Malacanang has ruled that Assistant Director General Tereso O. Panga will remain as officer-in-charge of the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) until a new leader is appointed by the President.
In a Malacanang directive issued on Jan. 23, 2023, Executive Secretary Lucas P. Bersamin said “Panga shall continue to perform and discharge his functions as OIC of PEZA unless otherwise directed.”
Bersamin issued the “for strict compliance” directive after his office received reports and letters questioning the validity of the designation of Panga as OIC of PEZA citing that the position of Director General is not vacated and that PEZA is not covered by Memorandum Circular No. 1, series of 2022 (MC No. 1) and Memorandum Circular No. 3, series of 2022 (MC No. 3).
The directive explained that MC No. 1 effectively vacated certain positions in the Executive branch as of noontime of 30 June 2022, including among others, all presidential appointees whose appointments are classified as co-terminous. To ensure the continuous and effective delivery of government services, the same MC set forth the rules in addressing the vacancy of heads of departments, offices, agencies, and bureaus by designating the next-in-rank and most senior official as the OIC.
Thereafter, the ES issued MC No. 3 and Memorandum Circular No. 12, series of 2022 (MC No. 12) to further extend the term of government officials in the exigency of service. With that, the Office of the ES said that “designation of DDG Panga as the PEZA OIC is valid and in accordance with the abovementioned issuances.”
Bersamin further pointed out that the charter of PEZA does not provide for a definite term of office for the position of Director General. Thus, the appointment of then DG Charito B. Plaza is co-terminous with that of the appointing authority, then President Rodrigo Duterte.
Second, MC No. 3 did not intend to exclude PEZA from its coverage. Although PEZA exercises corporate powers, it is specifically excluded from the coverage of GOCC Governance Act of 2011.
Likewise, Bersamin said that the issuance of a Memorandum Circular by OIC Panga informing PEZA stakeholders of his designation as OIC is not considered self-serving as it is the President, through MC No. 1, who effectively designated the OICs in all departments, offices, agencies, and bureaus with vacant heads.
Therefore, pursuant to MC No. 1, the position of PEZA Director General is deemed vacated effective noontime of 30 June 2022 when the term of former President Duterte ended. Likewise, the consequent designation of DDG Panga as PEZA OIC is in accordance with MC No. 1.
“For the exigency of the service, the term of DDG Panga as PEZA OIC is extended until a replacement has been appointed or designated, unless otherwise terminated pursuant to MC No. 12,” the directive concluded. (Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat)