SENATE Blue Ribbon Committee chairman, Sen. Richard Gordon, said he is standing by with his earlier recommendation for the removal of all “incompetents” at the Bureau of Customs (BoC) after holding the committee’s final hearing last Monday on the second incident of illegal drug smuggling at the Manila International Container Port (MICP).
In a talk with Senate reporters after the hearing where Gordon also berated the government officials present for their “lack of passion and dedication” in going after those behind the smuggling of illegal drugs, Gordon said that for the bureau, among the personnel and officials who should be removed are those from the ‘X-Ray Inspection Project’ (XIP).
“Dapat tanggalin ang mga ‘andun (XIP); si Comm. (Rey Leonardo) Guerrero na ang bahala ‘dun,” the lawmaker said.
Guerrero was among the officials present at the hearing that also include his predecessor, now
Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) director general, Isidro Lapeña, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) director general, Aaron Aquino and, Bureau of Immigration (BI) commissioner, Jaime Morente.
Gordon first demanded the removal of those whom he described as “incompetents” at the BoC during the hearing held last October 10, telling Lapeña at the time that these people would bring harm to his leadership. “Ipapahamak siya ng mga ‘yan,” Gordon said back then.
In one of the hearings last September, Atty. Lourdes Mangaoang, the first head of the XIP, successfully debunked the position of the MICP XIP team, headed by her former subordinate, John Mar Morales, that there was nothing “hidden” inside the four magnetic lifters that were believed to have been used by a drug syndicate to smuggle the illegal drugs out of the port.
The XIP’s report of ‘No Suspect,’ aside from the initial negative report on the presence of illegal drugs were among the basis used by Lapeña in insisting that no illegal drugs managed to slip past the MICP last July.
They were also the basis used by Malacañang in siding at the time with the customs chief, despite the insistence of the PDEA to the contrary.
After Mangaoang’s presentation and appreciation of other documentary and testimonial evidence, Gordon, however, said he can tell Pres. Duterte “with confidence” that indeed, another huge volume of illegal drugs managed to slip past the BoC for the second time in two years.
Although the main charge of drug smuggling is expected to fall against dismissed police colonel, Eduardo ‘Jojo’ Acierto, resigned PDEA deputy director general, Ismael Fajardo and, customs intelligence agent, Jimmy Guban, Gordon said other officials, including those from the XIP, should be cited for their gross negligence.
Gordon added that even as he was finalizing the SBRC report that he also expects to be finished this month, he would already confer with Department of Justice (DoJ) secretary, Menardo Guevarra, on how soon the DoJ can file the appropriate charges in court.
Reached for comment, current XIP chief, Atty. Czae de Guzman, acknowledged “negligence” was committed by her MICP subordinates and that she is aware of Gordon’s recommendations.
De Guzman said she already has a “plan” to “employ new people” who would be “well-trained,” in the technical aspects of XIP operations, noting further that most of those from the XIP are “contractual” employees with “no liabilities.”
“I need new inspectors (with plantilla positions) who are really knowledgeable,” she said.
De Guzman added she would not hesitate to recommend to Guerrero the removal of XIP personnel accused of extortion and other illegal activities.