Ombudsman suspends MIAA head Cesar Chiong for alleged grave abuse of authority

Lance Spencer Yu

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Ombudsman suspends MIAA head Cesar Chiong for alleged grave abuse of authority

MIAA HEAD. MIAA General Manager Cesar Chiong leads an inspection at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in connection with MIAA's preparations for the upcoming Oplan Semana Santa 2023 and various projects of the MIAA, on March 29, 2023.


Manila International Airport Authority General Manager Cesar Chiong is facing complaints for reassigning hundreds of employees in less than a year

MANILA, Philippines – Just a day after the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) was crippled by a power outage, Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) head Cesar Chiong is once again in the hot seat. But instead of grappling with technical glitches, he is facing legal issues this time.

The Office of the Ombudsman has placed Chiong 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.

In an order dated April 28, the Ombudsman said that Chiong had reassigned about 285 MIAA employees in less than a year, a process which he begun just a month after he assumed his position on July 20, 2022. 

“Sworn statements gathered from the reassigned employees would reveal that they were neither informed of the reason for their reassignment nor did they have pending administrative complaints,” the order read.

Chiong is also accused of abusing his authority after he appointed Irene Montalbo – who is now also placed under preventive suspension for the same charges – as the acting assistant general manager for finance and administration despite her “unsatisfactory rating in 2020.” Montalbo was also said to have participated in the reassignment of MIAA employees, given the scope of her position.

Improved MIAA finances

Chiong pushed back against the allegations, asserting that the reassignment of employees was part of his “effort to improve airport operations.”

“I am confident of being vindicated and cleared in the end, after I am allowed to present my side as a result of my vision and plan to improve airport efficiency and the financial standing of the authority,” Chiong said in a statement on Tuesday, May 2. 

“The country’s main airport faces extremely difficult challenges, and we have started to implement plans and programs that aim to enhance passenger experience at our country’s main gateway,” he added.

Despite these challenges, Chiong said that the agency’s finances had “vastly improved without any government subsidy” since he took over in mid-2022. 

“Putting MIAA in good financial stead is one of my visions. There are others that are just as critical. But for now, I need to focus on the legal issue at hand,” Chiong said.

In a press conference earlier on Tuesday, Chiong mentioned that NAIA had improved its financial situation. 

Speaking about plans to purchase more generator sets for NAIA Terminal 3, Chiong said: “Meron naman tayong fund for that. One of the things that we’re trying to do in NAIA is to increase the collections, ‘yung ating mga receivables, nagko-collect tayo. At least meron tayong pera para sa ganitong contingencies.”

(We have funding for that. One of the things that we’re trying to do in NAIA is to increase the collection of our receivables. At least we have money for these kind of contingencies.)

NAIA, which is managed by MIAA, has been hounded by controversies – from being named the worst business class airport in the world to facing multiple complaints of passenger theft by security screening officers

Technical glitches paralyzed the airport on New Year’s Day, disrupting the flight of more than 78,000 passengers. Another power outage left around 9,000 passengers stranded on Labor Day – again on a holiday. –

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Lance Spencer Yu

Lance Spencer Yu is a multimedia reporter who covers the transportation, tourism, infrastructure, finance, agriculture, and corporate sectors, as well as macroeconomic issues.