POSTSCRIPT / August 17, 2010 / Tuesday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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Prohibit PMA classes’ ‘adopting’ gov’t officials

BAD FORM: It was bad form for Rear Admiral Feliciano Angue to have complained to the media in front of his men about his relief, transfer and what he thought was his demotion. He is now being investigated for possible violations of the military code.

From commander of the AFP National Capital Region Command (NCRCom), Angue was relieved Aug. 12 and assigned to head the Naval Forces Western Mindanao.

During the Monday flag-raising ceremony at the NCRCom compound in Camp Aguinaldo, Angue reportedly said in front of his men that the new assignment in Mindanao was a demotion to a two-star position.

Since the NCRCom carries a three-star rank, he said he stood a good chance to be promoted to the three-star rank of vice admiral. But, to him, promotion had dimmed with his transfer.

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INCITING?: The NCRCom commander reportedly said:

“As a professional soldier ‘who needs but an order to settle you from here to there, endure hardships, and a disrupted normal life,’ I will follow (the order) even with an unanswered question in my mind as to why am I being demoted from a three-star position to a lower position in the AFP Table of Organization.

“In my 32 years as an officer, this is the first time that I would be a witness to the humiliation of demotion of a flag rank or a general officer. Demotion is a severe punishment given only to erring enlisted personnel who have committed grave offenses.

“Why do this to me and what wrong have I done?”

There is an established grievance mechanism in the AFP. Aside from bordering on insubordination, his complaining in front of his men sounded to some as inciting.

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CLASSMATES: By coincidence, Angue belongs to the Philippine Military Academy Class 1978, which has adopted former president Gloria Arroyo as an honorary member.

She appointed him NCRCom commander on March 13, during a period covered by the constitutional ban against “midnight appointments.”

Angue’s case reopens the debate on the practice of PMA classes “adopting” government officials and politicians as classmates.

This practice must be stopped until stringent criteria for adoption are in place. As seen from unfortunate incidents, the practice can result in misplaced loyalty, favoritism, factionalism and corruption of the service.

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LOYALTY: This case also calls to mind Elbert Hubbard, whose words on loyalty are drummed into the heads of military trainees to make it second nature:

“If you work for a man, in heaven’s name work for him… Speak well of him, stand by him, and stand by the institution he represents… An ounce of loyalty is worth a pound of cleverness.

“If you must vilify, condemn, and eternally find fault, resign your position, and when you are outside, damn to your heart’s content. But as long as you are part of the institution do not condemn it.

“If you do that, you are loosening the tendrils holding you to the institution, and at the first high wind that comes along, you will be uprooted and blown away, and will probably never know the reason why.”

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OVERDUE PURGE: Bureau of Immigration officer-in-charge Ronaldo Ledesma finds his hands full getting rid of inept and corrupt personnel who seem to have become fixtures in the front-line agency.

Among his earliest tasks was dismissing 39 employees and suspending 29 others. Most of them were assigned at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, a favorite entry of undesirable aliens walking in as Filipinos.

Ledesma signed the termination papers of the erring personnel as soon as he was designated bureau caretaker by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima.

“These dismissal orders are long overdue,” he said. “I have to implement them, lest we be accused of being tolerant of wrongdoing in our bureau.”

Many of those dismissed were charged with extortion, grave misconduct, gross insubordination, neglect of duty, and conduct prejudicial to the interest of the service.

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SPEEDY RELEASE: One citizenship case being probed is that of a certain Ezekiel Lok, a Malaysian who was arrested for allegedly falsifying his papers, including his birth certificate, so he could be granted Filipino citizenship.

When Lok arrived again last July 23 at the NAIA, he was carrying an Australian passport although he had claimed previously he was a Filipino.

He was held and interrogated by a National Bureau of Investigation team led by head agent Rosario Bautista, chief of intelligence. Despite his claiming to be a Filipino, Lok could not say a word in Pilipino or any local dialect.

But his detention was brief, because a deputy director reportedly interceded for his speedy release the same day. Now Lok is walking around free.

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FAKE NSO PAPERS?: The NBI has been monitoring Lok since February when he was first reported to be working to obtain a falsified Philippine birth certificate and a fraudulent marriage license to wed his supposed Australian wife.

He reportedly showed NBI investigators a certified true copy of a Philippine birth certificate ostensibly issued March 10, 2010, by the National Census Office, and a true copy of a marriage certificate issued the next day, March 11, also by the NSO.

An entry in his supposed marriage papers said that he was born in Agusan del Norte. The NBI is checking reports that Lok was actually born July 8, 1961, in Malaysia.

Also being checked is a syndicate in the immigration bureau that reportedly falsifies documentation supporting a foreigner’s claim of Philippine citizenship.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of August 17, 2010)

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