Thursday, January 26, 2012

Diosdado Macapagal International Airport: 4 tagged in cable theft disappear

CLARK FREEPORT - Four men tagged as suspects in the theft of two kilometers of power cable at the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport are missing, giving an investigation of the theft a bad start here.

Reynaldo Catacutan, vice president for airport operations management group of Clark International Airport Corp. (CIAC), said police could not find Cesar Mayo, Jose Canete III and Nilo and Rolly Padua.

Arnel Paciano Casanova, president of Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA), confirmed that the investigation is ongoing.

“We have heard a number of witnesses already and we will continue next week,” he said on Monday.

The cables, measuring a total of 2,915 meters and worth more than P2 million, belonged to a backup system that lights a runway, taxiway and the entire airfield. The system was installed in 1995 in compliance with a requirement of the International Civil Aviation Organization, a report showed.

CIAC security documents and two handwritten notes by CIAC president Victor Jose Luciano authorizing entry into two sites in the airport complex identified the four men as workers of the ACP Manpower.

“They’re scheduled to give statements to the BCDA. We’ve been looking for them since Jan. 3,” Catacutan said.

“They were supposed to be subject to inquest because they were caught red-handed,” said Catacutan. He said it was Luciano who ordered the men released.

Luciano had denied the cables were stolen and that he intervened for the release of the suspects.

Luciano released a report on the theft on Tuesday when President Aquino came to Clark for groundbreaking rites for the Philippine Academy for Aviation Training, a joint venture of Cebu Pacific and Canadian aviation firm CAE.

Luciano said he was forced to release a copy of the report, dated Nov. 11, 2011, in answer to a claim by Catacutan that the theft had exposed risks to the security and safety of DMIA.

Jose Marlowe Pedregosa, DMIA security manager, did not hold Luciano liable for the theft in a Sept. 26 memorandum.

Pedregosa’s memorandum said the only violation of the four men was to conduct work without the knowledge of DMIA’s aviation engineering department.

Josie Gomez, owner of the firm for which the four men worked, said Catacutan had been harassing her to confess involvement in the theft.

“I’m afraid for my life. I have stopped working. I’m tailed by a motorcycle-riding man in the morning and at night,” Gomez told the Inquirer by phone. Catacutan, however, denied harassing her.

According to Luciano, he did not immediately make the report on the theft public because he was heeding a gag order from the BCDA that links the theft to the feud between him and Catacutan.


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