Lacson to bare BoC payola list – Monday, 21 August 2017
CUSTOMS CHIEF FAELDON’S NAME LIKELY INCLUDED
By Angie M. Rosales
Senator Panfilo Lacson said he is ready to disclose in a privilege speech on Wednesday those alleged to be in a “payola list” of the Bureau of Customs (BoC) after a series of verifications which, based on informants of Lacson, include Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon.
“With a little bit of exaggeration, it seems that Faeldon is the only remaining person (in the BoC) who has yet to provide me with the list (of those on the take),” Lacson said.
“I’m basing my information on what I have been receiving from them (BoC insiders) including players and brokers and many other sources. We’ve scrutinized and filtered it. We’re coming up with a consolidated list,” Lacson said
“The list will be hard to dispute and its credibility questioned since it was obtained from six to eight sources,” he said.
“It’s a million-dollar pay offs if not for him then the Office of the Commissioner,” Lacson said in a radio interview.
Asked why President Duterte is still backing up Faeldon, Lacson said it’s also something that he wants explained.
“That is what really baffles. Why? why? why?,” he said.
The matter was supposed to be divulged by Lacson during last week’s investigation by the blue ribbon committee on the P6.4 billion smuggled shabu from China.
Lacson, however, was not given a chance to confront BOC officials with the said information which he initially claimed could go as high as Faeldon.
He was supposed to ask questions after Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III cut short the interrogation of resource persons and committee chair Sen. Richard Gordon failed to recognize him.
The committee is set to resume its hearing on Tuesday but Lacson said he had opted to reveal his information through a privilege speech.
“And I will tell Sen. Gordon that I will raise a different in the questions that I wll ask. I will not dwell on the payola. The information (about the scandal) keeps on coming from BOC insiders. These are information about the tara (grease money) system. The informants also provided me the list,” he said.
A number of high-level, middle-level and even Customs players have been providing him the needed information and they have to filter or vet the information carefully, Lacson said.
While there are commonly mentioned names, some of those in the list were also the source of information, the senator said.
“Of course you can’t expect those providing the information will also include their names in the list. So we have to compare the lists coming from other sources So that was how we filtered the list,” he said.
Lacson said that based on the information they have culled so far, the “tara” or payoffs at the BOC goes beyond P27,000 per container as there appears to be different rates for a 20-footerand 40-footer container vans.
“One of the informants met me personally, the other lists were provided through common friends so I’m fine tuning the privilege speech so I can be sure on what I will say,” he added.
So far, based on the information he received, Lacson said there are some similarities in the information disclosed by Taguba in the hearing in the House of Representatives, including the so-called “bagmen” of some government officials.
But there were also names not mentioned by Taguba but were included in the list given to him, Lacson said. Lacson, however, said that the name of presidential son Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte, who was named by Taguba, never cropped up. The senator said the list contains mostly the names of BOC officials.
“Some of the list provided me went as high as Faeldon including the bagman and circumstances in which they were introduced to each other,” Lacson said.
Dong claims being setup
The Chinese businessman suspected as the middleman in the shipment of P6.4-billion worth of shabu vehemently denied the allegations of having facilitated the narcotics smuggling, saying he was just set up by his own friend.
Kenneth Dong’s lawyers said that their client is not nvolved in any illegal drug activities in the country as he is a legitimate businessman.
“To show that he has a clear conscience, he immediately cut his business trip from Singapore and China and went back to the country after his name was dragged into the controversial shipment,” his legal counsel said.
His lawyer also claimed they Dong did not know Richard Chen personally and admitted that he only knew Manny Li and Mark Taguba.
“Our client also would like to clear that Manny Li only introduced to him Chen who owns the Hong Fei forwarding company in the Philippines and China and insisted that he did not know him before,” the legal counsel also pointed out.
Dong’s lawyers added that their client is a legitimate businessman and become successful through hardwork.
“Dong would like to reiterate that there is not true that he is the middleman of the shipment seized by customs and he is not involved in the drug shipment,” his lawyers added.