9 years of waiting

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Friday, October 22, 2010

AFTER waiting nine years to get the post, Cebu City Planning and Development Office (CPDO) Coordinator Nigel Paul Villarete is ready to help make the Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA) a better airport, with a promise to be transparent in all transactions.

While he does not consider the position of general manager special, Villarete is looking forward to making the airport a facility that can contribute more to regional development, particularly in the area of tourism.

He said he would bring to the Mactan-Cebu International Airport Authority (MCIAA) the same dedication he gave to City Hall, as well as the City’s slogan—“There is always a better way.”


“If there are things that are not done properly, then we’ll do it properly because there’s always a better way. If there are things that are good, then we can still improve it because there’s always a better way. Then the result will be a better airport, I hope, with our leadership,” Villarete told reporters yesterday.

He was appointed MCIA general manager during a special meeting of the MCIAA Board in Manila last Wednesday, but his appointment will be signed on Oct. 26 yet, when the ban on hiring of public officials ends.

No investigation

Villarete would not say yet what his plans are for the airport pending his appointment, but he assured he would not go there to launch a series of investigation on alleged anomalies.

"It will not be my intention to go in and investigate things but we can't help it if we see something that really needs to be looked into, then we will ask for the concurrence of the board to investigate," he said, adding he will leave it to the investigating agencies to look into these things.

Villarete said he would focus instead on implementing the plans of President Benigno Aquino III to expand the airport terminal in terms of capacity and services.

He also assured that transparency will be the “hallmark” of his service to MCIAA.

Although he is not an expert in aviation, like outgoing MCIAA General Manager Danilo Francia and previous general managers of the airport, Villarete said he has the qualifications to manage the only international airport in Central Visayas.

He was head of the infrastructure division of the National Economic and Development
Authority (Neda) 7 before he joined the City Government as city administrator in 2001.

“Managing a government facility requires a multiplicity of skills and qualifications but more importantly, an innate understanding of how government works,” he said.

Aside from being the City’s planning chief, Villarete is also on top of the
preparations for the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), which he said he would turn over to the head of the Cebu City Transportation Office and the next CPDO head.

But Rep. Tomas Osmeña (Cebu City, south district) said Villarete can still help the City deal with the foreign funding agencies for the implementation of the BRT, even while he sits as airport manager.

In a phone interview yesterday, Osmeña said he hopes Villarete will “clean up the place” once he is appointed. He also hopes that under Villarete’s leadership, the MCIAA Board will be able to finish the abandoned administration building and repair the airport’s runway.

“MCIAA has been abused and mismanaged and I'm glad that there is a change in leadership. I hope Paul would look at all the shenanigans there, look at all those consultants of MCIAA. Many people are using the MCIAA as a milking cow for their own personal benefits,” he said.

Villarete, who is identified with Osmeña and other Liberal Party’s (LP) local allies, can expect help from the former mayor in getting help from the City of Harlemermeer in the Netherlands, the sister city of Cebu City, in improving the airport.

Osmeña said they can benefit from their relationship with Harmlemermeer, the home of Schipol Airport, one of the largest and most modern airports in the world.

“Harlemermeer gave us 600 luggage carts in the early years of our sister city ties.

They are very active in helping us and we can exploit that relationship and get advice and consultants from them. We have very good chances of getting help,” he said.

In his news conference yesterday, Mayor Michael Rama welcomed Villarete's transfer to MCIAA, and said he expects there will be no hanky-panky and graft and corruption under the latter’s leadership.

He said he will appoint assistant CPDO chief Mariecon Encabo as acting planning officer once Villarete is appointed.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 22, 2010.

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