PANGILINAN-led PLDT Inc. has designated officers-in-charge for the departments previously handled by officers who voluntarily vacated their key posts earlier this week.

In a regulatory filing on Thursday, the listed telecommunications company has assigned Danny Y. Yu, senior vice-president and group controller, to be in charge of the finance department after the early retirement of Anabelle L. Chua, who was senior vice-president, chief financial officer and chief risk management head.

PLDT has appointed First Vice-President Bernadette C. Salinas as the acting head of the supply chain management department previously headed by Mary Rose L. Dela Paz, who had voluntarily resigned as senior vice-president and chief procurement officer.

For its network department, PLDT has assigned First Vice-President and Deputy Network Head Roderick S. Santiago to be the officer-in-charge, following the early retirement of Mario G. Tamayo, senior vice-president and network head.

“No replacements have been designated for the roles of Alexander S. Kibanoff, who availed of the Company’s Manpower Reduction Program and who was voluntarily separated from service effective April 16; and Wilson S. Bobier, who was voluntarily separated from service due to his voluntary resignation effective April 16,” the company said.

Meanwhile, credit analyst CreditSights said that the key officials who were announced to depart PLDT could have been the “parties deemed responsible” for the company’s budget overrun.

“On the face of it, we believe these officers could have been the ‘parties deemed responsible’ for PLDT’s capex (capital expenditure) overrun, despite various seemingly benign reasons provided by the company for their departure,” CreditSights said.

“Given the departed officers’ job titles and positions coincide with the company’s earlier statements, and given this was a simultaneous departure by five senior personnel, we are inclined to think these cannot be random, unconnected departures,” it added.

The credit analyst also said that the departure of the five officers could induce short-to-medium-term operational challenges.

“We think day-to-day operations of the company could be hampered, strategic directions could be less clear, and execution risks of ongoing projects could be higher,” CreditSights said.

“Given the seniority of the departed officers and their relatively long tenors with the company, we think it could be more challenging for the company to fill in the gaps,” it said, citing Ms. Dela Paz who has been with the company for over six years and Ms. Chua for over 20 years.

However, CreditSights said the departures could also demonstrate the telco’s commitment to improving its long-term operations and corporate governance.

“We see a possibility that these officers were let go by the company after ‘substantially completed external investigations’ found negligence or bad decision-making on their parts,” it said.

“Even though higher management would have clearly been aware of the immediate operational impacts from the absence of the senior officers, the fact it remained firm in its drastic turnovers could suggest a strong commitment towards ensuring proper accountability and governance,” it added.

In December last year, the telco said that it would undertake a management reorganization process to address weaknesses that allowed the budget overrun to occur.

The statement came after PLDT’s internal probe showed a P48-billion budget overrun in the past four years.

On March 23, the company said that the review conducted by an external counsel for the period 2019-2022 showed “no evidence of fraud, intentional concealment, or bad faith conduct on the part of any employee of the company and no basis to restate the company’s historical financial statements.”

Post-2022, its outstanding commitment to its major vendors for the acquisition of property and equipment was reduced to P33 billion, which the company said resulted from PLDT’s entry into settlement and mutual release agreements in March this year.

“Overall, we maintain our expectation that the capex overrun was due to management missteps and not intentional fraud, but remain watchful of negative headlines risks,” CreditSights said.

On Thursday, shares in PLDT went down by two pesos or 0.16% to P1,269 apiece.

Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has a majority stake in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls. — Justine Irish D. Tabile