The graft and corruption complaint filed against former Bureau of Customs (BOC) Commissioner Isidro Lapeña is proof that no one is spared in the Duterte administration’s fight against corruption, Malacañang said on Tuesday.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo made this remark after the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) on Monday filed a graft and corruption complaint against Lapeña, now Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) Director General.
The case stemmed from the alleged irregularities in the release of 105 containers of ceramic tiles worth at least PHP69 million from China by port operator Asian Terminals Inc. (ATI) last March.
Panelo said this latest development showed that President Rodrigo R. Duterte never protected even his allies if involved in corruption.
“No one, friends or political foes alike, is spared in our fight against corruption. The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has a mandate to fulfill and its action is proof that the President shall not shield those upon whom a shadow of doubt has been cast,” Panelo said in a press statement.
“Good governance is the hallmark of the Duterte administration and this latest development is a reaffirmation of the President’s commitment against all forms of corruption and illegality,” he added.
Panelo, however, stressed that Lapeña is still presumed innocent and enjoys the trust and confidence of the President unless proven otherwise.
“Nonetheless, we point out that TESDA Director-General Isidro Lapeña has the constitutional right to be presumed innocent,” Panelo said.
“Until and unless proven otherwise, he still enjoys the trust and confidence of the appointing authority who happens to be the President,” he added.
In a 35-page report filed before the Department of Justice (DOJ), the NBI recommended that Lapeña and unnamed John Does “be charged and prosecuted for violation of Sec. 3, Par/ (e) of Republic Act No. 3019, otherwise known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.”
The NBI also recommended that Lapeña be “administratively charged with gross neglect of duty and grave misconduct.”
On the other hand, Lapeña said it was unclear to him why would NBI would find negligence on his part when he was the one who alerted the containers.
He noted that if not for the 22 alert orders he issued against 119 containers, the unlawful release of the 105 containers would not have been discovered.
“This modus would have continued unnoticed. I know that this illegal scheme is possibly happening even long before I was placed in the Bureau of Customs. Under my watch, this modus was uncovered. It was under my watch that we discovered the 105 containers illegally released from the terminal through the use of fake documents,” he said in a statement.
Lapeña said he has filed criminal cases against 53 involved personalities and referred to Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission the case of the port of Manila district collector at the time for failure to observe relevant procedures that left to the unauthorized release of the said shipments.
He, however, said he would leave the development of this case to the DOJ and maintained that he did he right thing at that time. (PNA)