Monday, May 18, 2009

Former ATO head refuses to face probe

THE former head of the abolished Air Transportation Office (ATO) has refused to face a special adjudication board that was formed to look into an accusation against him.

Instead, Daniel Dimagiba, suspended deputy director for operations of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), said he is willing to be investigated by an “independent, unbiased and objective body where I could get a fair and just treatment.”

“I would like to be investigated because I want to clear my name and for truth to come out, but not by a kangaroo body,” Dimagiba said in a letter to CAAP Director General Ruben Ciron.

Dimagiba’s outburst came in the wake of his preventive suspension for various irregularities, including the issuance of a certificate to operate without authority to an airline company whose aircraft had conducted business in other countries.

Dimagiba said he “condemns in the strongest possible term” Ciron’s decision and the manner by which the latter arrived at his conclusion, which Dimagiba said “doesn’t find a place in a civilized democracy like the Philippines.”

Dimagiba questioned Ciron’s authority to try him before an adjudication board, and threatened to elevate the matter before the proper quasi-judicial or judicial forum.

“The aforementioned documents are mere figments of the imagination of sinister minds, being deplete with basis in fact and in law,” Dimagiba said, referring to the eight charges being leveled against him.

He added the accusations were made against him because Ciron wanted to ease him out from the newly created agency.

Interviewed by the BusinessMirror over the weekend, Ciron said there is no truth to the accusations that he wanted to ease out Dimagiba from the Caap, saying that President Arroyo appointed him to the post after the passage of Republic Act (RA) 9497 creating the Caap and abolishing the ATO.

RA 9497 virtually abolished the ATO, and its former personnel are the subject of new appointments.

Ciron reminded Dimagiba that under the Civil Service Administrative Code of 1987, if a prima facie case exists, Ciron shall notify Dimagiba in writing of the charges, which the latter shall answer within 72 hours.

Ciron said he wrote Dimagiba several letters urging him to answer the accusations being made regarding the alleged irregularities committed, and asked Dimagiba to send back his reply under oath.

“I wrote him several letters but his response was brief, evasive and was not made under oath,” Ciron said.

He said he was forced to create the adjudication board after several letters and documents from complainants came into his possession, where it was alleged that Dimagiba had engaged in some illegal transactions.

Ciron said it was unfair for Dimagiba to say the board is a “kangaroo body” since it members are his former peers in the ATO, including two service chiefs who, like Dimagiba, also rose from the ranks.

“In the end, it is the Caap board of directors that will determine Dimagiba’s culpability, the same board that approved the latter’s appointment to his present position.”

Ciron reminded Dimagiba that it was him who submitted the latter’s name as one of the two candidates for the two vacant positions of deputy director general shortly after the ATO was abolished.

“It would be for Dimagiba’s best interest to submit himself to the jurisdictions of the special board rather than indulge in trivial matters and forum-shopping,” Ciron said, referring to the former’s attempt to seek the help of the media to air his grievances.

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