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Ex-Customs chief takes up cudgels for sacked officials

Resigned Customs Commissioner John Philip Sevilla has joined some Bureau of Customs reform team members in taking up the cudgels for five retired generals and two other former military officers who were sacked early this week as BOC district collectors.

“These retired generals made huge sacrifices and took great personal risks to reform a corrupt institution,” Sevilla posted on his Facebook account.

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Their work “yielded positive results,” Sevilla said of the retired Armed Forces of the Philippines officers, who had been running key ports since 2013 as detailed personnel of the Department of Finance’s Office of Revenue Agency Modernization.

Sevilla, who quit in April 2015 because of unbearable political pressure, said there was “unprecedented revenue growth and reductions in smuggling, which was recognized by the parties most affected by smuggling—rice, steel and petrochemical producers.”

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“They stepped on plenty of toes,” he said, and “Congress, that great institution of vested interests in customs, finally figured out a way to get them fired.”

The retired military men “deserve thanks and praise, not a stab in the back,” Sevilla said.

“How will you get people with the courage you need to reform a corrupt institution when no one has their back?” he asked.

In his Facebook post, Sevilla also referred to the news report on the sacking of the generals as “irresponsible reporting at its best.”

The Inquirer learned about Sevilla’s Facebook post from bureau officials, including Deputy Customs Commissioner Jessie Dellosa, a former AFP chief.

Meanwhile, the sacked generals said in a statement that as soldiers, they “subscribe to the tenets of discipline.”

“Thus, we follow orders without recrimination. When we survive following the order, we are ready to receive the next order,” they also said.

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They emphasized that “by obeying, our nation survives and provides the opportunity to develop and to stand proudly among other nations.”

The generals also stressed they “face the gun of the enemy to protect our countrymen so they can live in peace.”

Referring to the reference to them as “illegal and inutile” by Valenzuela City Rep. Magtanggol Gunigundo, the chair of the House ways and means committee, they warned that with the removal of the “useless and inutile” ex-soldiers, “our countrymen will have to face the gun of the enemy themselves.”

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TAGS: Bureau of Customs, Jessie Dellosa, John Philip Sevilla, Magtanggol Gunigundo, Office of Revenue Agency Modernization, Smuggling
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