Rufino “Ruffy” Biazon resigned as Customs commissioner on Monday, several days after the Justice department charged him with misusing his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) when he was a congressman.
Biazon made it clear his “irrevocable resignation” was “not an admission of guilt” and that he will face his accusers and answer the charges at the proper forum.
“I resigned to protect my family from the exposure to the hostile controversy, for it will be too much for them to endure. This resignation is to protect the President, save my family from undue stress and prevent anyone to gain something from this issue,” he said.
Biazon said he first thought of holding on to his position but that “honor” eventually persuaded him to leave.
“I will face the allegations in a proper forum and give way to another leadership who has no question of credibility,” he said.
In a statement, President Benigno Aquino 3rd said he has accepted Biazon’s resignation and gave him until this week to wind up his affairs at the Bureau of Customs.
“This afternoon, I met with Customs Commissioner Rozzano Rufino B. Biazon, who submitted to me his irrevocable resignation. In his letter to me, and in our conversation, he explained that it would be best to provide the Secretary of Finance the widest leverage and flexibility to steer the future direction of the Bureau of Customs, in light of the controversy brought about by Commissioner Biazon’s inclusion in the complaint of the National Bureau of Investigation before the Ombudsman,” the President said.
Aquino said Biazon “believes that the proper thing to do is to defend himself without compromising his past record, or the ongoing reforms in the bureau.”
“He is especially concerned with protecting his family, in particular his children, from the effects of a public controversy,” the President added. “I thank him for his years of service to our administration and the nation. I wish him nothing but the best as he returns to private life.”
As a congressman, Biazon represented Muntinlupa City. He ran for the Senate in 2010 but lost.
Last week, he and 33 others were charged with malversation, direct bribery and graft and corruption in connection with the pork barrel scam allegedly masterminded by Janet Lim-Napoles.
The other accused were former Ilocos Sur representative Salacnib Baterina; former Davao del Sur 1st District representative Marc Douglas Cagas IV; former Davao del Sur 1st district Rep. Douglas Cagas, former Davao del Norte congressman Arrel Olaño, former Oriental Mindoro representative Rodolfo Valencia, former South Cotabato 2nd District representative Arthur Pingoy; two congressional aides; three agency heads; two presidents of non-government organizations (NGOs), seven agency employees, 12 Commission on Audit auditors and Napoles.
The former lawmakers were accused of getting kickbacks after funnelling part of their pork barrel funds to bogus NGOs put up by Napoles.
A plunder complaint was filed earlier against Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada, and Ramon Revilla Jr., former Apec partylist Rep. Edgar Valdez, former Masbate Rep. Rizalina Seachon-Lanete and also Napoles.
Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. commended Biazon for valuing “delicadeza.”
“In resigning his post, Commissioner Biazon has done right by the President and by our people. He has demonstrated the significance of valuing a sense of delicadeza in public service,” Coloma said.
At the House of Representatives, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. had urged Biazon to resign in light of the graft charges he faces.
“Customs is a different office. You can’t afford to have people talk behind your back and say, we are of the same kind here. I would say he should tender his resignation and let the President decide [on his fate],” Belmonte, a partymate of Biazon in the Liberal Party, said.
“He should make the gesture that he is willing to step down, show that he is not clinging on to his post. He should tell the President that while it is under the Executive power to make the call, he won’t get hurt if he gets the ax,” Belmonte added.
Biazon has already had a tough year. Aquino used his State of the Nation Address in July to blast Customs officials for their gall to remain in their posts despite miserably failing to curb smuggling.