SUBIC BAY FREEPORT – Arthur D. Tai is the legitimate and duly recognized President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Subic Bay Marine Exploratorium, Inc. (SBMEI), according to the company’s Board of Directors.
“We… hereby declare our full support and recognition of SBMEI President and CEO Mr. Arthur D. Tai,” the board of directors said in a declaration issued on Friday, April 7.
“Since February 13, 2017, when Mr. Scott N. Sharpe forcibly and unlawfully took over our company under cover of darkness, without a court order and/or writ of execution, and assisted by over 70 armed thugs,” the SBMEI Board Declaration said, “we have been silently working behind the scenes… to resolve this matter believing that the rule of law will eventually prevail and concerned Philippine Authorities will set matters right.”
“However, recent events have made it incumbent upon us to take a more active stand against Mr. Scott N. Sharpe and his cohorts who still illegally occupy our company,” said the SBMEI board declaration signed by Chairman of the Board Dr. Robert C. Braun and Directors Gen. Darlene M. Goff, Susan S. Walker and Arthur D. Tai.
The board declaration also slammed Sharpe who, they said, “maligned our integrity and reputation by falsely claiming that achievements made in the last two years were due to the efforts of his ‘current management.,’…clearly a lie and an attempt to claim the accomplishments of our employees under the stewardship of Mr. Tai, as his own.”
Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) Administrator Wilma T. Eisma has condemned Sharpe’s takeover but, citing she doesn’t want the SBMA to be drawn into an “intra-corporate dispute,” has distanced herself, saying if the parties fail to resolve the matter among themselves, SBMA might ask the court to intervene.
SBMEI operates Ocean Adventure and Camayan Resort in Subic, where tension erupted anew on April 3 when, according to the declaration, ““Sharpe again displayed his complete disregard for the rule of law and Philippine authorities by refusing to submit to a valid Mission Order being implemented by the Philippine Bureau of Immigration for culpable violations of Philippine laws.”
Some 300 employees, displaced because of their continuing recognition of Tai as the legitimate company President & CEO, eagerly tried to return to work with the impending removal of Sharpe but were instead “treated like common criminals, verbally abused, manhandled, frisked and searched before they were allowed to leave,” lamented the declaration.
Tai took the helm of SBMEI in 2014, at a time when it was in the brink of bankruptcy, according to Investor Relations Officer Wayne W. DeCamp III, “due to inability to service debt” that ran up to some P200 M, “inability to pay salaries with many employees below statutory minimum wage… and inability to maintain and repair capital assets, degrading infrastructure and diversion of CapEx.”
DeCamp, in his Sept. 2016 report said that under the management of Tai, SBMEI, through Ocean Adventure and Camayan Resort, recorded in “FY 2014-2015 (the) highest grossing year in company history (PhP488.4 million).
The dispute stems from the alleged violation of the terms of the Voting Trust Agreements (VTA) between Tai, Sharpe and a couple of other stockholders, which a local court dismissed for lack of jurisdiction.
Sharpe, at first claimed to have a “Court Order” to take over the SBMEI facilities but later said he doesn’t need one. He has maintained that his takeover was in accordance with law, but the SBMEI Board disagrees.
“Mr. Tai has worked tirelessly and at great personal sacrifice to bring about the lawful return to company premises out of the belief that the employees deserve as a basic human right a secure and healthy working environment, not one of cronyism, intimidation and abuse,” the SBMEI board said, “Employees and managers have stood in solidarity with him in this belief and we are proud to do the same.” -30-