15 of 17 Customs collectors quit

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Monday, July 29, 2013

FIFTEEN out of the 17 district collectors of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) have submitted their letters of relinquishment before the deadline set by Commissioner Ruffy Biazon expired on Monday.

Only the port collectors of Iloilo and Ninoy Aquino International Airport have not submitted their respective resignation letters.

Those who complied with the 5 p.m. deadline were district collectors Fidel Villanueva IV of San Fernando; Rogel Gatchalian of Port of Manila; Ricardo Belmonte of the Manila International Container Port (MICP); Tomas Alcid of Batangas; Edward dela Cuesta of Cebu; Nelson Belen of Tacloban; Oswaldo Geli of Surigao; Ma. Lourdes Mangaoang of Cagayan de Oro; Darwisha Schuck of Zamboanga; Eduard James Dybuco of Davao; Adelina Molina of Subic; Ronnie Silvestre of Clark International Airport; Leilani Alameda of Aparri; Elvira Cruz of Limay; and Leovigildo Dayoja of Legaspi.

On Friday, Biazon directed all district collectors in 17 ports and 37 sub-ports collectors nationwide "to relinquish their assignments or designation on or before Monday, July 29, 2013."

The BOC chief said the order is pursuant to Section 703 of the Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines (TCCP), as amended.

"All assignments or designations shall be considered relinquished upon acceptance or action by the undersigned," Biazon said.

Aside from the top officials of the major ports, district collectors of the 37 sub-ports have also submitted their letters of relinquishment.

Those who followed Biazon's directive were: EPZA Baguio - Amer s. Lucman; Sual – Agapito A. Panlasigui, Jr.; Salomague – Carmelita Evelyn Santos; Harbor Center – Noah Dimaporo; Epza Laguna – William Dionisio; Masinloc – Recaflor Edward F. de Leon; North Harbor – Jemina Sy-Flores; Airmail Distribution – Romulo Mahor; Puerto princesa – Marilyn Dacquel; Siain – Reynaldo Galeno; Dumaguete – Medolita Cabanag; Catbalogan – Avelino Alberca; Nasipit – Josefa Villasenor; Iligan – Samson Pacasum; Ozamis – Roswaldo Joseph Pague; Mindanao Container Terminal – Javier Alpano; Dadiangas – Pendatun Alim; Parang – Pedro Quinones’; Mariveles – Elvira Cruz; Bislig – Rosita Arabaca; Mati – Ebert Montero; Mactan – Paul Alcazaren; Isabel – Filomeno Aranas,Jr.; Zamboanga International Airport – Zahreeb Jaljis; Laoag; Basilan – Amil Saladain; Jolo – Luzminda Ali;Pulupandan – Danielo Gonzales; Curimao - Llyod Camangeg and Tawi-Tawi (Bongao) - Pirza Bulante.

Biazon said that those who failed to submit a letter of relinquishment would likely to be replaced.

"Gaya ng sabi ko kung hindi sila mag-comply (Like what I said, if they will not comply) within the day or within the timeline specified, it only means they don't support my effort, so those who don't support my effort would be taken out of the way," he said.

House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said his brother, Ricardo, who heads the MICP resigned from his position to prove that he did not benefit from the Speaker's political influence.

Over the weekend, the House Speaker was named in a newspaper report as one of the "padrinos" in the BOC, where his younger brother served as collector for 34 years. The House leader denied the accusation.

"When this thing came up, I told him to quit but he initially said there are only six months to go before his 65th birthday and he felt he is entitled to retirement after serving Customs for 34 years. Now, definitely, he has decided that he is filing a courtesy resignation, probably today," Belmonte told reporters.

The Speaker stressed that he did not use his political influence in the BOC. His brother's career in the Customs bureau was even affected when he transferred to the Liberal Party for the 2010 elections.

"I have never talked to anybody from the Bureau of Customs from the moment I returned to government service. In fact, my brother even suffered because of my political career, specifically when I switched allegiance to then candidate Senator Aquino. At that time, he was removed from his position in Cebu despite being an award-winning collector," Belmonte said.

"He was transferred to the main office and he was not in-charge of anything. At that time, GMA (President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo) was angry at me, so the anger extended to him," Belmonte explained.

In 2010, the Speaker bolted the then ruling Lakas-Kampi party of Arroyo. He jumped to the LP when he ran as congressman of the fourth district of Quezon City. He won the race and was elected Speaker in the 15th Congress.

Corruption in the BOC was highlighted in the fourth State of the Nation Address of President Benigno Aquino III last week.

Since then, several BOC officials, including Customs chief Ruffy Biazon, have tendered their courtesy resignation. Aquino rejected the resignations.

BOC Commissioner Ruffy Biazon on Friday directed all port and sub port collectors and officers in charge of ports in the country, including Bemonte, to relinquish their posts preparatory to reassignment. (FP/Kathrina Alvarez/Sunnex)

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