SBMA celebrates 30th anniversary on Nov. 24

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT – The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) celebrates its 30th anniversary on Thursday, Nov. 24.

The SBMA was established by Republic Act 7227, the Bases Conversion and Development Act of 1992, passed by Congress on March 13, 1992, to manage and develop the freeport.


Former Sen. Richard Gordon was the first SBMA chairman.

Gordon, who was Olongapo City mayor that time, mobilized 8,000 volunteers to protect and preserve $8 billion in properties and facilities left by the US Navy.

The conversion of the base into a freeport started after the helicopter carrier USS Belleau Wood sailed out of Subic Bay on Nov. 24, 1992, thus ending an almost century of American military presence in the country.

The Subic Bay Freeport survived the eruption of nearby Mount Pinatubo in June 1991 and is now a thriving economic zone.

Subic Bay Freeport hosted the fourth Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Leaders’ Summit on Nov. 24, 1996.

Former Olongapo Mayor Rolen Paulino is current SBMA chairman and administrator. His predecessor was Wilma Eisma who held the positions from 2017 to 2022.

The Senate, voting 12-11, rejected the extension of the 1947 US military bases agreement in September 1991.

Three months later in December, Manila and Washington attempted to negotiate an extension that would allow a prolonged withdrawal of the US military. However, this bogged down and then President Corazon Aquino issued a formal notice for the US to leave Subic by the end of 1992.