The House of Representatives’ committee on dangerous drugs is likely to recommend the filing of criminal and administrative complaints against Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon and other Customs officials in connection with the release of P6.4 billion worth of illegal drugs.
Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers, who leads the committee, has asked members of the panel to review the draft committee report.
The panel conducted an investigation into the smuggling of P6.4 billion worth of shabu into the country.
According to a statement issued on Friday, Barbers has “asked the committee members to go over the draft committee report before they decide to adopt, approve or amend and perhaps, include more recommendations for submission to the House committee on rules for eventual scheduling of the report in the plenary.”
“I’m sure the members join me in the conclusion that there is really a systemic, endemic or whatever epidemic that is going on in the bureau. And this is the reason why smuggling of goods, including shabu, was possible,” Barbers said.
Based on the statement, the committee may recommend the filing of a complaint against Faeldon for violation of Section 3 of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
The committee may also ask the Department of Justice (DOJ) to file a falsification complaint against Mandy
Therese Anderson, who allegedly signed Daily Time Records (DTRs) of basketball and volleyball players hired by the Bureau of Customs, the same statement said.
Several lawmakers earlier questioned Faeldon’s decision to hire professional athletes and coaches as intelligence officers and personnel.
Also, the committee may recommend to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) to file a complaint against Dennis Siyhian and Catherine Nolasco of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Anti-Organized Transnational Crime Division for their failure to turn over 500 kilos of shabu to the PDEA.
Also on Friday, Sen. Richard Gordon, chairman of the blue ribbon committee that also investigates the drug smuggling, said Faeldon should submit evidence to back up his claim that Panfilo Lacson Jr., son of Sen. Panfilo Lacson, smuggled cement.
“If Senator Lacson is involved, he (Faeldon) should file the case before the Senate committee on ethics, but if it is the senator’s son, the blue ribbon might take it up,” Gordon said.
Faeldon on Thursday claimed that Lacson’s son imported shiploads of cement without paying the correct taxes and duties.
Faeldon made the allegations a day after he was named by Lacson as among those benefitting from the “tara” (payoff) system at the Customs bureau. Lacson said there were also tacks that Faeldon received a P100 million “welcome gift” when he assumed his post last year.
Lacson was quick to dismiss Faeldon’s claim and insisted that he was not involved in the business transactions of his son.
Gordon said he would need to see the documents and affidavits that would back Faeldon’s allegations.
He added that he would seek the position of other senators on the issue.
“We need to see the extent to determine if it is an ethics case and if there is evidence,” Gordon said.
Meanwhile, detained Sen. Leila de lima dared Faeldon to continue exposing all personalities involved in illegal operations at the BoC.
Faeldon, she said, should expose all other personalities involved in smuggling or other Customs-related anomalies, be they senators, congressmen or public officials.
“It is about time that the investigation on smuggling also includes the presidential son, Paolo Duterte. Faeldon has shown the way,” De Lima said.
“This should be the true test of his (Faeldon’s) credibility. Otherwise, his imputations about Senator Lacson’s knowledge of his son’s illegal activities will just appear to be a lame counter-attack that is as selective as it is spiteful,” she added.
WITH JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA