MANILA: Two top officials of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) resigned yesterday, two days after President Benigno Aquino turned down Commissioner Rozzano Rufino “Ruffy” Biazon’s offer to step down.
Deputy Commissioners Juan Lorenzo Tañada and Danilo Lim submitted their resignation letters yesterday but the Palace said the president had yet to act on them. Tanada is the deputy commissioner for Internal Administration and Lim the deputy commissioner for Intelligence.
Tanada said he informed Biazon about his intention to resign on Tuesday.
“As a presidential appointee myself, I felt the responsibility to give the president the free hand to choose his people of confidence for the BOC. Moreover, I believe I am not a “makapal ang mukha” (thick faced), so immediately after my arrival from an out-of-town trip, I filed my resignation offer to the president,” he said.
In a press briefing, Palace spokesman Edwin Lacierda said the Office of the Executive Secretary has received the resignation letter of Lim.
“We confirm that the Office of the Executive Secretary received the letter, but we have no word yet as to the action taken by the president,” Lacierda said.
Lim and Tanada are among the six Customs deputy commissioners.
Asked if his resignation is irrevocable, Tañada said “it is up to the president if he will accept it or not, and if he will allow reforms in the bureau to continue.”
Tanada added that after being publicly chastised by the president in his SONA, it is but normal for them to submit their resignations.
Biazon lauded Lim and Tanada, saying he understands their reactions after a presidential dressing down.
“Perhaps they had the same feeling I felt when I immediately filed my offer to resign as Customs chief to the president after hearing his SONA. I find the offer of Lim and Tanada to resign very honourable,” he said.
The Customs chief said Lim called him by phone to inform that he will submit his resignation letter to the president. Biazon had a two-hour closed-door meeting with Tanada yesterday.
Biazon said that while he is comfortable working with the two deputy commissioners, he has no problem working with new appointees.
Sen. Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito Estrada also yesterday said that all key Customs officials should submit courtesy resignations. Estrada said it is clear the president is not happy with the performance of some officials at Customs and other agencies he mentioned in his SONA.
Estrada criticised Biazon’s supposed resignation which the president did not accept.
“If he wants to quit he should have made his resignation in black and white, and not through text, because he is the top official of the BOC,” he said.
He also questioned Biazon’s action of posting his conversation with the president on Twitter, saying it was not ethical.
Sen. Vicente Sotto agreed that Biazon should have submitted his resignation in writing.
Lacierda said the president has readied a package of reforms to be implemented at Customs.
He did not say if the reforms will involve reassigning or removing some officials and personnel. “What we’re saying is that the reform measures will be implemented. Some of them have been started,” Lacierda said, confirming Biazon’s statement on Tuesday that a massive revamp was on the way in the bureau.
“The president’s speech was a stinging rebuke to the Customs as an institution and, therefore, whatever reforms we will be implementing, it will be to solve the systemic, endemic, entrenched corruption within Customs,” he said.
Lacierda said corruption in Customs to a large extent “is already institutionalised. That’s the reason why we need to provide solutions and systematic solutions to the problem at Customs.”
“The president views any concern or any problem, and he states it very succinctly: a correct identification of the problem leads to the correct identification of the solution. So let’s just wait for the reform measures to be implemented and you will know, you will definitely know,” he added.