Guevarra: AFP 'takeover' of customs does not violate civilian rule

CIVILIAN RULE? Secretary Menardo Guevarra says the retired general who heads Customs is now a 'civilian.' File photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler

CIVILIAN RULE? Secretary Menardo Guevarra says the retired general who heads Customs is now a 'civilian.

' File photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte’s directive to let the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) take over the Bureau of Customs (BOC) does not violate civilian supremacy rule because its chief is a civilian, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra  said.

“Certainly not, because the BOC chief is a civilian; the BOC is under the Department of Finance (DOF); and the DOF is under the President,” Guevarra said on Monday, October 29.

Guevarra assured the public that civilian rule remains supreme as the recently-appointed Customs chief is “now a civilian,” referring to retired General Rey Guerrero, former Armed Forces chief of staff.  

This comes after groups cited Section 3 Article II of the 1987 Philippine Constitution that states “civilian authority is, at all times, supreme over the military.  

Guerrero replaced former Customs chief Isidro Lapeña who was transferred to the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA). It is the latest in a series of Duterte’s appointment of former military men to government posts. 

It is also Duterte's 3rd revamp in less than a year in the graft-ridden agency. (READ: A new customs chief, DFA chief, spokesman a year for Duterte)

The temporary military takeover, announced by Duterte on Sunday, September 29, was meant “to ensure that massive entry of illegal drugs, which threatens public safety, is immediately stopped,” he said.

The Duterte administration has been in a quandary over how to deal with the P11-billion shabu shipment scandal which has been the subject of congressional hearings.  

Lapeña on October 25 conceded that empty magnetic lifters found in Cavite contained illegal drugs – after previously denying and contesting the claim of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA). (READ: At the Bureau of Customs: How Isidro Lapeña was outplayed)

But Duterte has defended Lapeña and former commissioner Nicanor Faeldon, saying that the two were only tricked by insiders. (READ: Duterte defends Lapeña: Nalusutan lang talaga) – Rappler.com