By Arjay L. Balinbin, Reporter

BUSINESS groups from Cebu added their voice to calls to give Megawide Construction Corp. and its foreign partner a chance to rehabilitate the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

In her letter to President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Dec. 28, Cebu Association of Tourguides, Inc. President Mary Grace Melendres said Cebu’s experience with the Mactan-Cebu International Airport developed by Megawide and its Indian partner GMR Infrastructure Ltd. should be replicated at the NAIA.

“The Cebu tourism community is confident that as soon as the vaccines are distributed to our population, which your administration is working hard to acquire, there will be a dramatic surge in travel,” Ms. Melendres said in her letter.

She noted that the redeveloped Cebu airport had helped increase tourist arrivals in Cebu from only 6.5 million passengers per annum to almost 13 million in 2019.

James Peter S. Aznar, head of laboratory at the Prime Care Alpha COVID-19 Testing Laboratory, a third-party partner of the GMR Megawide Cebu Airport Corp. (GMCAC), also wrote Mr. Duterte, saying the anti-dummy case the consortium faces is a “nuisance issue.”

“We continue to believe in the administration’s promise to get the NAIA rehabilitation on its way while protecting the achievements of other Philippine airports,” Mr. Aznar said in his letter dated Dec. 21.

Eduardo L. Solana, Jr., president of Vertical Difficult Access Solutions, Inc., which is also a third-party partner of the GMCAC, reiterated in a separate letter to Mr. Duterte on Dec. 21 that the partnership of Megawide and GMR “has been an asset to Cebu boosting local tourism and the regional economy.”

BusinessWorld received copies of the letters via e-mail on Tuesday.

Megawide posted on its official Facebook page on Monday that it also gained support from Cebu Chamber of Commerce & Industry (CCCI).

The company posted a copy of the Dec. 15 letter of CCCI President Felix Taguiam to Transportation Secretary Arthur P. Tugade that said, “We enjoin you to support our home-grown companies and corporations like Megawide and let them be a source of pride and joy for the country.”

“The NAIA rehabilitation project deserves full support from the government, so Filipinos can ultimately have their long-awaited and much-deserved world-class airport,” Mr. Taguiam said.

In December, Ombudsman Samuel R. Martires ordered the suspension of MCIAA General Manager Steve Y. Dicdican for allegedly violating the Anti-Dummy Law.

Mr. Dicdican was accused of letting foreign officials of GMCAC manage the Cebu airport.

The National Bureau of Investigation had filed a complaint before the Justice department against Mr. Dicdican, other airport executives, and GMCAC officials for violating the same law.

Mr. Dicdican questioned the filing of the complaint, saying the concession deal was awarded years before he joined the airport authority.

The Manila International Airport Authority also revoked in December the original proponent status of the Megawide-GMR tandem for the NAIA rehabilitation project.