27 July 2012

Hanjin breaks ground for P1.2-B housing project for workers

Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction Ltd., (HHIC)-Philippines Inc., which operates the world's fourth shipbuilding facility in this free port, marked another milestone in its corporate social responsibility program by breaking ground on Wednesday for a P1.2-billion housing project for its workers.

In a ceremony held at the project site, HHIC President Jin Kyu Ahn said the project will rise on a 30-hectare area in Barangay Nagbunga, Castillejos, Zambales, which the company has bought and donated to the housing project.

The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) welcomed the project, which aimed to provide shelter for shipyard workers and their families as part of the Agency's commitment to guarantee that workers in the Subic Bay Freeport get the best benefits they could from their employers.

A collaboration among the HHIC, Pag-Ibig Fund and real estate developer Fiesta Communities Inc., the housing project is part of a scheme to ensure that shipyard workers are given the opportunity to own affordable housing packages through the government’s Pag-Ibig Housing Fund, Ahn explained.

“This housing project is part of our mission to promote the welfare of workers by providing them with a dream house within their reach,” Ahn said, adding that workers can avail of the units with monthly amortizations as low as P2,392, making them cheaper by far when compared to units offered by other developers.

He said that shipyard workers with a minimum of one-year continuous work service are qualified to avail of the housing units with no down payment, but with low interest rates.

For the first phase of the project, the developer is expected to begin the construction of 1,000 housing units with three types to choose from: three bedroom units, two-bedroom units and one-bedroom units. The second phase is expected to be finished before the end of 2013.

The Hanjin Village site is about 19 kilometers from the shipyard. It is designed to have all the needed facilities for a model community, such as elementary school, bus terminals for free-shuttle buses, multi-purpose hall, as well as an extension office for the barangay, among others.

“All these features translate to better quality of life for the shipyard employees and their children,” noted Ahn.

To date, HHIC employs nearly 20,000 local employees who either live with relatives in the nearby communities of Olongapo City, Subic, and Castillejos. On the other hand, most of those from the nearby provinces of Pampanga, Bataan and Zambales opt to rent houses or rooms.

In the same occasion, Pag-Ibig vice president Malen Acosta welcomed the start of one of the biggest single housing projects in the country today, which can be considered a showcase of the public-private partnership (PPP) program.

“If there is one government agency that is very much happy today, it is the Pag-Ibig. And with the partnership between the local government of Castillejos, private corporation HHIC and Pag-Ibig, we are very glad to extend financial assistance to the employees of Hanjin and we expect to deliver 300 units by the end of November this year,” Acosta said.

For his part, Castillejos Mayor Jose Dominguez said that the project is a “dream come true” for his town because it will become a catalyst for further economic growth in his municipality.

“Once completed, the 3,000 housing units for 3,000 employees would mean at least 12,000 individuals living in a well-cared community. This will become the start of a bigger Castillejos which I am dreaming of long before,” he said. (RAV/MPD-SBMA)