MANILA, Philippines – After Sen. Panfilo Lacson accused Nicanor Faeldon of being among the Bureau of Customs’ corrupt officials and the outgoing BOC chief shot back at the lawmaker over his son’s alleged smuggling activities, President Rodrigo Duterte continued standing by the resigned Customs commissioner.
“But I still believe that Faeldon is honest,” Duerte said Thursday night, August 24, during his speech at the Battleground Command Post in Barangay Kilala, Marawi before government troops fighting Islamist extremists in the Lanao del Sur capital.
On Wednesday, during his privilege speech, Lacson claimed that aside from the regular tara or grease money being allegedly received by Faeldon and the Commissioner’s office in exchange for the easy release of imported cargoes, the recently resigned Customs chief also allegedly received a P100-million “welcome gift” after he was appointed to his post in June 2016.
The following day, Faeldon, retaliated and claimed that Lacson’s son, Panfilo Jr. had smuggled billions of pesos worth of cement by undervaluing freight costs. He also insinuated that Pampi Lacson and his firm Bonjourno could be “fronting” for his father.
The senator responded to Faeldon’s allegations, saying he had nothing to do with Pampi’s business activities and that “there is no smuggling of cement as it is not subject to customs tariff and duties but only subject to VAT (value added tax).”
Lacson added that his son had always paid his VAT dues and it didn’t make sense that he would expose the corrupt officials and personnel at the BOC “if my son is cheating on taxes.”
It wasn’t the first time that Duterte made the public now about his trust in Faeldon. Earlier this month, while some lawmakers were clamoring for Faeldon to quit his post after P6.4 billion worth of smuggled shabu entered the country via the BOC’s express lane.
The chief executive praised Faeldon for his integrity and said that the drug shipment managed to enter the country right under the BOC commissioner’s nose because all of the employees at the bureau were corrupt.
“But Faeldon, I will stand by him. He’s really honest. Kaya lang nalusutan siya because lahat diyan sa Customs, corrupt. My God,” Duterte said last August 16 during his speech in Malacañang during the celebration of the 19th anniversary of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption.
On Thursday, Duterte said “I have known the guy (Faeldon),” who was among the first ones to go to Davao City three years ago to convince him to run for president.
“Ang unang pumunta sa akin three years ago, hindi ko lang sabihin ‘yong hindi na kilala, pumunta sa Davao, pati si Faeldon ang unang nag-kumbinse sa akin ‘yan. ‘Tumakbo ka, mayor, kasi kinakailangan ng…”
While Duterte finally decided to accept Faeldon’s resignation as BOC chief recently, the President remained convinced of Faeldon’s honesty.
“From the tone of his resignation, I really believed he was an honest man,” the chief executive said last August 21.