April 17, 2019,

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT — The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) has appealed for the participation of volunteers from the Subic Bay area in the 30th Southeast Asian Games that the Philippines will host late this year.

Wilma Eisma, chairman and administrator of SBMA, made the call for volunteers after the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (PHISGOC) announced the need for some 12,000 volunteers for the regional sports spectacle to be held in November 30 to December 10.

According to the PHISGOC, the volunteers will be mobilized for the Games in Metro Manila, Subic, Clark Freeport, and other venues to help run the country’s hosting of the 56 sports and 529 events in this year’s sports meet.

“Once more tapping the wellspring of volunteerism that helped make Subic a model for military base conversion,” said Wilma Eisma, chairman and administrator of SBMA.

Eisma also urged local youth to take the opportunity to serve and be part of history.

“Make a difference and be a hero,” Eisma said in a call broadcast over social media.

“Come show your ‘malasakit’ (concern) once again. Be a SEA Games volunteer and give yourself the chance to serve the country and be part of history,” she added.

Eisma said she has called for volunteers to show their “malasakit” for Subic in so many occasions in the past.

“Today, I am calling on you again to join the SBMA team and help make the 30th SEA Games successful,” she said.

Out of the 56 sports slated in the 2019 SEA Games, several will be hosted in Subic.

These are duathlon, triathlon, pencak silat, sepak takraw, chess, table tennis, muay thai, karatedo, vovinam, obstacle sports, modern-date pentathlon, beach volleyball, beach handball, and all water sports: sailing, wind surfing, and traditional boat race.

PHISGOC said around PHP100 million to PHP150 million will be allotted to the volunteer program from the PHP5-billion SEA Games budget of the national government.

The volunteers will be provided with uniforms, transportation, allowance and meals for an eight-hour shift.

Eisma said that those interested to join the SEA Games volunteer program in Subic may apply online at Applicants must be at least 18 years old.

Recruitment of volunteers will be conducted from April to July, with the online registration starting on May 15.

 Training of volunteers will be held from August to October. (PNA)


(c) Malou Dungog




Philippine News Agency Logo

March 19, 2019

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT — The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) has started the implementation of a PHP530-million infrastructure program in an effort to upgrade the facilities in this freeport.

SBMA chairman and administrator Wilma T. Eisma said several rehabilitation projects that include the repair of roads and other related facilities are now ongoing or in the initial stages of preparation.

“More projects will be underway soon, so I ask Subic stakeholders, as well as visitors to the Freeport, to please bear with us on the temporary inconveniences like traffic jams, and a little noise and dust pollution because of the ongoing road projects,” she said.

“We’re doing this to improve the core business infrastructure here and to sustain the attractiveness of the Subic Bay Freeport as a globally-competitive trade and tourism center,” she added.

Eisma said most of the road rehabilitation projects are funded under the national government’s “Build, Build, Build” program.

“This was the first time that a massive road rehabilitation program is undertaken ever since Subic became a free port zone in 1992,” she noted.

Eisma said the agency was able to first secure from the national government a PHP500-million fund for the Subic Bay International Airport (SBIA) rehabilitation program in 2017 and this was followed in 2018 by a PHP530-million fund for road rehabilitation.

She added that the SBMA Board of Directors has approved and awarded two new major rehabilitation projects: the PHP76-million road rehabilitation project proposed in 2016, and the PHP18-million drainage improvement project along Argonaut Highway-George Dewey Complex.

Meanwhile, Eisma said three other major projects are now up for bidding, namely, the Naval Supply Depot (NSD) Road Rehabilitation Project Phase 2, Road Rehabilitation Project 2018, and Road Rehabilitation Project 2019.

She said the 2018 road rehabilitation package is budgeted at PHP299 million and will include improvements at the Malawaan Park parking area, road ramp along Dewey Avenue, as well as repair of Waterfront Road, road to the New Container Terminal, Rizal Highway and Maritan Highway, as well as several roads in residential areas.

On the other hand, the 2019 road rehabilitation package has a budget of PHP253 million.

This will consist of repairs along main roads like Argonaut Highway, San Bernardino Road, roads to Leyte Wharf and Sattler Pier duct banks, Rizal Highway, Boton Highway, Binictican Drive, and the approaches to Kalaklan Bridge and 14th Street Bridge.

On the other hand, the NSD Road Rehabilitation Project Phase 2, with a budget of PHP85 million, consists of repairs of roads leading to the NSD Compound where most of grain and bulk shipments are done.

Eisma cited the importance of repair projects as some of the US Navy-built roads have deteriorated over the years. (PNA)


(c) Malou Dungog


February 21, 2019

Subic Bay Freeport—The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority is pressing for the expansion of Subic Bay Freeport boundaries with vigorous legislative help from its first chief executive, Senator Richard Gordon.

SBMA Chairman and Administrator Wilma T. Eisma said that Gordon, who was SBMA chairman from 1992 to 1998, had filed Senate Bill 2207 to expand the area of the Subic Bay Freeport, as well as that of the neighboring Clark Freeport.

Under the proposed measure, some parts of Zambales and Bataan provinces, along with areas in Olongapo City, will be made an adjunct of the Subic Bay Freeport under a phased expansion program.

Eisma said that in consultation with neighboring local government units last year, the SBMA has received pledges of about 21,000 hectares of expansion areas for future investment projects.

These included 9,000 hectares in San Antonio; 10,000 hectares in San Marcelino; 600 hectares in Subic; 500 hectares in Castillejos; and 900 hectares in Olongapo City, all in Zambales; as well as 505 hectares in Hermosa, Bataan.

“We want these areas to be utilized as economic zones because we’re already running out of space in the Subic Bay Freeport,” Eisma said.

The proposed expansion, she added, “will sustain the growth of the Subic Freeport, attract more investments, and generate jobs for residents from nearby communities and other areas.”

In filing the bill, Gordon said that there was a need to update Republic Act 7227 or the Bases Conversion and Development Act of 1992, to further strengthen the free ports.

He said that once enacted, the proposed measure will also give the expanded territories the same tax incentives as those in Subic Freeport and Clark Freeport so that they can attract investments projects.

Senate Bill 2207 also seeks to increase the area of the Clark Special Economic Zone from the current 4,400 hectares to 35,400 hectares and mandates Subic and Clark authorities to frame a master plan for the phased expansion.

(c) Butch Gunio


image001 (1)

The firm filed a financial rehabilitation plan before the Olongapo City Regional Trial Court Branch 72.

(The Philippine Star) – February 17, 2019

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT, Philippines — Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction Philippines stopped its operations at this freeport on Friday, displacing around 3,000 workers.

Hanjin, the world’s fifth largest shipyard and biggest investor here, had earlier declared bankruptcy, saying it owes some $400 million from Philippine banks aside from $900 million in debts from lenders in South Korea.

The firm filed a financial rehabilitation plan before the Olongapo City Regional Trial Court Branch 72.

Last month, the court granted its petition for receivership and placed the South Korean shipbuilding firm under corporate rehabilitation.

Stefani Saño, former board member and senior deputy administrator for investment and business group of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority, was appointed by the court as the rehabilitation receiver.

Saño said he drafted a plan that would have allowed Hanjin to complete the six vessels still on its books while searching for an investor.

However, he resigned last week amid complaints from creditors.

At its peak, Hanjin employed up to 30,000 Filipinos. The number of Filipino workers dropped to around 20,000 in 2017.

Last year, 18 Hanjin contractors and subcontractors filed notices of retrenchments and reduction of workdays.

Thousands of jobs were offered to affected workers at a job fair held here last week.


(c) Bebot Sison Jr.


February 14, 2019

THE SUBIC BAY Metropolitan Authority is looking to expand its area by about 21,000 hectares, taking in land from municipalities in Zambales and Bataan.

In a statement on Wednesday, the SBMA said these include 9,000 hectares in San Antonio; 10,000 hectares in San Marcelino; 500-600 hectares in Subic; 500 hectares in Castillejos, all in Zambales; 900 hectares in Olongapo City; as well as 505 hectares in Hermosa, Bataan.

“We want these areas to be utilized as economic zones because we’re already running out of space in the Subic Bay Freeport,” SBMA quoted Chairman and Administrator Wilma T. Eisma as saying in the statement.

The proposed expansion, she added, “will sustain the growth of the Subic Freeport, attract more investments, and generate jobs for residents from nearby communities and other areas.”

SBMA’s expansion is to be effected via a Senate bill now up for plenary action that was filed by Senator Richard J. Gordon.

The bill, which proposes to amend Republic Act No. 7227, or the Bases Conversion and Development Act of 1992, also seeks to increase the area of the Clark Special Economic Zone from the current 4,400 hectares to 35,400 hectares and authorizes the Subic and Clark authorities to draft master plans for their expansion.

If the proposed bill is approved, projects set in expanded areas will enjoy the same tax incentives as those in Subic and Clark freeports so that they can attract investments.

Congress is currently in the process of revising tax incentives to make them more time-bound and performance-based, and to remove redundant perks.

Currently, businesses within these economic zones enjoy a five percent rate of tax on gross income earned in lieu of all other national and local taxes.

The national government currently receives three percent from the gross income tax collected from Subic locators, while the SBMA gets two percent which it then distributes to the eight local governments whose areas include parts of the freeport and special economic zone.

Meanwhile, one percent of the five percent gross income tax collected in Clark and other special economic zones is remitted to the national government; one percent goes to the provincial government; one percent to municipalities or cities; and two percent to the governing bodies of the ecozones.


(c) Janina C. Lim


February 11, 2019

SENATOR Richard J. Gordon, who chairs the chamber’s committee on government corporations and public enterprises, sponsored to the plenary a bill seeking to increase the powers of the Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA).

Senate Bill No. 2207 amends the charter of BCDA under Republic Act 7277, as amended by R.A. No. 9400 and revises the allocation of income on taxes earned within the Subic Special Economic Zone and Clark Special Economic Zone.

Currently, businesses within the country’s economic zones enjoy a 5% gross income earned tax in lieu of all other national and local taxes.

Under the bill, the collections from the 5% tax on gross income earned by business enterprises within the Subic Special Economic Zone will share out as follows: 2% to the national government, 1% to the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) and 2% to the SBMA for distribution to the local government units (LGUs).

At present, the national government gets 3% from the gross income tax collection from the Subic Special Economic Zones, and the SBMA receives 2% for distribution to the LGUs.

Meanwhile, 1% of the 5% gross income tax earned in the Clark and other Special Economic Zones (CSEZ) will be remitted to the national government, 1% to the provincial government, 1% to municipalities or cities, and 2% to the governing body of the [CSEZ].

Under the law, the allocation of gross income tax earned in the CSEZ are as follows: 3% to the national government and 2% to the municipality or city where the business is located.

“With this bill, we revitalize and spread the blessings of the Subic experience to neighboring communities who are willing to share the same culture of hard work, the same vision of prosperity and development, and the same willingness to work hard to make it happen,” Mr. Gordon said in a statement on Monday.

“We also hope to further strengthen Subic’s equally successful neighbor, Clark Special Economic Zone by expanding its scope and fine-tuning policies that will further its growth,” he added.

The bill also seeks to expand the territory of the Subic and Clark economic zones.

The bill also requires the SBMA Board of Directors to provide a Master Plan for the phased expansion of the freeport zone every two years in Olongapo City, Zambales and Dinalupihan, Hermosa and Morong, Bataan.

Under the bill the SBMA will also be given additional power to inspect and register leisure ships and pleasure yachts as well as to create an ecology center to issue environmental compliance certificates for non-environmentally critical projects.

Other proposed powers also allow SBMA to reclaim land within the special economic zones and to undertake and regulate the operations of land transportation, toll roads, shipping, port terminal services, and other related businesses.


(c) Camille A. Aguinaldo


January 28, 2019


Bangko Sentral chief, however, admits lingering concerns, external risks remain

Last year’s high inflation episode will be a thing of the past with the rate of increase in consumer prices this year and next year expected to return within the government’s target band, according to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP).

“Average inflation rose quickly above the government target in 2018. In response, the BSP raised its policy rate decisively four times by a cumulative 175 basis points beginning in May 2018 to rein in inflation expectations and prevent sustained supply-side price pressures from driving further second-round effects,” BSP Governor Nestor A. Espenilla Jr. said in a speech read for him by officer in charge and Deputy Governor Chuchi G. Fonacier during the BSP’s annual reception for the banking community Friday night.

New or higher excise taxes slapped on consumption, skyrocketing global oil prices during the third quarter of 2018, as well as food supply bottlenecks, especially rice, pushed inflation or the rate of increase in prices of basic commodities to a 10-year high of 5.2 percent last year.

Elevated inflation was partly blamed for slowing economic growth to a three-year low of 6.2 percent in 2018.

Moving forward, the BSP’s latest forecasts “indicate that inflation will return to the 2-4 percent target this year and in 2020,” Espenilla said.

The BSP chief nonetheless said that they “approach the year with utmost vigilance and prudence, mindful of the unfolding global economic landscape.”

“There are still significant lingering concerns and imminent risks particularly on the external front. But we cannot allow these headwinds from deflecting us from our deep financial reform agenda,” Espenilla said.

Also, he said, “there is the challenge of keeping an eye out for signs of excessive credit and leverage in the financial system.”

“While we continue to see the Philippine banking system as currently being in a position of relative strength, we need to push for necessary financial sector reforms to propel us toward a more sound, stable and inclusive financial system,” according to Espenilla.


(c) Ben O. de Vera
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The luxury cruise ship World Dream regularly docks at Subic Bay.


(The Philippine Star) – January 25, 2019 – 12:00am

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT, Philippines — With six vessel arrivals scheduled for the month of January, this premier free port expects to be the newest cruise ship destination and top anchor tourist attraction in the country.

Last week, Subic Bay welcomed for the third time this year the cruise ship World Dream, the flagship of the Chinese premium brand Dream Cruises owned by Genting Hong Kong.

The ship is set to be back here on Jan. 30 while another Subic regular, the Italian-flagged Costa Atlantica owned by Costa Crociere, booked arrivals for Jan. 15 and 29.

“Right now we’re experiencing a phenomenal influx of cruise ships, and this is really a strong start for Subic, which recorded 17 arrivals last year,” said Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) in a statement.

“We are very happy that our cruise ship program is really picking up, and this is just the start. By next month we hope to see more cruise ships coming in and some of them would be staying here in Subic overnight,” SBMA added.

According to SBMA, an average of 3,000 tourists disembark at Subic from each visiting cruise ship and go on tours to various attractions in the Subic Bay Freeport Zone, Olongapo City, Clark Freeport Zone and the nearby provinces of Zambales and Bataan.

Last year, the Central Luzon Regional Development Council cited the SBMA for developing Subic into a premier cruise ship destination and noted that cruise ship arrivals in Subic had generated more than P85 million worth of economic activity in the first eight months alone.

(c) Bebot Sison




December 27, 2018

Trade Undersecretary Ceferino Rodolfo said this earlier this month, telling reporters that some companies were already “firm” in their plans to manufacture here in the Philippines.

Interestingly, a bilateral investment agreement, which raised serious concerns from China, had helped the country’s case in getting these Taiwan-based firms to consider the Philippines.

These firms include computer giant Wistron Infocomm Corp., which will make a comeback nearly a decade since it left the country, a return brought about by the expensive US-China trade war.

Taiwan-based Catcher Technology, which also has operations in various parts of China, is likewise interested to set up shop in the Philippines.

Rodolfo said it was looking for a 60-hectare area for its facility.

Further details, such as investment costs, were not disclosed, however.

Nevertheless, the investment agreement signed by the Department of Trade and Industry with Taiwan last year played a part, even though China believes that Taiwan should have no official foreign ties.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said China was “extremely concerned” over the matter since the documents signed were “obviously official in character,” according to a Reuters report.

“We enhanced [our relations] to a bilateral [investment] agreement, which was signed last year. So they saw this, and we also have protection for intellectual property rights,” Rodolfo said.

“They see that it’s good here in the Philippines, so Wistron—that’s one [example]—is going [back] to Subic,” he explained.

This is how we benefit from the trade war, he then added.

(c) Roy Stephen C. Canivel


December 20, 2018,

MANILA — Malacañang has issued an executive order which governs the admission and stay of foreign nationals in the Subic Bay Freeport Zone as “temporary visitors.”

Executive Order 72, signed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea by authority of the President on Dec. 18, allows foreign nationals granted visa-free privilege to depart from the Subic Bay Piers and Wharves besides the Subic Bay International Airport (SBIA).

“There is a need to amend EO No. 271 to allow foreign nationals granted the visa-free privilege under the said EO to depart from the Subic Pay Piers and Wharves, besides the SBIA,” the EO read.

EO 271 allows foreign nationals, not categorized as “restricted” as determined by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), visiting the zone for business and/or tourism purposes to enter all ports of entry of the zone and stay therein without visa for a maximum period of 14 days subject to certain conditions and provided that they shall leave or depart from the Philippines only through the SBIA.

The EO was issued amid Subic Bay Piers and Wharves reportedly emerging as “new destinations for international cruise ships.”

Citing data from the Department of Tourism (DOT), the EO noted that cruise ship arrivals in 2018 each carry an average of 1,600 passengers and 1,000 crew members.

“It is anticipated that there will be a continued increase in cruise ship arrivals in the Subic Bay in 2019 and onwards,” it added.

Aside from allowing foreign nationals who enter the zone to depart from the Philippines only through SBIA or SBPW, the EO allows foreign nationals not restricted “to enter all ports of entry of the Zone and stay therein without visa for a maximum period of 14 days provided that upon arrival, they present their passports, Certificates of Identity or travel documents valid for at least six months beyond the intended stay in the Zone and confirmed onward flight or marine vessel tickets.”

The DFA, Bureau of Immigration and Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority must jointly implement the executive order and in consultation with the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency, must issue guidelines to ensure that there will be no detriment to national security.

The EO shall take effect immediately upon its publication in the Official Gazette or a newspaper of general circulation. (PNA)

(c) Azer Parrocha