I show here a scan of the cover and I also post a copy of the letter I have sent to the Postmaster General of PhilPost.
08 March 2011
Atty. Antonio Z. de Guzman, CESO I
Philippine Postal Corporation
Liwasang Bonfiacio 1000
Re: Case of Postal Fraud
Cc: Ms. Elenita DL San Diego
Dear Atty. de Guzman,
I have been meaning to write this letter for quite some time now, but circumstance has not afforded me the luxury of free time to do so until now. Nonetheless, I hope that the passage of time will not hold prejudice against the gravity of the matter at hand.
In January of this year, I was on a trip to the Ilocos region and I visited the usual tourist attractions; Vigan, Bangui, Pagudpud, and Paoay. As is my usual practice when on a trip away from home, I made sure to send myself some covers as souvenirs from my trip to add to my collection. I do this as much as possible whenever I travel as I am a cover collector interested in collecting as many different postmarks as possible. This is why the covers I send are addressed both to and from my address.
One of the post offices that I visited during the trip to send myself a cover was the Paoay Post Office (Zip: 2902) in Ilocos Norte. It is a small and run-down post office, as can be expected from small provincial Philpost branches. When I visited, I believe that there was only one postal clerk to attend to customers, of which I suspect there are few anyhow.
At any rate, I had a terrible experience at the Paoay Post Office. The postal clerk was rude and seemed as though she would rather be doing something else (although I cannot blame her, really). I try my best to be polite to these older ladies who work at post offices because I understand their plight, but this old lady was certainly a tough nut and I left the post office upset with what transpired during my visit.
What upset me most was the fact that she refused to frank my covers with postage stamps and then tie the stamps to the cover in front of me so that I would know what to expect in my postal box when the letter would arrive (postal clerks do this for me most of the time – even abroad). It was not the lack of postage stamps that kept her from doing so as I saw with my own two eyes that she had a canister of the recent marine biodiversity definitive stamps. I kept insisting on her to frank my envelope, but it seemed as though my requests were falling on deaf ears as she was giving the cold shoulder. All she did was stuff my envelope in the canister with the mint stamps. This was what really ignited my frustration and caused me to up and leave the place with a huge frown. I really did not understand why she could not let me see her frank my envelope.
I would learn the reason when I received the cover. Thankfully, I sent my letter registered and so I had proof of mailing which compelled the postal clerk to actually send my letter. Perhaps, had I not sent the letter registered, it would have conveniently found its way to the garbage bin and the lady would not be “digging her own grave,” so to speak.
The reason why she refused to frank my cover with postage stamps is because she never had the intention of doing so – at least with real postage stamps. She used FAKE postage stamps on the cover.
I attach hereto a reproduction in black and white of the cover in question, zoomed in to allow for a better view of the fake stamp, which does not even have perforations! In fact, it seems that the stamp is just a color photocopy done on normal typewriting paper and then cut into squares of paper. Anyway, the main point is that it is fake. Also, notice that the cancel on the cover is very heavy; most likely this was an effort to cover up the fake stamp and make it less noticeable. Ironically enough, it was this heavy cancel that initially made me happy and caused me to further examine it (clear chops are a rarity these days and cover collectors like me are very happy when we receive them on our covers).
To add insult to injury, I was charged PhP 38 to send my letter. I have been made aware that the tariff for a registered letter from Paoay to Metro Manila is only PhP30. I do not mind shelling out the extra PhP 8 if it is for a legitimate reason, but it is the idea that I was charged extra money most probably to cover for the production cost of the fake stamp itself that irks me! The audacious nerve of the postal clerk is just beyond me!
I do not write this letter as a disgruntled philatelist, but rather as a concerned citizen. Actually, I should be a bit happy because the cover I have in my collection with a fake stamp and clear cancels is a valuable item, if not an interesting conversation piece. Many fellow collectors from abroad have asked me to send them such a cover, but I told them that I would not intentionally play a part in postal fraud and also that Paoay is just too far away.
Beyond the issue of the stamp being a curious philatelic novelty, consider the implications this may have on your revenues as a government agency struggling to keep standing on its own two feet. While Paoay may not have as many customers as other post offices like those in metropolitan areas, it is still lost revenue on the part of the PhilPost. This is not to mention the moral and ethical dimension of this matter and the need for justice to be served. We cannot successfully run a post office if its own employees are cheating it. It would be like a worker hammering at a brick wall while his co-workers are struggling to build it. And should this situation escalate to a larger scale and see more and more postal clerks committing fraud, the post office might shut down altogether. I am not one to sit back and let that happen on my guard and certainly hope that you are the same.
The Portuguese have a saying, “Água mole em pedra dura, tanto bate até que fura,” which is roughly translated as, “Water dripping day by day wears the hardest rock away.” I believe that we should not let this situation get out of hand and that we should prevent it from boring a hole in the postal system while we can. I hope you are of the same opinion and that you also sense the same urgency that I do.
Should my participation be required in further proceedings regarding this matter, I would like to inform you beforehand that I will not be able to attend to such matters after mid-May as I will be leaving the country for a few months, if not for good. Thus, please do inform me as to how I can help and what more I should do to see to it that this matter be addressed and resolved.
With hope that we can work together in purging the post office of such heinous and immoral practices as postal fraud practiced by none other than postal clerks themselves, I remain
Yours Most Sincerely,
Myron De La Paz