Philippines Speaker Romualdez Calls for OTS Administrator’s Resignation Amid Scandal
Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, the Speaker of the House of Representatives in the Philippines, has demanded the resignation of Office of Transport Security (OTS) Administrator Mao Aplasca. This demand follows allegations that a female OTS staff member pilfered money from a tourist at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA). Romualdez has threatened to obstruct the agency’s proposed budget if Aplasca does not resign before its discussion in the House. The Speaker maintains that Aplasca should resign under the principle of command responsibility.
On September 8, a female security screening officer was caught on surveillance camera allegedly stealing and swallowing $300 from a departing passenger’s shoulder bag at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA). The footage of the incident went viral online, sparking public outrage. An investigation by airport authorities suggested the female officer was in connivance with the X-ray officer and their supervisor. This incident is not the first of its kind; earlier this year, in February and March, airport personnel were implicated in theft cases involving a Thai tourist and a Chinese passenger, respectively.
Romualdez has called for a comprehensive overhaul of the OTS. He points out that such incidents of misconduct tarnish the country’s reputation and economy. He had previously called for a revamp following the incident in March. Romualdez also criticized Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista for failing to implement promised reforms. According to the Speaker, every so often, there are reports of dubious activities, aviation glitches, power equipment malfunctions, and disruptions occurring at the airport. He suggests that there may be people sabotaging Bautista.
Implications for the Budget
The House of Representatives is scheduled to discuss the proposed budget of the Department of Transportation (DOTr), OTS’s parent agency. If Aplasca does not resign, Romualdez has vowed to derail the passage of the OTS proposed 2024 budget. This could have significant implications for the agency and potentially disrupt its operations.
Impact on the Economy
According to Romualdez, such incidents could have a negative impact on the economy as it could taint a tourist or investor’s first exposure to the Philippines. He emphasized the need for an overhaul of the OTS, replacing its entire workforce and rehiring only those who pass a vetting process. Romualdez believes that these measures are necessary to restore faith in the agency and prevent future incidents of misconduct.
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