SUBIC BAY FREEPORT—Malacañang has put a stop to the long-simmering leadership conflict at the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) by revoking an Arroyo-era order that split the powers and duties of the chairman-administrator and naming one official to head the Subic agency.
President Duterte on Monday appointed SBMA Administrator Wilma T. Eisma as chairman and administrator of the Subic authority for a term expiring on June 30, 2022.
Duterte appointed Eisma to the consolidated position under Executive Order (EO) 42, which he also signed on Monday.
The new EO expressly repealed EO 340, signed in 2004 by then- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, which essentially split the powers and duties of the highest position in the Subic agency.
Section 3 of EO 42 provides for the appointment by the President of “the administrator of the SBMA, who shall be the ex-officio chairman of the SBMA board.”
Eisma was sworn into office in Malacañang on Tuesday by Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo Guevarra.
As SBMA chief, Eisma now has the power to execute, administer and implement policies and measures approved and adopted by the SBMA board. She will also directly administer and supervise the operations and day-to-day business activities of the SBMA.
As stipulated under EO 42, Eisma also has been empowered to manage, appoint, transfer, remove, suspend or discipline any employee of the SBMA. She will also function as the representative of the agency in all its dealings with private entities and other government agencies.
Permits, certificates, authorizations and other official documents of the SBMA will also not be valid unless signed by Eisma. Contracts, agreements and other instruments affecting the interests of the agency will also be executed by Eisma on behalf of the SBMA.
With the presidential order, former SBMA Chairman Martin Diño was left without a post in the agency. He and Eisma were at loggerheads due to an apparent conflict of functions.
Eisma, a lawyer and former SBMA volunteer, becomes the first woman to hold the chairman-administrator post at the SBMA, which manages the Subic Bay Freeport Zone.
She was first appointed SBMA administrator in December 2016, two months after Malacañang named former Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption official Diño as SBMA chairman.
However, Diño’s issuance in May of an administrative order that interfered and encroached upon the duties of the administrator, as well as on the oversight functions of the SBMA board of directors.
The conflict sparked an investigation by the House of Representative on EO 340, with the lawmakers pointing out that the SBMA administrator was originally the sole appointee under Republic Act 7227.
Last month, in a hearing conducted by the House Committee on Bases Conversion, Guevarra said they have recommended to President Duterte the repeal of EO 340 to ease the tension in the SBMA, hence the issuance of EO 42.
The new EO also noted that EO 340 “has created confusion with regard to the scope of authority, powers, functions and duties of the chairman of the SBMA board and the administrator of the SBMA that has adversely affected the operations of the SBMA, as well as the numerous investors and locators” in the Subic Bay Freeport.
The Palace decision to keep just one top SBMA official was immediately hailed by Subic investors, community leaders and SBMA employees, who had earlier urged Malacañang to resolve the conflict and prevent further confusion among Subic stakeholders.
Business locators in Subic, as well as local government units in Zambales and Bataan, had earlier urged Malacañang to intervene in the conflict, and called for the appointment of a capable administrator-chairman to head the SBMA.
With Elijah Felice E. Rosales