SUBIC Bay Chairman Martin Diño has ordered an investigation into cases of irregularities and found that the second in command, SBMA officer-in-charge Administrator Randy Escolango, had a string of criminal cases and was suspended for 90 days in 2010.
Victorio Casauay, Diño’s legal consultant, said Escolango was accused of forging the signature of his former associate lawyer, Bart Dalangin, whom Escolango had asked to serve as counsel in settling a compromise agreement in a labor case against Freeport Service Corp., an SBMA subsidiary.
Casauay said Escolango, formerly the SBMA’s deputy director for legal affairs, served his 90-day suspension in November 2010 during the term of SBMA Administrator and Chief Executive Armand Arreza.
“SBMA Chairman Diño is tasked to look into cases of irregularities in the SBMA in an effort to get rid of corruption in the agency, and in line with President Rodrigo Duterte’s program for clean government,” Casauay said.
Dalangin said in his complaint that Escolango had forged his signature as the counsel of 380 dismissed employees of the FSC and had actively participated in implementing the compromise agreement while already serving as deputy administrator for SBMA’s legal affairs.
The compromise agreement awarded P4.393 million as separation pay to the dismissed FSC employees, which was equivalent to P16,588 per complainant, in accordance with the decision of the National Labor Relations Commission.
Escolango allegedly gave each employee only P8,200 based on the dismissed FSC employees’ sworn statement, leaving an excess of more than P1.05 million, which he failed to account for during the preliminary investigation.
On June 4, 2010, Escolango and Israel Migano, his driver and liaison officer from his Olongapo City law office, allegedly were given P4.393 million in cash at the FSC building on the basis of a special power of attorney allegedly signed by Dalangin, authorizing Migano to receive the monetary award.
The amount in cash was given to the two despite the finance manager’s position that it be released through a company check, according to another sworn statement by the former FSC finance manager and two finance staffers.
Lawyer Ruel John Kabigting, then the special investigating officer of the SBMA Disciplinary Action Committee, had conducted a two-month preliminary investigation and found a prima facie case for the filing of formal charges against Escolango.
Kabigting said, “Assuming that he [Escolango] was pursuing the case from the background with Dalangin as his front and with, as he claims, only the best interests of his clients in mind, Escolango―now a deputy administrator dealing with the SBMA’s subsidiary [FSC]―had an even higher moral obligation to ensure that the 380 former FSC employees―his former clients―would be treated justly and with all transparency by rendering an accounting or breakdown of the P4,393,000.”
Instead, Kabigting said, Escolango continued to act as an “expeditor” of the compromise agreement.
Arreza had then said the SBMA would initiate an administrative action against Escolango for grave misconduct, dishonesty, falsification of official documents, oppression, and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.
Casauay also disclosed that in July last year, Escolango also faced a disbarment complaint filed with the Supreme Court by Isagani Cabrera, a partner of a registered locator at the Subic Bay Freeport, Farenheit Company Limited.
The complaint filed with the high court’s Office of the Bar Confidant alleged that Escolango and fellow respondents Von Rodriguez, the legal department manager, and lawyer Melvin Varias had “submitted to the local court falsified documents.”
Cabrera alleged that the respondents had falsified the texts of a Deed of Undertaking by materially changing the context of the document favoring the SBMA.
Casauay said another complaint against Escolango and other SBMA officials was also filed in April last year for grave misconduct and grave abuse of authority after they installed another investor at the helm of Ocean Condotel in the Freeport Zone.
Jo Kwang-rae filed the complaint in the Office of the Ombudsman naming as respondents Escolango, the former SBMA chairman and administrator Roberto Garcia, Von Rodriguez, Orlando Maddela Jr., chief of the law enforcement department, and Kabigting of the regulatory monitoring unit.
Jo accused the respondents of assisting in the forcible and illegal takeover of Ocean Condotel by co-director Kang Il-chan on April 1 last year. He filed the complaint as representative of Freeport Elite Resort Inc.
The respondent SBMA officials, Jo said, had facilitated the condotel takeover “in the absence of a court sheriff and without a court-issued writ of execution.”
The Olongapo City Regional Trial Court Branch 72 had earlier ruled in favor of Kang, one of six Korean directors of Feri, “recognizing his right to inspect the books of the corporation.
Feri’s legal counsel, Roseller Logronio, had earlier prevented Kang’s first attempted takeover of the condotel by insisting on the necessity of a writ of execution and the presence of a court sheriff. At 11:15 p.m. on April 1, SBMA officials were able to install Kang when Logronio was not around, the complaint said.