MANIILA - Minority lawmakers on Tuesday threatened to deprive the Bureau of Customs (BOC) of its 2018 budget if it will not reorganize its ranks.
"If you don't reorganize Customs, you don't get a single peso," warned House Minority Leader Danilo Suarez ahead of the upcoming budget deliberations.
The BOC is at the center of 2 legislative inquiries for its failure to stop the entry of P6.4 billion worth of shabu into the country last May.
The drug shipment passed through BOC without any inspection. It was eventually discovered at a Valenzuela City warehouse.
Suarez challenged BOC Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon to name Customs personnel who allegedly receive payoffs in exchange for letting questionable shipments pass port inspections.
"I dare him, name them. Baka naman kung sino man yun eh tungkulin ng House na idisiplina," the lawmaker said.
Buhay Party List Rep. Lito Atienza meanwhile lent weight to the call of several lawmakers for Faeldon's resignation.
"A series of events clearly show he was negligent to say the least," Atienza said.
Echoing this statement was Kabayan Party-list Rep. Harry Roque, who said "Isang tara (grease money) po ngayon, 'di lang P30,000. It has become P250,000 per container at kapalit nun, walang inspeksyon.
"As an officer and gentleman, he (Faeldon) should do the honorable thing. He did not perform as expected."
ACTS OFW Rep. John Bertiz and Ako Bicol Rep. Alfredo Garbin also urged Faeldon to step down, citing BOC's alleged lapses in confiscating the smuggled 605 kilograms of shabu.
Faeldon has admitted that his men mishandled the drug haul by not wearing gloves and taking selfies with the evidence. He said however that Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency operatives could have prevented this if they did not come 4 hours late for the raid.
The BOC chief however brushed off calls for his resignation, saying he would prefer President Rodrigo Duterte to fire him.
He also shot back at some lawmakers for supposedly trying to put their own men in the BOC to protect their interests. -- With RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News