Palace steps into SBMA row
SUBIC BAY FREEPORT—Malacañang has instructed Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) Chair Martin Diño not to take over the post of administrator, which has been assumed by lawyer Randy Escolango.
Diño had questioned Escolango’s appointment to the post and had challenged the validity of an executive order splitting SBMA’s leadership between the chairman and the administrator.
But in a Nov. 28 letter, Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo Guevarra informed Diño that the designation of Escolango stands.
“Please be advised that the designation of [Escolango] as officer in charge, Office of the Administrator, SBMA, has not been revoked by the Office of the President and thus remains in full force and effect,” Guevarra said.
Earlier, Diño informed the Office of the President that he has assumed the functions of the administrator, citing Republic Act No. 7227 (Bases Conversion and Development Act of 1992).
“The law is clear … that the chairman shall also be the administrator and chief executive officer (CEO). A mere executive order shall not work to amend, repeal or supersede the law,” Diño said in an Oct. 10 letter to SBMA officials and employees.
On Oct. 28, Diño issued a memorandum to all SBMA department heads and locators, saying he was “duty-bound” to assume and perform the functions and duties of the SBMA administrator and CEO based on the law.
In a separate memorandum on Oct. 28, Diño also declared all documents issued by Escolango as “void and without force and effect,” saying the lawyer was interfering with his role as both chairman and administrator.
But Guevarra’s letter to Diño said: “Under Section 13(d) of Republic Act No. 7227, the administrator of the SBMA shall be appointed by the President and no other.”
Diño has yet to respond to Guevarra’s letter.
Several SBMA officials and locators have expressed confusion over the leadership conflict.
Stef Saño, SBMA senior deputy administrator for business and investment, wrote Diño and Escolango on Oct. 27, asking which official had the authority to sign and approve documents being processed by the agency’s business and investment group.
Several freeport investors, who requested anonymity, said the confusion in the SBMA leadership has alarmed the local business sector.
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