Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Tuesday, March 31, 2009


The Olongapo City Government headed by Mayor James ‘’Bong’’ Gordon, Jr. has sponsored anew several summer sports programs to provide kids and teenagers the specific training in different sports disciplines and help them develop values that would guide them both inside and outside the sporting areas.

‘’Make it an exciting and educational summer break for the kids by enrolling them at the summer sports program,’’ Mayor Gordon said during the flag raising ceremony of government officials and employees on March 30, 2009.

The program will be held from April 24 to 30, 2009 to teach seven (7) to sixteen (16) years old kids and teenagers the basics of basketball, swimming, chess, badminton, soccer football and volleyball in a unique, fun-filled and scientific manner.

Venue of the summer sports program will be the Rizal Triangle Multi-Purpose Center, East Tapinac Oval Track (ETOT), YMCA Swimming Pool and G4 Chess Club.

Highly-trained and experienced coaches will be supervising the program to make sure trainees develop to their full potential.

Aside from loving their skills, the summer sports program will also help kids and teenagers develop their character-forming values like discipline, teamwork, self-resilience and fair play.

More information, inquiries and registration maybe directed to the City Mayor’s Office, 2nd Floor, City Hall and Disaster Management Office (DMO) located at Dela Cruz Drive, East Tapinac, Olongapo City. The offices’ are open every Mondays through Friday at the following hours: 8:00 am to 12:00 nn and 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm.

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Foreign riders seeing action in Subic race

IN its bid to rev up cyclo-tourism in the country, the Department of Tourism (DOT) hailed bikers from 15 countries, including the Philippines, who will take part in the seventh Terry Larrazabal Bike Festival (TLBF) at the Subic Bay Free Port Zone.

The event, cosponsored by the DOT, will be held on Thursday up to Sunday. It is one of the biggest mountain bike events that touts the country as a cyclo-tourism destination.

Riders from Australia, Canada, Dubai, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, the United Kingdom and the US are taking part.

“We are looking forward to this racing event as an opportunity to show to the world our exciting terrains. Cyclo-tourism is another exciting dimension of our country’s multifaceted adventure tourism,” said DOT Secretary Joseph Ace Durano.

“The TLBF is the only multidiscipline cycling event in the Philippines and Asia. More than simultaneous competitions, we will also hold bike clinics, expositions and street parties for the participants and guests,” said festival director Gregorio Larrazabal.

The racing event features mountain bike racing (XC, 4x, dirt jumping and downhill), trials (26 and 20 categories), BMX (supercross and dirt jumping) road racing and Olympic/standard distance triathlons.

“Strong advertising and marketing support for the TLBF will, hopefully, propel the country’s viability as a cyclist’s haven,” added Eduardo Jarque Jr., undersecretary for tourism planning and promotions.

The bike event was featured in the US edition of Dirt Rag Magazine, one of the leading biker’s publications, while its homepage opened to a write-up and a link to the event website. Several billboards and radio ads have also been creating buzz for the year’s biggest bike show.

World-renowned bikers will also hold clinics on the different aspects of cycling on April 2, from 2:00-6:00pm. Biking icon Hans Rey will talk about Wheels 4 Life, a non-profit foundation that has been providing bikes to the less privileged. On the topic of competing for the World Cup, Brian Lopes, the current UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale) World Champion will reveal some strategies on winning. Bike design legend Jeff Jones will tackle the philosophy of designing ride that can withstand the roughest terrains. Jay Macneil, chief operating officer of Banshee Bikes, will give a lecture on bicycle suspension. Festival Director Larrazabal will speak on the essentials of bike fitting. Fox Racing Shox will handle the subject of tuning a mountain bike suspension fork.

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Job Opportunities in Olongapo-Subic Bay



Monday, March 30, 2009


The first Subic-Olongapo Open Pool Championship will kick off via the 2009. Philippine Pool Tour that will be held at the Olongapo City Convention Center on April 21 to 23. The Subic-Olongapo Open will be hosted jointly by the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) and the Olongapo City government.

As part of its preparations, Mayor James Gordon, Jr. recently launched a 10-ball billiards tournament for the residents of Olongapo City and Zambales which was held at Jordan Billiards hall on March 28-29, 2009.

Daniel Dela Rosa emerged as the champion, winning one of two slots as the city’s representative to the 2009 Philippine Pool Tour Edmund Geronimo, 1st runner-up, LJ “Eugene” Alipoon, 2nd runner-up, and Bill Jerry Inot, 3rd runner-up. The winners received cash prizes plus trophies.

Scores of foreign delegates are expected at the Subic-Olongapo Open because of the tourist attractions of Olongapo City which include fine beaches, night life , shopping and other attractions.

Among the competitors who will join the event are current World No. 1 Ralf Soquet, Filipino national champion Marlon Manalo, world juniors champion Ko Pin Yi, and former world champion Thorsten Hohmann.

The summer event is open to all players, Filipino and foreigners, professional and amateur, male and female. It offers a prize fund of $30,000, with $10,000 and a trophy for the champion.

Mayor James Gordon, Jr. with the winners in the recently concluded Mayor Gordon’s Handicapping 10-Ball Billiards Tournament held at the Jordan Billiard Hall on March 28-29, 2009. Daniel dela Rosa (third from left of Mayor Gordon) emerged as the champion and one of the two slots who will represent Olongapo City in the Philippine Pool Tour on April 21-23, 2009. Mayor Gordon also lauded during the flag raising ceremony on Monday, March 30, 2009 the Ist runner-up winner Edmund Geronimo, LJ Eugene Alipoon, 2nd runner-up and Bill Jerry Inot, 3rd runner-up.


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Sunday, March 29, 2009

Hop-on, hop-off transport launched in Subic

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT—Travel in the 55,100-hectare free port will now be a breeze this summer with the introduction of a “hop-on, hop-off” bus transportation system.

The first of its kind in the country, the hop-on, hop-off (Hoho) transport system uses a prepaid one-day pass that tourists could buy at designated kiosks for one whole day of unlimited rides aboard any of the “Wow Subic” tourist buses.

The tourist transport system was launched recently by the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) in cooperation with WoWCard, a business locator engaged in tourism promotion and marketing, to help local tourists visit more attractions here in one day.

“Like eat-all-you-can, Subic’s hop-on, hop-off transportation system is ride-all-you-can,” said SBMA Administrator Armand Arreza. “And it also comes at a minimal price of P200.”

He said two double-deck buses are now plying regular routes that take visitors around Subic’s central business district, stopping at shopping centers along the way, then moving on to various nature theme parks at the free port’s naval magazine area.

In April, two more buses are expected to complete the fleet, Arreza said.

Arreza said the Hoho transport system here took after Metro Manila’s Wow Sakay Na! vans that ferry tourists to various attractions around the metropolis.

“But here, we have commissioned double-decker buses so that visitors can see the area better and thus make their visit worthwhile,” he added.

“With this system, visitors can just leave their cars at their hotels, and then hop on for a day of hassle-free sightseeing,” Arreza also said.

SBMA deputy administrator for tourism Raul Marcelo said the idea of Hoho is for tourists who usually find themselves at a loss about how to visit all the attractions in Subic in just one or two days.

“This is the most efficient solution,” Marcelo said, adding it would also be the ideal scheme for families and big tourist groups, since they could stay together in one vehicle while touring the area.

“If a tourist wakes up at 9 in the morning and decides to go shopping at the Royal Duty Free Store, for instance, he can take a Hoho bus and return to his hotel using another one later.

Then, if he decides after lunch to go to Zoobic Safari, he can also take that trip with his one-day pass, then ride back to his hotel,” Marcelo explained.

Marcelo added the Hoho buses would provide the usual discounts to senior citizens and students.

By Henry Empeño - Business Mirror

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BIR to enforce Oplan Kandado nationwide

THE Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) has ordered all of its revenue district offices (RDOs) to close down as many tax-evading firms as possible every quarter starting in April as part of the agency’s Oplan Kandado program to spur collections.

Commissioner Sixto Esquivias IV, at the agency’s annual operation planning in Subic Bay last week, told his officials that closing down establishments not paying the proper taxes will now be part of the performance indicators that will be used during the BIR evaluation for the next reshuffle scheduled in October.

According to the BIR guidelines that was approved by all management level employees, all RDOs belonging to the Class A and B are expected to padlock at least two tax-evading business establishments per quarter. Class-C RDOs are required to close down a firm every quarter, while Class-D RDOs are expected to shut down one every four months.

Class A and B RDOs are those key areas in Metro Manila and other main cities around the country like Cebu and Davao.

A BIR official explained that establishments that will be closed down are those that have deficiencies of at least 30 percent in their tax declaration to the government. This deficiency will cover tax period as far as 2007 to present, the official said.

Those that will be closed down will be first notified within five days to 48 hours before the BIR personnel shut down their operations.

“We want them to feel that the BIR is here and they should do their duties right,” the official said.

To date, the BIR had closed down a total of 10 business establishments nationwide found violating tax laws, especially the value-added tax.

Among those pad-locked in the past few months include La Suerte Grocery and Bakery in Magalang, Pampanga, for failure to declare more than P50 million in income in 2008; Charmy Food Phils. Inc., a manufacturer of soybean products in Pasig City, for not declaring P40 million of its sales for 2005-08; and Arra’s Fine Dining, a Korean Restaurant in Makati for understatement of its taxable sales in 2008 by more than P20 million.

Oplan Kandado is the flagship project of Esquivias which was launched shortly after he assumed the country’s top tax-man post late last year. The program is envisioned to plug the revenue loopholes as the economy is
slowing down due to the financial crisis.

The BIR has a target collection of P865.6 billion for 2009, P100 billion less than what was earlier projected by the interagency Development Budget Coordination Committee.

Last year the BIR failed to meet its P845-billion collection target by P67 billion, the biggest shortfall in years, owing to the slackening economy.

As provided for in the National Internal Revenue Code of 1997 as amended, or the Tax Code, and Revenue Memorandum Order 3-2009, business operations can be suspended or temporarily closed for failure to issue receipts or invoices by a VAT-registered taxpayer; failure to file VAT return; understatement of taxable sales or receipts by 30 percent or more of the correct amount in the case of a VAT-registered or registrable taxpayer; or failure to register.

Closure shall be enforced for a period of not less than five days until the taxpayer rectifies his violations by filing/amending his returns and paying the taxes and penalties due thereon.

“If the violations persist and the evidence so warrants, appropriate charges may be filed under the Bureau’s Run After Tax Evaders program,” the BIR said in a statement.

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Former Subic workers to have first crack at jobs in Guam

OLONGAPO CITY—Workers at the former US naval base here may soon find the opportunity to land jobs in Guam with the impending transfer of US military facilities there from Okinawa, Japan, Olongapo City Mayor James “Bong” Gordon Jr. disclosed yesterday.

Gordon said Guam will entail massive construction projects worth more than $20 billion which will include military facilities and installations, housing and other support infrastructure.

Most manpower requirements will come from Olongapo where thousands lost their jobs when the Americans withdrew from Subic in 1992. Subic workers were trained to meet the working standards of the US military, which is an advantage.

“This is a good opportunity for Filipinos who used to work in Subic naval base, once the largest American military facility outside of continental United States,” said Gordon.

He said they would be handy on the job as their skills and experience in working for the US military give them the edge over other prospective recruits.

The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration estimates that some 15,000 to 20,000 jobs would be available in Guam mostly in construction-related projects such as carpenters, masons, electricians, heavy equipment operators, pipefitters, painters, welders, and the like.

Some of those laid off after the bases pullout were later given priority to work in various American military bases in the US and other countries while others who ventured overseas on their own were guaranteed employment armed with US military base experience.

Gordon said that US naval authorities used to heap praises at Subic workers for being “honest, highly skilled and industrious.”

“When the Americans left, the base employees did not lose hope. They were among the first to volunteer by manning the power plant, fire station and other vital facilities in Subic. Now, they’re back in business,” the mayor quipped.

The city government is now preparing a profile/database of former base workers that will be provided to the POEA.
--Manila Standard Today

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Saturday, March 28, 2009

Extradited Filipina faces embezzlement charges

LOS ANGELES—A Filipina will be extradited to the Philippines this Saturday, March 28, after five years on the run.

After stalling her first extradition last year when she filed an appeal with the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco, Girlie Jimenez Lingad of Olongapo City, will finally be sent back home after the court denied her appeal, said Philippine National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Special Investigator James Calleja.

Calleja and NBI agent Yehlen Agus were sent by the NBI and the Department of Justice in the Philippines to Los Angeles earlier this week to escort Lingad back to Manila to face charges. US Marshals arrested Lingad two years ago. She has since been detained in a federal prison in San Diego.

Lingad, 37, is accused of allegedly embezzling more than P75 million ($2 million) from her former employer, the United Coconut Planters Bank (UCPB) in the Philippines.

Lingad has been living in San Diego for the past three years. She fled from the Philippines to the US in 2004 before UCPB authorities could file criminal charges against her for theft.

"The UCPB is glad that Lingad will finally be sent back home to face charges," said Los Angeles Attorney Morel Callueng, who was hired by UCPB to oversee legal paperwork in the US.

"She’s been on the run for more than five years, have stalled the original extradition but now she’ll be facing the criminal charges against her."

NBI Agents were here last December to extradite Lingad. However, Lingad’s attorney’s filed a last minute appeal with the Ninth Circuit. The appeal was denied in February and NBI agents have 60 days to extradite Lingad.

Upon her arrival to the Philippines, Lingad will be charged with falsification of documents and 25 counts of qualified theft.

If convicted, she faces 20 to 40 years in jail for each count. (Joseph Pimentel)


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Deaths haunt Hanjin shipyard in Subic Bay

SUBIC BAY: Patrick Molina had been working for just four months at the mammoth South Korean-owned Hanjin shipyard, northwest of Manila, when disaster struck.

The 20-year-old was sitting on a bench beside steel plates stacked on a wooden platform when it gave way and the plates crushed his right leg.

“They rushed me to the nearest hospital, a trip that took an hour and a half,” said Molina, leaning on crutches at his boarding house near the Subic Bay industrial enclave, a former US naval base northwest of Manila.

Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction-Philippines, the local arm of South Korea’s Hanjin group, paid Molina’s medical expenses, but he is still waiting for the artificial leg the company has promised.

Molina is luckier than some Hanjin employees. Since construction of the shipyard began in 2006, 19 workers have died in industrial accidents, angering legislators and tarnishing what should be a showpiece of Philippine industrialization.

The 230-hectare Hanjin shipyard is the fourth largest ship-builder in the world, employing 18,000 people, making the Philippines a major location for the shipping industry.

The company is investing at least $1 billon in the project and may expand it even further despite the global economic slowdown.

Accident record

But the shipyard has racked up what labor leaders and politicians say is an unacceptable accident record.

Primo Amparo, a labor organizer at Hanjin, said there have been 5,000 accidents at the shipyard in just three years.

Additionally, the alleged South Korean managers manhandle Filipino workers, the cafeteria serves bad food, workers are forced to do overtime, and the company uses too many subcontractors who bring in unqualified laborers.

Lawmakers investigated the poor safety record and abuse charges in February.

While journalists have not been allowed inside the yard and requests for interviews with senior officials were turned down, Hanjin allowed a congressional team inside the sprawling complex to see for themselves if workers’ safety was being compromised.

Delegation leader Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, son of the disgraced former President Joseph Estrada, said he saw many lapses in safety, some of which violated labor laws.

These included workers not wearing proper safety equipment and lack of fulltime doctors on-site.

Although the legislators did not call for sanctions, they gave Hanjin six months to build a medical center and comply with industrial safety laws.

Inherently dangerous

Amparo concedes that shipbuilding is inherently hazardous, but said the accident rate was a result of Hanjin rushing to complete orders.

The shipyard was still under construction when shipbuilding began, adding to inherent dangers, he said, adding that shortcuts were taken in safety measures and not enough safety inspections were conducted.

He also alleged Hanjin had cut training time for new workers to 45 days from the normal 90 days just to get more people working.

At the congressional hearings earlier, the shipbuilder admitted it had difficulty hiring accredited safety officials.

Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction President Jeong Sup Shim also told the hearing: “In our country . . . the military culture still remains and exists . . . especially in the construction side,” leading to occasional rough treatment.

Workers also at fault

Armand Arreza, executive director of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA), which has jurisdiction over the Hanjin shipyard, defended the company’s record, saying that “it’s not as alarming as it seems.”

He said the Labor Department investigations found that in most of the fatalities, the actions of the workers were partly to blame for the accidents.

Filipinos have never worked on a project the size of the Hanjin shipyard and have not yet adopted the necessary “culture of safety” or systems to avoid accidents at the site, he said.

“It is a new industry, a pioneering industry and there are unique risks,” said Arreza, who oversees the sprawling light-industrial zone and free port.

He said work on the shipyard had been hasty, and there were abuses by Hanjin foremen.

Vital to Philippines

Despite its poor safety record many agree that the shipyard’s economic benefits are vital to the local economy.

Arreza said the Hanjin shipyard is the biggest employer in the SBMA with a payroll of about P2 billion ($41.4 million) a year.

“We haven’t felt the effects of the financial crisis here because of Hanjin,” he said.

Even crippled welder Molina wants to return to the shipyard.

“I can’t do heavy lifting anymore, but I would like to ask them to take me back. Even if I am just reduced to handing out tools,” he said.

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Subic businessmen back $120-m tourism project

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT - A group of investors belonging to the influential Subic Bay Freeport Chamber of Commerce has expressed support to the $120-million hotel-casino project of Grand Utopia Inc. of South Korea.

The chamber said in a statement that the project would ultimately increase tourism in the free port central business district and create at least 5,000 jobs.

It will lend itself further to the viable and continued economic success of the free port,” the statement said.

The manifesto of support was signed by chamber president Danny Piano, who is also president and chief executive of Absolute Service Inc., and vice president Romeo Duran of the Sapalo Velez Bundang Law Offices.

Other signatories were chamber treasurer Dante Pollescas of Subic Enerzone Corp.; corporate secretary Rose Baldeo of Global Ship Management Service Inc., directors Tom de Bruin of Grainpro Philippines Inc., Sung Il Cho of Subic Bay Christian Worship Center Inc. and Gerald James Hammond of Subic Drydock Corp.

The chamber issued its endorsement of the hotel-casino project in the wake of a Congressional probe on allegations by architect Felino Palafox Jr. that some 300 trees in the project site would be destroyed if the plan pushed through.

After independently gathering documents and other information on the controversy, the business group said “there could be a reasonable balance between the conservation of nature and commercial and infrastructure development.”

--By Cecille Garcia - Manila Standard Today
link to the full position paper from the Chamber website

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Friday, March 27, 2009

Subic business chamber backs hotel-casino project

MANILA, March 27 (PNA) -— The Subic Bay Freeport Chamber of Commerce (SBFCC), an organization of investor-companies registered in this free port, has endorsed the hotel-casino project being proposed here by Korean firm Grand Utopia Inc.

In a statement, the business group said the development project “will ultimately increase tourism in (Subic’s) central business district, create at least 5,000 jobs, and lend itself further to the viable and continued economic success of the Freeport.”

The declaration was signed by SBFCC president Danny J. Piano, who is also president and CEO of Absolute Service Inc.; vice president Romeo Duran, of the Sapalo Velez Bundang Law Offices; treasurer Dante Pollescas, vice president and general manager of Subic Enerzone Corp.; corporate secretary Rose Baldeo, president and CEO of Global Ship Management Service Inc.; director Tom de Bruin, president and CEO of Grainpro Philippines Inc.; director Sung II Cho, senior pastor of the Subic Bay Christian Worship Center, Inc.; and director Gerald James Hammond, general manager of Subic Drydock Corp.

The SBFCC issued its endorsement of the hotel-casino project in the wake of a congressional probe on allegations by noted Filipino architect Felino Palafox Jr. that some 300 trees in the project site would be destroyed if the plan pushed through.

But after independently gathering documents and other information on the controversy, the SBFCC said it has arrived at the conclusion that “there could be a reasonable balance between the conservation of nature and commercial and infrastructure development.”

The Subic hotel-casino issue “will understandably be perceived as a clash between nature and development,” the group said in its manifesto.

However, “if all encroachments against nature are to be disallowed, we will not be able to build anything anywhere anymore,” the SBFCC pointed out.

The group also pointed out that developments that make life convenient for people may be allowed although they could have some adverse effects to the environment.

These include projects like the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway, where natural hills were cut and lands were paved, and the reclamation of 20,000 hectares of land around Manila Bay that destroyed corals and mangroves, but now houses the Philippine Senate building, among others.

“These are but examples of how commercial and infrastructure development may invade nature in pursuit of development, but which are nonetheless acceptable due to the benefits they bring and the control and minimization of any adverse environmental impact,” the SBFCC also said.

In the case of the proposed Ocean 9 hotel-casino project here, the SBFCC said that Parcel No. 35, the project site which supposedly contains an “urban forest”, is found outside Subic’s protected forest, and is in fact in a commercial district according to zoning guidelines.

“It has likewise been determined that Parcel No. 35 could not have been a virgin forest since the trees were introduced during development, nor could the trees in it have been more than 50 years old,” the SBFCC statement said.

The business group also noted that the allegation that some 300 so-called “heritage trees” will be destroyed in an urban forest “has spiraled into a huge controversy that threatens to erode the good image of the Subic Bay Freeport Zone.”

As the members of the SBFCC live and work in and around the Subic Bay Freeport, they are “affected by the controversy,” the chamber said.

“Accordingly, SBFCC firmly believes that it is in the best interest of all concerned that the facts behind these reports be fully disclosed and well understood,” the Subic business group also said. (PNA)

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One dead, many wounded as Army, NPA clash in Zambales

Palauig, Zambales -- Clashes broke out between the military and the communist New People's Army (NPA) Friday morning in Sitio Aguas, Barangay Babuyan, Sta. Cruz, Zambales that left one dead and an undetermined number wounded.

In a phone interview, Col. Philip S. Lapinid, commanding officer of the 24th IB, 7ID of the Philippine Army, narrated that they received late last night an intelligence report of communist movement in Sitio Aguas where some 60 communist guerillas belonging to the Sangay ng Partido sa Platon (SPP) is conducting a mass indoctrination and recruitment operation.

The 24th IB, he said, immediately initiated a hot pursuit operation until firefight erupted at about 9:30 am, Friday morning and lasted about five hours. The brigade immediately called for reinforcements from other Philippine Army detachments and cornered the rebels.

The identity of the lone fatality, a member of the communist insurgents, and those of the wounded are still unknown as clearing operations are still being conducted as of press time.

This is the second reported encounter between the army and the rebels this week as the Phil. Army engaged a group of Rebolusyonaryong Hukbong Bayan (RHB) in Barangay Malabon, Candelaria, Zambales.

An armalite riffle was recovered during the operation. No casualties or injured were reported. (AMV/PIA-Zambales)

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Subic, Clark freeports seen helping Central Luzon to grow at least 6.9%

Buoyed by the presence of Subic Bay and Clark freeports, Central Luzon is likely to post a 6.9 percent economic growth this year despite the crisis, the country’s economic managers said.

With the presence of Subic Bay and Clark freeports in Central Luzon, a 6.9 percent economic growth is “highly attainable” in the region this year despite the global economic slowdown, Philippine economic managers said.

The economic forecast was made during a recent briefing here at the Subic International Hotel, where the country’s top economic officials held back-to-back presentations on the government’s strategies to override the effects of the financial crisis.

The team of speakers was headed by Department of Finance (DoF) Secretary Margarito Teves, National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Secretary Ralph Recto, and Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Director Iluminada Sicat.

Also present were Department of Agriculture (DA) Undersecretary Segfredo Serrano, Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Undersecretary Laura Pascua, Department of Energy (DoE) Undersecretary Roy Kyamko, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Region 3 Director Blesila Lantayona, and NEDA Region 3 Director Remigio Mercado.

During the briefing, Teves said the government’s fiscal reform has generated revenues that are now being invested into two economic sectors public infrastructure and social services to pump-prime the national economy. He specifically cited the Subic-Clark growth corridor as “steps ahead” compared to neighboring areas because of major infrastructure projects already in place in the area.

These include the modern seaport in Subic that has given rise to a 600,000-TEU (twenty-foot equivalent unit) container terminal, the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport (DMIA) in Clark, and the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEx) that now links the two free ports.

With this advantage, Central Luzon, which made the third largest contribution to the country’s gross regional domestic product (GRDP) at 8.3 percent in 2007, “can focus on other economic arenas like attracting investments, and streamlining the process of doing business in the region,” Teves said.

NEDA’s Mercado said meanwhile that the agriculture and services sectors will stay resilient and provide avenues for regional economic growth amid the global economic slowdown.

He added that the industrial sector’s output in Region 3, however, is expected to go down further since manufacturing, which employs 20 percent of the people in the industrial sector, had been the hardest hit by the financial crisis.


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Former Subic base workers get priority in Guam jobs

OLONGAPO CITY, Philippines – For­mer US naval base workers in Subic Bay will get the first opportunities to land jobs in the island of Guam where the US Navy is now transferring facilities from its base in Okinawa, Japan.

Olongapo Mayor James “Bong” Gordon Jr. said in a statement yesterday that employees of the former Subic Naval Base, who mostly come from this city, would have the edge over applicants from other areas because of their skills and experience in working for the US military.

“This is a good opportunity for Filipinos who used to work in the Subic Naval Base, once the largest American military facility outside of continental United States,” Gordon said.

He proudly recalled that US naval authorities used to heap praises at Filipino workers in Subic for being “honest, highly skilled and industrious.”

“This would now give them the edge, I hope,” Gordon said.

According to Mike Pusing, Gordon’s senior executive assistant for public relations, the city government is now preparing a database of former Subic base workers to be provided to the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration.

The POEA estimated that some 15,000 to 20,000 jobs would be available in Guam for mostly construction jobs like carpenters, masons, electricians, heavy equipment operators, pipefitters, painters and welders.

Gordon said most of the manpower requirements will come from Olongapo where thousands lost their jobs when the American military withdrew from the Subic Naval Base in 1992.

--By Bebot Sison Jr.

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Thursday, March 26, 2009


The Subic Bay Resorts Association (SUBRA) in coordination with the Olongapo City Government and Beach Boulevard Business Association (BBBA) is all-set as lead organization for the celebration of the annual Sibit-Sibit Festival on April 23 to 25, 2009 at Brgy. Barretto.

SUBRA Chairman and Brgy. Barretto Chairperson Carlito Baloy and Olongapo City Mayor James ‘’Bong’’ Gordon, Jr., through the City Tourism Office has laid out the series of activities for the 2009 Sibit-Sibit Festival.

In an interview at SBC-DWGO, SUBRA Chair Baloy said that the success of the event is very significant for the promotion of the tourism industry. “It further boosts Olongapo’s potential as one of the country’s promising tourism hub.’’

“Ang tagumpay ng Sibit-Sibit Festival ay hindi lamang magiging tagumpay ng Barretto kundi ito ay tagumpay ng buong Olongapo. Nagpapasalamat rin ang SUBRA sa suporta at tiwalang ibinibigay ni Mayor Gordon,’’ Baloy added.

A motorcade will be conducted on April 22, 2009 at 2:00PM which will go around the main streets of the city to Driftwood Beach where a Thanksgiving Mass will be celebrated.

The line of activities scheduled for the 3-day summer event are as follows:

April 23 (Friday)

• Opening Ceremony/Umagang kay Ganda Coverage-5:30-8:30 AM
• Fluvial Parade and Banca Competition
• Amazing Bar Hopping
• Sand Sculpturing Competition
• Street Dance Showdown (highlight event)

April 24 (Saturday)

• Barretto Fun Run
• Jetski Competition
• Banca Race Competition
• Beach Volleyball
• Food Festival
• Sibit-Sibit Singing Idol
• Local Show Band
• Bikini Open (highlight event)

April 25 (Sunday)

• Beach Football
• Open Water Swimming
• Banca Race Competition
• Table Tennis Competition
• Darts Competition
• Food Festival
• Bingo by the Bay
• Battle of the BBQ’s
• Lingerie Fashion Show
• Beach Mardigras (highlight event)

ABS-CBN Channel 2 morning program “Umagang Kay Ganda’’ with segment host Winnie Cordero will provide national media coverage for the colorful festivities.

The Sibit-Sibit Festival is an annual event in Olongapo City that depicts its rich and colorful history. Sibit-Sibit is a word derived from the small banca used for fishing in the early times when Olongapo was still a fishing village.

The festival started as a barangay event of Brgy. Barretto. In cognizance of its potential in promoting Olongapo’s tourism, Mayor Gordon elevated the festival into a city event.

Today, the traditional Sibit-Sibit Fiesta has transformed into a colorful and enthralling festival bringing together Olongapo’s past, its thriving present and the promising future.


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Wednesday, March 25, 2009


The US-island territory of Guam is expected to hire 20,000 workers by year 2010 to 2012.

This is in connection with the imminent transfer of the US Military facilities in Okinawa, Japan to Guam in 2010 which will entail massive construction projects and provide employment prospects for Filipino workers.

Mayor James “Bong” Gordon, Jr. immediately acted on the request from Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) Administrator Jennifer Jardin-Manalili by calling for a general assembly.

An estimate of 900 former US Naval Base employees and other interested individuals attended the assembly at the Rizal Triangle Multi-Purpose Center on March 23, 2009.

POEA is requesting the assistance of Gordon in providing their office a profile and database of Olongapeños who have previous work experience in the military bases.

Prior to this, Gordon called for a coordination meeting with all concerned city officials and barangay captains in Olongapo to impart the good news and instructed everyone to consolidate a list of possible candidates for deployment.

To date, a great number of applicants and interested individuals are still rushing to the Public Employment Services Office (PESO) to inquire and be enlisted for possible employment next year.

“We are complying with the request of the POEA, but actual processing of applications for skilled workers will start around October to December 2009. The actual project will start during the first and second quarter of year 2010,” Gordon explained during the assembly.

This 15-20 billion dollar project will create employment for 20,000 to 30,000 Filipino workers on top of possible opportunities for Filipino businesses.

Former US Naval Base employees listens intently to Mayor James “Bong” Gordon, Jr. during the general assembly for possible employment opportunities for Olongapeños in Guam.


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Olongapo City is on a roll as it brings home two more regional awards besting some 130 cities and municipalities in Central Luzon as having the Best Business One-Stop Shop (BOSS) for Central Luzon and 1st Place in the Highly-Urbanized City Category as Best Local Government Unit (LGU) Practitioners for Central Luzon in implementing the streamlining program in the issuance of Mayor's permit for 2008.

The awards were given during the program for the Recognition of Outstanding LGUs Implementing the Streamlining Program in the Issuance of Mayor’s Permit in Central Luzon on March 26, 2009 at Holiday Inn Hotel in Clark Freeport Zone, Pampanga.

Mayor James “Bong” Gordon, Jr. accepted the award in behalf of the City Government.

“Olongapo City was one of the eight (8) pilot areas for this initiative. Since we started with the program, all our efforts have been primarily directed in ensuring that we provide our clients a client-friendly system and procedures through the Business One-Stop Shop (BOSS) which resulted in more satisfied customers because the registration process was made more efficient and convenient for businesses here in Olongapo,” shares Gordon.
The streamlining program seeks to reduce documentary requirements, turn-around time, number of signatories, and cost of fees in the processing of business licenses and permits.

Streamlining the business process in the issuance of Mayor’s permit is CLGCFI’s response to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s call to eliminate red tape in the bureaucracy and reduce the cost of doing business.

This is in pursuant to Malacañang Memorandum Order (MO) 117 which directs local authorities to simplify and rationalize their civil application systems and the Secretaries of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to facilitate the streaming of procedures in the issuance of permits and licenses.
About 130 cities and municipalities in Central Luzon are now implementing streamlining projects which have contributed in making Central Luzon as a business friendly region.

Central Luzon Growth Corridor Foundation Inc. (CLGCFI) started giving awards to successful LGUs in February 2007. This was followed by another awarding in April 2008. Now on its third year, CLGCFI continues to acknowledge the efforts of LGUs and deepen the commitment of LGU practitioners to the Streamlining Program.

CLGFI is composed of the seven (7) provincial governors of Central Luzon, DTI Undersecretary for Industry and Investments and DTI-3 Regional Director. It is tasked to provide policy decisions and to facilitate the planning, coordination and monitoring of investment-related projects in Central Luzon.

Aurora Governor and CLGCFI President Bellaflor Angara-Castillo hands over the award to Mayor James “Bong” Gordon, Jr. for bagging 1st place in the Highly-Urbanized City Category of the Best Local Government Unit (LGU) Practitioners for Central Luzon in implementing the streamlining program in the issuance of Mayor's permit Shop. Also in photo are Pampanga Governor and CLGCFI Treasurer Eddie T. Panlilio (left), Olongapo Business Permit and Licensing Division (BPLD) head Neal Perez (right) and Carmelita Yco of DILG-Olongapo. (Photo and Caption/PAO)

Mayor James “Bong” Gordon, Jr. accepts the trophy and plaque of recognition for the Best Business One-Stop Shop for Central Luzon award from Aurora Governor and CLGCFI President Bellaflor Angara-Castillo together with Olongapo Business Permit and Licensing Division (BPLD) head Neal Perez. (Photo and Caption/PAO)

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The Olongapo City recently received medical equipment from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

Through the efforts of Mayor James “Bong” Gordon, Jr., and the City Health Office, residents of Olongapo City especially pregnant women will benefit from the said equipment donated by the UNFPA.

The P300,000 worth of medical equipment include emergency lights, delivery tables, oxygen gauges, Kelly pads, standing Bp apparatus, stethoscopes, sterilizers, dapplers, minor surgery set, bassinet and speculum.

Meanwhile, Mayor James Gordon, Jr. expressed gratitude to the UNFPA for its continuous support to the city’s efforts to provide full protection to pregnant women and their unborn babies.

It can be recalled that the City Council has signed an ordinance establishing facility-based deliveries for all pregnant mothers in Olongapo City. Ordinance No. 59 Series of 2008 is also known as the Basic Emergency Obstetric and Newborn Care (BEmONC) ordinance of Olongapo City.

At the start of the project, five barangay health centers namely Brgy. Barretto, New Cabalan, New Kababae, Gordon Heights and Kalaklan were provided with the medical equipment for the BEmONC project.

With the additional health centers, pregnant mothers will enjoy the service and equipment donated exclusively for them.


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Tuesday, March 24, 2009


The City Government has shifted to high gear in preparations for this summer’s OPLAN SUMVAC (Operation Plan Summer Vacation) 2009 which will commence on April 05-12, 2009.

City Mayor James “Bong” Gordon, Jr. has instructed the City Disaster Management Office (CDMO) under Angelito B. Layug to take charge and re-evaluate the action plan being implemented in the city every summer vacation.

In connection with this, the CDMO is coordinating with the different departments of the city government such as the Philippine National Police (PNP) Olongapo, Office of Traffic Management & Public Safety (OTMPS), Bureau of Fire Protection, James L. Gordon Memorial Hospital, City Health Office, Environmental Sanitation and Management Office, City Social Welfare and Development Office, Public Utilities Department, City Planning and Development Office, City Engineering Office, Public Affairs Office, Barangay West Bajac-Bajac, Barangay Sta. Rita and Barangay Mabayuan.

Other non-government organizations such as the Philippine National Red Cross, Radio Communication Groups, Smart and Globe Telecommunication companies and Subicwater are also extending their help and support.

It is expected that a big number of residents and local tourists will set out to the beach resorts which are the primary tourist attractions of Olongapo especially during Holy Week.

“Isinasagawa natin ang mga hakbang na ito upang masiguro natin ang kaligtasan ng mga motorista at mga bisita natin dito sa lungsod,” said Gordon.

Olongapo City has been attributed as one of the favorite tourist destinations every summer not only for of its scenery but also for its well-maintained peace and order situation which is also a good come on of the city.


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Monday, March 23, 2009


The Olongapo City Government has taken steps to intensify the implementation of the ‘Garantisadong Pambata’ (GP) Program in the seventeen (17) barangay health centers.

City Health Office head Dr. Arnildo Tamayo said Mayor James ‘’Bong’’ Gordon, Jr. has thrown full support to the program in a bid to reduce childhood illness and mortality through the promotion of childhood health practices.

‘’Tuloy-tuloy ang Garantisadong Pambata Program at patuloy rin ang suportang ibinibigay ni Mayor Bong Gordon dito. Kaya sa susunod na buwan ay magsisimula nang mag-ikot ang ating mga health workers upang magbigay ng mga health services na may kaugnay sa programa,’’ Dr. Tamayo said during the flag raising ceremony of government officials and employees on March 23, 2009.

This April, as the nation will be celebrating the second round of the ‘Garantisadong Pambata 2009’ the city’s activities include a month long delivery of health services babies aged from zero (0) week to six (6) years old to be spearheaded by the Olongapo Government through the City Health Office (CHO) and the Department of Health (DOH).

City Nutrition Action Officer Richel Eve A. Torralba, said around 37,000 capsules of vitamin A from DOH will be distributed to intended beneficiaries next month.

‘’The city government headed by Mayor Gordon is working very hard to further curb malnutrition especially among schoolchildren’’ Torralba said.

The CHO is likewise encouraging parents and guardians to bring their 0- 6 years old children to there respective Barangay Health Centers to be able to undergo vaccination with Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) against tuberculosis, Diphtheria Pertussis and Tetanus (DPT) a mixture of three vaccines and Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV) to combat poliomyelitis or polio.


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Olongapo is gearing up for the staging of the first Subic-Olongapo Open Pool Championship on April 21 to 23, 2009 at the Olongapo City Convention Center.

According to the website of Raya Sports, the tournament organizer, the anticipated event has already drawn the participation of 12 Asian players this early. It has been reported that seven players from Indonesia, two each from Japan and Malaysia, and one from Thailand are the first foreigners to sign up for the prestigious ten-ball event.

The foreign players are Indonesians Ricky Yang, S. Bewi, M. Sulfikri, Jimmy Jusman, William Ipaenem, Rudi Susanto and Imran Ibrahim; Japanese Kenji Taguchi and Ryousuke Muruka; Malaysians Amir Ibrahim and Benjamin Lee and Thai Amnuay Porn Chotipong.

Also, Mayor James “Bong” Gordon Jr. is grooming homegrown talents to represent the city in the said tournament. The champion of the 1st ever Mayor James Gordon, Jr.’s Cup slated on March 28-29, 2009 at the Jordan Billiards Hall along Gordon Avenue in the city will have the chance to be its representative to the main tournament.

The Subic-Olongapo Open is the first leg of the 2009 Philippine Pool Tour which will have two stages. Stage 1, which is the elimination round, will be played at the Star Billiards Center in Quezon City from April 18 and 19; and Stage 2, the main tournament, will be held in Olongapo.

A top prize of $10,000 and the grand trophy donated by Sen. Richard Gordon await the winner of the Subic-Olongapo Open.

The event is hosted by the Olongapo City Government and Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority.

Organized by Raya Sports as organizer is being supported by Star Billiards and Billiards & Snooker Congress of the Philippines.


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Sunday, March 22, 2009

Job Opportunities in Olongapo-Subic Bay



Saturday, March 21, 2009

Gordon blocks House P.10 text tax proposal

INDEPENDENT Senator Richard Gordon yesterday opposed a House proposal setting aside 10 centavos from the telecommunication firms’ annual net revenue from local text messages to allow the government cope with its huge deficit.

Gordon, chairman of the Senate government corporations and public enterprises committee, said he would oppose any move to impose tax on short messaging system (SMS) unless that the funds would directly and exclusively go to the improvement of the educational and health care systems in public schools.

“We should know what we must prioritize in our country. The educational and health care system in our public schools has long been in a dismal state, suffering from the expanding backlogs in infrastructures,” he said.

“The telecommunications industry is one of the most progressive businesses in our country and a 10-centavo fee for each text message would not really hurt them. But this fee should not be passed on to the consumers,” he added.

Quezon City Rep. Danilo Suarez has earlier proposed a revenue measure that would impose a 10-centavo fee on each text message to generate more revenues for the government.

While he has long recommended to require telecommunication firms to set aside a portion of their annual net revenues from SMS, Gordon said the projected revenues should be used to rehabilitate the education and health care systems.

Gordon had proposed for the creation of a Health and Education Acceleration Program (HEAP) Corporation, contained in Senate Bill 2402, which shall be in charge of the funds that would be collected from a small portion of the telcos’ revenues to fund the education and health care requirements nationwide.

“It is important that we realize that, at some point in time, we should have the determination to find out how we can help the country. I am not going after the telcos here, I am going after poverty and the pitiful state of the country’s public educational system,” Gordon said.

He explained that once the bill is passed into law, it would address the problems plaguing the education and health care systems among the more than 43,000 public schools all over the country. By: Marlon Purificacion - JOurnal online

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Nicole has been influenced, says Magsaysay

“Nicole,” the woman who cried rape, did not complain of rape on the morning of November 1, 2005 after parting with the US serviceman she had accused of committing the act, according to a lawmaker.

Speaking at the Serye Café news forum in Quezon City, Zambales Rep Mitos Magsaysay, who claimed she was the first person to talk with Nicole after the incident, said Nicole’s latest affidavit backtracking from her previous testimony “hews more closely” to what really happened than her original complaint, which led to US Marine Lance Corporal Daniel Smith’s conviction.

“The circumstances she described in her new affidavit are what she and other witnesses narrated to me,” she said.

Magsaysay, whose district covers the Subic Bay Freeport where the rape took place, said the complaint that Nicole filed with the Olongapo Prosecutor’s Office “was different in some parts to the story that she told me.”

“There were obviously some people who took over and influenced her,” she said. Magsaysay said Nicole was crying when she first talked to her, but that she did not complain of rape. “She was more concerned about the possibility of her mother getting angry at her because she was out the whole night,” she said.

Magsaysay said Nicole narrated to her the circumstances of how the incident with Smith came about.

“And based on her narration, and the interviews I made with her sister, her cousin, other witnesses at Neptune bar (inside the free port) and the driver of the van Smith, his companions and Nicole rode in, I concluded that no rape took place,” she said.

The van driver told her and later testified in court that he heard no utterances of resistance such as “No, no!” or “Stop, stop!” from Nicole inside the van, she added.

During the same forum, Cebu City Rep Antonio Cuenco urged the Court of Appeals to now resolve Smith’s appeal. “The appeal has been pending for more than three years now,” he said.

Cuenco said he believes that Nicole’s change of heart should have no bearing on the court’s decision to uphold Smith’s rape conviction.

A group of women’s rights advocates believes that Nicole’s recantation “should not be given weight.”

In a statement, Clara Rita Padilla, EnGende Rights execuitive director, said the timing is “suspicious” as there is “strong clamor” to abrogate the Visiting Forces Agreement.

“As a private prosecutor of violence against women cases, I’d like to say that we should respect Nicole’s decision,” she said.

“The pressure must really have been too much for her. It is also important to mention that the Supreme Court has decided in a long line of cases that recantation of a witness should not be given weight.

“It has also been decided by the Supreme Court that the findings of fact of a lower court, the regional trial court in this case, bear a lot of weight.

“Thus, the conviction of Smith should be upheld by the appellate court.” Padilla said Nicole was a victim of the “ills” brought by the VFA. “If the pressure to issue the recantation was specifically made to squash the momentum to abrogate VFA, then those behind this move are mistaken because no such acts will dampen the hearts of Filipinos who want the VFA abrogated,” she said.

“The fight to abrogate the VFA will continue to rage on. Without the VFA, there wouldn’t have been a Nicole.”

Nicole must be extradited so she could swear to the truthfulness of her affidavit of recantation, an anti-crime advocate said yesterday.

Dante Jimenez, Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption founding chairman, said the US and the Philippines could forge a deal to force Nicole to return home from the United States.

“This is a special situation of a government-to-government treaty, and maybe they can look into an exception to the rule,” he said.

Jimenez said the VACC plans to ask the Supreme Court to order the reopening of the Subic rape case based on how the verdict of “guilty beyond reasonable doubt” has become doubtful.

“We thought that this was her version of the incident, that’s why we won,” he said. “I am asking now the question of how we could rectify, kung totoo yung sinasabi niya (in her new affidavit), the wrong decision on Smith,” he said.


“The problem now lies on whether the affidavit signed by Nicole can be used to reopen the case.”

“I feel we have to reopen the case, the Supreme Court should look into this. VACC is supposed to be with victims but it seems the victim now is Smith.”

Jimenez said Nicole should personally swear to the truthfulness of her second affidavit and validate the same before a judge or a justice to clear the issue that it was written by a lawyer from the firm defending Smith.

“Who knows, maybe she didn’t really sign it,” he said.

“I still doubt that she made the affidavit, until she personally swears to it. I’m still inclined to believe what she testified to before.

“It has become complicated, the perception of who’s the victim has shifted from Nicole to Smith.”

He knew Nicole’s father because they both served in the Philippine Navy, Jimenez said.

Reacting to Jimenez’s proposal to reopen the Subic rape case, Nicole’s former lawyer Evalyn Ursua said she does not want to dignify the idea, although she herself doubts that her former client executed the affidavit recanting her earlier testimony that Smith raped her three years ago.

On the issue of charging Nicole with perjury, Ursua said Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez and the entire government should “be held accountable” for what happened to Nicole’s case.

“From day one, they wanted Nicole not to pursue the case,” she said, adding that the DOJ secretary has been anti-Nicole from the start.

If Gonzalez and company can prove that Nicole was not forced, threatened, pressured and muzzled by the government, the US and Smith’s lawyers, “then we can talk of perjury,” Ursua said.

‘Leave her in peace’

Malacañang has called on Nicole’s critics to leave her in peace, which is what she and her family have been asking since she decided to recant her testimony and live a new life in the United States.

Speaking over government-run dzRB radio, Press Secretary Cerge Remonde said everyone concerned should respect the decision of Nicole and her mother to allow them to live a normal life.

“We must respect the sentiments of Nicole and her parents,” he said.

“I think the mother of Nicole has already given many interviews, and the people have heard what she has to say. What we are asking for now is to just respect the family’s wishes.”

Nicole and her family have stated that the US government had nothing to do with her decision to recant her testimony that Smith had raped her, Remonde said.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Anthony Golez urged the critics of Nicole to set aside their emotions and respect her decision.

“We should move on from now on,” he said.

“She should be left alone because that is what she wants.”

Meanwhile, Golez said the government was not “dragging its feet” on the VFA’s review and on Smith’s custody.

In the case of treaties, one side cannot unilaterally decide to review or take any action on the agreement, he added.

Golez said the issue of Smith’s custody has not yet been resolved because the government has filed a motion for clarification before the Supreme Court.

“The legal proceedings have not yet concluded, but the Supreme Court has ordered the transfer of the custody of Smith,” he said.

“We have to wait for the answer of the Supreme Court.” – With Helen Flores, Michael Punongbayan, Marvin Sy

A review of the VFA could still be done “with the view of improving the system,” Golez said.

The SC has ordered the government to secure Smith from the US embassy where he has been detained since he was convicted of rape in 2006. PHILIPPINE STAR

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After his ‘Subic circus,’ Palafox’s apology is useless

This is in reaction to the news item on the apology of “respected” architect and urban planner Felino Palafox Jr. (Philippine Daily Inquirer, 3/11/09)

In the article, Palafox was reported to have said — in reference to his previous allegation that five public officials were involved in anomalies at the Subic Bay Freeport — that he was “very sorry if it created a lot of trouble.”

I’ll not question the sincerity of his apology (though he blurted it out only after failing to substantiate his fantastical claims of conspiracy at the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority, or SBMA). I’d just like to air my frustration with the fact that he seems to think that his apology is enough to take back the havoc he has wreaked.

Palafox’s “sorry” won’t take away the fact that he has already tainted the names of those he dragged into the circus he created. His “sorry” won’t take away the fact that SBMA might be losing the confidence of potential investors in the future. More importantly, his “sorry” destroyed the dreams of thousands of unemployed and impoverished Filipinos hoping to land a job at the Ocean 9 hotel-casino project.

If only Palafox’s “sorry” can be converted into thousands of jobs, which our country direly needs in this time of global economic crisis.

Obviously, Palafox picked a bad time to hurl allegations and to brandish his so-called environmentalism. If he is really concerned about the environment, why doesn’t he wage war on its real threats, like mining companies? He’ll be more productive this way, instead of going after the environmental threats at the SBMA that his mind has conjured.

Has he raised hell on the mining companies that killed thousands of trees, thus causing floods in Leyte and Samar?

In these dire economic times, and in these times when the government is hounded by corruption scandals that are ruining our country’s reputation, we don’t want Palafox’s circus of baseless claims to further tarnish our country’s name. To quote Jack Nicholson’s character in “As Good as It Gets”: “Sell crazy some place else, we’re all stocked up here.” By VIRGILIO M. ILAGAN

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12 Asians join Subic Open

THE first staging of the Subic-Olongapo Open Pool Championship on April 18 to 23 has drawn the participation of 12 Asian players this early.

Seven players from Indonesia, two each from Japan and Malaysia, and one from Thailand became the first foreigners to sign up for the prestigious ten-ball event organized by Raya Sports and sanctioned by the Asian Pocket Billiards Union.

The players are Indonesians Ricky Yang, S. Bewi, M. Sulfikri, Jimmy Jusman, William Ipaenem, Rudi Susanto and Imran Ibrahim; Japanese Kenji Taguchi and Ryousuke Muruka; Malaysians Amir Ibrahim and Benjamin Lee and Thai Amnuay Porn Chotipong.

The first leg of the 2009 Philippine Pool Tour, the Subic-Olongapo Open will have two stages. Stage 1—the elimination round—will be played at the Star Billiards Center in Quezon City from April 18 and 19, while Stage 2—the main tournament—will be held at the Olongapo City Convention Center in Olongapo City from April 20 to 23.

Of the 12 foreign bets, seven have qualified for the main tournament on the basis of their national rankings and previous performance in the PPT. These are Yang, Bewi, Sulfikri, Taguchi, Amir, Lee and Chotipong. The five other foreign players will participate in Stage 1 to earn a spot in the main tournament.

Last year, the PPT was held in two key cities in the country. The first was in Mandaluyong, which was won by Antonio Gabica over Marlon Manalo. The second leg was staged in Puerto Princesa City in Palawan, which was ruled by double world champion Wu Chia-ching of Taiwan against the RP junior champion Jericho Banares. Manila Standard today

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Friday, March 20, 2009


After the long wait, Bonggapo Homes in Olongapo is now open for reservations!

The program is now ready to take off and realize its vision of providing shelters to low-income families, in line with Mayor James “Bong” Gordon, Jr.’s 10-year agenda which includes a housing project primarily for government employees.

“It took us three years, but it is well worth the wait,” Gordon said. “Providing affordable housing facilities is a big part of the H.E.L.P.S Program and with the help of Willy Tan and his group, we will continue building more houses for Olongapeños,” Gordon enthusiastically said.

Gordon tapped the services of Hausland Development Corporation (HLDC) to develop the area in Purok 3, New Cabalan in Olongapo under its affiliate, the FIESTA Communities, Inc.

Aptly named Bonggapo Homes, this is the first low-cost housing project in Olongapo courtesy of Mayor Bong Gordon, Jr. and the fourth for FIESTA Communities, Inc., three of which are found in Pampanga.
According to their website (www.fiestacommunities.com), “FIESTA Communities, Inc. was born out of a vision of realizing hopes and uplifting lives through affordable housing for the Filipino working class.”
FIESTA is an acronym of the company's core values, philosophy and mission. FIESTA stands for Family, which is the basic unit of a society; Investment; Environment characterizing the festive and communal spirit of Filipinos; Shelter for the working class; Technology; and Affordable through the concerted efforts of the government, financial institutions and the private sector.
The best part of the bargain is that all FIESTA units are made very affordable, with Pag-IBIG amortization of as low as Php 3,659.16 per month.

Around 350 units will be made available, and priority will be given to government employees working in the city.

GROUNDBREAKING CEREMONY – Mayor James “Bong” Gordon, Jr. (2nd from right) and Wilfredo M. Tan, President and CEO of Hausland Development Corporation (3rd from left) leads the groundbreaking ceremony of the Bonaggapo Homes in Purok 3, New Cabalan, Olongapo City on March 18, 2009. Joining them were Vice Mayor Cynthia G. Cajudo (2nd from left), First Lady and Zambales Vice Governor Anne Marie Gordon (middle), Pag-IBIG Head Josephine Reyes (1st from right) and Mariano G. Tan (1st from left). (Photo and Caption/ PAO)

THE STAKEHOLDERS – Pag-IBIG Dinalupihan Branch Head Josephine Reyes, President and CEO of Hausland Development Corporation Wilfredo M. Tan and Mayor James “Bong” Gordon, Jr. sign a Memorandum of Understanding for the first low-cost housing in Olongapo, BONGGAPO Homes. Witnessing the signing were the members of the Olongapo City Council and First Lady and Zambales Vice Governor Anne Marie Gordon and Mariano G. Tan. (Photo and Caption/ PAO)


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Thursday, March 19, 2009


The Olongapo Public Employment Services Office (PESO) has recently opened the registration for the Special Program for Employment of Students (SPES).

The SPES program is a joint project of the Department of Labor and Employment and the Olongapo City government in coordination with the Public Employment Services Office (PESO). It is open to all indigent yet deserving students of Olongapo City, who is fifteen years old (15) upon registration and passed the entrance examination.

“Isa sa aking mga prayoridad ay makatulong sa edukasyon ng kabataan at turuan namang maghanap-buhay ng marangal ang mga walang trabaho at hindi makapag-aral,” Mayor Gordon previously said. “Kaya naman todo ang suportang ibinibigay ng lungsod sa SPES at sa iba pang programang laan para sa kabataan,”Mayor Gordon added.

In its 16th year, over 700 students, mostly from the public schools applied for the SPES program and 244 will be chosen.

The 244 SPES qualifiers will render twenty (20) days of work in the different departments of the city government and private companies and will receive a sixty percent (60%) compensation from their employers (private companies and LGU’s) and the remaining forty percent (40%) will come from the Department of Labor and Employment.

The SPES qualifiers will start work on April 01, 2009.


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Wednesday, March 18, 2009


Summer in the Philippines is also the season for young boys to go through the traditional rites to manhood.

Gone are the days where parents bring their sons to “quack doctors” for “pukpok” circumcision. Parents nowadays opt to have their sons circumcised by doctors. However, circumcision now costs as much as P1,500.00 in hospitals and private doctors.

To address the situation, Mayor James “Bong” Gordon, Jr. is teaming up once more together with the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) Federation led by SK President Chenee F. Hoya to help parents from the barangays who can't afford to have their sons circumcised in the hospital or private doctors.

Young boys ages 10 years old and up can avail of the free circumcision services. According to Gordon, “We have lined-up “operation tuli” visitations in all the barangays in Olongapo. We are bringing the services closer to the people para maging komportable sila at malapit lamang sa kanilang mga tahanan.”

The schedule is as follows: Asinan, April 14; Banicain, April 16; Barretto, April 17; East Bajac-Bajac, April 20; East Tapinac, April 21; Gordon Height, April 27; Kababae, April 28; Kalaklan, April 29; Kalalake, April 30; Mabayuan, May 4; New Cabalan, May 5; New Ilalim, May 6; Old Cabalan, May 7; Pag-Asa, May 8; Sta. Rita, May 11; West Bajac-Bajac, May 12 and West Tapinac, May 13.

In 2008, an estimated 1,900 young men in Olongapo benefited from this program.

All the medicine needed is provided by the SK Federation and registered midwives from City Health Office and the City Population Commission (POPCOM) will perform the procedure.

Interested individuals may get in touch with the Olongapo City Population Office (POPCOM) located at City Health Office of Olongapo City Hall or call 222-4003 for more information.


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Job Opportunities in Olongapo-Subic Bay



Subic rape victim 'recants'

Subic rape victim "Nicole" recanted her earlier statements that Lance Corporal Daniel Smith, who was convicted in 2007, raped her.

In her sworn statement submitted to the Court of Appeals (CA) on March 12, Nicole admitted that she was so drunk when the incident happened. She raised doubts that Smith raped her, admitting that she was attracted to the US Marine officer.

Nicole's new affidavit, which was submitted to the CA by Smith's legal counsel, Jose Justiniano, came more than two years after the Makati Regional Trial Court convicted the Marine officer of raping her.

Smith was convicted in 2007 and sentenced to up to 40 years in prison.

Nicole said she expected many sectors to question her motives in executing the new affidavit more than three years after the incident, but added her conscience bothered her.

But Evalyn Ursua, who stood as Nicole's legal counsel, said her client's new affidavit has no bearing on the case anymore since it was already in the CA.

Ursua also said Tuesday that Nicole has left for the United States (US) for good and that her services as a lawyer were already terminated.

She said Nicole's mother informed her through a letter Monday that her services were no longer needed.

Ursua added that her client's mother wanted "all other cases arising from or related" to the rape case dropped.

"I asked her mother why she did not tell me personally," Ursua said, adding that it would have been better if her client informed her personally.

No justice

According to Ursua, Nicole's mother explained that they terminated her services because they were "tired of the case and do not want anymore to be bothered by it because 'there is no justice in the Philippines'."

Nicole, the lawyer added, expressed concern that the government betrayed her.

Ursua has been Nicole's lawyer since February 2006, a year after the rape victim hurled a complaint against her alleged rapists, including Smith.

Despite the latest development, Ursua said she has highest respect for her client considering the odds she faced when they decided to press the fight against the rapists.

She downplayed the effect on the case of Nicole's flight and her termination as legal counsel.

Smith's detention at the US Embassy has sparked controversy and gave rise to calls for the abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), which the US government has cited in justifying its action.

A manifestation submitted by Smith before the CA stated that they fully complied with the order of the Makati Regional Trial Court to pay Nicole damages amounting to P100,000.

"Consonant with the satisfaction of the civil aspect of the case, private complainant terminated Ursua as counsel in the case, as well as other cases, arising from the incident pending before the CA and the Supreme Court (SC)," said Justiniano in the manifestation.

Women's group

Earlier, Task Force Subic Rape, a multi-sectoral coalition composed of various women's group, confirmed that Nicole was already in the US.

Lotlot Requizo, coordinator of the group, said Nicole told her that she was demoralized over the case when they last talked on February 12, a day after the SC ordered the transfer of Smith to Philippine custody, while the Philippine and US governments renegotiate the terms of the Marine's detention.

However, the government has not yet implemented the decision, saying the case is still on appeal before the CA.

In an interview, Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez dismissed claims reportedly made by Nicole's family that she has flown to the US and is staying there for good because she is frustrated with the Philippine justice system.

Gonzalez said that Nicole's going to the US ironically "shows that her supposed grief and hatred expressed before is not very genuine."

"Why feel that way when there is a loud cry from people who shared with her so-called grief in the past. Now they are using these issues again and even asking now for the abrogation of the VFA. Why should she feel that way, in the first place she won the first round on her battle in the [Regional Trial Court]," he said.

Asked if Nicole's leaving the country would affect the status of the pending appeal on the conviction of Smith, Gonzalez said he doubts it.

Press Secretary Cerge Remonde, meantime, said Malacañang had nothing to do with the reported decision of Nicole to go to the US.

Remonde said the public should respect Nicole's decision, "after all, no one is sure what and how the Court of Appeals would decide on Smith's appeal."

He said even if Nicole withdraws from the case, it's already with the CA and the case would continue. (Sunnex)

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Mayor James “Bong” Gordon. Jr. donated P500,000.00 to the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC), Olongapo City Chapter during the Flag Raising Ceremony of government employees on March 16, 2009.

“We need to raise an annual budget for our chapter to sustain the efficient delivery of services to indigents who usually seek transport services and blood requirements. Libre ang dugo pero may minimal fee para sa collecting and processing of safe and quality whole blood. Dito napupunta ang pondo na ibinibigay ng mga donors, kasama na rin ang mga libreng first aid trainings na isinasagawa namin sa mga barangay,” shares PNRC Olongapo Chapter Administrator Eduardo Buena, Jr. “Marami pa ang matutulungan natin dahil sa city aid na ibinigay ni Mayor James “Bong” Gordon, Jr.,” he added.

Being a non-government organization (NGO), the PNRC does not receive any funding from the government. According to Buena, PNRC seeks monetary or in-kind donations from concerned individuals, private companies and local government units. Mayor Gordon has been consistently providing monetary assistance to support PNRC in its programs and services.

“PNRC Olongapo is tirelessly devoting their time to help alleviate the suffering of Olongapeños by subsidizing the cost of blood processing, in whole or in part. Sa tulong ng halagang ito ay masisiguro natin na hindi mauubos ang supply ng ligtas at kalidad na dugo para sa lahat, lalong lalo na sa mga indigent patients sa tuwing may mangangailangan,” said Gordon.

PNRC Olongapo Chapter Office is located at the Old Hospital Road, East Tapinac, Olongapo City. For inquiries, call (047) 222-2181. For emergency, dial 143.

Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) Olongapo Chapter Administrator Eduardo Buena, Jr. accepts the check worth P500,000.00 from Mayor James “Bong” Gordon, Jr. as financial aid from the City Government of Olongapo.


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Subic ticks advantages for sports-tourism market

SUBIC BAY FREE PORT—Flaunting Subic Free Port’s advantages in terms of accessibility, facilities and a healthy environment, the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) is now vying to corner the multimillion-peso sports-tourism market by promoting various sports events here as a destination product.

SBMA Administrator Armand Arreza said the Subic Bay Free Port is now luring domestic and international sports tourists, a resilient market that appears to defy the effects of the current economic slowdown.

“This market consists of relatively affluent tourists who are very passionate about health and fitness, and would gladly spend money for love of their sport,” Arreza explained.

“On the other hand, we have here in Subic the perfect sports-tourism mix in place,” Arreza said. “We have a location that is accessible by land, air and sea; we have modern sports facilities and infrastructure, as well as support services like hotels; we have the experience in handling major sports competitions; and, of course, an unrivaled environment that is both secure and safe.”

Arreza bared Subic’s sports-tourism thrust on Monday as he announced various sports competitions scheduled here this summer.

These include the Philippine Hobie Challenge “Traveler Series-Subic Bay,” held over the weekend; fishing tournaments respectively organized by the Subic Bay Anglers Club and the Manila Anglers Club on March 15 and 21; the Terry Larrazabal Bike Festival from April 2 to 5; and the Subic Bay International Triathlon on May 16 and 17.

On top of these, Subic will also host this summer several socio-cultural events and entertainment shows, as well as a photography contest sponsored by the Greater Subic Bay Tourism Board.

“So if you want fun, adventure, as well as sports and fitness, then Subic is the place to be this summer. Best of all, Subic is a family-oriented holiday venue,” Arreza said.

In particular, the four-day Terry Larrazabal Bike Festival (TLBF) is expected to draw bikers from all over the country, as well as some foreign participants from Dubai and Australia, said Arreza.

“This is the second time that this festival will be held in Subic, and we’re again looking forward to a full-capacity crowd,” Arreza said, pointing out that the Subic Bay Free Port is now more accessible to local tourists because of the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway.

“This is another reason for sports enthusiasts and the fun crowd to be coming over to Subic this summer,” he added.

The bike festival, which the organizers dub as Asia’s only multi-discipline cycling event, will feature mountain-bike races such as cross-country, downhill, dirt jumping and 4X; a three-day, four-stage road-bike competition; dirt-jumping and supercross events for BMX; as well as bicycle trials.

To add variety, organizers also incorporated into the festival a standard Olympic-distance triathlon and a bike trade show.

Organizer Gregorio Larrazabal said big-name guests expected to take part in the bike festival include former UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale) world champion and mountain-bike hall of famer Hans “No Way” Rey, who will conduct trials, demos and clinics; and current UCI 4X world champion Brian Lopes, considered by USA Today as “undisputedly the best all-around world-class cycling athlete.”

Prizes, meanwhile, include trips to Hong Kong or Boracay, cash ranging from P1,000 to P20,000, bikes and bike parts, gift certificates, as well as trophies for 1st to 3rd placers and medals for 4th to 10th placers.

Larrazabal, who described Subic as “ideal for bike competitions,” also disclosed that the TLBF committee has launched an online registration system through the festival web site www.tlbf.org. to accommodate participants from various Philippine regions, as well as abroad.

Online-registered participants will receive a confirmation by e-mail, with details of the registration and a control number that serves as reference for all transactions connected to the event like race kit and race number, Larrazabal said.

Larrazabal added the festival has also become a vehicle to promote cyclo-tourism in the Philippines, and for promoting the country as a destination for bikers and cycling enthusiasts from all over the world.

As a festival venue, meanwhile, Subic offers more advantages to visiting bikers and their families, said Larrazabal. “Here, they could ride their bikes in the morning, do shopping and recreation in the afternoon, and enjoy fine dining and entertainment in the evening.” Written by Henry Empeño - Business Mirror

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Monday, March 16, 2009










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Olongapo City will hold its very first Mayor James “Bong” Gordon, Jr. Cup Handicapping Ten-Ball Billiards Tournament on March 28-29, 2009 at Jordan Billiards Hall along Gordon Avenue in Olongapo City.

This is in preparation for the first ever Philippine Pool Tour in the Philippines, which goes to Olongapo for the Subic-Olongapo Open Pool Championship in April 21-23, 2009 at the Olongapo City Convention Center.

Mayor James “Bong” Gordon, Jr. is confident that Olongapo has enough talents in the city that still remains untapped. “Maraming magagaling sa billiards dito sa Olongapo. This tournament will be the perfect venue to showcase their talents in this field,” Gordon stated.

The tournament is open to all residents of Olongapo and Zambales with a registration fee of P250 and P200 for Olongapo City Billiards Association (OCBA) members. Deadline for the submission of entries is on March 25, 2009.

Trophies will be given to all winners plus a prize pot of P10,000.00 for the champion, P5,000 for the 1st runner up, P3,000 for the 2nd runner up and P2,000 for the 3rd runner up. Tournament shirts will be provided to all participants.

Whoever emerges as the champion in this Mayor’s Cup will have the chance to represent Olongapo City in the Philippine Pool Tour with the 1st Runner Up as a reserved player.

Registration forms are now available at the Jordan Billiards Hall and at the Disaster Management Office (DMO), Dela Cruz Drive, East Tapinac, Olongapo City

For more details and information, contact City Sports Coordinator Angelito B. Layug at telephone number 224-7846 or Florencio Bañar at 09064389249.


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Olongapo City was among the finalist cities to have been invited for the awarding ceremony of the Presidential Award for the Most Child Friendly Municipalities and Cities at Malacañang Palace on March 12, 2009.

Mayor James “Bong” Gordon, Jr. personally attended the event and received the plaque of recognition from President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, assisted by Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Esperanza I. Cabral.

After being cited as the Most Child Friendly City in Region III under the Highly-Urbanized Category, Olongapo City qualified as a nominee for the Presidential Award for Most Child Friendly City in the entire country and went on to become national finalist.

“Napakahalaga ng award na ito para sa Olongapo. This proves that our programs for the welfare of children are effective and we are implementing it well,” said Gordon in an earlier statement.
The Council for the Welfare of Children initiated the Presidential Award for the Child Friendly Municipalities and Cities pursuant to Executive Order No. 184, series of 1999 entitled “Establishing the Presidential Award for the Child-Friendly Municipalities and Cities.” The award is considered as a self-assessment mechanism of the level of child-friendliness of a particular city and municipality and at the same time gives recognition to LGUs that put in place a “child-friendly” environment and upholds the right of children on survival, protection, development and participation.

Olongapo City is a three-time Regional Winner for the Most Child Friendly City in Central Luzon and is noted for the implementation of Health, Education, Environment, Livelihood, Peace and Order, Sports Development and Social Welfare (H.E.L.P.S.) Program which provides opportunities for both children and service providers.

“With the continuous support of various sectors of our society, Olongapo City will continue to persevere and emphasize its commitment in ensuring a safe, healthy and progressive city for all children,” remarked Gordon.
Together with President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Mayor James “Bong” Gordon, Jr. accepted the plaque of recognition for being a Finalist for the Presidential Award for the Most Child Friendly Municipalities and Cities in Malacañang Palace on March 12, 2009.

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Sunday, March 15, 2009


The new solid waste management system in Olongapo City will soon be implemented, according to Environmental Sanitation and Management Office Assistant Head Rogelio Payumo. The deployment of container bins for garbage collection will start on April 7. The three colored container bins, yellow, green and blue are assigned to the hospitals, households and government offices respectively.

One container bin for every four to six households are to be deployed in every barangay. The city has acquired seven new mechanical trucks to make the collection of garbage easier. Before implementation, ESMO will be conducting an information dissemination drive on schools to orient the students of the solid waste management system.

The solid waste management system is in line with Republic Act 9003 which states, “An Act providing for an ecological solid waste management program. Creating the necessary institutional mechanisms and incentives, declaring certain acts prohibited and providing penalties, appropriating funds therefore, and for other purposes” enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the Philippines in Congress.

This is also part of the city’s project CR3, Compose, Reduce, Re-use, Recycle. Its main objective is to ensure the proper segregation, collection, transport, storage, treatment and disposal of solid waste through the formulation and adoption of the best environmental practice in ecological waste management excluding incineration; Ensure the protection of public health and environment; Utilize environmentally-sound methods that maximize the utilization of valuable resources and encourage resource conservation and recovery.


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This is a joint private blog of volunteers from Subic Bay. It is being maintained primarily to collate articles that may be of importance to decision making related to the future of Subic Bay and as a source of reference material to construct the history of Subic Bay.

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