The Office of the Ombudsman has punished the long-time sidekick of Transportation Secretary Jimmy Bautista for the illegal reshuffle of hundreds of airport personnel.
In an order issued on April 28, the Ombudsman placed Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) acting General Manager Cesar Chiong and his acting assistant Irene P. Montalbo for six months without pay for alleged grave abuse of authority and misconduct.
“It appears that the evidence of guilt of the respondents are strong and the charge against the involve grave misconduct which may warrant their removal from the service, ” the Ombudsman said.
The Ombudsman said the suspension is meant to prevent them from prejudicing the case against them “due to their continued access to documentary evidence.”
The Ombudsman was acting on a complaint filed by anonymous officials who exposed Chiong’s decison to reassign 285 MIAA personnel just a month after his appointment in July 2022.
The complainants claimed that Montalbo was complicit in the illegal reshuffle because she was Chiong’s adviser in the formulation and implementation of administrative matters.
The affected employees claimed that they were neither informed of the reason for the change of assignment nor did they have pending administrative complaints to justify their movement.
The complainants also said that Chiong abused his authority when he appointed Montalbo as his Assistant GM for Finance and Administration despite her poor performance rating in 2020.
Chiong claimed the redeployment of MIAA staff was part of his effort to improve airport operations.
The Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) suffered three major power failures – September last year and January 1 and May 1 this year – which caused major annoyance to passengers and widespread delays in flights.
Both Bautista and Chiong have clung to their posts despite causing the biggest embarrassment under President Bongbong Marcos.
Chiong is part of the posse of ex-Philippine Airlines executives brought by Bautista, who was president of the flag carrier from 2004 to 2019, to his department.
Chiong used to be officer-in-charge for PAL’s domestic operations and Airphil Express (now called PAL Express). Aside from Chiong, the other PAL executives who joined Bautista are Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) Deputy Director General Edgardo Diaz ( former PAL Express vice president for operations) and CAAP Director General Manuel Antonio Tamayo (former PAL vice president for flight operations).
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