An administration ally on Sunday said embattled Customs commissioner Nicanor Faeldon might have integrity, but admitted he lacked the know-how in running the complex revenue-generating agency.
Puwersa ng Bayaning Atleta Party-list Rep. Jericho Nograles said Faeldon’s lack of understanding on the office’s dynamics might have unwittingly allowed the people surrounding him to manipulate the system and continue corrupt practices.
Nograles referred to the smuggling of 605 kilograms of shabu (crystal meth) worth P6.4 billion, which slipped through the port on May 22 and was only busted in a May 29 warehouse raid criticized for violating procedural rules on handling evidence.
“Commissioner Faeldon might be clean and true to his mandate but I don’t feel the same way on the people who are with him. That shabu shipment that passed through the green lane could have not happened without the knowledge of people in his office,” Nograles said in a statement. “Pinapalusutan siya ng kanyang mga bata-bata (His underlings are passing through under his nose).”
Nograles zeroed in on the “amateurish” mistake of making “green” the default classification in the Bureau of Customs’ risk-management system.
As part of the BOC’s selectivity system, products imported to the country pass through four lanes, depending on the risk level: super-green, green, yellow, and red. The kitchenware shipment consigned to EMT Trading, which turned out to contain shabu, went through the green lane because no parameters were inputted that would signal the need for stricter inspection.
Nograles said Faeldon from the start should have immediately questioned the cargo selection system for being vulnerable to manipulation, which could easily be passed off as negligence. He said it would take smugglers greater effort to manipulate the system if it were designed to classify all incoming shipments in the “red lane.”
“This is basic management. If you alter the system, you can trace who actually altered it but if you simply miss out in inputting the parameters, the people who are tasked to do this can simply claim that they forgot,” Nograles said.
Nograles also said Faeldon was ill-advised in hiring professional athletes to help the BOC’s image-building campaign and intelligence operations.
“You cannot erase the bad image of Customs by hiring ex-athletes or even popular showbiz personalities. That’s bad management. What Faeldon needs to do it to work harder to achieve their revenue targets and people would really believe that he has succeeded in the cleaning the BoC scalawags and misfits,” Nograles said. “If Faeldon wants to erase the bad image, he needs to make his collection quota and stop the entry of contraband. Those are his primary mission orders.” JE
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