Called out for violations, investor wants SBMA execs disbarred

Randy Datu
Called out for violations, investor wants SBMA execs disbarred

John Javellana

Fahrenheit Company files new complaints against the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority – a move that the SBMA management says is meant to harass its execs

ZAMBALES, Philippines – A registered locator at the Subic Bay Freeport recently filed separate complaints with the Supreme Court (SC), seeking the disbarment of 3 ranking officials of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA).

The complaints were filed with the Office of the Bar Confidant of the SC by Isagani Cabrera, a partner of Fahrenheit Company Limited (FCL), on July 1.

Cabrera earlier filed criminal and administrative complaints with the Office of Ombudsman-Luzon against two senior officials SBMA. He has accused Jerome Marvin Martinez, general manager of SBMA seaport department, and Charo Peñaflor, the department’s section chief of the billing section, of dishonesty, gross misconduct, grave abuse of authority, and oppression.

Named respondents to the disbarment complaint before the High Court are SBMA Deputy Administrator for Legal Affairs Randy Escolango, Legal Department manager Von Rodriguez, and lawyer Melvin Varias.

Cabrera alleged that the the legal counsels of SBMA lost “high ethical” and “moral standards” after they submitted to the local court falsified documents on different occasions.

The first two complaints cited instances when the SBMA lawyers allegedly antedated documents to make it appear they beat deadlines set by the regional trial court in cases filed by FCL.

In the third complaint, Cabrera alleged that lawyers Rodriguez and Varias falsified the texts of a Deed of Undertaking by materially changing the context of the document favoring the SBMA.

In the original copy of the Deed of Undertaking, Cabrera noted that SBMA made the compliance period shorter and disadvantageous to FCL. From “and within a reasonable period of time,” the phrase was changed to “and within ninety (90) days.” 

Fahrenheit’s violations

SBMA dismissed Cabrera’s suits as forms of harassment. In a position paper, the management said Cabrera is getting back at SBMA for not renewing Fahrenheit’s permits after it committed several contractual and legal obligations as a locator at the freezone.

SBMA said it had sent notices of violation to Fahrenheit for the following:

Illegally dealing on scraps without license

Non-compliance with various safety, health, and environmental guidelines

Having its workers illegally barge in an SBMA facility and illegally hauling properties there without permits

Because of these violations, the SBMA did not issue a Certificate of Registration and Tax Exemption (CRTE) to Fahrenheit. The SBMA board of directors also did not renew Farenheit’s business permit. 


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