MANILA – More senators have weighed in on the appointment of resigned Customs commissioner Nicanor Faeldon to the Office of Civil Defense, with the Liberal Party members calling it “a defeat of justice.” Faeldon is still under detention at the Senate for contempt in refusing to explain how P6.4 billion in shabu was smuggled in from China, uninspected, through the Bureau of Customs.
In a statement issued Thursday, LP senators lamented that justice lost with the Faeldon’s appointment as deputy administrator of the Office of Civil Defense.
Senators Francis Pangilinan, Bam Aquino, and Franklin Drilon maintained that President Duterte should appoint persons with unblemished reputation and not those involved in past anomalies, if he’s really serious in eradicating corruption in his administration.
Within hours of the Palace announcement of the OCD post for Faeldon, another minority senator, Antonio Trillanes IV, said the new appointment, despite the bungling at Customs, indicated that Faeldon – a former rebel military officer like Trillanes – knows the “dark secrets” of the First Family and thus needs to be continually plied with government posts.
Sen. Ping Lacson said that while senators respect the President’s prerogative to appoint those he desires in public service, he hoped Duterte would also respect the Senate’s prerogative to decide when to lift the detention order for Faeldon, who spent Christmas in the Senate premises in Pasay City.
Faeldon had resigned as Customs Commissioner after he was implicated in the smuggling of P6.4 billion worth of shabu from China into the port of Manila, via Customs’ Green Lane.
“While we respect the President’s prerogative to appoint personalities to positions he deems fit, he must avoid appointing those with questionable integrity and moreso those linked to corruption scandals. The Filipino people need honest men in government service,” said Pangilinan.
For his part, Sen. Aquino stressed that President Duterte should have waited for legal processes to finish in Faeldon’s case before appointing him to his next post.
“Ibinasura man ng Department of Justice ang kaso laban kay Faeldon, subalit naghain na ng apela ang mga karampatang ahensiya tulad ng PDEA kaya dapat pinatapos muna ito ng Pangulo [While the DOJ may have junked the case against Faeldon, relevant government agencies like PDEA have filed an appeal and the President should have waited for the process to be completed] ,” said Aquino.
Drilon said appointing officials involved in previous anomalies to another position will send the message to other members of the bureaucracy that those close to the powers-that-be are rewarded despite their corrupt ways.
Earlier, Drilon noted that President Duterte also appointed the other former Customs officials implicated in the shabu smuggling scandal to other positions. Customs collector Vincent Philip Maronilla was recently reassigned as district collector at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), while former Customs officials Gerardo Gambala and Milo Maestrecampo were appointed to the Department of Transportation in different capacities.
Maronilla was the head of the Manila International Container Port (MICP) when 604 kilograms of shabu from China entered the country through MICP last May; while Maestrecampo and Gambala were holding key positions at the Bureau of Customs when the smuggling occurred.