Duterte defends Lapena, Faeldon amid shabu mess
President Rodrigo Duterte has defended removed Bureau of Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapena and his predecessor Nicanor Faeldon for their alleged involvement in illegal drugs smuggling cases.
In a speech in Bacolod City on Saturday, Duterte said he believes that Lapena, the incoming Technical Education and Skills Development Authority chief, and Faeldon were not “corrupt”.
“I said I will not allow corruption in my government and that’s what I’m doing. Sid Lape?a of Customs, including Faeldon who was his predecessor, both came from military, (the drugs) just slipped past them,” he said.
“They are not corrupt. I wouldn’t get them if they are,” he added.
The President even reiterated that Faeldon was the one who gave him the tip about the fake cigarette stamps involving Mighty Corporation, while Lapena was his former police chief in Davao City.
“That’s why I don’t believe that he (Faeldon) is corrupt --- why did he tell me? He should’ve just kept it. And so with Lape?a because he was my police chief for the longest time. It just really got past them,” he explained.
He also said he is defending the two officials because they fought for the country.
“I pity those who work a lifetime as a soldier fighting for this country trying to die and succeeding to die. Then people will just do this kind of things to them,” he said.
Faeldon was a former mutineer.
Last October 25, Duterte announced Lapena's removal from BOC. He said that Maritime Industry Authority Administrator Rey Leonardo Guerrero, a retired military general, would replace the embattled Customs chief.
“I told Guerrero to clean Customs. Remove everyone if he has to and replace them with soldiers for now,” he said.
Duterte axed Lapena at BOC amid the alleged smuggling of P11-billion worth of shabu into the country. The illegal drugs were allegedly placed in the four empty magnetic lifters found in Cavite and slipped past the agency. Ella Dionisio/DMS