MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte was not convinced that former Bureau of Customs commissioners Isidro Lapeña and Nicanor Faeldon were involved in drug smuggling.
Lapeña and Faeldon were not corrupt officials, Duterte told an audience at the MassKara Festival in Bacolod City on Saturday, and blamed other Customs officials for the drug smuggling controversy the bureau was facing.
“Hindi corrupt iyan, hindi ko kukunin kung corrupt iyan,” Duterte said. “They work a lifetime as a soldier, fighting for this country, tapos ganunin mo lang. Nalusutan lang talaga.”
“Faeldon was the one who gave me the tip that there’s a cigarette manufacturer producing fake stamps,” the President said, pertaining to cigarette-maker Mighty Corp.
Faeldon and Lapeña have been tagged to drug smuggling during their time as Customs commissioner. Duterte have since transferred them to other agencies.
In May 2017, when Faeldon was Customs head, around P6.4 billion worth of shabu from China slipped past the bureau, while around P11 billion worth of shabu also entered the country in August, when Lapeña was heading the agency.
Faeldon was then appointed deputy administrator of the Office of Civil Defense, and then head of the Bureau of Corrections. Lapeña, on the other hand, was moved to the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority.
Another soldier, Maritime Industry Authority administrator Rey Leonardo Guerrero, was tapped by Duterte to head the Customs./PN