Initiatives expand diplomatic ties between UAE, Philippines - GulfToday

Initiatives expand diplomatic ties between UAE, Philippines


Hjayceelyn M. Quintana and the Abu Dhabi Ship Building delegation visited Jose C. Faustino Jr. in Quezon City.

Mariecar Jara-Puyod, Senior Reporter

The Filipinos’ shipbuilding know-how since the ancient days has been well-documented and forward to these present times, a leading UAE shipbuilding company in the Middle East and North Africa has expressed interest in pushing up the number of its Filipino workforce up to half the total.

The UAE company is the Abu Dhabi Ship Building (ADSB) whose top brass led by chief executive officer (CEO) David Massey, was in the Philippines for a week for business trips to three shipyards in Zambales Province, Central Luzon and Cebu Province, Central Visayas. They paid a courtesy call as well to newly-appointed National Defence Secretary Jose C. Faustino Jr. in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City last August 12 (Friday).

Located in Musaffah Industrial in the capital, ADSB is a UAE-listed public joint stock company, 40 per cent owned by Edge PJSC; 10 per cent by the Abu Dhabi Government; and 50 per cent by other individuals. It has been operational in the past 25 years across the region and other parts of the world. It specialises in the build, repair, maintenance, and refit conversion of naval and commercial ships. Its company You Tube post states “our shipbuilding capabilities comprise construction of highly complex vessels for navy and commercial customers. From littoral warfare defence operations to patrol tasks and even exclusive economic zone protection, our team has the know-how and technical background to advise and service vessels of all sizes.”

Philippine Ambassador to the UAE Hjayceelyn M. Quintana organised and led the Philippine trip of the ADSB, part of the Embassy of the Republic of the Philippines-Abu Dhabi (AUHPE) initiatives to further expand the Philippines-United Arab Emirates diplomatic relations which began 48 years back on August 19, 1974.

Quintana hopes to bolster bilateral cooperation in the field of defence and sees shipbuilding collaboration as a core area that could be developed.

While it was on February 21, 2021 when the Office of the Philippine Defence and Armed Forces Attache was officially opened at the AUHPE grounds, the August 12 courtesy call before Acting National Defence Secretary Faustino boosted the evolving Philippines-United Arab Emirates defence relations.

During the briefing, the ADSB officials bared their major expansion plans with a 10-fold growth by 2024. They believe the growth will need the “shipbuilding skills of Filipinos, from naval architects to welders.” CEO Massey said that with the projected growth, they are hoping to have Filipinos half of their total workforce.

Massey also said that ADSB is now in a very good position to partner with the Philippine Navy to support the country’s defence modernisation.

On the shipbuilding capabilities of the Filipinos and of the Philippines itself, Ambassador Quintana cited the country as “the world’s fifth largest producer and the biggest in Southeast Asia.”

The “How shipbuilding contributes to PH economic growth” published in the March 19, 2022 online edition of The Manila Times quotes the 2019 data of The Observatory of Economics Complexity that “pegged the country as the world’s fifth biggest supplier of ships by tonnage, with most vessels being exported to Japanese, Taiwanese, German, Liberian and French Polynesian markets.” The Observatory of Economics Complexity is “the world’s leading data visualisation tool for international trade data.” The ADSB delegation and Quintana visited the Agila Subic Multi-Use Facilities (formerly Hanjin shipyard) on the Redondo Peninsula, currently under the management of the USA private equity company Cerberus in Subic Bay, Zambales; and the Tsuneishi Heavy Industry and Austal Philippines, both located at the West Cebu Industrial Park in the town of Balamban, the “Shipbuilding Capital of the Philippines,” 52 kilometres west of Cebu City.

Historical documents that include the “chronicles” of Italian Antonio Pigafetta who was among the survivors of the Portuguese Ferdinand Magellan’s circumnavigation of the world in the 1500s, and discoveries of ancient ship planks and parts centuries later, have revealed that shipbuilding was a flourishing industry in the islands – even way before the accidental landing of Magellan and his crew within the periphery of present-day Samar Island in Eastern Visayas on March 16, 1521.

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