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Inquirer news item raises hope for ex-BI employee

The Bureau of Immigration (BI) was the government agency I referred to in my letter titled “Hiring and promotion abuses in government” (Inquirer, 6/20/12). “Immigration chief faces graft raps” (Inquirer, 1/28/13) was therefore no surprise to me.

I am a victim of grave abuse of discretion by the same chief and those around him. Many of my former coemployees, both organic (permanent) and confidential agents (contractual), suffered the same fate and are continuously subjected to ill treatment, but for fear of losing their high-paying jobs or of being sent to a faraway assignment, they choose to keep mum on whatever issue. Fear prevails in the workplace.

Unknown to outsiders, the BI stinks with countless unresolved issues. For example, it continues to defy the ruling of the Civil Service Commission (a decision concurred with by the Department of Justice) ordering the reinstatement of lawyer Faizal Hussin as chief of the Intelligence Division.

At every flag ceremony and gathering at the office, the BI chief and his top officials never fail to trumpet “daang matuwid.” But their odes to this much-vaunted good governance path have turned out to be mere lip service. Thus, there is confusion among employees as to what indeed is the true meaning of patriotism, professionalism, integrity, transparency, merit system, blah blah blah, which are grossly applied according to double standards at the BI.

My June 20, 2012 letter caused so much uproar in the office. Until then I was on  contractual status, but that did not deter me from being vocal with my views, especially on the dismal hiring practice. My letter was a desperate attempt to call the attention of President Aquino and Justice Secretary Leila de Lima. But I never was given the privilege of their attention. Unfortunately, the issues I raised were not met objectively; instead, I got kicked out.

Of course, they had to justify my sudden expulsion with a legal cover: habitual tardiness. The allegation was contestable, and even if it were true, didn’t I, as a worker, deserve a warning?

Mind you, despite being eligible, I was a contractual employee for three years and four months. Would have I lasted that long if I were an irresponsible employee? Note that on the shortlist of qualified applicants for Immigration Officer 1, I was first on the list. Also, from June 5 to June 15, 2012, I was made to attend a seminar titled “Continuing Education for BI Officers and Employees.” Why waste agency resources on me when on June 30, 2012, I had to breathe my last in the office? My June 20 letter explains the picture.

Being an ordinary mortal bereft of political connections, I opted to remain silent. I thought it was a lonesome, hopeless battle for what was right and just.

In sum, the BI miserably failed my expectations of President Aquino’s “daang  matuwid.” The recent news item cited above rekindled my hopes.

Calling the attention of the President, please!

—BELEN DOCENA-ASUELO,

bdasuelo@yahoo.com


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