MANILA -- Several lawmakers on Wednesday rebuked Customs deputy collector Lourdes Mangaoang over her answers in a legislative inquiry into the P6.8-billion shabu haul that allegedly slipped past port inspections.
Mangaoang has claimed that Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapeña ignored her report that the x-ray machines detected the drugs inside 2 magnetic lifters that were eventually found empty in Cavite province in August.
During the probe, Mangaoang was asked whether or not her allegation was spurred by a personal grudge over Lapeña's repeated orders for her reassignment.
The official said she accepted all her work transfers, except for the most recent one, which exceeded the maximum number of allowed reassignments in a year under Civil Service Commission rules.
But Antipolo Rep. Romeo Acop, in summarizing Mangaoang's statement, said: "Because of these reassignments, most of which you did not approve, nagalit ka kay Commissioner Lapeña kaya sinabi mo na parang personal na."
(Because of these reassignments, most of which you did not approve, you grew angry at Commissioner Lapeña so you said the issue is already personal.)
"Doon sa mga reassignments na ginawa sayo, halata naman na hindi ka masaya. Nagkaroon ka ng ill will with what Commissioner Lapeña has been doing to you," he added.
(It's obvious that you were not happy with the reassignments. You then harbored ill will with what Commissioner Lapeña has been doing to you.)
Mangaoang said that while she was not happy with her reassignments, this does not mean that she was mad at her boss.
Acop then asked if Mangaoang should be entitled to full faith considering that "there is a strong reason" for him to believe that she has "improper motive."
The Customs official replied that she only attended the hearing because she was invited by the congressmen.
"I feel that I am being prosecuted as if I'm the respondent," she said. "You invited me here as a resource speaker. Bakit ang dami n'yong sinasabi na ako ay ill will, whatever? That is unfair."
Mangaoang then asked to leave the premises, but Surigao del Norte Rep. Ace Barbers told her that she cannot.
"Ikaw ay public servant. Hindi mo kami puwedeng aalisan dito. Otherwise we will have to take action for that," he said.
"Never, please, disabuse your mind from thinking na utang na loob namin na pumunta ka rito."
(You're a public servant. You can't storm out of here. Otherwise we will have to take action for that. Never, please, disabuse you're mind that we owe you for coming here.
Acop also warned that lawmakers, by a two-thirds vote, can cite resource persons for contempt for acting in a disrespectful manner and refusal to answer questions, among others.
"Kung tinatanong ko po kayo, karapatan ko po iyun," he added.
(If I'm asking you, that is my right.)
Mangaoang then apologized to Acop and the members of the House dangerous drugs and good governance committees.