Faeldon questions DOJ jurisdiction
Resigned Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon on Thursday sought the dismissal of the drug charges filed against him, telling the Department of Justice (DOJ) that it was the wrong agency to investigate him over the P6.4-billion smuggled “shabu” seized by the Bureau of Customs (BOC) last May.
In a motion he filed at the start of the preliminary investigation conducted by the DOJ, Faeldon said the Office of the Ombudsman had the jurisdiction over the drug charges filed against him by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).
Citing his government rank, he said the Sandiganbayan Law provided that government officials with salary grade 27 and above would be investigated by the Ombudsman.
A Customs commissioner falls under salary grade 30.
However, Faeldon said he welcomed the chance to answer accusations leveled against him in a proper venue.
PDEA charged Faeldon and 11 other Customs officials with a string of drug offenses, including alleged conspiracy to import illegal drugs and protecting drug traffickers.
PDEA also filed illegal drug importation charges against 10 persons, who had been previously charged by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) for the same offenses, and six others connected to the warehouse in Valenzuela City, where the shabu shipment was found by Faeldon and his team.
The DOJ gave all the respondents until Oct. 19 to submit their reply to the charges.
“We were just trying to clarify who has jurisdiction. But if they rule (that) it is the DOJ (which has jurisdiction), we will also welcome it. We will continue to attend the hearings in the DOJ,” Faeldon told reporters after the hearing.
“They charged me with conspiring to import drugs. That is an impossible allegation,” he said, expressing confidence that he would eventually be absolved.
Four other respondents attended the hearing, namely, former Customs Intelligence chief Neil Estrella, Manny Li, Kenneth Dong and EMT Trading owner Eirene Tatad. Customs fixer-turned-Senate witness Mark Taguba did not show up.
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