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Lapeña’s exit from Customs not due to smuggled shabu controversy

Pia Ranada
Lapeña’s exit from Customs not due to smuggled shabu controversy
Malacañang believes Isidro Lapeña is the target of a 'vilification campaign' launched by drug syndicates and corrupt Bureau of Customs personnel

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang clarified on Friday, October 26. that President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to move Isidro Lapeña out of the Bureau of Customs was not out of frustration with the latter’s failure to stop the entry of an estimated P11-billion shabu shipment into the country.

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said Lapeña continued to enjoy the trust and confidence of Duterte, as shown by his appointment to a Cabinet position as director general of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).

“PRRD (President Rodrigo Roa Duterte) continues to have the complete trust and confidence on the competence and integrity of incoming TESDA Director General Isidro Lapeña,” said Panelo in a statement.

Asked if the P11-billion smuggled shabu was a factor in Duterte’s decision, Panelo said, “Nope.”

In a DWFM radio interview on Friday, Panelo said Lapeña’s appointment as Tesda chief had been planned for some time and was supposed to be announced on the week of October 29.

However, Duterte decided to announce it on Thursday to spare Lapeña from further criticism and attacks.

“With respect to Commissioner Lapeña, alam mo, matagal nang naka-ready i-transfer sa Tesda. Kaya lang nadali kasi, alam mo si Presidente…he wants to spare him from intrigue dahil sinisiraan nang husto eh,” said Panelo.

(You know, his transfer to Tesda was planned a long time ago. It was announced early because the President wants to spare him from intrigue because so many are attacking him [Lapeña]). 

Malacañang maintained that the attacks against Lapeña are part of a smear campaign led by corrupt persons, including BOC personnel affected by his anti-corruption campaign.

“We maintain that drug syndicates, in cahoots with the bureau’s corrupt officials and employees, are behind the ongoing vilification campaign against Mr Isidro Lapeña,”  Panelo said in his statement.

Along with announcing Lapeña’s transfer, Duterte had also said on Thursday that all current BOC personnel were on “floating status” and that they would all be replaced by incoming BOC commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero. 

Opposition lawmakers had criticized Duterte’s promotion of Lapeña, saying it was apparently done to protect him from the findings of the congressional probe into the P11-billion worth of shabu that slipped past government agencies, including the BOC. – Rappler.com 

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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 pia.ranada@rappler.com.