MANILA -- Senators Frank Drilon and Vicente Sotto III have made illegal requests at the Bureau of Customs (BOC), former BOC chief and now Office of Civil Defense deputy administrator Nicanor Faeldon claimed Monday.
Faeldon made this remark after Senator Paolo Benigno Aquino IV asked him to name some persons who made illegal requests in the bureau he formerly headed during the third Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing into the PHP6.4-billion shabu shipment from China.
The former BOC chief claimed that in 2016, Drilon pressured him into signing a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) to renovate a particular building into a museum.
I will start with Senator Drilon. As early as 2016, he has requested me to meet with him here at the Senate and asked me to sign a memorandum of agreement between BOC and the office of chairperson Maria Serena Diokno the chairperson of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines agreeing that the Customs house in Iloilo will be renovated using funds, I dunno if that was allocated by Sen. Dirlon, to the NHCP, and after the renovation it would be converted into a museum and the Bureau of Customs will occupy the third floor of that building, Faeldon said during the hearing.
He insisted that I'll be signing that MOA. Twice I attended this meeting and said 'Sir, hindi po pwede', and on the third, I have forcibly changed the provisions of the MOA and signed it, he added.
Faeldon said that he felt it was not right for a senator such as Drilon to make such a request that he rejected his favor twice.
Meanwhile, he also claimed that Sotto, in 2016, asked him to promote a BOC employee named Eric Alban as BOC director of intelligence.
As early as 2016, twice, he (Sotto) asked me to appoint one official of the BOC as the director of intelligence. Dalawang beses niya ako personal na kinausap (I spoke to him twice), Faeldon said.
At first, Faeldon thought that he was a worthy candidate for promotion, but after he interviewed him and found out that he has been serving the intelligence of the bureau of the last 32 years but had not yet caught any employees involved in corruption, he found it hard to believe and nearly fell off his chair.
These are illegal. You insist on recommending the appointment of such officials, he added.
Aquino, for his part, said he saw nothing wrong with recommending an employee for promotion or pushing for the completion of an unfinished project.
Gordon echoed Aquino stressing that it was important to maintain heritage sites to preserve it for children who will see that there was once heritage in the Customs house.
He also said that Sotto's request was normal and he didn't insist on it anyway since the decision was still up to Faeldon.
In an interview after the hearing, Drilon said that there was nothing illegal about the MOA to allow the NHCP to do repairs on the building.
There is nothing illegal. The MOA is to allow the NHCP to do repairs on the building. In fact, the building is not even owned by the Bureau of Customs. The title is in the name of the Republic of the Philippines. I don't know what he's talking about, Drilon said.
Drilon explained that the Customs building is a historical building and housed a lot of other offices including a post-office and postal bank.
Asked if he would make any recommendation to the Senate blue ribbon committee in relation to Faeldon's claims, Gordon said that he would rather wait for the committee recommendation.
Hayaan mo siya (Let him say what he wants), he said.
Stick to the issue
Sotto, for his part, urged Faeldon to stick to the issue.
Ang issue paaano nakalabas yung PHP6.4 billion shabu. Dragging my name into whatever illegal concern, na hindi naman illegal, will not remove his culpability (The issue is how the PHP 6.4 billion shabu was released. Dragging my name into whatever illegal concern which is not really even illegal will not remove his culpability), Sotto told reporters.
He, however, admitted that he did request Faeldon to promote a certain Eric Alban but did not insist or pressure Faeldon into doing so.
There was a request yes. Sabi ko nga, ano ang (what's) illegal sa (about the) request? he added.
Source: Philippine News Agency