THE PHILIPPINE NAVY (PN) will take over the operations of Alava and Alpha Piers of the former US Naval Ship Repair Facility (SRF), and the Philippine Air Force (PAF) a portion of the Subic Bay International Airport (SBIA), in the Freeport.
An official of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) confirmed this to Subic Bay News on condition that he will not to be named for lack of authority to speak on the matter.
“This will guarantee the free movement of visiting US Navy Ships and planes in Subic,” he said, “in connection with the recent Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) between the US and the Philippines that will hopefully deter China from occupying Philippine territories in the West Philippines Sea.”
During the 261st meeting of the SBMA Board of Directors, the members passed Resolution No. 14-04-5048 approving the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the PN and PAF “allowing the immediate ingress of Equipment” and control, initially, for 15 Years.
“Since SBMA runs the airport, there is no anticipated complication in the PAF entry unlike in SRF which has been contracted out to a local private company,” the source said, adding, “it’s not much of a problem, ‘though, we will invoke national security in rescinding the contract.”
SBMA has an existing contract with Global Terminal and Development, Inc. (Global) that gives the latter control of the 14-hectare SRF compound, including the three (3) piers – Alava, Bravo and Rivera, on top of the buildings and facilities the US Navy left behind in 1992. Alpha Pier is not in the agreement but Global also has control over it.
Global only pays SBMA a measly P5-P7/sqm. while subleasing buildings and lots for thousands of pesos per sqm. Global also charges “road-users fee” to everyone entering the SRF compound, P20/vehicle, P10 for people on bikes and P5 for each pedestrian. Charges apply for every entry, regardless of frequency.
Global also has monopoly of port services that include stevedoring and line-handling, allegedly scuttling the operations of rival service providers contracted by the US Navy.
About a month ago, a US Navy supply ship nearly failed to dock in Subic due to Global’s alleged harrassment of a competing service provider.
Widely viewed as scandalous for the award sans public bidding, among other reasons, the SBMA-Global deal has been the subject of complaints for years but the PN take-over will make things “moot & academic,” the source said.
Visits of US ships in Subic trigger a lot of activities that perk up the local economy. Ships requirements range from supplies to services worth millions of pesos, providing employment and business opportunities in the Freeport and outlying communities.
Olongapo City Mayor Rolen C. Paulino and SBMA Chairman Roberto V. Garcia has been very vocal in their support of EDCA in the belief that it is to the best interests of the country.
“In the face of China’s aggression, we welcome the enhanced presence of the US forces here which I believe can co-exist with business already in place,” Garcia has said.
For his part, Paulino reminds the public of the economic decline and dislocation of most Filipino families in the area when the US Naval Base shut down in 1992. “We have learned our lessons and we know better,” he said emphasizing that those responsible in booting out the US Base are not from Olongapo nor Subic and were nowhere to be found when the people were suffering.”