Sup­port pours in for lawyer who called Speaker an im­be­cile and stood up to House bul­ly­ing

Philippine Daily Inquirer - - FRONT PAGE - @adorCDN By Ador Vin­cent S. Mayol

CEBU CITY— A woman of in­tegrity and one who speaks her heart out.

Th­ese are the known qual­i­ties of cus­toms of­fi­cial Mandy Therese An­der­son who was be­rated by some law­mak­ers for call­ing Speaker Pan­ta­leon Al­varez an “im­be­cile.”

Laura Diaz Chiong, a child­hood friend of An­der­son in Cebu City, said she was amazed when she saw her buddy in the news although An­der­son’s brave re­marks did not sur­prise her.

“Ever since, she was as strong-willed as her mother and grand­mother. They were brought up to stand tall and to stay on their ground as long as the cause was worth fight­ing for,” Chiong told the In­quirer.

Chiong, who grew up with An­der­son, said stand­ing up for what was right was an in­her­ent char­ac­ter of her friend.

“They were taught to al­ways speak out. That is how they were raised. Their fam­ily is vo­cal,” she said.

Ktec Alazas, An­der­son’s foot­ball coach back in high school, had noth­ing but com­pli­ments for his for­mer player.

“I am proud to see what she has be­come to­day,” Alazas said in a sep­a­rate in­ter­view.


He re­called An­der­son as a jolly and hum­ble teenager who aimed for the best in what­ever she did.

Aside from foot­ball, Alazas said An­der­son was also fond of swim­ming.

“Mandy has al­ways been firm in what she be­lieves in. She re­ally stands up for what is right,” said Alazas, a for­mer mem­ber of the na­tional foot­ball team who later served as coach at Cebu City Na­tional Science High School.

Mes­sages of sup­port have flooded the Face­book ac­count of An­der­son since she be­came con­tro­ver­sial when she called Al­varez an “im­be­cile” in her on­line post.

On July 26, dur­ing the House in­quiry on the P6.4-bil­lion “shabu” con­fis­cated by the Bu­reau of Cus­toms from a ware­house in Valen­zuela City, An­der­son, who is cur­rently chief of staff of Cus­toms Com­mis­sioner Ni­canor Fael­don, was scolded by Ma­jor­ity Leader Rodolfo Far­iñas for in­sult­ing Al­varez.

Far­iñas had re­ceived word about An­der­son’s Face­book post com­ment­ing on an In­quirer ar­ti­cle about Al­varez’s threat to dis­solve the Court of Ap­peals. In her post about the story, An­der­son said, “I’m hop­ing and pray­ing he tries so he re­al­izes what an im­be­cile he is when he fails. Isn’t there any­one else in the House com­posed of 200+ rep­re­sen­ta­tives who can ac­tu­ally be Speaker? Nakakahiya na!”

Jus­ti­fied com­ment

Her cousin, lawyer Ter­cel Maria Mer­cado-Gephart, de­fended An­der­son, say­ing An­der­son did noth­ing wrong.

“By pub­licly hu­mil­i­at­ing Mandy over an in­signif­i­cant mat­ter, over her as­ser­tion of her right to free­dom of ex­pres­sion, a right in­her­ent to every Filipino ci­ti­zen, whether a pub­lic em­ployee or not, Far­iñas jus­ti­fied (and ex­em­pli­fied) Mandy’s ‘im­be­cile’ com­ment,” Gephart said in her Face­book post.

“He called her un­lady-like, ques­tioned Fael­don’s judg­ment in ap­point­ing her, and asked her de­mean­ingly, ‘Who are you?’ What Far­iñas failed to see is that Mandy is the peo­ple. She is a part of the sov­er­eign who put him in his seat and whom he is sup­posed to serve and that is why peo­ple in his of­fice are called pub­lic ser­vants,” she added.

When a ci­ti­zen, al­beit a pub­lic em­ployee, as­serts his or her right to ex­press an opin­ion, Gephart said, ex­press­ing an opin­ion, even if it might be of­fen­sive, was pro- tected by the Con­sti­tu­tion as long as it did not con­cern per­sonal or pri­vate mat­ters.

Gephart was fifth in the 2013 bar ex­ams while An­der­son ranked fifth in the 2015 bar ex­ams.

Mel Sta. Maria, dean of the Far Eastern Univer­sity In­sti­tute of Law, cited a Supreme Court rul­ing which stated that “com­plete lib­erty to com­ment on the con­duct of pub­lic men is a scalpel in the case of free speech.”

Pub­lic of­fi­cials

“Men in pub­lic life may suf­fer un­der a hos­tile and un­just ac­cu­sa­tion. The wound may be as­suaged by the balm of a clear con­science. Apub­lic of­fi­cial must not be too thin-skinned with ref­er­ence to com­ments upon his of­fi­cial acts,” the rul­ing said.

Sta. Maria, who served as An­der­son’s law pro­fes­sor at Ate­neo de Manila Univer­sity (ADMU), ad­vised leg­is­la­tors to con­tem­plate on their ac­tions and avoid be­ing “onion-skinned” when crit­i­cized.

“As the say­ing goes: ‘If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen,’” he said in his Face­book post.

An­der­son grad­u­ated law at ADMU. Aside from be­ing a lawyer, An­der­son is also a cer­ti­fied pub­lic ac­coun­tant. An­der­son’s fam­ily is based in Barangay Capi­tol Site in Cebu City.

She fin­ished high school at the Cebu City Na­tional Science High School then pro­ceeded to get a de­gree in ac­coun­tancy from the Univer­sity of San Car­los.

An­der­son worked briefly for Sy­cip Gor­res and Ve­layo ac­count­ing firm in Cebu City be­fore she de­cided to take up law.

Her fam­ily owns a taxi fleet in Cebu and a re­alty busi­ness.


Mandy Therese An­der­son, the cus­toms of­fi­cial who stood up to bul­ly­ing at the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives


Ma­jor­ity Leader Rodolfo Far­iñas, the top House of­fi­cial who be­rated An­der­son for ex­press­ing her opin­ion against an “im­be­cile” pro­posal to abol­ish the Court of Ap­peals

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