July 9 2010
The story is so absurd it has to be told.
The newly appointed Commissioner of Customs, Angelito A. Alvarez ( AAA as he is known), was reportedly suspended for 6 months from Alabang Golf Club and barred for 5 years from playing in the club’s annual Mango Tee.
The reason? AAA and his golfing buddies allegedly violated the putting rules and falsified their scores giving their foursome a combined total of 35 under par for one round. This is an average of 9 under par for each of them, a feat for any one person, more so for four players in the same flight. I did not check with my bookie but the probability of that happening must be around a million to one. What were they thinking?
When questioned, AAA laughed it off saying it was only golf, a lark, a mere game with no earth shattering consequence. This from a man that at the time was Chairman of the Philippine Basketball Association, an entity engaged in overseeing another “mere” game, basketball. So if cheating in the game of golf is cool, so by extension is cheating – doping, diving or point shaving- in basketball. Just let the public and my bookie know.
That is just the start.
AAA’s playing partners were reportedly banned for life from playing in Alabang so they must have been in on the conspiracy.
My mother always told me: “ Tell me who your friends are and I will tell you who you are.” Well if the buddies of AAA are a bunch of no-gooders what does this tell us about the man? Will these same fellows be drinking and carousing with our new Commissioner even as he sets out to reform his agency? As a perspective, the man will be overseeing an agency that last year handled P250 billion in receipts. Signing a false scorecard seems trivial by comparison but, still, the mind boggles at the possibilities.
And there is more.
The President’s Search Committee, to its credit, became aware of AAA’s infraction at the time of his screening. It reportedly weighed heavily on them but clearly not enough. Executive Secretary Ochoa described it as “ a very light” infraction.
I am sorry but somebody is not getting it.
The Bureau of Customs in local parlance is synonymous with graft, corruption and dirty dealing . It is a symbol of all that the President has said he will fight against, it is the platform that the Filipino voted him in for.
Cheating is a kind word to describe what goes on in the back rooms of this agency. To this icon of malfeasance, the President has now appointed a man who after extensive investigation has been publicly recognized by his peers as a cheat albeit only in golf. No matter, the Search Committee determined that AAA is honest in all other facets of his life and is therefore fit for office ( What about the adage that where there is smoke there is fire or my mother’s cautionary note about the quality of friends?).
Following the Search Committee’s logic, it is fine to appoint to the most sensitive position in Government a man who does not cheat except in golf.
Apart from alienating golfers in general, a potentially solid bloc of votes, what does this tell our children, that it is really alright to cheat as long as it is in sports? Where does one draw the line between real life situations and not? Since when has integrity become negotiable?
Are we so bereft of good men, is our resource pool so shallow that we cannot find one person among 92 million Filipinos who is honest… even in golf? Does AAA possess such superhuman qualities that the nation simply cannot be without him?
In his first day in office, AAA reportedly told media that Customs’ major issue was its negative image and reversing that his biggest challenge. Well, he might want to start by working on his own.
So early on the Administration is, sadly, showing kinks in its armor, kinks that are totally unnecessary. At a time of great challenges, the President is spending his precious political capital on controversies that can and should be avoided.
It is said this was a light infraction, a small cut in an otherwise robust body. Well let me tell you, with all the political vampires in this town, one small cut could be the beginning of the end. Edward’s friends in Twilight will testify to that.