Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon has warned corrupt customs officials and personnel to reform now while there is still time, or risk being shot like a criminal.
But a customs official, who requested anonymity, on Sunday advised Faeldon to analyze the implications of his statement.
“A barking dog won’t bite. He better watch his language,” the source said, adding that Faeldon may end up in jail if somebody in the bureau who is accused of corruption may get killed later.
“If some stubborn or hard-headed personnel in the BoC get killed, who will be the suspect? Naturally, it’s him. So how can he defend himself as he had already issued a threat that he would kill those who are corrupt in Customs. Oh my! Think about it [Commissioner Faeldon],” the source added.
Prior to his appointment in Customs, Faeldon was an officer in the Philippine Marines with the rank of captain. He was jailed and dismissed from service, along with several other members of the rebel Magdalo Group, for his participation in the failed 2003 Oakwood mutiny and with the November 2007 siege of the Manila Peninsula Hotel aimed at toppling the Arroyo government.
Faeldon and more than 200 other fellow mutineers applied for amnesty under Presidential Proclamation No.75 issued by former President Benigno Aquino 3rd in 2010. He was granted amnesty in 2011 but was not allowed to return to military service.
Faeldon issued the warning to corrupt customs people on two occasions. The first one was on Tuesday before members of the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Inc., while the second was over the weekend during a closed-door “reform” meeting with 54 allegedly corrupt customs officials.
In both instances, Faeldon said that he would not hesitate to resort to drastic actions if that would be necessary to bring about the needed reforms in the graft-ridden bureau. “If I cannot touch them legally, I will have to start shooting them one by one,” said Faeldon in a speech before the business group.
According to him, the bureau loses some P300 million daily in duties and taxes because of rampant corruption.
The meeting with 54 customs officials on Friday was preceded by two separate memoranda, both dated July 19, which ordered the concerned personnel “to attend a meeting to discuss the Bureau of Customs Reform Agenda at the Office of the Commissioner Conference Room” on July 22 at 8 a.m.
The 54 officials were from the Intelligence Group, Enforcement Group, Enforcement and Security Service, and from the Formal Entry Divisions of the Port of Manila and the Manila International Container Port, the bureau’s flagship ports.
It was off-limits to the members of the media. But a short video of the meeting posted on social media by a television station showed an angry Faeldon warning customs personnel to reform in 15 days and join him in his reform crusade or risk being killed.
“If I have to kill one bureau official every opportunity I get, I will do that if that is the only way you want to reform this bureau. Do you understand me?” Faeldon said.
WILLIAM B. DEPASUPIL