MANILA, Philippines – Lawmakers at the House of Representatives ganged up on Bureau of Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon Tuesday (Aug. 1) and told him to quit his post for “gross incompetence” over the P6.4 billion worth of crystal meth or shabu that slipped past the agency and found its way to a warehouse in Valenzuela City.
“Commissioner, sayang pinagkatiwalaan ka ng Presidente nilagay ka nga diyan, ‘di nga namin alam ano qualifications mo bakit ka nilagay diyan, pinalusot niyo yang 605 kilos na yan di ba embarassment yan kay president? (What a waste, the President putting you at Customs … we didn’t even know what your qualifications were. Your office let slip 605 kgs of shabu. Isn’t that an embarrassment for the President?) You tainted this campaign against drugs,” Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert “Ace” Barbers, chairman of the House committee on dangerous drugs, said in Tuesday’s congressional hearing.
“You have a few hours to think about your resignation, you should resign,” he added pointedly.
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez echoed the sentiment, but clarified that his view had nothing to do with the remarks earlier made in social media by Faeldon’s chief of staff, Mandy Anderson.
“I support the call of resignation na sinabi kanina ni Chairman Ace Barbers dahil po kung ako ang nasa posisyon na iyon ay talaga namang kung meron pa akong konting hiya na natitira ay talagang mag-reresign ako (I support the call of Chairman Barbers. If I was in that position, I would relinquish it if I had any shame left),” Alvarez told reporters.
Duterte to Faeldon: Just carry on
President Duterte, however, expressed confidence in Faeldon, whom he summoned to Malacañang right after the hearing, according to Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez.
Dominguez, who was also summoned along with other economic managers to the Palace, told reporters that despite the calls from some administration congressmen for Faeldon to resign over the P6-billion shabu smuggling that Customs failed to stop, Duterte told Faeldon to just keep doing his job.
“The President has met Bureau of Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon this afternoon. The chief executive has expressed his full confidence in Commissioner Faeldon and told him to focus on serving the country,” Dominguez said.
Faeldon and several BOC officials appeared at the House hearing on Tuesday to shed light on the smuggled drugs.
Responding to calls for his resignation, he said, “Let the President fire me.” He elaborated that, being a soldier, this for him is not a job but a mission. It would be up to the President to terminate his mission.
Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency director Wilkins Villanueva testified in the hearing that Faeldon refused to heed his advice on the proper procedures in handling the evidence.
Villanueva said that each time he gave advice on how to proceed with the case, Faeldon would consult a lady lawyer and overrule his stand.
Faeldon acknowledged that the lawyer is his fiancée, Jelina Maree Magsuci.
Instead of handing over the stash of shabu to PDEA, as required under the law, BOC turned over the seized PhP6.4B worth of drugs to the National Bureau of Investigation.
Lawmakers expressed concern that the insistence of the BOC to open the seized cargo of drugs as well as in the careless handling of evidence would weaken the case against the suspects.
Asked if this shows the incompetence of Faeldon, Alvarez said: “Grossly incompetent, hindi lang po incompetent (Not just incompetent).”
Meanwhile, Alvarez said he would answer in due time all the “insignificant” issues raised against him and that the truth will eventually come out.
Larribert Hilario, chief of the risk management office, who was earlier “verbally suspended” by Faeldon for allegedly failing to encode key information that could have flagged the system on the risk criteria, would appear at the inquiry of the ways and means committee on the same matter on Wednesday.
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