MANILA -- Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said he "brought up" with President Rodrigo Duterte a suggestion for the government to "take over" shipbuilder Hanjin, which is seeking court assisted rehabilitation to pay $412 million in debt.
Lorenzana said the President was "open to the idea" that was broached to him by Vice Admiral Robert Empedrad, the Philippine Navy Flag Officer-in-Command.
Hanjin filed a petition for rehabilitation before an Olongapo City court last week and its 5 Filipino creditors, BDO Unibank, Bank of the Philippine Islands, Rizal Commercial Banking Corp, Metrobank and LandBank of the Philippines are taking collective action to cover the debt.
"Empedrad told me why not take over Hanjin? I brought it up to the President last night. He was open to the idea,” Lorenzana said.
The move will help the Philippine Navy and the Philippine Coast Guard that are both in need of ships, he said. Hanjin is based in Subic Bay, a former US naval base.
Senate Majority Leader Miguel Zubiri urged the government to assume employment of Hanjin's Filipino workers.
This is an opportunity for our government… to take advantage of being able to take control," he said.
The government needs at least $430 million for takeover which could be sourced from alleged budget "insertions" in the 2019 budget, said Sen. Panfilo Lacson.