Ombudsman finds Antiporda liable for harassing, oppressing NIA employees
(Updated to correct the signatory of the decision, which was earlier inadvertently attributed to Ombudsman Martires, and to add Antiporda’s initial statement.)
MANILA, Philippines — The Office of the Ombudsman has found former National Irrigation Administration (NIA) Administrator Benny Antiporda liable for harassing and oppressing the agency’s employees.
He had supposedly acted in retaliation to personnel who questioned his policies and activities.
The verdict was handed down in a decision signed by Deputy Ombudsman Jose Balmeo last August 30 and released to reporters on Monday.
Antiporda was ordered to serve the penalty of a one-year suspension without pay.
Other complaints against Antiporda, such as grave misconduct and ignorance of the law, were dropped.
The Ombudsman said if Antiporda could no longer serve the suspension due to separation from NIA, he would still be ordered to pay the amount equivalent to his one-year salary as NIA acting administrator.
In November 2022, the Ombudsman placed Antiporda on a six-month preventive suspension as an investigation into the complaints filed against him started.
On December 22, President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. appointed former Piddig, Ilocos Norte mayor Eduardo Eddie Guillen as the new NIA head.
Guillen replaced Antiporda, who was then serving his preventive suspension.
The Ombudsman’s suspension order stated the complaints stemmed from queries by officials and employees as to whether or not the designation “acting” in “acting administrator” should be dropped — as Antiporda allegedly ordered.
The complainants, who questioned why the word “acting” should be dropped, said Antiporda took his revenge by barring managers of the Central Office from traveling.
Other officials were reportedly reassigned and transferred without valid grounds.
The charges also cited Antiporda’s alleged accusations that two NIA lawyers were corrupt, which has supposedly been detrimental to the employees’ work.
The Ombudsman back then said it found enough reason to investigate Antiporda for the cases.
The resolution necessitated his suspension to avoid any possible interference from him.
Other claims of the complainants are the following:
- Threats that employees’ appointments would not be renewed if they did not side with him (Antiporda)
- Use of flag-raising ceremony as a venue for bullying and sharing misleading information
- Maligning employees through the media
- Misleading the President that NIA will be irrigating farmlands through public-private partnership deals
- Threats not to renew the appointments of General Services Division employees who installed and repaired air-conditioning units at his (Antiporda) house but were not able to finish the job immediately
Antiporda denied NIA officials’ and employees’ accusations, saying their accounts were misleading because it seemed that he was being portrayed as vengeful.
The ex-NIA chief also felt victimized by the alleged injustice and backstabbing.
Antiporda told INQUIRER.net that he respects the Ombudsman’s decision, adding that he would release his statement later in the day.