SUBIC BAY FREEPORT—Confusion continues to reign inside this freeport as locators and officials of Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) found themselves at a loss as to who is in charge.
SBMA chair Martin Diño refused to recognize Malacañang’s designation on Oct. 19 of Randy Escolango as acting SBMA administrator.
As administrator, Escolango would also serve as SBMA chief executive officer.
Diño, who is scheduled to leave for the United States on Nov. 3 for a weeklong business trip, issued an office order on Oct. 28 designating lawyer Michael Quintos, manager of the SBMA legal department, as the agency’s officer in charge.
Stef Saño, SBMA senior deputy administrator for business and investment, wrote the two officials on Oct. 27 asking who among them should sign and approve documents being processed by the agency’s business and investment group.
Responding to Saño’s letter, Diño said he assumed the duties of the SBMA administrator and CEO after he was appointed SBMA chair by President Duterte on Sept. 23.
“I am the official signatory and approving authority of the actionable documents being processed by the business and investment group,” Diño told Saño.
Earlier, Diño said he would serve as SBMA administrator until Malacañang addressed his queries about Escolango’s appointment by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea on Oct. 19.
Escolango said he had started working as an OIC administrator and called for a management conference last week “to ensure normal SBMA operations.”
“It would be better for the agency and the entire freeport community if Diño and I would work together,” Escolango told the Inquirer on Monday.
Several freeport investors, who requested anonymity, said the confusion in the SBMA leadership was causing alarm for some of them.
“Some potential investments will be put in peril if the conflict on leadership will not be resolved at once. We hope Chair Diño would just give way and recognize Escolango’s position,” one locator said.
Rose Baldeo, president of Subic Bay Freeport Chamber of Commerce, said her group is willing to work with both Diño and Escolango to ensure that business operates smoothly.