Ombudsman pushes suspension of Cebu airport official

Published December 29, 2020, 4:50 PM

by Alexandria Dennise San Juan

The Office of the Ombudsman has required the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to submit the status of the implementation of the preventive suspension order it earlier issued against an official of the Mactan-Cebu International Airport Authority (MCIAA).

In a letter to Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, the Ombudsman noted that it has been receiving reports that MCIAA General Manager Steve Dicdican continues to work despite the order for his preventive suspension.

Ombudsman Samuel Martires ordered the preventive suspension of Dicdican earlier this month for reportedly allowing foreigners to manage the airport even though the authority to do so belongs to Filipino citizens.

Dicdican has been ordered suspended for six months without pay to prevent any possible tampering of evidence, harassment of witnesses, or interference. He is likewise prohibited from entering his office throughout the duration of his suspension.

According to the Ombudsman, a copy of the suspension order was served upon Dicdican through his official email address per the Supreme Court 2019 Revised Rules of Procedure. 

“As a lawyer, he should not wait for the order to be officially served upon him by the DOTr secretary because he is expected to observe compliance with lawful orders of duly constituted authorities,” the Ombudsman said in a statement on Tuesday.

Under the Office’s rules on the procedure, a compliance report must be submitted by the DOTr within three calendar days from receipt of the Order of Implementation which was last December 17.

Dicdican’s suspension stemmed from a 25-year concession of the MCIA’s management and operation awarded by the DOTr and MCIAA to GMR Megawide Cebu Airport Corporation (GMCAC) for P14.4 billion last April 2014.

The concession was for the expansion and operation of the MCIA. However, the complainants said that GMCAC’s actions went beyond the terms and coverage of the concession and the MCIA was operated and managed by foreign nationals.

The complaint stated that Andrew Acquaah-Harrison, currently Chief Executive Advisor of GMCAC, performed managerial and executive functions at MCIA with Dicdican’s knowledge and consent.

The complainant also alleged that Dicdican allowed GMCAC Chief Operations Officer Michael Lenane and Chief Commercial Advisor Ravishankar Saravu to exercise managerial functions at MCIA.

“Instead of reporting these irregularities to the MCIA Board, Dicdican turned a blind eye and knowingly aided, assisted, or abetted these foreign officers/employees of GMCAC in the perpetration of the acts penalized by the Anti-Dummy Law,” the order read.

“His acts likewise constitute a violation of the Anti-Graft Law, since he gave unwarranted benefits to these foreign nationals and effectively caused undue injury to the government,” it added.

As the General Manager of the MCIAA, the Ombudsman said it is Dicdican’s duty to direct and supervise the daily activities of the airport. Since he failed to report the violations committed by the foreign nationals, Martires said it implies his consent to the violations.

Should Dicdican be found guilty of Grave Misconduct as well as Gross Neglect of Duty, it would warrant his removal from the service, the Ombudsman said.