THE Office of the Ombudsman has found former National Irrigation Administration (NIA) acting administrator Benny Antiporda guilty of harassment and oppression of the agency’s employees.
In a decision dated September 11, 2023, the Office of the Ombudsman ordered Antiporda’s one year suspension without pay, or pay a fine equivalent to one year salary if the decision was rendered by the time he is already separated from the service.
Antiporda was suspended from his post in the NIA in December 2022. He was replaced by Acting Administrator Eduardo Guillen.
The suspension stemmed from the administrative complaints filed by the officers and members of NIA Employees Association of the Philippines against him for conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service, grave misconduct, harassment, oppression and ignorance of the law.
Among the acts Antiporda allegedly committed are humiliating and berating NIA employees, prohibiting managers of NIA’s central office from traveling, placing some employees on floating status, reassigning officials without valid grounds, and unjust termination.
He was also accused of falsely accusing NIA legal services chief Lloyd Allain Cudal of corruption, and harassing NIA corporate board secretary Michelle Raymundo by placing a security guard and a security camera at the door of her office.
Antiporda allegedly asked Cudal and other members of the legal services to retire or resign or face charges.
He also allegedly changed the door lock of the Board of Directors’ office and denied Raymundo’s office of janitorial staff service and forced her driver to execute an affidavit against her.
“Even assuming arguendo that there were indeed vital documents that were in danger of being leaked, the series of acts employed against Raymundo, her office, and staff was overkill. Besides, Antiporda could have taken the matter to the NIA Board of Directors who had authority over the Office of the Board Secretary,” the Ombudsman said.
“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. But then, the said offense is already absorbed in the offenses of harassment and oppression,” it added.
The Ombudsman dismissed, however, complaints of grave misconduct and ignorance of the law against Antiporda.
It said his acts do not constitute grave misconduct, noting the absence of the elements of corruption, clear intent to violate the law, or flagrant disregard of an established rule must be manifest.
In a statement, Antiporda said he will submit a motion for reconsideration on the Ombudsman decision.
He reiterated that the complaint filed against him “is a product of a concocted scenario to cover up a bigger issue in NIA which involves corruption.”
“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 said.
“My conscience is clear in declaring that I have faithfully served our country and our people to the best of my ability, always 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,” he added. (SunStar Philippines)