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House secures key witness

BY: Ben R. Rosario and Betheena Kae Unite

The leadership of the House of Representatives has moved to secure a young key witness in the P6.4-billion illegal drugs smuggling incident at the Bureau of Customs from possible harm.

Aside from the gran of immunity from suits, Ruben Mark Taguba can expect security protection from the House for confessing in a congressional hearing his participation in a web of corrupt practices involving bribe money that could reach P270 million per day.

House Deputy Speaker Marikina City Rep. Romero S. Quimbo disclosed that Taguba, a Customs broker and a resource person during Wednesday’s House Ways and Means Committee hearing on the R6.4-billion drugs case, is expected to spill more beans on Customs men involved in various smuggling operations at the BoC.

House Majority Leader Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas called on BoC Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon to take a leave of absence while separate congressional investigations are ongoing.

On the other hand, House Minority Leader Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez has aired confidence that the results of the congressional investigation into the drug smuggling incident may be enough to change President Duterte’s mind in trusting Faeldon to cleanse the BoC.

Meanwhile, Faeldon said the dozens of former professional basketball players, athletes, and coaches were hired by the BoC as contractuals and not as employees.

“They are not employees of the Bureau of Customs because they were hired under contract of services or contractuals,” Faeldon said.

Faeldon aired the clarification after documents indicated that he has hired retired and active athletes and coaches for the Office of the Commissioner and Intelligence Group.