PETTY WAR, PRETTY GIRLS
OVER ‘P5,000 PER VAN’ SECRETS
By BERTENI “TOTO” CATALUÑA CAUSING
Call it “a petty war of pretty girls” at Customs’ director’s office.
This pretty executive secretary slapped another pretty woman who is a contractual employee in front of Customs Intelligence and Investigation Section (CIIS) Director Filomeno Vicencio inside his office last October 5.
Was it over envy as to who should be the apple of the eye of Director Vicencio?
The pretty contractual employee, May Briones Escoto, said in her Complaint-Affidavit for the Office of the Ombudsman that Jonna Cruz Mogueis slapped, mauled and defamed her after the former succeeded in getting the personal attention of Director Vicencio, who turned 65 a few days ago to be compelled by law to retire.
In her complaint-affidavit, Escoto asserted that the acts of slapping, mauling and defaming her occurred right in front of Director Vicencio.
As a result, Escoto is charging Mogueis for administrative violations of grave misconduct, dishonesty, oppression and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the public service.
At the same time, she is also charging Mogueis for committing crimes of grave oral defamation, slander by deed, physical injuries and destruction to property.
Escoto said that Mogueis, the executive secretary of Vicencio, has been shielding Vicencio from the former because the latter believed that the contractual employee would tell all about Escoto’s discovery that Mogueis has been asking for or receiving P5,000.00 for every container van in exchange for the signature of Vicencio lifting the alert order of imports.
Vicencio’s jurisdiction covers the entire country. In the Port of Manila alone, it is said that 20,000 vans are coming in every week. If only 10 percent of them are placed in alert status, then it means 2,000 vans.
If P5,000.00 each is given, it means that it is a whopping P10 million a week for Mogueis. What more can be gotten if there are other alerts from the ports in the rest of the country?
Additionally, Escoto also said in her complaint that Mogueis was preventing the former from coming close to Vicencio because the former may disclose that Mogueis was pilfering from the salaries of Vicencio.
Escoto said Mogueis had been tasked by Vicencio to withdraw his salaries from the Landbank branch at the Bureau of Customs.
But later Escoto said that Mogueis asked her to accompany the latter in withdrawing the salary.
Escoto said that the executive secretary would withdraw P45,000.00 from the bank as the salary of Vicencio.
After arriving at their office, Escoto said that Mogueis would then ask her to be the one to hand over to Vicencio the salary envelope.
But when Escoto asked how much was the content of the envelope, Mogueis instructed her to tell Vicencio that the content was P38,000.00.
Escoto even risked herself by admitting that for every work of giving the salary envelop and telling Vicencio that it contained P38,000.00 Mogueis gave her P1,000.00.
Escoto said in her affidavit that she and fellow contractual employee Catherine Serrano were eased out of the director’s office upon what she claimed as the machination of Mogueis.
She said she wanted this issue to be brought to the attention of Vicencio so that she tried her best to reach out to Director Vicencio by means of a cellular phone.
And when she succeeded, Escoto said Vicencio told her she can see him at his office.
At 2:00 p.m. of October 5, Escoto said she and Catherine came to the office of the director, but there she found that Mogueis had been blocking her from seeing Vicencio.
The succeeding incident led to the slapping, mauling and defaming of Escoto by Mogueis and another employee named “Elith.”
‘Monsters’ at the door
In her affidavit, Escoto gave up to the minute details of what actually happened, and these were narrated in a blow-by-blow manner.
She said that she went to Vicencio’s office because he gave her a go-signal to come and have her Daily Time Records (DTR) signed by him.
So she went there along with co-employee Serrano who had own concerns with regard to assignments.
“Before finally entering the room of Director Vicencio, we had to pass through the receiving room where Jonna Cruz Mogueis was holding office for being the executive secretary of Director Vicencio and where two other co-employees, named ‘Elith’ and ‘Baby’, were also holding office,” Escoto said.
At the door of the receiving room, she said she was required by the “doorman” named “Jollibee” to fill up a visitor’s slip and they complied with.
She said they were told by Jollibee to wait at the bench near the door, reasoning that Vicencio was still talking with another person.
Escoto said she insisted to Jollibee she already talked to Vicencio and the director already told her to come and see him for her DTR.
But Jollibee said he would ask the director, Escoto added.
After that, she said that Jollibee closed the sliding glass door of the receiving room, whose door was tainted a brown color but transparent enough to see through the inside.
Thereafter, she said Jollibee closed the door leaving them just beside the door.
She said she saw Jollibee going to the table at the left of the door of the director’s office and saw him talking to Mr. Jojo Concepcion, driver of Vicencio.
She said Jollibee that while he was talking to Concepcion he waived his right hand that was understood by her as telling her to wait.
At this juncture, she said she noticed Digo, brother of Director Vicencio, sitting by the table at the right side of the door leading to the director’s office. She said she also noticed Jonna sitting on her seat by the same table.
Saving grace: the director’s son
After that, she said she sat on the bench beside the sliding door and after waiting for ten minutes, she saw Teej Vicencio, son of the director, coming out of the sliding door.
When Teej saw her, she said he instructed Jollibee: “Jollibee, si May at Catherin, papasukin mo kay director at magpapirma yan.”
She said Jolibee answered yes but the director was yet talking to another person.
Then, she said Teej gave her a thumbs-up and he left.
After three minutes, she said Digo called her and Catherine and told them: “Tisay, pumasok ka na, tinawag ka na ni Director.”
Met by fire
She said that while she was stepping into the receiving room, she saw Jonna approaching her and saying: “Akin na yang DTR mo, ako na magpapasok, ayaw na ni director na pumasok ka.”
To this, she said: “Bakit, nagkausap na kami ni director at ako ang magpapapirma nito.”
She said Jonna shot back: “Yun nga ang sabi nya, wag ka nang pumasok, ako na ang magpapirma, sumunod ka na lang sa office rules. Walang pinag-aralan.”
She said she felt embarrassed because it was heard by Catherine and two more employees she named only as Elith and Baby who where was sitting by a table where Concepcion was sitting while being talked to by Jollibee.
“I insisted that I should be the one who should have my DTR signed because I was already told by the director to come to him and have the same signed with me personally handling to him this DTR,” said Escoto.
Despite her insistence, she said Jonna ordered her and Catherine to sit on the two chairs where Concepcion was sitting, to which they complied with.
While sitting, Escoto told Joanna: “Ano ba problema mo, ba’t galit na galit ka, ayaw mo kong papasukin? Secretary ka lang naman dito.”
To this, she said Jonna replied: “Basta sumunod ka na lang sa office rules ha! Akin na yan (referring to the DTR);”
She said she refused to give her DTR while Jonna told Jollibee: “Jollibee, halika, kunin mo, ikaw na ang magpasok.”
“I stood up and I insisted to go to the director’s office but she blocked my way while saying: ‘Hindi nga e!’”, Escoto said.
Success and pain of entering the door
At this juncture, she said she saw the director open the door and she pleaded to him: “Sir, di ba po pinapunta nyo ako?”;
To this, she said the director replied: “Oo, tara pumasok ka”;
At this time, she said Jonna who was standing right by my left side raised her right arm backwards and smashed the same on Escoto’s back, hitting the latter on the nape that caused her to nearly fall.
Escoto said she then raised her left arm and moved it sideways to loosen from the grip of Jonna’s fingers holding her hair.
In the presence of the director, she said she said: “Ba’t ka ba nananakit? Sir o, nanakit.”
To this, she said the director replied: “Oo, nakita ko.”
She said she then stepped inside the director’s room but while walking to the table of the director, she said Jonna shouted: “Hindi ka marunong sumunod sa office rules.”
At this juncture, she said the director told them to stop and Jonna went out of office.
She said that while Vicencio was signing the DTR in the presence of Ver Lopez, a friend of Director Vicencio, she said: “Sir, bakit ganoon, galit na galit sa akin si Jonna, ayaw akong papasukin?”
She said Vicencio answered: “Hindi ko alam”;
Escoto said she insisted: “Alamin nyo sir, boss kayo”;
She said the director told her: “Sa totoo lang Tisay (my nickname), testigo si Ver, pinapapasok na kita. Tapos pumasok si Jonna at sabi, wag ka nang papasukin at kukunin na lang ni Jonna ang DTR mo. Ayan si Ver, testigo. Di ba, Ver?”
She said Ver answered: “Oo.”
To this she said: “E ba’t ganoon sir, kayo ang boss, e secretary nyo lang sya?”;
She said Vicencio yielded: “Sige, alamin ko.”
Then she said she asked: “Sir, kaya lang pupunta ako rito di ba alam nyo naman na matagal ko na kayong gustong kausapin, ayaw nyo lang kaming kausapin.”
She said Vicencio replied: “Hindi, hindi ko alam.”
She said she then told the director: “Aalamin lang namin ang status namin ni Cathy (referring to Catherine Serrano). Ilang linggo na kaming walang allowance kay sir Vince. Ito na lang ang DTR ang inaasahan ko. May tatlo pa po akong anak na pinag-aaral. Di ba po, sabi ko sa inyo, okay lang kami dito. Ba’t nyo pa kami pinatapos sa kabila?”
To this, she said Vicencio replied: “Hindi ko alam yan. Yung kay Vince, office ko pa rin yon. Sige ako ang bahala.”
Then she said she repeated her concern with Jonna: “Sir, bakit po ba galit na galit sa akin si Jonna?”
To which, the director repeated he did not about it;
At this point, she said: “Alamin nyo, director kayo, ipatawag nyo po si Jonna, para habang andito ako, mapag-usapan natin.”
At this juncture, Escoto said that Vicencio motioned to go out to call Jonna in but Ver volunteered to be the one do it.
When Jonna came in, she said Ver went out and Jonna went directly to Director Vicencio and said: “Sir, sinisiraan ako dito. Kung anu-ano ang mga sinasabi sa akin, sabi ni Marie (I don’t know who this Marie is). Hindi lang ako umiimik.”
To this, I reacted: “Anong sira? At sinong Marie?”
At this juncture, Escoto said Jonna repeated what she said: “Sinisiraan ako nito Sir.”
Escoto said she answered: “Ikaw na nga yung mapanira. Marami ka ngang kaaway. Alam nyo ba sir? Lahat dito sa office, kagalit nya.”
The slapping and mauling
Escoto said that as she was about to continue talking facing Vicencio, she was turning her head to the left when a hard slap hit her on the head, feeling that a pointed object cut across her forehead from the left to the center.
She said her eyeglasses fell crashing to the tile floor to move and stop right beneath the table of Vicencio.
Then, she said she saw Jonna launching new assault but she blocked it by her two hands push the latter backwards.
“As I was pushing her hard away although my view was blurring as I had no more eyeglasses, Jonna grabbed my hair with her two hands,” Escoto said.
“In my effort to loosen my hair from her grip, I pushed her harder backwards until her back hit the door of the director’s office,” she continued.
Then, she said Jonna grabbed her collar and pushed her back, in the process her necklace broke into halves and fell on the tile floor.
Being stronger and a little bigger than her, she said Jonna succeeded in pushing her until she fell to the sofa inside the office.
While struggling, she said another person smashed a clenched fist on the back of her head and pulled her hair.
Then, she said she heard this person at her back shouting and she recognized the voice as that of Elith’s.
Then, Escoto said she turned her head to the back and had her right hand push Elith away while her left hand was push Jonna away.
Then, she said Elith kicked her repeatedly, hitting her on the back just above the waistline.
At this point, she said she noticed many persons rushing over and pulled them away from each other.
Then, she said she saw “Maili” in front of her and telling her: “Tama na, Tisay. May sugat ka.”
She said: “Hindi ma’am pinagtulungan nila ako e”;
But at the same time, she said that Jonna shouted at her: “Walang pinag-aralan.”
At that point, she said Vicencio told her: “Pasensya na, may sugat ka, ipagamot mo na yan.”
She said she refused to leave immediately because she was looking for her shoes, eyeglasses and necklace.
She said Catherine handed to her the shoes, eyeglasses and the DTR.
Thereafter, she said she left while telling Catherine: “Catherine, yung DTR ko hawakan mo at ang necklace ko hanapin mo.”
Just outside, she met her common-law husband to whom she complained: “Mahal, sinakatan nila ako, pinagtulungan nila ako.”
She said her husband told her to go directly to the police while he would go to the director’s office to confront her attackers.
She arrived at the Ospital ng Maynila about 3:30 p.m. of that day where she was examined, injected with anti-tetanus and the wounds were cleaned with betadine and bandaged.
She said she was directed by the doctor to have a CT-scan due to the pulps on her head.
Fight to the end
Escoto vowed that she will never stop until Jonna is removed from the Bureau of Customs.
She stressed that people like Jonna are not fit for public service and must be cleared out if the government wants to stop smuggling.