Faeldon skips Senate probe again to 'protest' bias of senators

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Former Customs commissioner Nicanor Faeldon on Thursday, September 7, once again skipped the Senate probe into the P6.4-billion shabu shipment from China to protest the supposed bias of some senators conducting the inquiry.

Faeldon, in a letter sent to the Senate blue ribbon committee, said he had lost faith in the “impartiality” of some senators. He explained that his absence was “not to defy the Senate as an institution” but was “a way of protesting.” 

“I continue to have the highest respect for the Senate as an institution but I no longer have faith in the impartiality in some of its members who have lied to malign me and other innocent resource persons,” Faeldon said in his letter that was read aloud during the 7th Senate blue ribbon committee hearing.

“This is not to defy as an institution. This is a way of protesting. I want my team and I to be last victims of baseless accusations, persecution, and condemnation,” he added.

Faeldon said he "will attend all investigations...before a competent court anytime, when cases are filed against me."

The former Customs chief reiterated that he was allowing the scrutiny of his bank accounts, as well as the bank accounts of his immediate family – brothers, sisters, nephews, and nieces – to disprove allegations that he accepted bribes when he headed the Bureau of Customs (BOC).

Senator Richard Gordon, the Senate panel chair, did not take Faeldon's statements lightly.

“[His] remarks are contemptuous. He has been properly invited and subpoenaed. Although he has grievances, I’d like the Senate to address this particular matter,” Gordon said.

Before the hearing was suspended, Gordon cited Faeldon in contempt. The former BOC chief would be ordered detained should he fail to appear in the next hearing on Monday, September 11.

In a privilege speech, Senator Panfilo Lacson accused Faeldon and other BOC officials of accepting bribes. (READ: Lacson names 'corrupt' Customs officials led by Faeldon)

Faeldon denied the allegations and accused Lacson’s son, Panfilo “Pampi” Lacson Jr, of cement smuggling.

During the hearing, Lacson again defended himself and his son, and called Faeldon’s accusations “malicious.” 

Instead of facing the issue head on, Faeldon supposedly hired a PR firm and showed his supposed dilapidated house to prove he was not corrupt, Lacson said.

“Nagpakita ng sira sirang bahay at nag-accuse. I confront the issue head on because alam ko malicious 'yung [accusations] (He showed a dilapidated house and then made an accusation. I confront the issue head on because I know that the accusations are malicious),” Lacson said. 

In his last Senate appearance, Faeldon also risked being cited in contempt after he refused to answer questions of Senator Antonio Trillanes IV.

Trillanes previously said Faeldon was at the center of the controversy. The two had a falling out after the 2016 presidential campaign, after Faeldon slammed the senator and the rest of the Magdalo group while supporting President Rodrigo Duterte. – Rappler.com

Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is a multimedia reporter focusing on media, technology, and disinformation.