Bureau of Customs Port Collector Ricardo Belmonte, the brother of Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. of Quezon City, is expected to resign from his post today, July 29, Speaker Belmonte revealed on Monday.
Speaker Belmonte made the disclosure in light of the accusations against him that he is using his influence as a politician for his brother Ricardo’s gain at the Bureau of Customs.
“When this thing came up, I told him to quit but he initially said there are only six months to go before his 65th birthday and he felt he is entitled to retirement after serving Customs for 34 years. Now, he has decided that he is filing a courtesy resignation, probably today,” Belmonte said in an interview.
Speaker Belmonte’s brother is the head of the Manila International Container Terminal.
Speaker Belmonte then underscored that such situation proves that his brother never benefited from his political stature and his brother was in fact put in a disadvantage.
“I have never talked to anybody from the Bureau of Customs from the moment I returned to government service. In fact, my brother even suffered because of my political career, specifically when I switched allegiance to then candidate Senator [Benigno] Aquino [3rd]. At that time, he was removed from his position in Cebu despite being an award-winning collector,” Belmonte pointed out, referring to the time when he bolted then ruling party Lakas-Kampi of then President Gloria Arroyo to join then Senator Aquino’s Liberal Party during the 2010 elections.
Customs Commissioner Rufino Biazon earlier called for the resignation of all port collectors in an effort to rid the agency of corruption and influence peddlers.
“He was transferred to the main office and he was not in-charge of anything. At that time, GMA was angry at me, so the anger extended to him,” Belmonte added.
Furthermore, Speaker Belmonte ruled out earlier claims by unidentified sources at the Customs Bureau that his brother Ricardo is gunning for Biazon’s post after retirement.
“I am sure there is no such thing. What has been said is that he has a high position so it is likely that I have something to do with it, but I have never talked to President Aquino, I don’t know Biazon personally and I never made representation for my brother Ricardo,” Belmonte stressed.
In closing, Speaker Belmonte argued that the lawmakers’ letters of recommendation of certain Customs officials do not necessarily prove exercising influence without Customs Commissioner Danilo Lim naming the particular persons and transactions that lawmakers dip their hands into.
“I cannot really believe that anybody here in Congress is so powerful to make things happen there [in Customs Bureau]. A letter of recommendation doesn’t have any weight. Here in Congress, lots of people go to your office to have their letter of recommendations signed by you. They will sit forever [in your office]if you don’t sign it,” Belmonte said.
“He should name the transactions where the Congressman has a hand on, interest in, so that appropriate cases will be field against them if such incident really happened,” Belmonte added.