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Duterte fires Customs deputy commissioners, freezes department heads


President Rodrigo Duterte has fired the deputy commissioners of the Bureau of Customs amid the controversy over the billions of pesos worth of shabu that allegedly slipped past Customs authorities in August.

Duterte said he was also "freezing" the department heads of the bureau as the new commissioner, former Armed Forces chief of staff Rey Guerrero, takes over.

"Just to give Jagger also a chance, I am ordering the freezing of all, all section department units of the Bureau of Customs," Duterte said.

"Out lahat, to the last man, out. The commissioners are out, the department heads, out," he added.

In a speech at the 117th anniversary of the Philippine Coast Guard, Duterte said he also wanted coast guard personnel trained to handle X-ray inspection of shipments. 

Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapeña is gone from the bureau but Duterte expressed confidence in the former chief of police of his hometown Davao City.

Lapeña has been moved to the lead the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority and Duterte made sure he knew that it was a promotion.

Lapeña and the BOC drew controversy after Deputy Collector Lourdes Mangaoang testified before a House inquiry that customs officials knew about the shabu that was smuggled into the country inside magnetic lifters.

Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Director General Aaron Aquino earlier said that P6.8 billion worth of shabu was smuggled using the lifters that were found empty at a Cavite warehouse in early August.

Prior to the PDEA's confiscation of the empty lifters, Customs authorities seized lifters containing P4.3 billion worth of shabu at the Manila International Container Port.

"I will promote you to a Cabinet member position," Duterte told Lapeña, who was present at the coast guard event.

"Sid, ‘yung trabaho ng TESDA it’s quite something. It could be messy at times. But I’m sure your training as a military man just like Jagger [Guerrero] would all go well for the country," he added.

Duterte said he wants Lapeña and Guerrero to take their oath of office on Friday to ensure continuity of operations in their respective agencies. —NB/KG, GMA News