‘GUNI-GUNI LANG NI ANDERSON’ | Alvarez admits backing Customs exec’s promotion but says it isn’t lobbying

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Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez (Philstar file)

MANILA , Philippines — Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez on Friday acknowledged endorsing the appointment to a higher post of a Bureau of Customs (BOC) officer but said it was “not lobbying.”

He also denied the allegations of lawyer Mandy Anderson, chief of staff of BOC chief Nicanor Faeldon, that she was being pressured to accept his endorsement of Sandy Dingcong Sacluti and that the Speaker’s camp was threatening to “give her hell.”

Guni-guni lang niya iyon [It was just a figment of her imagination],” Alvarez said.

A letter from the Speaker to Faeldon dated May 15, 2017 recommended the appointment of Sacluti as Customs Operation Officer V at the Formal Entry Division of the Port of Manila. Sacluti currently holds the same post but in acting capacity.

In a congressional hearing Wednesday, lawmakers grilled Anderson for calling Alvarez an “imbecile” in her social media account in relation to the Speaker’s threat to abolish the Court of Appeals.

Anderson linked her spat with Alvarez to her refusal to process the promotion of a BOC officer being endorsed by the House leader. She said the Customs officer lacked the qualifications.

In his letter to Faeldon, Alvarez said Sacluti is “equipped with a Masters Degree in Customs Administration” and has been working at the BOC for the last 15 years in various capacities such as Administrative Aid IV and Customs Officer III.

“Further, Mr. Sacluti was commended for ranking 7th place in the Bureau of Customs Personnel Competency Assessment, and for his exemplary performance in exceeding the collection target for January 2017,” the Speaker said in the letter.

On Friday, Alvarez downplayed his tiff with Anderson and said that the real issue was the House of Representatives’ inquiry into drug smuggling, particularly the BOC’s failure to stop the entry into the country of P6.5 billion worth of shabu (methamphetamine hydrochloride).

“‘Wag tayong mawala sa focus, drug smuggling ang talagang issue rito [We shouldn’t be out of focus, the issue here really is drug smuggling]” he said.