Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson Sr. last Sunday said he has obtained incriminating evidence that will be used to file economic-sabotage and rice-smuggling charges against beleaguered former Bureau of Customs (BOC) Chief Nicanor N. Faeldon, who earlier filed an ethics case against Lacson who linked him and other Customs officials to alleged rampant corruption at the BOC.
Lacson added he is already in possession of the damning documents to be submitted as evidence that will pin down Faeldon.
“I am ready to file the cases against Faeldon anytime next week,” the senator said in a radio interview over the weekend. “We flagged the evidence…. He [Faeldon] asked for it, I will give it to him.”
Lacson added a key witness, Customs broker Mark Taguba, also provided “new information” to Senate probers conducting the BOC corruption inquiry involving the so-called Tara payoffs given by brokers to facilitate release of uninspected cargoes at Customs. “Even Faeldon’s people admitted there is Tara, so what more evidence does he [Faeldon] want?”
Affirming they have unearthed proof directly linking Faeldon to economic sabotage and rice smuggling, Lacson said Faeldon cannot wash his hands because “he is the Customs Commissioner, the only one who can order the release of cargoes”.
He added the Senate probers reviewing the evidence and other documents turned over by Taguba also asked the Philippine National Police cybercrime unit to also conduct forensic tests to authenticate the broker’s phone messages “for evidentiary value”.
“I asked him to retrieve more documents to trace the money trail of Tara,” Lacson said, adding that “if Taguba is allowed to testify, Faeldon will get his wish…. The witness will provide bank records, phone logs incriminating Customs officers”.
At the same time, Lacson assured he was “ready to apologize if he was given the wrong info” even as the senator quickly added they “build up the case, and we collected and studied documents and other evidence” on BOC anomalies.
He added that Taguba’s testimony will reveal the Tara racket of Customs men. “He has new information” to reveal at the Senate hearing, hinting it includes “documented proof he will share” with the Blue Ribbon committee probers.
In the same interview, Lacson said: “For emphasis, because we cannot tackle everything he revealed, we picked a representative sample of a case where Taguba’s cargo breezed through the BOC Green Lane because he already paid Tara.” However, Taguba said the cargo was still placed on hold, and he was told to fork over an additional P50,000 “for the Commissioner of BOC”.
“Since Faeldon is asking for evidence, that is what he will hear at Monday’s inquiry if Taguba is allowed to answer my questions. I hope Taguba’s testimony affirming the documentary evidence will be allowed to proceed without distraction or intervention. Everything will be based on documents, bank statements, SMS record, call logs,” Lacson said, adding, “Some names will be dragged into that, and this will go all the way up to the Commissioner.”