Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon on Wednesday chastised lawmakers who are trying to put their own men in the Bureau of Customs to protect their interests, saying this is a big problem in the agency.
Faeldon said some politicians wanted him to "influence the promotion board" so that some Customs employees will be promoted. Some politicians, he said, also wanted a hand in designations and reassignments so that their own men could be assigned to plum posts.
"The biggest problem of the bureau is corruption. First - the procurement process of our personnel is a big problem. We allow politicians, government officials to send their people, force them here. Ok, si congressman, si konsehal, si barangay captain, si governor but believe me most of them also have importation companies, forwarding companies," he said in a press briefing in the agency's Quezon City office.
"Their people are here to protect the interests of their bosses. So until we fix that first, corruption here will continue," he added.
The Customs chief said he had declined these requests because it is a "form of corruption."
"You know that your request is a form of corruption and you insist, magagalit pa kayo. My God, shame on you. Shame on you. Stop it. This is not your country, this is not your property, this is not mine; this is the country’s Bureau of Customs, this is the Filipino people’s Bureau of Customs. So don’t act like you own this," he said.
"Pati assignment ituturo pa sa iyo. 'O dito mo ilagay ha.' Why will I allow that? E di sila na lang mag-commissioner so that they will take the responsibility for all the stupidity here. I am the one being blamed for all the lousiness here when they are ones trying to put people here who are so lousy."
Faeldon said he did not identify these politicians when he met with President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday afternoon. "Hindi naman ako nagsusumbong. It is not my type. I try to deal with them directly."
However, he also expressed anger at politicians who are making the Customs bureau more corrupt.
"I do not want to humiliate anybody. We are all workers in the government but I am appealing to you. Stop it. Stop it because it doesn't do anything good to this country. Alam niyo na mali yan. Don't mess [around]. This is a very corrupt bureau and you are making it more corrupt. Please stop it,' he said.
"It won’t work anymore. Magalit na kayo sa akin, try your best to boot me out here everyday, do it everyday. As long as I am here, I will continue to say no to you...Ikaw ang pinakamaraming request kaya galit na galit ka sa akin ngayon."
He also called on legislators to come up with a law that would prohibit any public official to make recommendations in the BOC.
"Let's leave to the President to recommend, anyhow, he has the power to appoint. E masama pa, kung di mo pagbigyan magagalit pa sa iyo. Pe-personalin ka pa," he said.
The BOC recently came under fire over the entry of P6.4 billion worth of illicit drugs from China.
Surigao del Norte Rep. Ace Barbers earlier dubbed top officials of the Bureau of Customs as "scandalously unqualified imbeciles" for failing to stop the shipment of narcotics.
"What would 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'?" Barbers said during a House inquiry into the incident.
House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas also scolded Mandy Mercado Anderson, a consultant and head executive assistant to Customs Commissioner Faeldon, for calling Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez an "imbecile" in a private Facebook post.
In her defense Anderson said she believes she was scolded on purpose after she refused Alvarez's request to process the promotion of an employee at BOC.
She said Alvarez even called Faeldon and asked him about the employee's promotion but the latter also refused based on the employee's lack of qualification.
Alvarez has confirmed endorsing a certain Sandy Sacluti to be promoted in the BOC but denied that he was lobbying.
"I sign so many recommendations each day sa dami ng nagpapatulong but until there lang. Wala pong lobbying. They are trying to divert the real issue on illegal drug smuggling. Malalim 'yan," he said.
The Customs chief earlier said he is not condoning Anderson's action, but said she is entitled to her own opinion.
CALL FOR RESIGNATION
During Wednesday's press briefing, Faeldon said he has already canceled the importation permits of 800 importers, with another 1,400 still under investigation.
One company affected by the Customs suspension is cigarette-maker Mighty Corp., which is paying P25-billion to to settle its tax liabilities.
"Don't forget that it is the Bureau of Customs that raided Mighty, that is why they are paying at least P25 billion to the government and closed their shop for 75 years," Faeldon said.
He urged importers to name names of Customs officials allegedly receiving up to P270-million in daily payoffs.
The Customs chief also cited to need to train Customs employees "to grind them and to mold character" so that they will be incorruptible.
"We don't have training here. Dito, pagkapasok po 1-hour orientation nandun ka na, looking for the welfare of your bosses. That is really what is making this bureau so corrupt. Why can't we see that?" he said.
The Customs chief said the first training class for Customs employees will start in October. All new Customs employees will undergo the training, he said.
"The temptation is so high so the character of people here must be very strong. They have to refuse, reject in their system corruption," he said.
"Pandidirian nila ang anumang corruption..."
Faeldon admitted that his lone qualification for the Customs post is his ability to say no to politicos seeking favors.
"Ano ba ang alam ko dito? There is none. Wala akong alam dito, I only know one thing - saying no. Yun lang alam ko dito, magsabi ng 'hindi.' I have said no to a lot of people already. That is the only qualification I have. I can say no to anyone," he said.
Faeldon, in a congressional hearing, earlier clashed with leaders of the House of Representatives after they called for his resignation amid investigations on the P6.4 billion shabu shipment that slipped past the Customs' green lane.