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