Judge Alameda's siblings get Customs promotion before Trillanes arrest

MANILA, Philippines – The brother and sister of Makati City Regional Trial Court Branch 150 Judge Elmo Alameda were promoted to higher ranks in the Bureau of Customs a week before the latter issued an arrest warrant against opposition Senator Antonio Trillanes IV on September 25.

Marlon and Ruby Claudia Alameda were among those included in the promoted officers on September 14. The notice below was uploaded on the BOC’s website.

The judge’s brother Marlon was promoted from Special Police Area Supervisor to Special Police Chief while the sister was promoted from Port of San Fernando’s Collector of Customs IV to Collector of Customs V.

They went through the process. Rappler sought Marlon’s comment on Wednesday, October 10. The BOC official said there is nothing irregular with his and Ruby Claudia’s promotion, as they have been with the BOC for at least 40 years and 20 years, respectively.

Marlon’s promotion was a formality of sorts, as he said he had been officer-in-charge and acting chief of the Customs police division since 2014.

So bago po ako na-promote, hinahawakan ko na po itong puwesto na ito for almost 5 years. Dumaan po kami sa proseso (Before I was promoted, I was already serving that post for almost 5 years. We went through the process). We rose from the ranks,” he told Rappler in a phone interview. 

Marlon said his and his sister’s new posts were just one rank higher than their previous assignments, which he said was normal. He also claimed that they went through the whole application process – from filing, exam, to an interview.

He said it was during the time of former BOC commissioner Nicanor Faeldon when the posts were opened. Faeldon’s successor, Commissioner Isidro Lapeña, then continued the program. The brother and sister supposedly took the exam in January 2018 and had the interview “around 3 months ago.”

Eight years po akong hindi na-promote. Nagkaroon ng opening during the term of Faeldon…. Nadaanan ko po lahat ng proseso, even my sister… Mali po 'yung ganung insinuation,” Marlon said. (I was not promoted for 8 years. Then there was an opening during the term of Faeldon.... I went through the whole process, even my sister did.... Those insinuations are wrong.)

Bago pa po 'yung sa amnesty case (Even before the amnesty case), we already applied for our promotion,” he added.

Trillanes says it's suspicious: But for Senator Trillanes, the timing of events is questionable and doubtful. 

“It is highly suspicious that the siblings of Judge Alameda were promoted on the day the hearing on my amnesty revocation was conducted,” Trillanes told Rappler in a statement.

Nevertheless, the opposition senator said he “will continue to give [Judge Alameda] the benefit of the doubt that, in the end, he will do the right thing.”

The promotions came 11 days before Makati RTC Branch 150 issued an arrest warrant and hold departure order against Trillanes in connection with the 2007 Manila Peninsula-rebellion charges against him.

Judge Alameda ruled that there was sufficient basis to say that Trillanes did not file the amnesty application form in 2011, after the senator’s failure to present a copy in court.

Trillanes, however, submitted signed affidavits from the former chairperson and head of secretariat of the amnesty committee that handled his application. (READ: EXPLAINER: Why Judge Alameda disregarded affidavits in Trillanes case)

Failure to file the form, which contains the required admission of guilt, is President Rodrigo Duterte's basis for voiding Trillanes' amnesty through Proclamation 572.

“It has now become glaringly clear that Senator Trillanes failed to substantiate his claim that he filed his application for amnesty,” Judge Alameda said in his 22-page order issued on September 25. 

Trillanes immediately posted bail after police served the warrant. He, however, faces a tougher time at the Makati RTC Branch 148, where he is facing the non-bailable charge of coup d’etat.  Rappler.com

Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email camille.elemia@rappler.com