PEZA leadership thrown into confusion again

Confusion reigned again over the leadership at the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA).

Early on Wednesday, Dec. 14, designated PEZA OIC Deputy Director General Tereso O. Panga forwarded his message to PEZA personnel to beat reporters informing them of his replacement. “The Secretary (DTI Secretary Alfredo E. Pascual) has informed me last night that a new caretaker will be appointed today to lead PEZA. Let us all support the incoming official, nothing less is expected by our stakeholders from us. We are professionals in the services of the nation,” Panga said in a statement.

He concluded his statement with “Mabuhay ang PEZA! God bless” and thanking PEZAns for their support and cooperation.

Department Order No. 22-114 (Series of 2022) signed and issued Wednesday morning by Pascual, PEZA Board chairman, designated DTI Undersecretary Rafaelita Aldaba as the OIC Director General of PEZA, effective Dec. 14, 2022. The DO stated that Aldaba while serving as concurrent DTI undersecretary will not receive additional compensation for her additional task.

Soon after, Panga formally announced the new PEZA leadership in its website. In the longer version announcement, Panga even assured that PEZA investors, locators, and developers of unhampered operations.

“We will continue with our mandate in attracting more investments. We shall continue to make sound and balanced policy decisions under the leadership of the new OIC,” said Panga. He, likewise, reiterated his earlier position that hie designation as OIC was only for the time being or until such time that a new OIC has been appointed.

But around past 2 pm, the DTI Public Relations Unit told reporters the Department Order issued by Pascual has been revoked under DO 22-115 (Series of 2022). No reason was given to the withdrawal of the DO.

The DO, however, stated that “In the interest of the service and to ensure continuous and effective delivery of government services in the Department, the designation of Undersecretary Rafaelita M. Aldaba, PhD as Officer-in-Charge of the PEZA vice Deputy Director General Tereso O. Panga, under Department Order No. 22-114 , Series 2022, is hereby revoked.”

Soon after, PEZA announced it was withdrawing their announcement posted in their website, restoring some sort of normalcy at the agency, at least for the meantime.

It could be recalled that Pascual was grilled during his confirmation hearing at the Commission on Appointments over the controversial power struggle at PEZA. Pascual’s appointment hangs in balance as a result.

Pascual was criticized by Surigao del Sur Rep. Johnny Pimentel for designating Panga over former PEZA Director General Charito B. Plaza. Also mentioned at the hearing were the complaints filed by a few PEZA employees, whose services were allegedly unfairly terminated, demoted or put on floating status.

Pascual, however, said the designation of Panga was based on the ruling issued by the Executive Secretary declaring all positions occupied by political appointees vacant.

Pascual said he will also investigate the complaints of PEZA employees.