Evidence ‘strong’ vs suspended MIAA chief, deputy – Ombudsman
MANILA, Philippines — The evidence of guilt against suspended Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) General Manager Cesar Chiong and his co-accused in a grave misconduct case is “strong,” the Office of the Ombudsman said in its suspension order.
In the order, which was signed last April 28 — copies of which were sent to the media late Wednesday night — Ombudsman Samuel Martires said that the suspension of Chiong and acting assistant general manager Irene Montalbo was needed to ensure that they could not influence the investigation against them.
“Based on the evidence on record, it appears that the evidence of guilt of the respondents are strong and the charge against them involve Grave Misconduct which may warrant their removal from the service,” Martires said in his order.
“Considering further that respondents’ continued stay in the office may influence potential witnesses and may prejudice the case filed against them due to their continued access to documentary evidence relative thereto, this Office exercises its power to place respondents under preventive suspension,” he added.
Chiong and Montalbo would be suspended without pay for the duration of the proceedings, but the suspension period would not exceed six months.
However, the Ombudsman clarified that if the delay in the disposition of the cases would due to the respondents’ fault, the period of delay would not be counted.
The charges against the two — grave abuse of authority, grave misconduct, and conduct prejudicial to the best interests of the service — stem from the reassignment of 285 MIAA employees in “a matter of less than a year and the designation of Montalbo by Chiong despite the latter’s unsatisfactory rating in 2020”.
“Sworn statements gathered from the reassigned employees would reveal they were neither informed of the reason for their reassignment, nor did they have pending administrative complaints,” the Ombudsman added.
Chiong broke the news about his suspension on Tuesday, saying that he received the order from the Office of the Ombudsman dated April 28.
“Today, I received an Order dated 28 April 2023 from the Ombudsman ordering my preventive suspension, for previously reassigning certain MIAA employees as part of my effort to improve airport operations,” he said in a statement.
“The Order was based on an anonymous complaint alleging grave abuse of authority,” he added.
Chiong however remained confident that he would be “vindicated and cleared” once he is allowed to present his side.