FOUR more ex-military officers, all identified with Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon, were appointed to top Customs posts.
The four were identified as former captains Gerardo Gambala, Nilo Maestrocampo and Alvin Ebreo, and former Southern Luzon Command spokesman Neil Anthony Estrella.
Their designations, along with those of four others, were contained in a Customs personnel order signed by Faeldon last January 11. It was approved by Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez 3rd.
Gambala is the new deputy commissioner for management information systems and technology; Maestrocampo, director, Import Assessment Service; Ebreo, director, Legal Service; and Estrella, director, Customs Intelligence and Investigation Services.
Gambala, Maestrocampo and Ebreo were among nine members of the rebel Magdalo group found guilty in connection with the July 2003 failed Oakwood rebellion in Makati City.
Faeldon is also a member of the Magdalo Group.
Gambala and Maestrocampo were meted life sentences for leading the short-lived rebellion, while Ebreo and the others were sentenced to 6 to 12 years in prison as accomplices.
They were given executive clemency by former president and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Faeldon, a former Marine captain, applied for amnesty in 2011, along with former Marine commandant Maj. Gen. Renato Miranda.
The four others who were given new assignments were James Layug, director, Port Operations Service; Henry Anthony Torres, director, Financial Management Office; Marites Martin, district collector, Port of Clark; and Elvira Cruz, district collector, Port of Cebu.
Earlier, Malacañang named retired Maj. Gen. Natalio Ecarma 3rd, a former defense undersecretary, deputy commissioner for revenue collection; and Ariel Nepomuceno, deputy commissioner for enforcement.
Faldon said there was nothing wrong in appointing former military officials to the bureau.
The bureau has law enforcement functions, and Customs agencies in other countries even have Armed Forces-like structures, he pointed out.
In other countries, the head of Customs is a director general with a four-star rank, unlike in the Philippines where the title is “commissioner.”
“It’s really wrong to question why there are military people in the [bureau]. Try to imagine if one has a law enforcement function but you don’t have training in the military. You cannot,” Faeldon said.
“We coordinate with our counterparts all over the world and they are all military-trained also,” he added.
WILLIAM B. DEPASUPIL