More finger-pointing as relieved Customs exec testifies in Congress on P6-B shabu smuggling

August 2, 2017 - 7:54 PM
Nicanor Faeldon
Former Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon/PHILSTAR PHOTO BY EDD GUMBAN

MANILA, Philippines — The suspended chief of the Risk Management Office of the Bureau of Customs on Wednesday told congressional probers on the P6-billion shabu smuggling that he tried to alert officials about the suspicious shipments from China that entered the country in May, but was ignored.

“Kung binigyan ng kaukulang action para sa alert order, dapat na-hold na ang shipment na iyon at nagkaroon na ng physical examination,” Larribert Hilario said when he appeared at the House inquiry into how the drugs, concealed in printing press cyclinders, freely exited Customs’ Green Lane and were later discovered in Valenzuela City.

Hilario said he had noticed that the various shipments under the name of three companies were declared with almost the same identical amount of only P40,000 per entry.

“Nagduda na ako at naalarma dahil sa dami ng entries at sa liit ng declaration,” he said.

Hilario said he wrote a letter to the import assessment service headed by Milo Maestrecampo, who he said was the only official authorized to issue an alert order.

Maestrecampo said he did not issue an alert order for the shipments “because their value was not alertable,” being small.

Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said that it appeared that with the existing system of examination of the BOC, smugglers would not find hard to bring in their contraband goods. Shipments that are allowed to pass through the Green Lane no longer need the signatures of examiners before being released, Customs chief Nicanor Faeldon said.

Alvarez also questioned the authority of Faeldon in creating a command center to centralize its operations, especially in trade facilitation. “Is this covered by an administrative order from the Department of Finance (DOF)? . . . If so, you are not authorized to do it?” he said.

Faeldon replied that no administrative order exists from the DOF, which supervises the Bureau of Customs.

“Sino ang bright na nag-recommend sa inyo niyan , sino, pakilabas nga. . . . Nasaan na iyong mga advisers mo, baka sabihin mo na naman iyong fiancée mo [Who were the bright guys who advised you on that? Where are your advisers? Don’t tell us it’s your fiancee again],” Alvarez said. He was referring to a woman lawyer whom Faeldon admitted he had been consulting during the Valenzuela drug raid, and whom he described as his fiancee.

Faeldon did not reply to Alvarez’s taunt for him to name his “adviser” in setting up the command center without a DOF administrative order.

In an earlier hearing, Majority Leader Rodolfo Farinas grilled lawyer Mandy Therese Anderson, Faeldon’s chief of staff, for calling Alvarez an “imbecile” in her social media post over the Speaker’s threat to dissolve the Court of Appeals.