THE Senate on Monday placed former Customs commissioner Nicanor Faeldon under “indefinite” detention for refusing to attend the inquiry of the Blue Ribbon Committee on the P6.4-billion “shabu” shipment from China that slipped past the Bureau of Customs (BoC).
Faeldon voluntarily turned himself over to the Office of the Senate Sergeant at Arms before noon Monday but instead of proceeding to the session hall where the hearing was being conducted, he went straight to a detention room at the ground floor of the Senate building.
The committee, led by Sen. Richard Gordon, last week cited Faeldon in contempt for failing to respond to the panel’s subpoena.
Upon learning of Faeldon’s arrival, Gordon temporarily suspended the proceedings to convince the former Customs commissioner to attend the hearing.
Gordon later told reporters Faeldon wanted to be detained rather than face the panel.
“He was humble and courteous and he told me that that is his decision,” Gordon said.
According to Gordon, Faeldon felt he would not be given a fair treatment by the committee particularly by Senators Panfilo Lacson and Antonio Trillanes 4th, who had accused him of being involved in the corruption at the bureau.
“He just wasn’t willing to go to the Senate because of the two,” said Gordon referring to Lacson and Trillanes.
Lacson in a privilege speech on August 23 accused Faeldon of receiving “tara” (payoffs) during his stint at the bureau.
Trillanes in a recent statement said Faeldon was at the heart of the “shabu” smuggling controversy.
Gordon said Faeldon could only be released if he agreed to appear in the hearing or if senators decided to release him.
Gordon also said the committee already had enough evidence against “Tita Nani,” Jack and Jojo Bacud, who were earlier named by Customs fixer Mark Taguba as his contacts in the bureau who helped release his shipment without being flagged.
That shipment, released in May through the green or express lane, allegedly contained the P6.4 billion worth of shabu from China.
The committee has yet to locate the three but an order has been issued for the National Bureau of Investigation to arrest and bring them to the Senate in the next hearing.
“Tita Nani” was mentioned by Taguba as having contacts with different groups operating at Customs, including the so-called “Davao group.”
Taguba could only describe Tita Nani as a well-dressed woman in her 60s who could speak English well. He claimed he didn’t know her full name and address.
Tita Nani was said to have introduced Taguba to Jack, who supposedly had links to Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Dutete and Jojo Bacud.
Bacud, in turn had connections with retired colonel Allen Capuyan or the so-called “big brother” at Customs.
Taguba earlier told the committee that he approached the group of Capuyan after his deal with the so-called Davao group ended.
Capuyan, during the hearing, denied being part of any group engaged in smuggling at the bureau, but admitted to having met Taguba in April.
In his statement, Capuyan, the assistant general manager for security and emergency service of the Manila International Airport Authority, told the committee it was Bacud who introduced him to Tita Nani and Taguba.
“Obviously I was of no help because I’m not familiar with Customs operations and it’s not my official capacity to do so,” Capuyan told the committee.
It was learned during the hearing that Bacud and Jack were former cadets at the Philippine Military Academy but did not graduate.
Gordon told reporters after the hearing that he was not buying Capuyan’s claims, noting that the ex-colonel’s decision to meet with people asking for his assistance in Customs was outside his authority and could “mean other things.”