SUBIC Bay Metropolitan Authority Chairman Martin Diño on Thursday said a security crisis is now brewing inside Subic after some 70 armed men forcibly entered and illegally occupied the Ocean Adventure theme park in Subic for 10 days now.
Diño castigated SBMA Administrator Wilma Eisma for granting entry to the armed men without the required court order, and has asked her to explain.
He said the incident occurred while he was abroad on official business.
“Administrator Eisma is a lawyer. She was in charge while I was away for official business abroad. She should know better than just allow anyone to barge in and seize the operations of a business inside a supposed well-guarded and secure SBMA facility,” Diño said.
“I am making her explain. I asked her to explain why she allowed the forcible entry of armed men in an establishment, a theme park at that, inside SBMA without a proper court order,” he added.
Eisma, he said, has yet to submit an official explanation.
Diño said a standoff between the 70 armed men and the 800 SBMA security forces ensued since 7 p.m. of Feb. 13 while he was in Kobe, Japan for an international ports conference.
“While abroad, I immediately ordered the SBMA security to stand down. It’s a good thing there was no gun battle. What I don’t understand is how the 70 armed men managed to enter the facility with 800 security men guarding [it]. Eisma has a lot of explaining to do,” he said.
The forcible entry stemmed from an ownership dispute over the theme park operations.
A group of former investors led by Scott Niel Sharpe, a foreign national, was behind the attack, said Aletha Candaliza, spokesperson of the theme park workers.
Diño said at least 10 people were injured after the Sharpe’s armed men forcefully evicted women from the staff dormitory, knocked down several doors, opened vaults and demanded food and drinks.
He said Sharpe’s group failed to present any court order and was not accompanied by a sheriff to undertake the takeover.
“We will not intervene in their business dispute but without a court order, without a sheriff assisting them, [that] makes their action illegal and unacceptable,” Diño said. “Those who failed to do their jobs will be held accountable.”
Diño said Philippine National Police chief Rolando Bato gas vowed to send troops to put an end to the standoff peacefully.
Ocean Adventure was once a popular tourist crowd drawer in the former US naval base that had in the past showcased seals and false killer whales.
It has been closed to the public since the takeover. The theme park workers were barred entry by the group that seized the park.