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House probes BOC execs’ sacking

THE HOUSE ways and means committee has summoned a top Bureau of Customs (BOC) official to a hearing today (Tuesday) to explain his allegation the recent dismissal of eight retired military officers as port collectors was due to politics, not merit.

Deputy Commissioner for the Intelligence Group Jessie Dellosa was invited in a Jan. 21 letter by Marikina City Rep. Romero Quimbo, panel chair, to the Jan. 26 inquiry that would look into the Dellosa’s “allegation that the removal of the BOC officials was politically motivated and not due to merit.”

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In the letter, a copy of which was obtained by the Inquirer, Quimbo said his committee will investigate the “circumstances behind the removal of the officials.”

The port collectors were Esteban Castro of Clark International Airport in Pampanga; Ernesto Benitez Jr., Port of Batangas; Mario Mendoza, Port of Manila; Elmir de la Cruz, Manila International Container Port; Arnulfo Marcos, Port of Cebu; Jerry Loresco, Port of Zamboanga; Bonifacio de Castro, Port of San Fernando, La Union, and Rolando Ricafrente, Port of Limay, Bataan.

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Dellosa, a former chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, was earlier quoted by the Inquirer as saying that the removal of the retired military officers was “because of politics,” stressing that “they were victims of politics.”

He said some politicians, including congressmen he did not identify, pushed hard to have the eight replaced. “The reason was unclear,” he added.

‘Illegal, inutile’

Customs personnel interviewed for this story said their boss, Dellosa, was standing by his pronouncements.

Dellosa lamented that calling the sacked port collectors “illegal and inutile and bidding them good riddance after terminating them was uncalled for and unfair.”

It was Valenzuela City Rep. Magtanggol Gunigundo who had referred to the collectors as illegal and inutile.

BOC insiders urged Dellosa to “tell all” at today’s House hearing, including naming the legislators behind the appointment of a number of customs personnel to choice positions in the bureau.

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Last week, resigned Customs Commissioner John Phillip Sevilla joined bureau reform team members in taking up the cudgels for the dismissed port collectors.

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

Their work “yielded positive results,” he said, adding “they stepped on plenty of toes” and “Congress, that great institution of vested interests in customs, finally figured out a way to get them fired.”

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