MANILA - Senator Richard Gordon on Friday backed calls for the removal of Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon despite a vote of confidence from no less than President Rodrigo Duterte.
"Kailangan talagang alisin siya dahil he is not competent. Tanggapin na natin. Sabi ko sa kaniya, ang tinitira sa’yo, yung competence mo saka yung corruption. So far, ang nakikita ko, incompetent," Gordon, chair of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, told radio DZMM.
(He really has to be removed because he is not competent. Let's accept that. I told him, you are being hit on your competence and corruption. So far, that's what I am seeing: incompetent.)
Gordon's committee is investigating the entry of 600 kilos of methamphetamine (shabu) from China to Manila, which supposedly slipped past Customs' green lane, that has relatively relaxed security checks compared to the red and yellow lanes, last May.
President Duterte on Wednesday rejected calls for Faeldon's removal, saying the Customs official is honest.
“Kaya lang nalusutan siya because lahat diyan sa Customs, corrupt. My God,” the President said.
“I hope I would not offend any particular person but almost all [are corrupt]. Sila ‘yung magagandang bahay…magaganda ang kotse,” he added.
Meanwhile, Gordon said he is trying to write a preliminary report on the Senate's findings, even as new pieces of information come in.
He said a Customs revamp should be implemented soon even before the end of the inquiry.
"Mukhang hahaba ang imbestigasyon, pero yung preliminary report, I think the incompetence of the Bureau of Customs is already patent at dapat palitan na talaga yung mga tao doon," he said.
(It looks like our investigation would take a while, but in the preliminary report, I think the incompetence of Bureau of Customs is already patent and the people there should be changed.)
"Ang hindi ko talaga mapatawad, yung droga lumalabas sa Customs—na may kinalaman ang Customs, na may kinalaman yung mga Chinese, authorities of China; na may kinalaman yung mga tao natin dito na dapat mag-cooperate or at least manghuli nang nasa lugar," he added.
(What I cannot forgive is that the drugs went past Customs—that Customs was involved, that the Chinese, the Chinese authorities were involved; that the people here who should cooperate or arrest were involved.)
Gordon said Faeldon and former Customs Intelligence Director Neil Estrella mishandled the evidence that would have led to the ultimate source of the drugs entering the country.
"Pinakialaman nila Estrella, hindi nila hinintay dumating yung kukuha ng droga, hindi nila hinintay. Parang pinabayaan para talagang walang mahuli. Kaya ako galit na galit sa nangyaring yun," he said.
The committee is set to resume its hearing on Tuesday, and Gordon is hopeful the invited speakers will attend.