Resolution to PEZA leadership row up to Palace now, former head says

CHARITO B. Plaza, the former director-general of the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA), said the dispute over the agency’s leadership is in the Palace’s hands and promised to abide by its decision.

Ms. Plaza told BusinessWorld via mobile phone that President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. has the final say on whether she is to retain her post, for which an officer-in-charge (OIC) was named after the previous government stepped down.

“I am glad (that) the Palace will finally come in to resolve the leadership row,” Ms. Plaza said.

“My appointment papers (issued by) then-President Rodrigo R. Duterte say that I am covered by the Civil Service Commission’s (CSC) rules; hence, my security of tenure will depend on the President,” she added.

Press Secretary Rose Beatrix L. Cruz-Angeles has said that the resolution of the PEZA leadership dispute is subject to the “usual procedures.”

“Once received, the Office of the Executive Secretary will immediately act on it either by studying the matter… or if the answer is clear already, then they will simply make the recommendations right away,” Ms. Cruz-Angeles said in a televised news briefing on Aug. 5.

On Aug. 2, Trade Secretary Alfredo E. Pascual issued Department Order No. 22-68 that affirmed PEZA Deputy Director General Tereso O. Panga’s term as PEZA OIC until Dec. 31 or until a replacement is appointed.

The order followed Memorandum Circular (MC) No. 3 issued by Executive Secretary Victor D. Rodriguez on July 27, which extended the term of OICs of government agencies under the Executive branch until the end of the year, or until a replacement has been appointed.

MC No. 3 supplements MC No. 1 issued on June 30, which had ordered officeholders to remain in place until July 31 or until a replacement has been appointed, whichever comes first.

The DTI issued a statement on Aug. 4 saying that the PEZA Director-General position is deemed vacant as provided in the MCs issued by Malacañang.

“Being a Presidential appointee without a fixed term of office, the position of PEZA Director General clearly falls under the mandate of MC Nos. 1 and 3,” Trade Undersecretary Herminio C. Bagro III said.

Mr. Bagro also defended the department order issued by Mr. Pascual, saying that it was part of his mandate as Trade Secretary.

“With due respect to the former PEZA Director General, as Chairman of the PEZA Board and under whose department the PEZA is attached, Secretary Pascual was not interfering but was merely exercising his duties and functions in issuing the Department Order to address the controversy occasioned by your actions,” Mr. Bagro said. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave