Former Pandan, Antique mayor Jonathan D. Tan is a loyal and efficient soldier. Taking on the challenge of being chairman and administrator of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) last April, he received a no-nonsense marching order from the President: put the SBMA house in order. And he immediately complied with the order.
Of the many anomalies happening in the Subic Freeport, the most notorious is smuggling of illegal drugs and other contraband, and the millions of debts owed to the government by greedy locators who only wanted to make money on leased land inside the Freeport, without paying the needed rent.
Chairman “Than Tan” took the President’s order seriously, and started enforcing the lease contracts of locators, discovering in the process those who have not been paying rent for several years.
First to get the ax from Tan was the Silver Arrow Import and Export Services, which failed to comply with its investment and development commitment and the omnibus policy on performance bond. The firm’s 1,500 square meter compound was repossessed by SBMA. The Authority took over three more properties inside the premier Freeport. Tan took over two buildings from Parabion, Inc. at the Cubi Triboa District within the Subic Bay Freeport Zone.
“The company has committed contractual defaults that prompted the SBMA to take over their properties. One is failure to comply with development commitments, and two, for non-payment of lease rentals and Common Use of Service Area (CUSA) fees,” Chairman Tan said. The company has amassed a debt in CUSA close to P10 million as of July 28, 2023.
The third property that was taken over by the agency was owned by Ramphos Corp., a company that manufactures and sells amphibious ultralight aircraft. Its lease agreement expired last Sept. 11, 2020. Even the Duty Free Superstore Inc. which had unpaid rentals of more than P15 million as of March, 2017 was not spare by Chairman Tan.
Under his watch, Tan also helped the National Bureau of Investigation, Philippine National Police, Bureau of Customs and PDEA in uncovering and confiscating the biggest smuggling of methamphetamine or shabu, worth P3.6 billion, at a warehouse in Mexico, Pampanga last year.
For all his efforts, Chairman Tan was rewarded the wages of efficiency by Malacañang — he was booted out of SBMA unceremoniously and made an Undersecretary in the Department of Interior and Local Government.
Tan was replaced by local businessman and Freeport locator Jose Eduardo Aliño, whose first-day pronouncement upon assuming the position of SBMA chairman and administrator made the locators very happy. Confiscation of leased land and vigorous collection of millions of pesos worth of liabilities to the government—Than Tan’s initial policies—will stop so that business would flourish in the Freeport.
Time will tell what management style is better and most favorable to the government and the economy.
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