By Sara Susanne D. Fabunan | Sep. 29, 2013 at 12:07am
President Benigno Simeon Aquino III appointed four deputy commissioners of the Bureau of Customs after the removal of 27 district collectors who were subsequently transferred to a “think tank” at the Department of Finance.
Leading the four new appointees was retired general Jessie Dellosa, a bodyguard of the deceased former President Corazon Aquino who recently served was Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff in 2011.
The other appointments were Primo B. Aguas as deputy commissioner for management information systems and technology, Agaton Teodoro O. Uvero as deputy commissioner for assessment and operations coordinating, and former budget department director Myrna Chua as deputy commissioner for the internal administration.
The Palace announced the new appointments as the bureau struggled to meet its collection target with preliminary collection reports for September showed that it posted a P2.5 billion deficit, collecting only P20.9 billion as against its P23.5 billion goal for the period of September 1 to 25. The Customs’ full month collection target for September is P29.1 billion.
Aside from the fact that the bureau is struggling to meet its collection targets, some of the 27 district collectors who were transferred to the newly-created Customs Policy Research Office of the DoF are threatening to take legal action against their transfer.
Among the transferred district collectors are Port of Manila collector Rogel Gatchalian, Manila International Container Port collector Ricardo Belmonte and Ninoy Aquino International Airport Carlos So.
“Imagine they will be transferred from the Bureau of Customs to the Department of Finance. What will they do there? They are collector and not researchers. It would be okay if they were placed somewhere inside the BoC, but they weren’t. They are understandably not pleased,” said a ranking bureau official who asked not to be identified.
Moreover, Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon confirmed in a television interview that the collectors were transferred to “break any familiarity between officers and stakeholders.”
“It is more than a reshuffle because they have actually been transferred to the DOF, out of the Bureau of Customs,” Biazon said in an interview with the ABS-CBN News Channel.
“The first thing that we expect from this is a fresh approach... If there is any familiarity between officers and our stakeholders, definitely this has been broken,” Biazon said, adding that the next-in-rank collectors will take over as officers-in-charge of the concerned ports.
Biazon also denied that the transferred collectors were being placed in an organizational freezer and insisted that the CPRO has real work.
“The office will be tasked with doing research and studies on different policies that could be adopted for the improvement of the customs service. These collectors are expected to provide the expertise in doing the policy research,” he said.
“In fairness to what we call the Three Kings, there hasn’t been any specific accusation thrown against them aside from the perception that they are ‘kings,’ that they are untouchable,” Biazon said, referring to Gatchalian, Belmonte and So.
“But in the course of our review if there’s something that comes up which warrants the filing of a case or further investigation, then we are prepared to do that,” he added. With Joel E. Zurbano
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