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Who is Nicanor Faeldon, The Guy Duterte Just Sacked?

The former chief of the Bureau of Corrections is in hot water after disobeying the president’s orders and releasing some of the country’s worst criminals.
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Former Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) chief Nicanor Faeldon is the man of the hour after the government official was publicly sacked by President Rodrigo Duterte yesterday, September 4. The former BuCor head failed to follow Duterte’s order not to release heinous crime convicts, urged on by the public outrage of the impending release of notorious rapist-murderer Antonio Sanchez.

"Faeldon has to go because Faeldon disobeyed my order," said Duterte during a press conference at Malacanang.

While Sanchez’s release was stopped, more than 1,900 heinous crime convicts have been freed by BuCor, and Duterte has ordered that they surrender or else they will be considered fugitives from the law.

Disobeying Orders

According to presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo, the night the President learned of the news of Sanchez’s potential release, he immediately instructed Faeldon not to allow the rapist-murderer’s release.

"All he (Faeldon) had to do is make an announcement, 'we’re not releasing (former) mayor Sanchez per instruction of higher authorities'...that was the exact instruction," Panelo said.

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As a result of disobeying the President’s orders, Faeldon was subsequently fired despite defending that his actions were in line with the good conduct time allowance (GCTA law), which allows convicts to be released early due to “good behavior.” 1,914 heinous crime convicts have been released since 2014 due to the GCTA law, including the murderers of the Chiong sisters.

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Due to the poor handling of the Sanchez situation and the number of heinous crime convicts freed, the President has ordered the Office of the Ombudsman to investigate BuCor, including the officials who have played a hand in the early release of prisoners since 2015.

However, this is not the first time that Faeldon has been in hot water with the government, particularly its Presidents.

Rocky Relationship with Philippine Presidents

The Batanes-born graduate of the National University in Manila has had a rocky history with Philippine Presidents, even before he disobeyed Duterte’s orders.

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A captain of the Philippine Marine Corps, Faeldon was one of the leaders of the Oakwood mutiny in 2003, which accused then-President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo of rampant corruption. Following the mutiny leaders’ surrender, Faeldon was taken into custody in 2003, but managed to escape his heavily guarded detention in 2005. He was recaptured in 2007, but managed to participate in the Manila Peninsula mutiny against Arroyo during the same year.

Despite going on to serve the government in various bureaus, he was once wanted by the Philippine National Police with P1 million set for his re-arrest under Arroyo’s administration.

A staunch opponent of corruption and military politicization, Faeldon once fought “for a credible government.” However, his actions under Duterte’s administration tell a different story.

Under Duterte’s Term

Faeldon was one of Duterte’s first appointments when the President began his term. Faeldon stepped into the position of Commissioner of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) in June 30, 2016, but it would only be a year later that he’d find himself in the middle of a shabu smuggling scandal.

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At the height of Duterte’s campaign against illegal drugs in 2017, a huge P6.4 billion shabu smuggling scandal managed to slip right under Faeldon’s nose. The BOC is tasked with inspecting all entry points in the country to ensure no illegal materials, such as methamphetamine, are smuggled into the country. As a result of failing to do its job, the BOC, as well as its officials, were implicated in the controversy and heavily criticized and Faeldon was put under investigation by the Office of the Ombudsman.

Faeldon subsequently resigned from his position in 2017, but was later reappointed by Duterte as the deputy administrator in the Office of Civil Defense. After a few months, he was reappointed again by the President into the role of director-general of the Bureau of Corrections, which he was fired from on September 4.

It’s still up in the air whether the President will reassign Faeldon into another government position, but his track record is making that seem more unlikely by the minute.

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Anri Ichimura
Staff Writer, Esquire Philippines
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