30 March 2015

Ex-SBMA executives cleared of graft raps

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT, Philippines – The Office of the Ombudsman has cleared former officials of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) of graft charges over a 2010 port operations deal.

In its Feb. 3 order released this month, the ombudsman dropped the charges against former SBMA chairman Feliciano Salonga and former SBMA chief executive officer administrator Armand Arreza for violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and grave misconduct.

The order also reinstated SBMA senior deputy administrator Ramon Agregado and SBMA deputy administrator Marcelino Sanqui, who reassumed their positions on March 17.

Also cleared of the charges were former senior deputy administrator Ferdinand Hernandez former deputy administrator Ma. Cristina Millan and former SBMA board members Edralino Cajudo, Antonio Rex Chan, Ricardo Coscolluela, Angelita DJ Cruz, Teodoro del Rosario, Jorge Estanislao, Ma. Angela Garcia, James Lorenzana, Ma. Victoria Pineda, Stefani Saño, Jennifer Khonghun-Ting and Eddie Tamondong.

The charges against businessmen Reghis Romero II and Michael Romero, chairman and chief executive officer, respectively, of Harbour Centre were also dropped.

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales dismissed the complaints filed by Subic Seaport Terminal Inc. and Amerasia International Terminal Services Inc. against the former SBMA officials for lack of merit.

“The SBMA’s act of signing the joint venture agreement was irregular, but insufficient to constitute manifest partiality or evident bad faith,” Morales said in her order.

Charges were filed against SBMA and Harbour Centre over a 25-year joint venture agreement for the development, operation and management of the naval supply depot and the ports in Boton, Alava, Rivera and Bravo inside the free port. (Bebot Sison Jr., Philippine Star)