By: Manuel “Boy” Mejorada

Nicanor Faeldon could have salvaged what was left of his reputation had he just resigned when the scandal over the release of Bilibid convicts under the Good Conduct Time Allowance law broke out.

For reasons that are difficult to fathom, Faeldon refused to resign. He insisted that he didn’t do anything wrong. He chose to be callous to the conflagration of public opinion that threatened to engulf the Duterte administration. Too bad for him, his boss, President Rodrigo Duterte, recognized he had a big problem in his hands. As President Duterte put it, he had “to put out the fire himself.”

Perhaps Faeldon felt the tremendous popularity of President Duterte could shield him from the Filipino people’s anger. He was wrong, terribly wrong. What he did was jeopardize the goodwill enjoyed by President Duterte with the people. He showed poor judgment. That made it imperative for President Duterte to kick him out of the government.

This is the problem with some officials of the Duterte administration. When they are caught doing something wrong, they take liberty in hiding behind the popularity of the President. Why can’t they take responsibility for their actions? Why cling to their positions when there is public clamor for them to step down? They must realize the President enjoys the public’s trust and confidence because of what he stands for. Once his principles are compromised by the actions of his subordinates, there is real danger the trust and confidence will be eroded.

Now that the President has fired Faeldon, the next step is to establish whether or not the release of convicts was shrouded in corruption. There are talks going around about “freedom for sale”. It’s not hard to see many of these convicts, especially those involved in illegal drugs, willing to shell out a substantial sum for their freedom.

Frankly, I believe a great deal of bribery had taken place, with each release order being sold at a minimum of a million pesos.

This scandal is the worst that has rocked the Duterte administration. The scandal of the P6.4 billion smuggling of shabu under the watch of Faeldon at the Bureau of Customs would rank on equal footing. That means Faeldon was at the eye of the storm of these scandals, something that is hard to explain.

I hope that President Duterte gets rid for Faeldon for good. I don’t know Faeldon. I have nothing personal against him. But my experience as a journalist for about 40 years told me he was bad news for the Duterte administration right from the start. He is a disgrace to the military profession and public service.