MANILA, Philippines — It may have sounded to many like President Benigno Aquino III was berating Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon in the latter’s fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA), but Muntinlupa City Representative Rodolfo Biazon believed the tirades were not directed at his son.
He was unable to attend President Benigno Aquino III’s fourth SONA but Rep. Biazon, in an interview with reporters on Tuesday, said he did not take what sounded like criticism towards his son’s agency badly.
It was not an “insult” in the sense that the Muntinlupa lawmaker thought the message was directed at the bureau and not just its commissioner.
“I wasn’t able to monitor the SONA since I was traveling (but) I’m glad that the Bureau of Customs is becoming to be on the forefront of public scrutiny. This is the only way we can effect reforms,” he said.
“The statement of the President is setting Commissioner Biazon free to do what he has to do to address changes required in the bureau,” he added.
The Muntinlupa lawmaker admitted that his son hesitated and took some time before accepting the President’s offer to head the BOC.
“In the very beginning when he was offered the job, I said you don’t have to accept it. He answered how do I say no to the President,” said Rep. Biazon.
The younger Biazon took roughly a month to study the position before he accepted the offer from the President.
He said that the President must know the difficulties faced by his son in initiating changes within the agency.
“To a certain level, his hands are tied because of the groups with political and vested interests in the bureau,” said added.
The former defense secretary said that laws were needed in order to restructure the bureau.
“I have filed House Bill No. 5. It seeks to modernize the Bureau of Customs,” he said, citing three “problem areas” which hampered the younger Biazon.
One was procedural reforms and the Muntinlupa legislator sought less human intervention–or if possible the elimination of human intervention in the evaluation and release of goods, and in the collection of taxes.
The second was the need to “insulate the bureau from vested and political interest groups.”
“It’s already public knowledge that they apply pressures in releasing and evaluation of goods–even the assignment of appointees to their jobs–we have to insulate bureau from these groups,” Biazon maintained.
Third was the “culture of corruption” in the bureau which he said could be happening from the rank and file all the way up to the higher positions.