UNLESS the ongoing row on the issue of leadership and appointment of OIC is solved, services to the public and investors by the Philippine Economic Zones Authority (PEZA) will continue to suffer.

This amidst the call of various sectors including the business associations, industry and foreign chambers, media groups, to retain Director General Charito Plaza, who now supposedly sits only on a holdover capacity.

The groups asked Malacanang to settle the issue on who really should lead PEZA, the biggest investment promotion agency with highest export income and employment created in the country.

The rift stemmed from the two memorandum circulars (MC) issued by the Office of the President (OP). Memo 1 which indicated that vacancy can be filled up by somebody next in rank, according to Plaza is not applicable to PEZA, being a government instrumentality as shown in Memo 3 which superseded the previous MC.

It was however, at that point where deputy director general for policy and planning, Tereso Panga assumed himself as Officer in Charge.  The same was confirmed by Dept. of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Alfredo Pascual at a “questionable and untimely dates.”

The Philippine Association of Publishers, Inc. (PAPI) led by its president Nelson Santos and president emeritus Johnny Dayang has reiterated its appeal to reappoint Plaza. Other groups that endorsed the DG’s retention, include the Federation of Filipino Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry led by its President Henry Bon Liong, SEIPI President Dan LACHICA, IBPAP president Jack Madrid, CONWEP (garments industry) Maritess Agoncillo.

These endorsements according to Santos, speak of the passion, dedication, integrity and good works of the embattled DG Plaza. “The President should settle the PEZA leadership row immediately as it affected the stability and delivery of services to global investors and export industries,” he said.

The groups submitted to the offices of the President, Senator Imee Marcos among others, their requests for the retention and re-appointment of Plaza as DG of  PEZA. They expressed their trust and confidence to her leadership and “for maintaining the best practices and services to investors and landmark projects and transformations in the agency’s mission , programs and services on economic zone development, development and attraction of global industries, total development and social progress brought to the LGU hosts of ecozones and industries. “ The various industry groups further claimed that PEZA under DG Plaza’s stewardship was able to maintain its balancing acts at the height of the pandemic — protecting the health, jobs of its 1.7 M direct workers. The agency has kept COVID-19- free its 417 economic zones and operational its 4,586 registered enterprises. It was for this reason that it was recognized by the US DEPT of State, the IFC World Bank among other international institutions and local organizations, for its performance.