquisition of our power plant by Enerzone, an Aboitiz group, is actually now a model for other public utilities’ privatization. In fact, even the city of Olongapo is contemplating a similar move.

Even before the privatization process pushed through, unpaid arrears from some investors were carefully worked out so that the transition would be made easy, and also to make sure that the deal puts the SBMA at an advantage and not at a losing end.

With the way Roxas is behaving, his former peers here in the SBMA cannot help but think of why he has decided to take this course of action.

His actions only make us see a hatchet job instigated by certain circles wanting to put down the good name rightfully earned by Subic and the people who work here.

(Reynaldo M. Garcia is department manager of the SBMA’s Public Relations Department)

Friday, June 25, 2004

Philippines government orders strikers back to work

Striking day and swing shift workers at a Taiwanese electronics exporter in Subic Bay industrial estate were last week given 14 hours by the Philippines Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to return to work. DOLE claimed that the strike, which began on June 16, threatened the economic interests of the country.

The small company, Taian (Subic) Electronic Inc. (TSEI), employs just 144 workers. Acting Labor Secretary Manuel Imson claimed “a prolonged stoppage of the [TSEI] operation will deprive the [Philippines] economy of very much needed foreign revenues” and “may act as a deterrent to investors to invest in our economic zone”.

Union spokesman Jimmy Mamolo said the union had been surprised when at 9 p.m., on June 16, while at the picket line, he was served with a DOLE order to vacate the area or face dispersal by Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) law enforcement officers.

The strike is over unfair labour practices, especially harassment, illegal transfer of machines, union busting and illegal suspension of employees. The union is also demanding that perjury cases against two union officials be dropped. DOLE has asked the National Labor Relations Commission to resolve the dispute within 30 days

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

DOLE cites ‘national interest’ in stopping Subic Bay strike

SUBIC BAY FREE­PORT—Calling the continued operation of a Taiwanese firm here as “indis­pensable to the national interest,” the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) on Wed­nesday night assumed jurisdiction over the labor dispute between the firm’s workers and management, and issued an order to a group of striking workers to return to work or face dispersal.

Acting Labor Secretary Manuel Imson, through his chief of staff, the lawyer Luzviminda Padilla, ordered some 30 day-shift and swing-shift employees of electric devices manufacturer Taian (Subic) Electric Inc. (TSEI) to return to work within 24 hours upon receipt of the order and the management to accept them under the same terms and conditions prevailing before the strike.

The workers had declined to go to work and staged a strike, holding pickets in front of the company outside the Taiwanese-developed industrial park.

“A prolonged stoppage of the [TSEI] operation will deprive the economy of the very much-needed foreign revenues and may act as a deterrent to investors to invest in our economic zones. The same will adversely affect the employment- and revenue-generation program of the government,” the labor department’s order stated.

“In the light of the foregoing, and considering the effects of a prolonged work stoppage at the company, there is no doubt that the continued operations of the company is indispensable to the national interest,” the order further stated.

The labor department also asked the National Labor Relations Commission to resolve the dispute within 30 days.

The order was questioned by Jimmy Mamolo, head organizer of the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) Subic district, who said there was no reason for the labor department to issue an order yet, because no party has filed a petition and the strike was just on its first day.

“We were surprised because at around 9 in the evening of June 16 at the picket line, we were served the [labor department] order and was told to leave the area or face dispersal from the SBMA law enforcement department who arrived at the scene together with SBMA labor manager, [the] lawyer Severo Pastor,” Mamolo said.

TSEI makes electric devices for export and employs about 144 people working in three shifts.
Relations between the manage­ment and the company’s labor union, the Taian Subic Employees Union, soured in the last few months after the union, headed by its president Jeffrey Palatulon, filed a notice of strike with the labor department’s National Conciliatory and Mediation Board regional branch in San Fernando, Pampanga.

The union cited as grounds unfair labor practice, specifically harassment, illegal transfer of machines, union busting and illegal suspension of employees.
On May 6, 2004, balloting con­ducted by the union showed an overwhelming majority of the members were for staging a strike.

Mamolo said the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority, through its labor center, tried to mediate on the dispute between TSEI labor and management for more than a month but nothing was resolved.

During these meetings, Mamolo said the union deman­ded that management withdraw the perjury case it filed against Palatulon and union secretary Jebeth Moran.

“Ayaw talaga iatras ng manage­ment ang perjury case na isinampa nila sa president and secretary ng union, kaya the workers staged this June 16 strike,” Mamolo said.

The striking workers initially tried to assemble at the front gate of the company inside the industrial park at around 7:30 in the morning of June 16 but security men of the Subic Bay Develop­ment and Management Corp. (SBDMC) belonging to a private security agency intervened and asked the strikers to move out of the industrial park because it was a private and restricted area.

Robert Deano, detachment commander of the industrial park security, told the workers they cannot stage a strike within the premises of the industrial park because they have no permit from SBDMC and that such activity is prohibited in the area

Friday, June 18, 2004

Zambales judge falls in entrapment

Inquirer News Service

IBA, Zambales-A municipal trial court judge in this town was arrested by agents of the National Bureau of Investigation after he allegedly asked P15,000 from three people involved in a land dispute pending in his courtroom.

Reports said Judge Conrado Alinea was caught while receiving the marked bills from Jose Abdam, one of the complainants in the case.

In a sworn affidavit, the complainants said Alinea asked the money in exchange for the resolution of the case in their favor.

Abdam said the regional trial court of Zambales earlier issued a writ of demolition for some illegal structures on his land and Alinea was asked to issue a writ of execution on the court's order.

But Abdam said Alinea recalled the writ of execution and set it aside.

Alinea, after withdrawing the demolition order, called for a hearing on June 11, the affidavit said.

After the hearing, the complainants asked Alinea's explanation on the recall order.

They said the judge then told them that if they could produce P15,000, he would issue the writ of demolition and execution.

The complainants then sought the help of their lawyer, Gerry Montefalcon, and the latter advised them to ask the help of the NBI to entrap Alinea.

When the judge was arrested at 1:40 p.m. on Thursday, Alinea said he did not touch the money.

Alinea was taken to the NBI Central Luzon office in Pampanga to test if he was positive for ultraviolet powder that the NBI used to mark the bills.

Alinea is facing charges of robbery and extortion and violation of the anti-graft and corrupt practices act

Saturday, May 08, 2004

The Mother of Olongapo

Mayor's wife

Public service is nothing new to Amelia. Her father was then mayor of the municipality of Subic, Zambales. In 1965, her husband Jimmy was elected mayor of the mucipality of Olongapo. In 1966, Olongapo became a city-as Jimmy had envisioned it to be. The year after, though, he was felled by an assassin's bullet right in the lobby of city hall. During his term, Jimmy started a massive campaign against illegal logging, fighting well-entrenched syndicates which made Olongapo the center of their business activities. He inevitably antagonized the corrupt rich and powerful who lobbied to protect their vested business interests. His war against crime and corruption cost him his life.

Countless people openly wept over the violent murder of their founding father. Stricken with grief, Amelia had to be strong for her sons and daughters. "It was so painful, so sad," she recalls, "and so many came to pay their respects."


And long before Ninoy Aquino was slain at the tarmac of the international airport, and his widow Cory catapulted to candidacy for the highest office in the land, there already was a clamor for another widow to take over the reins of city hall. "Bring Gordon back to City Hall!" became the battlecry of the people of Olongapo.

The threats on her life notwitstanding, Amelia became the first elected mayor of Olongapo City. She built her campaign on her late husband's platform of good government.

As mayor, Amelia completed the first Master Plan for the city through the Olongapo Land Development and Urban Planning Autority-an interdisciplinary planning group of resident professionals and government officials. This she did 20 years before the end of the Mutual Bases Agreeement. After her term ended in 1971, she served as assemblywoman in the Batasang Pambansa in 1972.

A congressional act Amelia spearheaded enabled the proceeds from the sales of titled land within the city to be retained in the city treasury as the community's development fund. She built new settlements and extended the city's public service to the residents of formerly unserved communities.

"When we're young, we make inner vows not to be like our mothers, but we end up being exactly like them," Bai says. When Bai was young, she told herself, "I will never be like my mom. I will never be in the restaurant business." But Bai now has a flower shop and a restaurant-businesses her mother had while they were growing up.

Bai's advice for Mother's Day? "Honor your parents, that all may be right with you."

As for Amelia, when asked how she was, she replied, "Eto, buhay pa rin. Maraming anak." (Here, still alive. And with lots of kids.)

‘Forbidden Island’ opens to Filipinos

SUBIC BAY FREE­PORT—What used to be called Forbidden Island, when Subic was a US military installation, has transformed itself into a sprawling P80-million island resort.

After an ecosystem-based concept, the island was formally opened to the public Tuesday afternoon with Chairman Felicito Payumo of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) and Robert Dean Barbers, the Philippine Tourism Authority general manager, cutting the ceremonial ribbon.

Payumo commended the timely opening of the resort, saying that the new resort’s opening marks the official start of summer in Subic, which will surely accompany an increase in tourism arrivals in the Freeport.

“This will definitely boost tourism industry here in the Subic Freeport because the island is perfect. It’s very beautiful and relaxing. It’s like a tropical island resort. And this will surely draw foreign and local tourists alike,” Payumo said.

He said Grande Island used to be called Forbidden Island, because the Americans barred Filipinos from going to the island although it was open to US servicemen and their families.

The efforts to make it into a world-class island resort was a commendable move to make the island now welcome to people from all walks of life, Payumo added.

“Grande Island used to be off-limits to Filipinos, but now it is open to all who wish to see and experience the captivating beauty that it posesses. The developers have truly made a good job in transforming this place short of paradise,” he said.

Barbers commended Payumo and the developers, Robin Tan and Benito Ong, for their wonderful work in transforming Grande Island.

“The country needs more people like Chairman Payumo, Mr. Tan and Mr. Ong, who have strong visions of making islands, like Grande, a tropical paradise,” he said.

Barbers further noted that the country, which is made up of more than 7,100 islands, can be further boosted in the tourism scene despite labels made by some countries that the Philippines is a terrorist laden country.

“We know what kind of beauty the Philippines can attract on tourists and we should join in on the effort of helping promote the country as a top tourist destination,” he added.

According to Francis Elum, Grande Island Resort’s chief operating officer, only 14.2 hectares of Grande Island was transformed into a resort out of the total 44 hectares. The rest of the area will be maintained for its historical value.

He added that this would complement SBMA’s efforts in making Subic Freeport a world-class tourist destination.

Elum added that the island promises a worthwhile trip benefiting any tourist. The new resort will offer various activities, which would range from adventure and historic trails, camping, water sports, fishing and the like. It will also play host to social functions and business conventions.

He further explained that historians need not worry about Grande’s value as an historical icon, because all the war battery sections of the island will remain untouched and will instead be cleaned up and maintained for people to visit and see.

Grande Island houses more than 150 cottages to be located on the island’s beach area.

One of the main attractions of the new project is the construction of a man-made waterfall lagoon, which will be set right in the heart of the island and will be the central section where most of the planned events will take place.

“We are glad to help develop Grande. This is our way of helping make Subic a world-class stop for tourists. When this project is finished, it’s like having an island paradise right in the heart of the country’s economic growth areas,” he added.

A camping site for overnight campers has been set up. An area, which can accommodate more than 150 campers, complete with amenities like toilets and washrooms, has already been set in the plan.

A main restaurant and bar has also been built along a boardwalk fronting the beach. Guests can come in and dine al fresco and enjoy the Subic Bay scenery.

A convention hall will take the place of the old hotel section of the island, giving way for conventioneers to enjoy business and pleasure at the same time

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Despite possible delay, investors back ‘gateway’ project

SUBIC FREEPORT—Despite the delay facing President Arroyo’s “global gateway” project, foreign investors and local businessman here praised the project’s inclusion in her socioeconomic agenda for Central Luzon.

Ichiro Tsuji, Subic Techno Park (STEP) president, said the Japanese business community was elated to hear Mrs. Arroyo endorse the project, components of which will be funded by the Japanese government through an economic loan package with the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC).

“President Arroyo is right in saying the project would spur economic progress in Central Luzon. This pronouncement would attract more foreign investors particularly from Japan,” Tsuji said.

“It will also create much-needed jobs in the region,” said Tsuji, whose company developed an industrial park for Japanese companies at the Subic Freeport.

Jose Saddul, the Subic Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc. (SBCCI) president, also welcomed President Arroyo’s announcement and said, “it is a step forward in achieving increased business activity in the Subic Freeport.”

“We have been supporting efforts to build a toll road linking Subic and Clark and the planned modernization of the Subic port and news of the President committing her support to the plan to integrate the airport in Clark, the toll road and the Subic port is a most welcome development,” Saddul said.

In her speech at the Central Luzon Development Summit on Global Gateways held at the Holiday Inn Resort in Clark Economic Zone on Wednesday, Mrs. Arroyo said she was part of a team of government officials who began the Central Luzon Development Plan through the “Growth Corridor” concept in the region during her stint as trade and industry undersecretary.

“I initiated it ten years ago. That’s how long we have been on this dream,” the President said.

The global gateway project envision linking the airport in Clark, seaport in Subic and the proposed highway from Subic through Clark to Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac.

The President said the global gateway project integrating the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport, the Subic Container Port and the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Toll Road “can be done.”

Admitting the planned March 22 groundbreaking of the toll road may not push through since there are still problems to be resolved, the President said she hopes the concerned officials can thresh out the problem and move forward on this project.

The Pampanga Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) also praised Mrs. Arroyo for pushing the gateway project, saying it bolsters his group’s commitment to promote a global village in Central Luzon with its rich cultural heritage that will mark a distinctive and competitive advantage of products made from the region.

“Global gateway would increase the demand for basic commodities and other economic essentials as well as become a catalyst for human resource development,” said Renato “Abong” Tayag, PCCI president.

Chairman Felicito Payumo of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority said the SBMA and the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA), headed by its president Rufo Colayco, initiated the global gateway project through the Subic-Clark Alliance for Development (SCAD).

“Global gateway will synchronize the two government agencies’ efforts to develop Central Luzon as an air-sea-and-land logistics hub in the Asia Pacific region,” Payumo said.

Payumo added the project is envisioned to create unprecedented employment and potential growth center upon completion and its benefits will go beyond the increased income from by heightened individual, business, government and foreign consumption.

“We see the economic promise of the global gateway for our families, our communities, our province, the whole region and the country as a whole,” the SBMA chief said.

Colayco said the biggest problem of business is that it is being hampered by poor infrastructure, which has become the main reason why more than eight million Filipinos seek jobs abroad.

“Our people opt to look for work abroad due to lack of infrastructure development and business continue to decline because of its inability to compete in the global market,” Colayco said

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Shines In Beauty Tilt Abroad

2003 Best Model winner Melissa Frye finished first runner-up at the 2003 Best Model of the World contest in Turkey last March 6. Here’s the report of Gerry Diaz, chief correspondent of the Mabuhay Beauties Board at

Melissa Frye, 2003 Best Model Philippines winner was proclaimed first runner-up in the 2003 Best Model of the World contest held at the Maslak Princess Hotel in Istanbul, Turkey last March 6. This 20-year old model hails from Olongapo and was studying Computer Engineering before she won the local modeling contest. Melissa, who is 5' 11" tall and measures 34-25-36, is the only daughter of Narcisa Andales and Kevin Frye who is based in Japan. She has three brothers.

At the presscon held before she left for Turkey, I encouraged her to join the Bb. Pilipinas search because she has the makings of a future international beauty titlist. Aside from her height, beautiful face, nice figure and long shapely legs, she has a good command of English and is quite smart. That combination is hard to come by nowadays. Depending on the angle from which you are looking at her, Melissa looks like Melanie Marquez, Sarah Jane Paez and per some SAGA staff, Jaclyn Jose.

Melissa isn't sure yet about her plans. Since she has family members in the United States, she might decide to set up base there. She has a brother in Seattle and her grandmother is in Montana. One of her aunts, Teresa Frye, was a model in the US and was one of those who encouraged her to pursue a modeling career.