Lacson stands by claim that Faeldon received ₱100 million

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 29) — Senator Ping Lacson stood by his claim Tuesday that outgoing Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon received a ₱100 million payoff when he took over the agency.

"I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, but I also got information, first from a fellow senator... I validated it from other sources, and another source is actually from the Bureau of Customs itself. So how can you just disregard such information?" Lacson told CNN Philippines' The Source.

"I'll be man enough to apologize, but there's nothing to apologize for because nag-check na nga ako sa iba't ibang [I checked different] sources," he added.

In a privilege speech on August 23, Lacson tagged Faeldon as having received ₱100 million in 'pasalubong' upon entry to the Bureau. Lacson dropped a bombshell of allegations and named officials and individuals allegedly involved in the system of payoffs at customs, known as "tara."

Related: Lacson links Faeldon to alleged Customs corruption

In Tuesday's interview, he said the information in his speech was confirmed by "at least eight sources from inside the [Bureau], two other sources from outside... validated by at least two fixers."

The input took two weeks to validate and backgrounds were cross-checked by friends in military intelligence, Lacson said.

Lacson added that a mid-level officer at the Bureau of Customs even personally went to his satellite office to further provide information on corruption in customs.

Faeldon has denied the senator's accusations. He shot back at Lacson on August 24 with allegations that he and his son smuggled cement through customs and undervalued their shipments.

Lacson in turn, has rejected Faeldon's claims.

Related: Faeldon mistaken on smuggling accusation - Lacson

Nonetheless, the senator maintains that he is open to speaking to Faeldon and even apologizing if his information is wrong. He said Faeldon must sign a waiver under the Bank Secrecy Act allowing for his bank accounts to be opened.

"If... he allows the authorities to open all his bank accounts, including those of his members of the family at walang makita doon [and nothing is there]... probably I'm wrong and I'm ready to apologize," said Lacson.

Faeldon has maintained he lives a simple lifestyle, owning the same house since 1993.

He told The Source on Monday that he was willing to open his account, as well as the accounts of his family members.

"Because we are all poor, you have nothing to see. Anyone who wants it, I'll sign it," said Faeldon.

Faeldon also expressed willingness to apologize if his claims against the senator are debunked.

"If it will be proven later on that... yung accusation niya sa akin e hindi naman totoo [his accusation is not true], I think apology is in order. If I will fail to prove that there is an activity, irregular activity of his son... I will apologize, every time that I am in public," said Faeldon.

Lacson, however, believes he is not mistaken on other aspects of the "tara" system from Customs brokers.

He and his staff are trying to convince someone from inside the Bureau to render the information they have to offer in an affidavit, or sworn statement.

The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee's probe into the ₱6.4 billion in smuggled drugs resumes on Tuesday.