Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual ordered the management of the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) to address the complaints of the workers following the issue that some employees of the investment promotion agency were demoted.
The powerful Commission on Appointments on Tuesday suspended the deliberations on Pascual’s ad interim appointment.
Representative Johnny Pimentel of Surigao del Sur brought up the leadership conflict in the PEZA before the hearing was adjourned. Pascual allegedly ordered the replacement of former Director General Charito Plaza with current PEZA officer-in-charge Tereso Panga when he became Department of Trade and Industry secretary.
The congressman also said that some of the permanent employees were placed on floating status or were demoted.
Pascual, in a statement, said that as DTI chief and chairman of the PEZA Board, he is “not directly involved in matters involving human resource management in PEZA as it has its own head—the Director General.”
However, Pascual said he had instructed the PEZA management to explain the "propriety of its decisions" to the PEZA Board “in hopes of addressing the concerns of PEZA employees."
Pascual added that he would organize a dialogue with the concerned employees to come up with a fair and just course of action.
The Cabinet official said that he was not expected to be aware of the day-to-day operations of the PEZA, “except in matters concerning general policies related to the establishment and maintenance of economic zones as the PEZA is only an attached agency of DTI.”
He said that he was only informed of the complaint of four PEZA employees against the PEZA management on December 5, the night before the confirmation hearing at the CA.
Pascual said that the assumption of Panga as PEZA OIC Director General was based on Memorandum Circular No. 1, series of 2022 issued by the Office of the President.
“The circular declared vacant several positions in the government and allowed the most senior career officer to assume the position of officer-in-charge (OIC),” he said.
Moreover, Pascual said the Department of Justice (DOJ) issued DOJ Opinion No. 17, s. 2022, stating that the designation of Panga as PEZA OIC was legal and valid.
According to the DOJ Opinion, “Since the position of DG was declared vacant pursuant to MC No. 1, the DDG, as the next-in-rank and the most senior official, validly assumed office as OIC of PEZA, and shall continue to perform such functions until 31 December 2022, or until a replacement has been appointed, whichever comes first.”
The PEZA aims to promote the establishment of economic zones in the country to attract foreign investments.
It is also tasked with extending assistance, registering, granting incentives to, and facilitating the business operations of investors in export-oriented manufacturing and service facilities inside special economic zones. — VBL, GMA Integrated News