EIGHT retired generals-turned-acting port collectors of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) have been ordered replaced by Customs Commissioner Alberto Lina just before the election ban took effect over the weekend.
Lina was forced to terminate the services of the retired generals as acting port collectors after Congress denied the budgetary requirements of the Office of Revenue Agency Modernization (ORAM) in the 2016 national budget.
The eight were identified as Esteban Castro, acting collector of Clark International Airport; Ernesto Benetiz Jr. Port of Batangas; Mario Mendoza, Port of Manila; Elmir dela Cruz, Manila International Container Port; Arnulfo Marcos, Port of Cebu; Jerry Lorescom, Port of Zamboanga; Bonifacio de Castro, Port of San Fernando; and Rolando Ricafrente, Port of Limay.
Except for Ricafrente whose next-in-rank is still being considered, the retired generals will be replaced by next-in-rank officers effective immediately.
The former military officers were originally detailed at the ORAM.
But in 2013, the Department of Finance reassigned some Customs district collectors to the Customs Policy Research Office (CPRO) and put in their place the retired generals forming the ORAM, which is responsible for implementing a system and processing enhancement to improve revenue revenues based on their ‘integrity, management skills and capabilities.’
“It’s important to note that the Department of Finance and the Bureau of Customs have extensively defended ORAM during the budget hearings to retain [the office],” Lina said.
“We trust that the next-in-line officers know the Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines by heart, the appropriate Customs valuations and assessments, and duties and taxes. We also need a strengthened push in terms of our investigations against smugglers and getting convictions,” he added.
The bureau posted revenues of P366.9 billion cumulatively for 2015, P69.6 billion lower than the target of P436.5 billion.
Year on year, it falls short by P2.3 billion or 0.6 percent of its revenue targets.
The month of December registered P37.1 billion in total collections, 5.8 percent or P2.2 billion lower than the P39.4-billion target.
But there is an increase in actual cash collection by 20 percent or P5.4 billion than the same month in 2014.
The bureau’s top performers for 2015 (above-target revenue collections) are: Zamboanga (by P175 million), Legazpi (by P290 million) and Iloilo (by P2.3 billion).
The lowest performers were Aparri, Limay and San Fernando, falling short of targets by P455 million, P23 billion and P835 million, respectively.