“Aren’t you mad at the BOC, Mr. President?” Senator Panfilo Lacson on Friday took to social media his frustration on what seemed like President Rodrigo Duterte’s passiveness on the PHP6.4 billion worth of shabu shipment from China seized last May.
“Aren’t you mad at the BOC, Mr. President? That’s 605 kgs of high-grade meth that slipped out of the Customs zone under their noses,” Lacson said on his official Twitter account.
Since his campaign, Duterte has repeatedly expressed his desire to rid the Philippines of illegal drugs as part of his iron-fist approach to restoring peace and order in the country.
Lacson and a number of senators have previously slammed the BOC for allowing the shipment to enter the Philippines saying inspection was not done properly and protocols were not followed.
On Wednesday, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Director General Isidro Lapeña said the BOC’s Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service (CIIS) did not follow procedures to coordinate with his agency upon receiving information on the illegal shipment.
CIIS Director Neil Anthony Estrella, during a Senate hearing, admitted that he did not immediately coordinate with PDEA after he learned of the shipment because CIIS was still “validating the information.”
Lacson also insisted that reforms in the BOC will be difficult to implement unless its “3 o’clock habit” is abolished.
Various reports described the “three o’clock habit” as an alleged weekly meeting or practice among employees and importers of the BOC where bribes are given and split up.
He described the existence of the weekly habit as “institutionalized corruption.”
Lawmakers have previously called for the resignation of BOC Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon for allowing the shipment to slip through the BOC.
Duterte, however, expressed his trust in Faeldon even as lawmakers are asking for his resignation saying he will await the results of the ongoing congressional investigations.