MANILA, Philippines – On orders by the Ombudsman, Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista has three days to implement the preventive suspension of Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) head Cesar Chiong. But Bautista has come out in Chiong’s defense and questioned whether the Ombudsman’s orders followed due process.
“Tinataka ko lang, wala namang hearing man lang. Wala namang tinanong ‘bakit mo ginawa ‘yan?’ Normally, may tinatawag tayong due process, pag-explain muna sa’yo. ‘Bakit mo ginawa ‘yan, anong reason mo?’ Pero walang question whatsoever from Ombudsman,” Bautista said in a radio interview on DZBB on Tuesday, May 2.
(It makes me wonder why there was not even a hearing. No one even asked “why did you do that?” Normally, it follows due process. They let us explain our side. “Why did you do that, what was your reason?” But there was no question whatsoever from the Ombudsman.)
“Nagulat na lang kami na biglang nagkaroon ng ganun. Sinuspende siya para daw sa pagpapatuloy ng imbestigasyon dahil daw naglipat sila ng tao na walang due process,” he added.
(We were just surprised that something like this already happened. He was suspended so that they can continue the investigation because he was alleged to have reassigned people without due process)
Bautista confirmed that he received the Ombudsman’s decision on Tuesday, May 2 – a day after a power outage at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3 affected about 9,000 passengers. The transportation secretary said he is discussing options with his legal team, but that he will follow the order.
Under the order, Chiong was placed under preventive suspension after “anonymous MIAA officials” filed complaints against him, alleging grave abuse of authority, grave misconduct, and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.
Chiong was accused of reassigning 285 MIAA employees in less than a year. Aiding him in the reorganization process was MIAA Assistant General Manager for Finance and Administration Irene Montalbo, who is now also under preventive suspension. The employees were moved between positions, but none of them were fired, Bautista clarified.
Chiong has fought back against the allegations, claiming that the reassignment was part of his efforts to improve the NAIA’s operations and finances.
Bautista has also come to his defense, saying that he instructed Chiong to fix the organization upon his assumption of the post of MIAA general manager.
“Let’s professionalize it. Tignan natin ‘yung mga competencies ng mga tao para naman maging efficient ‘yung operations natin (Let’s see what the people’s competencies are so that we can make our operations efficient),” Bautista recalled telling him.
“Si GM Chiong has been doing a very good job. Malaking improvement nagawa diyan sa airport for the last eight months. Bago ka dumating sa terminal, wala na ‘yung security guard na nagche-check ng mga kotse. Wala namang ginagawa kung hindi tumatayo lang. Pag pumunta ka sa terminal ngayon, wala na ‘yung initial x-ray inspection. Dirediretso ang pasok mo sa terminal,” he added. “By doing so, the government has saved a lot of money.”
(GM Chiong has been doing a very good job. He has done big improvements to the airport for the last eight months. Before you reach the terminal, they’ve already removed the security guard that checks the cars, who used to do nothing except stand around. When you go to the terminal now, there’s no more initial x-ray inspection. You can go straight inside the terminal.)
Asked whether the suspension has anything to do with the recent glitches hitting NAIA, Bautista simply said: “Sana nga naman wala nga (Let’s hope not).”
In an interview with ABS-CBN on Wednesday, May 3, Bautista said he has appointed Bryan Co, assistant general manager of MIAA, as Chiong’s replacement during the latter’s suspension.
He said MIAA has 15 days to file a motion to lift the preventive suspension of Chiong. – Rappler.com
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