EVEN before the Senate investigated the padrino (patron) system that is allegedly rampant in the Bureau of Customs (BOC), Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago already deemed the practice illegal.
According to Santiago, many public officials use their powers to influence the appointment of persons to government posts through the exercise called “political recommendations,” which is tantamount to corruption.
The senator said that she will file a bill seeking to punish any government official, elected or appointed, making political recommendations for the appointment or promotion of individuals.
“By enacting a law that punishes the acts of making and soliciting political recommendations, we would be able to strengthen our bureaucracy by granting the appointing agencies their rightful discretion over their employee activities,” Santiago said in a statement.
In an interview aired over DZBB on Sunday, the senator cited the admission of Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile that he recommended the promotion of Roger Gatchalian, the district collector of the Port of Manila, in 2009. Gatchalian is said to be one of the BOC’s so-called three kings.
“Why should a senator or a congressman meddle and influence how an agency of the executive branch hires its employees? If the person you backed turns out to be corrupt, what does it say about you as a politician?” Santiago asked.
Sen. Ralph Recto also admitted calling a Customs official but only to inquire about the alleged harassment of his businessman friend who refused to pay “grease money” to Customs personnel.
She said that the padrino system tends to bypass qualified individuals in government positions in favor of those who have political connections.
Santiago’s “Anti-Political Recommendations Bill” seeks to punish the acts of soliciting political recommendations from any public official or employee. Violators may be fined with P30,000 or be jailed for a year.
Sen. Francis Escudero, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, recently filed a resolution asking the Blue Ribbon, Ways and Means and the Finance committees to look into the “padrino system” that has become a common practice among members of Congress.