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‘Kapalmuks’

By Alvin Capino | Jul. 29, 2013 at 12:01am
‘Kapalmuks’ is of course street lingo for somebody with a thick face.

It is the slang for “kapal ng mukha” the phrase President Benigno Aquino III used in his State of the Nation Address to describe the impudence and effrontery of officials of the Bureau of Customs.

For many people “Kapalmuks” applies the most to Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon who must have felt alluded to because he immediately offered to resign.

However it is clear that the texted resignation of the embattled Customs Commissioner is more of a face-saving gesture and less than sincere.

He himself announced his offer of resignation and he also served as a spokesman of the President by making public Mr. Aquino’s reply that his confidence in Biazon “remains the same” and that he realizes “the difficulties in the agency you are trying to reform.”

Biazon, if he was really sincere, should have submitted an official irrevocable resignation and thus saved the President from possible embarrassment.

Unfortunately, even the sincerity of Pres. Aquino to reform the notorious Bureau of Customs is now being questioned.

Our social media friend BFC offered an insightful comment when he said: “How would you describe a ‘leader’ who berates as incompetent, shameless, ineffective, negligent, in full public view, driving the latter to resign (as most people with pride would do), then turn around and ask him not to leave. How would you describe the subordinate who like a lamb, meekly obeyed and stayed? How would you rate the level of sincerity of both?”

Biazon must have swallowed his pride by staying at the BOC after that cutting Sona of President Aquino where he said: “Para naming nakikipagtagisan sa kapalpakan itong Bureau of Customs. Imbes ng tamang buwis at pigilan ang kontrabando, parang walang pakundangan ang pagpapalusot nila ng kalakal, pati na ng illegal na droga, armas at iba pa sa ating teritoryo. Tinataya pon ng Department of Finance na mahigit 200 billion pesos ang kita na dumudulas lang at hindi napunta sa kaban ng bayan.Saan po kaya kumukuha ng kapal ng mukha ang mga kawani sa ahensyang ito? Kulang na lang ay sabihin nilang ‘Wala akong pakialam kung mapunta sa masasamang loo bang armas; wala akong pakialam kung ilang buhay ang masira sa droga; wala akong pakialam kung habambuhay na matigang ang sakahan. Ang mahalaga , yumaman ako; bahala ka sa buhay mo. Hindi maaring ganito ang kalakaran sa pamahalaan. Kung hindi mo magawa ang iyong trabaho, hindi ka karapat-dapat sa pwesto.”

The English translation of the President’s speech does not fully capture the nuances and the sting of the speech he delivered in Pilipino. The official translation goes: “And here we have the Bureau of Customs, whose personnel are trying to outdo each other’s incompetence. Instead of collecting the proper taxes and preventing contraband from entering the country, they are heedlessly permitting the smuggling of goods, and even drugs, arms, and other items of a similar nature into our territory. The Department of Finance estimates that more than 200 billion pesos in revenue slips through our borders without going into public coffers. Where do these people get the gall? One can almost hear these public officials say, ‘I don’t care if the weapons go to criminal elements; I don’t care how many lives are ruined by drugs; I don’t care if our fields remain barren forever; What matters is that I am rich; it’s every man for himself.’ Such practices have no place in government. If you cannot do your job, you do not deserve to remain in office.”

The apparent position now taken by Biazon as enunciated by his father, Rep. Rodolfo Biazon is that the rebuke by Pres. Aquino is not directed at the commissioner but rather to other Customs officials and is the way of the President to pave the way for a radical revamp of the Bureau to be undertaken by Commissioner Biazon.

Taking to heart this position of his father, Biazon has ordered all 17 district collectors and 37 subport collectors to relinquish their post to pave the way for a major revamp of the BOC.

In issuing this directive, Biazon is oblivious to the fact that he has lost the moral authority to lead the bureau after the President’s SONA dressing down of the BOC.

It would be better if somebody new handle the revamp of BOC and not Biazon whose 21-month stint at the bureau has been unblemished by any achievement in meeting his targets and whose incompetence have allowed all the problems detailed by the President in his speech which have cost the government P200 billion to fester.

It would not be unreasonable if the Customs’ officials tell Biazon “you first” in response to Biazon’s challenge for them to relinquish their posts to give the BOC a fresh start.
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