• Speaker’s brother eyed as Customs chief?

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    With the Bureau of Customs a complete mess, and with President Aquino out of his wits in dealing with the agency, a lobby has emerged to have House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte’s younger brother Ricardo ”Boysie” R. Belmonte to head the agency.

    “He’s decided to make a bid for it as he’s retiring February next year, “ a source said. He may even be more efficient since he’s a career man at Customs who knows the ins and outs of the agency, unlike Aquino’s past two appointees whom the crooks have run circles around.

    However, one former customs official isn’t convinced of that report: “What for, he’s already very powerful here, he’s very, very happy as MICT collector.” MICT is the Manila International Container Terminal.

    Still though, other sources said, one reason why Aquino can’t fire customs chief Rozano Rufino Biazon is that if he did and didn’t’ appoint Belmonte to the post, he’d risk the ire of the Speaker.
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    The Speaker’s brother, according to Customs sources, allegedly has been one of the most influential and favored figures in the bureau, having had choice posts even under the previous administration during which he was head of the agency in the Ninoy Aquino International Airport and then at the Port of Cebu.

    He was appointed in September 2010 as head collector of the MICT, the agency’s biggest revenue earner. Despite several reshuffles in the bureau in the past three years, Belmonte has remained as MICT collector, making him one of the longest-serving collectors posted at the MICT.

    Customs chief Ruffy Biazon according to sources has not been “very happy” with Belmonte not only since he thinks he is not really under him, and reports only to his brother the speaker (who allegedly in turn reports the situation in Customs to Aquino). Biazon could not even lower the boom on Belmonte despite the fact that the MICT had not been meeting its collection targets for 2010 and 2011.

    Belmonte on the other hand suspects that Biazon has been investigating him for the infamous 5,000 container vans that vanished in thin air in transit to the Port of Batangas as about 2,000 of these came from the MICT.

    Unfortunately, TV cameras weren’t on Speaker Belmonte when Aquino fulminated against the Customs Bureau where the Speaker’s brother is a key official.

    Customs deputy commissioner for intelligence Danilo Lim, a general who once headed the Marines, the other day harangued “powerful forces” for blocking his efforts to fight smuggling and revealed that he has been “up against political heavyweights.”

    To say that the House under Speaker Belmonte, one of the political heavyweights under this regime, has been supportive of Aquino is an understatement. Without Belmonte, Mr. Aquino would be nothing.

    His most important achievements – taking out former Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez and Chief Justice Renato Corona, and getting Congress to allocate tens of billions of pesos for his vote-buying scheme called the conditional cash transfer program – could not have done without Belmonte. Without the Speaker’s support, he would be a complete lame duck in the second half of his term.

    Right after Aquino’s state of the nation address the other day, Belmonte was reported in the Philippine Star, which his family controls, as saying that he “vowed passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law,” which the President promised the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

    There has been massive demoralization in the Customs bureau’s staff not just because the President cursed them before the nation in the most important speech he gives every year, as a bunch of criminals with “makakapal ang mukha” (without shame), that they were even allowing the smuggling of illegal drugs.

    The President’s tirade was viewed in the bureau as so hypocritical since it is widely known that Mr. Aquino has used the Customs bureau to reward those who did his bidding, appointing them to key posts even if they had no experience in the very technical work of the agency:

    • Ex-general Lim was appointed in the crucial post of intelligence chief to reward him for being in the forefront of the propaganda and legal cases filed against former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. Lim even was the complainant – together with Rissa Hontiveros, awarded as one of the Aquino’s (losing) senatorial candidate in the last election – in the electoral sabotage case against Arroyo that has put her in jail.

    • Juan Lorenzo Tanada was appointed as deputy commissioner for administration to reward his cousin former Liberal Party congressman Erin Tanada’s role as spokesman in the impeachment of the Corona.

    Not only that, instead of appointing career officials, Aquino has appointed to the bureau his factotums.

    • In February 2012, Aquino appointed Ericson A. Alcovendaz as assistant secretary in charge of the Post Entry Audit Group, a crucial unit in the anti-smuggling campaign as it could have detected misdeclarations. Alcovendaz had been since 2011 assistant executive secretary in Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa’s office in charge of finance. There are other sources though who claim that Alcovendaz actually is more of Ochoa’s representative in Customs, which has triggered rumors that the executive secretary is one of the “powerful forces” ex-general Lim was pointing to who were meddling in the agency, and stymieing his reform efforts. Lim though has publicly said he is asking to work in another agency, which obviously could make him less-than-free to point fingers.

    • Also in February 2012 he appointed Prudencio M. Reyes as acting deputy commissioner in charge of the Assessment Operations Coordinating Group, another crucial unit in the agency that determines the duty to be imposed on imports. Reyes’ closeness to Aquino is demonstrated by the fact that Aquino defied Civil Service rules since he appointed Reyes who was convicted by the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court for grave abuse of authority against officials of the Local Waterworks and Utility Administration which he headed during President Estrada’s administration.

    A customs staff angrily said: “Why is Aquino bad-mouthing the Customs bureau when he has stuffed the agency with his people? It’s his handpicked people who’ve been running the bureau, and now he’s shamed us?”

    tiglao.manilatimes@gmail.com
    www.rigobertotiglao.com and www.trigger.ph

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    20 Comments

    1. Dante Pagalan on

      sir bobby, i salute you for telling the public how pnoy administration more corrupt than GMA. please mr tiglao make research ,simulang naging presidente c pnoy kuno?how many times(Even Once) he is giving order to stop illegal drugs. i bet my 1 peso bobby.

    2. Imagine the dilemma of a righteous warrior who was tasked by the king to cleanse his ward of thieves when he founds out that to do so he would have to start with the king’s men themselves.

    3. ” Power Corrupts and Corrupts Absolutely “. It is about time to clip the appointing powers of the Presideent. It is this power that whoever sits in Mala(s)canan that is the source of graft and corruption ” na kung saan hinuhugot ng mga makakapal na mukha ng mga taga BOC at ng lahat ng kapal muks sa mga sangay ng gobierno “. May I suggest that Congress enact a bill that will restore the promotion of carrer positions for promotion. The President should only appoint his cabinet official family and.justices of the supreme court but the Chief Justice should be elected by the 15 justices among the three most senior justices. Even in the Military, the president will appoint the flag officers but the flag officers should elect the AFP Chief of Staff and many more like in the PNP, NBI and even with the BOC where the Chief will be elected by the the deputy commisioners.. In this case the President will be free from burdened of appointment papers, ” pakiusap ng mga kapartido, kamag-anak, kakalase, kabarilan, kapartido, at kongreso “and if there will be somebody to blame in the bureau, it is the the head of that bureau and not the President and let the law of attrition apply. Lastly, let us change the name of Mala(s)canan and transfer it to QC where most government offices are located.

    4. Gintong Lahi on

      Mr. Tiglao must be the mouthpiece of someone very influential and powerful in the government. I suspect, the Speaker of the House of Representatives). It is now very revealing that there are really super-powerful forces engineering the operation of the Bureau of Custom. General Lim was right. He can’t just fight and lick those 17 Kings of the BOC. Before even considering neutralizing the influence and power of the 17 Kings, the backers and supporters of this group – notably powerful in the Executive, Senate, Congress and even in the religious blocks had already push the button to silence nor shut off the engine of change from running.

      The country needs a revolution fueled by the government so as to change the spirit and character of all Filipinos. We are gravely destroyed as a country and our people are desperately sicked beyond salvation.

      As we stand still – the country is hopeless.

      The Timawa and Kurakot in our society are multiplying leaps and bounds.

      We are beyond repair.

      A revolution initiated by this government is the answer.

    5. To others – please don’t suspect Mr Bobi Tiglao is writing this just because he is from Noynoy’s predecessor. Let us open our eyes, ears at kitang kita na dito ang mga katotohanan. Whenever may kontrobersya, laging nag popop up ang Panglang OCHOA !!- bakit tig ootso otso ba ang kanilang partihan??? Hoy Tatang Belmonte “Saan ka kumukuha ng kapal ng Pagmumukha?”

    6. definitely the worst government,so wala ng silbi ang people power dahil litaw kung na kung ano ang purpose

    7. i commend you for being brave mr. tiglao,and credible dahil as former official wala namang nakitang anomalya sa inyo

    8. Rolando j. Tenido on

      Wala naman pala “balls” yan si gen. Lim, kala mo napakatapang noon, mahihilig lang talaga mag papogi at sumawsaw . Eh ngayon bakit di niya maawat ang katiwalian sa bureau at kung di pa sila nasabihan makakapal ang mukha ay di pa siya magsasalita. Noon akala mo mga santo at si gloria lang ang …….yun pala sila din. Parang sila binay noon araw, galit na galit sa mga marcos na ayaw daw bumaba sa puesto yun pala sila din ay may gusto maghari sa pilipinas… Ay wala na talaga mangyayari sa atin, lahat puro corrupt pag sila na ang mga nakapuwesto……. All of them, all politicians and government officials are corrupt, sana may mga matino pa…..

    9. Sinabi ko na nga, DRAMA ang lahat na batikos ni Pnoy sa SONA nya. Sila sila lang naman ang nakinabang. Pa amoy pogi lang yon, at marami sa mga gullible, sat more than an hour, dressed in their best to applaud the “ultima drama”

    10. IF people are looking for the “padrinos” at BOC, look no further. Since the brother of Sonny Belmonte is at Customs, who else can be the padrino?

    11. Yan ang matuwid na daan. Lahat pala ng top brass sa custom appointed na ni aquino bakit ganyan pa rin ang nangyayari sa custom. Matuwid talaga ang daan. Kasalanan seguro ni gloria ito.

    12. Voice from the Wilderness on

      Its unfortunate that only this newspaper had exposed the powerful backers of this influential and holy cows executives at BOC while other popular broadsheets that are obviously sympathetic to this inept administration had chosen to be silent. Anyway, kudos to this newspaper and for Mr Tiglao for its courage and boldness to expose these termites in this present inconsequential Regime. Now the nation is waiting whether this Regime is true to its self belief mantra of “tuwid na daan” by fulfilling its promise espoused through media by its factotum spokesman that they will clean this corrupt ridden agency by removing people whatever their influence maybe who were and have been part of the problem.

    13. rico santiago on

      This is for you Mr. Tiglao. I live in California and I met the owner of one of the (x) ? cargo company balikbayan boxes. Per container, the owner is paying PH 200,000.00.
      So for the 5,000 containers = Ph100,000,000.00 or one hundred million pesos.
      This is not my true name, so this owner will never trace me., and just keep this information for Mr. Tiglao , of Manila Times.. I know the name of the company, their names, their office/warehouse address.

    14. Danilo Lim, a general who once headed the Marines, (paragraph 6) Marines? Elite Scout Rangers ‘kamo. That’s why you (Tiglao) did not belong to the circles of respected columnist, your pen is soiled with agenda and your aura is shrouded with dark spirit of the past admin. The general’s performance in the bureau is unparalleled in terms of apprehending smugglers.

      • What! you`re kidding me., is this the big mouth Lim of the marines, what now lim putak ka ng putak against arroyo. What now you can`t even fix customs or kulang ba ang para sa iyo?.Now you`re magaling ka lang sa propaganda shame on you ito ba ang makitid na daan ninyo ng amo si noynoy.