MEGAWIDE Construction Corp. said its directors and officers in the Anti-Dummy Law violation case, in connection with the operation of the Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA), pleaded “not guilty” on Monday.
The company also said that the respondents had filed a motion to quash the case, citing the newly signed Republic Act No. 11659, or the Amended Public Service Act.
“During the 28 March 2022 hearing for the arraignment of the private respondents in the case pending before the RTC (Regional Trial Court of Lapu-Lapu City), the Megawide respondents entered a plea of ‘not guilty’ to the alleged violation of the Anti-Dummy Law,” the company said in a disclosure to the stock exchange.
“Notwithstanding this arraignment, the Megawide respondents recently filed a motion to quash stating that the information does not allege an offense, given that the signing into law of Republic Act No. 11659, otherwise known as the Amended Public Service Act (PSA), has rendered the legal issue at hand moot and academic,” it added.
The amended law excludes telecommunications, domestic shipping, railways and subways, airlines, expressways and tollways, and airports from the definition of a public utility. This means they will no longer be subject to the 40% foreign ownership cap for public utilities under the Constitution.
Megawide said the joint resolution issued by the Office of the Ombudsman in July last year “found probable cause” against its directors and officers, who are also directors of GMR Megawide Cebu Airport Corp. (GMCAC), operator of MCIA, “who all allegedly acted in conspiracy with one another, for violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act No. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.”
Megawide and GMCAC officers involved in the case are Manuel Louie B. Ferrer, Edgar B. Saavedra, Oliver Y. Tan, Jez Dela Cruz, Srinivas Bommidala, P. Sripathy, Vivek Singhai, Andrew Acquaah-Harrison, Ravi Bhatnagar, Ravishankar Saravu, Michael Lenane, Sudarshan MD, Kumar Gaurav, Magesh Nambiar, and Rajesh Mandan.
Mr. Saavedra is Megawide’s president and chief executive officer, while Mr. Ferrer serves as executive director of infrastructure development and chief corporate affairs and branding officer of the company.
Steve Y. Dicdican, the general manager and chief executive officer of the Mactan Cebu International Airport Authority, is the only public respondent in the case.
“The respondents allegedly acted with a common purpose and intention to allow foreign nationals to perform executive functions, particularly to manage and operate the Mactan Cebu International Airport in violation of the Anti-Dummy Law,” Megawide said, referring to the Office of the Ombudsman’s joint resolution.
“The Megawide respondents filed a petition for review with the Department of Justice assailing the finding of probable cause. Megawide, its directors, and officers maintain that they exercise good corporate governance and adhere to all applicable laws, rules, and regulations in all its dealings,” the company added.
Megawide noted that the RTC had issued warrants of arrest against the respondents despite filing an omnibus motion with the RTC seeking “judicial determination of probable cause; quashal of the warrant of arrest if issued or if unissued, defer issuance; and dismissal of the case for lack of probable cause and due process.”
The company said the RTC gave the public prosecutor a period of 10 days from the hearing date to file their comment or opposition to the motion to quash filed by the respondents.
“Thereafter, counsel for the Megawide respondents was given a period of five days from receipt of the comment or opposition to file a reply. The hearing for the motion to quash is set on April 25, 2022,” it added.
Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra declined to comment on the Megawide respondents’ use of the amended PSA in their motion to quash. — Arjay L. Balinbin