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Airport exec, 15 others face raps

Mae Fhel K. Gom-os (The Freeman) - December 6, 2020 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — Mactan-Cebu International Airport Authority (MCIAA) chief executive Steve Dicdican and 15 others are facing charges before the Department of Justice (DOJ) for allegedly violating the Anti-Dummy Law.

The charges stemmed from the awarding of a concession deal to a consortium dominated by foreign nationals, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) said on Friday.

Along with Dicdican, charged before the Prosecutor General of the DOJ are the officials of GMR Megawide Cebu Airport Corp. (GMCAC) including four Filipino officials and 11 foreign national officials.

The four Filipino officials include Manuel Louie Ferrer, Edgar Saavedra, Oliver Tan, and JZ Dela Cruz.

The 11 foreign nationals, on the other hand, are Srivinas Bommidala, P. Sripathy, Vivek Singhai, Andrew Acquaah-Harrison, Ravi Bhatnagar, Ravishankar Saravu, Michael Lenane, Sudarshan MD, Kumar Gaurav, Magesh Nambiar, and Rajesh Madan.

NBI Anti-Fraud Division (NBI-AFD) has charged them for violating Section 2-A of Commonwealth Act No. 108 or the Anti-Dummy Law.

Aside from the DOJ, Dicdican is also charged before the Office of the Ombudsman (OMB) for violating the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

NBI Officer-in-Charge Director Eric Distor said the case stemmed from a complaint regarding the awarding of the operation and management of Mactan Cebu International Airport (MCIA) to GMCAC under a 25-year concession after winning the bid of P14.4 billion.

The concession, NBI said, is for the expansion and operation of MCIA which consists of the construction of a new passenger terminal with all associated infrastructure facilities; rehabilitation and expansion of the existing terminal along with all associated infrastructure and facilities; installation of the required information technology and other equipment commensurate with the operations; and operation and maintenance of both passenger terminals during the concession period.

GMCAC is a consortium between Megawide Construction Corporation, which is incorporated under the Philippine Laws, and the GMR Group, which is a foreign infrastructure company.

The complainant said the respondents “conspired, connived, colluded, schemed and acted together” to violate the 1987 Constitution and the Anti-Dummy Law.

“The complainant added that based on the evidence, the MCIA is operated, administered, and managed by non-Filipinos more particularly by an Irish, a Ghanaian and several Indians who have profound control, enjoyment, and control over a Philippine public utility, with a knowledge and approval of the Filipino officers of MCIAA and GMCAC among whom are the subjects Dicdican, Saavedra, Ferrer, Tan, and Cruz,” said the NBI.

The NBI further said that the evidence submitted by the complainant and gathered by the investigators showed that the foreign nationals are actually performing executive and managerial positions.

The Anti-Dummy Law penalizes anyone who violates the foreign equity restrictions, wherein 60 percent of the company should be owned by a Filipino.

In a press release, Megawide denied the allegations that the company violated the law when it partnered with the GMR Group.

“Megawide and GMR honor the trust of the Filipino public and reject all baseless allegations. We will answer them in the proper fora and we will respond to such attempts to malign our reputation with full and credible legal action,” said the company in a statement on December 2.

“As widely-held, publicly listed companies, Megawide and GMR strictly adhere to pertinent laws, rules, and regulations, including those relating to projects bidded by the Philippine National Government. We have done so at the MCIA and we will continue to do so for the rehabilitation and transformation of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA),” said Megawide.  —KQD (FREEMAN)

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