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Subic Bay Freeport — Over three hundred (300) employees of Ocean Adventure and Camayan Resort who have not been reporting for duty, as a result of the forcible takeover and occupation of a group led by a disgruntled stockholder since last month, received their salaries on Monday (March 20) for a second payday in a row.

“As the legitimate management of SBMEI, we have chosen to make that very fundamental commitment to pay the salaries of all our displaced employees,” said Arthur D. Tai, embattled president and chief executive officer (CEO) of Subic Bay Marine Exploratorium, Inc. (SBMEI), operator of Ocean Adventure and Camayan Resort, at the salary distribution in a local hotel here.

“About two (2) weeks ago when we made payroll we had about 200 (employees), this week we have about 300,” Tai told Subic Bay News, “so as a company we are growing, and we’re growing very fast,” he added, partly in jest, noting that more than half of the company’s regular employees have joined his side to date, “of their own free will.”

Arthur D. Tai, president and chief operating officer (CEO) of Subic Bay Marine Exploratorium, Inc. (SBMEI), operator of Ocean Adventure & Camayan Resort, speaks to some 300 displaced employees due to the forcible takeover and continuing occupation of the marine park by a group led by disgruntled stockholder Scott N. Sharpe. (photo by Jojo Perez)

According to SBMEI Human Resource (HR) manager Grace Espinosa, like her, the employees stopped reporting for duty in defiance of what they said as the illegitimate management of Scott N. Sharpe, a disgruntled stockholder of SBMEI, who stormed the marine park on the night of February 13, 2017, and took physical control of the facilities with its own security personnel.

Espinosa said the some 100-employee increase from last payday’s number was due to non-payment of full salary and prolonged extended working hours because of shortage of personnel.

Because Sharpe has not been able to establish the legality of his takeover, banks refuse to give him access to SBMEI’s bank accounts, making him reliant  on the daily payments of customers who are asked to pay in cash.

Sharpe has declared that he has replaced Tai, and also assumed the post of Chairman of the Board of Directors, a position held by Dr. Robert C. Braun. Both Tai and Dr. Braun were out of the country at the time of Sharpe’s takeover.

Dr. Braun has branded Sharpe’s takeover as mere “thuggery” that disrespected Philippine Laws and legal procedures.

‘They had no court order authorizing them to enter the premises,” Braun wrote SBMA Chairman Martin B. Diño, “if they had legitimate authority, then why did they arrive at night, overrun company guards, injure two employees, frighten staff, and disrupt operations?”

Over three hundred (300) employees of Ocean Adventure and Camayan Resort who have not been reporting for duty, as a result of the forcible takeover and occupation of a group led by a disgruntled stockholder since last month, received their salaries on Monday (March 20) for a second payday in a row. (photo by Jojo Perez)

Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) Administrator Wilma T. Eisma has condemned “the use of undue force” by Sharpe, branding the takeover as unlawful and improper, but has been over cautious in taking action to avoid involving SBMA into what she said an “intra corporate dispute.”

The situation at Ocean Adventure and Camayan Resort stemmed from a dispute on a Voting Trust Agreement (VTA) between Tai, Sharpe and two (2) other shareholders.

An Olongapo Regional Trial Court (RTC), citing lack of jurisdiction, has dismissed on Feb. 12, 2017 a case filed to resolve the issue.

Sharpe first claimed in statements to the media that he has a court order to back his actions but failed to provide a copy upon demand. A check with the Olongapo RTC revealed that Sharpe has not been issued any court order to take over Ocean Adventure and Camayan Resort, nor the mother company SBMEI.

Sharpe later argued that “prior judicial intervention” was not necessary.

A spouse of a “promoted” employee working for Sharpe said “everything is normal” in the marine park and that employees are getting their salaries in full. However, he asked not to be named because despite “being around most of the time” at the marine park “to help,” he is not an SBMEI employee.

Espinosa said more employees working for Sharpe has signified their intention to stop reporting for duty. However, she said, Tai asked the employees, especially those tending the sea animals, to stay put to take care of the animals’ welfare.

Tai said that team building exercises are being conducted for the employees “to build a stronger management team because we are preparing for our return.”

He added that “we will eventually regain possession of Ocean Adventure and Camayan Resort… in a legal way with respect to the rule of law which is why it could take a while,” asking employees for patience and understanding.    ###

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