PEZA Director General Charito Plaza. Photo by Jayson Viloria

THE head of the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) stood her ground yesterday, saying she will only follow the decision of the Office of President (OP) Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on the confusion sown by two memoranda issued by his office over the appointment of the new agency head.

Director General Charito Plaza has also appealed to her Deputy Director General for Policy and Planning, Tereso O. Panga to stop harassing her and other PEZA employees who were identified with her. Further, she was accused of allegedly baseless allegations.

Yesterday, DG Plaza’s office was ordered padlocked and guards allegedly stopped her from entering the PEZA premises. Media people who came to cover a scheduled press conference were likewise prevented from going to the DG’s office, thus forcing Plaza to transfer the venue to the nearby Conrad Hotel.

Plaza said Panga was a “self-appointed” OIC. She also questioned the confirmation by Dept. of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Alfredo Pascual of Panga’s appointment as Officer in Charge (OIC), which was “very untimely.”

Insofar as Plaza is concerned, she still heads PEZA on a holdover capacity as shown by Memorandum Circular (MC) 3 issued on July 27 that superseded MC 1 earlier issued on June 30. “MC No. 1 and this Memorandum Circular, insofar as they declared certain positions vacant and provided for the rules to address the vacancies, do not apply to government owned or controlled corporations (GOCCs), government instrumentalities with corporate powers, government corporate entities and government financial institutions, which shall continue to be governed by their respective charters, articles of incorporation and by-laws in relation to Republic Act 10149 or the GOCC Governance Act of 2011.”

MC 1 was described by Plaza as “vague” because PEZA could be one of the GOCCs or government instrumentalities and therefore exempted. The same memo mentioned about the officials’ appointment to be co-terminus with the President.  

Plaza stressed that even as a Filipino citizen living in a democratic society, she has the right to address the issue to give her side on the “tension, the division, the uncertainty” that plagues PEZA.

The director general’s supposed nemesis inside PEZA allegedly employed dirty tactics against her. These include sending fabricated complaints over 888 Action Center and disseminating emails to PEZA employees and locators. Social media platforms were likewise used for fake accounts allegedly accusing her of  libelous and destructive baseless comments.

Plaza could not control her emotions. She cried and said “I’m the loyalist here wanting to help PBBM to be successful in his administration! My late husband, the Butuan City Mayor, was a PFEM loyalist and I carried that torch until now with PBBM. We fought hard to counter the opposition and brought victory in Caraga Region with the campaigners of BBM SARA.”

According to Plaza, PEZA is a government instrumentality with corporate powers. Memo 3, she said showed that the sitting DG “still stays on a “holdover capacity unless there is a new appointee or appointed OIC.” This was contained both in Memo 1 and 3. As of this writing, PEZA was still awaiting for the reply of OP on the query and clarification regarding the two memoranda.