Wednesday, 9 April 2008

SBMA official defends Hanjin’s condo project

Manila Bulletin

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT — "The area is designated for low-impact residential development projects."

Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) Administrator Armand Arreza made this statement during a press conference held yesterday to dispute allegations that Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction (HHIC) "destroyed a part of the rainforest" in the Subic Bay Freeport Zone to give way to its high-rise condominium project.

"The construction of the two high-rise apartment buildings is part of Hanjin’s overall development plan, and the area is not part of the core ecological zone which has zero industrial-development classification," Arreza said.

The "HHIC-Phil Subic Apartment Project" is part of Hanjin’s overall development plan for the construction of two high-rise condominium buildings to provide shelter to its Filipino and Korean staff working in its shipyard.

The lot where it is being built has a total area of three hectares with a lease term of 50 years.

Hanjin had invested some $ 20 million in the construction of the building. When finished, it will employ some 500 workers to run the 22- storey, and 10-storey apartment buildings.

"Hanjin’s high rise apartment buildings are not within the protected area zone but the area is pre-existing since the occupation of the US Navy. The Naval Magazine (NAVMAG) area where the buildings are being erected are classified as low-impact residential development projects area," Arreza said.

The three-hectare area had been previously cleared. The US Navy used it as an ammunition storage facility or assembly, unassembly of weapons (AUW) shops.

The area is characterized by patches of secondary-growth vegetation around the cleared section that is some two kilometers from the designated protected area.

"The vegetation growing in the area consists of mangoes and jackfruits which are classified as secondary-growth vegetation. There are no rare species of vegetation flourishing in the area," Arreza said.

"We are just making best use of the existing land in Subic Bay. We will not sacrifice a rainforest just for development," he also said.

"Republic Act No. 7227 is very explicit in giving the SBMA the right to issue an Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) but we welcome the DENR’s move (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) to review the ECC we had issued to Hanjin," Arreza added.

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