Osmeña: Aquino should have lifted political pressure on Sevilla
MANILA, Philippines – Senator Sergio Osmeña III believes President Benigno Aquino III could have done more in going after the people who had allegedly put pressure on former Bureau of Customs (BOC) Commissioner John Sevilla to make political appointments, which drove Sevilla's resignation.
"Ikaw ang presidente. Eh di tanggalin mo [yung] political pressure. Sus! Maria! Yung political pressure manggagaling lang sa kapartido mo," said Osmeña in an interview over dzBB on Sunday, April 26.
(You're the president. You should take away the political pressure. Gosh! [Holy] Mary! The political pressure will only come from your partymates.)
Osmeña expressed his hope that Sevilla – who cited "politicking" in the bureau – would name the people who had peddled their influence in certain BOC appointments.
He said Sevilla hopefully names them before the Senate when the legislative chamber hears concerns on BOC, reputed to be one of the most corruption-laden government agencies.
Osmeña attributed the Senate hearing to Senator Aquilino Pimentel III, implying that Sevilla is invited to the hearing.
Sevilla had earlier indicated that the bureau has been a milking cow of political camps for campaign fundraising, a situation he vowed to fight under his watch.
But the ex-BOC chief had voluntarily resigned on Thursday, April 23, saying a political appointment which pushed through despite his opposition was the last straw.
"I did not think that anyone outside of Customs or outside of government should have any say in appointments in Customs so I just asked the relevant deputy commissioners," Sevilla had told Rappler after his resignation.
"Napaka-honest daw nun so nakaka-dismaya," said Osmeña of Sevilla's decision. (He is said to be very honest, so it is dismaying.)
Known for fighting graft and corruption in government, Osmeña further questioned the Aquino administration for letting go of leaders with a good track record.
"Why will you change somebody who is doing a good job? May problem. Questionable na ginagawa nila, di ba?" he added. (There's a problem. What they are doing is questionable, right?)
Osmeña had campaigned for Aquino in the 2010 polls. He said he had supported Aquino's tandem with then vice presidential candidate now Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II, largely seen as the ruling Liberal Party's contender for the 2016 presidency.
Pressed for his 2016 bet, Osmeña did not express his support for any known 2016 contender. He said it was too early to tell.
He, however, said Vice President Jejomar Binay's support base – which is usually 20% of those who support him in intial surveys – will be intact. Binay has long announced his intent to run as president.
Osmeña also cited Aquino's soft spot for his so-called KKK, as he analyzed the Chief Executive's treatment of Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alclala, who the President has constantly defended amid corruption allegations.
Osmeña explained that KKK stand for Kapartido, Kabarilan, Kaklase (Partymate, Shooting buddy, Classmate). Aquino is known for his love of guns.
On the other hand, he noted the swift appointment of former BOC chief Alberto Lina as Sevilla's replacement. Lina held the post during the administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
He said the swiftness was "very surprising," as it took one year for the President to appoint someone in a previous vacancy in the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC).
Osmeña chairs the Senate Committee on Energy.
He added that he was not taken aback by the allegations of campaign fundraising within BOC, as the bureau is "ang dali daling gamitin (very easy to use)" given its already-corrupt history.
He said the appointee mentioned by Sevilla allegedly backed by religious sect Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC) was also no surprise, acknowledging the said church's strong influence on government.
With over 2.25 million followers who supposedly vote as a bloc, the INC is known to lobby for government posts for members of its church.
INC members who were appointed to various government posts in the past include Land Transportation Office chief Virginia Torres, former Justice secretaries Serafin Cuevas and Artemio Tuquero, former Court of Appeals Justice Nicolas Lapeña Jr, former National Bureau of Investigation chiefs Reynaldo Wycoco and Magtanggol Gatdula, and former Philippine National Police chief Edgardo Aglipay.
Political aspirants have sought the church's endorsement in the past. – Rappler.com