The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) has bagged its single biggest foreign direct investment (FDI) in recent years, scored a record six revenue increases this year, and doubled its fuel-storage capacity 24 years after the Americans left the former naval base.
SBMA Chairman Martin Diño disclosed the free port’s gains in first quarter, as he debunked reports of inefficiency and an alleged leadership row, hitting back at his detractors for opposing his “uncompromising crusade against corruption, smuggling and abuses of some free port officials victimizing business locators.”
In a statement, Diño said his exposes on a spate of smuggling activities at the free port, like the sewing machines declared as scrap materials and petroleum products and the botched importation of white sugar and substandard steel bars, might have enraged those behind the racket, including officials with pending court cases.
But Diño explained he was only doing his job based on the marching orders of President Rodrigo Duterte to rid Subic of corruption and return its status as a top transhipment and logistics hub in Asia.
Diño said he would pursue the filing of cases before the Ombudsman against SBMA officials implicated by the Commission on Audit (COA) report in the ghost delivery of a P50-million radio frequency identification or RFID automation project, which was designed to track smuggling of goods in Subic.
Diño noted that since he assumed office in October last year, some SBMA officials cited by COA have yet to rectify their disallowances, while others were even promoted to juicy posts by SBMA Administrator Wilma Eisma.
He cited the case of Rannie Cruz, former head of the property office who was linked to the RFID ghost project, who was promoted by Eisma as chief of staff and designated as head of the seaport department, one of the juiciest positions in SBMA that regulates the docking of foreign vessels.
Diño also said the SBMA had approved the proposal of the Singapore-based Dynamic Konstruct International Eco BuildersCorp. to build a $797-million new industrial estate at the Redondo Peninsula where the Hanjin shipbuilding firm is located.
Unlike in previous contracts, Dynamic Konstruct already paid P472 million in advance rentals upon signing the contract to develop 900 hectares at the peninsula where the Filipino-owned RP Energy Energy Inc. of businessman Manuel Pangilinan and Aboitiz Power is building a 600-megawatt power plant.
But Diño said the rent awarded by the previous administration to a solar power firm for 800 hectares of land amounted only to a few centavos per square meter as well as for the redevelopment of the once popular Subic golf course that was also pegged at a ridiculously low price, to the “gross disadvantage of the government.”
Dynamic Konstruct, in contrast, has laid out a P40-billion committed investment on the new industrial site that is pure raw land and rolling hills, and is expected to employ some 50,000 workers in various development projects to be established by a mix group of locators.
Diño said the SBMA seaport earned P309 million in revenues in the first quarter of the year, a 9-percent increase from P287.7 million in 2016, and hiked both its containerized and bulk cargoes to 33,031 twenty-foot-equivalent units and 1.8 million metric tons, respectively, or a 24.8-percent increase.
He also cited a 7.6-percent increase in revenue from P676.3 million in the first quarter of 2016 to P727.6 million in the first quarter of this year. Net income rose by 148 percent increase from P18.8 million in the first quarter of 2016 to P46.7 million in the first quarter of 2017. Also, there was a 24.8-percent increase in cash and investments, and more than P40 billion in new investments.
Diño said the Philippine Coastal Storage and Pipeline Corp., operator of petroleum-storage facilities in SBMA and the Subic-Clark fuel pipeline, opened recently its three 180,000-barrel storage tanks and two tank-truck loading racks that increased its fuel storage capacity to 5.2 million barrels.
It was more than double the facility’s original 2.4 million barrels capacity for fuel products like diesel, gasoline, jet fuel and oil, built by the Americans in 1953.
Diño said the visits of President Duterte to China and Japan last year resulted in keen interest among major investors in Asia and other countries to invest at the Subic free port as business locators or as participants in big-budgeted infrastructure development projects.
He said a Chinese firm had invested at no cost on the SBMA side on a master plan for the SBMA that includes, among others, the development of a 3,000-hectare industrial site and the entry of several factories to hire more than 100,000 employees.
Officials of the Korean firm Hyudae have also visited the Subic to propose the establishment of the first steel plant in the country, a major investment that could equal if not surpass the $2.5-billion investment of the Hanjin shipyard that employs 34,000 Filipino workers.
AIA Airways, based in Australia, is also interested to develop the Subic Bay International Airport as a regional logistics hub in Asia, proposing to invest $1.5 billion for cargo airline operations, aviation repair and maintenance and the transhipment of fishery and meat products, Diño said.
Diño accused his critics of organizing a well-oiled publicity campaign to malign his person, even as he denied charges that he has a platoon of bodyguards and consultants. He said he has only four consultants, not 24 consultants, and they have not received a single centavo from SBMA.