6 nabbed in marine officer licensure exam leak

Rey Galupo - The Philippine Star
6 nabbed in marine officer licensure exam leak

Marina board examiner Carlito Bondoc confirmed that the leakage contained the same questions and answers for the licensure exams. Philstar.com/File Photo

MANILA, Philippines — Five employees of the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) and a training school official were arrested after they tried to sell the questions and answers in the marine desk officer licensure examination.

This opens a Pandora’s box, said former Marina administrator Marcial Amaro III, who was recently sacked by President Duterte for making numerous trips abroad.

Amaro claimed that the five were relatives of Marina’s top officials who were allegedly against the reforms he wanted instituted in the agency.

Arrested by the Manila Police District (MPD) were Julius Maquera, 26, monitoring division evaluator; Christian Asistores, 23, and Malone Morales, 28, both of the surveillance division; John Daniel Miron, 22, and Teodorico Dionisio, 29, both information technicians; and Jomarie Antiquera, 33, marketing manager of North Star Training Center.

The MPD general assignment and investigation team led by Chief Insp. Joey de Ocampo collared the six after receiving payment in an entrapment operation inside the Pipedown Review Center along Kalaw Street in Ermita late Thursday.?Prior to the operation, Pipedown owner Jobet Francisco told De Ocampo that a group of Marina employees had contacted him and offered to sell the examination contents for P500,000, prompting the operatives to set an entrapment.

After Francisco received from Maquera the USB containing the data and had it checked on his laptop, the policemen, who waited for six hours in another room, barged in and made the arrest.

Marina board examiner Carlito Bondoc confirmed that the leakage contained the same questions and answers for the licensure exams.

Although the Marina employees invoked their right to remain silent, Antiquera cooperated in the investigation and disclosed what she knew of the scheme. 

Modus operandi

Antiquera told The STAR that the group had accessed the questions and answers through Miron and Dionisio, who work at the Marina IT section.

“They downloaded the information and copied it. Then they told me to contact a review center so we can sell the data,” she said, adding that she only knew Maquera, Morales and Asistores and not the information technicians.

Amaro urged a deeper investigation “because bigger names could be involved in the corruption inside the agency.”

“The buck doesn’t stop there. There could be more people higher than them who could be involved in the operation. These people are just contractual employees,” Amaro pointed out.

He revealed that Maquera’s mother Lina is the chief administrative officer of the Human Resources Management Development Division, while his father Zaldy is chief of the Manpower Development Services in charge of the Seaman’s Book.

He also claimed that Miron is a nephew of a certain Edna, who also works at the HR Division, while Morales is the son of a former employee who died several years ago.

Tension arose at the GAIS office yesterday morning after Marina representatives gave the police a copy of the appointment papers of three of the suspects, which showed that their job contract, although subject to renewal, is only up to December 2017.

Lead investigator Police Officer 2 Christopher Razon pointed out that it now appears that Marina officials “want to disown their employees by emphasizing that the suspects were not connected with them anymore when the entrapment happened.”

Another investigator, PO3 Alonzo Layugan, said that the agency may be “trying to douse the fire in this level so that the investigation will not reach elsewhere.”

Amaro, who was sacked by Duterte last Jan. 4 for excessive foreign travel, said there is more to the arrest than meets the eye.

“There is a group inside Marina that wants me out because of the reforms I implemented. I earned the ire of these people because I ordered the installation of CCTVs inside their respective offices. They were closely monitored that is why they find ways to boot me out of the agency. This, and the reforms I instituted, made me their target,” he added.

A member of the board of examiners, who requested anonymity, told The STAR that selling exam questions is just the tip of the iceberg.

“There are more corruptions than we can ever imagine. Money changes hand every time there are transactions. From examinations to approvals of contracts and the issuance of the certificate of proficiency (COP) for seamen,” the source claimed.

The source pointed out that examinees in Manila are charged from P30,000 to P35,000 by review centers.

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