PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte promised to put behind bars those involved in the smuggling of P6.4 billion worth of shabu from China, as he tapped Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) chief Isidro Lapeña to take over the Bureau of Customs (BOC).
In a Palace news conference Monday night, Duterte announced the departure of Customs chief Nicanor Faeldon amid controversy over the shabu shipment.
Central Luzon police chief Aaron Aquino will replace Lapeña at PDEA.
Duterte said he had accepted the resignation of Faeldon, who asked to be removed from the post three times.
“There’s going to be an investigation at the Customs… Bakit lumusot doon (How did the drugs get through)? That’s why I’m putting another guy there, to find out,” he added.
Duterte said he wanted all those involved in the shabu shipment at Customs charged with conspiracy.
Lapeña will have free hand to “revamp” Customs, he said.
Faeldon on Tuesday said his resignation was “the best for our country.”
“I thank everyone who has supported the Bureau of Customs during my stay and I appeal to the BOC employees and to the public to support the new commissioner,” Faeldon said.
In a news conference on Tuesday, Palace spokesman Ernesto Abella said Faeldon still maintained the President’s trust and could be tapped for another government post.
Duterte chose Lapeña to replace Faeldon because he’s “honest and trustworthy,” Abella said.
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez 3rd, who oversees the Customs bureau, said improvements in operations at the agency would continue despite the leadership change.
“I am very confident in the new appointee who is Sid Lapeña. He is a very honest, thorough and very straight guy. So I expect that the improvements will continue and we will move forward with the current thrust of the agency,” he said in a forum on Tuesday.
Lapeña, a member of the Philippine Military Academy “Maagap” Class of 1973, had a 34-year career as a police officer.
From being a junior officer in the defunct Philippine Constabulary, he rose to become deputy director general for operations of the Philippine National Police before retiring from the service in 2007.
Lapeña had been chief of the 456th Police Constabulary Company (1979), the Cotabato Metrodiscom (1992) and the Davao City Police Office (1997).
WILLIAM B. DEPASUPIL AND MAYVELIN U. CARABALLO