Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Thursday, September 29, 2005

No quarrel over house in Subic

No quarrel over house in Subic, says SBMA chief

By Tonette Orejas, Inquirer News Service

THERE WAS NO battle for Kalayaan 5000, the official home of the chair of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority at the Subic Bay Freeport.

That's as far as SBMA Administrator Armand Arreza is concerned, one of the two officials whose men tried to secure the house on Sunday night.

'My predecessor (former SBMA Administrator Alfredo Antonio) had turned it over to me. My executive assistant Rani Cruz came to get the keys so we could start an audit of the place,' Arreza said of the Sunday incident.

Only Cruz, not him, was around during the near scuffle with the security personnel of Zambales Gov. Vicente Magsaysay. The governor’s son, SBMA Director JV Magsaysay, sent the security personnel, reports reaching the Inquirer said.

Since the turnover of leadership took place on Friday and because it was a weekend, Arreza said he sought help from his contacts in Olongapo City.

He said it was "very clear" to him that he was securing the place not for himself, but for President Macapagal-Arroyo, as SBMA Chair Feliciano Salonga had planned.

Arreza on Tuesday said he was "worried" that the issue was being played up to "polarize further" Sen. Richard Gordon and Governor Magsaysay, who are long-time political enemies.

The Gordons and Magsaysay are reportedly maneuvering for political control of the SBMA for the coming local elections.

Arreza, who was finance chief during Gordon’s stint as SBMA chair, said the Kalayaan 5000 controversy seemed to be an effort to drive a wedge between him and Salonga.

"We don't want those kinds of stories," Arreza said. He declined to say who were trying to worsen the already sour relationship between Gordon and Governor Magsaysay or who were seeking to cause tension between him and Salonga.

Magsaysay said his son acted in the best interest of the SBMA since he is a director at the agency which manages the conversion of the 12,000-hectare former American naval base into an industrial hub.

"You can't blame my son. Those who came in were not SBMA security personnel. He just wanted to be sure," Magsaysay told the Inquirer.

Salonga said he has yet to make up his mind on where to hold office at the SBMA.

Resigned SBMA Chair Francisco Licuanan III gave the chair's office in Bldg. 229 to Antonio, who worked full time at the freeport. With a report from Patrick Roxas, PDI Central Luzon Desk


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