MANILA - Two former Customs commissioners under whose watch billions worth of illegal drugs entered the country had different pitfalls, the chairman of the Senate committee that investigated both instances said Wednesday.
Senator Richard Gordon, head of the Blue Ribbon Committee, said he gave outgoing Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapeña a "high grade" for raising revenues from the agency but observed narcotics really slipped past the former drug-buster.
"When it came to the shabu thing, nalusutan siya talaga and they were dealing with suspended people," he told ANC's Headstart.
Lapeña's predecessor, former soldier Nicanor Faeldon, however, was remiss in his job, said Gordon.
"I doubted Faeldon and I thought he was really remiss. He was lost in a sea of wilderness," he said.
Gordon's committee investigated the P6.4 billion worth of shabu that slipped past Customs during Faeldon's watch. President Rodrigo Duterte's son and son-in-law, Paolo Duterte and Manases Carpio, attended the hearings after they were linked to the controversy.
After Lapeña took office, the committee once again had to investigate the procedures in Customs when another drug haul, estimated to be worth P6.8 billion-P11 billion, was smuggled into the country inside magnetic lifters lined with lead and asbestos.
"Faeldon was being manipulated all the way. He either knew it or he was just unaware of his power and his duties," Gordon said of the former mutineer who has since been appointed as deputy administrator of the Office of Civil Defense.
"Lapeña is competent naman...Lapeña was not being told by his people about what was happening, but even that I doubt because these people are close to him," he said of the incoming Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) Director General.
With former Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief-of-Staff Rey Guerrero coming in at the helm of Customs, Gordon said the retired military official will face the same challenges, but he "will be a strong leader."
"He has to know where all the dead bodies are buried there. He will be lost and what he will do to be secure is he will put in his own people and his own people will also be approached. They will all be approached," said Gordon.
"These guys will keep doing it. That’s a snake pit. Everybody’s gonna try to corrupt everybody there. It deals with delay—when there’s delay, there’s corruption," he added.