Gordon hits back, says he accommodated Faeldon's requests for "humanitarian reasons"
MANILA - Former Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon on Friday accused Sen. Richard Gordon of inflicting "cruel, degrading, and inhuman[e] punishment" on him while detained at the Senate.
In a statement, Faeldon alleged that Gordon, chair of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee that ordered him detained over refusing to cooperate in a panel hearing, deprived him of the company of his loved ones during the holidays, his right to be examined by his doctor, his right to practice his religion, and to witness the birth of his youngest child.
The former Customs chief has been detained at the Senate since September for refusing to participate at the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee's inquiry on the P6.4-billion drug shipment from China that was smuggled through the Manila port, an incident that exposed corruption at the Bureau of Customs.
Gordon's committee had cited him in contempt.
In response, Gordon argued that he has accommodated several of Faeldon's requests for humanitarian reasons, such as to celebrate his father's birthday with relatives.
"The Chair accommodated his requests for humanitarian considerations and because his security was ensured by the family events being held within the Senate premises," Gordon said in a statement.
Gordon also said Faeldon sought to see a cardiologist in preparation for his supposed attendance in this year's Traslacion of the Black Nazarene, an annual procession that draws hundreds of thousands of devotees.
The senator said the request was rejected since the event "would have exposed him (Faeldon) to danger" with no guarantee that the Senate's Office of the Sergeant-at-Arms (OSAA) could secure his safety.
"That request was not granted because: one, his release without the company of the OSAA would have meant that he was being released from custody, without his having cleansed himself of his contumacious conduct, the very reason why he is detained," Gordon said.
The senator said he instead suggested that if Faeldon wanted to hear Mass, he could do so within the premises of the Senate since regular masses are celebrated at noon from Monday to Thursday.
"An important reason why his request for a furlough could not be granted is also because Capt. Faeldon is held for contempt of the Committee and, thus, of the Senate. The citation for contempt was, and still is, a collegial act which the Chair, on his own, cannot reverse," Gordon said.
Faeldon, who President Rodrigo Duterte recently appointed to the Office of Civil Defense, also alleged that Gordon deprived him of his right to have his oath-taking before Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Jan. 10.
Gordon explained that the plea was rejected due to security concerns and argued that Faeldon could take his oath within the premises of the Senate.
"Consistent with the previous denial of his request, we informed him that the safety concerns still remained, what with the previous threats that were made against him," Gordon said.
Gordon also noted that the rejection is a preventive measure against a possible constitutional crisis.
"If he is allowed to go out and take his oath, nothing can prevent him from hiding behind his appointment and then saying, you cannot detain me anymore as I am now Assistant Secretary," Gordon said.
Lastly, Gordon debunked Faeldon's claim that publicizing his allegations would prompt the Senate to cut his power and water supply.
"It is also preposterous for there to be any claim that Captain Faeldon would be deprived of water, power and visitation rights. This is beneath the dignity of the Committee and the Chair," he said.
Faeldon was among BOC officials who left the agency as they faced corruption allegations. He has denied the charges.