RECENT victories in labor and criminal complaints have raised the hopes of some 300 displaced employees of the Subic Bay Marine Exploratorium, Inc. (SBMEI), operator of Ocean Adventure and Camayan Resort, to return to work and eventually get their jobs back.
“We are hopeful that these victories will eventually lead us back to our jobs,” Grace Espinosa, displaced Human Resource Department (HRD) manager told Subic Bay News.
Espinosa was referring to the dismissed criminal complaints filed by the group of SBMEI “occupier” Scott N. Sharpe against three (3) displaced employees, and the labor complaint filed by Sharpe’s ally Gail Ellen Laule against displaced President & Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Arthur D. Tai and nine (9) other company officers.
Bataan Assistant Prosecutor Ethel Marie G. Degollado-Guiua, in her resolution approved by Provincial Prosecutor Angelito V. Lumabas, dismissed the complaint against Irvin Peralta and Bill Chester B. Algarin, filed by one Mark Fernandez Figueras, who claims to be a consultant of the company under Sharpe.
The complaint of Figueres against Peralta and Algarin stemmed from the April 3, 2017 incident when they and some 300 other employees, displaced since Feb. 13, 2017 when Sharpe took over the theme park, entered the company premises in the hope of getting their jobs back.
They were allegedly caught in possession of company property, particularly computer high drives.
Also on the same date and incident, Ronaldo P. Uy of Tai’s group, was allegedly caught in possession of a gun, thus, the complaint of illegal possession of firearm filed against him by one Jack N. Dilag, which was also dismissed by the Bataan Prosecutor’s Office.
Alarin, Peralta & Uy said in their counter-afidavits that the allegations against them “are false, fabricated and based on hearsay.”
Complainants Figueras and Dilag did not attend the preliminary investigations. Figueres told Subic Bay News, in a message, that they purposely did not pursue the cases to appease the respondents’ relatives who appealed to them on their behalf.
In the labor front, Labor Arbiter Roderick Q. Almeda dismissed the Illegal Dismissal and Damages complaint of Laule.
Records show that on Sept. 11, 2016, Laule was issued a Notice to Explain for Absences Without Leave, Abuse of Position, Loss of Trust & Confidence, and, Unsatisfactory Performance. She was subsequently dismissed as chief operating officer (COO) on Oct. 10, 2017.
Labor Arbiter Almeda said Laule wants him “to determine the illegality of her dismissal solely for the purpose of holding all individual respondents personally liable.”
He ruled that “since there can never be a finding of illegal dismissal against Ocean Adventure (in view of the settlement), any damages that complainant Laule may claim can no longer be associated with her dismissal.”
Earlier in June 2017, Branch 2 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Bataan dealt a major blow to the efforts of disgruntled stockholder Sharpe to access millions of pesos in the depository banks of SBMEI, by denying his “Urgent Omnibus Motion for: (1) Issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order; and (2) Writ of Preliminary Attachment.”
In the continuation of the hearing on August, Sharpe admitted to the court that when he and some 70 allegedly armed persons took over the theme park on Feb. 13, they had no court order. “We did not have a court order,” Sharpe said, further saying that he had “retired generals… retired colonels” with him.
Tai and Sharpe’s groups are locked in several cases in connection with control and possession of the theme park that Tai has steered out of the doldrums in his three years at the helm.
However, as the dispute drags on, SBMEI has been losing on a daily basis, in terms of revenue, opportunities and in other areas, according to Tai.
Next hearing on the Bataan RTC case is on October 24, 2017, while the some 300 or so displaced employees loyal to Tai are looking forward to be back to their respective jobs at Ocean Adventure and Camayan Resort & Hotel, at least before Christmas.