Customs broker Taguba to stay in NBI jail

Customs fixer Mark Taguba is facing drug imporation charge before a Manila trial court, and drug trading charges before a Valenzuela trial court over the P6.4 billion shabu shipment that slipped past the Bureau of Customs in 2017. The STAR/Boy Santos
MANILA, Philippines — The National Bureau of Investigation on Thursday said that the accused Customs fixer Mark Taguba will stay in their detention following his pending court trial.

NBI spokesperson Ferdinand Lavin presented Taguba before the press on Thursday noon. He said that Taguba was transferred to NBI's custody "after proper turnover of the Office of Sergeant at Arms where he was given protective custody" on Wednesday night.

Taguba is facing an arrest warrant issued by the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 46 for drug importation charge filed by the Department of Justice.

Lavin cleared that Taguba is facing a non-bailable case.

NBI Deputy Director for Investigative Service Dante de Guzman said that Taguba is currently staying in a detention cell inside the NBI compound in Manila.

"Today, we will be filing a return [of warrant] before the Manila court," De Guzman added.

Taguba is one of the key figures in the P6.4 billion shabu shipment that slipped past the Bureau of Customs last year. He revealed before the Senate the supposed passing of grease money among Customs officials.

Taguba was given legislative protection by the Senate for testifying in its probe on the multi-billion shabu shipment case.

Tagged in the multi-billion controversy is former Customs chief Nicanor Faeldon, who is currently detained in the Pasay City Jail. The Senate ordered his transfer after he failed the contrition test.

Also facing a warrant of arrest are Kenneth Dong, Manny Li, EMT Trading owner Eirene Mae Tatad, Teejay Marcellana, Chen I-Min, Jhu Ming Jyu and Chen Rong Juan.

The court did not order a warrant of arrest against businessman Richard Tan or Chen Ju Long due to his pending motion to dismiss before the court.

The NBI said that it is using its force to hunt down the others who are facing arrest warrants.

Taguba and the eight others are facing a separate charge of drug trading before Valenzuela regional trial court.


Pimentel trusts Pangilinan on Cha-cha proposals but…

Senator Francis Pangilinan. FILE PHOTO

Should the Senate majority “detect bad faith” in the report of Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan’s committee on Charter change (Cha-cha) proposals, the Senate leadership would be compelled to seek a change in the chairmanship of the panel.

But at this point, Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel sees no reason to make such move as he trusts that Pangilinan, who chairs the Senate committee on constitutional amendments and revision of codes, would deliver on their agreement of fairness, good faith, and transparency on the issue of Cha-cha.

“That was my only request, please be fair and keep an open mind. Basta ito ang commitment sa akin ni Senator Pangilinan. He will not be an obstructionist. He will, in good faith, hear and pursue all of the referrals in his committee. He will proceed at a reasonable pace and then also, he will be open and transparent,” Pimentel said in a press conference.


Pimentel, president of the ruling party Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), attended the launching of the book, “The Quest for a Federal Republic: The PDP-Laban Model of Ph Federalism 1.0.”

“So, maganda na nga ito that the minority heads the committee, which will hear the proposal of the admin. If ever we could come up with an agreement, that is a bipartisan effort,” Pimentel also said.

According to Pimentel, it does not worry him that Pangilinan, president of the opposition Liberal Party (LP), presides over the hearing on proposed amendments to the 1987 Constitution.

“If, for example, there is bad faith and we detect bad faith we can always change the leadership of the committee. Kasi call naman ng majority ‘yan eh. But we already have an agreement,” he pointed out.

Pimentel likewise said that while they have yet to come up with a version of the new Constitution that would establish a federal form of government, Pimentel remained confident that Pangilinan would “hear all the referral to his committee in good faith.”

“Alam mo, No. 1, the committee will have to discuss hindi lang naman sa chairman ng committee, then it will be given to the plenary, and the plenary will discuss it. They belong to the minority so they are not supposed to control the agenda,” Pimentel noted. /kga



Leftists slam rearrest of NDF consultant over 'trumped-up charges'

NDF ADVISER. National Democratic Front senior adviser Luis Jalandoni condemns the arrest of NDF consultant Rafael Baylosis. File ohoto by LeAnne Jazul/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – The National Democratic Front and progressive lawmakers on Thursday, February 1, condemned the arrest of NDF consultant Rafael Baylosis.

“This illegal arrest and detention of NDFP Consultant Rafael Baylosis is a flagrant violation of the GRP-NDFP Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees,” NDF national executive committee member Luis Jalandoni said in a statement.

The JASIG, signed between the Philippine government and the NDF in 1995, guarantees “free and unhindered passage” inside and outside the Philippines for persons involved in the peace talks. It also means they are immune from “surveillance, harassment, search, arrest, detention, prosecution and interrogation or any other similar punitive actions.”

“The NDFP demands the immediate and unconditional release of NDFP Consultant Rafael Baylosis and his companion, Jun,” said Jalandoni.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque defended the move, saying it would be a “dereliction of duty” on the part of the government not to arrest a person “who has a case, who has a warrant of arrest, if there is basis for a warrantless arrest.”

“Kung tingin nila illegal, magfile sila ng habeas corpus. Wala namang martial law sa Luzon…Tungkulin ng Presidente na ipatupad ang batas (If they think that this is illegal, file a habeas corpus. There is no martial law in Luzon….The President has the duty to enforce the law),” Roque said in a news briefing in Baguio City, when asked about criticism over the arrest of Baylosis.

Roque also stressed that the JASIG, which shielded NDF consultants from arrest, was no longer in effect following the termination of the peace talks.

“Wala namang saysay ang JASIG na ‘yun kasi wala nang peace talks (That JASIG is useless since there are no peace talks),” Roque said.


Baylosis was arrested by personnel of the police’s Criminal investigation and Detection Group National Capital Region (NCR). He was detained at the CIDG in Camp Crame after his arrest at around 3:45 pm on January 31 in Quezon City.

According to Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa, Baylosis was arrested for alleged possession of illegal firearms.

Baylosis, believed to be a former leader of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), was the first NDF consultant to be rearrested after President Rodrigo Duterte ended the talks and declared members of the CPP-New Peoples’ Army as terrorists. The President had also called on the NDF consultants to “surrender.”

Progressive lawmakers also criticized Baylosis’ arrest. Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Zarate pointed out that the Philippine government’s peace panel has yet to send a written and official termination of the peace talks.

“The arrest can be interpreted as harassment against the NDFP consultants and personnel to weaken their stance in the talks, particularly in the signing of the Comprehensive Agrrement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER) now pending in the peace table,” he said.

Kabataan Representative Sarah Elago also condemned the arrest, saying it was the first of a “grand crackdown and all-out war against the Filipinos.”

“Duterte’s insincerity is manifest in his fickle-mindedness in pursuing the peace talks,” she added.

Progressive groups staged a protest in front of Camp Crame Thursday morning to call for the release of Baylosis.

ACT Teachers Representatives Antonio Tinio and France Castro both criticized the arrest, saying it was based on a warrant that “stemmed from false or trumped-up charges, and after the peace talks were terminated by Duterte.” –



Ombudsman refuses to suspend deputy

Conchita Carpio Morales and her deputy, Melchor Arthur Carandang —INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales will “not enforce” what she calls Malacañang’s “patently unconstitutional” suspension of Overall Deputy Ombudsman Melchor Arthur Carandang, denouncing the Palace move as a “clear affront” to her office and the Supreme Court.

Breaking her silence two days after the Office of the President’s order was announced on Monday, Morales said “the recent spate of events poses a great cause for concern.”

She said the Palace action “was not an inadvertent error but a clear affront to the Supreme Court and an impairment of the constitutionally enshrined independence of the Office of the Ombudsman.”


She also called out the Office of the President (OP) for its “arbitrary disregard of a clearly worded jurisprudence coupled with a confident stance that it will be changed.”

The OP suspended Carandang for 90 days after charging him with three administrative offenses for allegedly disclosing President Duterte’s alleged bank records.

Supreme Court ruling

The move is controversial because the Supreme Court in a Jan. 28, 2014, ruling declared unconstitutional the Ombudsman Act’s provision that gave the OP disciplinary powers over the government watchdog’s deputies.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said on Monday that the OP was “confident” that the Supreme Court would “reverse” its pronouncement in Carandang’s case.

Still, Morales said “the Ombudsman will … not allow herself to betray her sworn duty to uphold the Constitution by recognizing what is patently unconstitutional as ordained by the Supreme Court …”

“The Ombudsman cannot … seriously place at risk the independence of the very office [that] she has pledged to protect on the strength of the constitutional guarantees which the high court has upheld,” she said.

This was the first time Morales issued a substantive press statement in four months, as she had lain low after Mr. Duterte threatened to have her impeached.


Impeachment threat

The President made the threat in the wake of Morales’ refusal to back down on her agency’s probe of Mr. Duterte and his family’s bank transactions before he won the presidency.

Malacañang earlier accused the Ombudsman of being part of a plot to oust the President.

Mr. Duterte’s attacks on Morales last year came after Carandang disclosed to a media group that he had in his custody “more or less” the same bank documents that Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV had used to support his plunder allegations against the President.

Carandang is spearheading the investigation into Mr. Duterte’s alleged unexplained wealth, as Morales has inhibited herself from proceedings against him since she is the aunt of his son-in-law, lawyer Manases Carpio.

The furious President said on Oct. 2 that the Office of the Ombudsman’s bank documents were “illegally obtained” and said it “held evidence that they took without the permission” of the Anti-Money Laundering Council.

Mr. Duterte said the Ombudsman should have secured first a court order to make its possession of his bank transaction documents legal.

Then, on Oct. 4, Mr. Duterte claimed that his alleged bank records came from “a certain Abad who is [the] mistress” of Trillanes. The President reportedly referred to former AMLC Executive Director Julia Baccay-Abad.

2006-2015 transactions

A month before the presidential election in 2016, the senator furnished the documents showing Mr. Duterte had transactions amounting to at least P2 billion in several bank accounts in the country.

From 2006 to 2015, Mr. Duterte held seven joint accounts with his daughter Sara at Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) branch on Julia Vargas Avenue in Pasig City, nine joint accounts at BPI Edsa Greenhills branch, and one joint account at Banco de Oro branch in Davao City.

Mr. Duterte, according to Trillanes, did not declare at least P227 million at BPI Julia Vargas in his 2014 statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN).

In his 2014 SALN, Mr. Duterte reported a net worth of P21.97 million. He also reported cash assets worth P13.84 million, but he did not disclose how and when he acquired these.

Mr. Duterte initially denied the existence of the bank account at BPI branch on Julia Vargas Avenue in Pasig but later admitted that it had less than P200 million.

He said he did not declare the big amount in his SALN in 2014 because he had already spent it. He said the money came from friends as a birthday gift.

‘Not ironclad’

Sought for comment, lawyer Manuelito Luna, who initiated the complaint against Carandang in October last year, claimed Carandang “can now be bodily thrown out of his office” by the police “and Morales cannot do anything about it.”

Luna said the 2014 Supreme Court ruling should be disregarded, claiming it was “not ironclad and doctrinal” because it was reached through a split vote of 8-7.

This prompted ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio to call on the Ombudsman to “vigorously defend itself from yet another attempt by the Duterte administration to weaken institutional checks on graft, corruption and abuse of power in government.” —With a report from Inquirer Research



Roque denies endorsing fake news

“What I said earlier that without fake news we would not know what is true news should not be taken as governmental encouragement of fake news. Far from it,” Presidential Spokesperson Roque said in a statement. Presidential Photo/Ace Morandante, File
MANILA, Philippines — Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Wednesday denied encouraging the spread of fake news after he was criticized for saying that people wouldn’t know true news without stories that are intentionally false.

“What I said earlier that without fake news we would not know what is true news should not be taken as governmental encouragement of fake news. Far from it,” Roque said in a statement.

He was clarifying his remarks last January 28, where he said: “Without fake news, we wouldn’t distinguish true news... So, let there be a free marketplace of ideas.”

The Palace spokesman then explained that an existing jurisprudence in the US allowed “even mistakes in reportage on public figures” because otherwise “the free and unimpeded discussion of public issues would be hindered.”

“For sure and to be clear, fake news as is known today should find no place as a matter of governmental policy,” Roque said.

“Enlightened citizens should be able to pick out chaff from grain and appreciate what good journalism is about,” he added.

Headlines ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1

The proliferation of fake news has been widely seen by experts as a major global threat with its reported ability to manipulate elections and imperil democracies.

Despite conducting a hearing in aid of legislation on fake news, Sen. Grace Poe on Tuesday maintained that Congress “cannot legislate thought control.”

Roque earlier said he was a victim of fake news, as he blasted the media for their reportage of his remarks regarding Chinese research in Benham Rise.

He also hit international law experts and scientists who were insulted by his statement.


DOJ panel sets mid-February target to resolve Atio hazing death case

A three-member investigating panel of the Department of Justice (DOJ) is expected by mid-February to come up with its findings in connection with the preliminary investigation on the criminal complaints concerning the death of freshman University of Santo Tomas law student Horacio "Atio" Castillo III.

The panel headed by Assistant State Prosecutor Susan Villanueva made the commitment in a case status update dated January 29 which was submitted to Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II through the Office of the Prosecutor General.

The other members of the panel are Associate Prosecution Attorneys II Wendell Bendoval and Honey Rose Delgado.

Pending before the DOJ are the complaints for murder, violation of the Anti-Hazing Law, obstruction of justice, robbery and perjury separately filed by the Manila Police District and Castillo's parents against more than 30 people, most of them members of the UST-based Aegis Juris fraternity.

The prosecutors initially wrapped up the preliminary investigation--where the complainants and respondents were given the chance to refute each other's sworn statements and evidence--- on November 28 last year, but the panel reopened it on January 12 after it received the affidavit of suspect-turned-witness Marc Anthony Ventura.

On January 22, the respondents submitted their comments with regard to the affidavit of Ventura who also fielded clarificatory questions from the panel.

The case was then submitted for resolution with prosecutors tasked to determine if there is probable cause to file charges in court.

The panel's resolution will have to be reviewed by a senior deputy state prosecutor and approved by Acting Prosecutor General Jorge Catalan Jr.

Castillo underwent initiation rites at the Aegis Juris library in Sampaloc, Manila on September 17.

Ventura, who is under the DOJ’s Witness Protection Program, earlier narrated how his fraternity brothers took turns beating up Castillo inside the Aegis Juris library in Sampaloc, Manila.

He also named some of Aegis Juris members who took part in the initiation.

Ventura identified Aegis Juris leader Arvin Balag as the fraternity member who gave the fifth and final blow that rendered Castillo unconscious before he was brought to Chinese General Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Refuting the allegations, Balag submitted a counter-affidavit to prosecutors where he argued that there is no evidence that Castillo went through physical or psychological injury as a prerequisite for admission to Aegis Juris.

The other respondents, including medical technologist John Paul Solano, said Castillo succumbed to a pre-existing heart condition, which was disputed by the final autopsy report of the Philippine National Police Crime Laboratory dated October 3 which showed Atio died of "severe blunt traumatic injuries" on both his upper limbs. — RSJ, GMA News


Dela Rosa names Bulalacao as new PNP spokesperson

Members of the Philippine National Police gather at Camp Crame headquarters during the PNP’s 27th foundation day celebration recently. INQUIRER / EDWIN BACASMAS

Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa has named Police Chief Supt. John Bulalacao as the new spokesperson and chief of the agency’s Public Information Office (PIO).

Dela Rosa made the official announcement on Wednesday, which was contained in a statement issued by the PNP PIO.

Bulalacao, a member of the Philippine Military Academy “Maringal” Class 1988, replaced fellow Maringal Chief Supt. Dionard Carlos, who assumed the post as Director of the PNP Aviation Security Group on Tuesday upon the retirement of Chief Supt. Sheldon Jacaban.

Bulalacao was erstwhile Regional Chief of Directorial Staff of the National Capital Region Police Office and was recently promoted to the star rank last January 14, the PNP said.

It added that Bulalacao has served a “well-rounded career as a junior and field grade officer.”

Bulalacao commanded the Cavite Police Provincial Office as Provincial Director in 2011-2012, and earlier served as chief of police in Tagaytay City, Dasmariñas and Carmona.

He also served as staff officer in various capacities in the Civil Security Group, National Capital Region Police Office and Special Action Force. /jpv



Drug trading raps vs broker Taguba, others over P6.4-B shabu shipment

The case stemmed from the raid led by the operatives of the BOC, PDEA, and the National Bureau of Investigation at a warehouse in Valenzuela City. Seized in the operation are 604 kilograms of methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu.The shipment was declared as kitchenware, footwear and moldings, as it slipped through the BOC. Edd Gumban
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Justice has filed fresh charges against customs broker Mark Taguba and other traders over the P6.4 billion worth of shabu shipment that slipped through Customs.

State prosecutors have filed sale, trading, administration, dispensation, delivery, distribution and transportation of dangerous drugs charges against Taguba and the following individuals:

Chen Ju Long a.k.a. Richard Tan or Richard Chen
Li Guang Feng a.k.a. Manny Li
Dong Yi Shen a.k.a. Kenneth Dong or Yi Shan Dong
Eirene Mae Tatad
Teejay Marcellana
Chen I-min
Jhu Ming Jyun
Chen Rong Huan
"That between 23rd and 24th day of May 2017, in the Valenzuela City and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, and the above-named accused, in conspiracy with each other, did then and there jointly, knowingly, willfully and feloniously and without authority of law transport, convey and deliver 602.279 kilograms of methamphetamine hydrochloride otherwise known as shabu, a dangerous drug," the information or charge sheet reads.

Justice Undersecretary Erickson Balmes, in a message to reporters, said that the charges were filed before the Valenzuela City regional trial court on Tuesday, January 30.

The nine individuals are facing a separate charge of drug importation before a Manila court.

Former Customs chief Nicanor Faeldon was earlier tagged in the case as one of the respondents.

The DOJ, however, dropped Faeldon's name along with several other members of the National Bureau of Investigation-Anti Organized Crime Division from the case.

State prosecutors noted that the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency failed to "state with clarity the acts or omission supposedly committed by the above-named BOC respondents that would constitute violation of the offense charged."

Faeldon is now deputy administrator for the Office of Civil Defense Deputy. He is also in detention after the Senate cited him for contempt.

The case stemmed from the raid led by the operatives of the BOC, PDEA and the NBI at a warehouse in Valenzuela City. Seized in the operation were 604 kilograms of methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu. The shipment was declared as kitchenware, footwear and moldings.

The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee held its latest hearing on the issue on January 29.


Justice De Castro: Did Sereno ‘deceive’ JBC?

SERENO IMPEACHMENT. Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo-de Castro testifies before the House committee on justice as it tackles an impeachment case against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno. Photo by Darren Langit/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – “Eh bakit siya sinama sa listahan? Dapat pala disqualified siya eh (Why was she even part of the list? She should have been disqualified).”

Saying that the “evidence” emerged as a result of the impeachment case against the top magistrate, Supreme Court Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo-de Castro questioned Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno’s inclusion in the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) shortlist for the top judiciary post back in 2012.

“I am just wondering because it’s emerging now through the evidence in this hearing, that she did not file her SALN (Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth),” De Castro said during a House committee on justice hearing on Monday, January 29, the 11th hearing to determine probable cause in the impeachment complaint against Sereno.

The Chief Justice is the subject of an impeachment complaint filed by lawyer Larry Gadon. The committee has spent over two months to determine probable cause in the complaint, the last step before it eventually votes on whether to impeach Sereno or dismiss the complaint.

On January 26, Gadon filed a graft complaint against Sereno before the Department of Justice, over the apparent failure to submit SALNs during her stint as University of the Philippines (UP) law professor.

Upon questioning by legislators during the hearing on Monday, De Castro said Sereno’s apparent non-submission of SALNs means she should not have been considered for the Chief Justice post.

She said the act could have resulted in “unwarranted benefit" that "may constitute a violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.”

Members of the committee tried to cut short De Castro’s answer but she continued: “Yung deception po ba, is that a deception of public trust? Sinabi mo qualified ka, meron kang SALN, tapos lalabas hindi mo mapapakita na meron siyang SALN….Lalabas na nagkaroon ng deception.”

(That deception, is that deception of public trust? You claimed you were qualified, that you have a SALN but it turns out you can’t even show that you have a SALN.....It would turn out there was deception.)

De Castro pointed out that Sereno’s apparent “deception” could have put at a disadvantage other more senior justices, including Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, in vying for the top post.

This would not be the first time for De Castro to publicly question the capacity of Sereno – who is set to retire in 2030 – to head the judiciary. De Castro had earlier complained that Sereno had repeatedly made decisions without consulting the SC en banc.

As Chief Justice, Sereno is considered the “first among equals.”

De Castro had earlier described Sereno as “head strong” when asked why Sereno had a tendency to make decisions without consulting the SC en banc.

Sereno, a former UP law professor, was appointed to the judiciary’s top post in 2012 after impeachment and conviction of the late Renato Corona. Prior to the appointment, Sereno served as SC associate justice for two years. In both posts, she underwent the scrutiny of the JBC, a body tasked to screen applicants for top judiciary posts, from regional and municipal judges to Chief Justice. –


New bribery scheme at BOC bared; Sotto, Drilon linked to ‘illegal request’

WRITTEN REQUEST – Barred from speaking, former Customs commissioner Nicanor Faeldon holds up a handwritten note asking permission for a bathroom break from an exasperated Senate Blue Ribbon Committee Chairman Richard Gordon (right). (Jansen Romero)

Senator Panfilo M. Lacson revealed on Monday the existence of a new mode of bribery at the Bureau of Customs (BOC), replacing the regular “tara” (payola) system that prevailed in past Customs administrations.

Lacson called the new bribery scheme as “demurrage,”defined in Webster dictionary as “the payment made to the ship owner by the charterer for exceeding the time allowed for loading and unloading.”

“Pagna delay ang shipment ang pag-release napipilitan sila mag-shell out ng kung anong amount hinihingi sa kanila para ma-facilitate and dokumentong lumakad para ma-release and shipment(When the release of a shipment is delayed, the importer is forced to fork out the amount they are asking to facilitate the flow of documents for their eventual release),” he explained.

Lacson said this is now the common complaint his office has been receiving from importers.

Some10,000 containers arrive daily at the Manila port, Lacson said.

“Umiiyak ang mga importer (Importers are crying),” he added.

Late last year, Lacson, in a privilege speech, alleged that former BOC Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon and his favorites received weekly or monthly tara, an allegation denied by Faeldon and company. Faeldon, who is currently detained at the Senate on contempt charges, eventually resigned his post.

Lacson said he has called the attention of current BOC Commissioner Isidro Lapeña about this new form of bribery “although I know he is busy.”

He said there were times his office sent text messages to Lapeña for him to correct the immoral situation “pero mukhang di pa nako-correct ang common complaint nayan (But it appears that this situation has not been corrected).”

On Monday, Faeldon showed up at the Senate hearing for the first time, but had a heated argument with Sen. Richard Gordon when the former insinuated that the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee’s investigation into the prevailing corruption at the BOC.

During the hearing, Faeldon said Senators Vicente “Tito” Sotto III and Franklin Drilon were among the lawmakers who made “illegal requests” with the agency.

Faeldon was responding to Senator Paolo “Bam” Aquino IV’s question during the continuation of the Senate’s probe into the P6.4-billion shabu shipment and corruption in the BOC, when he dropped the names of Drilon and Sotto.

Before disclosing their identity, Faeldon apologized to the senators after noting that they were not present during the hearing.

“I’ll start with Sen. Drilon. As early as 2016, he requested that I meet with him here at the Senate, twice, to sign a Memorandum of Agreement between the BOC and the office of Maria Serena Diokno, the chairperson of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP),” Faeldon told the committee, chaired by Gordon.

Faeldon said Drilon wanted him to sign a document agreeing to have the BOC office in Iloilo City renovated for the NHCP. After the renovation, he was told that the building will be converted into a museum and the BOC will occupy the third floor of the building.

“Twice, I attended his meeting and said sir, hindi po puwede. On the third meeting, I have forcibly changed the provision of the MOA and signed it.”

“I never acceded, why because meron na tayong karanasan, sir,” Faeldon told Aquino and Gordon.

Faeldon said he doesn’t want a repeat of what happened during former President Gloria MacapagalArroyo’s time when she ordered the restoration of the so-called Malacañang of the South in Cebu.

“And until today, yung Cebu employees namin, are housed in a condemned building. So ayaw po natin na maulit po yun na tatanggalin na naman yung mga Customs (employees) dyan at bawal na po silang pagpapalitan,”

“Sa tingin ko hindi po tama itong request ng senador. Kaya tinanggihan ko po siya diyan,” he pointed out.

Faeldon said that Sotto “illegally requested” the appointment of a Customs official as director for intelligence as early as 2016.

“Idol kita sir, pasensya na Sen. Sotto. But this is illegal as far as I am concerned. As early as 2016 twice, he asked me to appoint one official in the BOC as director of intelligence. Eto kasi yan, dalawang beses niya akong kinausap, sabi ko titingnan natin,” Faeldon said.

When he interviewed the said official, Faeldon said he was surprised that the person was already serving the BOC for 42 years but have not yet apprehended any crooked employee nor reported anybody involved in anomalous transactions.

But Aquino and Gordon said they found nothing erroneous on the requests made by Sotto and Drilon.

Drilon clarified that the budget for the renovation he requested was of the NHCP and not the BOC’s.

“(The NHCP) was asking for my help, because their budget was going to revert if it was not used. In fact P9 million was reverted out of the P20 million that they had allocated (for the project),” Drilon told reporters.

“There was nothing illegal, the MOA is to allow the NHCP to do the repairs of the building. In fact, the building is not being owned by the BOC, the title is in the name of the Republic of the Philippines.”

Sotto, for his part, denied he was insisting on the appointment of a BOC employee, although he admitted there was a request for someone’s promotion.

He said the BOC employee who sought his recommendation has long been working in the agency. “What’s illegal in a request?” he asked.

Sotto, in an unsolicited advice, told Faeldon to stick to the issue and instead address the supposed corruption in his former agency that led to the swift release of the P6.4-billion shabu from China.

Meanwhile, Faeldon asked the Supreme Court (SC) to order his release from detention.

Faeldon was cited in contempt, ordered arrested and detained for refusing to participate in the Senate investigation on the P6.4-billion shabu shipment from China.

But even while in detention, President Duterte appointed Faeldon as deputy administrator for operations of the Office of Civil Defense (OCD).

Two weeks ago, he was given a two-week furlough to witness the birth of his child and to be able to take his oath of office as OCD official.

Aside from Gordon, named respondent in his petition was retired Maj. Gen. Jose V. Balajadia Jr., Senate sergeant-at-arms.

Faeldon is expected to be transferred to the Pasay City Jail due to his continued contempt citation.

Gordon said the Senate has agreed to submit Faeldon under the custody of the Pasay City Jail, following the resumption of the probe on alleged corruption at the BOC.

Faeldon may be transferred to the city jail anytime within the day, information reaching Senate reporters said.(With reports from Vanne P. Terrazola and Rey G. Panaligan)

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