THE Chairman of the Senate finance committee has expressed strong support for the development of the Freeport Area of Bataan (FAB), citing the need to create more jobs for Filipinos.
During a budget hearing with officials of the Authority of the Freeport Area of Bataan (AFAB) recently, Sen. Richard Gordon said the boundless potential of FAB would help provide more job opportunities.
Also a former chairman of Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA), Gordon noted that the freeport is “so big.”
Sen. Joel Villanueva agreed with Gordon, saying the AFAB already offered various opportunities to workers in Bataan and Central Luzon since it started operation in 2010.
The AFAB has forged a partnership with the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority or Tesda to train its labor pool.
Villanueva also noted the need to provide more financial support to investment programs of the AFAB.
He pointed out that the AFAB has not been receiving the budget promised to the FAB since it was established which, according to law, a budget of P500 million should be allocated to the freeport.
Senator Juan Edgardo Angara seconded the need to increase the budget of the AFAB and promised to recommend the budget to the plenary.
In reaction, AFAB Chairman and Administrator Emmanuel Pineda said they are expecting to hire 5,000 additional employees in the next three years with the coming of more investors in the area.
“The support of the Senate and the additional budget are very significant for the development of the freeport, especially its facilities. It will help us achieve our goal to become the freeport of choice by 2020,” he added.
The FAB is envisioned as an emerging economic dragon in the country.
It is also known as one of the fashion manufacturing hubs of the Philippines, as it hosts a budding cluster of companies producing high-end brands of garments, shoes and accessories like bags, pieces of jewelry, among others.