Government takeover of Hanjin eyed
MANILA, Philippines – The government can take over the shipyard of Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction Corp. Philippines which has declared bankruptcy, Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri proposed Wednesday.
Zubiri said he talked to Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, who agreed that local financers could “take over the Hanjin compound and eventually build ships and boats” for the country’s navy and coast guard.
It would be “a golden opportunity … for our Navy’s modernization program,” said the senator speaking during the interpellation of the Department of National Defense’s (DND) 2019 budget in the Senate.
He said closing Hanjin, the biggest investor at the Subic Bay Freeport, would be “such a waste” because of the massive loss of jobs and the setback for the country, which has been put on the map for shipbuilding.
Zubiri noted that Hanjin employs skilled workers, who are among the best in the industry.
Lorenzana, during the Senate session, agreed with Zubiri, saying the defense department was “excited” by the development.
“While we sympathize with the financial woes of Hanjin, we are excited because we see the possibility of having our own shipbuilding capacity in the Philippines, especially large ships,” Lorenzana said.
He added that a takeover of Hanjin would be “perfect” for the country.
“This is perfect for us. We are ordering ships from abroad. If you can take this over then we can build our own ships. The coast guard is also in need of ships. So why not?” Lorenzana said.
The Defense secretary proposed that the government be a minority owner with a civilian company as majority owner.
However, Zubiri suggested that the government own the majority stake with a private entity handling the management of shipbuilding.
“Instead na bibili tayo, ipapagawa na lang natin dito sa government-owned-and-controlled or joint venture,” the senator said.
“‘Yung pondo na gagastusin natin, imbes na pumunta sa ibang bansa, kumikita pa tayo. Pilipino pa ang gumagawa. It will be under the DND’s control. I think it’s a win-win solution,” he added.
Senator Panfilo Lacson then proposed that the government take over Hanjin and bid it out to private companies as partners.
“What if the government just takes over Hanjin and bids it out to possible partners, private entities. Kikita pa ang gobyerno. Is that a good idea?” Lacson asked during the session.
“Let the Philippine Navy partner with that private entity. Anyway may guidelines ang Neda (National Economic Development Authority) if Philippine government will partner with a private entity,” he added.
Zubiri supported the proposal of Lacson.
“We fully support the initiative of Senator Lacson, if he can find money in the budget for this,” Zubiri said. /cbb