Leave posts, port collectors ordered

A revamp begins at the Bureau of Customs

PLANNED REFORMS. Embattled Customs commissioner Ruffy Biazon reveals a plan to reassign port collectors as part of the agency's reform plan. Photo by Arcel Cometa/Rappler.com

MANILA, Philippines – A revamp is underway at the Bureau of Customs (BOC).

In an attempt to address President Benigno Aquino III’s scathing criticism of the agency, Customs chief Rozzano Rufino Biazon announced on Friday, July 26, his order for at least 17 port collectors nationwide to relinquish their posts. 

This will allow him to reassign them, he added.

Biazon said he was giving the collectors until Monday, July 29, to do this. And if they don’t, “we will still carry out reassignments.”

Customs officials said the agency has 17 major port collectors nationwide and just as many sub-collectors. 

Biazon’s announcement comes 3 days after President Aquino, in his State of the Nation Address, slammed the bureau for its personnel who are “outdoing each other’s incompetence.”

READ: Aquino shames customs bureau 

Biazon and his two deputies – Danilo Lim and Juan Lorenzo Tañada – offered to resign after the SONA. But Malacañang said the President has yet to decide on whether or not to retain them.

READ: Customs, corruption: A hopeless case? 

Biazon said his order does not mean the port collectors are at fault. “I’m not saying it starts with them but they have the authority to institute reforms,” he said.

He also admitted the move is not going to solve all the problems of the agency.

“If we moved our collection districts now, it doesn’t mean the problem is solved. But providing the leadership in those collection districts will at least give a fresh start to institute reforms down the line,” he said.

Biazon had earlier suggested the abolition of the agency, to allow it to start from scratch.

Part of bigger plan

Biazon said all replacements are subject to the approval of the Department of Finance (DOF), which supervises the bureau.

He also said there would be consultations regarding the replacements. “As we change people down the line, not only is it logical to consult the heads of the port… it is also part of rules and regulations to consult them before assigning people below them,” he said.

He also gave assurances he will explain his basis, and why he is “batting for a [certain] person,” in cases where he would disagree with DOF’s replacements.

The goal is to minimize corruption and meet the agency’s monthly revenue targets. But Biazon refused to give a timetable as to when he expects to lift the collection amounts, only saying “it’s a daily thing.”

He said so far, figures show a rise in collection by 14% for the month of July. Since he assumed office in September 2011, Biazon only met his monthly revenue target once. 

“We started the reforms from the time I sat in office. It just takes time. Sometimes there are obstacles and difficulties,” he said.

Earlier this week, Biazon told reporters, “I hope you would not take it against me if sometime in the near future I would hang up the gloves because sometimes you begin to think if this is all worth it.” – Rappler.com

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