Faeldon hits back at lawmakers: Stop corrupt requests

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 2) — Embattled Bureau of Customs (BOC) Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon on Wednesday dismissed as sour graping lawmakers' calls for his resignation amid a ₱6.4-billion shabu mess at the bureau.

Without naming names, Faeldon told a press briefing that some solons who are into the importation business are trying to get back at him for turning down their requests for special favors, including the promotion of some BOC employees.

"They want me to influence the promotion board so that their people here will be promoted. And I tell them right in their face. I will never dip a finger to influence our promotion board. Why? Even that, that is a form of corruption," Faeldon said.

"Believe me most of them also have importation companies, forwarding companies. Their people are here to protect the interests of their bosses," he added.

He appealed to lawmakers to stop their unreasonable requests.

"You know that your request is a form of [corruption]. And you insist and magagalit pa kayo (and you even get mad). My God. Shame on you. Stop it," Faeldon said.

He issued a memorandum last February 28, urging BOC employees to refrain from submitting to his office external endorsements or recommendations in their applications for promotion.

House Majority Leader Rudy Fariñas on Wednesday said lawmakers grilled Faeldon at the House hearing on Tuesday not because he denied their recommendations, but because he mishandled the drug raid in Valenzuela City last May 26, from where a huge haul of metamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu from China was seized.

He added, he sees nothing wrong with government officials recommending the promotion of BOC employees.

"Kalokohan yan. Bakit, hindi naman nya sinusunod ang recommendation a… Kung patakbuhin nilang mahusay ang Customs, kahit sinong irecommend dyan, e di alisin nila," Fariñas said. (Translation: "That's a joke. He's not even following the recommendation. If they will manage the bureau properly, it wouldn't matter whoever is recommended.")

Both chambers of Congress have been holding probes on the entry to the country of ₱6.4 billion worth of shabu from China.

Related: Senate alleges corruption and incompetence in Customs bureau over biggest haul yet of shabu smuggled into PH

House Committee on Dangerous Drugs Chairman Rep. Robert Ace Barbers, along with committee members reprimanded Faeldon for alleged irregularities at the BOC and said he should consider resigning.

But Faeldon on Wednesday said he only follows the marching orders of President Rodrigo Duterte who told him: "Continue to be loyal to this country and serve this country well."

He left the House hearing at around 4 p.m. on Tuesday for a meeting with the President.

Fariñas said it is the President's call not to fire Faeldon.

Meanwhile, Faeldon recognized that some government officials wanted him out of Customs because of his lack of experience.

"Maybe they see that I'm not fit in this job. I respect them. I know nothing about Customs. I will just say no to you if you try to corrupt this bureau. Yun lang ang alam ko (That's all I know)," he said.

He said he will also continue cracking down on Customs officials engaged in corrupt practices.

Faeldon said he suspended more than 800 importers "to put pressure on them to talk" and give the names of Customs officials extorting money from them.

Over 1,400 more importers are under investigation, he said.

He said the country also needs more X-ray machines so airports can easily detect and block the entry of contraband.

Faeldon said the country only has one X-ray machine at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport when he assumed office. The bureau targets to be able to use 18 more machines by August 23.

CNN Philippines' Eimor Santos, AC Nicholls, and Joyce Ilas contributed to this report.