MANILA - The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) maintains that Tereso O. Panga is the new Philippine Economic Zone Authority's (PEZA) office-in-charge, in the latest letter in a series of correspondence between the agency and former PEZA chief Charito Plaza.
Dated August 4, the letter signed by Trade Undersecretary Atty. Hirminio Bagro III addressed Plaza's claims in retaining her previously appointed position.
On August 2, Plaza claimed that PEZA is exempt from Memorandum Circular (MC) No. 1 issued by the Office of the President wherein "all presidential appointees whose appointments are classified as co-terminus" were deemed separated from service effective noontime of June 30.
In the later issued MC No. 3, Presidential Executive Secretary Victor Rodriguez clarified that government-owned and -operated corporations, government instrumentalities, and government corporate entities were exempted from MC No. 1.
The latest letter from DTI quoted this clarification, bringing attention to the last part, which read, "in relation to Republic Act 10149 or the GOCC Governance Act of 2011."
Section 4 of RA 10149 excludes economic authority zones as GOCCs, GICPs or GCEs.
"The Governance Commission on GOCCs, in a 2014 Memorandum Circular, confirmed that PEZA DG position was indeed excluded from the coverage of the law," the DTI letter read.
DTI Secretary Alfredo Pascual also questioned Plaza's statement that PEZA is exempted from the memo. Pascual said, "Lahat naman government instrumentality, ibig sabihin lahat exempted?"
PEZA is not recognized by the government commission as a GOCC, but Plaza claimed that the court identified it as a government instrumentality in a case against Lapu-Lapu City in 2014.
Plaza in her letter also claimed her position was never vacated.
DTI responded by reiterating the MC No. 1 which automatically separated presidential appointees from their service on June 30.
"Deputy Director General Tereso Panga, as the most senior career official in the agency, was under clear legal obligation to assume position of OIC by virtue of MC No. 1. He did not have to wait for a designation," the letter read.
MC No. 1 stated that vacancies will be filled by the next in rank and most senior official as OIC.
According to Pascual, Plaza is no longer head of PEZA. "Kung sino man nag- raraise ng issue, let him or her prove herself that she has the right issue. I don't need to comment," he said.
"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," DTI replied to Plaza in the letter.
Plaza previously asked the trade secretary to "refrain from further interfering in this matter," when she sought clarification from the Office of the Secretary regarding the PEZA leadership role.
"As an alter-ego of the President, the Secretary was well under his rights to step in and clarify the lines of authority in PEZA, which we reiterate, is an agency attached to the DTI," the letter added.
Panga as deputy general of PEZA is the most senior official of the agency. Based on Pascual's order, he will be OIC until December 31, 2022 or until a replacement has been appointed by the president.
-- with reports from Wena Cos and Jekki Pascual, ABS-CBN News.