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Gordon: Faeldon chose Senate detention

The Senate on Monday detained former Customs commissioner Nicanor Faeldon after refusing to testify before the blue ribbon committee. The STAR / Michael Varcas  

MANILA, Philippines (First published at 3:43 p.m. on Sept. 11) — The Senate on Monday detained former Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon after he refused to testify before the blue ribbon committee.

Sen. Richard “Dick” Gordon, panel chair, said in a televised interview that Faeldon chose detention over being given a chance to testify before the committee.

Gordon called for a ten-minute recess during the probe into the P6.4-billion shabu shipment from China that slipped through the Bureau of Customs to talk to Faeldon. The former Customs chief voluntarily put himself in Senate custody.

“‘Di naman siya nagmamatigas. Humble ang dating niya –magalang,” Gordon said of his conversation with Faeldon.

“Sabi niya talagang ‘yun ang desisyon niya, sinulat niya na raw sakin ‘yun at sa committee na hindi siya haharap dito (sa Senado) at sa husgado na lang siya mag-aabang,” he added.

'Faeldon did not defy, disrespect Senate'

Gordon said he repeatedly tried to convince Faeldon saying he will not be able to clear himself if he refuses to speak before the Senate.

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The senator also said he will be fair to Faeldon but the Customs chief continued to refuse as he feels the Senate will be impartial.

“Ang pakiramdam niya habang nandito hindi siya mananalo dito dahil ang mga senator ay may mga karapatan katulad ng privilege speech,” Gordon said.

“He did not defy the Senate. He is just not willing to go to the Senate na nandyan yung dalawa,” the senator added, referring to senators Antonio “Sonny” Trillanes IV and Panfilo “Ping” Lacson.

For Gordon, it is up to the senators named if they will feel disrespected by Faeldon’s move to be detained at the Senate.

Trillanes earlier alleged Faeldon is at the heart of the BOC controversy.

On the other hand, Lacson in a separate privilege speech claimed the former Customs chief may have received a P100-million "welcome gift" at the bureau.

Gordon said he advised Faeldon to file an ethics complaint to defend himself if he was offended by Lacson’s claims in his privilege speech.

He also warned Faeldon of temporary incarceration.

Privilege speeches are, as the name implies, privileged and, according to the Senate website, members "cannot be prosecuted for any words spoken in debate or in connection with voting or used in written reports or with things generally done in a session of either House in relation to the business before it." The Senate Committee on Ethics and Privileges, can, though, discipline a member for improper speech or behavior.

READ: Lacson: Faeldon may have received P100-M 'welcome gift' at BOC

Gordon said the former Customs chief will be detained indefinitely. He also added that he will speak with his colleagues regarding the rules and the privileges to be given to Faeldon.

Faeldon over the weekend said he would rather go to jail than attend the hearing. He resigned over allegations of corruption and incompetence, and was replaced by former Drug Enforcement chief Isidro Lapeña.

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