MANILA - Former Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon will be detained at the Senate or the city jail in Pasay or Muntinlupa if he refuses to cooperate in the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing on alleged corruption at the Bureau of Customs, panel chair Sen. Richard Gordon said Friday.
Gordon made the statement just as Faeldon said he would go to the chamber on Monday but only to turn himself in. He said he would not participate in the hearing in protest of senators' allegations against "innocent resource persons" at the inquiry.
Reached by phone, Gordon said he would still try to convince Faeldon to participate in the proceedings, citing the importance of his statements on the alleged "tara" [grease money] system exposed by Sen. Panfilo Lacson.
“I do not want him (Faeldon) embarrassed... But if he just sits and presents himself and he refuses to answer, I will do the next step, which is to put him under arrest,” Gordon said.
In an Aug. 23 privilege speech, Lacson had accused Faeldon and other top BOC officials of taking grease money for the release of certain shipments. He made the allegations following the bust of a P6.4-million shabu shipment that had slipped past the Manila port in May.
Faeldon, a former Marine, denied the charges and hit back at Lacson, accusing his son Panfilo "Pampi" Lacson Jr.'s of involvement in cement smuggling.
Lacson belied the accusations.
Apart from Lacson, Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV also tagged Faeldon in corruption, saying his former fellow mutineer was "at the heart" of the BOC controversy.
Gordon, meanwhile, said he still doubts the testimony of customs fixer Mark Taguba, the first to tag several BOC officials and other personalities in alleged corruption at the bureau.
The panel chair said that, at the most, Faeldon's liability in the shabu shipment may be "negligence."
In the same breath, Gordon dismissed Faeldon's claim that lawmakers have been violating his rights.
He assured Faeldon that, should he decide to participate in the hearing, he would be given the chance to air his side.
“I will try my darndest best to ask him.. I will assure him he will have his day in the Senate… and he will have his cross-examination in court,” the Senator said.