By HENRY EMPEÑO
OLONGAPO CITY — Seven local chief executives in communities surrounding the Subic Bay Freeport have rallied around the administrator and chief executive officer of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) in the ongoing leadership tussle at the Subic agency.
The governor of Bataan, four mayors from Zambales, one mayor from Bataan and this city’s top executive expressed “unwavering and unconditional support to the SBMA Administrator and Chief Executive Officer, Atty. Wilma T. Eisma” in a manifesto submitted to the House of Representatives’ joint committee investigating the separation of the top positions in the SBMA.
At the same time, the local executives decried SBMA Chairman Martin Diño’s actions that usurped Eisma’s administrative functions and the oversight powers of directors, and then called for reversion to a unified administrator-chairman setup under Republic Act 7227.
The declaration was signed by Bataan Governor Albert S. Garcia, Olongapo City mayor Rolen Paulino, Mayor Antonio Joseph R. Inton of Hermosa, Bataan; and Zambales mayors Jay Khonghun of Subic town, Estela Antipolo of San Antonio, Elvis Soria of San Marcelino, and acting Mayor Christian T. Esposo of Castillejos.
According to the local executives, they have “strong apprehension and misgivings on the growing tension” at the SBMA that was caused primarily by Diño’s issuance last month of an administrative order creating an oversight task force under his office.
“As partners in the promotion of economic and social development, we are profoundly troubled by the series of inappropriate, unfitting, baseless and disruptive actions, demands and issuances of the incumbent SBMA Chairman, Mr. Martin B. Diño,” the declaration read.
The local executives added that Diño’s actions have triggered an unsettling atmosphere in and around the Subic Bay Freeport Zone, disrupted normal operations, and caused confusion on the powers and authority of both the SBMA chairman and the SBMA administrator.
The officials also mentioned “disconcerting comments” from potential investors and partners in the private sector about the uncertainty clouding the SBMA leadership. The disruption, they declared, “cannot be countenanced if the entire agency is to operate faithfully to its mandate.”
They also noted that Diño’s office “had frittered a substantial amount of SBMA funds (for) numerous unwarranted and unofficial outings in restaurants and hotels in and around Subic Bay, causing major depletion of the agency’s resources.”
“Moreover, despite having no power, function, or duty directly pertaining to operational concerns, the Chairman expanded his office to include a staff of 42 personnel, amounting to an annual manpower expense of P17.54 million,” the statement added.
“It is in this light that we strongly condemn the manifestly questionable and baseless acts of SBMA Chairman Martin B. Diño as contrary to the very principles that guide the administration of President Rodrigo R. Duterte,” the officials said.
They stressed that the law “clearly spelled out the chairman and administrator to be the same person, with the administrator as ex-officio chairman of the board of SBMA.”
“The faithful observance of the provisions of R.A. 7227 would mean the end of the confusing exercise of separate functions of the Office of the Chairman and the Office of the Administrator,” they added.
In separate resolutions, the local governments of San Marcelino and Castillejos in Zambales also declared full support to Eisma, noting that she places herself “within the bounds of her functions, duties and responsibilities.”