Aplasca: Naia closer to curbing corruption, theft
MANILA, Philippines — After resigning, former Office of Transportation Security (OTS) administrator Ma. O Aplasca on Wednesday lamented how the agency was already so close to addressing corruption and theft problems at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia).
Aplasca made the pronouncement after he resigned on Tuesday due to an ultimatum from Speaker Martin Romualdez, where he warned the OTS chief to resign or the agency’s budget would be blocked.
“Nagtataka pa rin ako; hindi ko pa rin maintindihan yung call for resignation [ni Romualdez], nanghihinayang lang ako personally tsaka ‘yung aking mga tauhan kasi malapit na sana kami maging successful sa aming kampanya laban sa korapsyon diyan sa aming organization at sa airport,” said Aplasca in an interview over Radyo 360.
(I’m still wondering; I still can’t understand the call for resignation [of Romualdez]. I feel regret, personally, and for my team, because we were close to achieving success in our campaign against corruption in our organization and at the airport.)
“Pero dahil merong panawagang ganoon at tsaka ayaw naman po natin maantala ‘yung approval (of the budget) ng buong departmento, sino naman si Usec. Aplasca para haranganan po ang buong department,” he added.
(But because there is such a call, and we also don’t want to delay the approval (of the budget) of the entire department, who is Usec. Aplasca to block the entire department?)
Aplasca said he did not understand why Romualdez was so “aggressive,” especially as he also served as the House of Representatives’ Sergeant-at–Arms in 2020, having had no issues with Romualdez.
Aplasca even admitted that he feels slightly disgruntled, as he insisted he did what he could as the OTS chief by taking action during a criminal incident and implementing an internal cleansing program.
“Kung pag-uusapan natin ang command responsibility, I think I know better than Martin Romualdez kung ano ibig sabihin ng command responsibility bilang isang retired military official,” Aplasca further added when asked if he felt that it was right to hold him accountable under command responsibility.
(If we’re going to discuss command responsibility, I believe I understand the concept better than Martin Romualdez, given my background as a retired military official.)
Aplasca then said that he leaves it up to President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. or Transportation Sec. Jaime Bautista on who his replacement will be, stressing that the problem in OTS is “systemic and cultural.”
“Siguro in the past, kaya po walang naha-highlight na ganiyan dahil wala pong nahuhuli,” said Aplasca.
(Perhaps in the past, the reason there were no highlighted incidents was because no one was caught.)
When asked for a message to Romualdez, Aplasca said he wishes the lawmaker would be more active in solving airport issues and fulfilling promises he has given before.
“I hope he will be more active in solving the issues in the airport, sana hindi lang puro pangako dahil nangako siya ng additional equipment, dagdag na sweldo sa personnel, sana tuparin niya rin ‘yung kaniyang pangako para makumpleto ‘yung programa diyan sa OTS,” said Aplasca.
(I hope he will be more active in solving the issues at the airport. I hope it’s not just empty promises because he pledged additional equipment and increased salaries for personnel. I hope he fulfills his promises to complete the program at OTS.)
Before his resignation, the OTS faced criticism from the public and several lawmakers after an OTS personnel stole and swallowed $300 from a departing passenger at Naia Terminal 1 on Sept. 8.
This is not the first time such an incident happened. On Feb. 22, 2023, a Naia screening personnel was caught stealing money from a Thai passenger.
Just days later, another officer was arrested for stealing a Chinese tourist’s watch.