Antiporda respects Ombudsman order, but says penalty is unjust
MANILA, Philippines — While he respects the decision of the Office of the Ombudsman, former National Irrigation Administration (NIA) head Benny Antiporda maintains that the penalty imposed on him — a one-year suspension — seems unjust.
Antiporda in a statement on Monday after the Ombudsman’s decision was released said that the penalty is “highly prejudicial” considering that he was only NIA acting administrator for less than four months.
Earlier, it was reported that the Ombudsman found Antiporda liable for harassment and oppression of some of the agency’s employees, after he supposedly retaliated to employees who questioned his policies and activities.
Antiporda was ordered to serve the penalty of one year suspension without pay — and if he cannot serve the suspension, he will be required to pay an amount equivalent to his one year salary as NIA acting administrator.
“First we will submit our motion for reconsideration on the said decision,” Antiporda said.
“While I can only bow to the wisdom of the office of the ombudsman, may I point out that the punishment ordered against me appears unjustifiable and highly prejudicial considering that I only served at the NIA as acting administrator for less than 4 months,” he added.
Antiporda’s suspension came over nine months since the Office of the Ombudsman initially handed down a six-month preventive suspension against him, after employees filed a complaint for grave misconduct, conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service, harassment and oppression, and ignorance of the law.
In the decision, all complaints against Antiporda have been dismissed except for harassment and oppression.
In the Ombudsman’s preventive suspension order, it was stated that the complaints stemmed from queries by officials and employees as to why the word “acting” in the “acting administrator” designation should be dropped — as Antiporda allegedly ordered.
The complainants, who questioned this directive from Antiporda, claimed that former NIA head retaliated by barring managers of the central office from traveling, while other officials have been reassigned and transferred without valid grounds.
But Antiporda maintained that the complaint was created with the intent of covering up a corruption issue at NIA.
“Let me reiterate that this complaint is a product of a concocted scenario to cover up a bigger issue in NIA which involves corruption,” Antiporda said.
“In closing, my conscience is clear in declaring that I have faithfully served our country and our people to the best of my ability always guided by my firm belief that every action and decision I made is to advance and protect the well-being and interest of the agency I served. If upholding the public good has become punishable nowadays, then I take things with gladness in my heart,” he added.