By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
Senator Panfilo Lacson on Thursday maintained that the government, and private companies, should take control over the country’s largest shipyard should it pursue the proposal to continue the operations of the collapsed shipbuilder Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction Philippines.
Lacson described Hanjin’s bankruptcy as a “special case” due to its implications to the country’s territory, national security as well as “economic implications and even social implications.”
“Dapat may control ang gobyerno, particularly ang Philippine Navy (PN) sa pagpapatakbo nitong facility kasi ang lalaking barkong ginagawa rito. Kung halimbawa China ang magpapatakbo baka nariyan na lahat na kanilang carrier kasi diyan papagawa. Eh ano mangyayari sa atin?” he raised in an interview over radio DZRH.
(The government, particularly the Philippine Navy, should have control over this facility because it involves the creation of big ships. If, China, for example, gains control over it, we may see all of their carrier ships docking here because their repair facility is there. What would happen to us then?)
Department of National Defense Delfin Lorenzana on Wednesday floated the possibility that the government would acquire ownership of Hanjin’s shipyard in Subic, Zambales amid its financial woes. The property would allow the PN to finally build its own ships, he said.
But because the PN cannot manage the entire operations of the shipbuilding firm, as flag officer-in-command Vice Admiral Robert Empedrad had admitted, Lacson said the government may enter into a partnership with a private company. Lorenzana welcomed the idea.
Lacson expressed his apprehension over reports that two Chinese companies are interested in taking over the local operations of Hanjin.
He reiterated his belief that it would be better that the PN acquire the shipyard’s ownership first, and later select the private company to partner with. He said Executive Order No. 423 provides for its guidelines.
“Mas maganda tayo mag-control at tayo maghanap ng private entity na partner na magpapatakbo. Ang expertise dati pa nariyan na,” he said.
The government, Lacson suggested, may accommodate anew a Korean company to be its partner and replace Hanjin.
During the Senate’s deliberation of the DND’s proposed 2019 budget, Lacson said a portion of the P75 billion of alleged insertion to the Department of Public Works and Highways’ allocation may be used to fund the government’s takeover of Hanjin.
Lacson said the Senate Committee on Government Corporations and Public Enterprises and Committee on Defense would conduct an inquiry on the proposal.