INDUSTRY GROUPS have thrown their support for the permanent appointment of Tereso O. Panga, currently the officer-in-charge (OIC) of the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA), following a leadership dispute that has roiled the agency.

In letters addressed to President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr., the industry groups backed Mr. Panga in order to settle any doubts about PEZA leadership and facilitate the entry of foreign direct investment (FDI).

Expressing their support were the Information Technology & Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP), the Semiconductor and Electronics Industries in the Philippines Foundation, Inc. (SEIPI), the Philippine Ecozone Associations (PHILEA), the Cavite Export Zone Investors Association, and the Mactan Export Processing Zone Chamber of Exporters and Manufacturers.

“We firmly believe that Mr. Panga will be an asset on your economic team and in your aim to industrialize the country and in support of the Department of Trade and Industry’s (DTI) science, technology, and innovation-driven industrialization strategy,” SEIPI said in its letter. 

“By appointing the right people to take the helm of the agencies involved in attracting foreign investment, together with policy coherence, and a constant implementation of the ease of doing business, we can truly improve our FDI ranking in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region,” it added.

According to IBPAP, Mr. Panga plays an “important role” in attracting more investors to the IT and business process management (IT-BPM) sector.

“We believe that Mr. Panga will enable the PEZA to deliver its mandate of stimulating countryside development through the establishment of more IT parks in new growth areas outside the metropolis as ready locations for IT-BPM companies,” the IBPAP said.  

PHILEA said that Mr. Panga could help the economic team industrialize the Philippines.

“(Mr. Panga)… has consistently been very supportive of our industry and ultimately the economic growth of our country.”  

Aside from being OIC, Mr. Panga concurrently serves as PEZA’s deputy director general for Policy and Planning. He replaced former PEZA Director General Charito B. Plaza. 

The top position at PEZA has been in contention since last year after Ms. Plaza questioned Mr. Panga’s assumption of the OIC role. The PEZA Director Generalship is a Presidential appointment.

In connection with the leadership row, four PEZA employees recently filed a complaint with the Ombudsman against Mr. Panga for alleged usurpation of authority and violation of the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for public officials and employees.

The complainants alleged that Mr. Panga’s reorganizing of PEZA led to the firing of contractual employees and the demotion and reassignment of others to remote ecozones after being identified as “supporters of Ms. Plaza.”

PEZA has called the allegations “baseless, malicious, and unfounded” adding that Mr. Panga will reply to the claims once he receives a copy of the complaint from the Ombudsman. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave