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SBMA disputes claims of former operator of Subic golf course

By Bebot Sison Jr.
Thursday, September 18, 2008 [ philstar.com ]

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT – The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) yesterday denied claims by officials of the Universal International Group (UIG) that they had invested P1 billion to develop the golf course in this freeport.

Pointing out that UIG was booted out of the facility precisely for its failure to improve the former golf course of the US military, the SBMA raised questions on where the supposed investment, as claimed by UIG vice president Jack Hu, went.

“We believe that the claim cannot be substantiated because we have yet to see the clubhouse or the condo or the villas that the UIG promised in 1995,” SBMA administrator and chief executive officer Armand Arreza told The STAR.

“As you can see, despite the UIG having operated the facility for more than 10 years, nothing much has changed. The property is still fenced off with barbed wire until now,” he added.

Arreza issued the clarification after Hu made an emotional appeal to members of the House oversight committee, which is investigating the golf course issue after the SBMA took over its operations last year.

Hu said he and his mother Susan sold their family fortune in Taiwan in 1998 to raise P1 billion to develop the golf course.

But Arreza said Hu apparently bloated his firm’s capital exposure when he testified before the House committee and downplayed his firm’s outstanding debts with the SBMA.

Arreza said UIG’s debts to SBMA have amounted to $44,070 in dollar account and more than P25 million in peso account, contrary to Hu’s claims that they have rental arrears amounting to just “more than P10 million.”

Aside from these debts, Arreza said the UIG has not delivered on its commitments under its lease development agreement with SBMA.

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