SOME disgruntled employees of the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) had recently filed usurpation of authority charge and other raps against the agency’s sitting OIC.

Other charges filed against OIC Tereso Panga were violations of RA 3019, the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and RA 6713, specifically Section 3 (e) “for causing undue injury to the illegally terminated complainants through manifest partiality, evident bad faith, or inexcusable negligence and Section 4 (c), and the Code of Conduct of Ethical Standards for Public officials and Employees for doing acts in contrary to law,” respectively.

The cases were filed before the Office of the Ombudsman (Visayas) in Cebu City last December 28 by terminated personnel Freida Judith Milan, Genevieve Wynne Aggabao, Emelindo Orillaneda Jr. and Melvin Jones Paniza. They were among the appointees of former PEZA Director General Charito Plaza.

The complainants described Panga as “self-appointed OIC currently assuming office and performing the functions of PEZA Director General Charito Plaza.” The group alleged that Panga “appointed himself into office on July 1, 2022 by merely issuing Memorandum Circular No. 2022-045.”

According to Ombudsman court records, everything stemmed from confusion sown by memorandum circulars (MC) issued by the Office of the President following the assumption of Presidency by Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. Plaza was an appointee of former President Rodrigo Duterte.

On June 30, 2022 former Executive Secretary Victor Rodriguez of the Marcos administration, issued MC 1, entitled “Declaring vacant certain positions in the departments, offices, agencies and bureaus in the executive department and fixing rules therefore to ensure continuous and effective delivery of service.”

On July 1, Plaza sought clarification with the Office of the President about MC No. 1. On the same date however, Panga issued MC 2022-045 “designating himself as OIC of PEZA.” He directed all PEZA registered business enterprises, all officers and personnel to address to him “all applications, requests, concerns and matters needing action and approval by the Head of the Authority.”

On July 28, 2022, again the Office if the President issued MC No. 3 clarifying MC No. 1 “that GOCCs (Government-Owned and Controlled Corporations) and government instrumentalities exercising corporate powers are not covered by MC No.1.”

According to law, PEZA is considered a government instrumentality with corporate powers. “Per jurisprudence, PEZA is also a government-owned and controlled corporation created and existing under and by virtue of RA 7916, as amended. It is an instrumentality of the national government. It is not integrated within the department framework but is an agency attached to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).”