Courting controversies: Nicanor Faeldon’s stormy government career

September 5, 2019 - 7:03 PM
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Nicanor Faeldon
Former Corrections Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon (Philstar.com/Edd Gumban)
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Beleaguered former soldier Nicanor Faeldon was stripped off his title as director of the Bureau of Corrections after he became the subject of one headline after another for freeing convicts based on a contentious law.

Faeldon was under fire for signing the release papers of criminals convicted of heinous crimes, including rapist-murderer Antonio Sanchez, under the law on Good Conduct Time Allowance or GCTA provided or Republic Act 10592 despite the convicts’ questionable records.

The problem with the law was only made to light recently because of Sanchez’s impending release before it was aborted. Since 2014, however, a total of 1,914 criminals have been discharged through the measure.

From transfer to dismissal

Controversies seemed to follow the former mutineer in positions he held in governemnt.

As a soldier

Faeldon was among the 315 soldiers of the Magdalo group, including former Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV and Gary Alejano, who took part in the two coup attempts against the presidency of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

The first one was the Oakwood Mutiny in 2003 wherein the Oakwood Premiere Hotel in Makati was held hostage for 18 hours.

The second attempt was the Manila Peninsula Siege in 2007 which only took seven hours before Trillanes and the rest of his group packed up. This event took place right after their arraignment for the previous uprising.

Faeldon was able to escape government custody on both incidents while his comrades faced rebellion charges at the Makati Regional Trial Court.

What earned his notoriety was his posting of photos showing him inside the Armed Forces of the Philippines camps in Palawan and Zamboanga City while in hiding.

In 2010, he finally surrendered to the authorities and was among the mutineers whom former President Benigno Aquino III granted amnesty to.

As Customs chief

Faeldon was known to have had a fallout from his fellow mutineers in the Magdalo party-list. The group’s leader, Trillanes, who then a senator, was an outspoken Duterte critic, while Faeldon gravitated to the camp of the president.

He was immediately appointed chief of the Bureau of Customs after Duterte’s election in June 2016.

Faeldon was linked to the smuggling of P6.4 billion worth of shabu from China during his time as Customs chief. The shabu shipment, discovered in Valenzuela City, allegedly skirted the bureau’s lax regulations.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson linked Faeldon to the big-time smuggling affair after he showed a photo of him posing with a suspect, Chinese entrepreneur Richard Tan, during the Senate hearing.

Aside from Faeldon, presidential son Paolo and son-in-law Manases Carpio were also accused of being involved in the case.

He eventually resigned from the post in 2017 and got detained anew over charges of accepting illegal bribery from smugglers.

As Corrections Chief

The trouble he had at the customs bureau did not affect his chances for reappointment. Faeldon replaced close Duterte ally Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa as director general of the Bureau of Corrections in October last year. Dela Rosa was preparing to run for senator, before successfully securing the post in May.

Shortly after Faeldon’s appointment, he earned the ire of Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra for his failure to report to work immediately. He allegedly went on vacation when he was chosen for the new job.

Faeldon’s son Nicanor Jr. was also arrested along with three others in a suspected drug den in Naga City in December 2018.

He vowed to resign should his son be proven to be a drug user. His son eventually tested negative for illegal drugs and charges against him were dropped.

Prior to this position, Faeldon briefly served at the Office of Civil Defense as its deputy administrator for operations after serving detention until March 2018.

Dismissal

Faeldon insisted he was doing his job and that Sanchez had a clean record during the Senate inquiry on the release of convicted criminals based on good conduct record.

President Rodrigo Duterte said Faeldon disobeyed him for allowing the criminals to walk free, firing him from his post.

Duterte last night ordered the immediate arrest of at least 1,700 convicts who were freed under the law. He gave these criminals 15 days to voluntarily surrender who will after be considered fugitives.