Marcos to meet NIA officials to tackle complaints, Antiporda's suspension

Job Manahan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 22 2022 04:36 PM

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President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and NIA chief Benny Antiporda. Office of the Press Secretary/Press and Public Affairs Bureau

MANILA –– President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. on Tuesday said he would meet with officials of the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) following complaints from its workers which led to the suspension of its administrator, Benny Antiporda. 

Marcos said he would visit NIA to ensure that the agency is fulfilling its functions. 

"We have to find out what happened to Benny, see what really is the situation there, why Ombudsman Martires suspended him," he told reporters on the sidelines of a Civil Service Commission event in Pasay City. 

He said he has asked officials to give him a background on the conflict, as "it happened all when I was away." 

"In fact, I suppose, parang – if there was that conflict inside the agency, baka ngayon na nawala ‘yan, baka mas gumanda pa ang takbo," he said.

(I suppose it seems that if there was that conflict inside the agency, maybe it has been resolved, and it will now run better.) 

The Office of the Ombudsman last week placed Antiporda under preventive suspension for 6 months without pay following complaints from the agency's workers, which included grave misconduct, conduct prejudicial to the best interest of service, and oppression.

According to the Ombudsman, Antiporda was displeased when NIA lawyers opined that the most senior officer of NIA was Ricardo Visaya and that he should retain his post as administrator. 

Antiporda also allegedly asked NIA members to drop the term "acting" from his designation as acting administrator. This allegedly caused Antiporda to retaliate against employees by preventing them from travelling.

He also supposedly humiliated some employees, reassigned them without basis, and threatened not to renew the appointment of some workers who fixed the air-conditioning unit of his residence but could not finish the job at once.

Antiporda said the allegations are part of a "smear campaign" and that he would file counter-complaints. 

But Antiporda admitted that he tapped General Service Division employees to fix an an air-conditioning unit in his home on a Sunday. He said he gave the workers an incentive of P20,000.

Antiporda last week said he was also thinking of resigning as NIA administrator to prevent Marcos from being humiliated for appointing him. 

But Antiporda said he would wait for further instructions as he believes that the President had the final say on whether or not he should stay in office.

"I’m offering to resign not because that I’m afraid of the situation, but it’s because I don't want the appointing body, which is our President, to be humiliated," Antiporda said.

During Antiporda’s suspension, NIA senior deputy Administrator Eryl Nagtala will serve as officer-in-charge.

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