Massive reshuffle at Bureau of Customs

Rey Leonardo Guerrero

THE Bureau of Customs is set to implement a “massive reshuffle” in the next few days in line with Comm. Rey Leonardo ‘Jagger’ Guerrero’s effort to combat corruption, incompetence and inefficiencies in the agency.

In an interview yesterday, Guerrero said he is very much “eager” (“nanggigigil” in the vernacular) to implement the reshuffle but was prevented from doing so because of the election ban.

“On top of my agenda is (the fight against) graft and corruption… sa totoo lang, gigil na gigil na ako (to fire people)… inabutan lang ako ng election ban,” Guerrero told a select group of media.

Although Guerrero would not reveal the exact number of those to be removed from their posts, he conceded this would cover at least “20” officials.

He added among the reasons for their removal would be “incompetence” and “inefficiencies.”

Responding to the privilege speech delivered by Sen. Panfilo Lacson on Wednesday, Guerrero said the bureau is “ready” for any investigation.

“We are prepared; we will face the Senate to explain ourselves,” said the highly respected former chief of staff of the Armed Forces.

Guerrero said he has “high respect” for Lacson and “accepts” that there are still many things that needed “to be fixed” at the agency.

He added that he also accepts Lacson’s observation that the never-ending issue of corruption in the agency is a “challenge” to his leadership.

However, Guerrero took exception to Lacson’s allegation that the bureau consented to the auction of 146 kilos of shabu that was found mixed with an abandoned shipment of tapioca starch from Cambodia.

Combined units from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), Philippine National Police (PNP) and the BoC recovered the shabu, worth more than P1 billion, inside a warehouse in Malabon City last week.

“What we auctioned was the tapioca starch, not the shabu,” Guerrero stressed.

The customs chief added that “consistent” with his campaign against graft and corruption, he is focusing on “improving” the bureau’s “systems and procedures” thru the use of modern technology that is also aimed at promoting “transparency.”

Aside from customs officials who is set to be removed by Guerrero, sources said the number of those to be affected by the looming reshuffle could be much higher.

According to highly-placed sources, deputy commissioner for intelligence, Rainiel Ramiro, and deputy commissioner for enforcement, Teddy Raval, are also drawing up their respective plans for a massive reshuffle of their units, the Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service (CIIS) and the Enforcement and Security Service (ESS), respectively.

Both the offices of Ramiro and Raval were among those named by Lacson as allegedly involved in the “tara” system, aside from the office of Guerrero.

The sources however, stressed that the planned massive reshuffle of customs positions has long been prepared for implementation but has been given greater urgency by Lacson’s speech.