After standoff, SBMA threatens to shut down marine theme park in Subic
SUBIC BAY FREEPORT—Officials of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) have threatened to close down Ocean Adventure here following the latest standoff in the marine theme park resulting from a management rift.
SBMA Administrator Wilma Eisma said they had studied several options, including a total shutdown of the theme park unless its owners resolved their dispute.
On Monday, 200 suspended employees of Ocean Adventure broke into the theme park in an attempt to wrest back control from the current management team led by chief executive officer, Scott Sharpe.
Sharpe took control of the facility from former CEO, Arthur Tai, on Feb. 13.
Responding policemen from Morong town in Bataan province arrested four employees for carrying firearms.
Employees loyal to Tai also destroyed the gates of the facility and took away documents from its offices, forcing Ocean Adventure guests to leave after the animal shows were cut short at 5 p.m., according to the Subic Bay Marine Exploratorium Inc., which operates the theme park.
Eisma said she was open to discussing the issue with the feuding parties.
“I’m thinking of trying mediation first or going to court so we can put an end to this [leadership dispute],” she said.
She said she was also worried about the safety of tourists visiting Ocean Adventure as well as the animals under the park’s care.
“Assuming we have airtight reasons to order the closure [of Ocean Adventure], how about the dolphins? The animals might die,” she said.
Eisma urged Sharpe and Tai to settle their dispute in court.
She also assured the public that free port security remained tight despite the tension caused by the management rift.
“What happened to Ocean Adventure is an isolated incident and we understand those who don’t want to go there. But the situation for the rest of Subic Bay Freeport is normal,” she said. —ALLAN MACATUNO
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