Faeldon happy to be in crowded jail
Wearing a black T-shirt emblazoned with the words “Truth is Justice,” former Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon received a “very, very warm welcome” at the Pasay City Jail, where he was transferred from the Senate on Tuesday morning, his lawyer said.
“He is a typical detainee, no exceptions, no special privileges, and that’s how he likes it,” said Jose Diño, Faeldon’s lawyer.
The Senate blue ribbon committee on Monday ordered Faeldon held at the Pasay jail after trading barbs with Sen. Richard Gordon, chair of the panel looking into the smuggling from China of P6.4 billion worth of “shabu” (crystal meth) into the Philippines through the Bureau of Customs (BOC) last May.
“Senator Gordon, thank you for your supreme injustice, persecution and grandstanding,” Diño said, adding he had filed an urgent reiterative motion in the Supreme Court appealing for resolution of a pending motion for provisional relief.
Corruption at BOC
The Senate committee cited Faeldon for contempt last September for refusing to attend hearings. He said he had been prejudged as involved in alleged corruption at the BOC.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II, speaking to reporters in Lucena City on Tuesday, said the Senate could be committing abuse of discretion, but it was not a serious infraction for the judiciary to step into the case.
He said the Senate had plenary power to cite for contempt anybody appearing before it.
“The judiciary cannot usually meddle with it unless there is a grave abuse of discretion, in which case the Supreme Court may come in and correct the abuse,” Aguirre said.
President Duterte last month appointed Faeldon deputy administrator III at the Office of Civil Defense (OCD), an agency under the Department of National Defense, despite his detention in the Senate.
Malacañang on Tuesday said it did not matter where Faeldon was, after learning about the former custom’s chief’s transfer to the Pasay jail.
“He can do his job as OCD officer from any location because it involves formulating policy,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said at a press briefing in Marawi City.
“He’s appointed to the OCD, which is a policymaking body. Our position is he can perform his task wherever he may be, even in jail,” Roque said.
He added that the Palace would not intervene in Faeldon’s case in the Senate.
Gordon said on Monday that Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo came to ask him to free Faeldon.
“He’s already nice, release him,” Gordon quoted Panelo as telling him.
On Tuesday, however, Panelo denied interceding on Faeldon’s behalf, saying Gordon may have misunderstood him.
Panelo said Gordon told him that he wanted Faeldon released and he was only waiting for the former customs chief to attend the hearing.
Panelo said he suggested that the committee subpoena Faeldon.
He said he went to the Senate to visit Faeldon, whom he pitied for being detained there for so long.
Diño said Faeldon was lonely in his detention room in the Senate basement, where visiting hours ended at 8 p.m.
“Now he has company, and we expect that he will be very happy here, very contented,” Diño told reporters.
Senior Insp. Xavier Solda, spokesperson for the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, said Faeldon had told him: “I am happy because I am now with my own kind.”
He said Faeldon would not receive special treatment, adding that the former customs chief was being held in a small, windowless cell so hot that his blood pressure shot up.
“You almost can’t breathe in the cell … [We hope] his health can be watched,” Solda said.
Solda denied earlier reports that Faeldon’s transfer to the Pasay City Jail had been delayed due to concerns about sanitation in the cells.
“Just imagine that’s your house, you stay there 24/7, there is nothing for you to do but clean and clean,” Solda said.
He said Faeldon did not get his own space in the cell because of overcrowding.
Faeldon, however, did not complain, Solda said, adding that the detainee was expected to follow jail rules like other inmates.
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