10 December 2016

OGCC clarifies status of SBMA Board of Directors

The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) can convene its Board of Directors, whose members with terms that have expired may continue to perform in hold-over capacity.

This was clarified by the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel (OGCC) in response to a letter by SBMA OIC, Office of the Administrator Randy B. Escolango seeking clarification over the status of the agency's board.

“SBMA directors whose term expired and/or resignations are not yet acted upon or their successors have yet to appointed, may continue in office in hold-over capacity.” Deputy Government Corporate Counsel Elpidio J. Vega said in Opinion 193 Series of 2016 released by the OGCC on Thursday,

In the same opinion, the OGCC also clarified that while Martin B. Diño is chairman of the the board, Escolango as OIC administrator is also OIC vice chair of the SBMA board.

"Atty. Escolango’s designation as OIC Administrator automatically carries with it his assumption as OIC Vice Chairman of the SBMA Board under EO 340 series of 2004,” Vega said.

“The OIC administrator by virtue of his office shall be the OIC Vice Chairman of the SBMA Board of Directors, Vega said. “Thus, Atty. Escolango is expected to discharge and to function as SBMA’s OIC Administrator and Vice Chairman…” he added.

To date, aside from Martin B. Diño as Chairman, President Duterte has appointed only two (2) other members of the SBMA board, namely, Benny Antiporda and Stefani Saño. Antiporda replaced Bienvenido O. Benitez while Saño took over from Wilfredo S. Pineda.

“The appointment of Chairman Diño, designation of OIC Administrator Escolango and appointments of Mr. Antiporda and Mr. Saño as director has no effect on SBMA directors who tendered their courtesy resignations except on former Chairman/Administrator Garcia and Directors Benitez and Pineda,” Vega said.

The SBMA board has not convened for several months now, thus, Diño has not presided on any Board meeting since his appointment on Sept. 23, 2016.

In a statement, Escolango said that with the OGCC’s opinion, the SBMA hopes to finally convene the board by recalling directors whose resignations have not been acted upon or accepted by the president. “we have a lot of pending matters that require the Board’s attention and action,” Escolango said.

The OGCC also took note that “Chairman Diño informed the Office of the President (OP) on 21 November 2016 that he assumed functions as SBMA Chairman/Administrator pursuant to Republic Act (RA) 7227” and that “The OP replied that Atty. Escolango’s designation as OIC Administrator has not been revoked ‘(a)nd more importantly, under Section 13(d) of Republic Act 7227, the Administrator of the SBMA shall be appointed by the President and no other.”

Despite his appointment by the President only as Chairman of the SBMA Board of Directors, Diño insists on also being the Administrator, citing a provision in RA 7227.

Diño declared himself the SBMA Administrator in an Office Memorandum on Oct. 10, 2016 sent to SBMA offices and locators but when he informed Malacañang of his assumption of the office and functions of Administrator on 21 Nov., he was rebuffed by the Office of the President which reiterated Escolango’s Oct. 19, 2016 designation as OIC Administrator that “remains in full force and effect.”

However, Diño remains defiant to the point of challenging the authority of Office of the President and Executive Secretary Salvador C. Medialdea, who issued the designation of Escolango. (SNL)