SUBIC BAY FREEPORT: At least two aspirants for the position of Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) administrator are jostling their way to secure the nod of President Rodrigo Duterte amid a frenzied scramble for the vacant key post here.
PDP-Laban national vice president and “newly-appointed” SBMA Chairman Martin Diño on October 10 issued a memorandum to all officials and employees informing them of his official assumption not only as SBMA chairman but also administrator and chief executive officer.
The Office of the President and the Office of the Executive Secretary in Malacañang were both furnished a copy of the memorandum.
During the SBMA turnover ceremonies on October 3, Diño introduced himself as chairman for the next six years, succeeding former chairman and administrator Roberto Garcia.
Garcia, however, said in his valedictory speech that in view of the still vacant post of administrator, he will be the hold-over administrator until the President has appointed his choice for the position.
Diño cited in his memorandum Section 13(c) paragraph 4 and section 13(d) of Republic Act 7227, which provides that the chairman and members of the board shall be appointed by the President for a term of six years.
He also cited the provision that “the President shall appoint a professional manager as administrator of the SBMA with a compensation to be determined by the members of the board subject to the approval of the Secretary of Budget, who shall be the ex-officio chairman of the board and who shall serve as the chief executive officer of the Subic Authority.”
“The law is clear, therefore, that the chairman shall also be the administrator and the chief executive officer. A mere executive order shall not work to amend, repeal or supersede the law,” Diño said in his memorandum.
He added that as chairman, he is duty-bound to assume and perform the duties, powers and functions of the chairman/administrator and CEO, pursuant to the law.
Michael Macapagal, the PDP-Laban chairman for Olongapo City and Zambales, is contesting Diño’s assumption of office as SBMA administrator.
Macapagal claimed that the position of administrator has been committed to him and he has nominated his brother, Marvin Macapagal, to the post.
In a statement released to the media on Saturday, he said they want a local leader appointed as SBMA administrator with endorsements coming from PDP-Laban officials in Central Luzon.
Macapagal insisted that the position remains vacant to this day.
He said the free port has a profound impact on the provinces around it and it makes a lot of sense to name to the post someone who has a good grasp of the local political and economic landscape, someone who knows the lay of the land, so to speak.
Subic, he pointed out, used to be the largest American military installation in the world outside continental United States.
It is now home to investors from Asia, the US and Europe and a favorite tourist destination.
“It is thus necessary that the SBMA administrator should also be equipped with a background in local and international marketing,” Macapagal said. “That will enable him to flesh out the broad policy strokes from the chairman and the board of directors.”
Macapagal, however, reiterated that he welcomes the appointment of Diño as SBMA chairman but said, ”There is need to appoint an [SBMA] administrator who has the talent and experience already enumerated.”
He added that the chairman and whoever will be named administrator will inherit an agency that has recorded significant financial breakthroughs in the last four years and is now acknowledged as the best performing free port zone in the country.
Two other names, one a top SBMA official, are also reportedly on a shortlist.
Sources of The Manila Times said SBMA deputy administrator for legal affairs Randy Escolango is being backed by the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC or Church of Christ) for the post and could spring a surprise.
Besides being a lawyer, Escolango owns a master’s degree and a doctorate and is very familiar with the functions and responsibilities of the SBMA administrator.
Another candidate for administrator is reportedly being pushed by SBMA’s first chairman and administrator and now senator Richard Gordon.