Lacson: Faeldon mistaken on smuggling accusation

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 29) — Outgoing Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon is mistaken in believing Panfilo "Pampi" Lacson Jr.'s activities qualify as smuggling, Senator Panfilo "Ping" Lacson said Tuesday.

Responding to Faeldon's accusations, Lacson said, "That only shows how ignorant he is."

"It's either... he didn't know what he was talking about, or he deliberately lied through media to mislead the public," Lacson told CNN Philippines' The Source.

Faeldon previously said they were on to Lacson's son, whose company Bonjourno Trading brought in over ₱2 billion worth of cement from January 2016 to June 2017, an amount Faeldon believes is undervalued.

According to documents given to CNN Philippines by Faeldon, 62 out of 74 transactions were declared at $8 freight per metric ton, as opposed to the $16 freight per metric ton which another cement company paid.

But Lacson defended his son, saying only tonnage — not the product — matters, so Bonjourno's payments could not be compared to freight prices paid by other companies.

"Maskin sabihin pa ni [Faeldon] na hindi, 16 [dollars per metric ton], it is not for Customs to say that. Kasi yung freight cost is between the shipper and the importer, or the supplier and the importer," said Lacson.

"Whether it's apples [or] oranges, kung pareho yung weight, pareho yung freight na babayaran mo. It doesn't matter kung ano yung laman," he added.

(Translation: Even if Faeldon insists it is 16 [dollars per metric ton], it is not for Customs to say that... Whether it's apples [or] oranges, if the weight is the same, you pay for the same freight. It doesn't matter what's inside.)

Apart from undervaluation, Lacson maintained that cement shipments did not fit into the different kinds of smuggling, particularly misdeclaration and misclassification. Misdeclaration refers to listing a different product to sneak in goods that are tariff free, while misclassification pertains to citing the wrong tariff classification.

Lacson said this could not apply in his son's case because cement was already tariff-free under the ASEAN Free Trade Area.

"Saan papasok ngayon yung cement, which is zero-rated sa tariff? Papaano ka nag-smuggling?" he said.

(Translation: Where does cement, which is zero-rated in tariff, come in? How does that become smuggling?)

Faeldon and Lacson have been in a back-and-forth since the latter tagged Faeldon as having received a ₱100 million 'pasalubong.' The commissioner has since denied this and tossed his own allegations back at the senator's son.

Faeldon told CNN Philippines' The Source on Monday that the Bureau of Customs would file a case against the younger Lacson "once all [the] evidence is completed."

Related: Faeldon: Customs to file case against Pampi Lacson

Lacson said that he and his son were undecided on whether or not to pursue charges against Faeldon. However, he stood by his allegations against Faeldon.

Related: Lacson stands by claim that Faeldon received ₱100 million