28 January 2009

A Questionable Person to a Sensitive Post?

Election Returns
Nobody was surprise to see Enrique Agana removed from his post as the chief of the National Printing Office (NPO) considering that the case of his alleged sexual misconduct committed on a 13-year old girl still remains unresolved. Add to that, NPO was delayed in the procurement of personalized accountable forms for the local government units (LGUs). However, Malacañang's swift move to replace him with retired Navy Vice Admiral Tirso Danga was met with many eyebrows raised.

Nothwithstanding early attempt to douse the fiery appointment with a cold denial that no appointment papers have yet been submitted, a person with sullied reputation like Danga assuming a sensitive post of a critical agency will most probably be met by heavy criticism and nationwide protest.

Even Senate minority leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr. likened placing Danga as the director of the NPO to appointing a forger to be Governor of the Central Bank.

Until the news broke out early this week, Danga was floating within Malacañang's reach, but hovering just below the public's radar. This is understandable given Danga's reputation in the last presidential election.

As head of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP) in 2004, Danga was suspected to have conducted wiretapping operations that produced the taped conversations between President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and then poll commissioner Virgilio Garcillano.

The wiretapped conversations, popularly called 'Garci Tapes', hinted on "special operations" to rig the election results in favor of Arroyo over the late opposition contender Fernando Poe Jr.

Danga was also implicated in the cover-up of the murder of Navy Ensign Philip Pestaño in 27 September 1995. Pestaño was found dead in his cabin in the Navy logistics ship BRP (Barko ng Republika ng Pilipinas) Bacolod City. His death came after he reported that he found illegally cut logs, 50 sacks of shabu and military weapons suspected to be for sale to the terrorist group Abu Sayyaf in the ship's cargo bay.

The Navy immediately ruled his death a suicide, based on a suicide note found in his stateroom. However, handwriting experts eventually concluded the note was a forgery.

Now the man who was believed to have taken a big part in those two controversial crimes is being considered to head an agency tasked to print the official ballots and other election forms. With his questionable background, how can Danga perform his duties with utmost integrity and competence to prevent a repetition of irregularities in the 2004 presidential election?

Aside from the printing the official ballots, NPO also has exclusive printing jurisdiction over the following:
  1. Printing, binding and distribution of all standard and accountable forms of national, provincial, city and municipal governments, including government corporations, and

  2. Printing of public documents such as the Official Gazette, General Appropriations Act, Philippine Reports, and development information materials of the Philippine Information Agency