IT'S funny how members of the Mactan Cebu International Airport Authority (MCIAA) board are defending the indefensible.

I mean, how can a body that could not even appropriate funds to make its facilities truly world-class pay half-a million pesos in severance pay to its retired member? The act, and the argument presented by the MCIAA board to defend it, is rather Arroyo-ish.

Updates on President Benigno Aquino III's presidency

Consider MCIAA General Manager Danilo Augusto Francia’s insistence that what the board did was legal. That argument missed the forest for the trees.

Remember that instance when former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her entourage spent a mind-boggling amount (at least for citizens of a cash-strapped country like ours) for a dinner while on a US trip? Government did not pick up the tab, they said, so there was nothing illegal about it.

But what about the moral? While the officials concerned survived the criticism by being thick-faced about it, the act contributed to the people’s loss of respect for their government.

Okay, the MCIAA charter does empower the board “to approve salary ranges, benefits and other terms and conditions of service for all officers and employees of the authority, upon recommendation of the general manager, which shall, as far as possible, be competitive with those offered in the private sector, subject to existing laws, rules and regulations.”

But how did the board come up with such an unconscionable amount in dealing with the retirement of former Department of Tourism (DOT) 7 regional director Patria Aurora Roa? Half a million pesos for a service that was essentially a sideline and for which she had already received big honorariums through the years—talagang sineswerte.

The 15-member board led by Francia passed last April 15 yet the resolution granting Roa the severance pay supposedly in recognition for her having served as alternate member-director of the MCIAA board for 15 years. That was a few weeks before Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III won the presidency on the platform of “pagbabago,” which partly means a return to the practice by government officials of delicadeza.

So this caper is essentially a left-over of the objectionable practices that had become normal under the old setup. Perhaps the public furor created by this act will attract PNoy’s attention and make him realize the cleansing process must reach even the lower enclaves of the bureaucracy.

(khanwens@yahoo.com/ my blog: cebuano.wordpress.com)