Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

RP-Taiwan relations in peril

Taiwan’s envoy to the Philippines has asked President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to help protect Taiwanese businesses and investors in the country, especially in Subic.

Ambassador Dr. Hsin-Hsin Wu made the appeal through a letter to Trade Secretary Peter Favila in the wake of the continued defiance of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority of two Olongapo City Regional Trial Court orders ordering it to return the Subic Bay Golf Course and Country Club to its management.

The Taiwan ambassador’s action made the case of the SBMA and the Subic Bay Golf Course and Country Club a full-blown diplomatic issue.

In his letter, Wu said that he was bringing to their attention “on behalf of the Taiwanese investors located in the Subic Bay Industrial Park, specially Universal International Group Development Corp., a pioneer Subic Bay Freeport enterprise, on the alleged illegal takeover of the Subic Bay Golf and Country Club Inc. by fully armed and combat-ready elements of Law Enforcement Department of SBMA on June 8, 2007.”

Wu stressed that the promotion of the Subic Bay Freeport as a business destination has aroused great interest to prospective investors from Taiwan since the signing of the “Economic Corridor” between the Philippines and Taiwan.

“As always, it has been my constant endeavor to continue working with your good office towards further forging a dynamic and progressive relations in the fields of trade, industry and investments between our two countries,” Wu told Favila.

Wu endorsed to Favila copies of the letters of Susan Ho, president of SBGCCI and the Subic Bay Taiwan Chamber of Commerce Inc., and the copies of the injuction order of the Olongapo City Regional Trial Court on May 24 and a “Writ of Preliminary Injunction” on June 12 which SBMA administrator Armand Arreza and other SBMA officials ignored.

“May, I, therefore, respectfully appeal to Your Honor’s kind intercession for the early resolution of the case, as we continue to pursue our commitment to make Subic Bay Freeport as an investment haven for Taiwanese and other foreign locators,” Wu said.

Earlier, Ho, the president of the Universal International Group Development Corp., which operates and manages the golf course under a long-term lease agreement, said that the takeover and closure was made by SBMA authorities despite knowledge of the existence of an injunction order by Olongapo City Regional Trial Court Judge Ramon Caguioa.

Caguioa, in his order dated May 27, ordered the SBMA “to desist from implementing its threat of issuing a cease and desist order against the plaintiffs UIGDC and Subic Bay Golf and Country Club.”

Ho also pointed out that the illegal takeover by SBMA authorities was made while their negotiations with them on compliance with their lease contract are ongoing.

Ho said her group had invested P1 billion for the improvement of the entire golf course, but Subic Bay authorities illegally took over and barred all golf course officers and employees from the premises.

Armed with an order from Arreza, combat-ready elements of the SBMA Law Enforcement Division illegally and forcibly took over the golf course offices and facilities, destroying some of them in the process, she said. “This is disheartening that such incident of lawlessness will come at a time when a new wave of Taiwan investors have signified their intentions to follow the Taiwanese pioneer investors in SBMA,” she said. How can the Philippines be successful in enticing investors when such lawlessness perpetrated by government officials abound, Ho said.
Members of the Subic Bay Taiwan Chamber of Commerce and the Taiwan Economic and Cultural Office are following the ongoing incidents in Subic Bay golf course, pointing out that the golf course is being singled out despite the presence of other companies worst situated and indebted to SBMA.

Ho said that UIGDC is one of the pioneer investors in Subic which weathered more than 10 years of trying times in SBMA.

Recognizing the earlier defiance of the Subic Bay officials, Caguioa issued on June 12 a writ of preliminary injunction against SBMA.

“Wherefore, defendant Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority is hereby and henceforth enjoined from implementing its threat of issuing a cease and desist order against the plaintiff during the pendency of these cases and until the court has rendered judgement thereto,” Caguioa ordered.



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