Robredo warns against Chinese takeover of Hanjin shipyard
MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo has warned against the "dangers" of a possible Chinese company takeover of Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction Philippines' shipyard in Subic Bay.
Robredo gave the warning in her radio show over the weekend, amid reports that several Chinese companies were interested in acquiring the Hanjin shipyard, and a possible government takeover of the facility.
"Iyong fact kasi, marami tayong problema as far as iyong pagsasakop sa ating mga teritoryo. Kung titingnan natin iyong mapa, napakalapit nito sa Bajo de Masinloc...na kapag Chinese company iyong nag-take over dito sa Hanjin, magkakaroon na ng dahilan para pasukin na tayo nang pasukin noong mga Chinese na vessels in the guise na magpapaayos, magrerefuel, magpapahinga. Parang ni-legitimize natin iyong pagpasok sa atin. Napakadelikado nito," she said.
(The fact is, we have a lot of problems as far as encroachment on our territory is concerned. If you look at the map, [the shipyard is so close to Bajo de Masinloc...that if a Chinese company takes over Hanjin, there will be a reason for Chinese vessels to enter in the guise of repairs, refueling, docking. It's like we would legitimize their entry. This is very dangerous.)
The Vice President made the warning during her radio show aired on Sunday, January 20. Her office issued a press statement on Thursday, January 24, citing the excerpt of the show’s transcript related to the Hanjin issue.
The Hanjin shipyard is in a former US naval base, and close to Bajo de Masinloc or Panatag Shoal (Scarborough Shoal) off the coast of Zambales. The Chinese Coast Guard has been guarding the shoal and had even driven away a Philippine TV crew in November last year for being there "without the permission of China."
Last year, GMA News reported that Chinese Coast Guard habitually took the catch of Filipino fishermen in Panatag even when the Philippines and China supposedly enjoyed warmer ties under the Duterte administration. (READ: China allows Filipinos to fish in Panatag 'out of goodwill')
During her radio program, Robredo appealed to the government, "Huwag padalos-dalos iyong pagdesisyon na ibibigay ito sa Chinese company kasi nakataya iyong ating seguridad dito (Let's not hasty in making any decision to give this to a Chinese company because our security is at stake)."
Hanjin earlier revealed that it had $1.3 billion outstanding loans – $400 million from Philippine banks. The firm, through a petition before the Regional Trial Court in Olongapo City, sought government help with its financial problem.
New Philippine Navy base?
While she was opposed to the involvement of a Chinese company in the Hanjin shipment, Robredo threw her support for a government takeover, particularly to let the Philippine Navy use the facility as a “base” to boost the country’s security efforts in the area.
"Sana gawing base na lang ito ng Philippine Navy natin, kasi magaguwardiyahan pa iyang bahaging iyan ng ating bansa (I wish this would become a Philippine Navy base so that part of our country would be well-guarded)," she said.
Robredo said based on a recent briefing at her office, the Philippine Navy appeared to have no permanent dock for its vessels. "So kung ibibigay sana sa Philippine Navy ito, napakalaking bagay kasi napaka-strategic noong lugar (It would be a big deal if this is turned over to the Philippine Navy because the area is very strategic)."
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana had earlier broached the idea of a government takeover of Hanjin, and said President Rodrigo Duterte was "receptive" to the idea.
The Vice President also urged the Duterte administration to ensure that the thousands of Filipino workers who would be affected by the shipyard’s closure would get jobs.
“Papaano iyong mga Pilipinong mawawalan ng trabaho? [Napakahalaga] ng mga tanong na ito, pero kailangan pag-aralan nang mabuti ang isyu dahil seguridad ng ating bansa iyong nakasalalay (What about the Filipinos who would lose their jobs? This is an important question that needs to be studied well, because national security is at stake)," she said,
Opposition Senator Antonio Trillanes IV had also warned against letting a Chinese company take over the Subic shipyard which, he stressed, was in a "strategic defense location." – Rappler.com