MANILA, Philippines—The Bureau of Customs’ first major reshuffle of its top officials during the Aquino administration has raised eyebrows at the Department of Finance-attached agency due to the non-inclusion in the revamp of what BOC insiders refer to as the bureau’s “Three Kings.”
BOC personnel were referring to Collectors Ricardo Belmonte, Rogel Gatchalian and Carlos So, heads of the Manila International Container Port (MICP) and the ports of Manila and the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), respectively.
Belmonte is a younger brother of House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, while Gatchalian and So are said to be backed by Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and the influential Iglesia ni Cristo.
BOC personnel also noted that all three ports were among the 10 collection districts that had failed to meet their revenue targets for 2012.
Commissioner Ruffy Biazon, however, defended the BOC heads’ “reconfiguration,” saying that was his “discretion” being the bureau boss.
The revamp would be a “continuing thing,” claimed the former Muntinlupa City legislator and Liberal Party stalwart.
“This is just the initial phase of several other measures we shall undertake to meet our collection target for the year 2013,” which totals P340 billion, P7 billion less than the BOC’s goal in 2012.
Biazon emphasized the revamp was “geared mostly towards improving collections.”
“We are doing a reconfiguration of our organizational structure, especially among our frontline officials, to reposition our district collectors where they can be most productive,” he explained.
The BOC head warned he would “not hesitate to reassign or reshuffle Customs officials who may not be performing up to expectations.”
“We shall be closely monitoring the performance of frontline offcials…I will now do a quarterly performance assessment of district collectors and other unit heads under the Office of the Commissioner and set a particular quota for them, in addition to their revenue collection targets,” he told reporters.
Biazon also noted that “within the year, there will be some people who will be retiring. So as a matter of regular course, there will be some vacant positions. So definitely, we’ll be assigning or transferring people to other positions.”
Meanwhile, Biazon expressed confidence the bureau would meet collection goal this year, which he described as a “more reachable target.”
“We shall be adjusting our collection strategy every now and then to make the BOC responsive to present trends and needs,” Biazon added.
From January to December 2012, BOC revenues totaled only P287 billion, or a shortfall of nearly P60 billion.
The MICP, which had the highest revenue target of P94.3 billion, collected only P72.5 billion.
On the other hand, the port of Manila registered only P56.5 billion, about P18 billion short of its P75-billion goal.
Batangas port, where most of the oil depots are located, had a shortfall of a little more than P10 billion while the NAIA had a deficit of P4.66 billion.