Top 2 PEZA officials trade barbs

The scene reminded many of the awkward situation in Subic Bay when its head who was recently a senator refused to vacate his post after the assumption of a new president.

Embattled erstwhile director general of the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) Charito Plaza, said she plans to file cyber libel charges against her deputy director-general Tereso Panga for alleged personal attacks against her.

Panga was designated as OIC in place of Plaza as part of changes with the assumption of the administration of President Ferdinand Marcos.

Plaza accused Panga of calling her corrupt and incompetent, following the tussle that happened yesterday at the investment promotion agency.

Panga said in a statement that he will maintain his “leadership demeanor.”

“Let’s focus on our work and not allow ourselves to get distracted. We have the law on our side and the full support of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), PEZA officers and employees, ecozone locators and partner industries,” he said.

“I am just an OIC and doing my job, following the Office of the President (OP) directives under Memorandum Circular (MC) 1 and MC 3. I would be glad to turn over the reins to whoever will be appointed PEZA DG by the President,” according to Panga.

Word war on socmed

Plaza admitted in a briefing that tension gripped PEZA, as she accused Panga of using trolls to post derogatory words on social media and sending it to the employees of PEZA in the past few days to smear her reputation.

“I was being called corrupt, incompetent. They ruined my integrity being a former PEZA chief. I am having a heart attack and my children were affected already. It’s clear that the black propaganda came from his supporters. I was personally and officially attacked. I cannot keep my mouth shut. If we squabble, then let’s do it on a moral and legal basis,” Plaza told reporters on Wednesday.

She said the power struggle ensued when the OP issued MC 1, which was directed to all government agencies and departments under the Executive Department, whose heads of agencies are co-terminus with President Rodrigo Duterte.

To clarify Memo 1, Plaza said they sent a letter to the OP, which issued an amendment that she understands exempted PEZA from the first circular being a government instrumentality.

“Memorandum 1 clearly stated that we are exempted to be co-terminus with President Duterte because PEZA is a government instrumentality, with corporate powers, exempted from paying real estate tax, as stated by the Supreme Court decision in PEZA’s case against Lapu-lapu City in Cebu in 2018,” she said.

Panga gets Pascual support

Trade Secretary Fred Pascual released Department Order (DO) 2022-88, upholding the term extension of Panga as PEZA-OIC, as stated in Memorandum Circular 3 released by OP last 27 July 2022.

“In accordance with MC 3, we affirm that the term of Deputy Director General Tereso Panga as OIC of the PEZA is extended until 31 December 2022, or until his replacement has been appointed or designated, whichever comes first,” the DO said.

But Plaza said she remembered Secretary Pascual saying that he will not meddle with attached agencies of the DTI, because “it is the prerogative of the President, since PEZA, among other attached agencies, will be appointed by the President.”

“I cannot say that I turned over my responsibilities, my seat, because I did not also issue, officially, that I am turning over and relinquishing my post. He cannot present any official designation or turnover from me,” according to Plaza.

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