Duterte did not consult Lorenzana on Customs military takeover
MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte did not consult Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana before ordering the military "takeover" at the Bureau of Customs (BOC), Lorenzana disclosed to reporters on Wednesday, October 31.
"No, wala, wala, it's just the decision of the President (No, nothing, nothing, it's just the decision of the President)," Lorenzana said in a Camp Aguinaldo press conference.
As defense chief, Lorenzana has administrative supervision over the military. He added that he would take part in the drafting of the guidelines for the plan, along with Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez and Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea.
The government is being careful as the Constitution bans active-duty military personnel from occupying positions in a civilian agency like the BOC. (READ: Soldiers in Customs? But Constitution bars civilian assignments for military)
Thus it remains unclear how the presidential order, caused by Duterte's frustration with corruption in the agency, would be implemented.
Asked for his opinion on the necessity of assigning soldiers to Customs, Lorenzana deferred to Duterte.
"I think I will not be the one to determine if necessary. I think it is the President who can determine that. Mas marami siyang alam diyan sa Customs na information (He knows more information about Customs)," Lorenzana said.
Lorenzana downplayed the order of the commander-in-chief, stressing that the soldiers they would be deploying will be no more than a battalion size, or anywhere from 300 to 500.
"It will be select people to [assess] damage [in] some aspects of the bureau," Lorenzana said.
This is the second time in recent months that Lorenzana was not consulted on a major presidential decision involving the military.
In September, Lorenzana conceded that he was not asked before the President issued Proclamation No. 572 that voided the amnesty of one of his harshest critics, Senator Antonio Trillanes IV. – Rappler.com