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The P6.4 billion shabu scandal

By: Atty. Ignacio R. Bunye

For now, President Rody Duterte is giving Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon the benefit of the doubt. The President announced that he would await both houses of congress to wrap up their respective investigations before he makes a decision on the fate of Faeldon.

It is not difficult to understand why. Duterte himself acknowledges his political debt to Faeldon, who was among the handful who intially believed in him and who persuaded him to run for President.

But for how long will loyalty to a friend prevail?

The President has repeatedly vowed zero tolerance for drugs and for corruption. He has already let go of two high-ranking appointees because of allegations of corruption.

In the course of separate congressional inquiries last week, the following details surfaced which tend to cast doubt on Faeldon’s competence, if not on his integrity.

One, the R6.4 billion shabu shipment was imported by EMT Trading, a single proprietorship and a relative newcomer in the customs brokerage business. Contrary to existing customs regulations, EMT trading was allowed to use the green lane. Walang problema. No X-ray. No inspection. Lusot agad ang shipment!

Two, in a relativly short period, EMT had 13 consecutive importations from the same supplier. The fact, alone, should have been enough to red-flag EMT. Yet, previous EMT importations were also green-laned.

Three, although only the last shipment was investigated and confiscated, as a result of a tip from the Chinese government, observers are now wondering if all, if not most, of the previous shipments were likewise misdeclared and also contained prohibited drugs.

Fourth, and this takes the cake, while inspecting the confiscated drugs in a Valenzuela City warehouse, Faeldon even had a “selfie” with the warehouse owner, Richard Chen. OMG!

Those following the investigations can only ask: Why or how much was the reason for the favored treatment of EMT?
Faeldon said he assumes full responsibility for the handling /mishandling of the EMT importations.

Brave words, but hardly re-assuring to his fellow former Oakwood mutineers who now make up the core group of BOC’s new management.

The earthquake of 1968
As we prepare ourselves for the Big One, it is opportune to recall that 49 years ago last week, a 7.3 magnitude earthquake hit the Philippines.

As a result, the Ruby Tower apartment building in Manila collapsed, killing 268 sleeping residents.

My wife, Mira and I were just newly married. Our old house in Alabang shook so violently, I thought it was our end.

Night-time radio anchor, Johnny Joseph (better known as Johnny Midnight) immediately called up President Marcos in Malacañang. The President started giving rescue and recovery instructions via Johnny Midnight’s program. Because of Johnny Joseph’s exclusive reportage of the tragedy, he became an instant celebrity.

In reaction to my Facebook post, social media friends shared their recollection of the fateful event.

Del Micor Camins: “It was a horrible experience. We were staying at the 2nd floor of an apartment in San Marcelino, Malate. I was then a first year high school student at Saint Anthony School in Singalong, Manila. Being on the 2nd floor was so scary. All the walls were creaking. We prayed so much especially when we heard of the Ruby Tower tragedy.”

Bert Bulay: “I could recall the earthquake aftermath news of casualties and photos of Ruby Tower which collapsed like a deck of cards. The tragedy exposed the faulty building construction and the use of sub-standard rebars.”

Nap Katigbak had a unique recollection of the event: “Exactly as my mother was giving birth to me, the tremor hit.

Because of that I earned the nickname ‘Boy Lindol’ “.

Mandy Navasero joined fellow students in retrieving bodies from the ruins. “After the Ruby Tower collapsed, there was a group of PWU students from night school who joined sisters in cleaning up rescued dead residents. … I handled fetching water and clean towels. My friend, Elsa Ayerdi Lucas helped wipe clean the dead bodies.

“The night it happened, I was living in an apartment in Tanguile Street, San Antonio Village, Makati City with my youngest brother.

“I screamed and screamed and screamed. The wooden jalousies were banging like anything.

“I am in control now of my emotion. I am in control of any situation. I no longer panic and believed I can help in disaster risk reduction at home and in our community.”

Incidentally, Mandy is inviting readers to their FORUM on Aug. 31, Friday at Rockwell Center on ‘PREPARING FOR THE BIG ONE.” Resource speaker is NDRRMC USEC Ricardo B. Jalad, whose expertise is safety, security and disaster risk reduction.

Interested parties may get in touch with the Public Relations Society of the Philippines at 7514506 or 896 3208.

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Note: You may email us at totingbunye2000@gmail.com. You may also “like” us on Facebook at “Speaking Out”.