MANILA - Malacañang on Monday said what will happen to a commercial shipyard in Subic following the departure of South Korean firm Hanjin’s Philippine unit remains in the realm of speculation, but it sees no problem if it will fall into the hands of a Chinese firm with proven track record.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo allayed fears of a possible Chinese takeover of the commercial shipyard after former Navy chief Alexander Pama said a takeover could affect national security.
“Sa ngayon nagse-speculate pa tayo. Puro tsismis eh,” Panelo said in a Palace press briefing.
“Kung Chinese company naman na dati nating ka-deal at walang problema, eh ‘di walang issue. Kung di natin kilala, we have to vet para malaman natin.”
(For now, these are all speculations. Some say they are interested… If it’s a Chinese company we used to deal with, then there’s no issue with that. If not, we have to vet.)
Two Chinese companies have inquired about the local unit of the South Korean shipbuilder, according to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).
Investors from Japan, Singapore and Indonesia are also interested, the DTI added.
Pama warned government and the business sector not to allow the shipyard to “fall into the wrong hands.”
He said such a move would “give the owners unlimited access to one of our most strategic geographic naval and maritime assets.”
“Let’s be aware that this Hanjin shipyard issue is not just about business, financial and other economic issues. This is a very significant national security issue,” Pama said in a Facebook post Saturday.
Pama served as Navy chief under President Benigno Aquino III from 2011 to 2012, when the country was locked in a standoff with Beijing at Scarborough Shoal, just 124 nautical miles from Zambales.
Subic Bay, located in Zambales, was previously the largest overseas naval facility of the US military until 1992.
Pama raised his concerns as the administration has sought to build closer ties with China, setting aside its bitter dispute over South China Sea.