Customs employees oppose return-to-mother-unit order
Customs employees say the order will cause massive displacement and abandonment of functions, paralyzing BOC operations

BACK TO MOTHER UNITS. Customs commissioner Ruffy Biazon directs all employees to return to their plantilla posts or mother units as stated in their appointment papers. Photo by Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Bureau of Customs (BOC) employees are strongly opposing an order crafted by the Department of Finance’s newly formalized Revenue Cluster ordering them to return to their mother units.

In a statement, the BOC Employees Association (BOCEA) said the order will result in “massive dislocation, displacement and abandonment of functions” that may paralyze BOC operations.

“Such order caused restiveness and anxiety among the rank-and-file employees of the Bureau of Customs who are all in a quandary why did the Commissioner of Customs is again turning the guns on the lowly rank-and-file employees,” said the group.

The Revenue Cluster headed by Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) Commissioner Kim Henares issued Customs Personnel Order (CPO) B-134-2013, mandating all BOC employees to return to their mother units, effectively revoking their current assignments. The cluster covers the BIR, BOC and the Bureau of Local Government Finance. The order was signed by BOC Commissioner Ruffy Biazon and approved by DOF Secretary Cesar Purisima.

BOCEA said Biazon is “ill-advised.”

“This will gravely affect the security of tenure, basic rights of the employees under the Constitution and the welfare and interest of the whole rank-and-file employees,” it said.

Henares said the order is just the first in a series of reforms that the Revenue Cluster will implement at the BOC, which President Benigno Aquino III singled out in his 4th State of the Nation Address for rampant corruption.

She maintained it is meant to put things at the agency in order. She said employees should be at their “plantilla” posts or where they were originally appointed.

The first batch of employees affected by the CPO included Supervising Customs Operating Officers and Customs Operations Officers III. These officers were relieved of their assignments on September 13, Biazon said in the CPO.

The second batch covered all Chief Customs Operations Officers and Customs Operations Officers V, whose designations were revoked on September 15.

“All officials and employees who are affected by the CPO have 10 days to report to their permanent units. By September 27, 2013, all employees of the BOC should be back at their respective permanent positions,” Biazon said.

“Failure to report to original/permanent units on or before the designated deadline may be grounds for administrative sanctions,” he added.

No plantilla posts?

As expected, there are difficulties in implementing the order.

In a September 13 memorandum to Biazon, BOC Director for Administration Ma. Corazon Azana listed down several units and offices that do not have plantilla positions and hence will be left with no manpower.

Some Customs offices and ports have plantilla positions, but these are already inactive, Azana also said. “Recalled personnel have no office or port to report to.”

These offices include BOC’s Water Patrol Division, Radio Communication Division, Subport of Tabaco, Subport of Jose and the Food Terminal Inc. Customhouse.

More to come

Henares stressed that the CPO was a product of joint efforts to reform the BOC.

“It’s a joint effort of DOF and Customs,” she said.

The Revenue Cluster vowed to carry out sustainable reforms to institutionalize integrity in the BOC, curb smuggling, and plug tax leaks.

A Finance official said there will be “second and third waves” after the issuance of the CPO.

The official said among the changes planned is the transfer of some ranking Customs official to the DOF.

The biggest task at hand however is modernizing Customs procedures, said Biazon.

Changes at the BOC have the blessing of President Aquino. “All of these have clearance from the President,” said Henares. –

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