Ex-NIA chief found guilty of harassment, oppression
MANILA, Philippines — Former National Irrigation Administration (NIA) chief Benny Antiporda was found guilty of harassment and oppression by the Office of the Ombudsman over complaints filed by the agency’s employees.
But the Ombudsman, in its decision dated Sept. 11, dismissed the charges of grave misconduct and ignorance of the law also filed against him.
Antiporda on Monday said he would file a motion for reconsideration, as he described the complaint against him as a “product of a concocted scenario to cover up a bigger issue in NIA which involves corruption.”
He also questioned his suspension by the Ombudsman in December last year. He was replaced by Eduardo Guillen, former mayor of Piddig, Ilocos Norte.
“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 four months,” Antiporda told the Inquirer in a Viber message.
He maintained his innocence, saying that he “faithfully served our country and our people to the best of my ability 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,” Antiporda said.
Slew of accusations
The decision stemmed from complaints filed by lawyers of the NIA and by officers and members of two NIA employees’ groups—the NIA Employees Association of the Philippines and the NIA Concerned Employees.
The complainants hurled a slew of accusations at Antiporda, as he was accused, among other things, of humiliating and berating NIA employees; prohibiting managers of NIA’s central office from traveling, “which is counterproductive to their work”; placing some employees on floating status; reassigning some agency personnel “without valid grounds”; “falsely accusing” NIA legal services chief Lloyd Allain Cudal of corruption and asking Cudal and other legal services members to retire or resign or face charges; and harassing NIA corporate board secretary Michelle Raymundo by placing a security guard and a security camera at the door of her office.
He also allegedly threatened employees with nonrenewal of their appointments “if they do not side with him or do not act in consonance with his policies”, made “bootlicking” a basis for promotion, took the flag ceremonies as an occasion “for his bullying and fake news”, and maligned employees through the media.
He was further accused of “misleading” President Marcos when he said that the NIA would irrigate all farmlands through public-private partnerships, “when irrigation is the mandate of the government and not a business venture which is enticing to the private sector.”
He also allegedly threatened to not renew the appointments of some employees of the NIA’s General Services Division after “they were not able to finish the job at once” of repairing the air conditioning in his residence.
The Ombudsman said Antiporda’s actions apparently “failed to live up to the high standards required of a government employee.”
Antiporda also did not offer any “controverting evidence” to refute the allegations against him, including his changing of the door lock of the NIA Board of Directors’ office, the Ombudsman noted.
“Consequently, Respondent (Antiporda) has tarnished the integrity and diminished public trust and confidence in his office that would constitute conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service,” read the decision signed by deputy Ombudsman Jose Balmeo Jr. on Aug. 30.
The decision also pointed out that the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for public officials and employees requires government officials and employees “to respect at all times the rights of others and to refrain from acts contrary to good morals and good customs.”