SUBIC BAY FREEPORT—A new chairman and administrator has taken over the helm of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) following the resignation on Tuesday of Wilma T. Eisma, the agency’s first woman head and chief executive.
Former Olongapo City mayor Rolen Paulino Sr., one of the historic SBMA volunteers who propelled the Subic Bay Freeport’s economic miracle in 1992, became the eighth SBMA chairman and administrator upon appointment by President Duterte on Tuesday.
Paulino took his oath of office in Malacañang on also on Tuesday before Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea.
Meanwhile, former SBMA chairman Eisma, who was first appointed by Duterte as SBMA administrator and chief executive in December 2016 before being installed as chairman and administrator eight months later, was appointed director of the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP).
In a news statement released by her office, Eisma said she was stepping down for health and family reasons. However, she told the BusinessMirror that she has accepted the new appointment in deference to the President.
“While I have resigned from SBMA to focus on my health and family, I didn’t have the heart to say no to President Duterte when he entrusted me a directorship in the DBP,” Eisma said.
“This is proof of his continued trust and confidence that I value highly. I reckon that I could still give the necessary attention to my health and family concerns while taking on this new task,” she added.
Eisma bid SBMA managers and employees goodbye on Tuesday night, right after arriving from Malacañang for her formal resignation and new appointment, calling on her former staff to support Paulino, whom she referred to as “Kuya Rolen.”
Both Eisma and Paulino were among the corps of Subic volunteers in the early days of the SBMA.
Meanwhile, Paulino, who is expected to usher Subic into normalcy in face of the waning Covid-19 pandemic, met with department managers of the Subic agency, as well as officials of the Subic Bay Freeport Chamber of Commerce on his first day at work on Wednesday, signaling his priority on sustainability of business operations here.
“We need to chart a new course for Subic post-pandemic,” Paulino said. “As we all know, the Covid-19 health crisis also made a deep impact on business and productivity in this free port, so a lot of corrective measures need to be in place.”
He said he intends “to tap the cooperation and support of all stakeholders in the free port and in the surrounding communities so that we can attract more business, employ more people, and make full economic recovery as soon as possible.”
The new chairman also stressed that he would pursue an inclusive policy so that SBMA programs and facilities would benefit more residents in nearby communities.
Paulino on Wednesday asked the SBMA board of directors to cancel the entrance fee to Remy Field, a popular sports venue here, so that residents, especially athletes and health enthusiasts, can use it freely. The SBMA previously charged an entrance fee of P20 for the upkeep of the facility.
“’Yung konting paglalaro ng mga bata, h’wag na nating singilin pa. Maliit na halaga ang entrance fee, kumpara sa mararamdaman nila na sa kanila ang Subic Bay Freeport,” Paulino said.
Paulino was first elected mayor of Olongapo City in 2013 and later on won another two successive terms. His son Rolen Jr., who is the incumbent mayor, succeeded him in 2019.
Image credits: Contributed photo