THE Senate Blue Ribbon Committee on Thursday cited in contempt former Customs commissioner Nicanor Faeldon for his refusal to attend the investigation on smuggling as well as the reported “tara” (payoff) system at the Bureau of Customs.
Sen. Richard Gordon, the committee chairman, made the decision after consulting panel members present in the inquiry: Senate President Aquilino Pimentel 3rd, Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto 3rd, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, and Senators Panfilo Lacson and Paolo Benigno Aquino 4th.
“The [Senate] Sergeant at Arms is ordered to make sure that he (Faeldon) gets the information and that he is brought here on Monday. But if he does not appear on Monday he will be arrested and brought here to the Blue Ribbon Committee. We will not entertain any defiance of the government in this chamber,” Gordon said.
Faeldon sent a letter addressed to Gordon explaining why he would no longer attend congressional inquiries on smuggling.
But the ex-Marine captain said he would “attend all investigations to be conducted by a competent court anytime, anywhere when cases are filed against me.”
‘Protest vs immunity’
Faeldon on Thursday snubbed the Senate probe into the smuggling of the P6.4 billion shabu from China in May, as well as the allegations of Sen. Panfilo Lacson, through a privilege speech, of widespread corruption at Customs.
“This is not to defy the Senate as an institution. This is my way of protesting. I want my team and I to be the last victims of baseless accusations, persecution, and condemnation. Innocent persons and their helpless families should be protected under the law,” he said.
“To protest this seemingly unlimited power of privilege speeches, I will no longer attend any inquiries of both houses of Congress until a competent court has clearly defined the limitations of the privilege of legislative immunity vis-à-vis the constitutionally guaranteed rights of citizens of this country,” he said.
Faeldon added: “If this protest to clarify the abuse of immunity of some senators will be interpreted by your committee to warrant my arrest, then I will gladly go to jail so that this abuse can be corrected.”
He denied Lacson’s allegation that he regularly received bribe money from importers. “I categorically deny his accusations. Senator Lacson lied when he claimed this,” he said.
“Sen. Antonio Trillanes has publicly accused me that I received bribe money. Sen. Trillanes also lied when he claimed this. Those senators and congressmen who have lied to malign me and other innocent resource persons have destroyed our reputations, that of our families and caused daily trauma to us and our families,” he added.
Faeldon attached a waiver in his letter allowing the Senate to look into all of his bank accounts.
“All my brothers, sisters, nephews, and nieces are also willing to sign a waiver of their bank accounts. Just say the word,” he said.