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27 December 2017

Subic keen on becoming next cruise ship playground

The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) is keen on positioning its port to become the next playground for Royal Caribbean cruise ships starting next year.

SBMA Chairman and Administrator Wilma T. Eisma, who met recently with Dr. Zinan Liu and other officials of Royal Caribbean International (RCI), said that the Subic community is hoping to generate more business with the growing cruise ship tourism industry in the Asian region.



“We hope that Subic would be the next cruise ship playground. And we are very excited over this prospect,” Eisma told RCI officials, as she briefed them on the potentials of the Subic Bay area as cruise ship destination.

“We can offer you the best tourism facilities and services for your passengers and crew, highly memorable and tailored tourism experiences to meet the expectations of your clients, and a safe environment that will be very conducive to your business,” Eisma added.

Liu, who is RCI’s president for China and North Asia Pacific Region, arrived in Subic on Saturday along with his assistant Anna Lian and company director Antonio Muresu, and escorted by Isabela Vice Gov. Antonio Albano.

Eisma brought the visitors to Alava Pier here, where the firm’s MS Oasis of the Seas cruise liner may dock once Subic is included in the ship’s Asian itinerary.



The RCI, which is a cruise line brand based in Miami, Florida and owned by Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (RCCL), a global cruise vacation company which controls 22 percent of the cruise market worldwide, is said to be scouting for newer attractions for the growing Asian cruise ship market.

Eisma, along with the SBMA Cruise Ship Technical Working Group, stressed that her administration is positioning Subic as the new Asian destination to meet such growing demand.

The MS Oasis of the Seas is said to provide some of the most modern cruise experiences today with facilities like the Central Park, Boardwalk, Royal Promenade, Pool and Sports Zone, Vitality at Sea Spa and Fitness Center, Entertainment Place, and Youth Zone, which features a surf simulator, cantilevered whirlpools suspended 112 feet above the ocean, and zip line.

The ship can carry over 6,000 passengers and 3,900 crews and officers in its 16 passenger decks.

During the preliminary meeting with another RCI team headed by Capt. Nikolaos Antalis in November this year, it was noted that because of its gigantic size, Oasis of the Seas could only use the Port of Subic, among the many ports in the Philippines.

During their two-day stay here, Liu and the other RCI officials said they were impressed over the potential of the Subic Bay area, noting that it has attractions in culture, history and religion, aside from modern amenities.

Eisma toured the cruise ship officials around Subic Bay and brought them to see Zoobic Safari, Ocean Adventure, and Segara Villas on Saturday, and brought them as well to the famed Philippine heritage destination Las Casas Filipinas De Acuzar in Bagac, Bataan last Sunday.

Last July, RCCL Vice President for New Business Development John Tercek also visited Subic to assess its readiness as a cruise ship destination.

Eisma said Tercek similarly cited the potentials of Subic and advised the SBMA to step up efforts in developing the free port to address the demand. (RAV/MPD-SBMA)

PHOTOS:

[1] SBMA Chairman and Administrator Wilma T. Eisma briefs Royal Caribbean International officials during an ocular inspection of Alava Pier in the Subic Bay Freeport. (AMD/MPD-SBMA)

[2] Royal Caribbean International president for China and North Asia Pacific Region Zinan Liu presents a miniature cruise ship model during the end of their two-day ocular of the Subic Bay Freeport. (AMD/MPD-SBMA)









20 December 2017

Royal Caribbean Cruise team impressed with Subic potentials

Officials of one of the biggest cruise ship liners in the world came out visibly impressed after visiting the Subic Bay area over the weekend to gauge its potential in the international cruise tourism scene.

Dr. Zinan Liu, president for China and North Asia Pacific Region of the Royal Caribbean International (RCI), a cruise line brand based in Miami, Florida, arrived here on Saturday along with his assistant Anna Lian and company director Antonio Muresu.


Liu’s entourage was escorted by Isabela Vice Governor Antonio Albano, and was welcomed here by Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) Chairman and Administrator Wilma T. Eisma.

During their two-day stay here, Eisma accompanied the cruise officials on a tour of tourism sites in Subic Bay and also briefed them on local history and tourism features.

The tour included Zoobic Safari, Ocean Adventure, Segara Villas, as well as the famed Philippine heritage destination Las Casas Filipinas De Acuzar in Bagac, Bataan.



Liu said he was impressed over the potential of the area and declared that the Subic Bay Freeport should be included in the Philippine itinerary of their cruise tours.

“Three days I’ve seen some ports in the Luzon region and I think it’s very attractive to Chinese,” Liu said. “We have only been here for a few hours, and from your presentation, I can already imagine that we can develop a tour suitable and appealing to different age groups.”

Liu also noted that the Subic area also has attractions for people interested in culture, history and religion. He said that the Subic Freeport’s modern amenities give it a unique quality not found among most free port zones.

“So I think we will be very interested in making Subic Freeport a part of the Philippine tour. Thank you for your presentation and we want us to work together and make a dream come true,” he told Eisma before the group departed Subic.

The group also visited Subic’s Alava Pier where passenger, as well as military, ships usually dock during their stay in the Subic Bay Freeport.

Eisma told the visitors that the SBMA plans to rehabilitate the docking facility even before the first cruise ship from Royal Caribbean International arrives in June next year.

An estimated P2.46 billion will be needed for the rehabilitation and development of the 15 piers and wharves here, which have been described as the heart and soul of the Subic Freeport. Eisma said the agency is currently asking for the inclusion of funds in the national budget to rehabilitate the ports.

The Royal Caribbean International cruise line brand is owned by Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (RCCL), a global cruise vacation company which operates 24 ships in more than 500 destinations on all the seven continents and controls 22 percent of the cruise market worldwide.

As a global cruise vacation company, RCCL owns and operates three global brands: Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises. It also has interests in the German brand TUI Cruises, the Spanish brand Pullmantur, and the SkySea cruises

Last July, RCCL Vice President for New Business Development John Tercek also visited Subic to assess its readiness as a cruise ship destination.

Eisma said Tercek similarly cited the potentials of Subic and advised the SBMA to step up efforts in developing the free port to address the demand. (JRR/MPD-SBMA)

PHOTOS:

[1] Royal Caribbean International president Dr. Zinan Liu (center) poses with the Ayta tribesmen along with SBMA Chairman and Administrator Wilma T. Eisma during a visit to the Zoobic Safari theme park in the Subic Bay Freeport. Also in photo are (from left): Assistant to the president Anna Lian, Royal Caribbean director Antonio Muresu, Zoomanity CEO Robert Yupangco, and Isabela Vice Gov. Antonio Albano. (AMD/MPD-SBMA)

[2] Royal Caribbean International president Dr. Zinan Liu readies his camera-phone as a tiger munches on chicken a few inches away during his visit to the Zoobic Safari theme park in the Subic Bay Freeport on Saturday. Beside him is SBMA Chairman and Administrator Wilma Eisma, who briefed him on tourism attractions in the Subic Bay area. (AMD/MPD-SBMA)

LOOK: SBMA Law Enforcement Department Exercises

Members of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority’s Law Enforcement Department (SBMA-LED) pin down suspects during a recent simulated hostage rescue operation at the Subic Bay Freeport.


The department exercise, which is held periodically to bring Subic police officers on alert at all times, involved elements from Traffic, Special Weapons and Tactics, and K-9 branches.


Members of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority’s Law Enforcement Department (SBMA-LED) form an assault team during a recent simulated hostage rescue operation at the Subic Bay Freeport.

(AMD/MPD-SBMA)

LOOK: New batch of 'pawikan' hatchlings released

Hatchlings of the Olive Ridley specie of marine turtles (pawikan) head out to sea after being gently released by children at the All Hands Beach Resort in the Subic Bay Freeport on Saturday (Dec. 09).



A total of 120 newly-hatched turtles were released on Saturday, the first for this hatchling season, bringing to 3,877 the total baby sea turtles released from the area since All Hands initiated a pawikan hatchling release program.


Community Resources Officer Marife Castillo and SBMA Ecology Center manager Amethya Dela Llana, along with members of the local chapter of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, release hatchlings of the Olive Ridley specie of marine turtles (pawikan) at the All Hands Beach Resort in the Subic Bay Freeport on Saturday (Dec. 09).

(AMD/MPD-SBMA)

14 December 2017

SBMA inks US tie-ups for Subic port expansion

Working overtime to realize further development and expansion of the Port of Subic, the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) is now networking with various ports in the United States to gain strategic knowledge and best practices for local application.

In a meeting with port officials in Los Angeles and Virginia Beach during a Philippine trade mission in the United States last month, SBMA Chairman and Administrator discussed Subic’s port expansion plans and business potentials, as well as the necessary upgrades to make Subic a global maritime trade player.


“We’re definitely moving seriously now into the expansion and development mode for the Port of Subic because this is what Subic Bay is all about—global maritime business,” Eisma explained.

“We may have the most strategic location and we may have the best potential in the region, but if our assets remained underdeveloped and underutilized, we’d end up zero just the same. So this is very, very important for Subic—it must start now, and it must be completed within just a few years,” she added.

Eisma said that in partnership with sister-ports, Subic will be developing a workable plan and a realizable timetable.

“Along this line, I have signed last month a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with John Reinhart, the CEO of Virginia Port Authority, for us to share best practices both in port development and trade promotion,” the SBMA official said.


“Likewise, we would be signing in March 2018 a similar agreement with the Los Angeles Port Authority (LAPA), so that we can learn technical expertise, particularly in break-bulk operation and cruise ship terminal operation,” Eisma added.

Eisma said that Jim MacLellan, who is LAPA Trade Development Director, has recommended to maximize Subic’s potential to be the next cruise ship playground in the ASEAN region, not only by increasing cruise ship arrival and port revenues, but also by developing downstream industries like arts and crafts, culture, music and related industries to promote a sustainable cruise tourism program.

She said that a direct port-to-port service route from the Port of Los Angeles to Subic Bay Freeport has also been discussed. This is being considered to cater to container port traffic demand between the West Coast and the Philippines, as well as increase efficiency and lower the cost of shipping.

Eisma added that the consolidation of cargoes in the West Coast is being considered with the Port of Subic Bay emerging as the possible gateway and transhipment point in the Philippines.


Eisma also said that the plan by SBMA and the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) to draft and integrate their master plans for the next phase of development of the Subic-Clark Economic Corridor “fits nicely in the overall design for Subic port.”

Other port-related developments from the November trade mission to the United States include the proposed use of the Port of Subic for the distribution of agricultural products.

According to SBMA Port Marketing Manager Ronnie Yambao, who joined Eisma in the trade mission, a Mexican company supplying avocado to Japan would like to use Subic’s proximity to Japan as a unique selling proposition.

Yambao added that there was also a proposal to use Subic for cacao farming and production and for eventual distribution worldwide, as well as for the shipment of US-bound commodities produced by manufacturers based in Palawan and Bicol.

Yambao added that the plan by Mober, the latest mobile app-enabled, on-demand cargo-delivery company, to launch its service in Subic Bay in June 2018 would further increase the attractiveness of Subic as a transhipment and distribution hub. (HEE/MPD-SBMA)

PHOTOS:

[1] SBMA Chairman and Administrator Wilma T. Eisma signs an agreement with Virginia Port Authority CEO John Reinhart to facilitate Subic’s strategic objective of expanding its global port network.

[2] SBMA Chairman and Administrator Wilma T. Eisma, along with other members of the Philippine trade delegation to the United States, observes shipping activities at the busy Los Angeles port complex.

[3] SBMA Chairman and Administrator Wilma T. Eisma joins other members of the Philippine trade delegation to the United States at the Port of Los Angeles.

Subic Freeport eyes major investments from US groups

The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) is now aiming to tap Filipino-American companies and private groups in the United States to gain fresh key investment packages for the industrial and maritime sectors in the Subic Bay Freeport.

SBMA Chairman and Administrator Wilma T. Eisma, who joined a trade mission organized by the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), said she has met with several prospective investors from the Federation of Philippine American Chambers of Commerce (FPACC) during a week-long swing among key business centers from the East Coast to the West Coast last month.



The FPACC, which has 42 chapters in the United States and around 5,000 member-companies, bridges U.S.-Philippines trade and commerce, and promotes goodwill and mutually beneficial projects between the two countries. It renewed its memorandum of understanding with the PCCI on Nov. 11 in a ceremony in Scottsdale, Arizona.

“It’s a very promising situation as far as the FPACC members are concerned, and we have at least two major investment prospects and two port agreements as a result of the trip,” Eisma said.

“We are looking forward to more engagement with these interested parties so that we can finally clinch a business deal with them,” she added.

Eisma said that an estimated $1-billion investment is being considered by an American-Chinese venture to develop a portion of the Redondo Peninsula in Subic for a possible industrial, maritime and mixed-use complex that will generate more jobs and economic opportunities for the country.



Aside from this, Eisma said that a company based in California is also planning a $20-million investment for a waste-to-energy project and related renewable energy projects in the Subic Bay Freeport.

During the trade mission, Eisma also signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Virginia Port Authority CEO and Executive Director John Reinhart to facilitate Subic’s strategic objective of expanding its global network and promote the growth of trade and commerce between the two ports.

In Los Angeles, meanwhile, Eisma worked out an agreement with Trade Development Director Jim MacLellan of the Los Angeles Port Authority for the sharing of expertise in port development, particularly break-bulk shipping and cruise ship terminal operation.


An MOU is set to be signed in March 2018 to jumpstart this initiative, Eisma added.

The SBMA chief also announced that two technical supervisors from Google, which operates the Internet’s most utilized search engine, will visit the Subic Bay Freeport in June 2018 to conduct robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) seminars for students in and around the Subic community as part of their corporate social responsibility (CSR) program.

Eisma said this will be a significant development, as the SBMA plans to eventually develop in Subic a center of excellence in this field.

Trade Commissioner Celynne Layug of the Philippine Trade Investment Center in San Francisco has reportedly suggested another trade mission in March 2018 to promote the Subic Bay Freeport among businessmen in San Francisco and key cities in the West Coast.

Meanwhile, in the course of the business mission, the SBMAS chief was interviewed by two local media outfits—one based in Chicago on Nov. 11, and another in Arizona on Nov. 12 during the PCCI- FPACC event. Both interviews focused on the Subic Bay Freeport success story and the economic miracle created here in the last 25 years.

In Chicago, Eisma was also chosen by a publication as finalist in the “Chicago Filipino-Asian American Hall of Fame Award in Government.” Among the past awardees in its list was former Environment Secretary Gina Lopez. (HEE/MPD-SBMA)

PHOTOS:

[1] SBMA Chairman and Administrator Wilma T. Eisma discusses business opportunities in infrastructure and energy in the Subic Bay Freeport to prospective investors from the Federation of Philippine American Chambers of Commerce during a recent Philippine trade mission to the United States

[2] SBMA Chairman and Administrator Wilma T. Eisma, along with SBMA Seaport Marketing manager Ronnie Yambao (right), discusses expansion plans for the Port of Subic with Los Angeles Port Authority Trade Development Director Jim MacLellan during a recent Philippine trade mission to the United States

[3] SBMA Chairman and Administrator Wilma T. Eisma receives a symbolic key to Virginia Beach from Mayor William D. Sessoms, Jr. during a recent Philippine trade mission to the United States.

09 December 2017

Subic divers clean up bay in ‘Scubasurero Festival’

Scuba divers from the Subic Bay area conducted volunteer community work on Saturday to clean Subic Bay under the “Dive Heroes Festival-Scubasurero” event, bringing into the shore more than 50 kilos of various wastes that have found their way into the water.

The annual “Scubasurero,” which is a play on scuba and basurero, the Filipino word for garbage collector, enlists the help of volunteers in cleaning Subic Bay, particularly the area in the vicinity of Grande Island.



Around 200 volunteers, along with 50 certified divers, participated in the clean-up drive organized by the Subic Bay Marine Exploratorium, Inc. (SBMEI), operator of the Ocean Adventure marine park and Camayan Beach Resort, and the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA).

Scuba-diving groups such as the Subic Bay Dive Association, Arizona, Boardwalk Dive Center, Johann's, Deep Blue Scuba and Wow Shark contributed their personnel and resources for the event.

Under “Scubasurero”, volunteers working on the shoreline collected a total of 7 kilos of nets, 9 kilos of ropes, 10 kilos of plastic, 3 kilos of styropor packaging, 1.5 kilos of plastic bottle, and 5 kilos of plastic.



Meanwhile, the underwater team of divers hauled in 6 kilos of rubber slippers, 5 kilos of plastic, and 11 kilos of bottle after some 40 minutes of dive in 14-meter deep waters at the Camayan reef area, and near Grande Island.

SBMA Chairperson and Administrator Wilma T. Eisma, who graced the activity to encourage the participants, thanked everyone involved in the event and emphasized their invaluable role in environment protection.

“We only have one home and this is our home. What you are trying to do here is a testament to what I am trying to say. I hope you'll continue to do it," Eisma said.

The SBMA chief added that she would like to join the next “Scubasurero” event. "Hopefully, next time I'll join you. I'll go back to diving again," she said.

The “Scubasurero” event was held in celebration of the third anniversary of SBMEI’s Camayan Divers PADI Five Star Dive Resort. The clean-up activity was spearheaded by the Camayan divers in cooperation with Project AWARE and the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force.

Camayan Divers officer-in-charge Juanito Soriano also announced after the clean-up that his group will donate P10,000 to Project AWARE, a global network of scuba divers and water enthusiasts who seek to promote protection of the world's water resources.

“Together, there's a lot we can accomplish,” Soriano said, dedicating the “Scubasurero” event to Project AWARE. “We are giving divers a chance to extend their passion for the care of the environment," he added. (JRR/MPD-SBMA)

PHOTOS:

[1] Divers prepare to board a motorized boat that will ferry them to their designated dive sites to collect underwater trash during the “Dive Heroes Festival-Scubasurero” at the Subic Bay Freeport on Dec. 2. (AMD/MPD-SBMA)

[2] A couple snorkel near the shore to look for underwater trash while volunteer divers prepare for a dive in deeper waters during the “Dive Heroes Festival-Scubasurero” at the Subic Bay Freeport on Dec. 2. (AMD/MPD-SBMA)

08 December 2017

SBMA honors Subic-based SAF Marawi veterans

The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) formally honored on Monday the members of the Subic-based Philippine National Police-Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) contingency team who volunteered for the operations to free Marawi City from the ISIS-led terrorists of the Maute Group.

During the flag ceremony here last Monday, SBMA Chairman and Administrator Wilma T. Eisma led officers and employees of the agency in recognizing the courage and heroism of each of the 42 members of the 2nd Special Action Battalion who are headquartered at the Naval Magazine Facilities in the Subic Bay Freeport.



“None of us is perfect by nature, but you are perfect in showing us what we can do to defend our country and its people,” Eisma told the police contingent under the command of Police Superintendent Mario Mayames Jr.

“You volunteered to fight the terrorists, and you did a great service to our nation,” Eisma added.

During the recognition ceremony where employees cheered the police officers, Eisma announced that aside from a certificate of commendation, the SBMA will give each policeman P10,000 cash as a token of appreciation for upholding peace and order in the Freeport and other parts of the country.

The SAF were part of the joint military and police forces that ended the war in Marawi after five months of fighting.



For his part, Mayames recalled that before deployment to Marawi, the SAF volunteers underwent a two-week refresher course in combat skills, armaments and equipment. Yet their training in mountain, jungle and urban warfare did not prepare them for the Marawi experience, he added.

“The situation in Marawi was very rare. Unlike before where we conducted urban warfare and our enemies were holed in one or three buildings, in Marawi the enemies were in all the buildings and had a 360-degrees firing range. Our firing range was only 180 degrees,” Mayames said.

Still he noted that after the three months in Marawi, the Subic-based 2nd SAF battalion only suffered two wounded among its 42 members.

Mayames also recounted feeling pity for the devastation suffered by the city. “And I can’t help asking myself, was it really heroism that we did in Marawi?” he added.

“We just went there killing the enemies and (in effect) destroyed all of Marawi. Was it really heroism?” an emotional and teary-eyed Mayames asked.

The SBMA employees cheered and said, “Yes.”

The SAF commander also explained later why it was necessary to bomb and destroy the whole Marawi.

“We could not penetrate each building because of snipers who were holed up for cover underground,” he recalled. “The aerial bombings were necessary to put the enemy at bay so that the soldiers and police could launch an assault against them.” (RAV/MPD-SBMA)


PHOTOS:

[1] SBMA Chairman and Administrator Wilma T. Eisma expresses the agency’s commendation of the courage and heroism of Subic-based SAF officers who volunteered to serve in the operations to free Marawi City from terrorists. (AMD/MPD-SBMA)

[3] SBMA Chairman and Administrator Wilma T. Eisma presents the agency’s recognition of the courage and heroism of Subic-based SAF officers who volunteered to serve in the operations to free Marawi City from terrorists. (AMD/MPD-SBMA)

07 December 2017

SBMA to support Ayta tribe in biodiversity conservation

The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) will be a partner of the Magbukun Ayta tribe here in their effort to protect and preserve their indigenous environment and culture.

SBMA Chairman and Administrator Wilma T. Eisma pledged the agency’s support to the Magbukun tribe on Saturday at the launching of the Indigenous Communities Conservation Area (ICCA) under the auspices of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).



The project, which will be implemented with the support of the local government unit of Morong and the Philippine Association for Intercultural Development (PAFID), places the Ayta tribe at the forefront of conservation efforts since they live in the conservation site, which forms a part of the Subic Bay Freeport Zone.

“We will be giving our all-out support to this endeavor not only because the project will be implemented within the Freeport Zone, but also because we at the SBMA consider environmental protection our fundamental advocacy,” Eisma said at the sidelines of the ceremony.

She recalled that the SBMA has initiated the social-fencing concept at the Freeport to make residents of upland areas in the zone be part of the overall strategy to preserve Subic’s natural environment.



Eisma also noted that the SBMA has been successful in a similar program with the Ambala Ayta tribe at the Pastolan village in the Subic Bay Freeport, for which the agency has been recognized as the best in social responsibility initiative.

“What we have successfully done for the Pastolan Ayta tribe, we also hope to do with the Magbukun folk,” she added.

Under the ICCA program, residents living within or nearby the conservation area will serve as protectors of the environment, while the local government unit will take the lead in implementing conservation and protection activities.



According to the UNDP, ICCAs are spaces de facto governed by indigenous peoples or local communities with evidently positive outcomes for the conservation of biological and cultural diversity.

Some ICCAs are situated in remote ecosystems that have had minimum human influence, while others encompass areas of various regulations and magnitudes within regions strongly affected modified by human occupation.

The ICCAs can be classified as sacred areas or ritual grounds for the indigenous communities residing near it and may include forests, mountains, shorelines, wetlands, fishing areas, and other bodies of water.

The UNDP hopes that through the ICCAs, the continuation, revival or modification of traditional practices or even new initiatives may succeed in protecting and restoring natural resources and cultural values in the face of new threats or opportunities. (JRR/MPD-SBMA)

PHOTOS:

[1] Members of the Magbukun Ayta tribe, assisted by some local government officials, launch the Indigenous Communities Conservation Area (ICCA) in Morong, Bataan on Saturday, Dec. 2. (AMD/MPD-SBMA)

[2] SBMA Chairman and Administrator Wilma T. Eisma (center, front row) join members of the Magbukun Ayta tribe during the launching of the Indigenous Communities Conservation Area (ICCA) in Morong, Bataan on Saturday, Dec. 2. (AMD/MPD-SBMA)

[3] SBMA Chairman and Administrator Wilma T. Eisma with elderly Ayta members of the Magbukun Ayta tribe during the launching of the Indigenous Communities Conservation Area (ICCA) in Morong, Bataan on Saturday, Dec. 2. (AMD/MPD-SBMA)

Comteq’s unpaid P19-M debt ‘indisputable’; SBMA clarifies issue

The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) has clarified misinformation about the ejection of the defaulting Comteq Computer and Business College from the building it previously occupied here, pointing out that the P19.97 million the school owed in terms of unpaid rentals was indisputable.

In a statement issued over the weekend, the SBMA said that Comteq has occupied Bldg. Q-8131 since 2011 and collected tuition fees from students studying in the premises, but “has not paid even a single cent” from the use of the building.


“Bldg. Q-8131 is government property and rent is due for such use,” the SBMA said, reacting to a statement attributed to Comteq president Danny Piano that the P19.97-million back rentals they owed the SBMA was “debatable.”

It added that the need to pay rent for property used and profited from was not debatable, as there was nothing in writing between the parties that said the use of the facility was “rent-free.”

The Subic agency peacefully took control of Bldg. Q-8131 on November 25 after the Comteq management failed to settle its hefty financial obligation with the SBMA.

As early as April this year, the SBMA Legal Department already sent Comteq a “Notice to Vacate with Demand to Pay” because the school administration has been operating without securing any lease agreement or business registration for the school.

Following the takeover, officials of the debt-ridden school blamed the SBMA for not issuing a lease agreement and a Certificate of Registration and Tax Exemption (CRTE), and claimed this prevented them from paying rent over the years.

However, the SBMA said it cannot issue any lease agreement and CRTE then because the Comteq management “did not submit the required payment scheme proposal for it to be able to settle its accounts” and instead asked the SBMA to give them a “rent-free period” from 2011 to 2015.

The SBMA Board, however, disapproved the said request because it was disadvantageous to the government and was not allowed by the Commission on Audit (COA).

The SBMA also noted that the statement of account purportedly showing zero balance in Comteq ’s record only reflected payment for utilities and other billings that were automatically charged for buildings occupied by business locators.

However, a validated computation from the agency’s Accounting Department showed the school management’s unpaid rental dues at P19,971,435.68 as of November 30, 2017.

Comteq officials had also taken the SBMA to task for being “insensitive” to the fate of students, whose studies were disrupted by the takeover. But the SBMA pointed out that the continued occupation by Comteq of Bldg. Q-8131 since 2011 without any rental, as well as the six-month extension it granted the Comteq administration last April, happened “precisely because SBMA is concerned about its students.”

It added that while it had allowed Comteq to operate for years despite the lack of a lease agreement or a CRTE because it was an educational institution, it can no longer tolerate the “blatant abuse and profiteering” by the Comteq management, which disregarded the repercussion of its growing debt on its students from whom they collected tuition and other school fees.

The SBMA added that in ejecting the defaulting business locator, it was just doing its job as estate administrator of the Subic Bay Freeport Zone. “It is not about money,” the agency made it clear. “It is about the obligation to collect rental dues for the use of the property of the government.”

It also said that it cannot be faulted for taking over Bldg. Q-8131 as it did, because it was school president Danny Piano who assured the SBMA Board in a letter that they would vacate the premises by October 31 this year, after the six-month extension given by the SBMA last April. (HEE/RBB/MPD-SBMA)

04 December 2017

Subic fishers dispute ‘alarmist’ yarn on LNG operations

Local fishermen have disputed claims by leaders of some activist groups in Central Luzon that the ship-to-ship transfer (STS) operations of liquefied natural gas (LNG) on Subic Bay endanger fisher folk in the area and that locals were not consulted about the project before its approval by the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA).

Resty del Rosario and Laureano Artagame, both officials of local Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Councils (FARMC), dismissed the claims and pointed out that the negative reports came from personalities who do not represent the legitimate concerns of fishermen from Subic Bay.



The news item came out in the alternative news website Kodao and quoted Pamalakaya Central Luzon coordinator Alberto Roldan as saying that STS operations for LNG in Subic “endanger fisher folk as well as civilian establishments and communities in Olongapo City.” Pamalakaya stands for the Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya, which is the national federation of fishermen’s organizations.

The report also quoted Marcelito Clemente, coordinator of the Central Luzon Alliance for a Sovereign Philippines (CLASP), as saying that the project was “simply another case of profit above public safety for SBMA.” CLASP, a left-leaning group, had called for the withdrawal of U.S. military bases in the country and had opposed the holding of Balikatan military exercises with American armed forces.

The local fisher folk leaders, however, said the reports do not mirror the sentiments of local fishermen.

“We support the SBMA on this project 100 percent,” said Del Rosario, who chairs the Subic Bay Integrated Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Council, which whose members include fisher folk in Olongapo City, Subic and San Antonio, Zambales and Morong, Bataan.

“Is the LNG operation safe? We believe so, because the SBMA wouldn’t place that project there without examining and addressing the risks involved,” Del Rosario added.



He noted that the critics of the STS project are far too removed from the area, and hence are unaware of the local situation.

“How would they know what happens down here? How can they be the voice of the locals? They are just being alarmists,” an exasperated Del Rosario said.

“As local leaders representing the mostly poor and marginalized fishermen in the locality, we will not be a party to anything that will harm our people. We will not agree to it,” Del Rosario added.

Artagame, meanwhile, emphasized that the SBMA has not been remiss in consulting local fishermen about the LNG project during its inception in 2016. He recalled that the Jovo Group, China’s leading clean energy service provider which operates the project, conducted a consultation in October last year before making the first ship-to-ship transfer in April this year.

“We were invited during the consultation and it was amply shown to us that the LNG is clean and safe,” Artagame said. “Of course, we gave our suggestions regarding the operation, and the SBMA officials assured us that they will stop the operation if ever there will be any harmful effect. By the grace of God, no such effect had ever come our way since then,” he added.

Aside from the perceived safety of STS operations here, Del Rosario also pointed out that the area where the transfer is being handled is no longer a part of the community fishing grounds ever since the US Navy had used Subic Bay as a military base.

“We are fishing elsewhere, a little farther from the location of the LNG and even father out of the bay, and the SBMA is even helping us restore coral reefs that have been damaged over the years by illegal fishing,” Artagame said.

Ever since the LNG project was approved, only two transfers have been made: the first was made on April 27 and the second on November 19. (HEE/MPD-SBMA)

PHOTOS:

[1 ]Laureano Artagame, Provincial Chairman of FARMC Zambales and Vice-Chairman of FARMC of the Municipality of Subic.

[2] 3The first LNG ship-to-ship transfer operations on Subic Bay made last April.

02 December 2017

SBMA chief to Subic outstanding workers: Be ‘malasakit’ advocates, too

Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) Chairman and Administrator Wilma T. Eisma has challenged outstanding workers here to lead the Subic workforce in caring for the Freeport with “malasakit” and passion.

During the recent awarding ceremony for the Ten Outstanding Freeport Workers at Cinema 4 of Harbor Point Ayala Mall here, Eisma encouraged the winners to cultivate and practice a sense of community, as they are considered model employees.


“You are the Ten Outstanding Freeport Workers. I salute you,” Eisma said. “But, I challenge all of you to be the leaders to lead your people, to lead your company and co-workers to care for this place, to make us even better.”

The SBMA official told the awardees and the audience that what motivated the pioneer employees in Subic 25 years ago should still apply today, pointing out that she was among those who came forward and volunteered their services to give the community a better future.

“And here we are now. Can you imagine? Before the Americans left, they created 35,000 jobs. But now, we have more than 120,000 workers employed by more than 2,000 investor- companies. And you have to keep this going,” she said.

Eisma added she felt sorry that some Freeport stakeholders had lost the value of malasakit or passion for the common good, given the way people are taking care of each other and the community they are living in.

“This is our home and it is not my sole responsibility to fix this. It’s also yours. So, I challenge all of you to take care of one another, to take care of the Subic Bay Freeport,” she also said.

As an example, Eisma pointed out that instead of simply noticing the trash in some areas in Subic and posting them on social media, stakeholders should take the initiative to pick them up, or report the same to her office.

“I’m not saying we should cover up problems like this, but the business of SBMA is tourism, and the business of the Freeport is investments. If we keep on washing our dirty linen in public, it will only shoo away the tourists and the investors. So, please reach out to me,” she said.

Eisma added that stakeholders can even punch 8888, a MalacaƱang hotline dealing with complaints against government officials. “I really want to keep this place clean. You know why? Because this is my home, and even after my term as chairman and administrator, you would still see me here,” she added.

Today’s crop of top workers included a former dish washer, a welder, and a warehouseman who were honored for excellent performance and remarkable dedication and commitment to their respective jobs.

Eisma also encouraged the winners to give their all their best, reminding them that “Here in Subic, it doesn’t matter what kind of job you keep; what really matters is how you do it well.”

A total of 11 workers won the recognition this year, according to the Subic Bay Workforce Development Foundation, Inc. (SBWDFI, which gives out the awards, because two finalists had tied up in one place.

The 2017 outstanding workers in Subic are: Philip Villa, chef at Segara Villas and Hotel; Vergel Osorio, warehouseman at CRESC Inc.; Nilo Del Rosario, welder/pipefitter at Philippine Coastal Storage and Pipeline Corp.; Engr. Marnue Veneracion of the General Facilities and Design Engineering Section of Nicera (Phils.); Engr. Alexander Poblete, Product Engineer II at Nicera (Phils.); May Ordaz, planning and purchasing supervisor at Koushin Mechatronics; John Louis Ducus, Meter and Revenue Protection Engineer at Subic Enerzone Corp.; Joseph Paje, Logistics Specialist at SubicWater; Joseph Malana, inventory controller at PTT Philippines Corp.; Jaylyn Zapata, external relations assistant at PTT Philippines; and Engr. Reynante Reyes, maintenance engineer at Philippine Coastal Storage and Pipeline Corp. (RAV/MPD-SBMA)

PHOTO:
Winners in the year’s search for the 10 Outstanding Freeport Workers like up after receiving their awards from officials of the SBMA and the Subic Bay Workforce Development Foundation, Inc. (AMD/MPD-SBMA)

Subic Freeport holds first Pride Parade

More than a hundred participants from the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community joined in the first Pride Parade here in the Subic Bay Freeport on Sunday to help promote equality, diversity and inclusion among various sexes.

SBMA Chairman and Administrator Wilma T. Eisma and Bataan Representative Geraldine Roman, the first transgender woman elected to the Congress of the Philippines, led the parade to show support to the LGBT community.



The parade featured LGBT members in colorful costumes, who competed in a contest that sought to express and affirm the culture and pride of the LGBT community.

LGBT pride is the positive stance against discrimination and violence toward lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people to promote their self-affirmation, dignity and equality rights, as well as to increase their visibility as a social group, build community, and celebrate sexual diversity and gender variance.



SBMA Chairman Eisma said the Subic agency firmly supports the LGBT community’s demand for equality and equal rights regardless of religion, color, or sexual preference.

Delegates to the event included members from LGBT Barretto in Olongapo City, which had the biggest number of participants; The Antonio’s Family of San Felipe; The Antonio’s Family of San Narciso; Bi Alliance of Bataan, Olongapo and Iba; Proud Gays of Olongapo; The Montero Sisters; and The Smith Sisters.



In an interview during the event, Rep. Roman said she is proud that the Anti-Discrimination Law has been passed in the Lower House via unanimous decision, and that the bill will be passed on to the Senate for review.

“So, it’s up to Senator Risa Hontiveros (to work for) the enactment of the bill,” she added.

Roman also said that House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez is pushing for civil partnership for all genders. She explained that this is different from the same-sex marriage that the LGBT Party Ladlad is pushing for. The civil partnership act will cover all genders, not just the LGBT community.

Roman said that the Anti-Discrimination bill will punish anybody who discriminates or make derogatory remarks against any LGBT person. The violator will be jailed for five years and fined P20,000.

Meanwhile, Chairman Eisma expressed hope that the Pride Parade will be bigger the next time around, as she reiterated the full support of the SBMA to gender equality, anti-discrimination, and human rights.

The event was organized by a group headed by Gigs Estalilla, who is an officer of the SBMA Gender and Development Focal Point Committee.

The parade was held as the SBMA capped its month-long 25thAnniversary celebration on Sunday. (JRR/HEE/MPD-SBMA)

PHOTOS:

[1] Participants in the first ever Subic Bay Pride Parade march along the Waterfront Road in the Subic Bay Freeport on Sunday (Nov. 26). Pride parades are held by members of the LGBT community to demonstrate their culture and pride and also to call for gender and legal rights.

[2] SBMA Chairman and Administrator Wilma T. Eisma and Bataan Rep. Geraldine Roman join the first ever Subic Bay Pride Parade held at the Subic Bay Freeport on Sunday (Nov. 26). Pride parades are held by members of the LGBT community to demonstrate their culture and pride and also to call for gender and legal equality rights.

[3] SBMA Chairman and Administrator Wilma T. Eisma pose with participants in colourful attires during the first ever Subic Bay Pride Parade march along the Waterfront Road in the Subic Bay Freeport on Sunday (Nov. 26). Pride parades are held by members of the LGBT community to demonstrate their culture and pride and also to call for gender and legal rights.