Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima is the one calling the shots at the Bureau of Customs and the replacement of Commissioner Ruffy Biazon must have “good relations” with him.
Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. on Wednesday made the chain of command at Customs clear.
“The President has stated when he accepted the resignation of Commissioner Biazon that he wants to give the Finance secretary some leverage in the transition period. As I understand it, his inputs and recommendations would be sought in relation to the appointment of the new Customs commissioner,” Coloma said.
President Benigno Aquino 3rd would choose the “most qualified” from among the Purisima will recommended, he said.
Purisima’s word counts a lot in choosing Biazon’s successor, Coloma said.
Among factors that would enhance performance would be that aspect of having good relations within the authority structure of the agency concerned,” he added.
Purisima and Biazon were said to be not on good terms and that the former lawmaker reports directly to the President. Customs insiders said Purisima heads a “clique” that maneuvered to ease out Biazon. The group reportedly includes the Finance chief’s “business associates,” former Customs chiefs Angelito Alvarez and Bert Lina.
Several names have been floated as Biazon’s replacement but only two— Jesse Dellosa and Deputy Commissioner for Assessment and Operations Coordinating Group Agaton Teodoro Uvero– are said to be the leading choices.
Sources said Biazon had no hand in appointing the new Customs officials last September.
Besides Dellosa, Uvero and other deputy commissioners in the bureau, the names of Internal Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares and Heidi Mendoza of the Commission on Audit were mentiolned as Biazon’s possible replacement.
“The President will make a decision based on his own assessment on what is right and what should be done. I believe the President will appoint the most qualified person,” Coloma said.
While Dellosa, who was once the Armed Forces chief, enjoys the trust and confidence of Aquino, Uvero is closest to Purisima and Henares.
Uvero, it was learned, is an expert in international trade, indirect tax (customs), logistics and supply chain operations. Since 2002, he has worked on various Customs technical assistance programs funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), among others.
Coloma said there is an “urgency” in filling the Customs post because the bureau is “responsible for a large chunk of the national revenue generation effort next to the Bureau of Internal Revenue.”
“Following that principle, the person that will head this bureau would have to be equal to the task of producing the second biggest revenue source for the national government and its expenditures,” he stressed.
JOEL M. SY EGCO