August 19, 2017, 8:57 pm
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1 Philippine Peso = 1 Philippine Peso
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1 Philippine Peso = 152.00649 Sierra Leone Leone
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1 Philippine Peso = 435.85326 Sao Tome Dobra
1 Philippine Peso = 0.17678 El Salvador Colon
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Name names, Faeldon dared

BY JP LOPEZ and WENDELL VIGILIA

LAWMAKERS yesterday challenged Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon to identify politicians who peddle influence to get favors from the Bureau of Customs.

Sens. Francis Escudero and Juan Edgardo Angara said Faeldon should expose those who, he said, asked him to influence the promotion board so that their people could move up. Faeldon earlier said the lawmakers have their own importation companies.

“He should name names and not issue a shotgun accusation. If indeed it is corruption, then he should name them and file cases against them if he is indeed serious in cleaning up the bureau,” Escudero said in a text message to reporters.

Faeldon earlier told members of Congress to stop meddling in the operations of the BOC especially in the promotions of its employees.

“I am appealing to you. You know that your request is a form of corruption but you insist and you became angry. Shame on you. Stop it,” he said.

Faeldon later apologized to congressmen and clarified that only a few lawmakers, or less than 10, have tried to influence him.

He declined to name them in the interest of unity of all government agencies.

However, during the hearing of the House ways and means committee Wednesday, Faeldon expressed readiness to identify the 10 politicians, possibly in an executive session if he will be forced by congressmen.

“I would like to refer that to the committee if you want me to reveal the names here but in the interest of unity of government employees, I don’t want to put in humiliation those I referred as trying to influence the result of board promotions,” he said.

At the hearing, Deputy Speaker Fred Castro had asked Faeldon to “be more specific” on the identities of the congressmen who asked him for favors, saying that his blanket statement was “unfair.”

Earlier, Faeldon’s chief of staff, lawyer Mandy Anderson, disclosed that Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez lobbied for the promotion of Sandy Sacluti, but she rejected the request since the Customs officer was not qualified.

Anderson earlier called the Speaker an “imbecile” in a Facebook post and later accused the Speaker of endorsing an unqualified Customs employee for promotion.

But Sen. Panfilo Lacson scored Faeldon, whom he said “spoke arrogantly too soon” after President Duterte expressed his confidence in him.

On Tuesday, Faeldon met with the President in Malacañang amid Congress’ probe on the smuggled shabu shipment last May.

The President then said he believes in the integrity of Faeldon. But if it is proven that he is involved in corruption, Duterte admitted he cannot do anything about it.

Speaking in an interview over radio DZBB, Lacson said the lawmakers were informed by the President Tuesday night that he will wait for the committee reports of Congress on the investigation of the P6.4 billion-worth of shabu that was smuggled from China, before deciding on Faeldon’s fate.

Because if this, he said the BOC chairman is not yet safe from the issues hounding the BOC.

“So I think Commissioner Faeldon, he spoke arrogantly too soon. Because when he was told that the President has confidence on him, it seemed that what he said- “Shame on You”-- was sort of offensive to the lawmakers,” Lacson said.

Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III considered Faeldon’s threat to expose lawmakers as a mere distraction. He said the issue is the drugs that came out of the BOC.

Quirino Rep. Dakila Cua, chair of the House committee on ways and means, said as much as P22.5 billion worth of shabu may have reached the streets already because of the BOC’s failure to account for 18 missing crates that were also delivered to the warehouse in Valenzuela City, where P6.4 billion worth of shabu were discovered last May 26.

Cua said the 18 crates are on top of the five crates containing the 605 kilos of illegal drugs seized at the Hongfei Logistics warehouse owned by Taiwanese Richard Chen alias Richard Tan, Chen Yu Long, and Keen Joo Lung.

Cua’s panel discovered during the hearing that the personnel of customs broker Ruben Mark Taguba II delivered a total of 23 crates, not just five crates, to the Hongfei warehouse, raising suspicions that the 18 crates may have also contained contrabands.

“Only five crates were seized in the BOC raid but in the documents, there are supposedly 23 packages. Only the five crates were discovered. Where are the 18 other crates? That is potentially tantamount to two tons of shabu,” Cua told reporters in an ambush interview.

Cua said his panel has already ordered customs officials and even the NBI and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) to trace the 18 crates. 

The head of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) in Metro Manila earlier accused Faeldon of bungling the May 26 operation by going against legal procedures.

PDEA-National Capital Region Director Wilkins Villanueva has said when he arrived at the warehouse at about 1:50 p.m., he was aghast to find that the BOC had opened the cylinders, scattering the illegal substance on the warehouse floor, and “contaminating” the evidence.
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