PH ECONOMY GROWS 6.9%

November 17, 2017

The Philippine economy as measured by the gross domestic product (GDP) grew at a faster-than-expected 6.9 percent in the third quarter, making it one of Asia’s fastest growing.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said the GDP expansion was a “spectacular growth rate after an election year.” GDP is the total value of goods produced and services rendered in a given period.

The year-on-year growth, which outpaced China’s 6.8 percent but trailed Vietnam’s 7.5 percent in the same period, was driven by strong industrial and services output, the National Statistics Office said on Thursday.

The growth in the July-September quarter surpassed a market consensus forecast of 6.6 percent and was an improvement on 6.7 percent growth in April-June.

It was, however, slightly lower than the 7.1 percent growth in July-September last year, just after the May elections.

As a result of the better-than-expected growth, the peso strengthened to 50.9:$1 on Thursday from 51.04:$1 on Wednesday.

Overall, “we attribute the country’s growth performance to sustained strong growth in exports and improvements in public spending, which then boosted the manufacturing subsector and the services sector,” Pernia said in a media briefing.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque attributed the growth to the “stability” provided by the Duterte administration, which he said helped business in the country grow.

Full-year target

Pernia said the economy was on track to meet the government’s full-year growth target range of 6.5-7.5 percent, supported by higher state spending and improving exports and farm output.

President Duterte inherited a booming economy when he took office in May 2016. So far growth has remained on track, despite the country’s massive poverty, inequality and insurgencies.

On a per-sector basis, services contributed 4.2 percentage points; industry, 2.5 points; and agriculture, a mere 0.2 point.

In the third quarter, services grew 7.1 percent year-on-year, faster than that a year ago and a quarter ago.

Agriculture slows

The agriculture sector’s growth, however, slowed to 2.5 percent from 3 percent a year ago and 6.3 percent from the previous quarter.

Manufacturing output expanded 7.5 percent from a year earlier, while public consumption rose 8.3 percent thanks to increased pay and allowances for public employees, including the military, Pernia said.

“We are now seeing a sustained improvement in government spending in a run-up to our massive infrastructure program—the ‘Build, Build, Build’—which will continually unfold in the months ahead,” Pernia said. “This is expected to ratchet up public spending even further.”

Household consumption is also seen picking up in the last quarter due to the Christmas season, he added.

Rebound in exports

Like its peers in Asia, the Philippines is benefiting from the steady rebound in exports, which were up 12.2 percent in the nine months to September.

But economists have flagged Mr. Duterte’s war on drugs and “erratic policymaking” as potential risks that could weigh on investor sentiment.

“It is notable that foreign direct investment has dropped off this year, while investment growth has continued to weaken,” Capital Economics said in a note.

Growth in capital formation weakened to 6.6 percent in July-September, from 8.5 in the June quarter.

“Notwithstanding the continued political noise and the terrorist activity in Marawi, which President Duterte had decisively addressed, the economy managed to perform well in the third quarter as the government posted a double-digit increase in public investments and pursued initiatives to further improve fiscal health and boost investor sentiment,” Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said.

Budget Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno pointed out that “in the past, economic growth usually takes a deep nosedive after an election year but this is not the case anymore owing to our sound macroeconomic fundamentals and economic policies.”

Too hot?

After the data’s release, Bangko Sentral Governor Nestor Espenilla sought to ease  concerns of overheating.

“That begins to be a concern if we’re persistently growing above potential,” Espenilla told reporters. “To keep growing strongly without overheating, we expand potential itself—through high quality investments funded in a sustainable manner.”

He said the strong economic growth and “manageable inflation are in line with our expectations and validate current policy settings.”

Some economists, however, expect the central bank to raise the benchmark rate from the current 3.0 percent as early as next month to head off inflation, which has been creeping toward the upper end of the 2-4 percent target for 2017-2019.

The Philippines has posted more than 6 percent growth for nine consecutive quarters, making it among the fastest growing economies in the region.

Still, civil strife in Mindanao has taken a toll as seen in the dismal performance of the Philippine peso this year. Any delays in the government’s ambitious infrastructure program also could pose risks. —REPORTS FROM BEN O. DE VERA, PHILIP C. TUBEZA, AND THE WIRES
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HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE REDEFINED AS 130, NOT 140 — US GUIDELINES

 

Agence France-Presse / 07:18 AM November 14, 2017

LOS ANGELES, United States — High blood pressure was redefined Monday by the American Heart Association, which said the disease should be treated sooner, when it reaches 130/80, not the previous limit of 140/90.

“High blood pressure is now defined as readings of 130 mm Hg and higher for the systolic blood pressure measurement, or readings of 80 and higher for the diastolic measurement,” said the guidelines.

Doctors now recognize that complications “can occur at those lower numbers,” said the first update to comprehensive US guidelines on blood pressure detection and treatment since 2003.

The new standard means that nearly half (46 percent) of the US population will be defined as having high blood pressure.

Previously, one in three (32 percent) had the condition, which is the second leading cause of heart disease and stroke, after cigarette smoking.

The normal limit for blood pressure is considered 120/80.

Once a person reaches 130/80, “you’ve already doubled your risk of cardiovascular complications compared to those with a normal level of blood pressure,” said Paul Whelton, lead author of the guidelines published in the American Heart Association journal, Hypertension and the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

“We want to be straight with people –- if you already have a doubling of risk, you need to know about it.”

He said a diagnosis of the new high blood pressure does not necessarily mean a person needs to take medication, but that “it’s a yellow light that you need to be lowering your blood pressure, mainly with non-drug approaches.”

The changes were announced at the American Heart Association’s 2017 Scientific Sessions conference in Anaheim, California. /cbb
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SUBIC CITED AS ASIA’S ‘FASTEST GROWING FREE TRADE ZONE’

November 13, 2017

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT—Fresh from its victory in the sports tourism derby last week in Bangkok where it was named “Best Sports Tourism Destination of the Year,” Subic Bay has gained yet another recognition, this time as Asia’s “Fastest Growing Free Trade Zone” in the International Finance Awards 2017.

Aside from this, the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA), which manages the zone, was also cited for its “Best Social Responsibility Initiative.”

The awards will be handed out by the London-based International Finance Magazine (IFM), a financial-market information group, during the IFM Annual Award Ceremony scheduled on January 26 in Singapore.

Subic Bay’s first award recognized its emergence as a flagship of the Philippine economy and a catalyst of growth in the region, the SBMA said in a statement on Monday.

The second award cited the SBMA for identifying the social needs of the indigenous Ayta community in the Subic Freeport area and taking the initiative to positively impact the social status, earning potential and access to services of the members of the tribe.

The International Finance Awards recognize and honor individuals and organizations in the international finance industry that make a significant difference and add value, as well as herald the highest standards of innovation and performance.

Organizers said the IFM awards make a concerted effort to shine the spotlight on organizations in niche segments and those that exhibit brilliance in the unsung corners of the finance industry.

The other winners from the Philippines are: BPI Asset Management, as “Best Asset Manager,” Omnipay as “Best Payment Solutions Provider” and RCBC Bankard Services Corp. as “Best Credit Card Offerings.”

SBMA Chairman and Administrator Wilma T. Eisma said the agency considers it an honor and privilege to be listed in the IFM’s roster of excellence.

“These awards, which come on the eve of SBMA’s 25th anniversary, inspire us not only to celebrate our past, but more important, to forge our country’s future for the sake of our children and future generations by continuing to make a difference and adding value to Filipino lives,” she said.

The IFM awards are the latest in a string of international citations received either by the Subic Freeport, the SBMA or its officials mainly for excellence in the field of management.

In the Third Sports Industries Awards and Conference Asia held in Bangkok, Thailand, last week, the Subic Bay Freeport was also recognized as the Best Sports Tourism Destination of the Year, while the SBMA was given a silver award for Best Sponsorship of a Sport, Team or Event.

Eisma was among this year’s winners in the search for the “100 Most Influential Filipina Women in the World,” which recognizes Filipinas influencing the face of leadership in the global workplace. She received the award during the 14th Filipina Leadership Global Summit scheduled from October 25 to 29 in Toronto, Canada.

In 2015 the Subic Freeport also emerged as overall winner for Asia in the Global Free Zones of the Year 2015 awards given out by fDi Magazine, a publication of The Financial Times of London.

As of now, the Subic Bay Freeport has more than 126,000 workers employed by a total of 2,897 companies variously engaged in shipbuilding and other marine-related business, tourism, information and communications technology, manufacturing and services.

Eisma said with committed investments surpassing the $1.4-billion mark in the first quarter of this year, the Subic Freeport is expected make more significant strides in the Philippine economy in the coming years.

(c) Henry Empeño

NEW RAILWAY TO LINK MANILA, CLARK PH, China starting P150-billion PNR North 2 project after settling Northrail contract feud

CLARK FREEPORT — The Philippine government and China National Machinery Industry Corp. (Sinomach) are building a new railway system from Manila to Clark International Airport here after the two parties have resolved to end court and arbitration cases over the Northrail project, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said on Tuesday.

“There is no more Northrail project. There will be [a new] rail project from Tutuban (Divisoria in Manila), the City of Malolos (Bulacan) and Clark (Pampanga),” Tugade told the Inquirer by telephone from Panglao, Bohol province, where he observed the runway test of a new airport there.

The new project is named the Philippine National Railways (PNR) North 2 and initially costs P150 billion.

“The PNR Manila to Clark railway project is expected to serve as a catalyst to decongesting Metro Manila, and at the same time bring growth to the regions north of the capital, particularly Central Luzon, where an estimated 11.22 million Filipinos reside and earn their living,” the Department of Transportation (DOTr) said in a statement.

At the earliest, Tugade said the new project could be started by the end of 2017 or in the first quarter of 2018 with Sinomach as contractor.

The previous Northrail contract covered 80 kilometers along the old PNR tracks between Caloocan and Malolos cities. Northrail was conceptualized during the term of former President Fidel Ramos in the 1990s.

Sinomach filed for arbitration in Hong Kong when the administration of former President Benigno Aquino III terminated the contract over questions about its validity.

“Sinomach agreed to settle to show its trust to President Duterte and his administration. It’s also its way of supporting the government with its projects,” Tugade said.

The settlement, which had the approval of the Commission on Audit, was reached after more than a decade of delay in the project’s implementation and five years of what Tugade described as “costly arbitration.”

“The Duterte administration has finally achieved closure on the Northrail project fiasco,” he said.

According to Tugade, negotiations to settle the dispute started in January and ended in a settlement agreement, stating that “all court and arbitration cases will be settled and dismissed at no cost to the Philippine government.”

The government has yet to make public a copy of the settlement agreement which, Tugade said, spared the country from paying more than P5 billion in potential damage to Sinomach and almost P500 million in legal costs.

The signing of the agreement was witnessed by Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano and Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua. Also present during the signing were Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea and Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno.

The state-owned North Luzon Railways Corp., which oversaw the scuttled Northrail project, reported spending P161 million in arbitration proceedings as of March.

The DOTr said the Duterte administration would “still go after the government officials involved in the allegedly anomalous and/or overpriced contracts.”

The terms in the agreement include “no more payment by Northrail to Sinomach and vice versa.”

“There will be no more contractual issues that may hamper or compromise the development of the DOTr-PNR Manila to Clark Railway project,” DOTr said. —with a report from Miguel Camus

(c) Tonette Orejas
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SBMA EYES NAT’L FUNDING FOR MAJOR SUBIC INFRA PROJECTS

November 2, 2017

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT­—For the first time in many years, the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) will be requesting for national funding for major infrastructure projects to be undertaken here starting next year.

SBMA Chairman and Administrator Wilma T. Eisma said she has already asked the national government to provide funding to further develop two crucial accesses to this premier free port: the Alava Pier, which is being eyed to draw cruise ships into Subic, and the Magsaysay Bridge, which links the Subic Freeport to the main business and entertainment avenue in Olongapo City.

She added she had asked finance department officials to consider the release of funds for Subic “as an investment for the national government.”

“We need to prioritize these infrastructure projects, since they will further push the Subic Freeport’s business potential,” Eisma said.

She added the national government would be getting back returns to its investment in time “because the SBMA would be giving back bigger remittances to the national treasury once these projects are completed.”

Eisma said the SBMA has been a self-sufficient government agency for at least a decade, but it would now need national funding to update facilities in Subic.

She added the SBMA would channel its own funds instead to other projects meant to enhance security in the Subic Freeport.

The two priority projects for national funding are estimated to cost more than P2.84 billion, with the repair of Alava and other piers in Subic eating up P2.45 billion.

Eisma said the Alava Pier is badly in need of dredging, and that its pilings have already deteriorated and need to be replaced.

She also said the Subic agency allocated P2.46 billion to repair and further develop Alava and other port facilities, considered the heart and soul of the Subic Freeport.

The SBMA had earlier presented its proposed budget for 2018 before the Senate finance subcommittee and asked for a P3.548-billion infrastructure budget.

Eisma said the Subic agency is planning to build the SBMA Corporate Center that will house all the offices of its departments and units for an estimated cost of P3.2 billion.

Aside from this, the SBMA identified the other projects as new Magsaysay bridge at a cost of P390,780,000; piers and wharves rehabilitation, P2,459,610,000; port dredging, P83,389,950; building of SBMA/Olongapo Museum, P80 million; continuous upgrading of the Subic Bay International Airport Facilities, P45,400,000; and concreting and repair of roads, P489,300,000.

(c) Henry Empeño

AN EMERGENCY FUND IS A MUST

October 18, 2017

Money Matters

Question: Is it really necessary to have an emergency fund? Francis via Facebook

Answer: Yes because emergencies happen! It is foolish to think that we will never undergo an emergency in life, and most of the time, emergencies cost a lot of money.

In my book No Nonsense Personal Finance, I wrote about setting up an emergency fund as the 3rd step to achieving financial security.

Before starting on emergency fund, it is best if you know how much you actually spend in a month.

Many people I know are clueless as to how much they spend monthly.

If you already have a monthly figure, you are now ready to start building your emergency fund. The rule of thumb for emergency allocation is somewhere between three and six months of your monthly expenses.

Three months is good, four months is better, five months will be great and six months is excellent.

Emergency funds come in handy for a variety of reasons: medical emergencies, loss of employment and so forth.

You should also be sensible in determining what an emergency is and what it is not.

A 65” flat LED TV that is on sale is definitely not an emergency.

Why should you set up an emergency fund?

Here are three good reasons why you should:

1) Emergencies do happen: It is foolish to think that emergencies will not happen to you. As time goes on, you realize that things do come up that you have not planned for; and you’re going to have to provide for them. Things do happen, and they won’t happen at a convenient time.

2) Relieves stress: Having an emergency fund has an added bonus—Peace of mind! You will feel relieved because you no longer have to worry about most small emergencies. Once you get your larger emergency fund saved, you won’t have to worry about paying for most large ones either.

3) Risk reduction: When you have established an emergency fund (along with other important things like life insurance, nonlife insurance and health insurance), you have a lot less risk of unfortunate things happening. You will also be less like to go into debt. In other words you’re making sound decisions to plan for problems, before they actually happen.

I know that starting an emergency fund is not easy for others but this is definitely something we should prioritize. Personal finance icon Dave Ramsey suggests we do it by ‘baby steps.’ Set aside little money regularly into an emergency fund. Do it in stages like one week worth of expenses first, and then move to two weeks, to three weeks and so forth. Keep a piggy bank or an envelope for you to put your cash into it.

Here are some tips:

1) Keep your emergency fund in cash or near cash placements like savings, current, time deposits or Special Deposit Accounts (SDA). Do not invest your emergency funds yet as those are intended to be a buffer or a margin for your finances. Make sure that the deposits can be withdrawn quickly and without huge penalties.

2) Keep some of those funds in an ATM account, say two weeks’ worth. Emergencies do not necessarily occur during banking hours.

3) Once you have achieved an ideal six months emergency buffer, start investing in better yielding instruments like pooled funds (UITF, Mutual Funds), stock market or real estate because said instruments should perform better in the long run. If you keep all your money in low yielding deposits, its value will ultimately erode because of inflation.

Gear up for an emergency because it is the wise thing to do.

“A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions. The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences.” —Proverbs 27:12, NLT.

(c) Randell Tiongson

SUBIC BIZ BACKS EISMA

October 16, 2017 at 12:01 am

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT—Business locators in this premier freeport have expressed their support of the recent appointment of Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority Administrator Wilma T. Eisma as chairperson of the agency.

In a statement, the Subic Bay Freeport Chamber of Commerce congratulated Eisma and reiterated their cooperation to help improve Subic’s business environment.

“Moving forward, the locators of Subic Bay expect many great things from Atty. Eisma, which is both a compliment and a heavy burden on her shoulders,” the SBFCC statement said.

“Being the Chamber and the voice of the business community, we are here to support her endeavors that will improve the business environment of Subic. In the same breadth, we are also here so that her leadership and policies will be fair to all the stakeholders of the Subic Bay Freeport Zone,” it added.

The SBFCC, headed by businesswoman Rose Baldeo, issued the statement following the appointment of Eisma as SBMA chairperson. President Duterte issued Executive Order No. 42 that expressly revoked the separation of the positions of chairman and administrator of SBMA under EO 340 signed by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2004.

Duterte repealed the Arroyo order after a leadership row erupted between Eisma and former SBMA Chairman Martin Diño, who tried to assume the powers of the administrator.

The conflict, Subic stakeholders noted, put much strain on the agency and the freeport itself.

The SBFCC recalled that Subic locators had urged for a clear definition of the leadership roles in the government-owned and controlled corporation to resolve the issue.

“Like what we said during the height of the recent leadership row, we requested the House of Representatives and Malacañang to step in and make the necessary decisions that would clarify the roles of both parties for the sake of the investors of Subic Bay; if not, then to choose one that would lead the SBMA, to avoid further confusion among the locators and even within the ranks of the SBMA,” the SBFCC said.

The statement also thanked Diño for the assistance he gave the locators during his few months in Subic. “We are confident that Mr. Diño is more than capable of handling the next government position that the President will assign to him,” it added.

Meanwhile, Eisma thanked the various sectors in the Subic Freeport community for their support, as she aims to unite all sectors of the freeport community by promoting “malasakit” or caring for each other.

“My purpose is to unite all of us,” she said, adding that politics had sometimes reared its ugly head in the Subic Bay Freeport.

“We must be brought back to the basics: the basics of caring for each other, the basics of caring for SBMA. Because if we will do ‘malasakit’ for others, we will forget our personal agenda, and just take care of each other and take care for SBMA,” Eisma said.

(c)  Butch Gunio

TAIWAN FIRM UNVEILS P2-BILLION SUBIC LUXURY-RESIDENCES PROJECT

October 15, 2017

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT—Taiwanese construction and engineering firm MSK Group Work Inc. launched  last  Saturday a high-end beachfront condominium project at the Triboa Bay area in this free port, aiming to cash in on the growing expatriate sector in the economic zones of Subic, Clark and Bataan.

The project, to be known as the Triboa Majestic Bay Residences, aims to develop a “personalized palatial home by the sea” by building three types of luxury residences: four-bedroom luxury mansion units with in-suite sky garage at the Premium Ocean Mansion; one to two-bedroom units at the three-building Crescent Studio; and beachfront units at Sunbeam Condo.

The project will have 157 condominium units all overlooking Triboa Bay near the former Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation  (Apec) Villas, the high-end accommodations used by Asia-Pacific heads of states during the 1996 summit here.

Aside from condominium units, MSK will also build public facilities like a 5,000-square-meter atrium garden, basement parking spaces, outdoor swimming pools, business center, conference room, shops and restaurant, library, playroom, gym, yoga room and multimedia room.

MSK has initially taken over the former Apec Villas clubhouse, which will be an integral part of the beachfront condominium complex.

Company spokesman Kelly Uy said the firm has committed an investment of P2 billion for the project and will be selling the property with its seaside view as the major sales pitch.

Customers are expected to come from the A- and B-class market, especially Asian expatriates and other foreign nationals.

“Our pricing will be very reasonable, and will be competitive with prices in Manila. We know the challenges here, but with around 1,000 companies now in Subic, as well as those in Clark, we basically have a captive market and we believe the project will be sustainable in the long run,” Uy said.

Triboa Majestic Bay Residences will be the first residential project for the MSK Group, which is headed by brothers Michael, Simon and Kevin Su.

The firm, which has established its presence in Philippine construction business for almost 25 years now, had earlier committed P350 million to expand its operations in the Clark Freeport Zone, which includes subleasing warehouses and factories.

Among the guests in the project launch were Dr. Gary Song-Huann Lin, representative of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office  in the Philippines, and former Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority Chairman Roberto Garcia.

In his message, Lin said the MSK project has “good timing” because it coincides with the New Southbound Policy of Taiwan, which calls for greater economic and cultural ties with Southeast Asian countries, like the Philippines.

Lin also recalled that Taiwan was the first country to invest in the Subic Bay Freeport by developing the Subic Bay Industrial Park, which now houses 52 Taiwanese companies, and pointed out that Taiwan is now the fourth biggest investor-country in the Philippines.

Lin also praised the MSK Group for initiating a “unique” project, which he said has “an excellent location, a serene view and a historical value”.

Meanwhile, Garcia, under whose administration the project was conceived, processed and approved last year, described the project as an illustration of the “well-placed confidence of investors in Subic”.

He added that with a P3.9-billion budget from the national government for the further development of the Subic Freeport, more business activities would be generated in the freeport zone in the years to come.

By Henry Empeño

SBMA LOCATORS SHOW SUPPORT FOR EISMA

Published October 12, 2017, 10:01 PM

Subic Bay Freeport – Locators of this premier Freeport have expressed their support for the recent appointment of Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) Administrator Atty. Wilma Eisma as chairperson of the agency.

“The Subic Bay Freeport Chamber of Commerce (SBFCC) and our locator-members would like to extend our congratulations to Atty. Eisma,” the SBFCC said in a statement, adding that it expects “many great things from Atty. Eisma which is both a compliment and a heavy burden on her shoulders.”

The locators’ group added: “Being the Chamber and the voice of the business community of course, we are here to support her endeavors that will improve the business environment of Subic and within the same breadth, we are also here to that her leadership and policies will be fair to all the stakeholders of the Subic Bay Freeport Zone.”

‘Don’t drag Subic to the ground’

In a recent speech at the Subic Bay Convention Center, Eisma appealed to the public and the media to help Subic soar to greater heights and expressed hope that everybody can work together for the good of the Freeport.

Addressing that 25th founding anniversary event of the Camp Olivas PNP Press Corps (COPPC), she said: “This is a very emotional time for Subic; that is why I would rather receive good skill than congratulation because work is just beginning.”

“My appeal is for the people of Subic and the media to be our partners in making this Freeport better. Don’t drag Subic to the ground. I will do more than my best,” she said.

Also bidding to end the rivalry with former SBMA Chairman Martin Diño, Eisma described the latter as “a good man” and called on her supporters to refrain from gloating as she stressed that her appointment was not a victory for her, but for the SBMA.

(c) Jonas Reyes and Franco G. Regala

SUBIC EYES INFRA FUNDS

posted October 12, 2017 at 12:01 am

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT—The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority will ask the national government for funds for major infrastructure projects planned for implementation here starting next year.

SBMA Chairperson and Administrator Wilma T. Eisma said the funds would help fix two crucial accesses to the premier free port.

“The first order of business is the repair of the Alava Pier and the construction of a new Magsaysay Bridge, which leads to the Subic Freeport main gate,” Eisma said.

“I have asked Finance officials to consider the release of funds for Subic as an investment for the national government, because the SBMA would be giving back bigger remittances to the national treasury once these projects are completed,” she added.

The projects are estimated to cost a combined P2.84 billion, with the repair of Alava and other piers in Subic eating up P2.45 billion.

“We need to prioritize these infrastructure projects since they will further push the Subic Freeport’s business potential,” Eisma said.

It would be the first time in many years that the SBMA would request for a national allocation as it has been operating as a self-sufficient government agency for at least a decade, the freeport chief said.

“But it can be done, and I know how to get it done,” Eisma said.

The SBMA would channel its own funds instead to other projects meant to enhance security in the freeport.

Eisma, who attended the Asia Cruise Forum Jeju in South Korea last month where she had a discussion with cruise ship firms, said the reason why large cruise ships were unable to visit the Freeport is that its port is already silted.

“Alava Pier is badly in need of dredging, since large ships such as US aircraft carriers can no longer dock there. Aside from that, the pier posts there have already deteriorated and need replacement,” she said.

The repair of Subic piers would complement the Duterte government’s “Build Build Build” program, which includes the construction of the proposed Subic-Clark Cargo Railway that will ease the transfer of cargo container from vessels docked in Subic to the nearby Clark Freeport and other destinations in Central and Northern Luzon, Eisma said.

(c)  Butch Gunio