Malacañang appoints Eisma SBMA chair and administrator

Subic Bay Freeport – PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte on Monday (September 25, 2017) appointed SBMA Administrator Wilma T. Eisma Chairperson and Administrator of the Subic authority for a term expiring on June 30, 2022.

Eisma’s new appointment was made under Executive Order (EO) No. 42, which was signed by the President also on Monday.

The new EO expressly repealed EO No. 340 signed in 2004 by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, which essentially split the powers and duties of the highest position in the Subic Agency.

Section 3 of EO 42 provides for the appointment by the President of “the Administrator of the SBMA, who shall be the ex-officio Chairman of the SBMA Board.”

Eisma, a lawyer and former SBMA volunteer, was appointed SBMA administrator in December 2016, two months after Malacañang named former Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) official Martin Diño as chairman of the Subic Agency.

However, the two officials had been at odds since May this year following Diño’s issuance of an administrative order that interfered and encroached upon the duties of the administrator, as well as on the oversight functions of the SBMA Board of Directors.

Diño had similarly quarreled with another SBMA official whom Malacañang designated as OIC-Administrator before Eisma took over.

This conflict sparked an investigation by the House of Representative on EO 340, with the lawmakers pointing out that the SBMA Administrator was originally the sole appointee under RA 7227.

Last month, in a hearing conducted by the House Committee on Bases Conversion, Deputy Executive Secretary for Legal Affairs Menardo Guevarra said they have recommended to President Duterte the repeal of EO 340 to ease the tension in SBMA, hence the issuance of EO 42.

The new EO also noted that EO 340 “has created confusion with regard to the scope of authority, powers, functions and duties of the Chairman of the SBMA Board and the Administrator of the SBMA that has adversely affected the operations of the SBMA, as well as the numerous investors and locators” in the Subic Bay Freeport.

The Palace decision to keep just one top SBMA official was immediately hailed by Subic investors, community leaders and SBMA employees, who had earlier urged Malacañang to resolve the conflict and prevent further confusion among Subic stakeholders.

Business locators in Subic, as well as local government units in Zambales and Bataan, had earlier urged Malacañang to intervene in the conflict, and called for the appointment of a capable administrator-chairman to head the SBMA. (Dante M. Salvana)

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