GMA backs Duterte on Lapeña transfer

FORMER Speaker and now House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo defended President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to transfer Bureau of Customs chief Isidro Lapena to another government agency amid the controversy over missing shabu amounting to P6.8 billion.

In an interview, Arroyo said as a former president she well knows there are several considerations in appointing Cabinet members and that decision is solely the at the discretion of the sitting president.

Arroyo also believes that Duterte knows what he is doing.

“Let me just say that I’ve been president and I know more or less that the President has to consider so many things when he makes his decision so I’m not going to be a part of the peanut gallery making comments on his actions,” Arroyo said.

When asked for further comment, the House leader said “I’ve said I’m not going to make any comments because the President knows what he’s doing.

Amid the controversial missing shabu from abandoned magnetic lifters, President Duterte transferred Lapena to the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).

Lapena had staunchly denied there was shabu in the magnetic lifters found in a warehouse in Cavite but later said at the latest hearing of the House probe he is convinced that the magnetic lifters contained shabu, a complete turnaround from his earlier statement that it contained nothing.

Akbayan Rep. Tom Villarin and ACT Teacher Rep. Antonio Tinio said Lapena’s apparent “promotion” is meant to protect him from the findings of the congressional hearing.

Villarin denounced the administration’s “musical chairs policy” in addressing multi-billion peso drug scandals.

“This policy lets off steam to prevent public backlash but it only fools the people that he is doing something about it but ultimately, nothing comes out of it,” he said.

Tinio added that President is engaging in theatrics rather than in actually rooting out corruption and stemming the flow of illegal drugs from abroad.

“The Congressional investigations have pointed to the links between officials of the Bureau of Customs and PDEA and the foreign drug syndicates behind the importation of massive amounts of shabu past Customs,” Tinio said.

“The President responds by reshuffling his deck of retired military officers while refusing to hold anyone accountable,” the Makabayan solon added.