Court denies Subic theme park operator access to bank accounts

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A regional trial court of Bataan has denied the Subic Bay Freeport-based Subic Bay Marine Exploratorium Inc. (SBMEI) access to its bank accounts. The firm is embroiled in an ownership controversy over the theme park.

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In a six-page decision, Judge Antonio Ray Ortiguerra of the Regional Trial Court of Bataan Branch 2, denied for insufficient grounds, the Urgent Omnibus Motion of SBMEI for the issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO) and a writ of preliminary attachment against displaced SBMEI president, chairman and CEO Arthur Tai.

Acting on petitioner Scott Sharpe’s application for a TRO, the Court said it limited itself to determine whether or not “great or irreparable injury would result to the applicant” before the matter of the preliminary injunction can be heard.

The Court has reiterated that the nature of the controversy is intra-corporate.

Denial of the Sharpe’s petition, according to the Tai group, is a major blow to the efforts of the Sharpe group to access millions of pesos in the depository banks of SBMEI, which run both Ocean Adventure and Camayan Resort here in Subic Bay.

Tai, according to a source close to him, welcomed the court’s decision and said it is a step forward in recovering ownership of the 500-hectare property forcibly taken from him and other shareholders in February this year.

Meanwhile, Grace Espinosa, one of the managers of Tai, along with 200 SBMEI employees also filed cases against Sharpe at the Department of Labor and Employment’s National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC).
Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) officials have expressed concern over the ongoing intra-corporate dispute and are asking both parties to sit down and talk.

SBMA Administrator Wilma Eisma said she intends to mediate between the contending parties and threatened to file an “interpleader” before the proper court to determine who has the right to remain in control and operate SBMEI, its theme park and resort.

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