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Speaker denies lobbying; letter to BOC released

Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez yesterday denied interceding with the Bureau of Customs for the promotion of what a BOC official described as an “unqualified” employee. Facebook/Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, File

MANILA, Philippines -  Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez yesterday denied interceding with the Bureau of Customs for the promotion of what a BOC official described as an “unqualified” employee.

“Certainly, the allegation is far from the truth, but I’m sorry I do not want to comment on that at the moment so as not to divert the drug issue being investigated by the HOR (House of Representatives),” Alvarez declared in a text message to a television reporter.

The Speaker’s denial, however, flies in the face of a letter he wrote BOC Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon.

In the letter dated May 15, a copy of which The STAR obtained,Alvarez wanted Sandy Sacluti promoted to a permanent position in the BOC’s formal entry division in the Port of Manila. 

“Equipped with a master’s degree in Customs administration, Mr. Sacluti presently serves as the formal entry division’s acting Customs Operations Officer V,” the letter states.

Alvarez wrote that Sacluti has 15 years of service in the bureau and had placed seventh in the BOC’s personnel competence assessment.

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Sacluti exceeded his collection target for January 2017, Alvarez informed Faeldon.

The BOC chief rejected the Speaker’s request because Sacluti was “unqualified” to be promoted, according to Faeldon’s chief of staff Mandy Therese Anderson.

After their decision, Anderson said Alvarez summoned her to his office and scolded her.

She even received a “threatening message” from an assistant of the Speaker, whom she identified as a certain Darren de Jesus, that “hell” would be brought on her and Faeldon, Anderson said.

She was recently scolded by House Majority Leader Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas for calling Alvarez an “imbecile” in her Facebook post.

Faeldon, however, issued a statement saying Anderson would stay at Customs. 

“I will let attorney Mandy Anderson remain in the bureau as we need more people like her whose character is untainted with politics and corruption. Also, her personal opinion does not reflect or affect her efficacy in public service. We will remain firm in our resolve to provide good public service. The Bureau of Customs remains true to the call of the President,” said Faeldon.

He also clarified that Anderson’s post in her Facebook account was her personal opinion.

“I acknowledge that Facebook is a social media platform readily accessible to the public. I am not condoning the action of my chief of staff but
 attorney Anderson is entitled to her own opinion,” Faeldon stressed.

During last Wednesday’s hearing of the House committee on ways and means, Anderson received a scolding from Fariñas for calling Alvarez an “imbecile” in her Facebook post.

Anderson was reacting to an article about Alvarez’s threat to dissolve the Court of Appeals over the order of the justices to release six Ilocos Norte provincial officials who were cited for contempt by the House for refusing to answer questions during a congressional hearing and detained at the Batasan Pambansa in Quezon City.

The House released the six on Tuesday. They have been “uncooperative” in the inquiry on the alleged misuse by the provincial government of P66.5 million in tobacco funds.

Faeldon added that he is not condoning what Anderson did. But he believed that Anderson was reprimanded not only because she criticized Alvarez for the CA issue. 

Faeldon said that she might have earned the ire of Alvarez after they refused the request of a congressman to promote a Customs employee. 

In a radio interview, Anderson revealed that Alvarez interceded with her and Faeldon in May for the promotion of a BOC officer, whom she did not identify.

She said she and her boss rejected the Speaker’s request because the officer was “unqualified” to be promoted.

Beauty and brains with balls

Netizens describe Anderson as “beauty and brains” and a person “with balls.”

They are heaping praise on her for having the courage to criticize Alvarez for threatening to abolish the Court of Appeals for allegedly meddling in the detention by the House of Representatives of six Ilocos Norte officials.

Before joining Customs, Anderson worked for the Villaraza law firm at Bonifacio Global City. She placed fifth in the 2016 Bar examinations. She is an Ateneo graduate and a Cebuana.

Faeldon explained that Sacluti had been promoted several times during the past years while other employees, who have been with the bureau for five to 20 years, have never been promoted.   With Jess Diaz, Perseus Echminada

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