THE Committee on Dangerous Drugs at the House of Representatives wants President Rodrigo Duterte to dismiss Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon right away for gross incompetence and corruption.
“When he assumed office, he centralized all powers by creating a command center. He did not even ask permission from the Secretary of Finance. He did not issue a department order creating it. He is simply managing it by himself. These actions are signs of incompetence,” Rep. Robert Barbers, chairman of the panel, said in a news forum on Monday.
“Next week we will present the committee report to President Duterte and we will ask him to dismiss Faeldon,” he added.
Along with its recommendation, the panel may also include the name of Faeldon’s possible replacement.
“Walang bilib kami dyan (We don’t trust that man),” Barbers said of Faeldon.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson on Monday said the name of Faeldon and his “bagman” was in the list of officials and individuals receiving “payola” at the BoC.
Lacson, in an interview with reporters, admitted acquiring a list containing the names of Customs personnel and officials who have been receiving grease money from brokers and “facilitators.”
“May pangalan siya roon, pati pangalan ng bagman niya naroon din. (His name was there, the name of his bagman was also there),” Lacson said.
The Senate blue ribbon committee will resume its hearing on the P6.4 billion shabu shipment from China on Tuesday. Lacson said he will personally ask Faeldon if he knew the people on the list.
Faeldon, a former Marine officer, assumed his Customs post on June 30 last year, replacing Alberto Lina.
The Custom’s chief’s competence was questioned after P6.4 billion shipment of shabu from China passed through the Bureau of Customs’ green lane. The illegal drugs were later found in two warehouses in Valenzuela City.
“It is a big embarrassment to President Duterte who ordered the raid of illegal drugs laboratories all over the country. This time, they are allowing the entry of illegal drugs through Customs,” Barbers said.
Barbers’ panel has finished its inquiry into the illegal drug shipment and is readying the final draft of the report.
“The Committee on Ways and Means is still conducting a hearing. Maybe the Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability will also hold a hearing to investigate graft and corruption at the Customs bureau,” he said.
Barbers said his committee hearings have revealed the practice of payola as well as the involvement of some officials of the bureau.
The Senate’s Blue Ribbon Committee, which also held an investigation of the release of the shabu shipment by the Customs bureau, learned from customs facilitator Mark Ruben Taguba that he had to pay extra fees to various divisions of the bureau to expedite the release of his cargoes.
Taguba named several individuals who allegedly received grease money, including Milo Maestrecampo, head of the Import Assessment Services (IAS). Maestrecampo denied receiving or demanding money from Taguba.
The controversy prompted Maestrecampo and Neil Anthony Estrella, chief of the Intelligence and Investigation Service, to quit their posts.
Last week, authorities found three cylinders, similar to those found in Valenzuela City, in an abandoned townhouse in Sampaloc, Manila. The cylinders were empty but investigators found traces of shabu granules.
“It could be that the cylinders found in Sampaloc were part of that cache of shabu in Valenzuela warehouses,” Barbers said.
Worse, no one could be charged for the discovery of the P6.4 billion shabu because the pieces of evidence were considered contaminated and that the raid was conducted without coordination with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency.
WITH JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA