MANILA, Philippines—Some of the 27 revenue collectors who were transferred to the newly created Customs Policy Research Office (CPRO) at the Department of Finance (DOF) are considering “optional retirement,” especially “those who had just a few years of service left,” according to Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon.
“Those who are younger will most likely stay in their present assignments until the end of the Aquino administration unless there’s a new direction in the ongoing Bureau of Customs (BOC) reform program,” Biazon said.
“But there’s a possibility that they’ll be tapped for the reform program,” he added.
Biazon said he felt bad that some “top-performing” port collectors were among those moved to the CPRO.
“There’s even one or two who had already reached the annual collection target and even got a rating of excellent,” he noted.
But the BOC head pointed out that “sometimes in the realm of reforms, there are sacrifices that have to be made.”
Biazon neither confirmed nor denied that the collectors had been placed on floating status, but said it was true that the finance department had started training the collectors’ replacements.
Some DOF insiders earlier told the Inquirer that the new BOC port collectors were “interviewed by no less than (Revenue) Commissioner Kim Henares.”
“Those undergoing training passed the three main criteria set by the DOF for the post: technical qualification, integrity and no conflict of interest,” said the same sources who asked not to be named for lack of authority to speak to the media.
During last week’s Kapihan sa Aduana media forum at customs headquarters at the Manila South Harbor, Biazon said the reconfiguration of bureau personnel was “part of a bigger plan to reform the BOC.”
He emphasized that it was “not a castration of the commissioner.”
Biazon said he would “continue to exercise what I believe is necessary for the continuous front-line operations of the bureau without going against the policies of the leadership.”
He welcomed the dismissal by a Manila regional trial court of a petition by some of the port collectors asking that the court stop their transfer to the CPRO.
Biazon directed the group of protesting port collectors to report immediately to the CPRO.
In denying the collectors’ petition for a writ of preliminary injunction, or an indefinite TRO, Judge Felicitas Cacanandin said that it was “not proper.”
“The court cannot enjoin an agency from performing an act within its prerogative, except when in the exercise of its authority it gravely abused or exceeded its jurisdiction,” the judge said.