Ex-customs chief: No pressure to collect funds, pressure to resign
Former Customs Commissioner John Phillip “Sunny” P. Sevilla said on Monday that no one sought to tap collections from the notoriously graft-ridden agency to raise campaign funds.
In a statement, Sevilla said he was “deeply saddened by the emergence of a number of erroneous and misleading reports in various news media regarding my resignation from the Bureau of Customs.”
According to Sevilla, “[n]o person or political party ever, at any point, asked me to raise funds, or use Customs to raise funds.”
Also, Sevilla clarified that he was “not fired.”
As for a television news report wherein Sevilla allegedly named four personalities who made him resign, he offered this explanation:
“At various points starting in late 2013 and through 2014, I had discussions about Atty. Teddy Raval and his potential reassignment or appointment to various positions in Customs, with Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, Deputy Executive Secretary Teofilo Pilando Jr., [Finance] Secretary Cesar Purisima, and DOF [Department of Finance Undersecretary Carlo] Carag. I was initially told that the Iglesia ni Cristo was pushing for his reassignment to the intelligence division.
“I did not reassign Atty. Raval to the intelligence division, or any other area within the Bureau of Customs. The [four] officials mentioned… fully respected this.
“No one from the Iglesia ni Cristo ever contacted me directly; as such, I have no direct confirmation that the Iglesia ni Cristo was truly pushing Atty. Raval’s reassignment or appointment.”
“No one, at any point, lobbied me to appoint Atty. Teddy Raval as director of the enforcement and security service.”
“No one—not Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, not Secretary Purisima, nor anyone else pressured me at any point to resign from the Bureau of Customs. On the contrary, Executive Secretary Ochoa and Secretary Purisima urged me to remain at the bureau.”
“My resignation from the Bureau of Customs was my decision alone,” Sevilla said.
Sevilla reiterated that he resigned as Customs chief last week as he “disagreed with the prospective appointment of Atty. Raval as director of the enforcement and security service and believed that it would be better for Customs to be led by someone who could better navigate a more political environment than me, while continuing structural reforms.”
As for his replacement, Customs Commissioner Alberto “Bert” D. Lina, Sevilla said: “It is my hope that all Customs stakeholders will work together with Commissioner Alberto Lina toward our common goal of a Bureau of Customs that is efficient, effective, and free of corruption and politics.”
“Toward this end, Commissioner Lina and Secretary Purisima will have my support and any help they may need from me,” Sevilla added.
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