Duterte is brazenly running a Mafia type of government. He draws the attention of everyone by brazenly clearing his long time special agent Lapena and promoting him to cabinet post. But made stupid by being too greedy and crazed by power and fentanyl, Duterte actually exposes himself as the supreme drug lord by messing up and stopping the investigation and exposure of the paper trail and chain of responsibility for the importation, the examination and approval at customs. trucking out from customs, further warehousing and wholesale distribution of the tons of shabu.
Duterte told: Prosecute, not promote, Lapeña
By: Marlon Ramos – Reporter / @MRamosINQ
Philippine Daily Inquirer / 07:16 AM October 27, 2018
Opposition lawmakers rebuked President Rodrigo Duterte for promoting Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapeña to his Cabinet despite the alleged smuggling of billions of pesos worth of “shabu” (crystal meth) through the Bureau of Customs (BOC).
Months after insisting that no shabu had been concealed in four magnetic lifters that slipped through customs, Lapeña on Wednesday conceded that the equipment could have contained drugs, which the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) estimated to be about 1.6 tons and worth about P11 billion.
On Thursday, Mr. Duterte announced Lapeña’s new assignment as the head of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda), a Cabinet post, a move that surprised the customs chief himself.
Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo on Friday said Mr. Duterte had long been thinking of Lapeña’s appointment to Tesda and this was just “hastened ahead of schedule, because the President wants to spare him from intrigue because he is being relentlessly criticized.”
ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro said Lapeña should face criminal charges for his failure to prevent the shabu shipment from entering the country and slipping through customs.
Akbayan Rep. Tom Villarin said Lapeña’s new appointment shows the President’s “musical chair policy” intended to make the public believe that the government was trying to stem corruption “but ultimately, nothing comes out of it.”
“While his order is to instantly kill ordinary drug users, his aides and friends get second and third chances. They are even promoted,” Villarin said.
Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, however, quickly came to the defense of Mr. Duterte, saying the “President knows what he’s doing.”
“Let me just say that I’ve been (a) 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 told reporters in Pampanga.
Arroyo also supported Mr. Duterte’s decision to replace Lapeña with another retired general, Rey Leonardo Guerrero, a former Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff.
“They are literally good soldiers,” she said.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson said Lapeña’s appointment as Tesda head was “definitely a demotion in trust and confidence.”
“It’s a pity because save for the big shabu shipment that got away, apparently due to collusion between the drug syndicate and some low-level customs officials, he was doing a good job proven by consistently exceeding the bureau’s target collections,” Lacson said in a text message.
Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV questioned Mr. Duterte’s motives for promoting Lapeña.
“If he’s good and trusted, why remove him from Customs? Now, if he screwed up or was involved in drug smuggling, why promote him?” Trillanes said.
According to Trillanes, the only explanation is that the President was rewarding Lapeña’s “loyalty and guarantee his silence and continued cooperation, much like what he did to (Nicanor) Faeldon. Both ex-customs commissioners surely know the true masterminds behind those huge shabu shipments.”
Sen. Francis Pangilinan believes that Lapeña’s promotion casts doubts on the administration’s sincerity in fighting corruption and illegal drugs.
“When incompetence or corruption go unpunished and those linked to irregularities are rewarded with other top-level posts, then both incompetence and corruption will just get worse,” Pangilinan said.
Sen. Grace Poe said she was shocked by the President’s decision.
“I don’t understand that. It may be true that Commissioner Lapeña was not aware of what was happening on the ground, but of course there is command responsibility. Now, I was shocked by the speed of his turnover,” she told reporters in Tacloban City.
“What can he accomplish in Tesda? Maybe he has the skills, we don’t know, but it is shocking,” Poe said.
After announcing Lapeña’s new assignment, Mr. Duterte defended his preference for retired military and police personnel to head some civilian agencies.
Civilians, according to the President, tend to ask questions and hold meetings that add to the bureaucratic red tape.
“I have nothing against the bureaucracy. But if you want something done and done fast, per your order, you get a military man,” Mr. Duterte said on Thursday.
As a lawyer, he assured his appointees that he would not give them illegal orders.
Several retired military and police officials are currently serving in high government positions.
They include retired Army chief Rolando Bautista, the new social welfare secretary; former Chief of Staff Roy Cimatu, the environment secretary; and Eduardo Año, another former military chief, who is interior secretary.
Retired Gen. Eduardo del Rosario is housing secretary and Task Force Bangon Marawi chair and another former general, Glorioso Miranda, is a board member of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority.
The administration has also “recycled” several presidential appointees who had been fired or had resigned.
Among the more prominent ones is Faeldon, who resigned following the smuggling of P6.4 billion worth of shabu last year. He was named deputy administrator of the Office of Civil Defense last year and then Bureau of Corrections director this year.
Another is Ernesto Abella, former presidential spokesperson, who is now a foreign undersecretary.
Tourism Undersecretary Jose Gabriel “Pompee” La Viña, was sacked from the Social Security System for alleged questionable activities.
Martin Diño lost his post as chair of Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority due to a leadership dispute but appointed interior undersecretary.
Manuel Serra Jr., fired from the Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor for making too many foreign trips, is now a board member of the Philippine Coconut Authority. —REPORTS FROM JULIE M. AURELIO, DJ YAP, JOEY GABIETA, PATHRICIA ANN V. ROXAS, MAILA AGER AND INQUIRER RESEARCH