MANILA, Philippines – Office for Transportation Security (OTS) administrator Ma.O Aplasca has taken a leave of absence following the latest controversy involving one of his employees.
This was revealed when the issue of the security guard accused of stealing $300 from a passenger and then swallowing it came up during a Senate budget hearing on Tuesday.
Aplasca was not present at the hearing, but his statement on chairman Ferdinand Martin Romualdez’s resignation call was read by OTS deputy administrator Jose Briones.
“An article was written by Usec. Aplasca during his term because he is now on leave, if I may read,” Briones said.
The official did not provide further details, but Senator Grace Poe later commented on Aplasca’s decision to take a leave of absence.
“Of course there is always command responsibility, so General Aplasca is setting the example that he took a voluntary leave of absence, but it is good that we continue the investigation so that we know who is really involved,” said Poe, who attended the hearing on presided over the case. The Department of Transportation (DOTr) has proposed a budget of P214.3 billion for 2024.
“As mentioned, he (Aplasca) just took over a year ago, but some of these employees have been working there for years and this individual in question has been working there since 2016 and General Aplasca was only appointed last year,” she noted.
Notably, Aplasca’s decision to take leave followed the Speaker’s call to resign.
“May-resign is possible. Kung hindi ka magsa-submission of resignation, ako mismo ang magba-blocking approval of budget ng OTS,” Romualdez said in a statement on Monday.
(You should resign. If you do not resign, I would personally block the approval of the OTS budget.)
Briones said Aplasca was “surprised” by Romualdez’s statement.
“I have done nothing other than cleanse our office of corrupt officials. Why am I being attacked now? For chasing down corrupt officials? I think it should be the other way around,” the OTS head said in the statement Briones read before the Senate committee.
“Instead, the corrupt officials should be asked to resign. The case regarding the theft of the $300 bills is still being solved, mauna pa mawala ‘yung mga nagimbistiga. Something must be wrong somewhere,” Aplasca added.
Aplasca nevertheless said he would “take full responsibility for what OTS does and fails to do.”
He said he would discuss the matter with DOTr Secretary Jaime Bautista and President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
“However, I will not allow anyone to demean me and allow misinformation to thrive because of how unfair it is to the good men and women of OTS who tirelessly put their hard work into serving the public every day,” Aplasca said.
“And I stand against this public humiliation for the sake of my family, who are hurting now more than ever in the more than 40 years I have served this country from such insensitive, malicious and personal attacks,” he also said.