• Lapena’s former man at drug bureau quits Customs post


    THE chief of the Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service (CIIS) quit his post days after Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapena announced a massive reshuffle in the office amid reports of continuing corruption in the bureau.

    CIIS officer-in-charge (OIC) Wilkins Villanueva cleared his office of all his personal stuff last Wednesday, two days after Lapena expressed his disgust over the CIIS in a speech before Customs officials and personnel after the regular flag-raising ceremony on Monday last week.

    “He (Villanueva) has his office. He took all his personal belongings and has never reported since then, along with five of his personal men that he brought from PDEA (Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency),” a CIIS insider source on Sunday told The Manila Times.

    Villanueva was director of the PDEA National Capital Region when he was brought by Lapena, former anti-narcotics director, to Customs after assuming office last September.

    Lapena and Villanueva neither picked up The Times call nor responded to text messages sent to them for their sides.

    Floated as possible replacement for Villanueva were Cebu Deputy Collector Ricky Morales and PDEA Caraga Director Gilbert Buenafe, whom Lapena designated as OIC of the  Intelligence Division of the CIIS last October 19.

    In his November 27 speech, Lapena said: “I have already relieved around 125 and I am relieving more, including all of the CIIS. Until now I have not received any intel  report on what’s happening in the bureau.”

    “Imagine, (after) almost three months I have not received any report. Even the recent protest rally (by importers), if not for the other people, I would not have known about it,” he added.

    “Di lang reshuffle, tatanggalin ko kayo lahat diyan sa CIIS (It will not just be a reshuffle, I will remove all of you there at the CIIS),” Lapena further said, giving newly-appointed Deputy Commissioner Ricardo Quinto of the Intelligence Croup (IG) a free-hand to effect the changes.

    Quinto was former PDEA deputy director for operations before his appointment as Customs deputy commissioner.

    Lapena had reshuffled all 17 district intelligence chiefs of the bureau.

    Lapena admitted that corruption still existed in the bureau, including, he said, “by people who are in critical positions.”

    “Now I have a deputy commissioner for intelligence group who will really be functioning. Before him I was not receiving info, but now you better be careful because we will eventually catch up with you. I said one strike policy,” he added.

    “If I said that there should be no ‘tara (grease money)’, there should be no tara. Yet, I still received reports that those in critical positions still received (bribe) money,” he said. WILLIAM B. DEPASUPIL



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