28 November 2008

Private Submarines: Made in Subic

SBMA Administrator Armand Arreza (third from left) joins proponents of a personal submarine project in the Subic Bay Freeport, from left: George Ramirez, president of McGram Fusion Inc.; Kiyotaka Miyagawa, CEO of Amuza Co. Ltd. of Japan; and Keisuke Imada, Amuza's mechanical technologist. The team successfully conducted sea trials for the personal submarine prototype last week at Subic Bay. (SBMA Corporate Communications)

Japanese firm to produce 'personal submarines' in Subic

First gaining attention as a manufacturer of world-class limousines, Japan-based firm Amuza Co. Ltd. is now set to produce in Subic what it called "leisure submarines", in partnership with a business locator here that specializes in fiberglass and composite materials construction.

This was announced on Thursday by Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) administrator Armand Arreza, after Amuza conducted a successful sea trial of its private submarine prototype here last week.

Amuza, which has been working on the submarine project for 10 years, has partnered with former Subic locator Taiyo Sangyo Trading and Marine Service Ltd., which in turn referred them to McGram Fusion Inc. in Subic, said Arreza.

McGram Fusion, which manufactures car body kits made of fiberglass, carbon fiber and Kevlar, has agreed to fabricate the vessel's hull and other visible components, while electronic parts and systems will be shipped in from Japan.

The two-seater leisure submarine weighs four tons and is about the size of a typical car — two meters wide, four and a half meters long, and two meters high.

Underwater, it sucks in water which adds to its weight, for a total of 4.8 tons.

Powered with a lithium-ion battery, which Amuza currently develops, the leisure sub on a full charge of 10 hours can navigate for up to 50 nautical miles (about 90 kms) and dive up to 150 meters deep.

Underwater, the vessel's speed tops 5 knots per hour.

Amuza chief executive officer Kiyotaka Miyagawa said the firm has so far spent about $1.7 million for the prototype tested here last week.

He added that Amuza wants to produce 10 units of the submarine by the end of the year.

"Basically, this is a toy for rich people," Arreza said. "So production would be low, slow, cautious, and of the highest quality."

Amuza mechanical technologist Keisuke Imada said the unique submarine can be maneuvered to perform stunts like an aircraft.

"This is the most acrobatic submarine in the world," Imada said with pride. "The idea was to make it more mobile, as opposed to the traditional sub which can only go up and down."

Imada said buyers of their craft must first secure a license from a pilot training station they are planning to set up in Subic Bay.

Imada, who served time in Japan's navy, said he is very familiar with the Subic Bay Freeport, so he insisted that it be the venue for sea trials and the training school.

Initially, the firm plans to invest US$5 million for the training school, which will employ 50 to 100 divers, mechanics, and helpers, he said.

"Subic Bay's proximity to Japan, its preferable environmental factors, coupled with a workforce possessing excellent maritime capabilities, make it an ideal site for this venture," said Imada. (SBMA Corporate Communications)

27 November 2008

SBMA: Trees won’t be cut for hotel-casino project

The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) will not allow the cutting of trees to make way for a multi-million hotel-casino project here, officials said on Wednesday.

SBMA Administrator Armand Arreza said the agency has told project proponent Grand Utopia, Inc. that the trees should be saved and incorporated in the development plan, which will be subject to SBMA review.

“We won’t stand for the cutting of trees. Definitely, we won’t allow it,” Arreza clarified.

He added that a news report saying that the project would destroy some 300 trees in the two-hectare site is speculative.

The report quoted architect Jun Palafox, who said that he was initially tapped to design the project but backed out when he found out that the management “intended to cut the trees.”

Arreza said, however, that he did not know why the deal between Palafox and Grand Utopia fell through.

“But the trees are still there, because all that the developer has done at this time was to fence in the area and inventory the number of trees preparatory to balling, which was the procedure we have recommended,” Arreza said.

“It’s pure speculation that 300 trees will be destroyed because, in fact, Grand Utopia has already applied for a permit to ball the trees,” he added.

Arreza also pointed out that the area, which previously contained a mini-golf course built during US Navy Days, has been classified under SBMA zoning regulations as a commercial area.

“It’s true that because of the density of the trees at the mini-golf course, our Ecology Center has classified that part of the site as an urban jungle. But it’s still within the commercial zone where development is allowed,” he explained.

“This is why the recommendation from Ecology was to incorporate the trees in the development plan, or if that won’t be possible, to ball the trees and transfer them to a new location,” Arreza said,

The SBMA Ecology Center said that several mature trees affected by development projects in the Subic Bay Freeport have been successfully transferred.

Technicians at the Center said balling is “relatively a simple procedure“, although the recovery stage for relocated trees “would be the hard part.”

“But we’ve been doing it,” they added.

The Center also said the SBMA has required developers to provide replacements on a ratio ranging from 10 to 50 saplings for each affected tree. On top of this, developers pay a considerable amount for the maintenance of saplings.

Arreza said the Grand Utopia project, which will be known as the Ocean 9 Casino and Hotel Resort, is considered to be a critical infrastructure in Subic’s bid to attract more foreign tourists to the growing number of holiday destinations in this free port.

The hotel will be located near Subic’s Alava Pier, which is being developed by another firm as a passenger terminal for cruise ships.

The casino-hotel resort is expected to employ more than 5,000 workers once operational. The project is scheduled for completion within two years. (SBMA Corporate Communications)

26 November 2008

Subic hosts ICT convention

Identified recently as one the most viable information technology hubs in the country outside Metro Manila, the Subic Bay Freeport will host starting today (November 27) a two-day convention on information and communications technology (ICT) to help consolidate stakeholders in the booming industry.

The event, which includes a trade exhibition that will run until November 30, was organized by the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) in close collaboration with the Subic Bay Freeport Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SBCCI).

The convention and exhibit will be held at the Subic Bay Exhibition and Convention Center (SBECC) under the theme "E-nnovative Governance: the SubIcTech Formula."

Plenary speakers include Oscar Sañez, president of the Business Processing Association of the Philippines (BPAP); Monchito Ibrahim, commissioner of the Cyber Services Group, Commission on Information & Communications Technology (CICT); and Ma. Lourdes Mediran, deputy executive director of the Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (CITEM).

Guest speakers, meanwhile, include Senator Richard Gordon, Asst. Secretary Reynaldo Berroya of the Department of Transportation and Communication, and Buhay party list representative Ma. Carissa Coscolluela, who chairs the Bataan Olongapo Zambales Educational Development Organization's Information Technology Council.

SBMA Administrator Armand Arreza said that the convention and exhibit is expected to attract experts, industry leaders, and key decision-makers in the ICT sector.

"With this event, we aim to consolidate stakeholders in the ICT industry, so that the country, including Subic, can really take off as a world-class provider of ICT services," Arreza said.

"This is a booming industry, and we must have the necessary facilities to grab a big chunk of the growing market," he added.

Arreza said the ICT industry, considered as one sector with some of the most high-paying jobs in the country at present, experienced a growth rate of 70 percent from year 2000 to 2005.

In 2005, he added, the Philippines was considered a location of choice because of relatively less expensive operational and labor costs, making it one of the top 10 BPO destinations worldwide.

The potentials of the industry include Business Process Outsourcing (BPO), Knowledge Process Outsourcing (KPO), and other creative E-services like software and hardware development, wireless application, digital animation and games, Arreza added.

He also said that the new ICT trends, like E-commerce — the groundbreaking way of doing business through the Internet, and using telecommunications and computing tools for marketing and business exchange — is currently revolutionizing ways on how business and governance should be done.

As for the Subic Bay Freeport, Arreza said the SBMA has recently upgraded ICT facilities here to meet emerging demands in the industry.

"Subic is now ready with the required infrastructures, as well as a talent pool, to be a major player in the ICT business," Arreza said.

Organizers said the four-day ICT convention and exhibit expects over two thousand participants from prominent industry players, telecom companies, software and hardware manufacturers, IT schools, business and knowledge process outsourcing groups, as well as manufacturers of computers, mobile phones, and other electronic products.

The high number of participants was made possible trhough online registration at the website (http:/www.ictsubic.com), which was created and managed by the Comteq Computer and Business College, an ICT school based in the Subic Freeport. (SBMA Corporate Communications)

25 November 2008

$120-M hotel-casino resort breaks ground in Subic

A fifteen-story integrated resort-hotel worth $120 million will soon rise along the Waterfront Drive in this free port to provide a landmark development complete with convention center and casino.

The project, which will be known as Ocean 9 Casino and Hotel Resort, broke ground last Wednesday, with Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) Administrator Armand Arreza and Moon-Sung Choi, chairman of the proponent-firm Grand Utopia, Inc., leading the ceremony.


The event was witnessed by Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR) chairman and CEO Efraim Genuino, Olongapo City Mayor James Gordon Jr., Zambales Vice-Gov. Anne Gordon, and representatives of the Korean business community in Subic.

According to Arreza, the Ocean 9 resort-hotel complex is designed to be the most beautiful hotel in the Subic Bay Freeport.

“This promises to be a significant landmark that will transform the face of Subic Bay , making it the pride of Olongapo and Zambales,” he added.

Choi, who presented a project brief during the ceremony, said the main facility will be a 15-storey hotel that will occupy an area of 9,173 sq. meters, while the secondary building that will occupy 4,200 sq. meters will house a three-storey casino.

The project, which is expected to yield more than 5,000 jobs, is scheduled for completion within two years, he said.

“We will do our best to develop the business under the direction of PAGCOR and SBMA, as we aspire to be at par with some of the world’s best tourism and entertainment attractions,” Choi said.

“The hotel and casino complex will be built using cutting-edge technology and advanced architectural systems in order to make a unique design that will blend comfort with entertainment,” he added.

As planned, the Ocean 9 casino will feature a central stage for live entertainment and performances, as well as a lift-up type of walkway that could be used for fashion shows, said Choi.

The first floor of the casino, where some 500 gaming tables will be clustered, will also have an organic light emitting diode (OLED) system for visual effects, he added.

The OLED system could produce scenes like a waterfall orr volcanic activity, Choi said.

The other side of the main hall, meanwhile, will have from 60 to 120 shops that will sell luxury brands, including premium items from Italy and France .

On the other hand, the hotel-casino complex will also boast convention and business facilities to complement leisure activities intended for foreign and local tourists, said Choi.

The Ocean 9 Casino and Hotel Resort project is considered to be a critical infrastructure in Subic ’s bid to attract more foreign tourists to the growing number of holiday destinations in this free port.

The hotel will be located near Subic ’s Alava Pier, which is being developed by another firm as a passenger terminal for cruise ships.

Alava is also being used for berthing by visiting US Navy ships that regularly dock in Subic during military exercises between the Philippines and the United States. (SBMA Corporate Communications)

23 November 2008

SBMA to honor the Subic Volunteers, outstanding workers

The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) honors the Freeport's outstanding workers and the Subic volunteers as it commemorates on Monday, November 24, the turnover of this former US naval base to the Philippine government 16 years ago.

The turnover ceremonies on November 24, 1992 not only marked the end of nearly a century of US military control of Subic Bay but also signaled the start of efforts to transform the former naval base into a freeport.

The date has since been observed as Volunteers Day in Subic Bay Freeport and the nearby city of Olongapo – in grateful recognition of the indomitable spirit and sacrifice of thousands of men and women who worked without pay to maintain and operate the facilities left behind by the Americans in the early years of the Freeport.

"As one of the thousands-strong army of men and women who helped protect and preserve this former base land in 1992, I take immense pleasure in reliving with my fellow volunteers the years of toil and sacrifice that set the foundations for a progressive, sustainable and forward-looking Freeport," SBMA Administrator Armand C. Arreza said.

"Today, as one of the thousands-strong army of SBMA employees, I also take enormous pride in announcing that our collective actions in the past have not been in vain as the Freeport continues in its unflagging march forward — breaking new records in investments, revenues and jobs, and seeking greater heights as a world-class service and logistics hub that we can all be proud of," he added.

Highlighting the November 24 festivities here is the awarding of the 10 Outstanding Freeport Workers for 2008, to be held at the Subic Bay Exhibition and Convention Center (SBECC).

Now on its seventh year, this annual awards program - a joint project of the SBMA and the Subic Bay Workforce and Development Foundation, Inc.(SBWDFI) – gives due recognition to the crucial role of workers in the Freeport's rise as a premier investment and tourism hub.

This year's awardees are Ma. Adoracion R. Celeste of the SBMA Human Resource Department; Levi D. Dalida and Paquito T. Torres, SBMA Intelligence and Investigation Office; Arleen B. Dulay, The Lighthouse Marina Resort; Diosdado E. Ednave, SBMA Law Enforcement Department; Severino T. Jovero of Subic Bay Marine Exploratorium Ocean Adventure; Elizier Martin, SBMA Maintenance and Transportation Department; Vicente V. Salvador of Philippine Coastal Storage and Pipeline Corp.; Bernard D Sanchez of Nicera Philippines Inc.; and Jaime L. Villafuerte, Jr. of Wistron Infocomm. (Phils.), Corp.

The search for the best among the 80,000-strong active work force in the Freeport began as early as August this year. Atty. Severo C. Pastor, SBWDFI Chairman and SBMA Labor Manager, said that the foundation received 50 nominees from the different business locators here and the SBMA, which participated for the first time.

The SBWDFI was formed through the efforts of the SBMA and Freeport investors to provide a foundation that can provide a skills development program for thousands of workers here in the Freeport. The foundation has a Board of Trustees consisting of representatives from the Personnel Management Association of the Philippines, investors, Subic Bay Freeport Chamber of Commerce, SBMA-Labor Department and a representative of workers.

The SBMA Volunteers' Day opens with the flag-raising and wreath laying ceremonies in front of the administration building - at the very same spot where the formal turnover ceremonies were held 16 years ago.

SBMA Chairman Feliciano G. Salonga and Administrator Arreza, himself a former volunteer, will lead the flag raising, along with deputy administrators and former volunteers representing the different SBMA business units.

A wreath will be offered at the monument in the same area– that of the Children of the Sun Returning - which was built in 1996 by the first SBMA chairman and administrator, then Mayor Richard J. Gordon, and dedicated to Subic volunteers.

The Olongapo city government has also organized a grand reunion of Subic volunteers at a memorial built in their honor across the lagoon at The Bicentennial Park – the Volunteers' Shrine, where the Subic volunteers' names are engraved on granite panels. (SBMA Corporate Communications)

15,300 new jobs created in Subic

A total of 15,330 new jobs were created in this free port in the first nine months after the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) approved 141 new investment projects worth more than $239 million.

The new jobs include the 10,000 projected employment of Subic Neocove Corp., a joint venture between Korean and American firms for the construction and operation of an integrated sports and luxury resort facility at Subic's Redondo Peninsula.

SBMA Administrator Armand Arreza said the projected employment opportunities would increase Subic's active workforce by 18 percent.

According to the SBMA Labor Department, Subic's total labor force already stood at 83,428 as of September due to expansion programs undertaken by Subic-registered enterprises, as well as the operation of new investors..

While the bulk of the Subic workforce remains in the services sector with a total of 36,012 workers or 43.17 percent, employment in the shipbuilding and marine-related business is fast catching up, the SBMA said.

Already, maritime-related industries employ 26,438 or 31.69 percent of the workers in Subic, SBMA figures showed.

The maritime sector is followed by the manufacturing sector, with 14,804 or 17.74 percent; and construction, with 5,628 workers or 6.75 percent. The rest of the active workforce is composed of domestic helpers and caretakers, with a total of 546 or 1 percent.

Arreza said the entry of Neocove Corp. and other big-ticket tourism projects would most likely keep the services sector as the leading employer here in the next few years.

"Subic is basically service-oriented, so as more industries locate here — whether in maritime or manufacturing sectors — we expect a corresponding increase in jobs in the services sector," Arreza said.

He added that aside from Neocove, nine other big investors that signed in this year would also be also labor-intensive.

These include the Korean construction firm Hanil E&C Subic, Inc., which has a committed investment of $11 million; Sultan Ahmed Lootah Enterprises corp., with $6.72 million; George Dewey Medical and Wellness Center, Inc., with $6.58 million; Hanafil Golf and tour, Inc., with initial commitments of $3 million; Australasia Marine Alliance Corp., with $2.31 million; Pacific Pearl Airways Aviation School, with $2.13 million; Palmgold Int'l Ltd., with $1.98 million;
Grand Pillar Int'l Development, Inc., with $1.9 million; and Buma Subic Development and Management Corp., with $1.5 million.

The 141 new projects worth some $239 million placed the total committed investments in Subic at $5.74 billion, the SBMA said.

Arreza also said that SBMA's job-generation program has been instrumental in addressing unemployment and underemployment in the Central Luzon region.

Citing figures from the Department of Labor and Employment's Bureau of Labor and Employment Statistics (DOLE-BLES), Arreza noted that the region's unemployment rate had decreased from 11.5 percent in 2007 to 9..4 percent as of July this year.

In the same period, Central Luzon's underemployment figures went down from 14.1 percent in 2007 to 9.2 percent as of July.

"I think our efforts to minimize labor gaps are now gradually paying off," Arreza said, pointing out that the agency is also facilitating regional dialogues not only to address unemployment, but to promote skills matching and industrial peace in the region.

He said the that in 2005, the SBMA linked with the Department of Labor and Employment, Commission on Higher Education, Technical Education and Skills Development Agency, Public Employment Service Office, and the Regional Development Council to start a series of conferences on job-skills mismatch to help address labor concerns in Central Luzon. (SBMA Corporate Communications)

10 November 2008

Trump eyeing investment in Philippine freeport

SUBIC BAY, Philippines - U.S. property tycoon Donald Trump is eyeing up a move to develop part of a new complex in the Philippine freeport of Subic Bay into a tourist center, a Trump company official said Wednesday.

The flamboyant billionaire is looking at joining a South Korean company that is already building a major complex in Subic Bay, which is located north of Manila.

Trump Organization executive vice-president Michael Cohen said he had met officials of the Heung-A Property Group to discuss the plan.

He said the two sides were working on “a definitive agreement” where the Trump group would be a key developer of the beachfront but added that no formal accord had been signed.

Heung-A Property owns Subic Neocove Corp., a venture that is developing a tourism complex. The company is planning an initial 250 million-dollar investment to build hotels, golf courses, a casino and residential areas.(The China Post)

07 November 2008

Fighting poverty ensures peace - Pres. Arroyo. Petron fuel plant inaugurated in Subic

SUBIC BAY FREE PORT—President Arroyo has underscored the importance of the government’s poverty-alleviation program, saying that strengthening the economy and bringing about human dignity to every Filipino brings about peace.

In a speech before the Central Luzon Local Peace and Security Assembly at the El Centro Convention Center here, President Arroyo also said the government has been making headway in curbing insurgency, which she said is rooted in lack of jobs,
land-reform problems and social injustice.

“A strong and growing economy has been the central pillar we have labored to create precisely to help ensure peace, order and instability in our country. And it’s paying off,” Arroyo told some 500 participants in the two-day assembly and workshop.

Before addressing the Central Luzon peace assembly Thursday, President Arroyo also inaugurated a $2.5-million fuel-additives blending plant put up by Petron Corp. at the Subic Techno Park.

Petron chairman and CEO Nicasio Alcantara informed the President at the inauguration that the facility will not only generate dollar revenues, but will also promote energy conservation and assist in environmental protection.The additives-blending plant, the first of its kind in Asia-Pacific, will export 80 percent of its products, mainly to Asian markets.

In addressing the peace assembly later, Mrs. Arroyo said, “Our economy is more resilient today than ever before, thanks to our fiscal reforms that manifested in a 7-percent-plus [gross domestic product] growth last year.” Almost 7 million jobs have also been created in the past seven years of her administration, she added.

However, she admitted that the current global financial crisis still hits Filipinos where it hurts most—at the kitchen table.“We are not insulated from the events taking place internationally, so we will have to monitor developments closely and take action where necessary, to ensure that any impact will be minimal or short-lived,” she added.

At the same time, President Arroyo criticized communist insurgents for impeding progress and development in some rural areas, and said the government is taking on a new tack to end “all forms of armed rebellion in the country.”

She said the new premise of the government’s peace efforts now focuses on “authentic dialogues with the people in communities,” and not on negotiating with armed groups.

“By talking directly with the people, we aim to generate a national consensus against armed struggle as a means of achieving political and social change,” the President explained.

She added that the overall framework of the government’s peace process will be composed of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR).“DDR, as espoused by the communities, will be a notice to armed groups of their rejection of armed struggle, and a way of showing that the force of arms does not entitle them to representing our people,” she added.

For its part, the assembly presented President Arroyo with a resolution and action agenda for peace, security and development, which was the result of the two-day workshop, spearheaded by National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales.

The resolution supported the “wisdom and spirit of the New Peace Paradigm [of] multitrack dialogue, peace education and development cooperation,” and expressed the participants’ determination to make Central Luzon an agro-industrial heartland, international gateway, tourism haven, and transshipment and logistics hub.

The resolution was signed by representatives of six workshop groups that included participants from local and national government units, nongovernment and people’s organizations, academe, business, religious and basic sectors. (Henry Empeño - Business Mirror)

Subic to exceed P5.3-B revenue record

Revenues derived from duties and taxes in this free port this year are expected to breach the P5.3-billion record in 2007, as total collections at the end of 3rd quarter 2008 already reached P4.08 billion.

Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) Administrator and CEO Armand Arreza said the 3rd quarter figure meant an increase of 6.41 percent over the P3.83-billion tally made in the same period last year.

With the 3rd quarter collection record just short by P1.2 billion from last year’s total, the SBMA expects to exceed the 2007 figure of P5.3-billion, he said.

“By all indications, Subic is defying the odds,” Arreza enthused. “While there is some slowdown in the global economy, we continue to make consistent growth in revenue, import, export, as well as investment and employment.”

“The continued growth of these indicators brings about the rise in the taxes and duties collected in Subic,” he said.

According to data released by the SBMA, the Bureau of Customs (BoC) reported a total cash collection of P2.97 billion from January to September 2008, while the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) showed a P1.11 billion tally.

The BoC figure represented a growth of 5.82 percent over its P2.81 billion cash collection as of 3rd quarter 2007.

The Customs office in Subic traditionally sourced its earnings from importation duties and taxes on oil, motor vehilces, general merchandise and Fedex operations.

Arreza said that despite the current economic crisis, importations by manufacturers and traders here had grown steadily in the last two years, from $1.62 billion in 2006 to $1.79 last year.

Aside from its cash collection, the BoC reported non-cash receipts worth P4.53 billion, for a total of P7.5 billion in cash and non-cash transactions from January to September.

In the nine-month period, the Subic BoC made its highest collection in September with P430.7 million.

The BIR report, meanwhile, indicated that its P1.11 billion tax collection represented an increase of 8.02 percent when compared to the P1.02 billion accumulated in the first nine months last year.

The BIR office here derived its collections from income and profit taxes, value-added tax, percentage tax and other taxes paid for by employers and employees in the Subic Bay Freeport.

The revenue collection agency also reported that its collection peaked in the 2nd quarter when it recorded P423.4 million, with P210 million collected in April alone.

Arreza said that revenue collection in Subic will further increase with the entry of more than 141 new investment projects approved by the SBMA in the last nine months. (SBMA Corporate Communications)

photo caption: Container ships unload cargo at Subic’s Sattler Pier. The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority said a steady growth in imports, as well as investments and employment, contributes to the rise of revenue collections in the Subic Bay Freeport.

SBMA, Zambales LGU endorse Neo-Cove resort project in Subic

Officials of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) and the province of Zambales have given their unqualified support to a proposal by a Korean-led consortium to build a high-end leisure facility at Subic's Cawag area, a short distance from the Hanjin shipyard.

In a meeting with project proponents on Tuesday, SBMA Chairman Feliciano Salonga and SBMA Administrator Armand Arreza said that the agency "stands solidly behind the resort project," which is billed to be the largest master-planned community in Asia.

"The next step now is to break ground," Arreza suggested, pointing out that the SBMA has already worked out the inclusion of the project site with the Subic Bay Freeport.

Zambales Gov. Amor Deloso, for his part, gave the assurance that the project would not meet resistance from the local community.

"This project is good for the local economy and for the tourism industry of Zambales. It will also generate some 10,000 jobs," he said.

"There will be no problem with the people at the site," he added, saying that the project has been formally approved by the Zambales provincial board recently.

The resort project will incorporate hotel and vacation complexes, a 54-hole golf course and leisure-sports facilities, an eco-park, spa and therapy centers, as well as an international hospital and an international school.

Youn Jae Lee, chairman of the Heung-A Property Group (HAPG) of Korea, said his company is combining resources with Westgate Resorts Asia Ltd. and the Trump Organization "in exploring various real estate opportunities in Asia."

The consortium's initial project will be the $250-million integrated leisure, sports and entertainment facility to be built at a 457-hectare beachfront property in Subic, he added.

But a representative of Imagine Realty Corporation, a firm headed by former peace adviser Roberto Aventajado, said the Subic resort development will be made in several phases and will eventually be worth around $1 billion.

The first phase will be undertaken from 2008 to 2010, and the second from 2010 to 2011, he added.

In the same meeting, Trump executive vice president Michael Cohen said his firm has already signed a letter of intent with CIG, one of the Korean partner-firms for the Subic Neo Cove project.

With the entry of Trump, Cohen added, the Subic project would have "the finest quality resort and golf course anywhere in the (Asian) region."

Mark Waltrip, chief operating officer of Westgate, meanwhile said that his firm's involvement would ensure that the project would be fully integrated with local culture — a mark, he said, of Westgate, which operates the largest chain of family-oriented resorts in the United States today.

HAPG chairman Youn Jae Lee, on the other hand, noted that the Subic Freeport has "wonderful infrastructure" already in place. But with the planned resort project, there would be better opportunities for the business community in Subic, he added.

HAPG is said to be one of Korea's progressive conglomerates with interests in real estate, shipping, and logistics. It will undertake the Subic report project through its wholly-owned subsidiary, the Subic Neo Cove Corporation. (SBMA Corporate Communications)

04 November 2008

Subic,Clark approve e-TAPS implementation

Subic and Clark authorities have approved the use of the Automated Transit Admission Permit System (e-TAPS) to ease trade flow in the two ports.

Officials of the Subic-Clark Alliance for Development Council (SCADC), Clark Development Corp., (CDC) and Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) signed the joint memorandum order for the implementation of the e-TAPS at the Clark International Airport Corp., (CIAC) Board Room.

The e-TAPS design intends to simplify procedures and accelerate approval time in the processing of applications for tax and duty-free importations of locators and enterprises.

SBMA Administrator and CEO Armand Arreza, SCADC Chairman Secretary Edgardo Pamintuan, and CDC President and CEO Benigno Ricafort signed the memorandum.

Customs accredited value-added service provider (VASP) Intercommerce Network
Service (INS) provides the remote lodgment facilities for the preparation and lodgment of the Transit Admission Permit (TAP) to the Freeport Authorities.

It will be processed and approved with system generated Freeport Zone Authority reference number.

The Freeport authority through INS shall approve the TAP and transmit the approved
TAP with electronic signature and prescribed data through the National Single Window Program of the Bureau of Customs.

The new procedure allows the importer/broker to create the import entry / Transit
Single-Administrative Document (SAD) using the approved TAP data. This simplifies the workflow, eliminate the physical validation of the data in CDC/TAP and the Customs IEIRD form.(Malaya)

Execs: Subic has come long way

Top officials of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) are optimistic about the freeport's prospects in the global maritime sector.

SBMA Administrator Armand Arreza, in his address during the general assembly of the International Network of Affiliated Ports (INAP) here on Wednesday, said compared to 10 years ago, Subic has come a long way.

He said Subic is now home to some 1,100 investor-firms that provide jobs to more than 85,000 workers.

Arreza said Subic, which has the newest operating container port in the country, possesses key infrastructure that can support a wide range of businesses.

With this, Subic now responds to the growing requirements of seaborne trade in Northern and Central Luzon, and is ready for the capacity shortage of 14 million TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) projected for Southeast Asia, Arreza told conference delegates.

He said the existence of nine other piers and cargo terminals in Subic, the logistics support infrastructure in the Subic-Clark growth corridor and the freeport's location in the center of the East Asian region would give this free port access to more investments.

During the conference, representatives of INAP's member-ports installed SBMA Chair Feliciano Salonga as INAP chair for 2008 to 2009.

Salonga said he would steer Inap to survival and expansion, especially during these challenging times.

INAP, formed in 1998 as a venue for exchanging information and sharing technology and expertise on marine transport and logistics, held its 10th annual conference here as the global economic downturn began affecting major industries, including the maritime sector.

Masanao Ozaki, governor of the Kochi Prefecture in Japan and outgoing INAP chair, lauded the SBMA for promoting investment and employment opportunities in Subic.

"For the significant increase in [the] number of investors and jobs created in Subic, I would like to show respect to the people of SBMA for the hard work and generous effort in developing the local economy," Ozaki said.

Hiroshi Yamanaka, ports promotion director at the Kochi port in Japan, said the Kochi government encouraged not only exchanges among government officials, but also among traders during the Subic conference.

The Kochi government had 30 delegates to the conference, 20 of them coming from the private business sector, Yamanaka said.

The Japanese delegation, he said, checked developments inside the Subic Bay
Freeport in pursuit of possible economic exchanges or trade. (Philippine Daily Inquirer)