THE son-in-law of President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday refuted accusations of his alleged involvement in the “payola” or “tara” (payoff) system at the Bureau of Customs (BoC).
In a statement posted on his Facebook account, lawyer Manases Carpio, husband of Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, hit back at Sen. Antonio Trillanes 4th, calling him desperate for linking him to smuggling.
“I represent many clients who have transactions with the Bureau of Customs. It is my job as a lawyer to appear before government agencies for and on behalf of my principals,” said Carpio.
“Senator Trillanes is imputing malice in saying that my appearance before the BoC is because of smuggling. He is just a desperate rumor-monger who happens to be a senator,” he added.
Trillanes, in a media interview, tied Carpio to smuggling after resigned Customs intelligence chief Neil Estrella confirmed seeing Carpio several times at the BoC.
Estrella made the admission in Tuesday’s Senate investigation on the P6.4-billion “shabu” shipment from China, after he was asked by Trillanes if he saw Carpio at Customs.
“This confirms my information na hindi lamang si Paolo ang umeeksena o pumapapel dito sa operasyon ng Customs kundi maging si Mans Carpio na rin, so family affair na ito ng pamilya Duterte (This confirms my information that Paolo [Duterte] is not the only one interfering with the operations at Customs but also Mans Carpio, so it has been a family affair of the Dutertes),” Trillanes told reporters after the hearing.
Trillanes earlier linked the President’s son, Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte, to the “Davao group,” which is allegedly involved in illegal smuggling at the Customs bureau.
The young Duterte has denied the allegation.
President Duterte himself has said he would resign if any member of his family would be proven to have been involved in corruption.
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, an aunt of the President’s son-in-law, said on Tuesday she was not privy to the activities of her relatives in Davao.
“I am neither privy nor updated on the activities of my relatives in Davao,” Morales told reporters.
Faeldon, Davao councilor absent
Resigned Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon and a Davao official linked to corruption at Customs were no-shows on Tuesday at the resumption of the Senate inquiry into the shabu shipment.
Faeldon’s attendance was widely anticipated after he accused the son of Sen. Panfilo Lacson, Panfilo “Pampi” Lacson Jr. of smuggling.
The allegations were made after Lacson claimed that the former Customs chief received a P100-million “welcome gift” when he assumed the top post, which Faeldon denied.
Asked during his last flag ceremony at the bureau on Tuesday whether he would attend the Senate hearing, Faeldon said: “Bakit ako pupunta doon? (Why will I go there?)” Davao City Councilor Nilo “Small” Abellera also failed to appear before the blue ribbon committee led by Sen. Richard Gordon for the second time.
But he submitted an affidavit denying any involvement in the illegal shipment of P6.4 billion worth of “shabu” from China in May.
“I hereby state I have no knowledge let alone any participation in the shipment of shabu,” said Abellera, said to be a close friend of Paolo Duterte.
Mark Taguba, a fly-by-night Customs broker, testified before the Senate that Abellera and two others were part of the “Davao group,” which demanded P5 million as one-time enrolment fee and a P10,000 weekly payoff per container.
Gordon ordered that a subpoena be issued to Faeldon and his chief of staff, Mandy Anderson, for them to attend the next hearing.
with JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA