Posted 3 weeks ago
Amid the gag order imposed by the House Bases Conversion committee between the warring top officials of the government owned state agency, the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) two months ago, a drastic measure adopted as to prevent damaging the image of the country’s first Freeport and selection as foreign investment site.
BY WILLIE E. CAPULONG
Ergo, during the interregnum awaiting President Duterte’s action on the leadership question between Chairman Martin B. Dino and lady lawyer Wilma T. Eisma, administrator and CEO of the former US Naval Base facilities here, the focus now among the agency’s management and staff workers are busy setting activities for the grand celebration of the 25th anniversary of the base conversion into the Philippine’s first and premiere Special Economic Zone and Freeport on November 24.
Being eyed as main personalities for the observance of the agency birth as created by Republic Act 7227, the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) are President Duterte and former President Fidel V. Ramos and the former SBMA managers.
It’s still three months to go for the big day. In the meantime, how is the upbringing of Subic Bay today? asked a business journalist friend based in Metro Manila.
The inquiry jolted me as I could not provide a quickie answer as to the Freeport status as I was focus on status of the agency leadership and expressing dismay on the slow foot inaction of Malacanang.
So, the old journalist who has cut short his base wandering activities only in the morning to prevent occurrence of heat stroke to seek information of whether Subic is still thriving business community, with its maritime, industrial and tourism attraction earnings.
Data gathered from the different offices as of June 2017, there are still 1, 699 locators with over $10 billion total investments; 121,824 workforces; and was visited by 7.89 million visitors last year.
SBMA locators and enterprises generated 11,002 new jobs last year and the breakdown of employee by industry sectors as follows: services, 54, 458; shipbuilding &marine related, 38,041; manufacturing, 12,780 and others, 7, 374, or a grand total of 112,653 workforces as compared to 2015 level of 101,651.
On SBMA contribution to the national economy, locators contributed income tax share , three percent of the five percent gross earnings amounting to P486 million while the agency shelled out P292 million to local government units (LGUs) contiguous to the Zone area, representing their 2 percent share of earnings.
The local BIR unit hiked its collection performance last year, registering a 26 percent growth of P2.18 billion while the BOC collection unit suffered nine percent decline from P16.4 billion in 2015 to P14.9 billion in 2016.
Last week I was visited my granddaughter with some of her dormitory mates at the UP Diliman for a despidida weekend for Chloe was leaving this month for a one year study grant at Hokkaido, Japan.
They enjoyed the cold water falls at El Kabayo which is now under the management of the Pastolan Indigenous group and went Friday Night drinking Safari at the Central Business District.
Freeport landmarks was a hot topic. Hearing them asking the most popular and visited site among the day visitors of Subic Bay, was not the Broadway beach (supposed the crown jewel of Subic Bay), not the Spanish Gate, not the 299 flag pole or the San Roque Church.
When the visitors said “sirit na” an Olongapo classmate, who joined them, declared “ It’s Meat Plus” eatery.Yes folks more people go to Meat Plus for steaks, hamburgers and meat meals. No wonder why many SBMA employees’ workers claimed that the main reason why Chairman Dino is reluctant to leave Subic Bay is the absence of Meat Plus outlet in Metro Manila!