Who heads PEZA? Incumbent DTI chief and Duterte appointee butt heads

Wena Cos, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 03 2022 09:10 PM

MANILA - Who is the Director General of the Philippine Economic Zone Authority? 

According to the Department of Trade and Industry, PEZA’s head should be Tereso Panga. But Charito Plaza, who was appointed to the agency by former President Rodrigo Duterte, insists that she is still PEZA’s chief. 

"Susunod lang ako sa Malacañang order (I will only follow an order from Malacanang),” Plaza said in an interview with ABS-CBN. Plaza maintained that until Malacañang itself announces her replacement, she remains PEZA’s chief. 

Meanwhile, based on an order signed by Trade and Industry Secretary Alfredo Pascual, Panga is PEZA’s officer-in-charge. 

"We affirm that the term of Deputy Director General Tereso O. Panga as Officer-in-charge of the PEZA as extended until 31 December 2022, or until his replacement has been appointed or designated, whichever comes first," the order read.

DTI’s Department Order No. 22-68 was signed and issued on August 2, 2022. But an earlier announcement by DTI said Panga’s designation as PEZA officer-in-charge had been in effect since July 1. 

DTI also said Plaza has been deemed “separated from service” since June 30 based on Memorandum Circular No. 1 issued by the Office of the President on the same date. 

June 30 was Duterte’s last day in office, and MC No. 1 states that all presidential appointees whose appointments are classified as co-terminus are deemed separated from service. 

"Vacancy in the heads of departments, offices, agencies, and bureaus where no replacement has been appointed or designated, shall be filled up by the next-in-rank and most senior official as Office-in-Charge," MC No.1 read. 

Plaza however said that another Malacanang order, Memorandum Circular No. 3 allows her to keep her post.

MC No. 3, which was also issued by the Office of the President and signed by Executive Secretary Victor Rodriguez on July 27 said OICs of departments "shall continue to perform their duties and discharge their functions until December 31, 2022, or until a replacement is appointed or designated, whichever comes first."

The new memo also exempted government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs), government instrumentalities with corporate powers, and similar entities. 

Plaza said she has sought clarification from Rodriguez on the leadership portion of PEZA, but has yet to receive a response.

"Sa Memo 3, government instrumentalities and GOCCs like PEZA is exempted sa Memo 1. Ang incumbent Director General need not vacate but hold over para may continuity sa services. So exempted kami," Plaza told ABS-CBN News in a phone call. 

Plaza also cited a court case in Cebu that she said identified PEZA as a government instrumentality.

"Ang findings ng court is PEZA is a government instrumentality with corporate powers. We are not GOCC under GCG, we are a government instrumentality, so we are exempted from Memo 1 declaring vacant the head of agency," Plaza said.

She maintained that she will not heed Pascual's order.

"Susunod lang ako sa Malacañang Order. Kasi memo ito ng Malacanang, so si Malacañang ang maka-decide. I will not consider the DTI instruction," she said. 

PEZA, meanwhile has already published a profile on Panga on its website and welcomed him as its OIC.



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