MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday said Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon had asked thrice that he be relieved from his post after the some P6.4 billion worth of shabu from China slipped past the Port of Manila.
“He is not that kind of person. Hindi ko siya dedepensahan. Si Faeldon has written me thrice asking me to relieve him. Nung umpisa pa iyan sabi niya, ‘Hindi ko natupad ang pangako ko sa iyo,’” Duterte said in a speech in Ozamiz City.
Duterte agreed with Faeldon that the latter has failed to bring change to the Bureau of Customs, regarded as one of the most corrupt agencies in the bureaucracy.
This, however, was not enough reason for the President to replace Faeldon.
Duterte said corrupt Customs personnel, not Faeldon, should be blamed for the smuggling of billions worth of illegal drugs into the country.
“Customs is hardcore. It is corrupt to the core,” he said.
Faeldon earlier told dzMM that he had asked the chief executive to fire him amid the controversy.
Lawmakers have called for Faeldon's resignation following the controversial shipment.
They were questioning why the contraband passed through the green lane, which has a more relaxed security inspection, instead of the red lane.
Lawmakers argued that since the shipment came from China, long believed to be a major source of narcotics being smuggled into the country, it should have been inspected sternly.
Senator Antonio Trillanes IV also alleged that the Customs chief was also receiving grease money from smugglers.
In a Senate hearing on Tuesday, Faeldon admitted that he was aware of the "tara" (grease money) system at the Customs bureau long before he assumed his post.
Faeldon, however, said he was not able to investigate the existing system because he had no teammates to help him look into such large-scale corruption scheme.
The Customs chief stressed that it would be very hard for him to man all ports in the country and conduct investigations simultaneously.