SUBIC FREEPORT -- Executive Order (EO) 2 issued by President Benigno Aquino III has left Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) Board of Directors "crippled," an official said Friday.
The EO 2 withdraws and revokes the appointments of those who were assigned to office by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on or before March 11, 2010 and those appointed prior to March 11 but took their oaths or assumed office on a later date. It also covers those appointed during a 45-day election ban under the Omnibus Election Code.
SBMA administrator Armand Arreza said 12 of the 15-member SBMA board were affected by Aquino's policy on his predecessor's "midnight" appointees.
The 12 affected members are Alvin Capino, Ariel Castro, Ricardo Coscolluela, Angelita Cruz, Jorge Estanislao, Francis Garcia, Mario Garcia, Jesus Vicente Magsaysay II, Ma. Victoria Pineda, Stefani Sano, Eddie Tamondong and Jennifer Khonghun-Ting.
Tamondong, along with Justice Undersecretary Jose Arturo de Castro, has filed a petition at the Supreme Court seeking to nullify the legality of the EO 2 and EO 3, both issued by President Aquino.
Arreza said he, along with SBMA chair Feliciano Salonga, was not covered by the EO 2, having got their appointments in 2005. Teodoro Del Rosario, another member of the board, is also exempted from the order, having appointed to the post in 2009.
The SBMA board is in charge of approving new investment, renewal, policies, financial matter of the agency and matters with regard to appointments of key officials.
"We are a government corporation and our stakeholders are the people of the Philippines, who in this case are represented by the President," Arreza said.
Arreza said they suspended all board meetings pending clarification with Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. He, however, stressed that the board will comply with the President's order.
Salonga said in statement that the SBMA board has no plans of challenging the EO 2.
Coscolluela, for his part, said that after President Aquino was sworn in, he already submitted his courtesy resignation dated July 1.
Arreza said that as of the moment, the situation has minimal impact to SBMA, but in September, new investors and renewing investors may feel the absence of the board with regard to procedures.
Danny Piano, president of the Subic Bay Chamber of Commerce, said they will wait for the court to decide regarding the EO 2.
"While everybody already has their own opinion on the validity of EO 2, it is already being legally challenged and, therefore, already a matter for the court to decide. However, since the court has not issued a TRO (temporary restraining order) yet, EO 2 therefore stands. As it is, the remaining members of the SBMA board no longer constitute a quorum and, therefore, can no longer conduct valid business," Piano said.
The Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered Malacañang to comment on the petition of Tamondong and de Castro, within 10 days before it will issue a temporary restraining order.
Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said despite the petitions challenging the validity of EO 2, the review on Arroyo's other midnight appointees is ongoing.
He said all government agencies were ordered to submit list of all those who have been appointed on or before the 45-day appointment ban.
Should Malacañang prove that certain officials violated the election ban, their fate will be dependent to the Cabinet secretaries, he said.
"We are verifying the reports of the antedated oaths of office. So it's a pretty long process. We want to be sure the requisite due process in that regard," Lacierda added. (Anthony Bayarong of Sun.Star Pampanga/Jill Beltran/Sunnex)