July 18, 2018, 11:37 pm
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Customs woes

SEVERAL senators and congressmen have expressed their disappointment with the way Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon and his team have been running the affairs at the Bureau of Customs. They told President Duterte that a revamp in the BOC is in order, in the wake of the questionable release of a P6.4-billion drug contraband from China in May.

Senator Franklin Drilon said a major revamp is necessary because of official incompetence in that revenue-generating agency, adding that those involved in smuggling the 605 kilograms of shabu (crystal meth) that ended up in a warehouse in Valenzuela City should be held accountable.

Senator Richard Gordon, chairman of the Blue Ribbon Committee, shares the same sentiment. During a meeting in Malacanang, he had told the President of his disappointment upon learning that Faeldon was retained despite the controversy.

The Chief Executive seems to be waiting for the full results of the congressional investigations in the Senate and the House of Representatives before acting with finality on Faeldon’s offer to resign.

The biggest shabu caper that hit the Bureau of Customs also put to light the fact that pervasive and all-encompassing corruption has remained the standard operating practice there. 

Customs broker and whistleblower Mark Taguba informed the House yesterday on the details of the P34,500 payola per container paid by brokers to customs officials so that the shipment will be released without scrutiny.

In Taguba’s testimony under oath, all the top Bureau of Customs offices are given their shares, which they divide among themselves every Friday afternoon. The last detail was provided by Sen. Panfilo Lacson, quoting a source on what he termed as the Friday 3-o’clock habit.

The PDEA officials and congressmen have established that Faeldon violated the law and procedures in the handling of drug evidence, and that this is the reason why until now, no one has ever been charged for the huge shabu contraband.

Rep. Jericho Nograles was lenient and a bit friendly when he said Faeldon might have integrity, but lacked the know-how in running the BOC.

He said: “Faeldon’s lack of understanding on the office’s dynamics might have unwittingly allowed the people surrounding him to manipulate the system and continue corrupt practices.”

The remaining two hearings about this case, this time in the Senate, should be used by the senators to open the eyes and minds of all government officials involved in customs, including its mother unit, the Department of Finance, towards the very hard task of eliminating plain corruption, and corruption disguised as incompetence which is more deceptive and malevolent.

After these hearings, perhaps Faeldon will have the good heart and the right sense to call it a day. There is nothing wrong for a soldier to accept the failure of his mission, and to pass on the responsibility to those who can succeed.
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