Monday July 16, 2018

Finance chief: Duterte won't fire Faeldon amid drug shipment probe

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte will not fire Customs Chief Nicanor Faeldon despite the controversial shipment of P6.25-billion worth of shabu contraband that entered through the Bureau of Customs (BOC), Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III on Tuesday.

Dominguez, who was present when Duterte called Faeldon in Palace around 4 p.m. for a meeting, said the Customs chief would stay in his post.

Dominguez said the President told Faeldon to continue fulfilling his mandate, even after some lawmakers sought his resignation following the multi-billion peso shipment of smuggled illegal drugs.

"The President has met Bureau of Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon this afternoon," Dominguez, whose mandate is to also supervise the BOC, said in a statement.

"The Chief Executive has expressed his full confidence in Commissioner Faeldon and told him to focus on serving the country," he added.

The Senate and the House of Representatives are separately conducting a probe into the entry of the illegal drugs through the BOC's green lane.

On May 26, anti-drug operatives raided a warehouse in Paso de Blas, Valenzuela City, after receiving intelligence report that over 600 kilos of shabu concealed in metal insulators were imported by EMT Trading.

During the Senate and House probe held this week, lawmakers were questioning the negligence and alleged involvement of some BOC personnel in the entry of the illegal shipment.

Faeldon was put on the hot seat after a photo of him circulated on social networking sites over the weekend, showing him standing beside Richard Chen, owner of Hongfei Logistics warehouse in Valenzuela City where the P6.4-billion worth of shabu were recovered by the authorities.

The Customs chief slammed the "malicious" posting of the photo, which he said was taken before the May 26 raid.

He said that was just a part of the "smear campaign" against him.

"This attempt to link me in the apprehended shabu is outrageous. The photos themselves will prove that I only met Mr. Chen on the day of the raid itself," Faeldon said. "The people behind this malicious attack only proved that I had crossed big names in the illegal drugs trade. However, this will not slow down our fight against drugs."

On Tuesday, Duterte also met Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) Commissioner Cesar Dulay and Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea.

Dominguez said the President instructed Dulay to expedite the collection of taxes that would be channeled for natural disasters and rehabilitation efforts in war-torn Marawi City.

"The Chief Executive has asked the BIR Commissioner to accelerate tax collections to cover unexpected due to natural disasters and the Marawi rebellion," he said. (SunStar Philippines)