MANILA - In what seems to be a call for Nicanor Faeldon to step down from his post, Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez on Wednesday said the Customs chief should spare President Rodrigo Duterte further embarrassment.
"He should spare the President further embarrassment, especially dahil nung kampanya ng ating Pangulo ay on illegal drugs and corruption. Dito, pareho ang may tama," Alvarez told ANC's Headstart.
"Illegal drugs, hindi lang ito gramo-gramo, hindi lang kilo-kilo; tons ang pinag-uusapan dito. Yung corruption, malinaw na malinaw sa committee hearings na may corruption. Ang lalaki, malaki yung corruption involved dito," he said.
"For those 2 main reasons, I think he should spare the President further embarrassment," he added.
Faeldon and the agency he heads is currently the subject of investigations both at the House and the Senate, concerning the shipment of illegal drugs from China.
Alvarez said the House's Ways and Means and Dangerous Drugs Committees are writing their committee reports on the issue.
Some 600 kilos of methamphetamine (shabu) slipped past Customs' green lane, which has relatively relaxed security checks compared to the red and yellow lanes, last May.
Acting on a tip from China, authorities eventually found the drug shipment in a warehouse in Valenzuela City.
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, who oversees the bureau, has said his department would also investigate the incident after the congressional hearings conclude.
Some lawmakers have asked for Faeldon's resignation, but the Customs chief said only the President could fire him as he was serving a mission.
Duterte has said he still believes in Faeldon's integrity despite the controversy.
ALVAREZ VS FAELDON AIDE
In one committee hearing, House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas scolded Mandy Mercado Anderson, a consultant and head executive assistant to Faeldon, for calling Alvarez an "imbecile" in a private Facebook post.
Anderson said she believes she was scolded on purpose after she refused Alvarez's request to process the promotion of a Customs employee.
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 bureau but denied that he was lobbying.
Faeldon said he is not condoning Anderson's action, but said she is entitled to her own opinion.
Alvarez had also brushed off Anderson's comment, saying he no longer sees the need to discuss it.