Palace: DOF, new Customs chief should look into Lacson’s claims

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 24 2017 04:24 PM

MANILA - Malacañang on Thursday said the Department of Finance (DOF) and incoming Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapeña are expected to look into corruption allegations that Sen. Panfilo Lacson had made against Bureau of Customs officials.

“We expect [that] the DOF and [the] new customs chief will give due consideration to Sen. Lacson’s speech… and so should the Justice department and Office of the Ombudsman to charge grafters,” Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in a news conference in Malacañang.

In a privilege speech on Wednesday, Lacson said Faeldon received a P100 million "welcome pasalubong" when he was appointed as BOC head last year.

The senator also detailed how the “tara" or grease money system at the BOC works and identified major players, citing sources who surfaced after the bust of the P6.4-billion shabu shipment smuggled through the Port of Manila.

Among the biggest recipients of tara, said Lacson, were Faeldon, Deputy Commissioners Teddy Raval, Ariel Nepomuceno, Gerardo Gambala, Natalio Ecarma III, and Edward Dy Buco, and Customs Intelligence chief Neil Estrella.

Also on Lacson's list were Zsae De Guzman, Chief of the BOC Intellectual Property Rights Division; Larribert Hilario from the BOC Risk Management Office; Joel Pinawin, officer-in-charge of the Intelligence Division; and Milo Maestrecampo, formerly of the Imports and Assessments Service.

Faeldon, Gambala and Maestrecampo were among soldiers who, in July 2003, mounted a mutiny against the administration of then President Gloria Arroyo to decry alleged corruption in government. 

Faeldon denied Lacson’s allegations and, on Thursday, turned the tables on the senator, accusing the latter’s son, Panfilo “Pampi” Lacson Jr., of being involved in cement smuggling.

Lacson denied the charges and challenged Faeldon to file a case against his son if the allegations were true. 

Abella said President Rodrigo Duterte, who has publicly expressed confidence in Faeldon, will support any investigation into Lacson’s claims.

The President earlier said he has accepted Faeldon's resignation as Customs commissioner. The former Marine’s departure from the BOC prompted the President to tap Lapeña, currently head of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, to lead the agency, considered one of the most corrupt in the bureaucracy. -- with reports from Patrick Quintos, ABS-CBN News