MANY pro-Noynoy volunteers during the last campaign are dismayed by the appointment of businessman Joselito Alvarez as commissioner of the Bureau of Customs.

I am getting critical text messages from friends and private messages by Facebook acquaintances after writing in a previous column about that joke on Alvarez being qualified.

Updates on President Benigno Aquino III's presidency

I sense a growing undercurrent of disappointment among pro-Aquino volunteers in Cebu and Negros (one text message came from a Tuloy Pinoy leader in Negros Occidental) over the appointment of somebody who cheated in a prestigious golf tournament at the Alabang Country Club.

I describe this as an undercurrent being still largely beyond the radar of local media. In Manila, it seems only the politicians, especially Sen. Tito Sotto, are vocal about the issue of personal dishonesty, which smacks against President Noynoy Aquino’s promise to clean up the bureaucracy. A Sotto volunteer said the senator intends to take up the matter once the regular sessions begins.

Going over news reports last week, I also noticed that Alvarez has begun engaging media for his defense. He and his supporters are belittling the cheating in a golf tournament. Alvarez also pooh-poohed accusations of conflict of interest, saying Airfreight 21 might even be at a disadvantage with the media attention he is getting (as if customs media would have an easy time getting import records when it comes to A21 importations).

President Aquino himself was quoted by reporters saying the golf issue is minor but Alvarez will be booted out if he fails to go after big-time smugglers. 

The controversial commissioner, who is identified with the Hyatt 10 group, should be going after the biggest syndicate by now, said to be identified with the former first gentleman.

However, the minor issue is turning out to be his biggest stumbling block at the moment. If Senator Sotto won’t stand down (he is said to be voting against the Liberal Party’s bet Sen.

Kiko Pangilinan in the race for Senate presidency), Alvarez should expect a major storm on the Senate floor—a storm that will also question Noynoy’s wisdom at rewarding a cheater in a game golf. This week, let us expect the Alvarez issue to be a crucial behind-the-scenes talking point in the tug-of-war for the Senate presidency.

As this is developing, Cebu customs stakeholders are lying low to avoid being smashed by the rough waters akin to oil tankers and fishing boats hit by typhoon Basyang.

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Of the electoral protests filed after May 10, I find former Ritchie Wagas’s case against mayor-elect Joel Quiño and the rest of the elected candidates in Compostela town interesting. It seems a way had been found to make the Commission on Elections and the Department of Interior and Local Government act fast to prevent those elected from being proclaimed. Now, Quiño has no other recourse but to go to the Supreme Court (SC).

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A taxi driver, father of a college freshman at the University of Cebu, complained that the certificate Cebu City officials gave his daughter as educational assistance amounting to P10,000 when she graduated was not honored last week. She was told City Hall has not yet deposited money to fund the certificates issued.

“Human na man ang eleksyon. Nahanaw ang gipanghambog nga surplus funds pagkampanya,” the driver lamented.

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Former Mactan-Cebu International Airport Authority (MCIAA) manager Alfonso Alerre denied receiving severance pay when he left office. Carina Sepulveda Valera, a former Department of Transportation and Communication undersecretary and an ex-officio member of the board, received P100,000 from MCIAA when she retired from service. However, the Commission on Audit disallowed the disbursement and the case is still pending at the SC.

Unless the SC rules in favor of the MCIAA, the board should refrain from giving out severance pay for recent retirees.

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Only a few showed up during the 25th commemoration of the disappearance of Fr. Rudy Romano last July 11 at the Redemptorist rotunda in front of the church. But the message is crystal clear.

The Aquino administration should work towards uncovering the truth and thus bring to a close Father Rudy’s case. The abduction of Father Romano and student leader Levi Ybañez added fuel to the fire of discontent and protest in Cebu just before the 1986 snap elections. In PNoy’s quest for truth, the search should include the case of Father Romano, along with the mysteries surrounding the death of the President’s father, Ninoy.

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