By Mike Baños
If plans push through, Region 10 will soon fulfill its vision as the Industrial Corridor of Mindanao.
Based on the projections of nine registered projects in the Board of Investments for 2018 alone, Northern Mindanao (Region 10) will see the establishment of 6 mega projects totaling P232.7-billion that’s projected to generate some 14,184 jobs over the next three years.
AFP Group Holdings Corp. P158.4-B facility at Park 5, Villanueva, Phividec Industrial Estate-Misamis Oriental will manufacture slabs and hot rolled coils, and is expected to generate an estimated 10,000 new jobs. Nearby in Sitio Kirahon, Bgy. San Martin, Villanueva Steel Asia Villanueva Works P12.15-B expansion will produce concrete reinforcing steel bars and wire rods, and generate 1,200 new jobs.
That’s not even counting the five factories under the aegis of San Miguel Corporation rising in Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental which are expected to be completed in the next two years. Or the planned P2.4-B relocation from China of Head International Holding GmBH’s tennis ball factory at the same industrial area to start construction this year and be completed 2020 employing between 100-200 workers for its first phase, and 700 at full capacity for its second phase which would involve additional production equipment.
Head is a leading global provider of high-quality sporting goods and sells products under the brand names HEAD (tennis, squash, paddle and racquetball racquets, tennis balls, tennis shoes, badminton products, alpine skis, boots and bindings), Penn (tennis and racquetball accessories), Tyrolia (ski bindings) and Mares (diving equipment).
However, once the Philippine Iron and Steel Project (PISP) gets going in the Phividec Industrial Estate in eastern Misamis Oriental and Ayala Land’s 526 –hectare Habini Bay development in Laguindingan, west Misamis Oriental goes full steam ahead, these two mega projects by themselves would need over 100,000 workers over the next seven years.
HBIS Group, China's second-biggest steelmaker, recently signed a memorandum of understanding on the $4.4 billion PISP which would be the Philippines’ first integrated steel complex and biggest industrial investment from China in the Philippines to date.
The Department of Trade and Industry said the two-phase project would produce 4.5 million tons of hot-rolled coils (HRC) and 600,000 tons of slabs annually for the $3 billion first phase, reaching 8 million tons in the second phase, and create over 20,000 job opportunities over three to five years.
Located at the PHIVIDEC Industrial Estate of the Misamis Oriental-Special Economic Zone, the facilities in the complex would include sintering, coking, pelletizing and steel-rolling, producing basic iron and steel products for further processing.
On the western side of the province, Ayala Land Inc. will initially invest P3.8 billion to develop the master-planned 526-hectare integrated estate Habini Bay in Laguindingan. To be anchored by an industrial park managed by Laguna Technopark Inc., initial development is projected to generate 2,580 jobs. Once fully operational, total employment from locators is expected to breach 40,000, once the light industrial park takes off.
While these companies would prioritize employment for their host communities, the number of workers needed for these big ticket projects is way beyond the capacity of even the entire region to provide over the seven year time period. A vigorous campaign to bring back skilled Filipino workers from the region might help somewhat, but unless something drastic happens to fill up the tremendous gap in demand and supply, locator industries would have no other option other than bring in skilled workers from other regions and even abroad.
This last option would inevitably result in a dramatic increase in demand for social services such as housing, health services and facilities, education for workers children, expanded infrastructure to cope with the tremendous rise in logistics and inputs demanded by heavy industries such as water, roads and electricity. You get the picture.
Fortunately, some help could be forthcoming from the Republic of Korea, specifically in manpower development and training.
During a recent visit to Cagayan de Oro by Korean Ambassador Han Dong-an, Dean Kim, Consular Assistant of the ROK Embassy who is based in Cagayan de Oro and CEO of Developer Group Trubuil Inc. broached the idea of establishing a similar facility to the RTC-Korea Philippines Vocational Training Center Davao, TESDA Region 11.
“Please provide us with more information on what specifically you would require to address this need,” Ambassador Han told the audience at Xavier University-Ateneo de Cagayan, where he discussed the ongoing peace process in the Korean peninsula and the bilateral relations between the two countries to faculty and students, including a score of Korean students enrolled in the institution.
A formal proposal on the establishment of a similar center in Cagayan de Oro City or Region 10 would have to undergo the evaluation protocol required of such projects financed by Official Development Assistance from the ROK, Ambassador Han stressed.
Korea and Philippines signed a $1 billion Framework Arrangement on Loans from the Economic Development Cooperation Fund (EDCF) on May 4, 2018. EDCF concessional loans will finance multiple infrastructure projects (2017 – 2022) including the $92 million (₱4.8 billion) 3.7-kilometer long Panguil Bay Bridge project targeted for completion and commissioning by October 2021,” Ambassador Han said.
“This bridge will help shorten travel time between Lanao del Norte and Misamis Occidental from 1 hour and 30 minutes now to only 7 minutes,” he said. The Philippines is currently the third largest EDCF partner of Korea, he added.
The Korea Philippines Vocational Training Center Davao is an accredited institution of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) that offers Technical and Vocational Education and Training Programs (TVET) under the TESDA and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED).
Established with an initial USD5-million grant in 2004, the center aims to contribute to the skills development of the Filipino Workforce by training and educating skilled manpower necessary for the agricultural and industrial development of the Philippines, and to contribute to the regional development of Mindanao.
Besides providing for the construction of the center in Davao City, the initial amount also covered the provision of equipment, training of Filipino trainers in Korea and the dispatch of Korean experts to the Philippines.
The center has 7 buildings including a dormitory and administrative building, complete with training equipment for the 7 training fields at Buhisan, Tibungco, Davao City.
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