Customs chief Faeldon hires 20 Magdalo soldiers

MANILA, Philippines – At least 20 former mutineers from the Magdalo group are now working at the Bureau of Customs (BOC) in posts requiring "outdoor functions," bureau chief Nicanor Faeldon said on Monday, July 4.

"We have around 20 officers from our group before who are willing to join. Marami po kasi tayong mga areas na hindi nakaka-function talaga (We have a lot of areas which aren't functioning) so we need people who are very active in outdoor functions." (READ: What awaits incoming Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon?)

Faeldon is one of the alleged leaders of the botched Oakwood mutiny against the Arroyo administration in 2003, so named because young rebel soldiers belonging to the Magdalo group took control of the then-Oakwood Hotel in Makati. They have since been released from detention.

President Rodrigo Duterte appointed Faeldon, a former Marine officer, to the post on June 30. The President branded the agency as one of the most corrupt in the bureaucracy, but Faeldon assured employees he won't be firing them. (READ: Faeldon: No firing at Customs, just reforms)

The Magdalo officers have civil service qualifications and were given their jobs through the fulfillment of 3,000 BOC job orders, according to Faeldon. Among the officers now at the BOC are former Army captains Alvin Ebreo, Gerardo Gambala, and Milo Maestrecampo, as well as former Navy Lieutenant Senior Grade James Layug.

Layug will work at the BOC's operating unit. Ebreo, meanwhile, will be part of the bureau's special operating unit. Other Magdalo officers will be sent to different collection districts, Faeldon said.

Faeldon said people don't need to worry about soldiers' presence at the BOC. "These people, I have worked with them. I know how sincere they are in their efforts to help the government, that's why I asked them to volunteer," he explained. 

The agency is used to having soldiers around. The former Customs deputy chief is retired Armed Forces chief of staff Jessie Dellosa. – Rappler.com