MANILA- (2nd UPDATE) Sen. Panfilo Lacson on Thursday hit back at former Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon, challenging the latter to file charges against his son if his allegations of cement smuggling were true.
"First, I have nothing to do with my son's business activities; second, there is no smuggling of cement as it is not subject to customs tariff and duties but only subject to VAT (value added tax), which my son said when I checked with him just now, they always pay..." Lacson said in a a statement.
"He should have filed charges against my son if he now says, he's into smuggling," he added.
Faeldon in a press conference Thursday morning, claimed that Panfilo "Pampi" Lacson Jr.'s Bonjourno company brought in 67 shiploads of cement worth billions of pesos that were all undervalued by 50 percent.
Faeldon went on further to allege that the younger Lacson also went to his office 5 times and allegedly tried to bribe his staff.
The former Customs chief came out with the charges after the lawmaker accused him of taking a P100-million welcome gift upon his appointment to the agency last year. Faeldon denied the allegations.
Responding to Faeldon's claims against his son, the senator said in a presser: "If my son is guilty of smuggling, I myself will file a case against him."
"I am not hiding anything. My son assured me he is not hiding anything," Lacson said.
Lacson also questioned the timing of Faeldon's accusations.
“'Yun ang hindi ko maintindihan. Bakit biglang ngayon e nilabas niya ito?” Lacson told reporters.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon shared his colleague's sentiments.
"Bakit ngayon lang, 24 hours after Sen. Lacson's exposè? An act of desperation on the part of Faeldon. I have full faith in the uprightness of Sen. Lacson and his family," he said.
The elder Lacson also belied Faeldon's allegations that his son tried to bribe Customs officials.
“Noon pa lang, sinabi ko na sa kanya, ‘kung meron kayong kalokohan, ako mismo kakastigo sa inyo'.”
"I'm telling you on my parents' graves, ang tulong na ginawa ko sa kanya ay nag-xerox lang ako ng PS mark," he added.
In a separate statement, Lacson said his son denied Faeldon's allegations.
"I asked my son on the assertion of Faeldon that he was delivering money to the commissioner's office. He said, he has not done so at anytime, he has not met Faeldon. He has absolutely no reason to bribe Faeldon or the Customs Bureau. That's a big big lie," he said.
The senator said it does not make sense that he exposed alleged irregularities in the Bureau of Customs if his son was indeed cheating on taxes, as Faeldon had accused.
"The logical thing for me to do is not to make the exposé and just keep quiet. For the record, I have always reminded my son to be on the level in whatever business dealings he would have because if not, I'll be the first one to castigate him and even initiate filing of charges against him," he said.
Lacson also expressed openness to having his son appear before the Senate if invited.
"Kung gustong ipatawag ng kung anong komite, I'll tell him. But I can only advise him," he said.
Drilon, meanwhile, said a Senate probe on Lacson's son would be a waste of time if the only evidence is Faeldon's allegations.
"Without any evidence other than Faeldon's allegation, I will oppose any investigation. It will be a waste of time and will simply be used as a venue for character assassination," he said.