Purisima: TRO for Customs collectors disrupts reforms
MANILA, Philippines – The Finance department said Wednesday, October 2 that the temporary restraining order (TRO) granted by a local court to 27 Bureau of Customs (BOC) collectors is disrupting the reforms the government is implementing at the agency.
In a statement, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima said, "Reform at the BOC is an absolute necessity directed by President Aquino himself. The implementation of this order is crucial not just to restoring trust in the BOC but to stamp out smugglers once and for all."
Read: Customs collectors get TRO on transfer to DOF
"TROs like this tie government's hands and serve the malicious interests he (Aquino) is campaigning against," Purisima added.
On Tuesday, October 1, the Manila Regional Trial Court issued a 72-hour TRO, suspending the transfer of the Customs collectors 5 and 6 to the Department of Finance's Customs Policy Research Office (CPRO).
The transfer was directed by Customs chief Ruffy Biazon by virtue of Customs Personnel Order (CPO) B-189-2013.
The court argued that said collectors "stand to be reassigned to an office whose principal purpose is research and policy formulation, which is totally inconsistent with their position description, which is enforcement of the Tariff and Customs Code."
Purisima, however, maintained that “the CPRO is a legitimate office created with the purpose of ensuring that the BOC is aligned with the international standards on customs administration. These collectors, by their own admission of seniority and rank, are in fact the most qualified to reach this objective. They are all experts in customs procedures, policies and global trade practices."
"They have the experience and received government-sponsored training to identify and correct weaknesses in customs operations. It is not a ghost office. Furthermore, these officials are still employees. There is no change in their tenure, salary or benefits,” Purisima said.
The transfer is just one in a series of reforms that the Aquino administration is doing to address rampant corruption at BOC.
Biazon, with the approval of Purisima, also signed an order directing all BOC employees to return to their mother units or the posts they were originally appointed to.
Read: Customs employees oppose return-to-mother-unit order
The Finance head stressed that all BOC port operations have normalized at the wake of the reforms.
The attempt by collectors to go back to their ports "will only disrupt operations that have already achieved normalcy," said Purisima.
He added that even with the TRO, the collectors will not be able to return to their posts as this will be a clear violation of the COMELEC election ban on appointments, he expressed.
In an interview with radio station DZMM, Biazon however said, "the TRO is a legal mandate from the court. We are obliged to comply." – Rappler.com