MANILA—President Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday defended former Customs commissioners Isidro Lapeña and Nicanor Faeldon over their alleged involvement in multibillion-peso drug smuggling controversies.
Duterte said he would not have hired Lapeña if he were corrupt.
"Hindi corrupt 'yan, hindi ko kukunin kung corrupt 'yan. Nalusutan lang talaga kasi hindi nila kaya. Insider eh. Kinain sila ng sistema, They work a lifetime as a soldier, fighting for this country tapos ganunin mo lang," Duterte said in a speech in Bacolod City.
Duterte also revealed that Faeldon gave him the tip about cigarette-maker Mighty Corp. producing fake stamps.
"Mind you itong si Lapeña including Faeldon, puro military ito, nalusutan talaga sila. Faeldon was the one who gave me the tip that there's a cigarette manufacturer producing fake stamps. 'Yung Mighty King, do you know how much we earned as a consequence?" he said.
"Galing 'yun kay Faeldon. Bakit pa niya sinumbong, sinolo sana niya?"
Duterte on Thursday transferred and promoted Lapeña as head of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) amid shabu shipments found in Manila and Cavite last August.
Faeldon, meanwhile, is the current Bureau of Corrections chief, succeeding Ronald "Bato" dela Rosa, who is running for senator in the 2019 midterm polls.
It was under Faeldon's helm that a P6.4-billion shabu haul from China slipped past authorities in Manila last May 2017.
Another military man, Maritime Industry Authority administrator Rey Leonardo Guerrero will replace Lapeña and will be the third Customs chief under the Duterte administration.
The President, meanwhile, denied that he wants former Customs intelligence officer Jaime Guban to be arrested in order to cover up the crime.
This after the Senate said Guban will stay under its custody unless an arrest warrant against him is issued.
"Nagkamali itong mga senador, 'kala nila kinover up ko si Guban. They can interrogate Guban. Gusto ko siya hulihin kasi may krimen. Ang sabi niya under nila o di sige," Duterte said.
The Senate in September cited Guban in contempt and detained him for giving conflicting statements during its hearing.
Guban later admitted receiving at least P10,000 in exchange for looking for the consignee-for-hire that received the magnetic lifters.
He is no longer detained over contempt but is under "voluntary confinement" at the Senate for his own safety, according to Sen. Richard Gordon.