By Arjay L. Balinbin
PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte risks his popularity if he again transfers his sacked prison chief to another government post, analysts said.
“Reappointing Nicanor E. Faeldon could pull the president’s popularity ratings down,” Polytechnic University of the Philippines sociology professor Louie C. Montemar said by phone at the weekend. “But this is contingent on how enamored to him his followers are, and how effective his camp’s counter-narrative is.”
Mr. Duterte last week fired Mr. Faeldon, head of the Bureau of Corrections, after he allowed the illegal release of about 2,000 felons convicted of heinous crimes for good conduct.
He also ordered his and other prison officials’ probe by the Ombudsman for corruption.
Mr. Faeldon headed the Bureau of Customs but was forced to resign at the height of a controversy involving the shipment of billions of pesos worth of crystal meth from China. He was reappointed to the Office of Civil Defense before heading the BuCor in 2018.
Opposition Senator Franklin M. Drilon earlier said Mr. Faeldon was not only incompetent but also lied under oath to evade accountability for the planned early release of ex-Calauan Mayor Antonio L. Sanchez.
The release of the former politician, who was sentenced to seven life terms in 1995 for the rape and murder of two University of the Philippines students in 1993, was suspended after a public outcry and a Senate investigation of the plan.
“His reappointment of Faeldon could really bring his ratings down,” Mr. Montemar said. “But then again, who really knows how his fanatics’ minds work? Mr. Faeldon, at worst, is merely pictured as a corrupt element with no go-signal from the prexy on his wrongdoings,” he added.
“Given the track record of Mr. Faeldon in the previous posts that he occupied, I think it would not be wise for President Duterte to appoint him again to any public position,” University of the Philippines political science assistant professor Perlita M. Frago-Marasigan said in a mobile phone message.
Reappointing Mr. Faeldon could give the impression that Mr. Duterte is not serious about fighting corruption, Ms. Frago-Marasigan said.
University of Santo Tomas political science professor Marlon M. Villarin disagrees, noting that people would appreciate his act of axing his prison chief.
Mr. Faeldon is a “trojan horse” whom the president uses to reveal corruption at an agency.
“Socially, it is disturbing because reappointing Mr. Faeldon would somehow be seen to be inconsistent with President Duterte’s war against corruption,” he said in a mobile phone message.
“Most of the president’s supporters are after the output and not into processes such as the narrative of axing, which is well understood by the masses,” Mr. Villarin said.
On Friday, Mr. Duterte called his ex-prison chief a “good man.” He recalled that when he was still Bureau of Customs head, he reported to him about a Cebu-based businessman who kept cigarettes with fake tax stamps in three warehouses.
The government earned P37 billion because of that report by Mr. Faeldon, he said.
He was referring to the warehouses of Mighty Corp. that authorities raided in 2017. The cigarette company later paid the taxes.