SENATOR Francis “Chiz” Escudero challenged Philippine Bureau of Customs (BOC) Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon to reveal the identities of the alleged lawmakers who tried to influence the appointment and promotion of the agency’s officials.
The senator remarked that Faeldon should “name names” instead of issuing a “shotgun accusation.”
“If indeed it is corruption, then he should name them and file cases against them if he is indeed serious in cleaning up his bureau,” Escudero said.
On Wednesday, August 2, Faeldon lashed out at some whom he called “shameless” members of the Congress for supposedly contributing to the culture of corruption in the bureau by exerting pressuring against him.
“They want me to influence the promotion board so that their people here would be promoted. And I tell them right in their face I will never lift a finger to influence promotions here. That is a form of corruption,” the commissioner said in a press briefing.
Faeldon did not name any particular member of the Congress but he said there are “less than 10” lawmakers who made “unreasonable” requests to the agency, such as endorsing promotion, designation, and reassignment of Customs officials.
“Their people are here to protect the interests of their bosses,” he added.
In a statement, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said Faeldon still enjoys President Rodrigo Duterte’s “full confidence.”
Dominguez issued the statement following the president’s meeting with the Customs commissioner on Tuesday afternoon, August 1.
“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.
Some lawmakers requested Faeldon’s resignation over a shabu smuggling issue. The commissioner maintained that he would not resign but noted that Duterte could fire him.
The Congress is currently investigating the alleged involvement of BOC officials in the 600-kilogram shipment of shabu worth P6.4 billion (US$126 million) that slipped through the agency’s express lane last May.
In an interview with reporters, Duterte said he would wait for the results of the investigation before making any decision on Faeldon’s appointment.
“I want the report, final. Then I will review it and I will be fair,” the chief executive said when asked if he would keep Faeldon amid the smuggling issue.
‘Look who’s talking’
Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert “Ace” Barbers criticized Faeldon for hiring alleged “incompetent” Customs officials.
“Look who’s talking! Faeldon tarnished the reputation of the entire House of Representatives by insinuating that lawmakers are endorsing promotions or employment to the bureau of certain personnel. Yet, it turned out he has employed sports people with dubious qualifications for their position,” Barbers said.
During a hearing, Deputy Speaker and Batangas Representative Raneo Abu claimed that Faeldon hired nearly 30 sports personalities as technical assistants of BOC.
“Are these people qualified for their positions? How much are they paid? What kind of service they are performing for the BOC? Are they actually reporting for work? We will find out the real score in our next hearing,” Barbers said, citing a Customs Special Order dated Sept. 27, 2016.
According to the list, athletes, including former PBA stars like Kenneth Duremdes, Marlou Aquino, Dave Arguelles, and Edward Joseph Fiehl, and volleyball star Alyssa Valdez, among others, were hired by the bureau.
“How many of these people are really qualified for intelligence work? No wonder Customs bungled the handling of evidence in the seizure of the P6.4 billion worth of shabu smuggled right though their noses,” Barbers added. (Dana Sioson/AJPress)