US citizen heads NFA
PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino III has appointed a “greenhorn American citizen” as the administrator of the National Food Authority to run the country’s crucial national food security program, Palace sources said Sunday.
The sources said an official documents show that the President antedated the tenure of Orlan Calayag by six months to skirt the election ban on “midnight” appointments. This resulted in the NFA having two administrators during that period, as the NFA administrator had yet to vacate his post.
Before his appointment, records show, Calayag was a “ghost employee” who received millions in compensation from the House of Representatives while he was in the United States.
When Aquino signed Calayag’s appointment papers, the Palace described the American citizen as a “management expert.”
“But his own personal data submitted to the Palace belied his being a management expert as his own qualification and only experience in government service was his being a close employee and crony to Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala. They are both from Quezon,” said one Palace source who requested anonymity.
Manila Standard tried to get the side of Alcala and Calayag, but neither of them responded to calls or text messages.
From July 1, 2004 to August 31, 2008, Calayag served as Alcala’s chief political affairs officer when the Agriculture secretary was a congressman representing Quezon.
But the same data sheet submitted to Malacañang showed Calayag continued receiving his pay in the House for two years, from September 2006 to April 2008, while he was already in America working as a caregiver and a clerk.
As a ghost employee, Calayag managed to collect more than P2 million in compensation, official records show.
“Calayag continues to receive millions in compensation and perks as NFA administrator and American citizen. He did not renounce his US citizenship,” the Palace source said.
Calayag also enjoys per diems from board meetings and a budget of P3 million in intelligence funds, the Palace sources said.
“The ruling Liberal Party, to which Alcala and the President belong, and the government’s economic managers’ team backed Calayag’s anomalous appointment, which was not subjected to strict vetting by the committee headed by Budget Secretary Florencio Butch Abad and Finance Secretary Ceasar Purisima,” the Palace source said.
On Jan. 17, 2013, President Aquino appointed Calayag NFA administrator “to serve the term of office beginning 01 July 2012 and ending on 30 June 2013, vice Angelito Banayo.”
Banayo resigned on Sept. 30, 2012, to undergo a heart operation.
Calayag was also named by the President to various and equally crucial and strategic positions that come with his being NFA administrator.
Calayag now sits as vice chairman of the NFA Council, is a member of the board of directors of the Philippine Fisheries Development Authority and is chairman of the board of Food Terminal Inc.
Calayag came home to the Philippines via Korean Airlines Flight 623 on Dec. 19, 2012 using an American passport.
“Little did the President know that when he affixed his signature to appoint Calayag with antedated tenure, his appointee was still carrying an American passport upon his return to the Philippines,” the Palace source said.
Records show that on Jan. 7, 2013, Calayag managed to reacquire Philippine citizenship under the dual citizenship privilege but only with a status as a “naturalized citizen.”
While Calayag was born in the Philippines, his previous “willful renunciation” of his Philippine citizenship to become a citizen of the United States of America, irrevocably made him lose his status as a “natural born” citizen of the Philippines, the Palace source pointed out.
This means the President and Alcala overlooked the single most important qualification provided by the Administrative Code, which states that the NFA administrator must be a natural-born citizen of the Philippines.
“Now, we have a NFA administrator, who once renounced his Philippine citizenship to acquire US citizenship and reacquired Philippine citizenship but only as a naturalized citizen but still did not renounce his US citizenship, clearly a violation of the law,” the Palace source said.
The Palace source blamed Alcala for keeping the most important detail from President Aquino in a bid to get his crony appointed.
Lawyer-activist Argee Guevarra on Sunday called on the President to fire Calayag.
“I have always believed that Calayag should already step down because of his involvement in the overpriced rice importation from Vietnam. And now that it has been revealed that he is not a Filipino, which is in direct violation of the Civil Service Commission, it has become more imperative for him to resign or be fired,” Guevarra of Sanlakas said, in a statement.
“Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala should already move to replace his lieutenant, and the CSC should make a probe into Calayag’s citizenship,” he added.
“Are they really that numb to public opinion? It is as if they have a culture of impunity -- they are not afraid of plunder complaints and they don’t even care if the top official of the NFA is not a Filipino citizen,” the lawyer added.
Guevarra also called on Congress to expand its probe on the overpriced rice imports to include Calayag’s citizenship.
Guevarra also blasted Alcala for his “dubious choice of appointees.”
Guevarra accused Alcala of “turning the DA into his own personal playground, appointing members of his ‘Quezon mafia’ to the department, including Orlan Calayag, an American citizen, as NFA administrator.”
“These very same people have been repeatedly accused of involvement in various acts of corruption including the Napoles pork barrel fund scam, yet they seem to continue to enjoy the confidence of Alcala, their political benefactor,” Guevarra said.
“How was Alcala able to dupe the President into signing Calayag’s appointment in the first place? Even assuming he has regained dual citizenship, still, that does not qualify him for appointment in our bureaucracy,” Guevarra said. With Rey E. Requejo