DOF dismayed by TRO on Customs reforms
MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Finance (DOF) on Wednesday criticized the temporary restraining order issued by the Manila Regional Trial Court blocking reforms at the Bureau of Customs.
Under the BOC reforms, 27 Customs collectors were ordered transferred to the newly-created Customs Policy Research Office under the DOF.
Fifteen of the 27 BOC collectors, including Port of Cebu Collector Edward Dela Cuesta, Port of Manila Collector Rogel Gatchalian, and NAIA Collector Carlos So, had filed the petition for TRO.
In a statement, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima said the TRO runs counter to President Aquino's directive to reform the Bureau.
"Reform at the BOC is an absolute necessity directed by President Aquino himself. The implementation of this order is crucial not just to restoring trust in the BOC but to stamp out smugglers once and for all... TROs like this tie government's hands and serve the malicious interests he is campaigning against," Purisima said.
Purisima also dismissed the allegations of the Customs collectors that their transfer to the CPRO was a "demotion" and "dismissal."
"The CPRO is a legitimate office created with the purpose of ensuring that the BOC is aligned with the international standards on customs administration. These collectors, by their own admission of seniority and rank, are in fact the most qualified to reach this objective. They are all experts in customs procedures, policies and global trade practices... It is not a ghost office. Furthermore, these officials are still employees. There is no change in their tenure, salary or benefits,” Purisima said.
Purisima said operations at all BOC ports have been normalized.
At the same time, a different branch of the Manila RTC denied the petition for a TRO on a separate Customs order for the return of all BOC personnel to their permanent plantilla positions and mother units.
In a five-page order dated September 27, 2013, Manila RTC Branch 39 Judge Noli Diaz dismissed the petition for TRO for lack of merit. The petition was filed by BOCEA National President Romulo Pagulayan.
Purisima welcomed Branch 39’s resolution. "I urge the courts to come to clarity on these crucial administrative reforms. Our courts must support the fight for good governance, not frustrate and hamper it," he said.