Biazon can keep his head–Palace

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Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon.. INQUIRER.net FILE PHOTO

To those calling for the head of Customs Commissioner Rozzano Rufino Biazon over rampant oil smuggling, there won’t be any revamp in his agency, Malacañang said on Sunday.

While President Aquino has been mulling over the creation of a watchdog against oil smuggling, the President has no plans to change the Bureau of Customs (BOC) leadership, Secretary Herminio Coloma said.

“I’m not aware of intended changes that are brought about by current events, public outcry or dissatisfaction,” Coloma, chief of the Presidential Communication Operations Office, said in an interview by phone.

Biazon has come under fire again following complaints by chief executive officers of Petron Corp. and Pilipinas Shell that the government was losing P30 billion annually to smuggling of petroleum products through the country’s major ports and special economic zones. He rebuffed calls for his resignation.

The President will deal with Biazon after the May 13 elections, a Malacañang official said.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte confirmed the President had been talking to Sen. Panfilo Lacson about forming a watchdog to root out oil smuggling. Lacson said Biazon was competent to deal with oil smuggling.

Agency’s priority

Coloma said curbing smuggling had been a “priority” of the agency and that smuggling hogged the news the last few days because of the complaints from the oil executives.

“It’s not as if the BOC has not been aware of it. It’s really part of the regular and normal task list of the Bureau of Customs to go after smugglers of whatever commodity,” he said.

Even so, it’s the call of Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima to assess the overall performance of BOC officials in terms of revenue generation, Biazon said. The BOC is under the Department of Finance.

In the past two years and nine months of the Aquino administration, there has been no major revamp of the Cabinet, Coloma observed.

Voluntary resignations

If at all, changes in the Cabinet had been prompted by the voluntary resignation of Cabinet men, like Public Works Secretary Jose de Jesus and Tourism Secretary Alberto Lim, and death in the case of Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo, he said.

“If you look at the last two years and nine months, there was no change caused by gross inefficiency, or gross dissatisfaction of the President with the incumbent,” Coloma said.

Biazon, meanwhile, is “not opposed” to the creation of a watchdog for oil smuggling, “provided that the parameters of its functions and authority do not duplicate those of existing agencies, particularly on enforcement.”

However, such a body could “create potential for conflict among agencies,” as well as “another layer of possible abuse of discretion as experienced in past task forces and similar bodies,” Biazon said.

Originally posted: 5:59 pm | Sunday, April 7th, 2013

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