MANILA — Bureau of Customs (BOC) Commissioner Isidro Lapeña on Thursday said he is considering the relief of majority of assessment division heads in all 17 ports of the country.
The move comes in response to reports stating corruption in the agency happens during the assessment process — through the so-called giving of bribe money or “tara”.
“As it is, mga 90 percent, we would be removing people. (There is a 90 percent chance that we would be removing people) I am referring to the head lang, tingnan ko being the responsible people in those sections of assessment (I am only referring to the heads only, being the responsible people in those sections of assessment),” he said in a press briefing on Thursday.
“In fact, I will move the heads first, mga chiefs ng mga sections na ‘yan that has been identified. (I will move the heads first, the chiefs of the sections that has been identified.) Maybe I will allow the deputy to take over and see if he performs better than his chief,” Lapeña added.
The BOC chief explained that due process must be observed that is why he cannot immediately suspend officials or employees.
“May due process, matagal na process but that will follow. (There is a due process. It’s a long process but that will follow.) But the immediate remedy is relieve them because relieving is under my authority,” he said.
Lapeña added, “I can relieve anybody based on my assessment for the best interest of the service. But the investigation will continue. If there is enough basis, they would be subjected to disciplinary action. And disciplinary action would include dismissal from the service. Depending on the offense committed.”
But, he noted that removing officials and employees is not immediate because “I am still waiting for verification/validation of information na ‘yan.” (I am still waiting for that verification/validation of information).
Asked on when movement of personnel will take place, he said, “I don’t have timeline pero baka by Monday meron na ‘yan.” (I don’t have a timeline but maybe on Monday, I will have that.)
Lapeña is making sure that the transfer will not affect operations.
“That is the reason why the head muna (will be moved). So the deputy could take over. By this time mga deputy know as well as the head. Kaya nga palitan dahil may problema siya it is affecting the revenue collection (That is the reasion why the head will be moved first. So deputy could take over. By this time, the deputy knows as well as the head. That’s why we have to replace because there is a problem and it is affecting revenue collection.),” he said.
“Then we will see if the deputy performs better he might become the head eventually. This should be a wake up call. They should follow because that is good for government and for all of us,” the Customs chief added. (PNA)