23 November 2012

SBMA honors volunteers in celebration of 20th Subic Freeport anniversary

The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) celebrated the 20th founding anniversary of the Subic Bay Freeport this week by honoring volunteers who helped develop the country’s first free port.

The SBMA, led by chairman and administrator Roberto Garcia, gave a fitting tribute to the pioneer volunteers who worked hard in protecting the facilities left here by the US Navy in 1992 and converting the former naval base into a special economic zone.

A special flag-raising ceremony held on Monday kicked off the week-long anniversary celebration, which included other activities like the Subic 20th Anniversary Photo Contest and Exhibit, as well as the Great Subic Weekend Sale organized by the local business community.

The week was capped with a thanksgiving mass and a recognition ceremony for the 290 volunteers who have been with the SBMA for the past 20 years, as well as ten pioneer investors who began operating in the Freeport in 1992-1993.

The ceremony was followed by the traditional lighting of the Christmas tree to start the Christmas season here, a fireworks display and an anniversary concert.

“Without the volunteers, the Freeport would not be the way it is today,” Garcia said. “The volunteers have a very, very significant role in creating a modern and progressive Subic Freeport.”

Garcia also noted that in the past 20 years Subic has grown into a premier logistics, tourism and investments hub, with over 1,500 locators doing their business in the Freeport and generating close to 90,000 jobs.

“Subic Bay Freeport is now very vibrant, a very exciting place especially now that a lot of attention has been focused on the Philippines because of reforms initiated by the Aquino administration,” he said.

Garcia also stressed that Subic helped thrust the country to the forefront of the global shipbuilding industry by enlisting Hanjin Heavy Industries Corporation among its business locators, thereby making the Philippines the base of the fourth largest shipbuilding facility in the world.

Garcia added that he hopes to achieve the vision of making Subic the premier free port in Asia by enforcing good governance.

“Together with the board of directors we have been working very hard not just to achieve economic success, but also to achieve the vision of Subic under a program of good governance following the President’s program of ‘Daang Matuwid’,” he said. “This sets the right business climate for investors to come in and invest in Subic.”

In 1991, the Congress passed Republic Act 7227 or the Bases Conversion and Development Act, which created the Subic Bay Freeport and Special Economic Zone, and mandated the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority to govern the free port.

Subic, which was previously the biggest American military base outside the United States mainland, was formally turned over to the Philippines when the US naval forces left on November 24, 1992 after the Philippine Senate rejected the extension of the RP-US Bases Treaty. (FMD/MPD-SBMA)

SBMA Chairman Roberto Garcia leads a special flag-raising ceremony on Monday in honor of Subic volunteers, which served to kick off the week-long celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Subic Bay Freeport. Assisting him are SBMA senior deputy administrator for operations Ramon Agregado, SBMA deputy administrator for business Raul Marcelo, and members of the SBMA Law Enforcement Department.