Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez denied yesterday accusations that he lobbied for the promotion of a Bureau of Customs employee who lacked the qualifications. The lobbying was disclosed by BOC Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon’s chief of staff Mandy Therese Anderson, who did the vetting on the employee and recommended the rejection of the Speaker’s request.
Anderson said that when the request was turned down, she was summoned to the Speaker’s office where Alvarez scolded her. In a Facebook post, Anderson described Alvarez as an “imbecile” for threatening to shut down the Court of Appeals if it would meddle in the House’s detention of six provincial employees of Ilocos Norte. For that Facebook post, Anderson was slammed by House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas. Anderson stressed that she had posted the disparaging remark in a private Facebook account.
As Alvarez issued his denial, a letter surfaced at the House. Dated May 15, 2017 and addressed to Faeldon, it asked for the promotion of Customs operations officer V Sandy Sacluti to the BOC’s Formal Entry Division. The letter bore the signature of Alvarez.
The Speaker might yet dismiss the letter as fake. But if it’s authentic, it won’t be the first time that a lawmaker has endorsed the promotion of a government employee regardless of the qualifications. Public works officials have previously lamented that lawmakers routinely forced the department to use contractors who did not meet the qualifying criteria, resulting in the delivery of substandard products and services.
Political endorsements have made it impossible to create a professional bureaucracy where employees advance based on merit. Other influence peddlers including religious groups have compounded the problem. Together with politicians, these power brokers wreak havoc on the system of appointment and promotion in government, especially in the police, military, the judiciary and prosecution service.
If you have unqualified persons occupying government posts, the inevitable result is mediocre service and even corruption. The heavily politicized system of appointing and promoting members of the judiciary has to be one of the principal reasons for the weakness of the rule of law and the notorious inefficiency of the justice system.
The nation’s highest officials should be leading the way in creating a meritocracy. Unfortunately, if the recent developments in the BOC are true, we can be sure that a meritocracy at this point is just a pipe dream.