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Gov’t takeover of Hanjin backed

By: - Reporter / @jovicyeeINQ
/ 05:30 AM January 20, 2019

BEFORE DEFAULT Cranes operate at the Hanjin shipyard in Subic weeks before it was forced to retrench workers after defaulting on its debts. —CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) backed Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana’s proposal to take over the cash-strapped Hanjin shipyard, one of the biggest employers in the country.

TUCP president Raymond Mendoza, who is also the union’s party-list representative, said the move would not only save jobs, but also develop the country’s potential in the shipbuilding industry.

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“These are highly skilled workers so let us make use of their strategic value as a specialized team. Let us put the Filipino workers’ interests first,” Mendoza said.

Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction-Philippines employed around 19,000 Filipino workers in 2017, but declared bankruptcy on Jan. 8 after defaulting on $412 million in local loans.

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Hanjin’s local creditors — Rizal Commercial Banking Corp., Land Bank of the Philippines, Metrobank, Bank of the Philippine Islands and Banco de Oro — are now suing to recoup their exposures.

Local ships

But since the country is ordering ships from overseas to build up its naval and coast guard fleets, Lorenzana suggested on Wednesday that the government take over the troubled shipbuilder.

“This is really perfect for us,” he said. “We are actually ordering ships from abroad and if you can take this over then we can build our own ships here.”

“I said ‘why not take over Hanjin and give it to the Navy to manage?’ So I brought this idea to the President and he is very receptive to the idea,” Lorenzana said.

Mendoza supported Lorenzana’s proposal and said Hanjin’s financial woes has already caused it to cut its work force to only about 3,800 this month from a peak of 30,000 in 2016.

In December alone, more than 7,000 workers were laid off from the shipyard.

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Mendoza said a government takeover would not only stop the layoffs, but would also position the country as a world-class shipbuilding nation.

Increasing demand

“When demand for ships increases once more, and it will, the Philippines will have world-class workers and a world-class shipyard ready and perfectly positioned,” Mendoza said.

But some of the country’s economic managers are not receptive to the idea.

“The role of government is to provide defense, national security, and peace and order. It’s not to do the direct production of whatever they use,” said Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno.

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TAGS: BDO, BPI, Delfin Lorenzana, Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction-Philippines, Land Bank of the Philippines, Raymond Mendoza, RCBC, shipbuilding industry, TUCP
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