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Trillanes: Faeldon at heart of shabu smuggling issue

By: Mario B. Casayuran and Raymund F. Antonio

Bureau of Customs Commissioner Nicanor A. Faeldon is at the heart of the R6.4-billion shabu smuggling controversy, Sen. Antonio F. Trillanes said yesterday.

Trillanes said he is certain that BoC Deputy Commissioner Gerry Gambala and BoC Director Nilo Maestrocampo are not involved in the release of the shipment found in a warehouse in Valenzuela City a few months ago.

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“However, having known well enough my PMA classmates Gerry Gambala and Milo Maestrocampo, I am almost certain that they are not part of the syndicate that facilitated the release of P6-billion shabu shipment. Having said that, the various investigations, which they have bravely faced, ultimately, would determine their guilt or innocence,’’ he said.

“As of Faeldon, I have enough information to say that he is at the heart of this controversy. And once he is done malingering, I hope he musters enough courage to face the grilling of the senators and congressmen,’’ Trillanes, a former Navy officer, said.

Sen. Richard J. Gordon, chairman of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, has called on Faeldon to resign from the BoC.

Gordon said the plethora of evidence pointing to widespread corruption and incompetence unearthed during his public hearings on the issue should prod Faeldon to consider resigning from government service.

Neil Anthony Estrella, director of the Bureau of Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service, yesterday resigned from his post after being implicated in the controversy.

Estrella, who headed the raid in Valenzuela, submitted his resignation letter at 10 a.m. to the office of Faeldon.

“It is with deep regret – not least because of the tremendous trust you have reposed in my position and because of the renewed support you have extended our leadership – that I write to resign as CIIS director,” Estrella said in his letter to President Duterte.

The retired colonel said he can no longer perform his duties after the “unnecessary publicity” that compromised his office amid the legislative inquiries into BoC’s failure to intercept the shipment. “It is as much a virtue to retreat in the spirit of delicadeza as it is an honor to pursue a worthy cause,” he said.

Estrella said he hoped his resignation “paves the way for an impartial investigation and leads to substantive reform” in the BoC.

Estrella is the second official to resign afrer Maestrecampo due to the issue. Estrella and Maestrecampo were named by Customs broker Mark Taguba as among the BoC officials who accepted bribe money from him in exchange for the speedy facilitation of shipments.

They have strongly denied the allegations.