Court extends TRO vs transfer of 15 Customs execs
MANILA, Philippines—The Manila Regional Trial Court on Friday extended the 72-hour temporary restraining order (TRO) earlier sought by 15 Bureau of Customs (BOC) collectors who had been ordered transferred to a newly created office under the Department of Finance (DOF).
In a six-page order, Judge Felicitas Laron-Cacanindin of Manila RTC Branch 17 extended for 20 days, including the original 72-hour respite, or until Oct. 20, 2013, the TRO without the need of posting bond.
On Tuesday, 15 customs collectors asked the court to issue a TRO to stop their transfer, citing lack of due process and violation of their security of tenure. They also filed a case of declaratory relief questioning the validity of a customs personnel order (CPO) on their transfer.
They pointed out that the CPO was beyond the powers of Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon to transfer them to a body outside the BOC. They added that their transfer is a scheme to constructively dismiss and demote them.
In granting the TRO extension, the court said it was “tentatively convinced that the right of the petitioners exists and the implementation of the assailed CPO is violative of their rights.”
The court stressed that while it agrees with the administration’s policy to institute reforms and cleanse the government bureaucracy of corruption and irregularities, “it lays clear that reforms should also be made under the purview of the dictates of the Constitution as the supreme law of the land and must necessarily satisfy all questions of legalities.”
Under the CPO signed by Biazon on Sept. 17, 27 customs collectors will be detailed to the Customs Policy Research Office (CPRO), which was created by Executive Order No. 140 with the task of reviewing tariff and customs administration policies. The new research body is under the DOF.
Biazon said he would wait for the official copy of the court order before making any comment.