Former PDEA exec Ruiz named new Customs chief | Inquirer News

Former PDEA exec Ruiz named new Customs chief

By: - Reporter / @NCorralesINQ
/ 05:36 AM July 22, 2022

Yogi Filemon Ruiz —CDN FILE PHOTO

A former regional director of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) in Central Visayas will be the next chief of the Bureau of Customs (BOC), Malacañang announced on Thursday.

Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles said Yogi Filemon Ruiz, who took his oath before the President in Malacañang on Wednesday, would serve as acting commissioner of the BOC.


Prior to his appointment, Ruiz has been the BOC’s director of enforcement and security services since 2017.


Under PDEA, Ruiz first served in the Southern Tagalog region before his appointment as the Central Visayas chief.

On Sept. 4, 2017, Ruiz was appointed by then Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapeña, who used to head PDEA, as chief of the Enforcement and Security Services of the BOC.

He became controversial in 2017 after ordering inmates of Cebu City jail to strip down naked during a surprise inspection, earning the ire of human rights groups.

As head of the BOC, Cruz will be leading an agency that has been criticized for massive corruption under past administrations.

During the televised presidential debate in May, almost all of the nine candidates said that, should they win, the BOC would be the first agency they would scrutinize for corruption.


In 2018, then President Rodrigo Duterte placed on floating status all officials and unit chiefs of the BOC following reports that P11-billion worth of “shabu” (crystal meth) had slipped through the Manila International Container Terminal.


Following the scandal, Duterte reassigned Lapeña to the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) and replaced him with Rey Leonardo Guerrero, a former chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

In 2017, the House ways and means committee recommended the abolition of the BOC after another drug smuggling—involving of P6.4 billion worth of shabu from China—was uncovered at a warehouse in Valenzuela City.

The controversy led to the resignation of then Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon.

In its 2020 audit report, the Commission on Audit called out the BOC for not remitting P1 billion in trust receipts and unspent funds to the National Treasury and criticized the agency for processing and releasing 246 regulated commodities, including luxury cars worth P394.01 million, despite the lack of import permits and other supporting documents.

In a press briefing with select local media on May 26, Mr. Marcos said “there should not be any place for corruption” in government, citing that it has become endemic in some areas.

He warned that his administration would go after corrupt officials, citing corruption allegations at the BOC and the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).

According to the President, the Philippine economy would not succeed if the government, through the BOC and the BIR, could not collect proper taxes and duties.

Competent leader

In Cebu, Ruiz’s former coworkers on Thursday vouched for his integrity and competence as incoming BOC chief.

Leia Albiar, spokesperson for the PDEA in Central Visayas where Ruiz served as director from July 2016 to September 2017, said they were very happy when they learned about their former boss’ appointment.

“With Commissioner Ruiz’s years of experience in drug law enforcement, we look forward to a stronger partnership between PDEA and BOC, especially with our intensified interdiction efforts to curb the smuggling of illegal drugs in the country,” she added.

During Ruiz’s stint in PDEA Central Visayas, the Regional Oversight Committee on Barangay Drug Clearing Program was able to declare some 160 barangays “drug-cleared’’ or “drug-free.”

About a year later, Ruiz’s unit was named the best PDEA regional office, with Lapeña citing its accomplishments in terms of arrests, drugs seizures and barangays cleared of the narcotics trade.

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Back then, Ruiz, a native of Cebu City, said he hoped to change the public perception of PDEA and its personnel, who for years had been accused of either fabricating drug cases for extortion or coddling drug syndicates. —WITH REPORTS FROM NESTLE SEMILLA AND ADOR VINCENT MAYOL

TAGS: BOC, Customs, PDEA, Yogi Filemon Ruiz

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