Drilon calls for 'full-blown' probe into corruption at Customs

MANILA, Philippines – Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon has called for a “full-blown” investigation into the corruption in the Bureau of Customs, following the exposé of Senator Panfilo Lacson.

Drilon urged outgoing Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon to “come forward” to speak the truth. Lacson on Wednesday accused Faeldon of receiving bribe money and tolerating corruption in the agency.

“Now is the time for former Commissioner Faeldon to speak up. It is time to spill the beans. The people behind this massive corruption in the Customs have already been exposed. Commissioner Faeldon is the most qualified person to corroborate these claims of corruption under his watch,” Drilon said in a statement on Thursday, August 24.

Drilon said he was shocked upon hearing Lacson’s revelation and said Congress should immediately act to solve the issue that has long hounded the agency.

“It’s a shocking, disheartening revelation, but it behooves Congress to act swiftly to solve this issue of corruption in the bureau once and for all,” Drilon said.

Drilon, a former justice chief, also called on Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II to place Faeldon under the witness protection program should the latter decide to cooperate.

“The DOJ should seriously consider the revelations made by Lacson and start its own investigation into the matter,” the senator said.

“Should Faeldon decide to cooperate by revealing what he knew of this massive corruption in the customs, it is proper that he be placed under the WPP,” he added.

In a privilege speech outlining the extent of corruption in the BOC, Lacson also named the alleged bribe givers at the agency and the bagmen or collectors who facilitated the so-called "tara" system or bribery that has long plagued the agency. (READ: FULL TEXT: 'Kita kita sa Customs')

Faeldon has denied the allegations against him and said he could vouch for the people implicated in Lacson's list. He, in turn, accused Lacson and his family of involvement in smuggling and corruption. – Rappler.com

Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email camille.elemia@rappler.com