A CITY official and two retired military officers are vying for the position of general manager of the Mactan Cebu International Airport Authority (MCIAA). Cebu City planning and development officer Paul Villarete, retired Capt. Antonio Oppus and retired Gen. Antonio Anciano have applied for the post currently held by Danilo Francia. Oppus, a pilot, was the airport's first general manager when the MCIAA was formed. He served from 1987 to 1995. Anciano formerly served as the deputy chief of staff for Logistics of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. The MCIAA board's commission on good governance headed by private sector representative Francis Monera is now evaluating their applications. Transportation and Communication Undersecretary Aristotle Batuhan, who also sits as chairman of the MCIAA board, said they still have to set the criteria for the candidates. “We are still on the issue of the requirements or setting the qualifications in general,” Batuhan said. Of the three applicants, Villarete has the written endorsement of President Benigno Aquino III. Villarete is closely identified with former mayor Tomas Osmeña, who campaigned for the Liberal Party in Cebu City. Aquino sent the MCIAA board a Sept. 15 letter expressing his “desire” to have Villarete appointed the general manager. “I don't think there will be other ‘desire’ letters,” Batuhan said. An “I desire” letter is a standard endorsement used by past Presidents as well. This is usually honored even though it does not carry the full authority of an appointment, and can be withdrawn any time. The Mactan airport is crucial to tourism in Cebu and earned gross revenues of P908 million as of September this year. Batuhan said a special board meeting will be held in the next two weeks to discuss the qualifications of the applicants. But due to the election ban, the appointment of a new airport general manager will have to wait. Comelec Resolution 6456 prohibits the appointment or hiring of new employees in government 45 days before a regular election. “We do not expect to elect our GM today,” Batuhan said after the board meeting. He said they only discussed qualifications for general manager based on requirements of the Civil Service laws, as prescribed by the MCIAA charter. Francia said he attended the first part of the meeting to present his management report but left as the board was about to deliberate on the general manager's qualification.