By Arjay L. Balinbin, Reporter
PRESIDENT RODRIGO R. Duterte publicly fired Customs Deputy Commissioner Noel Patrick S. Prudente during his speech on Wednesday at the Bureau of Customs (BoC) in Manila.
Before his speech, the President led and witnessed the destruction of 122 smuggled luxury motor vehicles at the BoC parking area.
“Worth P34.71 million (approximately US$662,538), the smuggled luxury vehicles consist of 112 units of brand new Vespa scooters, one (1) used BMW motorcycle, one (1) Harley Davidson motorcycle, two (2) Triumph motorcycles, one (1) Mitsubishi Pajero, two (2) Land Rovers, and one (1) Volvo car,” the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) said in a Facebook post.
During the 166th founding anniversary of the BoC last February, at least 20 smuggled high-end vehicles worth P61.63 million were destroyed. The following month, the President also led the destruction of at least 855 contraband luxury vehicles at the Port Irene in Santa Ana, Cagayan.
In his speech, the President said: “I am firing him today. Noel Patrick Sales Prudente. I think he is an assistant commissioner? Ah, Deputy Commissioner. So I’ll make it easy for Congress. I’m firing him effective today.”
Mr. Duterte cited Mr. Prudente’s alleged “personal travels to Singapore and Europe” as his reason for firing the official.
He also said Mr. Prudente is currently “under investigation” by the House of Representatives. “So, I will cut short the agony of Congress,” the President added.
The House is probing the questionable release of 105 shipping containers at the Manila South Harbor’s port operator Asian Terminal Inc. (ATI). It was Sultan Kudarat Representative Horacio P. Suansing Jr.’s House Resolution (HR) No. 1824 which directed the Oversight Committee on Customs Modernization and Tariff Act to conduct the inquiry.
Before his appointment to the BoC in February this year, Mr. Prudente served as a director at the Philippine National Railways (PNR).