‘3 Kings’ of customs dethroned in revamp
It may look like a promotion but 27 senior officials of the Bureau of Customs (BOC)—among them the “Three Kings”—are not really happy about their transfer from the country’s major ports to the Department of Finance’s (DOF) revenue generation group.
This was disclosed to the Inquirer on Thursday by at least two collectors as well as an aide of Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon.
The sources asked not to be identified for lack of authority to speak to the media.
According to the sources, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima has forwarded a customs personnel order (CPO) for Biazon’s signature assigning all collectors 5 and 6 to the DOF cluster on revenue generation.
The cluster is headed by Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares.
The move was sanctioned by Malacañang and is part of the reform program at the BOC, according to the Inquirer sources.
“But there’s a problem,” one of the collectors said. “The Department of Finance made it appear the latest personnel reconfiguration was Commissioner Biazon’s idea, who had no recourse but sign the CPO.”
Among the district collectors covered by the DOF directive are the so-called “Three Kings”—Rogel Gatchalian of the Port of Manila, Ricardo Belmonte of Manila International Container Port (MICP) and Carlos So of the customs office at Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
The three revenue collectors have been dubbed “kings” reportedly because they have three powerful political backers.
Gatchalian is supposedly backed by Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile and So by Iglesia ni Cristo. Belmonte, on the other hand, is the brother of House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr.
As of this writing, Biazon was in a closed-door meeting with several customs collectors at the BOC headquarters in Manila’s South Harbor.
Biazon earlier issued a CPO directing the district collectors, including Gatchalian, Belmonte and So, and other agency personnel to return to their mother units.
Gatchalian was supposed to remain as collector at the Port of Manila, his mother unit. Belmonte and So were supposed to move back to the Port of Cebu and MICP.
Earlier, Biazon announced that three other district collectors would be retained at their posts. They were Tomas Alcid of the Port of Batangas, Fidel Villanueva of the Port of San Fernando, La Union, and Elvie Cruz of the Limay and Mariveles ports in Bataan.
Last week, Biazon welcomed “any new Malacañang appointees” to the bureau, saying he was ready to work with them anytime.
Previous reports said Purisima had recommended retired Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff Jessie Dellosa and four others for deputy commissioner posts at the BOC.
Purisima reportedly endorsed Dellosa to be customs deputy commissioner for intelligence and enforcement.
Purisima also nominated Trinidad Rodriguez, executive director of the National Tax Research Center, and Myrna Chua, director of the Department of Budget and Management, to replace deputy commissioners Peter Manzano and Juan Lorenzo Tañada.
Two others, Agaton Teodoro Uvero and Primo Aguas, have been recommended by Purisima to take over the posts currently held by Prudencio Reyes, chief of the BOC’s assessment and operations coordinating group, and Ma. Caridad Manarang, chief of the BOC management information system.