Former Customs chief Nicanor Faeldon only deflected the issue raised by Sen. Panfilo Lacson that he is a crook to the tune of P100 million, which he allegedly received as a pasalubong (welcome gift) shortly after he was appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte to head the Bureau of Customs (BoC).
Instead of first clearing himself from the accusations hurled at him, such as that he headed a practically endless list of alleged recipients of tara (payoffs) from Customs brokers, he unleashed a barrage of counter-accusations against his accuser, calling his son, Panfilo Jr. a cement “smuggler.”
Faeldon said he based his accusations on a report he had received from the Cement Manufacturers Association of the Philippines (CEMAP). But the group’s president, Ernesto Ordoñez, said the report only showed cement shipments by Bonjourno, the company where Panfilo Jr. serves as managing director, were undervalued and that it was Faeldon who called it “smuggling.”
Defending his son, Lacson said cement shipments are not subject to Customs tariffs and duties but only to value-added tax. The senator stood his ground, insisting that his source on the payoffs at the bureau would bear him out that Faeldon is not the sainted one that he pictures himself to be.
The resigned BoC chief earlier this week during congressional hearings on the P6.4-billion shabu that obviously slipped past him while he was still with the bureau had all the chances in the world to drop the bombshell on Panfilo Jr. being a “smuggler” to get back at the senator.
But he did not, saying in his news conference on Thursday at his visibly humble house in Tanay, Rizal, that he did not want to “disrupt” the shabu inquiry supposedly on reminders from Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez.
The venue for the media briefing had obviously been chosen to show Faeldon is a poor man, the house having been built with loans from the Government Service Insurance System (he was a former soldier, if a mutinous one).
Faeldon did not spare Sen. Richard Gordon from his attacks on Lacson, challenging Gordon to also probe his accusations against Panfilo Jr.
Gordon, chairman of the blue ribbon committee investigating the P6.4 billion shabu shipment from China, ordered Faeldon to submit before the Senate evidence about the supposed smuggling activity of Lacson’s son, saying that if it was the senator’s son, the blue ribbon committee might take it up.
Like other members of the upper chamber, Gordon also wondered why Faeldon made his allegations against Lacson’s son only now when he should have acted on it as soon as he learned about the matter. He wondered why Faeldon, who had been present in several hearings of the blue ribbon committee, did not bother to disclose what he knew then.
We understand why the anti-crime and anti-corruption group on Friday urged the President to take over not only the BoC but also the Bureau of Internal Revenue and the Department of Public Works and Highways, two of the other most corrupt government agencies in the country, as surveys always show.
It is time for the President to really take command responsibility of the war against corruption, the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption founding chairman Dante Jimenez said.
Corruption in many state offices, according to Jimenez, is so serious that even honest men appointed by Malacanang to head them would end up either being eaten up by the system or defeated by it with the help of crooked officials and personnel who refuse to accept change.