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By Jerry EsplanadaPhilippine Daily Inquirer
5:21 am | Wednesday, August 21st, 2013
Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima: Waiting game. AFP
MANILA, Philippines—The ball is now in Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima’s court.
This is what Bureau of Customs insiders are saying to comments about the delay in the announced revamp of the bureau, an attached agency of the Department of Finance (DOF).
They said Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon has already forwarded to the DOF the list of Customs district collectors “that will be covered by the reshuffle.”
Purisima, however, has yet to approve the BOC head’s proposal, they said.
“It’s still a waiting game … the commissioner cannot impose on the secretary, his immediate boss,” said a Biazon aide.
Last Friday, Biazon announced during a BOC event at the port of Batangas that three of the 17 port collectors would be retained.
They are Tomas Alcid of the port of Batangas, Fidel Villanueva of San Fernando, La Union, and Elvie Cruz of the Limay and Mariveles ports in Bataan.
Biazon explained that Alcid has just been designated as port collector of Batangas, while Villanueva and Cruz are handling the port containerization and the merger of the Limay and Mariveles ports, respectively.
The fate of the remaining collectors, including the so-called “three kings”—Rogel Gatchalian at the port of Manila, Ricardo Belmonte at the Manila International Container Port and Carlos So, who heads the BOC office at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport—has yet to be known.
Gatchalian, Belmonte and So are said to be backed by Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte and the influential Iglesia ni Cristo religious sect, respectively.
During the Batangas port’s 56th founding anniversary rites, Biazon said all three collectors will be included in the revamp. “Definitely, they will be moved,” said Biazon, who is also the concurrent head of the Customs Intelligence Group (IG) following the resignation of deputy commissioner Danilo Lim, the former IG chief.
Biazon has been tight-lipped about “who’s going where” in this month’s major revamp at the BOC, which he said was aimed at improving revenue collections and curbing corruption in the agency.
The reshuffle “will not only be wider in scope” but also “will not be influenced by politicians and other power blocs,” he said.
“The reshuffle’s other objective is to remove port collectors and other Customs officials from their comfort zones,” he told the Inquirer.
Biazon said most of the bureau’s personnel will be affected by the revamp. “However, some will be retained. I am referring to those who performed well beyond expectations,” he said.
Last week, Biazon said the reshuffle will not be limited to port collectors but would also cover the deputy collectors, appraisers, examiners and people involved in cargo clearance operations, among others.
“We are going down the line from district collectors to employees with lower rank,” he said.
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Tags: Bureau of Customs , Cesar Purisima , Philippines , revamp
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