23 April 2014

Romeros deny any illegality in Subic deal

The camp of the Romeros of the Harbour Centre Port Terminal Inc. (HCPTI) yesterday denied they had committed any illegality in its deal to develop Subic Bay, claiming they were only victims of black propaganda by losing bidders who have been responsible for transforming the once glorious port into its current sordid state.

In a statement, lawyer Carlo Solis, head of the Administration Division of HCPTI said that their company had envisioned Subic to be a world-class seaport capable of handling large volume of cargoes and ships, not like its current state where neglect and disrepair are evident.

“That was what HCPTI had set out to do but for which we had found ourselves unjustly and unduly hailed to court,” Solis said.

Solis lamented it has been disheartening that HCPTI ended up being at the receiving end of baseless accusations for trying to develop Subic into a fully functioning and modern hub for shipping operations.

“All records would show that the HCPTI proposal to modernize Subic ports underwent rigorous government scrutiny and bidding process pursuant to the guidelines and procedures for entering into JVAs between government and private entities issued by the Neda. HCPTI not only followed all the rules and complied with the strict government standards and regulations, records will show that it also complied with additional requirements imposed by the SBMA Board,” Solis stressed.

Last week, Reghis Romero II and son, Michael Romero, chairman and chief executive officer, respectively, of HCPTI along with a list of former officials of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) were ordered indicted by the Ombudsman regarding a joint venture agreement between SBMA and Harbour Centre to develop and maintain ports and wharves at Subic Bay.

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales ordered the individuals charged for violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act or Republic Act 3019.

Based on a resolution of the Ombudsman approved April 7, Morales recommended the prosecution of the Romeros along with former SBMA chairman Feliciano Salonga, former administrator and CEO Armand Arreza, senior deputy administrator Ramon Agregado, former Senior Deputy Administrator Ferdinand Hernandez, former Deputy Administrator Ma. Cristina Millan, deputy administrator Marcelino Sanqui, former board member Edralino Cajudo, former board member Antonio Rex Chan, former board members Ricardo Coscolluela, Angelita DJ Cruz, Teodoro del Rosario, Jorge Estanislao, Ma. Angela Garcia, James Lorenzana, Ma. Victoria Pineda, Stefani SaƱo, Jennifer Khonghun-Ting and Eddie Tamondong.

The 32-page joint resolution stated that the SBMA officials “displayed manifest partiality and evident bad faith in the performance of their functions.”

It cited the guidelines issued by the National Economic Development Authority (Neda) that a joint venture agreement (JVA) shall only be executed after the conduct of the competitive challenge (bidding) where a private sector participant has been declared winner and issued a notice of award. (Charlie V. Manalo, The Daily Tribune)