Without beating around the bush and in no uncompromising terms, this column has relentlessly criticized the widespread corruption in the government.
No, I don’t take a day off in pointing out, through print and broadcast media, anything that smacks of anomaly in the affairs of public office.
But while corruption has gotten worse under Noynoy Aquino’s administration in my opinion, I go by the rule of fair play and give credit where credit is due.
In fact, the government is not without a few good men and women that prove true to their commitment to public service.
Immigration Commissioner Siegfred B. Mison is one such lingkod-bayan, who without question, has proven true to his sworn duties.
I share the consensus among professional journalists who cover the Bureau of Immigration (BI) beat that this self-styled Commissioner is actually doing the “impossible.”
Where erstwhile Customs commissioner John Philip Sevilla quit in his anti-graft and corruption campaign in Aduana, frustrated by the protection powerful officials above him were giving the bad eggs, Mison has steadfastly purged BI’s rank-and-file.
Like the Bureau of Customs (BOC) and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), the old BI was notorious for rampant graft, extortion and bribery.
Unscrupulous immigration officers (IOs) and BI confidential agents (CAs) have been known to aggravate foreign nationals, including tourists, multinational investors and immigrants, coercing and extorting from them unbelievable sums of money on flimsy grounds.
But after initially drawing ridicule and laughter from those who dismissed his anti-graft and corruption drive as futile, Mison is now earning accolades for his efforts.
This lawyer, a West Point graduate, has transformed the BI into a “visitor-friendly” agency tasked with regulating foreigners’ arrivals, enforcing the country’s immigration law and controlling our Motherland’s borders.
In less than two years under his watch, the BI chief has actually given credibility to Noynoy’s ballyhooed Matuwid na Daan program of good governance.
But, it has not been easy by any stretch of imagination straightening up things at BI’s vast organization.
In implementing his “Bad Guys Out, Good Guys In” program, Mison has sacked over a hundred erring personnel involved in misuse of public funds, extortion, bribery and even “technical human smuggling.”
He did not spare even key officials in his own office.
Several of those, who had been charged and sanctioned administratively, have the temerity to file harassment suits against Mison.
An intelligence officer, Ricardo Cabochan, was suspended in connection with an extortion case against a foreigner in Baguio City and an embezzlement case involving his office funds.
Now this Cabochan and former head of BI intelligence division Faisal Hussein, who tried to extort P2 million from a Chinese national, jointly launched a “demolition job” or a smear campaign against Mison.
Ang kapal ng mga mukha ng mga scalawags na ito.
They have accused the BI chief of being involved with exactly the same crimes they themselves perpetrated.
And in continuing to “rock the boat” at BI, old hands used to the agency’s rotten ways are resisting Mison’s efforts to institute change.
These bad eggs include some ranking immigration officers, who resent being transferred as part of the ongoing BI revamp that include supervisors at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) BI offices.
Apparently, these culprits’ rackets or illegal activities, such as “escort services” are affected by the “rigodon” that is why they are resisting it.
One of the NAIA Terminal head supervisors, identified as “Dora,” complained about being transferred and even demanded to be promoted despite an administrative case against her for abuse of authority.
Itapon yan sa Mindanao, Commissioner!
Well, I heard Justice Secretary Leila de Lima has thrown her all-out support for Mison, who she said is “doing all the right things” at BI, an attached agency to the Department of Justice (DOJ).
I share De Lima’s trust and confidence in Mison.
And so do our colleagues Conrado Ching, president of Immigration Press Corps (IPC), and Ferds Sevilla, editor of the weekly BORDER Reporter.
“In eliminating red tape, Commissioner Mison has also boosted the revenue-generating capability of the bureau in record-breaking terms,” Ching said.
Sevilla, who has never personally met Mison, said “I’ve never actually met Comm in person but I’ve seen the changes and the difference he has made in upgrading public service to our foreign visitors, OFWs and balikbayan Filipinos alike.”
More changes are in the offing, as heads will start to roll effective Monday in a nationwide BI rigodon.
Bilang na ang mga araw n’yo, BI bad eggs!