Faeldon: 'My relief from my post is best for the country'

MANILA, Philippines – Outgoing Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon said Tuesday, August 22, that the decision of President Rodrigo Duterte to accept his resignation is "best for the country."

Faeldon issued the brief statement a day after the Chief Executive announced that he had agreed to let Faeldon quit.

"My relief from my post is the best for our country. I urge everyone to continue to support the reform agenda and the development programs of the President," Faeldon said in a statement sent to the media an hour before the resumption of the Senate hearing on the P6.4-billion shabu shipment smuggled from China.

On Monday, August 21, Duterte told Palace reporters that he had appointed Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Director General Isidro Lapeña to head the Bureau of Customs (BOC).

In his statement, Faeldon expressed support for his successor and urged everyone to do the same. "I appeal to the BOC employees and to the public to support the new commissioner," he said.

Faeldon, who did not attend the Senate hearing on Tuesday, came under fire following the discovery of P6.4 billion worth of smuggled shabu from China, the subject of congressional inquiries.

Duterte had consistently defended Faeldon amid calls for the Customs chief to resign, calling him an "honest official" even after he accepted his resignation. The Chief Executive said Faeldon had written him thrice asking to be fired because of his failure to carry out Duterte's marching orders to rid his agency of corruption.

Faeldon had earlier vowed to fight corruption in the BOC but told a Senate panel that he failed to do this in his first year because his hand-picked officials only assumed office in December last year and in January. (READ: Faeldon explains failure to address BOC corruption in 1st year)

One of his hand-picked officials, Neil Anthony Estrella of the BOC Intelligence and Investigation Service, was mentioned as among those who allegedly received grease money in the agency. (READ: Customs broker poinpoints alleged corrupt BOC officials in House hearing)

Estrella resigned following the exposé but categorically denied the allegation.

The shabu controversy continues to hound the BOC as critics of the administration's drug war express outrage over the killing of Grade 11 student Kian Loyd delos Santos in a police raid.

Senators and others have questioned Duterte's seeming double standard in his drug war, saying he hits hard on small drug suspects but not on shabu smugglers and their suspected accomplices in government. (READ: Senators push for 'impartial probe' into 'worrisome' drug war killings) – Rappler.com