SUBIC BAY FREEPORT – At least 268 displaced employees of Subic Bay Marine Exploratorium, Inc. (SBMEI), operators of Ocean Adventure and Camayan Resort here, have filed charges before the Dept. of Labor (DOLE) against disgruntled stockholder Scott N. Sharpe who led a group of armed men to forcibly takeover the marine theme park last February.
“More employees are set to file their complaints against Mr. Sharpe, on top of the 268 which have already filed as of Friday last week,” said Grace Espinosa, human resources (HR) manager of SBMEI, one of the complainants, “there could be over 300 of us.”
Identified to be loyal to SBMEI President & Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Arthur D. Tai, the complainants have been issued either suspension or termination notices, Espinosa said.
Sharpe is being charged with the labor violations, not SBMEI, because despite having taken physical control of Ocean Adventure and Camayan Resort, the SBMEI Board of Directors, led by Chairman Dr. Robert C. Braun, has refused to recognize him (Sharpe) and issued a declaration on April 7, 2017 that Tai remains the legitimate head of SBMEI.
The charges filed against Sharpe by the displaced employees at DOLE’s National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) in Pampanga include illegal dismissal, illegal suspension, non-payment of salaries, wages and other benefits, among others.
Among the complainants, Archie N. Asio, 37, is the longest serving employee with 15 years of service. “Twenty-two years old pa lang ako nasa Ocean Adventure na ako tapos ginaganito lang? Nasaan ang puso mo, Mr. Sharpe,” Asio said in an interview with Subic Bay News.
Jose E. Balingit at 59-years-old, is the oldest of the complainants, mainly breadwinners, with quite a number of single parents who have no other means to support their children.
“Paano na ang tatlo (3) kong anak,” said Liza Joy N. Jimenez, 36, a single mom who has been with the company for seven (7) years.
Tai, who said he seeks to retake Ocean Adventure and Camayan Resort soon “with respect to the rule of law”, has been giving financial support to the employees for the past two (2) months out of his personal funds.
Since the February 13, 2017 takeover, criminal cases have also been filed, with both camps accusing each other of various offenses, ranging from theft, physical injuries to grave threats.
Subic Bay News has not received any response from the camp of Sharpe regarding the issue as of this writing.
Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) Administrator Wilma T. Eisma has condemned Sharpe’s takeover for being “clearly not in accordance with lawful proper procedures…”, also slamming Sharpe for “starting the problem” which could have been avoided had he only followed legal procedures.
However, Eisma is extra careful not to interfere with what she says an “intra-corporate” dispute, and lately, has met with both parties separately to try to find an acceptable solution.
Meanwhile, the some 300 displaced employees and their families have been suffering for the past two months, hoping against hope that the NLRC would act swiftly and decisively to address their predicament. -30-