Manila International Airport Authority General Manager Cesar Chiong announced on Tuesday that he was put under preventive suspension due to a complaint alleging he committed grave abuse of authority.
In a statement, Chiong said he received the preventive suspension order, dated April 28, 2023, from the Ombudsman.
The MIAA chief said his preventive suspension was issued after “previously re-assigning certain MIAA employees" as part of his effort to improve airport operations.
Based on the Ombudsman’s order, Chiong along with MIAA Acting Assistant General Manager Irene Montalbo were placed under preventive suspension for alleged grave abuse of authority and grave misconduct.
The Ombudsman said that Chiong appears to have abused his authority when he designated Montalbo as assistant general manager for finance and administration despite the latter’s unsatisfactory rating, and when he reassigned about 285 MIAA employees.
The Ombudsman also said that sworn statements from reassigned employees revealed that they were neither informed of the reason for their reassignment nor did they have pending administrative complaints.
“Based on the evidence on record, it appears that the evidence of guilt of the respondents are strong and the charge against them involves grave misconduct which may warrant their removal from the service," the Ombudsman said.
"Considering further that respondents continued stay in the office may influence potential witnesses and may prejudice the case filed against them due to their continued access to documentary evidence relative thereto, this Office exercises its power to place respondents under preventive suspension,” added the Ombudsman.
The MIAA chief, however, is confident he will be cleared from the allegations.
"I am confident of being vindicated and cleared in the end, after I am allowed to present my side as a result of my vision and plan to improve airport efficiency and the financial standing of the authority," said Chiong.
“Putting MIAA in good financial stead is one of my visions. There are others that are just as critical... The country’s main airport faces extremely difficult challenges, and we have started to implement plans and programs that aim to enhance passenger experience at our country’s main gateway,” he added.
The announcement of Chiong's preventive suspension came a day after a power outage hit Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3, resulting in the cancellation of dozens of flights.
On Tuesday, the MIAA said it is not ruling out sabotage as a reason behind the power outage. —VAL/ GMA Integrated News