SBMA dismisses 3 execs in controversial port deal

Randy Datu

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SBMA dismisses 3 execs in controversial port deal
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales approves a 32-page joint resolution recommending the filing of charges against the current and former SBMA officials


SUBIC BAY FREEPORT, Philippines – The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) has dismissed 3 of its officials who are facing graft charges after they were indicted by the Office of the Ombudsman recently for reportedly favoring a firm in a port operation deal inside this Freeport.

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales approved on April 7 a 32-page joint resolution recommending the filing of charges against the current and former SBMA officials for violating Section 3(e) of Republic Act No. 3019, or the Antigraft and Corrupt Practices Act, in the Sandiganbayan.

Stefani Saño, SBMA senior deputy administrator, one of those indicted, was dismissed by SBMA last Wednesday, along with SBMA Senior Deputy Administrator Ramon Agregado, and Deputy Administrator Marcelino Sanqui.

In a press statement, Saño said he has yet to receive the Ombudsman’s decision and that he is “unaware of the exact details of the complaint” involving him.

“I am surprised that the SBMA already removed me from office considering that it is still requesting the Ombudsman for a clarification on the decision pertaining to me as I am informed,” he said.

Saño stressed that he was not involved in the approval of the contract and its award, and that he consistently, throughout the board meetings, “stood for SBMA to faithfully stick to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) guidelines.”

“I will therefore exhaust all legal remedies available to right this wrongful act of the Ombudsman and SBMA, as I will prove that the Ombudsman gravely erred in indicting me, ordering the penalties against me, and that the SBMA gravely erred in removing me from office,” he said.

It was in 2009 when Harbour Centre Port Terminal Incorporated (HCPTI) sent SBMA an unsolicited proposal to develop and operate wharves and ports at the Subic free port. In February 2010, the SBMA board approved the joint venture agreement.

Officials of SBMA and HCPTI signed the P6-billion agreement also in February 2010. The contract would have allowed HCPTI to develop several ports inside the free port.

Former SBMA administrator Armand Arreza, former SBMA chairman Feliciano Salonga, HCPTI chairman Reghis Romero II, and HCPTI CEO Michael Romero signed the agreement at the EDSA Shangrila Hotel.

The former SBMA officials planned to turn Subic into the biggest industrial port and logistics hub in Northern Luzon, the agreement said. –

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