Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Rift over Port Project continues

Six governors in Central Luzon have threatened to seek the ouster of Tourism Secretary Richard Gordon from his post as Cabinet Officer for Regional Development (CORD) because of Gordon’s reported meddling and interference in the $215-million Subic port modernization project.

The six governors are Thomas Joson III of Nueva Ecija, Jose Yap of Tarlac, Josie de la Cruz of Bulacan, Manuel Lapid of Pampanga, Leonardo Roman of Bataan, and Vicente Magsaysay of Zambales, who are all members of the Regional Development Council (RDC).

“If Gordon insists [on derailing the project], we will seek his ouster as CORD for Central Luzon,” a source, who requested anonymity, quoted the RDC officials as saying.

The source said Gordon does not want to be named as hindrance to development but his speech during the September 17 visit to Olongapo of the Japanese governor from Okinawa, and the actions of his subordinates in Olongapo belies this.

Olongapo City councilors, along with the 17 barangays, are reportedly leading the fight to prevent the construction of the port that will enable Subic to increase its cargo handling capacity from 80,000 TEUs (twenty equivalent unit) up to 900,000 TEUs.

Those who are opposing the project initially cited environmental concerns such as livelihood loss for fishermen, coral reef destruction, and water pollution, among others.

The argument has shifted to relocating the Japan Bank for International Cooperation-funded project to another site.

Councilor Ed Piano said it will be better and will benefit of more residents of Zambales and Bataan, if the site is relocated to the Naval Supply Depot or to the nearby Redondo Peninsula.

“The problem is they don’t want to consider our suggestion to transfer the project site to the NSD area, because they have a different agenda,” Piano said


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