Customs Commissioner Rozzano Rufino Biazon said he was planning to set a single day for all Bureau of Customs employees to submit their birth certificates to ascertain their true age.
Biazon, in an interview with Inquirer editors and reporters on Thursday night, said his office had encountered several cases of employees delaying their retirement by producing documents that showed they had not yet reached the age of retirement.
“People suddenly get younger when they are about to retire. They get a court order or a record. All of a sudden, they’re three or seven years younger and they can’t be retired yet. They must have found the Fountain of Youth at the Bureau of Customs,” Biazon said, referring to the source of youth-restoring water that the 16th-century Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon failed to find.
Biazon said he would soon issue a memorandum requiring all career employees at the bureau to submit on a single day their authentic birth certificates, complete school and employment records, and other documents.
“Everyone must check and state their age on this day. After this, changes will not be entertained,” he said.
Biazon, while not accusing anyone in the bureau of wrongdoing, said scheduled retirements were part of the “organizational restructuring” that he was planning for the bureau.
Aside from prolonging their employment by becoming “younger,” customs employees get politicians to lobby for their extension, Biazon said.
But being a politician himself, Biazon said he knew how to handle this problem.
“We have to insulate Customs from politics. My advantage is that I am a politician. Others would point out that my being a politician is a problem because that means I would have to make deals. But the difference [with me] is that I’m not pressured by fellow politicians,” Biazon said.
He recounted that shortly after his appointment to the bureau, one employee resorted to such a tactic.
“He wanted to be extended. A politician called me up to lobby for the extension. But my policy is, retired is retired, no extension. If he gets extended, then we cannot promote somebody to that post. When the politician became insistent, I said I would consult the Civil Service Commission and the President. That’s when the lobbying stopped. So the guy (the employee) retired,” he said.