Congressmen parried allegations of corruption levelled against them by Bureau Customs (BOC) chief Nicanor Faeldon, saying there was nothing wrong if lawmakers lobby for the promotion of some employees of the agency.
“And, if Faeldon listens to his fiancee’s advice, as what he told an earlier congressional inquiry about the P6.4 billion smuggled drugs, why can’t he heed the words of lawmakers who were elected by the people, Quezon City Rep. Vincent “Bingbong” Crisologo said.
“Parang pinapalabas mo na ang congressmen ay masama [It looks like you make it appear that congressmen are bad], that’s not good,” the lawmaker told Faeldon during Wednesday’s hearing of the House Committee on Dangerous Drugs on the narcotics controversy.
The BOC chief criticized government officials who allegedly wanted to influence promotions at the bureau.
“They want me to influence the promotion board so that their people here would be promoted. And I tell them right in their face I will never lift a finger to influence promotions here. That is a form of corruption,” said Faeldon.
“But please I’m appealing to you. You know your request is a form of corruption and you insist and magagalit pa kayo [you will even get angry]. My God! Shame on you! This is not your property. This is the Filipinos’ Bureau of Customs so don’t act like you own this,” he added.
Faeldon’s chief of staff, lawyer Mandy Anderson, earlier got the ire of some House leaders because of her social media post calling Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez an “imbecile.” Prior to this, Anderson turned down the recommendation of Alvarez to promote a Customs officer, who has been serving a post in acting capacity. She said she received threats from the camp of the Speaker after her decision.
During the hearing on Wednesday, Deputy Speaker Fredenil Castro pressed Faeldon to name the House members he was alluding to for the sake of “fairness.”
“Could you be more specific as to who were these congressmen who recommended people to the Bureau of Customs and are now impediments to the reforms that you want to introduce, so that all those who have not recommended could be spared from your general statement,” he said.
Faeldon replied, “In the interest of unity of government employees, I do not want to put in humiliation those I referred as trying to influence the board of promotions.”
Castro, however, was insistent, saying, “But your general statement, you have alluded to all members of the House, it’s very unfair to everyone.”
“In not naming the very few that you said, it would refer to the innocent members of the House. Why can’t you do justice to these people who are not supposed to be alluded to by your statement. Without naming those few, everybody is still a suspect,” he added.
Faeldon did not budge and instead said that, “I would like to apologize to those who have done nothing (wrong) to the bureau, my apologies to everyone.”
When pressed anew by Castro for names, Faeldon said “Let me put it this way, your honor, (they are) less than 10.”
The BOC commissioner also said that should an investigation on the matter be conducted, he would be willing to reveal the names of the lawmakers.
Surigao del Sur Rep. Prospero Pichay then cut in the discussion and acknowledged that he had recommended a person in the bureau.
“I recommended one, but it doesn’t mean that when you recommend one he is not qualified. If he’s not qualified then it’s up to you,” he said.
“There’s nothing wrong in politicians recommending because we are representatives of the people,” Pichay added.
Pichay also said it was usual for some people to seek the recommendation of their governor or mayor or other local officials when they apply for jobs.
“Then why is it wrong for a politician to recommend? You make it appear that it’s bad when someone recommends, it’s unfair,” he said.
Faeldon replied that making a recommendation was not bad, what was unacceptable was when people try to dictate on him.
Quirino Rep. Dakila Cua, chairperson of the House committee, cut the discussion and appealed to his colleagues to go back to the issue at hand.
“I know this is an emotional issue and one that deserves attention,” he said.
He told Faeldon, “If you’re serious about it, then why don’t you file charges against those persons that you think are violating any law or pressuring yo, so that you don’t drag the institution.”