Megawide seeks dismissal of criminal complaint, says officials not allowed to present defense before arrest warrants ordered
MANILA, Philippines—Megawide Construction Corp. officials have asked a local court to dismiss the criminal case filed against them, saying they were not given due process in a complaint alleging violations of the Anti-Dummy law in the company’s Cebu Airport project.
The construction and engineering giant said in a stock exchange filing on Friday respondents filed a motion before the Regional Trial Court of Lapu-Lapu City, arguing the complaint lacked probable cause.
The warrants were issued Nov. 25 for officials of Megawide and subsidiary GMR Megawide Cebu Airport Corp. (GMCAC).
GMCAC is the company’s venture with India’s GMR Infrastructure that modernized and transformed the Mactan Cebu International Airport into a world-class gateway after they won the Public Private Partnership contract in 2014.
“Despite the timely filing of such omnibus motion, the RTC proceeded with the issuance of the warrants of arrest,” Megawide said in its filing.
“We will diligently respond to this case in the proper fora and continue to abide by the judicial process,” it added.
Officials posted bail as of Friday afternoon, a Megawide spokesperson said.
Named in the arrest warrant were Megawide president and CEO Edgar Saavedra, infrastructure development and chief corporate affairs and branding officer Manuel Louie B. Ferrer, director Oliver Y. Tan, and Jez G. Dela Cruz, assistant vice president for corporate finance and planning.
Also named as respondents were GMCAC chief executive advisor Andrew Acquaah-Harrison, Srinivas Bommidala, P. Sripathy, Vivek Singhal, Ravi Bhatnagar, Ravishankar Saravu, Michael Lenane, Sudarshan MD alias Sudarshan, Madhav Doddathota, Kumar Gaurav, Magesh Nambiar alias Magesh, Perayil Kanneth, and Rajesh Madan.
The Anti-Dummy Law is a criminal statute that penalizes individuals who violate foreign equity restrictions and evade nationalization laws in regulated industries.
The complaint was filed in Sept. 3, 2020 by lawyer Larry Iguidez Jr., who allegedforeigners were operating GMACs.
Megawide disclosed its officials received a resolution from the Office of Ombudsman last Nov. 5 stating there was probable cause the respondents “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, which previously questioned the motives behind the complaint, said the respondents was not allowed to present their defense.
“Prior to receiving the resolution, none of the private respondents obtained or received any subpoena or order from the Office of the Ombudsman directing the submission of their respective counter-affidavits,” Megawide said in the stock exchange filing.
“As a result, the private respondents were not given the opportunity to present their defenses and participate in the preliminary investigation,” the company added.
The respondents also 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 said.
In a separate statement, Megawide maintained the Anti-Dummy charges lacked basis and attacks against the company ramped up it angered unnamed entities after pursuing the $2 billion proposal to modernize its second airport project, the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) in Manila.
“This is the latest development in a long line of attempts to bring down Megawide’s reputation and credibility that, will be recalled, began with its bid for the rehabilitation of Naia,” the company said.
The Department of Transportation eventually scrapped the private sector modernization of Naia, saying it would finance some of the upgrades on its own.
“GMCAC transformed the Mactan-Cebu International Airport into the Philippines’ only internationally-acclaimed and award-winning airport, and have done so through a firm adherence with all applicable laws, rules, and regulations, particularly as both are widely-held publicly-listed companies,” Megawide said.
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