Faeldon explains failure to address BOC corruption in first year
MANILA, Philippines – Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon told a Senate panel on Tuesday, August 15, that he failed to address corruption in the Bureau of Customs (BOC) in his first year as his hand-picked officials only assumed office in December last year and in January.
Faeldon gave this explanation during the Senate blue ribbon committee hearing on the P6.4-billion worth of smuggled shabu from China. (READ: Trillanes, Faeldon, face off in Senate probe into smuggled shabu)
Senator Antonio Trillanes IV asked the BOC chief why corruption continued to be rampant in the agency under his watch.
“The appointment of the officers in charge in the investigation was just January, December so for the first 6 months, I was there working alone. It’s very impossible for me to man that more than 30 collection ports all over the country and then at the same time conduct investigation of all this," he said.
Faeldon said he wanted the investigation group to lead the probe into corrupt officials and employees in the BOC.
“I would like the investigation group to be the primary group in charge to investigate the issue. But then again, they only assumed in December and January, that’s why admittedly I failed to investigate it because I have no capacity to do it alone,” he said.
“I was the only appointee until late last year. And the people I have worked with there are the people that I suspect doing this ‘tara’ so how would I designate them to be the one conducting the investigation?…Can you imagine my situation, your honor?” he added.
The BOC is known for having the “tara” system, wherein importers give grease money to Customs personnel on a certain day each week for the release of their misdeclared and undervalued cargoes.
Faeldon said he knew of the existence of the system in the BOC even before he assumed its top post, and that he wanted it eliminated, but it was "impossible" for him to do it on his own.
Faeldon said even though he “had no teammate” in his first few months in office that he could trust to carry out the investigation, he had been appealing to business groups to personally report to him corrupt BOC officials and employees.
“That’s why I’ve been appealing to the whole world, since Day 1, every time I have the chance to speak to chambers of commerce. to please go to my office and tell me who are these people asking you for tara. I’ve been asking all importers, there are 12,000 importers. Until today, the 12,000 importers have not come up with any names of officials in the bureau asking for tara,” he said.
Trillanes then asked customs broker Mark Taguba, a resource person in the hearing, if Neil Anthony Estrella of the BOC Intelligence and Investigation Service was mentioned as among those who received grease money in the agency. (READ: Customs broker poinpoints alleged corrupt BOC officials in House hearing)
Taguba told the Senate panel that a Customs employee reportedly collects money for Estrella, which the latter had denied.
Faeldon confirmed to Trillanes that he had recommended Estrella as head of the BOC Intelligence and Investigation Service. Estrella had tendered his resignation on August 10 "out of delicadeza," following Taguba's revelation. – Rappler.com