06 May 2014

SBMA revamped after key officials’ ouster

The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) has reshuffled several of its key managers after the Office of the Ombudsman ordered the dismissal of three agency officials in connection with a flawed port contract.

SBMA Chairman Roberto Garcia said the SBMA board held a special meeting last Friday and approved the appointment of Joy Alvarado, officer in charge of the SBMA Regulatory Group, as OIC senior deputy administrator (SDA) for the SBMA Business Group; and Marco Estabillo, manager of the SBMA Engineering Department, as OIC SDA for operations and concurrent OIC deputy administrator for public works.

The SBMA board also appointed OIC Deputy Administrator (DA) for Business Reuel John Kabigting as OIC for regulatory; Ronnie Yambao as OIC DA for business development; Anna Joy Quinto as OIC for business accreditation; and Gary Fernandez as OIC for engineering department.

The appointments took effect on Monday.

Garcia said Alvarado replaced Stefani Saño as SDA for business, while Estabillo took over the post of Marcelino Sanqui.

Saño and Sanqui, along with SDA for support services Ramon Agregado, are the only sitting officials among the 18 SBMA officials indicted by the Ombudsman last month for allegedly rigging a joint-venture agreement (JVA) in 2010 for the development, operation and management of the Naval Supply Depot logistics area here and the ports of Boton, Alava, Rivera and Bravo.

Those indicted included former SBMA Chairman Feliciano Salonga; former Administrator and Chief Executive Officer Armand Arreza; ex-Senior Deputy Administrator Ferdinand Hernandez; ex-Deputy Administrator Ma. Cristina Millan; and ex-Board Members Edralino Cajudo, Antonio Rex Chan, Ricardo Coscolluela, Angelita Cruz, Teodoro del Rosario, Jorge Estanislao, Ma. Angela Garcia, James Lorenzana, Ma. Victoria Pineda, Saño, Jennifer Khonghun-Ting and Eddie Tamondong.

Businessman Reghis Romero and Michael Romero, chairman and chief executive, respectively, of Harbour Centre Port Terminal Inc. (HCPTI), which got the contract, were also charged as co-respondents.

The Ombudsman said the SBMA officials “displayed manifest partiality and evident bad faith in the performance of their functions,” and said the agency resorted to procedural shortcuts in awarding the contract to HCPTI.

The anti-graft body also noted the SBMA had lowered the cost of the contract to only P763 million to allow HCPTI to post a lower bid security of P15.26 million. However, the JVA originally cost P5.537 billion, which should have required the HCPTI to post a bid security of P100 million.

Garcia said the SBMA, under his helm, did not implement the JVA with HCPTI.

He said that upon taking over as chairman in 2010, he asked around and became wary of the contract upon learning that the National Economic and Development Authority had withdrawn from the project.

“So we didn’t take action [on the JVA]. We simply followed the court order declaring the JVA null and void,” Garcia said.

Pending the resolution of the case against the HCPTI contract, the status quo remains and the SBMA continues to operate all the 14 wharves and piers in the Freeport, Garcia said.

The newly appointed OICs will be serving in a temporary capacity, and without additional pay, until the graft case has been finally resolved, he said. (Henry Empeño, BusinessMirror)