Lapeña confirmed ‘P107M welcome gift’ to Faeldon – Lacson
Published: 9:49 a.m., Oct. 17, 2017 | Updated: 12:37 a.m., Oct. 18, 2017
Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapeña confirmed that his predecessor, Nicanor Faeldon, had received P107 million in “pasalubong” (welcome gift) from importers at the Bureau of Customs (BOC), according to Sen. Panfilo Lacson.
President Rodrigo Duterte fired Faeldon from the top BOC post in August amid the controversy surrounding the “tara” (payoff) system at the bureau and the shipment of P6.4-billion worth of “shabu” (crystal meth) from China.
Lapeña did not respond to calls seeking his comment.
Faeldon is detained in the Senate for refusing to attend hearings on corruption in the BOC and on the shabu shipment, which was facilitated by certain customs officials and fixers.
Reached for comment on Tuesday, Faeldon assailed Lacson for his “tired and tiring” accusations.
“Baseless accusation, zero evidence and then cowardly [act] hid[ing] behind parliamentary immunity. That has been the tired and tiring modus operandi of this smuggler’s dad,” Faeldon said in a statement through his legal team.
He taunted the senator for the alleged smuggling activities of his son and namesake, Panfilo Lacson Jr.
The former BOC chief has accused the young Lacson of smuggling P4.5 billion worth of cement into the country for 14 months.
Lacson said Lapeña went to his office before attending a Senate hearing and told him that Faeldon received P107 million, and not only P100 million as the senator earlier alleged in a privilege speech.
“No less than Commissioner Lapeña testified. He confirmed that there’s indeed the pasalubong money and he confided to me: ‘Sir, not P100 million but P107 (million) was given to Faeldon,” the senator said in an interview over ABS-CBN News Channel’s “Headstart” on Tuesday.
Lacson was responding to a question whether he had proof that Faeldon had indeed received a P100-million gift when the latter assumed his post at the BOC.
“If you truly believe your own propaganda, Senator Lacson, the courts are open. File all the cases your obsessed mind can imagine. Let the courts decide,” Faeldon said.
“Instead of your tiring accusations, why don’t you just tell the public about your smuggling activities through your son,” he said.
Lacson said that before the Senate hearing, “he (Lapeña) came to my office and informed me, ‘Sir, I discovered the pasalubong. That’s true.’ He himself experienced it. Somebody whispered to him that one of the sources were tax credit certificates,” Lacson said.
The senator said Lapeña told him that he had already signed some of the tax credit certificates (TCCs) but that he later recalled it upon learning that it was one of the sources of the “welcome gift.”
A TCC covers refunds the government owes a taxpayer from excess payments and canceled imports.
Lacson said the certificates were issued to big companies and they could use these to pay future taxes and duties. The TCCs, he said, were also good as cash.
“These are billions of pesos,” he said of the TCCs.
Early this month, Lapeña said he was investigating the pasalubong system in which businessmen offer the incoming customs commissioner 3 to 7 percent of their refund in exchange for the release of the TCCs. /kga /pdi /atm
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