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Duterte backs Customs execs amid P6.4-B shabu probe

President Rodrigo Duterte has backed Customs officials anew despite calls for their resignation following the congressional inquiries into the smuggling of illegal drugs worth P6.4 billion via the Port of Manila. AP Photo/Bullit Marquez, File

MANILA, Philippines - President Duterte has backed Customs officials anew despite calls for their resignation following the congressional inquiries into the smuggling of illegal drugs worth P6.4 billion via the Port of Manila. 

The President also reiterated that he will immediately resign if any of his children is proven to be involved in graft and corruption.

He expressed belief that corruption has been reduced at the Bureau of Customs (BOC) after he appointed former rebel soldier Nicanor Faeldon as commissioner and his former comrades to key posts at the BOC.

“Customs is like that, graft-ridden. So I have these soldiers who mounted a mutiny during Arroyo’s time and the clarion call was reform because graft is no longer tolerable,” Duterte said during his visit to the Southern Philippines Medical Center Cancer Institute in Davao City the other day.

Duterte also lamented that his son, Davao Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte, has been dragged into the protection scheme in the BOC.

“The sad thing is that, the name of my son, the vice mayor, has cropped up,” he said.

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But Duterte said that he is ready to resign if any of his children will be proven involved in graft and corruption.

“I made a solemn commitment to you that if any one of my children – Inday, Polong or Baste – are involved in graft, I will step down as President of this republic at once,” he said. “And I’m repeating it today…What I say in public, I will do.”

Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella disputed the insinuations of Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV that Duterte seemed quiet now that one of his sons was tagged in corruption issues at Customs.

“As the President said, he does not intervene in matters like this. He will allow the process to unfold. I think, it’s not unusual that he is quiet about that. He is simply saying that he will not interfere because the process has begun,” Abella said.

When asked about Trillanes’ statement that an alleged drug lord in the BOC enjoys the backing of a powerful personality close to the President, Abella said the Palace “does not indulge in speculations.”

Abella shrugged off reports that the President has asked Faeldon and his deputies to resign or go on leave as an offshoot of the controversy caused by the probes of the Senate and House of Representatives.

He also refused to pre-empt the President’s action regarding the resignation of Import Assessment Services director Milo Maestrecampo and BOC Intelligence and Investigation Service head Neil Estrella. – With Jess Diaz, Evelyn Macairan

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