12 officials of CIIF-OMG resign over appointment of 'incompetent' CEO


MANILA, Philippines– Twelve officials of the Coconut Industry Investment Fund-Oil Mills Group (CIIF-OMG) resigned to protest the appointment of Rehan Lao as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the company.

Eddie Delima, chairman of the board, and Benedicto Lor,  current CEO, and 10 more officials have submitted their resignation to Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea.

Due to their resignation, all 3 oil mills of CIIF-OMG have stopped operating.

Delima said the officials questioned Lao’s appointment due to his "incompetence" and questionable credentials.

“We filed at [Governance Commissions for GOCCs] GCG for violation of fit and proper rule and for question of integrity and another case with the Ombudsman for non-filing of [Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth] SALN,” Delima told Rappler on Friday, July 13.

He also said that Lao misrepresented himself as a lawyer. According to their research, Lao holds a law degree but did not pass the bar exam.

The officials claimed that they were also pressured to accept the appointment of Lao. He was appointed as a board member of the company last June 28 before climbing to the company's top spot.

“Inexplain po ng board na hindi talaga nila kayang lunukin ang isinusubo ng Malacanang na nomination [ni Lao],” CIIF-OMG director Joven Evangelista said in a DZBB interview.

(The board already explained that they cannot stomach the nomination of Lao that is being pushed by Malacanang.)

Evangelista also said CIFF-OMG officials were also approached by “powerful” people closely connected to Special Assistant to the President (SAP) Christopher “Bong” Go.

“Lumapit po sila kay president Lor [at sinabi] na kailangan ni secretary Go [ng pera] dahil malapit na ang midterm election,” Evangelista said.

(They approached president Lor and told them that secretary Go needs funds because the midterm elections is coming up.)

Evangelista admitted that they were not able to confirm the authenticity of the request and some people may just be using Go’s name for leverage.

Lao is the current national president of Sulong ang Pag-Unlad Movement, a group that is aggressively pushing for Go to run for senator in 2019. (READ: Bong Go: 'Not interested' to run for Senate 2019)

CIIF-OMG is a conglomerate established in the 1970s and runs 3 oil mills in Iligan, Albay, and Batangas.

"It's operating plants have a combined annual crushing capacity of 370,000 metric tons of copra with a refining capacity of 240,000 metric tons of different grades of processed coconut oils. The oil mills’ total crushing capacity accounts for about 10% of the country’s coconut oil milling industry,” their website said.

They make the local coconut cooking oil brand Minola that has been in the market for over 50 years. – Rappler.com

Ralf Rivas

A sociologist by heart, a journalist by profession. Ralf is Rappler's business reporter, covering macroeconomy, government finance, companies, and agriculture.