Duterte wants Customs ‘revamped, revitalized’

Pia Ranada
Duterte wants Customs ‘revamped, revitalized’
'In due time, I will ask for the neck of those involved,' says President Rodrigo Duterte of the multibillion-peso shabu shipment smuggled from China

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte wants to “revamp” and “revitalize” the Bureau of Customs (BOC) following the P6.4-billion shabu shipment smuggled from China.

Duterte bared the plan Monday night, August 21, after he broke his silence on the smuggling incident at the prompting of media.

Until then, the President – usually immediately vocal about any big development in his war against drugs – had not spoken up specifically about the smuggled shabu, except to say he would wait for lawmakers to wrap up their investigations before deciding on what to do with Customs chief Nicanor Faeldon. Lawmakers blamed Faeldon for the entry of the shabu.

On Monday, during dinner with media in Malacañang grounds, Duterte said the incident may mean a revamp of the BOC is necessary.

“It depends on [Lapeña’s] recommendation. If he says, ‘As I see it, we need to revamp, revitalize, or take in new [personnel],'” said Duterte.

Without waiting for Congress hearings to end, he accepted the resignation of Customs chief Nicanor Faeldon and said he would appoint Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency chief Isidro Lapeña to replace him.

Bakit lumusot doon? (Why did it get it through?) That’s why I’m putting another guy there, to find out…Who? Who facilitated, who made the entry possible?” said Duterte.

Investigation needed

Duterte said the revamp may involve replacing current BOC personnel manning the Port of Manila with personnel from the provinces. Duterte said Lapeña would make decide on this.

“‘Yung mga taga-probinsya, ilipat ko dito, Customs ng Samar, Customs ng – ‘yung walang importation (I’ll put those from the provinces there, customs of Samar, customs of – places where there is no importation),” said Duterte.

The President also promised that those involved in the smuggling of the shabu – government personnel and businessmen alike – would be held accountable.

He said he was counting on Lapeña to conduct an investigation to track down these people.

“He can improve on the investigation and, in due time, I will ask for the neck of those involved. Not only that, we [also] have to prosecute them criminally,” said Duterte.

As to the name of his son, Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte, getting dragged into the controversy, Duterte maintained these were false allegations.

He has promised to resign and file cases against his own children if proven that they are involved in criminal activities. –

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Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is a senior reporter for Rappler covering Philippine politics and environmental issues. For tips and story suggestions, email her at