IT'S good that former Cebu governor Emilio “Lito” Osmeña and Provincial Board (PB) Member Thadeo Ouano have come out to ask where the P14.4 billion that GMR-Megawide Cebu Airport Corp. (GMCAC) paid to the Mactan Cebu International Airport Authority (MCIAA) as premium for the construction of the airport’s passenger terminal 2 has gone.
GMCAC turned over P16.1 billion to the MCIAA in April last year, which was broken down to P14.4 billion premium payment and P1.7 billion value-added tax. In November, GMCAC took over landside operations of the Mactan airport with the MCIAA retaining airside operation.
However, MCIAA admitted in December, or eight months after the premium was paid, that guidelines on the use of the funds had yet to be issued by the National Government. MCIAA chief Nagiel Paul Villarete told Sun.Star Cebu’s Elias Baquero that the money is in a blocked account of the MCIAA with the Land Bank of the Philippines.
But no withdrawals could be made before work on passenger terminal 2 could be started, based on the concession agreement signed by the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) and GMCAC. The MCIAA is attached to the DOTC.
Earlier GMCAC said it would start the construction phase in the first quarter of this year, but the schedule was moved to August because of the delay in the replication of Philippine Air Force (PAF) facilities. Passenger terminal 2 will be built in a portion of the area occupied by PAF facilities.
So the P14.4 billion should still be in MCIAA’s account with Land Bank. But even if withdrawals are already authorized, these should be guided by a policy to be set by the National Government. We do not know if such policy guideline has been issued. Perhaps this should be where the energy of Ouano and Osmeña should be focused.
What we are saying is that there might still be time to lobby with the Aquino administration to ensure that the P14.4 billion would benefit Cebuanos and not any other area or, worse, the Liberal Party (LP) in the form of campaign funds. Ouano and Osmeña can lead in that lobby.
While asking where the money would go is a good question, it would lose its significance if those raising the matter would merely pay lip service to it or use it as a mere campaign issue.