MANILA, Philippines – After two days of taking the heat from lawmakers on a P6.4-billion shabu shipment from China, Bureau of Customs (BOC) Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon was called to Malacañang by President Rodrigo Duterte.
The meeting, to take place late in the afternoon on Tuesday, August 1, was announced earlier that day during a hearing at the House of Representatives.
Surigao del Norte 2nd District Representative Robert Ace Barbers said during the hearing that “the President has called for Commissioner Faeldon at 4 pm today in Malacañang.”
The customs chief was allowed to leave in order to make the appointment.
A Palace source confirmed the meeting will take place, with Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III also in attendance.
The BOC is under the Department of Finance.
Some senators were also called to Malacañang at 5 pm, according to Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III. It is unclear if their meeting is connected to Faeldon.
These senators include Sotto, Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, Senator Panfilo Lacson, Senator Richard Gordon, and Senator Gringo Honasan.
At the Senate hearing, senators Drilon and Richard Gordon voiced their suspicion that customs officials or personnel may have been conniving with drug traffickers in the smuggling of 604 kilograms of shabu.
The issue touches on two topics Duterte is seen to be sensitive to: illegal drugs and corruption.
Duterte has vowed a harsh crackdown on government officials involved in drug trafficking. He has also promised to fire any of his appointees after getting even just a “whiff of corruption.” – With a report from Camille Elemia/Rappler.com