Stands by exposé
SEN. Panfilo Lacson on Thursday stood by his accusation of wholesale corruption at the Bureau of Customs under resigned commissioner Nicanor Faeldon, as he defended his son’s cement business transactions.
Reacting to Faeldon’s allegation that his son, Panfilo “Pampi” Lacson Jr., was involved in big-time cement smuggling, the senator said cement is not subject to customs tariff and duties but only subject to VAT (value-added tax),” Lacson said.
The senator added that the only time he helped his son’s business was when he needed a photocopying machine.
“For the record I have always reminded my son to be on the level in whatever business dealings he would have because if not, I’d be the first one to castigate him and even initiate the filing of charges against him,” he added.
Lacson also denied that he was eyeing another shot at the presidency at the expense of the reputations of Customs officials he had accused on Wednesday of taking bribes under the so-called “tara” system.
He admitted that he exchanged text messages with Faeldon after his speech on the Senate floor, but only to invite the resigned Customs chief to a meeting sometime next week.
Lacson also said he would not sue Faeldon, but would also not apologize for his exposé, in which he accused the latter of receiving P100 million as a “welcome gift” from importers upon taking over the Bureau of Customs last year.
On Faeldon’s claim that Lacson made the exposé in an attempt to hide his son’s smuggling operations, the senator said he would not expose corruption in the bureau if it was true his son was cheating on taxes.
“The logical thing for me to do is not to make the exposé and just keep quiet,” Lacson said.
Lacson also dismissed as a “big lie” Faeldon’s claim that Panfilo Jr., delivered money to the office of the commissioner last year.
“He has not done so at anytime, he has not met Faeldon. He has absolutely no reason to bribe Faeldon or the Customs bureau. That’s a big, big lie,” Lacson said.
Colleagues rushed to Lacson’s defense and questioned Faeldon’s motives.
Senate President Aquilino Pimentel 3rd and Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon noted that Faeldon’s claims were made a day after Lacson delivered a privilege speech exposing corruption at Customs.
Pimentel insisted that Faeldon state everything he knew about suspicious activities in the bureau and not concentrate on Lacson for exposing the so-called “tara” system.
“We have to make sure that this is not pang lihis lang ng issue (an attempt to divert the issue),” Pimentel said.
Drilon described Faeldon’s move as an act of desperation, and vowed to oppose any investigation regarding the matter.
“It will be a waste of time and will simply be used as a venue for character assassination,” he said.
Sen. Richard Gordon shared the same sentiment, noting that Faeldon had attended Senate hearings but did not even bother to mention the activities of Lacson’s son.