CLARK FREEPORT – After being headed by an officer-in-charge (OIC) for eight months, the state-firm Clark Development Corp. (CDC) which runs this freeport got yesterday yet another OIC.
Former Armed Forces of the Philippines chief Eduardo Oban, who was appointed chairman and OIC of the CDC last April after his retirement from the military in December last year, assumed his post yesterday as undersecretary of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC).
This was what Oban himself announced late last week to CDC personnel, saying that Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) president and chief executive officer Arnel Casanova would take over his CDC post, but also as OIC.
While CDC’s public affairs office said Oban had already vacated his CDC post as of yesterday, Casanova’s secretary said in a telephone call she was not aware of any such order from Malacañang.
Punto! called up the BCDA’s public affairs office, but its chief Lani Macasaet was unavailable and no one else from her office would comment.
This, even as some CDC personnel, who asked not to be named, urged Malacañang to appoint a more permanent CDC president. They named Clark International Airport Corp. (CIAC) vice president for operations Rey Catacutan, who had been a three-term mayor of Bamban town in Pres. Aquino’s Tarlac homeprovince, as an “ideal replacement.”
“We’ve had enough of delays not only in investments but also in the granting of our benefits because of the tentative atmosphere created by having only an OIC at the helm of CDC. We think Catacutan would be a hands-on, practical CDC president,” said one CDC employee who is active in the workers’ union.
In an interview, Catacutan admitted he had expressed to the President his interest to head the CDC.
“I had conveyed to the President my desire, with a perspective that covers not only the national interest, but also the interest of the people of Central Luzon, and that includes the provincemates of the President in Tarlac where I come from,” he said.
Catacutan also pointed out that for nine years, he had been a member of the Metro Clark Advisory Council (MCAC), a group that serves as advisor to the CDC.
But Ruperto Cruz, president of the multi-sectoral group Pinoy Gumising Ka Movement (PGKM), said that while he had “nothing against Catacutan”, his group would prefer a CDC president with a corporate background and outside of politics.
“The problem with politicians is that they tend to accept new personnel as a political move, so that in the end, the CDC might burst with unneeded manpower,” he said.
A few months after he assumed the presidency, Pres. Aquino appointed former Dumaguete City mayor and businessman Felipe Remollo sa CDC president. Remollo, however, resigned after eight months amid controversies on a farm market project put up by a politician closely identified with former president, now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.