By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
Former Bureau of Customs (BOC) commissioner Nicanor Faeldon on Monday filed an ethics complaint against Senator Panfilo Lacson for accusing him of being involved in corruption at the agency.
Faeldon, wearing a white T-shirt with the words “Truth is Justice,” was temporarily released from detention at the Office of the Senate Sergeant at Arms (OSAA) to file his ethics complaint versus Lacson.
He was allowed 15 minutes to step out of the OSAA detention, said his legal counsel, Jose Diño.
Faeldon said the complaint was his counterattack against Lacson who, in a privilege speech, had tagged him for his alleged involvement in the BOC controversies, particularly the “tara” system.
Faeldon, who was detained for contempt after snubbing the Senate probe, on Monday said it “does not matter” to him how long he would be held under the institution’s custody. It was the first time he faced the media after turning himself in to Senate authorities last September 11.
In his speech titled “Kita Kita sa Customs” last August 23, Lacson said the resigned BOC chief received P75 million as a “welcome gift” when he assumed his post.
Lacson also alleged that Faeldon lied about being “helplessly alone” in eradicating corruption when he hired on July 1 last year his three technical assistants, with each of them reportedly receiving a monthly compensation of P40,000 to P60,000.
Faeldon said he was also preparing an ethics complaint against Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, who had charged that Faeldon was “at the heart” of the release of the P6.4-billion shabu shipment from Xiamen, China that was seized in Valenzuela City last May.
In a briefing, Faeldon called Lacson a “liar” as he maintained his innocence and denied the allegations against him. The senator was “unethical, unparliamentary, and improper” for “lying” in a privilege speech, Faeldon said.
“You are a liar. All your accusations against me are lies. Chief PNP ka dati, you should know better how to handle investigations. Nagsinungaling ka (you lied), eh, you have to tell us bakit ka nagsinungaling (why you lied),” he said.
Faeldon also lamented Lacson’s use of his parliamentary immunity and privilege speech, saying his right to due process was violated when Lacson charged him for his alleged involvement in the tara system.
“The immunity does not guarantee, does not allow them that they can lie, that they can go over the rights of innocent people like me. Guaranteed din tayo ng (We are also guaranteed by the) Constitution, pinapayagan ba yun ng immunity nila (does the immunity allow that)? Eh ‘di burahin na lang natin yung (If so, then let’s just erase the) Bill of Rights. Kasi meron palang mga senador na pwedeng apakan yung ating mga karapatan (Because sanators can step on our rights),” he told reporters.
In his 15-page complaint, Faeldon sought the Senate ethics committee to compel Lacson to produce evidence backing his claims.
Faeldon said he is confident that the senator will not be able to prove his allegations. “Definitely you can’t, because kasinungalingan (they were lies),” Faeldon said.
Diño said they are confident that the complaint will be declared sufficient in form and substance by the Senate ethics committee.
They cited an ethics case against former Congressman Sergio Osmeña Jr. for attacking then President Carlos Garcia in June, 1960. The Senate committee suspended the former lawmaker for 15 months.
Lacson, for his part, wished Faeldon nothing but “good luck.”
Lacson said he would also be filing a criminal case against the former BOC chief before the Office of the Ombudsman.
Lacson also downplayed the reference of Faeldon’s camp to the Osmeña case, implying it would not prosper.
“The Constitution is clear. And his lawyers should know that…Pag in-invoke nila iyong kay Sergio Osmeña, that’s before the 1987 Constitution. We’re invoking here the 1987 Constitution. But again, that’s his right,” he noted.