Faeldon challenges lawmakers’ immunity from suit

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RESIGNED Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon said on Tuesday that he would challenge the constitutionality of the “immunity” from suit granted to lawmakers while Congress was in session.

At the same time, Faeldon also challenged Senator Panfilo Lacson and Rep. Ace Barbers of Surigao to file a case against him and other customs officials they have implicated in the alleged systematic “tara” or payoff system in the graft-ridden Bureau of Customs in exchange for unhampered facilitation of shipments.

“Ano tingin mo sa amin dito, mga hayop? (What do you think are we? Animals?) I’m challenging the propriety of your action. How many families are you destroying in aid of your immunity?” Faeldon told Customs employees in his last official speech after the flag raising ceremony on Tuesday.

“You don’t have the right to swiftly accuse us without evidence. We’re also human beings,” he added.

Faeldon what Lacson did was a violation of “our constitutional rights under the Bill of Rights.”

Faeldon did not say how he would “challenge” the lawmakers’ immunity.

In a privilege speech at the Senate on Aug. 23, Lacson detailed the “systemic corruption” at the BOC and released a list containing the names of Customs officials and staff allegedly getting payoffs. The senator claimed that Faeldon had received a “welcome gift” of P100 million when he assumed the top post at the BOC.

Faeldon denied Lacson’s claims and turned the tables on the senator by coming out with his own expose the next day, accusing Lacson’s son and namesake, Panfilo Jr., of smuggling. WILLIAM B. DEPASUPIL

 

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