SUBIC BAY FREEPORT—Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) Chairman and Administrator Rolen C. Paulino declared record-breaking accomplishments for Subic in 2022, as he made his first State of the Freeport Address (SOFA) here in a ceremony hosted by the Subic Bay Freeport Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday.
Comparing his administration’s undertakings against agency records in the last three years of the Covid-19 pandemic, Paulino presented a selection of successes under his “RCP” program that stood for revenue, customer-care, and plans and programs.
“2022 was a banner year for the SBMA despite the fact that the country was just recovering from the hiatus brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic,” Paulino said.
“It was an opportune time to work together, so we could bounce back from the debilitating effects of the pandemic, [and] achieve our ultimate goal—to attract investments and, more importantly, create employment,” he added.
According to the Subic chief, revenue collections by various SBMA departments “have increased compared to 2021 figures and even surpassed pre-pandemic performance” because of intensive revenue collection measures.
As a result, the SBMA was able to turn over to the National Treasury a total of P1.33 billion, an amount 20 percent higher than the 2021 dividends of P1.11 billion, Paulino said.
Figures from the SBMA Business and Investment Group (BIG) indicated that the Subic agency recorded revenue collections of P1.69 billion from January to November 2022. Paulino was appointed chief of the SBMA in March 2022 at the tail end of the Duterte presidency.
On the other hand, the 2021 SBMA report to President Duterte indicated an operating revenue for the agency in the amount of P3.47 billion, or P270 million higher than the 2020 revenue.
Paulino also said that in July 2022, the Subic Bay Freeport was named the top tourist attraction in Central Luzon and number five in the Philippines, with 9.4 million same-day visitor arrivals in the free port.
SBMA figures indeed showed a growing year-on-year tourism growth, with the number of same-day visitors rising from 7.89 million in 2016 to 8.54 million in 2017, 9.23 million in 2018 and 9.56 million in 2019 before plunging to 5.19 million in 2020 when the Covid-19 pandemic curtailed tourism activities globally. Recovery, however, started immediately in 2021, putting the annual record at 7.37 million.
In terms of investments, Paulino reported approving 133 new investment projects with total committed investments of P14.06 billion and 38 expansion projects with commitments of P36.34 billion.
“That is a significant jump from P591 million in 2021, let alone P160 million in 2020,” he pointed out, crediting the accomplishment to “the aggressive marketing strategy of our Business and Investment Group.”
SBMA’s business group, according to its 2021 report, had recorded a strong performance at the tail end of the pandemic with P17.29 billion in committed investments in 2021, compared to P9.24 billion in 2019 before the pandemic, and P1.55 billion in 2020 at the height of the pandemic.
Paulino also said that with all the economic activities going on in Subic because of new investments, an additional 4,700 jobs will be created soon on top of the 149,681-strong free port workforce today.
The Subic work force has consistently grown in numbers over the years: from 137,547 in 2019 to 138,966 in 2020, the beginning of the Covid-19 health crisis, and to 142,177 in 2021. Majority of the work force belonged to the services sector, which had continuously increased because of the growth in the transshipment and logistics business here, the SBMA Labor Department said.
Meanwhile, Paulino said that in 2022, the SBMA had provided revenue shares to neighboring local government units (LGU). He said Olongapo City received a total of P74.88 million last year, while Subic got P48.77 million; Castillejos, P29.74 million; San Marcelino, P38.54 million; San Antonio, P27.45 million; Morong, P28.1 million; Hermosa, P33.81 million; and Dinalupihan, P39.98 million for a total of P321.27 million.
This remittance was bigger than the LGU shares given by the SBMA during the pandemic: P277.98 million in 2020 and P306.77 million in 2021, but still did not top the shares given by the SBMA in 2019, which was P378.87 million, or even in 2018 at P369.26 million.
For the rest of his report, Paulino vowed to continue to help business locators here in lobbying against the supposed “onerous” provisions of the CREATE law, which affects investors in special economic zones; to revitalize local tourism and make Subic conform with world-class standards; and continue to improve public safety and security in the Subic Freeport.