Duterte says military men to 'take over' Customs

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte said he will ask members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to take over the Bureau of Customs (BOC), amid the P11-billion shabu shipment controversy.

In a speech at the birthday party of former foreign secretary Alan Peter Cayetano on Sunday, October 28, Duterte said the temporary takeover would address corruption allegations.

"It will be a takeover of the Armed Forces in the matter of operating, in the meantime, while we are sorting out how to effectively meet the challenges of corruption in this country," the President said.

The BOC is under fire because of the shabu worth P11 billion that allegedly slipped past security screenings.

The existence of the shabu, which is the subject of congressional hearings, was previously contested by the BOC. But last Wednesday, October 24, then-BOC chief Isidro Lapeña conceded that empty magnetic lifters found in Cavite contained illegal drugs. (READ: At the Bureau of Customs: How Isidro Lapeña was outplayed)

Lapeña, on Thursday, October 25, was transferred to the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority. Former AFP chief Rey Guerrero is taking over the BOC.

But Duterte has defended Lapeña and former commissioner Nicanor Faeldon, saying that the two were only tricked by insiders.

"Nalusutan lang talaga kasi 'di nila kaya 'yan kasi insider eh. Kinain sila ng sistema," the President said on Saturday, October 27.

(The perpetrators really just got past them because these were insiders. The system proved to be overwhelming for them.) – Rappler.com