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Duterte: Up to House to probe Customs mess

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte will not interfere in congressional inquiries into how a shipment of shabu worth P6.4 billion slipped through Customs examiners in May, the Palace said Friday

“The President said he does not intervene in matters like this. He will allow the process to unfold,” presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said.

“I think it’s not unusual that he’s quiet about that,” Abella added. “It’s simply saying that he will not interfere because the process has begun.”

But Duterte on Friday denied reports linking his son, Davao City Mayor Paolo Duterte, to the Customs mess.

“Those are allegations, they are just using our name,” the President said.

Expressing his disgust over people who were trying to implicate his children, Duterte reiterated his vow to resign if any of his offspring were found guilty of corruption.

Abella said it will be up to Duterte whether or not to fire Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon, who recently took a medical leave.

“You know, whatever it is, it will have to be the President’s decision,” he said.

President Rodrigo Duterte

Senator Richard Gordon, chairman of the Senate Blue Ribbon committee, vowed to pursue his investigation into the shabu shipment, and how Customs officials mishandled the evidence when the drugs were found in a warehouse in Valenzuela.

“I have been asked why I want Commissioner Faeldon to resign. My answer is not so much that I want him to; but, that his performance in the Bureau of Customs has proven to be a failure. He has placed himself in a position that is way above his head. Is there, thus, a need for a call for Faeldon’s resignation? No, he does not need prodding in that regard. His dismal performance did him in,” Gordon said.

Gordon assailed bureau officials’ ignorance regarding the strict protocols needed in the handling of evidence when Customs personnel opened a cylinder filled with shabu without waiting for the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, a move that might make the drugs inadmissible as evidence in court.

“He bungled the anti-drug raid. None have been arrested for two-and-a-half months now, save fore the caretaker-cum-fall guy,” Gordon said.

Gordon also slammed Faeldon’s move to concentrate power by creating a Command Center that arrogated unto himself practically all law enforcement powers of the agency.

“This centralization of almost all the powers of the Bureau has resulted in making the entry of illegal drugs easier because of a slower reaction time to alert action requests,” Gordon said.

Gordon also cited the severe demoralization among the ranks of organic, experienced, and more knowledgeable personnel of the bureau, after Faeldon’s creation of “a super-elite group of like-minded ex-putschists,” centralizing in them all relevant powers of the BOC.

“After surrounding himself with the wrong people on whom he’d depend, his vaunted ambition to improve the performance of the bureau has resulted in the opposite. While the administration is waging an intensive war against illegal drugs and people allegedly involved in the drug trade are being killed, shipments containing kilos of drugs are allowed to pass through and enter the market right under their noses,” Gordon said.

Senator Francis Pangilinan said there is a clamor for Faeldon’s resignation from both administration and opposition senators and congressmen after several hearings in both houses.

He noted that the bipartisan clamor should be enough basis for Malacanang to show Faeldon and a number of his people the door.

“Many other appointees have been fired for lesser offenses. We trust that Malacanang will heed the calls and act accordingly,” Pangilinan said.

Topics: President Rodrigo Duterte , Congressional inquiries , Shabu shipment , Customs examiners , Bureau of Customs , Ernesto Abella , Paolo Duterte , Customs mess
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