Trillanes, Faeldon clash at Senate probe on shabu smuggling

MANILA – Senator Antonio Trillanes IV and Bureau of Customs (BOC) Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon had a heated exchange during the resumption of Senate inquiry into  the entry of P6.4-billion worth of smuggled shabu from China.

During the Senate’s third hearing on Tuesday, August 15, Trillanes, who was the first interpellate, asked Faeldon if there is a corruption in BOC.

The Customs chief repeatedly refused to answer, stressing that he does not want to Trillanes’ “preposterous” accusations against him by answering the senator’s question.

“The preposterous stories peddled by you are all over the news the past few days. I do not want to further justify your baseless accusation by answering your question,” Faeldon said.

Last week, Trillanes said that he has “enough information” to say that the Faeldon is “at the heart” of the smuggling controversy.

During the hearing, the senator, however, clarified that he did not accuse Faeldon of being the center of the smuggling activities in the agency.

Trillanes then warned the Customs chief that he would be charged in contempt if he continues to refuse to answer the question.

“I’m asking you as a member of the committee. These are not accusations. Tinatanong kita, meron bang corrupt sa Customs o wala (I am asking you, is there corruption in Customs or none) or I’ll be forced to move you for contempt,” the senator said.

But Faeldon maintained that giving Trillanes an answer was “pointless,” as he was already judged by the senator.

“In the past few days, the honorable senator has come up with a lot of accusations already that I am in the middle of the smuggling of shabu in the country… It is pointless for me to answer these questions because he has already come up with a conclusion,” the Customs chief said.

Upon Senate blue ribbon committee chair Richard Gordon’s prodding, Faeldon later answered “yes.”

In May, a 600-kilogram shipment of shabu worth P6.4 billion (US$126 million) were seized at two warehouses in Valenzuela City after it slipped through a what should have been tight screening by the BOC.

In a statement, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said President Rodrigo Duterte will not immediately fire Faeldon and would instead “wait for the report of both chambers of Congress before deciding how to best address the issue.”

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