“Let the President fire me.”
This was the response of Bureau of Customs (BOC) Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon to lawmakers’ calls for him to resign over alleged gross incompetence for failing to stop the entry of P6.4 billion worth of illicit drugs from China.
House Committee on Dangerous Drugs Chairman Rep. Robert Ace Barbers called for Faeldon’s resignation as they grilled Customs officials in a public hearing on Tuesday.
“‘Di ba embarassment yan kay presidente? You tainted this campaign against drugs. You have a few hours to think about your resignation. You should resign,” Barbers told Faeldon.
House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, in an interview after the inquiry, said he supports the call of Barbers for Faeldon to resign.
"Well, I support the call of resignation na sinabi kanina ni Chairman Ace Barbers dahil po kung ako ang nasa posisyon na iyon ay talaga namang kung meron pa akong konting hiya na natitira ay talagang magreresign ako. Grossly incompetent. Hindi lang po incompetent," he said.
Barbers, in his opening statement, alleged that Customs officials were too busy thinking about drug money than their work.
“In the first place, those drugs passed right under their very noses. Either undetected due to their gross incompetence or because their noses can only smell crisp bills and not crystals,” he said.
He also called Customs officials as “imbeciles.”
"After all, what would you expect if you have scandalously unqualified imbeciles occupying high positions in the bureau with nothing to show in their credentials except for once, they were together 'fighting corruption'?" he said.
“These developments show that they are not fit or the job yet they have the balls to tell the Speaker that the long-time employee whom he endorsed for promotion is not qualified. Look who’s talking,” he added.
Barbers was apparently referring to Customs officials led by Faeldon, Milo Maestrecampo, and Gerardo Gambala who were part of the 2003 Oakwood mutiny against the Arroyo administration. The mutiny was supposedly a protest against corruption.
Barbers’ statements came after Faeldon’s chief of staff, Mandy Anderson, got into trouble with lawmakers for calling Alvarez an “imbecile” on Facebook, supposedly because Alvarez had endorsed the promotion of a supposedly unqualified employee.
The lawmaker’s remarks came despite pronouncements by House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas over the weekend that they would like to focus on the matter of drug smuggling over anything else.
Faeldon during the hearing defended his agency's record, and noted that they are probing 1,400 importers.