TO be promoted to an officer’s rank of Fire Inspector at the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), one has to shell out at least P500,000, sources from the fire agency bared on Monday.
A group of three promotees can get a “package deal” of P2 million, the sources added.
“This is true. Nobody will admit it but it’s true. This has been happening for a long time,” said a BFP officer who spoke on condition that he will not be named.
The officer called up The Manila Times following the publication of an article detailing an alleged “fixing” of the promotions system in the BFP to favor certain fire personnel who applied for promotion to an officer’s rank.
The source gave credence to the revelations of BFP legal affairs chief Ernesto Pagdanganan, who claimed that firemen are demoralized over the alleged malpractice in the agency.
“This is an anomaly that is no longer a secret. The rules are bent or even tailored fit for favored applicants for promotion to the detriment of hundreds, if not thousands of BFP personal who dreams of climbing up the ladder. This affects the morale of our personnel,” the BFP official said.
Pagdanganan alleged that former BFP director Ariel Barayuga was behind the “unlawful and anomalous promotion” scheme that violated Civil Service Commission rules and the Commission on Elections (Coemelec) ban on promotions.
According to the Times’ source, Pagdanganan was right about these violations because the newly-promoted BFP officers were officially taken in during the election ban.
On February 13, 2016, 455 applicants for lateral entry took the qualifying examinations conducted by the BFP. Only 239 allegedly passed the examination.
Pagdanganan further alleged that on February 15, 2016, the 239 applicants submitted themselves to the Physical Agility Test (PAT) and 235 passed the PAT.
On March 7, 2016, only 32 out of 235 were required to undergo the neuro-psychiatric exam (NPE) and drug test. Of the 32 applicants, three from Region 3 failed the test. The three applicants who failed applied for the positions of dentist, criminologist and legal researcher.
“Surprisingly, instead of recommending alternate applicants after disqualifying the three, then BFP chief Director Ariel A. Barayuga appointed these three applicants as Fire Inspectors despite failure to pass the NPE,” Pagdanganan claimed.
The Times sent an inquiry to BFP Director Rodrigo Abrazaldo, who was the chair of the promotions board during the time of Barayuga, but the official has yet to reply as of press time.
But Pagdanganan quickly cleared Abrazaldo of involvement in the promotion anomaly, saying that the official was at that time “under duress” and was simply “following the orders of Barayuga.”
Asked if he was aware of the so-called “promotion for sale” at the BFP, Pagdanganan replied: “Personally I haven’t heard of any at that time. Maybe because of the belief that I was very close to General Barayuga so no one approached me.”
From antedating certain documents to openly violating the election ban, Pagdanganan may face sanctions even if he has already retired from the service.
The BFP legal chief maintained that the approved promotions should be nullified.
“In reality, the BFP will be paying for non-existent appointments being null and void. We ask the public to help us expose this anomaly and maybe to seek rectification from the new administration of President Rodrigo Duterte,” Pagdanganan earlier said.
Meanwhile, the other Times source claimed one of the promoted officers, a female, is “very close” to Barayuga. He did not elaborate.