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Lacson: Faeldon got P100-M ‘welcome gift’

By MARIO CASAYURAN

Senator Panfilo M. Lacson, chairman of the Senate public order and dangerous drugs committee, revealed yesterday that loud whispers at the Bureau of Customs tell of Nicanor Faeldon being given a “pasalubong’’ (welcome gift) of P100 million when he assumed the top customs post in July last year.

“Holy mackerel! Welcome pa lang, may kita na. Corruption is like a snowball. Once it’s set a rolling, it must increase,’’ Lacson said in a privilege speech in yesterday’s plenary session three days after President Duterte axed Faeldon amid allegations that corruption and drug smuggling operations could not be contained at the waterfront under his watch.

Lacson said a quarter of the P100 million or P25 million went to Joel Teves, Faeldon’s middleman, as finder’s fee.

“If in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) under a previous administration, you end your stint with the infamous ‘Good bye Pabaon,’ at the Bureau of Customs naman, you start your stint with a ‘Welcome Pasalubong.’’’ he added.

“For the past weeks, I have been expressing my disbelief with President Duterte’s unusual calm and gentle reaction to the alleged involvement of his people in customs, to the massive volume of drugs that easily made its way to our controlled borders,’’ he said.

“Nevertheless, after weeks of public outcry here, there and everywhere for the removal of Faeldon, President Duterte has finally acted and replaced him as customs chief, even for an ‘honest man,’ it is better late than never,’’ he added.

Lacson then proceeded to name 44 bribe givers from the private sector.

He also named 33 customs officials and personnel at the Manila port and at the Manila International Container Port (MICP) and eight customs officials at the central office, who receive weekly payola based on a set of fees for container vans coming into the country and given preferential treatment through the “tara’’ (payola) system.

Lacson also named Faeldon and other top customs officials and collectors including his comrades from the military, on the regular take.

5 BIG PLAYERS
He, likewise identified the five “big players’’ who facilitated the exit of 390 to 490 container vans weekly at the Port of Manila and MICP.

These included David Tan, “Kimberly” Gamboa, Teves group, Manny Santos, and the Davao group where whistleblower Mark Taguba belongs to.

The “tara”’ system shows a systemic corruption at the customs bureau with almost every office and official receiving their share which can give the US-based Mafia a stiff competition, Lacson pointed out.

Lacson said it is impossible to win the battle against illegal drugs given the fact that the customs bureau consciously or otherwise allow the convenient smuggling of tons of “’shabu’’ into the country.

“’The problems that our country is facing now, such as smuggling, fraud and drug trafficking fan effectively be lessened if we only fortify our first line of defense on border management. thus, it is incumbent upon us to address the BoC issue head on and at its roots,’’ he stressed.

Lacson, a former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief, can personally vouch for the integrity of Faeldon’s successor, Isidro Lapeña, head of the Presidential Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).

He said he knows him as an honorable man.

Lacson said he is hoping that Lapeña would not be eaten whole by the corrupt system prevailing at the customs bureau.

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