The operations of the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) will not be disrupted despite the suspension of its chief, Benny Antiporda, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. guaranteed on Tuesday.
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of an event at the Philippine International Convention Center, Mr. Marcos said he would find out first what happened to Antiporda and why he was suspended by the Office of the Ombudsman.
The President, who is concurrently Agriculture Secretary, said the NIA’s food security program would not be affected by the issue.
“In fact, if there was that conflict inside the agency, now that has been removed, the operations might even improve,” he said.
“There are enough people there in the NIA who know what to do. In fact, I’m meeting them after this to make sure that the functions of the NIA continue on.”
“We have to find out what happened to Benny, see what really is the situation there, (and) why Ombudsman Martires suspended him. So it happened all when I was away. I’ve asked them to give me the background on what happened. But the function of the NIA is – does not – is not going to change,” he added.
The Office of the Ombudsman placed Antiporda under preventive suspension for six months following administrative complaints filed against him by NIA staff.
Ombudsman Samuel Martires ordered the suspension after NIA employees Lloyd Allain Cudal and Michelle Gonzales Raymundo complained against Antiporda’s alleged conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service, grave misconduct, harassment, oppression, and ignorance of the law.
Antiporda was accused of applying “retaliatory tactics” such as threatening employees, using flag ceremonies as an avenue for bullying and fake news, maligning his employees, and misleading the President, among others.
For his part, the former journalist expressed his belief the complaint against him is part of a smear campaign that only seeks to humiliate him and Mr. Marcos.
Antiporda served as Environment undersecretary during the Duterte administration.