Pres. Duterte dismisses Customs officials amid drug scandal

Isidro Lapeña will be replaced at the Bureau of Customs by former Armed Forces chief and current Marina administrator Leonardo Rey Guerrero. Philstar.com photo by Boy Santos

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday, October 25 fired all commissioners and department heads of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) amid controversy that P6.8 billion worth of shabu was uncovered.

Upon the discovery of shabu in four magnetic lifters in Cavite, Duterte commanded the dismissal of BOC executives in his speech during the anniversary of the Philippine Coast Guard in Manila.

“Out lahat (Everybody’s out). To the last man, the commissioners are out, the department heads are out,” the president said.

Duterte also made the announcement at the same event that he moved Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapeña to the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).

Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) administrator Rey Leonardo Guerrero was ordered to take over the BOC.

Speaking to Guerrero, Duterte at the ceremony on Thursday said, “…I know that you’re happy there [in Marina] and you are contented, so I’ve heard, but the demands of public service and the need for honest men requires your presence there. Good luck.”

Guerrero will be the third Customs head after Lapeña and Bureau of Corrections Chief Nicanor Faeldon, who was removed from the post after it was discovered that drugs were smuggled into the country in May 2017.

Lapeña is reportedly under fire after a shipment of the billion-peso worth of shabu slipped past the BOC under his watch. He previously said that the four magnetic lifters discovered in Cavite did not contain illegal drugs. However, he later changed his statement saying that the lifters did contain shabu.

Amid the current scandal, the former military official, who previously oversaw the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, has denied that he was involved in covering up the smuggling of drugs into the country. 

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