By Ellson Quismorio
Iligan City Rep. Frederick Siao committed on Friday to mobilize his constituents for the provision of skilled and technical manpower needed for the $3.5 billion integrated steel plant Chinese investors intend to build near his district.
The plant, which is envisioned to contribute significantly to the rehabilitation of war-torn Marawi City, among other endeavors, will sit on the 305-hectare section of the PHIVIDEC Industrial Estate of the Misamis Oriental-Special Economic Zone (PIEMO-SEZ), just north of Iligan.
The Mindanao congressman made the pledge following his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping as part of a House of Representatives delegation led by Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
“[Iligan] will be at the forefront of the Philippine side of this major investment of the Panhua Group Co., Ltd which is estimated to generate 50,000 new jobs,” Siao said.
A memorandum of understanding (MOU) involving the Panhua steel plant was signed during the visit of President Xi.
In a news release, the DTI said Secretary Ramon Lopez “led the signing of the [MOU] between Panhua Chairman Xinghua Li, PHIVIDEC Industrial Authority CEO and Administrator Atty. Franklin Quijano, and Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) Deputy Director General Tereso O. Panga on 20 November.”
“Over the coming weeks and months, I will meet officials of the Commission on Higher Education, the Mindanao State University, the Department of Education, and the schools and technical training institutes in Iligan to firm up their action plans on how to supply those 50,000 workers properly prepared for steel industry work,” said Siao, a member of the House Committee on Economic Affairs.
The solon also noted Iligan City’s education sector could supply the manpower needs of the Visayas and of other parts of Mindanao where there are steel plant operations of other steel industry investors.
“The rebuilding of Marawi City and the Build, Build, Build program of the Duterte administration need lots of steel and thousands of workers. That is a huge economic opportunity Iligan City will take full advantage of given its strategic location in Mindanao,” Siao said.
Iligan, a 1st class highly-urbanized city in Northern Mindanao, has a population of over 342,000 people as per a 2015 census.