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Biazon drops Senate bid

Rappler.com
Posted on 09/25/2012 11:52 AM  | Updated 09/25/2012 11:46 PM

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon on Tuesday, September 25, said he has decided not to run for senator "after consultation with the President." He will stay in the Bureau of Customs (BOC).

"I am encouraged by the President's trust and confidence when he said, 'I will be very glad if you stayed with the BOC,'" said Biazon through his Twitter account, @CommissionerBOC.

"I've always said and still maintain that I'm happier as a legislator, but the call of duty to pursue the President's reform agenda in BOC is strong," he explained.

Earlier, the Liberal Party said Biazon is among its senatorial bets for 2013. Biazon, however, said he was uncertain about running in the next elections.

"I will be glad to stay in the BOC kasi because [as far as] fighting chance [for a seat at the] Senate, I will be better in the BOC," he later told reporters.

"I made an assessment. I consulted the president (Aquino). Where can I best help? That's what I told the President," Biazon added, referring to a meeting with President Aquino last week.

"As of now, there is no Biazon who will run for the Senate," he added, also referring to his father, former Senator and now Muntinlupa Rep. Rodolfo Biazon.

The younger Biazon assumed the reform-challenged Customs portfolio in September 2011 after he lost his bid for a seat at the Senate in the 2010 polls. He was formerly the Muntinlupa representative at the Lower House.

Under Biazon, the BOC has missed most of its collection targets in the past months.

In August, the BOC collected P22.307 billion, slightly more than the P22.152 collected in August 2011, but P6 billion lower than the P28 billion target for the month. Biazon had cited the two holidays during the month, August 21 and 27, and the Southwest monsoon rain that caused record floods in the National Capital Region and neighboring areas that resulted in suspension of work in the top ports in the capital.

The August collections brought the agency’s 8-month revenue take to P190.04 billion, 10.5% more than a year ago, but made the P347 billion target it is tasked to collect this 2012 increasingly becoming difficult to meet, Biazon had admitted.

End-2012 target was originally set at P357 billion by the the interagency Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC), the group that sets the country's macroeconomic assumptions.

In 2011, the BOC already missed its target by P56.15 billion. It collected roughly P263 billion but the official target was P320 billion.

Biazon had said he would step up the agency’s fight against smuggling. He said the Run After the Smugglers (RATS) program of the BOC would continue to file cases against smugglers as well as Customs insiders and brokers conniving with them. He also said RATS would try to file bigger cases this year.

Just like the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), which collects about 3/4 of government's total revenues, the BOC is under pressure to meet collection goals since the the Aquino administration is pursuing its election campaign promise not to push for new tax measures. – Rappler.com


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