Standoff at PEZA as execs clash over Palace circular, DTI’s order

THE standoff continues at the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA), where the officer-in-charge named by the  Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) allegedly ordered the padlocking of the office of former PEZA chief, Charito B. Plaza, who insists that she is following Malacañang’s order that says all incumbent officials who are holdovers will stay at their posts until yearend.

The DTI on Thursday told Plaza, however, that the law allows the new DTI chief to designate an officer-in-charge (OIC) in PEZA.

In a letter addressed to Plaza, Trade Undersecretary Herminio C. Bagro III replied to the former’s letter to Trade Secretary Alfredo E. Pascual on August 2, where she questioned the DTI’s interpretation of Memorandum Circular (MC) numbers 1, 2 and 3 issued by Malacañang.

“While a government instrumentality exercising corporate powers like PEZA seems to be covered by RA [Republic Act] 10149, Section 4 explicitly excludes economic zone authorities from its coverage,” Bagro’s letter read.

The Trade official noted that Plaza may have overlooked an “important provision” in MC 3, which declared that MC 1 does not apply to government-owned and -controlled corporations (GOCCs).

Bago said MC 3, item 3 indicated that GOCCs will continue to be governed by their respective charters, articles of incorporation and by-laws in relation to RA 10149 or the GOCC Governance Act of 2011.

“In fact, the Governance Commission on GOCC, in a 2014 Memorandum Circular, confirmed that the PEZA DG position was indeed excluded from the coverage of the law,” he said.

Plaza stands ground

Meanwhile, in a statement on Thursday, Plaza stood her ground, saying she will only follow the decision of the Office of the President (OP) on the confusion that emerged from the memoranda issued by the OP—MCs 1 and 3.

The former PEZA chief noted that she still heads PEZA on a holdover capacity as shown by MC 3 which was issued on July 27 that superseded MC 1 which was earlier issued on June 30.

“MC no. 1 and this Memorandum Circular insofar as they declared certain positions vacant and provided for the rules to address the vacancies, do not apply to government-owned or -controlled corporations (GOCCs), government instrumentalities with corporate powers, government corporate entities, and government financial institutions, which shall continue to be governed by their respective charters, articles of incorporation and by-laws in relation to Republic Act 10149 or the GOCC Governance Act of 2011.”

MC 1 was described by Plaza as “vague” because PEZA could be one of the GOCCs or government instrumentalities and is therefore exempted.

According to Plaza, PEZA is a government instrumentality with corporate powers. She said that MC 3 showed that the incumbent DG “still stays on a ‘holdover capacity unless there is a new appointee or appointed OIC’”.

For its part, the PEZA Employees Association, in a statement on Thursday, emphasized that this issue has been dragging since last week and has greatly affected the employees of PEZA and the image of the agency.

“Let  it be known that PEZAEA is always on the side of the truth and for the service of PEZAns, ecozone locators, and Filipino people. We strongly refute former DG Plaza’s statements in the press conference, and PEZAEA is deeply disheartened with the said allegations. The accusations are reprehensible, unfounded, and inconsiderate for failing to recognize the dedication, dignity, and honor of PEZA employees,” said PEZAEA.

Image credits: PIA CAR