Despite a recommendation from the Office of the Ombudsman that criminal charges be brought against former Customs commissioner Nicanor Faeldon over the smuggling of P6.4 billion worth of shabu in 2017, President Rodrigo Duterte said he still thinks his handpicked appointee is innocent and was just hoodwinked by syndicates.
“Let’s talk about Fealdon. Why did I keep Faeldon in my administration? They say that he already has a case filed against him. [But] I don’t believe that Faeldon is involved in drugs. He was just sucked into the vortex,” Duterte said in a speech in Cebu City Saturday evening.
He said he was impressed with Faeldon’s work in recovering smuggled cigarettes with fake stamps of Mighty Corp. The tax evasion case slapped against the cigarette manufacturer earned the government P40 billion in revenues.
“If he [Faeldon] wanted to earn money, he should have just kept quiet [on the smuggling]. He should not have opened his mouth. That much is clear, that is why I do not believe he was involved [in the shabu smuggling case],” the President said.
“Nasabit siya. Naisahan siya dito. (He just got dragged into this [shabu smuggling case]. He was hoodwinked),” Duterte added.
Faeldon resigned as Customs chief in August last year over the drug smuggling mess. Four months later and while Faeldon was still detained at the Senate premises for repeatedly refusing to appear at Senate hearings on the shabu case, he was appointed by the President as deputy administrator of the Office of the Civil Defense.
Faeldon’s appointment was questioned by Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, a vocal critic of the President.
“Faeldon knows the dark secrets of the Duterte family that’s why, even if he is grossly incompetent, he remains a sacred cow,” Trillanes said in an earlier statement.
Trillanes and Faeldon were both mutineers in the Oakwood siege against President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in 2003.
In April, the President stood as godfather at the baptism of Faeldon’s son.
Earlier this month, the Office of the Ombudsman recommended the filing of criminal charges against Faeldon and several other ex-officials in connection with the P6.4 billion smuggled shabu.
The Ombudsman’s special panel of fact-finding investigators said Faeldon, former Import Assessment Service director Milo Maestrecampo, former Risk Management Office chief Larribert Hilario and former accounts Management Office chief Mary Grace Tecson-Malabed must face graft charges before the Sandiganbayan.
The complaints against former Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte and lawyer Manases Carpio, however, were dismissed for lack of basis.
Faeldon and other Customs officials—Joel Pinawin and Oliver Valiente—were also charged with administrative charges of grave misconduct, while Tecson-Malabed and Maestrecampo were also sued for gross neglect of duty and grave misconduct.
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