Senate studying plea for probe on MCIAA ‘anomalous’ lot deal
BLEACHER TALK - Gregg M. Rubio (Associated Press) - November 12, 2016 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines - The Senate Blue Ribbon Oversight Office Management is now studying the request of anti-graft crusader Crisologo Saavedra for an investigation into the alleged P590 million anomalous transaction of the Mactan-Cebu International Airport Authority.

The Committee on Accountability of Public Officers and Investigations or the Blue Ribbon chaired by Senator Richard Gordon has issued certification Tuesday that it has received the letter-request of Saavedra.

“At present, this case is being carefully studied by our investigation team,” read the certification dated November 8, 2016 and signed by Atty. Rodolfo Noel S. Quimbo, director-general of the Blue Ribbon Oversight Office Management.

Quimbo added that the case will be indorsed to the Committee for proper decision and appropriate action the soonest possible time.

Saavedra made the request for investigation in time for the MCIAA Charter Change introduced by the Lower House.

The case stemmed from the alleged lot purchase of 42,239 square meters now being occupied by the MCIA.

Saavedra already filed a complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman and has also brought the issue to the attention of President Rodrigo Duterte.

His complaint came following the transaction entered into between MCIAA officials headed by its general manager Nigel Paul Villarete and the sellers of the property, which is adjacent to the Waterfront Hotel-Mactan and is being leased out by MCIAA to cargo companies. A portion of the property is also being used as access road to and from the airport.

Saavedra alleged that the price of the lot was jacked up to P13,980 per square meter from the original price of P3,500 per square meter posted prior to the signing of a compromise agreement, which stemmed from a civil case involving MCIAA and the owners of the property, Eduarda Patalinghug and Maximo Pulvera.

Saavedra said the transaction entered into was “grossly disadvantageous” and has caused “undue injury” to the government, thus, violating Republic Act 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act).

He said the MCIAA paid P590 million for the 42, 329-square meter lot when only 37, 038 square meters can be delivered and titled to the MCIAA because 5, 291 square meters of the lot is actually owned by a certain Anatalia Booc, who is not part of the compromise agreement and did not sell her share.

He said all the parties who signed the compromise agreement decided not to agree with the P3,500 per square meter but with the P14, 000.

According to Saavedra, it would not have happened if MCIAA officials were diligent in their duty to protect the taxpayers’ money.

MCIAA through its legal manager Glenn Napuli earlier contended that it had to negotiate for the acquisition of the lot due to some considerations including the future expansion of MCIA, which may be adversely affected should it lose the lot.

He recounted that the Pulvera family initially proposed to sell the lot at P25,000 per square meter. On April 5, 2016, MCIAA and the Pulvera family arrived at P700 million as an acceptable amount.

MCIAA, however, pushed the following day to lower the amount to P590 million, to which all the parties agreed.

 The Court of Appeals then approved the compromise agreement which obligated MCIAA to release the payment of P590 million to the Pulvera family.

Napuli said MCIAA was left with no choice but to adhere to the directive of the appellate court. (FREEMAN)

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