Ex-Customs chief’s promotion decried

AT LEAST three senators expressed dissatisfaction over the decision of President Rodrigo Duterte to transfer controversial former Bureau of Customs chief Isidro Lapeña to the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) insisting that the  official should not be left unpunished.

Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, president of the Liberal Party, said that the promotion of Lapeña to a cabinet position after the smuggling of multi-billion-pesos worth of illegal drugs under his watch places doubt on the sincerity and seriousness of the administration in its war on drugs.

“When incompetence or corruption goes unpunished and those linked to irregularities are rewarded with other top-level posts, then both incompetence and corruption will just get worse,” Pangilinan noted.

He said that the administration should have at least investigated Lapeña for gross and inexcusable negligence which is a ground for dismissal in government service.

Fellow opposition Senator Risa Hontiveros meanwhile tagged the administration as a “recycling bin” for the corrupt and incompetent after Lapeña’s transfer.

“This is not an administration of the best and the brightest. This is not a government with the best interests of the country at heart. This is a regime of questionable characters and even more questionable competence,” Hontiveros on her accusation on the administration.

Senator Joel Villanueva expressed the same sentiment.  He said that while it is the prerogative of the President to select his cabinet, the appointment of Lapeña “similar to Faeldon, seems to reflect the lack of accountability, especially if the banner campaign is against drugs.”

“We will not be able to address our drug problem if we will not curtail the supply of drugs. Tons of drugs entered the country under their watch. They should be made accountable, not promoted,” Villanueva in his statement.

Meanwhile, Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson believes that the move of the President showed that he once again showed zero-tolerance in his war against drugs.  He added that he considered Lapeña’s work in BOC as excellent for exceeding the bureau’s target collections save for the big shabu shipment that got away.

But while Lapeña considers his transfer as a promotion, Lacson considered it as a demotion in trust and confidence.  

“As regards his qualification as Tesda Director General, I guess we had the same apprehension when he took over the BoC but he delivered,” he added.