SUBIC BAY FREEPORT, Philippines?President Benigno Aquino on Thursday led the naming of two ships built by South Korean firm Hanjin Heavy Industry Corp.-Philippines (HHIC-Philippines) here and cited the contribution of Korean firms in bringing investments into the country.
Mr. Aquino named the two bulk-carrier ships produced at the Subic shipyard as MV Rahi and MV Vanshi, both purchased by Adani Shipping Pte Ltd. of India. The ships were named after the two children of Adani?s managing director, it was learned.
?The ships that we are naming today signal the sending off of another ship?the ship of cooperation toward the horizon of the future,? said Mr. Aquino, who, using a small ax, cut the rope holding the curtain that covered the ships? names in the ceremony.
He said among the foreign direct investments in the country, ?Korean investors, like Hanjin, are among the most aggressive in placing their bets on the Philippines.?
Mr. Aquino said South Korean investors in 2010 funneled some P24.2-billion worth of investments in the Philippines, which accounted for about 40 percent of the total foreign direct investments last year.
He said HHIC-Philippines alone, which has invested $1.9 billion in its shipyard and skills training center in this free port since 2006, accounts for some $3.5 billion in shipbuilding exports annually.
?You have given a lifeline to many of my countrymen who have tethered on the edge of poverty,? he said.
In return, Mr. Aquino vowed that his administration would continue to support foreign investors to sustain the quality of their outputs, and to extend tax privileges and waive certain restrictions in the use of consigned equipment, among other things.
In a statement, Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority Administrator Armand Arreza said HHIC-Philippines would hire 4,000 workers this year and an additional 1,000 workers in 2012.
?The total workforce in the Subic free port is now at 88,000. With Hanjin?s help, we are now looking at more than 100,000 workers next year,? Arreza said.
He said HHIC-Philippines has established a world-class reputation for Filipino workers by delivering 22 vessels since 2006, including the largest crude container ship produced in the country.
He said 56 more ships are in HHIC?s order books, which have a total value of $4.3 billion.
A series of tragic vehicular accidents hounded Hanjin, but officials said these were not related to the firm?s operations.
In a separate statement, Jin Kyu Ahn, HHIC-Philippines president, said the production of the shipyard here puts the skills of Filipino workers on the spotlight.
?With shipbuilding technologies and highly competitive Filipino workers, we will focus on our strength and ability to help the Philippines secure its rightful spot in the shipbuilding industry,? the statement quoted Jin as saying. Robert Gonzaga, Inquirer Central Luzon