OTS chief resigns amid NAIA theft incidents

OTS chief resigns amid NAIA theft incidents
Ma.O Aplasca, Office for Transportation Security head, at the 5th Philippine Airport Modernization and Expansion Summit on September 14, 2023. Photo from OTS.
  • Office for Transportation Security chief Ma. O Aplasca has submitted his courtesy resignation
  • This followed a recent incident involving an OTS officer at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport who allegedly swallowed dollar bills
  • House Speaker Martin Romualdez had threatened to block approval of the OTS 2024 budget unless Aplasca quit
  • Aplasca maintains he has committed no wrongdoing and has been actively fighting corruption at the airport
  • The Department of Transportation has yet to accept Aplasca’s resignation

Ma.O Aplasca, head of the Office for Transportation Security (OTS), has submitted his courtesy resignation following a recent theft incident involving an OTS officer at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

In a letter to President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. dated September 26, Aplasca explained he is stepping down due to House Speaker Martin Romualdez’ pronouncement that he would personally block approval of the 2024 budget of OTS and the Department of Transportation (DOTr) unless Aplasca quit.

“I am not in any way ready to sacrifice my organization,” Aplasca said, but noted his resignation is “a noble undertaking for a greater interest.

“May I, however, state that, as Administrator of OTS, I have done nothing wrong but to wage an honest campaign against corruption in all our airports nationwide.”

He lamented it is “just unfortunate that as we weed out scalawags in our ranks, it will always draw media attention and tarnish the reputation of our country.”

The DOTr has yet to accept Aplasca’s resignation.

Romualdez on September 25 called for the OTS chief’s courtesy resignation, citing his failure to prevent repeated misconduct by security personnel at NAIA.

On September 8, a checkpoint supervisor reported the loss of $300 by a departing Chinese passenger at NAIA Terminal 1. CCTV footage showed a female OTS screening officer apparently swallowing a wad of cash then washing it down with water.

The footage went viral; the screening officer denied the allegation, claiming she had swallowed chocolates instead.

Prior to submitting his courtesy resignation, Aplasca expressed surprise at Romualdez’ comments in a statement on September 26.

“I have done nothing wrong but to cleanse our office with corrupt officials. Why am I now being attacked? For going after corrupt officials? I think it should be the other way around. The corrupt officials should instead be asked to resign,” Aplasca said.

He further commented, “The case involving stealing of the 300 US dollar bills is still being resolved; mauna pa mawala ‘yung mga nag-imbestiga. (And yet those investigating the issue are the first to go.) There must be something wrong somewhere.”

Aplasca had said four screening officers potentially involved in the incident were under investigation.