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Mayor James Gordon Jr. recently met with Department of Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima regarding the plan to make Olongapo a Freeport.

Executive Order No. 675 provides for the development of additional areas contiguous to Subic Bay Freeport but outside its secured area that will be given tax and duty free privileges and may be operated as special economic zones under the supervision of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA).

“Olongapo City is willing to tie-up with other municipalities wanting to avail of tax privileges enjoyed by businesses under a Freeport regime,” Mayor Gordon said, adding that “we all want to keep up with the development in Subic Bay Freeport and we want to level the playing field.”

Mayor Gordon said Olongapo can also adopt the Gumi City, South Korea model.

Gumi is an industrial city with three large industrial parks with over 100 factories specializing in electronics and semiconductors. A bustling city of over 200,000 people, Gumi is growing more quickly than other parts of Korea.

Legal Framework for Olongapo Freeport Mayor Gordon’s Freeport vision is not without legal basis. EO 675 was issued in November 2007 to allow the extension of the secured area of the Subic Bay Special Economic and Freeport Zone (SSEFPZ) to areas within the SSEFPZ but outside the fenced-in former US Naval Base as defined by Proclamation no. 532.

Proclamation no. 532 defines the metes and bounds of the SSEFPZ as provided in RA 7227 – the law which created the Freeport. The areas covered are the entire City of Olongapo, entire Municipality of Subic, Zambales, former US Naval Base and its contiguous extensions; some portions of Olongapo, some portions of Hermosa and Morong Bataan and some portions of San Antonio, Zambales.

To be a part of the SSEFPZ, EO 675 and RA 7227 prescribe that areas within the territories of these towns and city may be developed through local government or private sector initiatives subject to the concurrence of the legislative bodies of the said areas. SBMA Chairman and Administrator Roberto V. Garcia, said that the additional Freeport areas, as provided in EO 675, can maintain their autonomy and independence as a local government unit.

Gordon noted that under Republic Act No. 7160, otherwise known as the Local Government Code of 1991, the local government units comprising the Subic Special Economic Zone shall retain their identity and shall be governed by their respective charters

For Submission to PNoy Secretary Purisima directed Atty. Ephyro Luis B. Amatong of the DOF Privatization Office to work closely with the Olongapo city government to complete the necessary documentation so that the Olongapo Freeport proposal can be submitted to the President.

Gordon also directed City Planning Officer Engr. Marivic Nierras to identify all possible areas in Olongapo City, especially the current areas whose development potential have not yet been maximized, that can be prioritized for development as extension of the Subic Special Economic Zone. Also present during the meeting between Gordon and Purisima were SBMA Chairman and Administrator Roberto V. Garcia, SBMA Directors Anne Gordon and Joeben Reyes, and Nierras.

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