SBMA seeks court’s intervention in Ocean Adventure dispute

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT — The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) has condemned the opposing groups of the Subic Bay Marine Exploratorium Inc. (SBMEI), haggling for control over theme park Ocean Adventure here.

SBMA administrator Wilma Eisma said the opposing parties’ use of undue force in resolving their intra-corporate dispute were clearly not in accordance with proper and lawful procedures that are strictly being enforced in Freeport.

She said it is sad that the image of the Subic Bay Freeport is being dragged down because it paints a bad picture of what Subic Bay Freeport is very well-known for– a safe haven and tourist destination.

Eisma already endorsed to the [SBMA] Board the filing of an action with the courts, possibly, an interpleader to ask the court to intervene and resolve the issue, lest the Freeport’s tourism industry will suffer.

“This is not about Ocean Adventure. This is about Subic Bay Freeport as a whole,” she said, with an assurance that commitment to peace and order is still the top priority in the Freeport.

Eisma noted that Subic Bay Freeport is not Ocean Adventure alone and treated the incident as an isolated case.

“There is a lot more at the Subic Bay Freeport for everybody to appreciate and enjoy. There are lots of things to do here in Subic Bay,” she said.

Meanwhile, Robert Gonzaga, SBMEI corporate communications director, said that the park and the resort are in “business as usual” and that normalcy has been restored in the area.

An official statement from the SBMEI said that on February 13, this year, then SBMEI president and CEO Arthur Tai was ousted by Scott Sharpe as “majority shareholders of the SBMEI and have chosen (Scott) Sharpe, one of the founding owners, to become chairman and president of the company as part of a charge in top management.”

The same SBMEI statement said that Arthur Tai was removed from his post due to “breach of trust and loss of confidence.”

In the late afternoon on April 3, employees supportive of Tai came back to oust Sharpe causing damage to properties and potential harm to animals at the ocean park.

The near conflict was diffused with the help of SBMA officials and security personnel, along with Philippine National Police (PNP), ending the standoff before midnight.