SBMA chair and administrator Wilma T. Eisma (center) hands over cheques for LGU shares to (left-right): Mayor Preciliano Ruiz (San Antonio), Mayor Elvis Soria (San Marcelino), Vice Mayor Rizal Salih Jr. (Castillejos), Mayor Jonathan Khonghun (Subic), Mayor Rolen C. Paulino Jr. (Olongapo), and Vice Mayor Renato Matawaran (Dinalupihan). Photo by Malou Dungog
SUBIC BAY FREEPORT — The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) turned over revenue shares amounting to P175.73 million to eight neighboring local government units on Wednesday.
This amount, which was derived from revenue collections here from July to December last year, was released by SBMA chair and administrator Wilma T. Eisma over a luncheon meeting with local government officials at the Fortune Seafood Restaurant here.
“The purpose of this money is to help us—the SBMA and its neighbor communities—develop together. Like what I always say, we share the same home and, consequently, the same future. But I hope we can be transparent about how we spend it,” she asked the LGU officials.
She explained that sharing revenues to develop contiguous communities actually helps the SBMA fulfil its mandate, which is to attract investments, generate employment, and create more opportunities for everyone.
“The funds don’t have to be spent on infrastructure like roads or bridges,” Eisma added. “Right now, I’m thinking of language training, or any similar people investment, so that Subic locators would not need to hire workers from faraway places like Manila.”
“It would be great if locals could speak Korean, or Japanese, or Chinese so that they can be hired in better positions that used to be dominated by candidates from Manila,” she also said.
Out of the P175.73 million LGU shares distributed last Wednesday, Olongapo City received the biggest at P40.87 million. The rest went to Subic, Zambales at P26.86 million; Dinalupihan, Bataan P21.86 million; San Marcelino, Zambales P21.06 million; Hermosa, Bataan P18.29 million; Castillejos, Zambales P16.45 million; Morong, Bataan P15.27 million, and San Antonio, Zambales P15.06 million.
In response, the LGU executives expressed gratitude to the SBMA for the development funds.
“It’s a big help for us, of course. We are receiving a huge amount, which goes to the general fund, and it helps us pay for road construction, scholarships, and tourism,” said San Marcelino Mayor Elvis Soria.
He said the town has allotted P5 million for the town’s annual tourism budget. “And that will come from our share from SBMA,” Soria pointed out.
Meanwhile, Subic Mayor Jonathan Khonghun said that the revenue share for his municipality is being used mostly for health care, education and infrastructure.
“This revenue share is really a big help; it lightens our load,” Khonghun said. “Part of it we spend for medicines and hospitalization assistance, and the others in maintaining Kolehiyo ng Subic, sustaining our scholars, and helping poor people graduate.”
The revenue shares distributed by the SBMA every semester are derived from two percent of the five-percent gross income tax it collects from business locators in the Subic Bay Freeport Zone. The shares were set according to population (50 percent), land area (25 percent), and equal sharing (25 percent).
Last year, the SBMA released a total of P378.87 million in revenue shares: Olongapo City got P88.12 million, Subic P57.92 million, Dinalupihan P47.12 million, San Marcelino P45.41 million, Hermosa P39.45 million, Castillejos P35.46 million, Morong P32.92 million, and San Antonio P32.46 million.
Eisma said the SBMA has been releasing revenue shares directly to the LGUs for 10 years now starting in August 2010. Previously, corporate taxes were remitted first to the national government, which would then distribute the shares to the concerned LGUs.