MANILA - Bureau of Customs (BOC) chief Isidro Lapeña considers his reassignment to the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) a promotion.
Lapeña's reassignment came amid a multibillion-peso drug smuggling controversy.
“It’s a way of instituting reforms in the Bureau of Customs and I respect that. I’m given another job. That’s a promotion, cabinet secretary. I would like to thank the President for another opportunity to serve in another capacity," Lapeña told reporters.
Even President Rodrigo Duterte said Lapena's reassignment was a promotion.
“General Lapeña will move to TESDA. I will promote you to a Cabinet position. General ‘Jagger’ Guerrero, you are to move to the Bureau of Customs,” Duterte said during the 117th Anniversary Celebration of the Philippine Coast Guard.
Both Lapeña and Guerrero were at the event.
The President also announced that all Customs commissioners were “out.”
Lapeña has been accused of "covering up" for drug smugglers by denying that the empty magnetic lifters seized in Cavite last August did not contain illegal drugs.
Former Customs X-ray Inspection Project (XIP) chief Lourdes Mangaoang said evidence presented before both chambers of the Congress has established that the magnetic lifters contained illegal drugs, a claim Lapena initially denied.
Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency chief Aaron Aquino flagged the issue on magnetic lifters, supposedly discovered just days after around 500 kilos of shabu were found in similar containers at the Manila International Container Terminal (MICT), which were imported from Taiwan.
Drugs seized from recent raids of Metro Manila streets matched the narcotics confiscated at MICT, Aquino said, citing laboratory tests.