A brilliant strategy

By: Reyshimar Arguelles

WITH President Duterte ordering the ouster of Nicanor Faeldon as chief of the Bureau of Corrections, we are made to agree that this government is working to preserve the dignity of public service. Faeldon has been entangled in a controversy that uncovered the weaknesses of the good conduct time allowance or GCTA law, which came close to releasing rapist, murderer, and Justin Bieber impersonator former Calauan, Laguna mayor Antonio Sanchez.

Faeldon’s stepping down was of course lauded for having proven the administration’s disdain for corruption, especially at the BuCor where high profile criminals are capable of buying off officials and turning jail time into an extended vacation. We can look no further than Sanchez who has been enjoying the best that the New Bilibid Peninsula Hotel can offer.

People from all sides of the political spectrum were outraged at the BuCor for allowing this mockery to creep under everyone’s nose. It took some time before Faeldon faced the Senate Justice and Human Rights Committee and explained how the Sanchez family went so far as to ask Faeldon to follow up on the ex-mayor’s release.

And now that he has been kicked out of the BuCor, Faeldon will have to come clean about what other anomalies lie beneath the country’s prison system. But from the looks of it, there’s no point in trying to exorcise a system that has been corrupted from the very start, knowing how the most powerful individuals can manipulate and buy their way out of incarceration. The GCTA issue has at least brought the decrepit system into light and showed us the extent of the prison problem.

But instead of taking Faeldon’s failure at the BuCor as a result of either negligence or abuse of authority, supporters of Duterte’s government believe that the whole issue is part of the President’s strategy of weeding out corruption wherever it thrives. And just like most theories being peddled out there, the idea that Faeldon has been working clandestinely to put an end to corruption is not only far-fetched, but also laughable.

Throughout the GCTA issue, there were reports circulating around social media that purported to show why Duterte still thinks Faeldon is an upright man. According to these reports, he was personally handpicked by Duterte to be his eyes and ears in two of the most “problematic” agencies – the Bureau of Customs and the BuCor.

When Faeldon headed the Bureau of Customs, P6.4 billion worth of shabu slipped into the country inside four magnetic lifters. The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency confirmed that the lifters contained illegal drugs but were too late to intercept the haul. Faeldon resigned from his post amid the controversy. Duterte later appointed him to the Office of Civil Defense before he took the helm of the BuCor where he became a central character in another controversy, this time, over the release of convicts who should have benefitted from the GCTA law.

To the mind of administration supporters, these issues were a ploy to bait opposition politicians into a trap by having Faeldon train our sights towards a smuggling syndicate involving several politicians and Customs officials. At the BuCor, he pointed to the ineffectiveness of the GCTA law and pandered towards people’s emotions to finally make capital punishment a more palatable solution for convicts of heinous crimes.

These are, of course, speculations generated from the idea that the administration is perfect and flawless. Whatever controversy the media sinks its teeth in has the trappings that only a master strategist can make.

Well, this master strategist has allowed P6.4 billion worth of illegal drugs to flood the streets and has ignored the fact that the BuCor chief before Faeldon has just been elected to the Senate and is now under scrutiny for the GCTA’s application during his time.

Such brilliance, indeed!