Former Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO / NIÑO JESUS ORBETA
Former Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon said he would rather go to jail than attend another congressional probe on the alleged illicit activities at the Bureau of Customs (BOC) until lawmakers clarify the boundaries of their legislative immunity.
The Senate and the House of Representatives are conducting separate investigations on corruption allegations hounding some BOC officials including Faeldon.
The former Customs chief lamented that while lawmakers are protected by legislative immunity, resource persons like him also have basic rights that need to be protected while attending congressional inquiries.
“I’d rather go to jail than (go) there without these issues of how far they can go, how far can they just neglect the basic human rights entitled to every citizen of this country,” Faeldon said in an interview with ABS-CBN News Channel’s “Headstart” on Friday.
“I will not attend any inquiries of both houses until the clarification of how far (they can invoke) this immunity,” he added.
Instead of protecting their rights, Faeldon said the lawmakers were the ones destroying it “in aid of grandstanding.”
In a privilege speech last week, Senator Panfilo Lacson accused Faeldon of receiving P100-million “pasalubong” or welcome gift aside from the regular “tara” or payola that he had allegedly received during his stay at the BOC.
“When you are a senator, at least 12 million people believe in you. So you have 12 million people believing that now Nicanor Faeldon has pocketed a P100 million even before I assumed office,” he pointed out.
The former official did not only deny Lacson’s allegations, but he also accused the latter’s son of allegedly being involved in smuggling billion-worth of cement into the country.
Faeldon said he and other Customs officials summoned at the Congress should be treated as resource persons, and not as the accused. IDL