New Customs chief? 'No specific instructions yet,' says Nograles
MANILA, Philippines – Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said on Friday, January 10, that there were "no specific instructions yet" on a new Customs chief to replace retired military general Rey Leonardo Guerrero.
Nograles made the statement in response to questions about reports that Duterte has tapped Special Envoy to China William Lima, a Davao-based businessman, as the new chief of the Bureau of Customs (BOC).
"No specific instructions yet. Walang ganyang mga (There have been no) specific orders. As far as we're concerned, we wait for orders but no orders have been issued as of the moment," Nograles told reporters.
Lima, one of 5 special envoy to China appointed in 2018, serves as president of DC Invest Incoporated, which deals with food and pharma distribution, food manufacturing, petroleum dealership, freight forwarding and real estate services, restaurants, and manpower services, according to his profile posted on the official website of the Office of the President Special Envoy to China.
Gurrero blindsided: In an interview with reporters on Friday, Guerrero admitted he was caught of guard by the supposed appointment, saying he had no idea he would supposedly be replaced.
"Ako mismo hindi ko rin alam (Even I didn't know) and I'm still awaiting guidance from the President and Secretary of Finance," Guerrero said.
The BOC is an attached agency of the Department of Finance.
Guerrero said he received no word from Duterte, whom he saw at the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police command conference in Malacañang just this Tuesday, January 7.
According to media reports, Duterte was supposed to have offered the BOC post to Lima during a dinner in Malacañang on Wednesday, and that Lima reportedly accepted the job.
Guerrero said he was ready to abide by the President's orders if he were to be replaced, regardless of the reason.
"Reasons don't matter.... We serve at the pleasure of the President. I'm a presidential appointtee. Anytime pupuwede naman ako tanggalin (I can be removed anytime)," he said.
Duterte appointed Guerrero in October 2018 to replace Isidro Lapeña, who was named Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) director general. Lapeña's shift to TESDA came after the Bureau of Customs was scrutinized over P11 billion in missing shabu, which got past the agency packed in magnetic lifters.
If Duterte appoints a new Customs chief, it would be the fourth change in leadership in the BOC under his presidency. His first Customs chief was Nicanor Faeldon, who resigned following criticism over the multibillion-peso shabu smuggling incidents at the Port of Manila. – Rappler.com