04 February 2015

SBMA steps into Korean feud over int’l school

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT — Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) took over an international school here to keep the peace on Tuesday, hours after a scuffle erupted between security guards and Koreans claiming ownership of the school, which left three people hurt, including a student and a teacher.

SBMA Chair Roberto Garcia said the agency assumed the responsibility of securing American International School (AIS) of Subic, after SBMA’s law enforcement department removed some 50 security guards from the school.

Lawyer Randy Escolango, SBMA deputy administrator for legal affairs, said the SBMA would secure the campus for an indefinite period.

It was the second skirmish there between two groups fighting over the school’s ownership.

On Jan. 11, a similar commotion injured five people. Tension gripped AIS when men hired by Korean Lee Sangeok tried to secure the campus, triggering a commotion with private security personnel contracted by the AIS board of directors led by his former Korean partners, Bae Myung-hee and Hong Jong-wook.

Earlier, Hong, through an interpreter, said he and his wife were the legitimate owners of AIS since they owned a combined 96 percent of the company’s shares while Lee owned only 1 percent.

On Tuesday, school guards stormed the unit of Hong, shattering the glass windows before forcing people out of the school premises in the afternoon, according to accounts of parents of AIS students.

Korean Noi Yoon, a teacher, was hurt during the clash.

Josie Evans, president of the parents and teachers association of AIS, said a student, who was not immediately identified, was also hurt in the commotion.

Evans said Hong passed out when some of the guards dragged him out of his unit, and was later taken to a hospital. With SBMA in control, Escolango said he expected classes to normalize soon.

Judge Richard Paradeza, of the Olongapo City Regional Trial Court Branch 72, recently enforced a writ of preliminary injunction against Bae and Hong’s group, which the judge first issued on Jan. 14, 2013, when this group of Koreans tried to wrest control of the school from Lee’s group in November last year.

But Bae and Hong won a Court of Appeals (CA) ruling on June 26, 2013, which nullified Paradeza’s order and prevented the judge from hearing the case that Lee filed against them.

Paradeza, however, said the CA’s decision was not final as Lee’s camp filed for a motion for reconsideration. (Allan Macatuno, Inquirer Central Luzon)

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