Cebu News

On transfer of Customs Execs, court restrains Purisima, Biazon

Mitchelle L. Palaubsanon - Banat

CEBU, Philippines - The 27 collectors of the Bureau of Customs who were placed on a floating status by Commissioner Rufino Biazon will remain in their post after the Regional Trial Court in the National Capital Region  yesterday issued a Temporary Restraining Order against the commissioner and the Secretary of the Department of Finance.

Executive Judge Marino dela Cruz, Jr. ordered Biazon and Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima to stop the implementation of the Customs Personnel Order No. B-189-2013 reassigning all collectors 5 and 6 to the DOF without a specific task.

Biazon issued the order on Thursday directing the 27 collectors to report to the DOF, which in effect put them on floating status.

Former Cebu district collectors Lourdes Mangaong, Edward dela Cuesta, and Ronnie Silvestre, who is the president of Customs District Collectors of the Philippines, filed the petition for TRO before the court along with the other district collectors.

The other petitioners are Rogel Gatchalian (Port of Manila), Raymond Ventura (Port of Davao), Carlos So (NAIA), and Marietta Zamoranos (Port of Cagayan)  and deputy collectors Francis Agustin Erpe (Cebu), Imelda Cruz (POM), Lilibeth Sandag (Manila International Container Port), Ma. Liza Torres (NAIA), Arnel Alcaraz (NAIA), Carmelita Talusan (Subic), Arifeles Carreon (Clark) and Romalino Valdez (Clark).

The petitioners claimed that Biazon’s assigning them to the Policy Research Office under the DOF violates the Constitution.They claimed that the order was prematurely issued and was done in haste. According to them, E.O. No. 140, which created the new office was published only on September 17, 2013 and pursuant to the Civil Code, the effectivity of it is on October 2, 2013.

Petitioners further claimed that it was issued to beat the election ban on reassignments of government personnel beginning September 28, 2013 to October 28, 2013 because of the upcoming barangay elections.

According to them, the order violated their statutory and constitutional rights to security of tenure as the reassignment will reduce their present positions to mere researchers in the newly-created research office.

They also argued that it violated E.O. No. 140 and the Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines because the E.O. merely provides for the transfer of BOC personnel to augment and reinforce the organic personnel of the newly-created CPRO while the TCCP only provides for the authority of the Commissioner to assign any employee to any port, service, division or office within the BoC.

Their reassignment, according to the petitioners, is not within the BoC.

They described the reassignment as done in bad faith and the detail order operates as a constructive dismissal or demotion of their permanent position as collectors of Customs that will consequently put all of them on floating status.

The court said that the petitioners have shown a prima facie case to warrant the issuance of the TRO.

“They have shown a prima facie case for the Court to believe that the act of the respondent commissioner is ultra vires for having been issued beyond his authority provided for in the TCC,” the order reads.

The order added that petitioners also stand to suffer grave injustice if the implementation of the assailed CPO is not enjoined before the matter can be heard on notice.

“This is not to mention further that their reassignment was made when the election ban on movement of government personnel was hovering,” the order added.

 Prior to the issuance of the TRO,  Biazon also issued a memorandum to all bureau officials and employees dated September 30, 2013 designating officers in charge of the different ports nationwide.

In Cebu, Mactan sub-port collector Paul Alcazaren was designated as OIC district collector even if he is not qualified for the position.

Sixteen more collectors of lower ranks were likewise assigned to different ports in the country.

Collector Mangaoang, who has a rank of collector V, said that Cebu port should have a district collector with a rank of collector V.  —  (FREEMAN)












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