THE controversy involving the severance pay to a retiring Mactan- Cebu International Airport Authority (MCIAA) board member is not new.

On March 20, 2003, the Commission on Audit said the P100,000-severance pay the MCIAA board gave to former Department of Transportation and Communication undersecretary Carina Sepulveda Valera did not have legal basis.

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Aside from the amount, Valera also allegedly failed to refund a certain amount of honorarium, which was fixed by the board, and COA considered it a “double compensation,” in violation of audit rules.

However, MCIAA Legal Officer Glenn Napuli said yesterday the COA opinion on the Valera case is pending before the Supreme Court.

Officials and members of the MCIAA Employees Mutual Association (Mema) have criticized the MCIAA board for its decisions in the use of its funds.

In June 2002, Mema officials and employees held daily protest-rallies and burned effigies of then governor Pablo Garcia, then justice undersecretary Ramon Liwag, Valera, and former Department of Tourism 7 director Patria Aurora Roa—all members of the MCIAA board—for refusing to release their benefits despite the order by Judge Agapito Honta-nosas Jr. of the Regional Trial Court Branch 16.

But former MCIAA general manager Alfonso Alerre said then that the board was careful in paying benefits to MCIAA officials and employees because COA issued a disallowance for the P58 million it released in benefits to airport personnel in 1998,

1999 and 2000.

The board allegedly approved the release of P85,000 for MCIAA official or employee without any legal basis.

But aside from conflict in the use of funds, differences among board members and politics have created problems in the MCIAA.

When Alerre stepped down as general manager in October 2002, the board approved a resolution granting him a cash gift of P50,000.

But the board recalled it because of differences with some of its members.

Former congressman Raul del Mar authored the MCIAA Charter or Republic Act 6958 in the 9th Congress.

Since del Mar was an ally of former Cebu governor Emilio “Lito” Osmeña, the governor’s political rival Maximo Patalinghug, then mayor of Lapu-Lapu City, was not given a seat in the MCIAA board even if the airport is located in the city. (EOB)