The favored career of Allen Capuyan
Fortunate is the civil servant who gets embroiled in high-profile controversies and then gets absolved by way of presidential appointments, not just once but twice.
Allen Capuyan is living proof. His involvement in prominent debacles that took the public by storm makes for an interesting topic on accountability of public officials.
Let us trace his storied career.
Capuyan began his military vocation after graduating from the Philippine Military Academy in 1983.
In 2004, he was appointed chief for operations of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP). A news commentary at the time identified him as the most powerful man in the agency.
Perhaps the portrayal was rational. A military source cited him in a 2005 report as the “No. 1 suspect” in a covert military wiretapping operation that went awry.
Gloria Macapagal Arroyo was the president then. It was presidential election season. The military operation was designed as a surveillance dragnet by monitoring phone conversations of opposition politicians suspected of colluding with Commission on Elections officials.
Much to public delight, however, the reconnaissance turned serendipitous. The person caught in the wiretaps was no less than Arroyo herself who was recorded talking to Comelec commissioner Virgilio Garcillano about her own election tallies.
Despite the controversy that gravely demonized Arroyo’s political career, Capuyan’s career wasn’t over as yet. In the 2010 elections, Abante Tribung Makabansa vied for party-list and its first nominee was Capuyan, in an election that saw several other former and active military officers in the running as representatives, all identified as allies of Arroyo.
Capuyan’s telling epilogue came a year later. It was in 2011 that Capuyan was identified by Lt. Col. Pedro Sumayo Jr. of the ISAFP’s Military Intelligence Group (MIG) 21 as the man behind the burning of the “Hello, Garci” tapes.
Sumayo had testified that he had given the tapes to Capuyan who then ordered him to burn the recordings. Unknown to the two, however, Sumayo’s subordinate Sgt. Vidal Doble made copies of the tapes. The rest is history.
But so too did Capuyan make history.
In the P6.4-billion shabu mess under President Duterte, Capuyan’s phantom reappeared. Bureau of Customs fixer Mark Taguba identified Capuyan, who was then assistant general manager for security and emergency services of the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA), as the player codenamed “Big Brother.”
Big Bother, Taguba testified in the Senate, provided tariff codes via e-mail that gave him access to the green express lane that exempted shipments from X-ray inspection. Capuyan resigned from his MIAA post last March.
But how lucky can he get. A month later, Mr. Duterte appointed him as presidential adviser for indigenous peoples’ concerns with the rank of undersecretary.
What is Capuyan’s Duterte connection? From 1997 to 2000, he was chief of the Intelligence Service Unit in Davao City.
Capuyan is said to be a Manobo. In this day and age when “pseudo-Manobos” like Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez prosper out of convenience, let us hope he is not doing an Alvarez.
It is not only Capuyan’s controversial record that should bother us. His current appointment is almost always accompanied by vexing discourses from Jesus Dureza, Mr. Duterte’s classmate who serves as presidential adviser on the peace process: “Seventy-five percent of New People’s Army cadres is made up of indigenous peoples.”
What dirty tricks are being tasked to Allen Capuyan this time, given suspicion that he is proficient in obstruction of justice? That is on top of the fact that Mr. Duterte has shamelessly buried the P6.4-billion shabu mess — for now — but not after he leaves office. There is a time for reckoning. As it is for Mr. Duterte, Capuyan’s day will come.