FORMER Department of Tourism (DOT) 7 director Patria Aurora Roa said yesterday she is willing to return the P500,000 severance pay granted to her if the airport board tells her to do so.

Roa, in an interview yesterday, criticized former Cebu City councilor Hilario “Junjun” Davide III, who ran against former Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia but lost, for saying she was not qualified to sit in the Mactan-Cebu International Airport Authority (MCIAA) board and receive honorarium and benefits.

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Davide, a lawyer, said the MCIAA Charter or Republic Act 6958 requires, among others, that the secretary of the DOT or any undersecretary or assistant secretary designated by the secretary may sit as ex-officio member of the board.

With the Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas conducting a fact-finding inquiry on the release of the severance pay, members of the MCIAA board, including Governor Garcia, last Thursday held a press conference and maintained the legality of the severance pay to Roa.

Roa said while she respects the ombudsman’s investigation, she said she no longer has any involvement in the case since she retired from government service last year.

“I was no longer a member of the (MCIAA) board when they decided to give me the severance pay,” said Roa, who confirmed she received the check last July 8.

Meanwhile, Vice Gov. Gregorio Sanchez Jr. will submit to the Provincial Board on Monday a proposed resolution expressing his displeasure against the “hasty” releasing and receiving of the P500,000 severance pay.

Aside from the anti-graft office, Sanchez said the Commission on Audit should check if the release of the separation pay was “fair, equitable and reasonable under our law and jurisprudence.”

Roa wasn’t happy with the statement of Davide, who is an ally of Sanchez.

“I thought he was a good lawyer,” Roa said of Davide.

Permanent

Roa said she sat in the MCIAA board since 1995, when former DOT secretary Vicente Carlos appointed her as his representative to the board.

Carlos issued on the same year a special order for Roa to be the DOT’s permanent representative to the MCIAA board.

After Carlos, former DOT secretary Eduardo Pilapil also appointed Roa to the same position.

Other DOT secretaries, including the most recent—Joseph “Ace” Durano, honored the appointment, she said.

“I can’t just sit there as representative of the tourism secretary without special orders from the secretary himself,” said Roa.

Roa said it is the prerogative of the concerned agency to decide who they will appoint as their representative to the board. (JKV/With RRF)