‘I have your back’

COMMONSENSE - Marichu A. Villanueva1 - The Philippine Star

More than two weeks before Bureau of Customs commissioner Rozzano Rufino “Ruffy” Biazon formally announced the other day that he’s quitting his post, he had more or less an inkling of what was coming.

A smiling Biazon showed no trace of ill feelings as can be seen in the photo he posted on his Twitter account after he met with President Benigno “Noy” Aquino III last Monday at Malacañang Palace.

Biazon first offered to resign after his agency was at the receiving end of bitter presidential tirades at the State of the Nation Address (SONA) in July this year. He decided to stay on his post after he got presidential assuage: “I have your back.” This was in reply to his controversial resignation through text message to the President a few minutes after the SONA.

That was the situation until Biazon turned around four months later to find out from P-Noy himself at the Palace. Seeing the body language during their 40-minute tete-a-tete, it dawned upon Biazon that he has lost the presidential backing as he had been sensing lately. At that point, he personally handed to P-Noy his letter of resignation.

After the Palace meeting, Biazon called a press conference at his office to formally announce his irrevocable resignation. His father though, Muntinlupa Rep. Rodolfo “Pong” Biazon disclosed his son was ready to tender his resignation as early as last Friday. But the elder Biazon prevailed upon his son to talk first with the President before deciding to quit his job.

He may not admit it but Biazon obviously already saw the writing on the wall after Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima took charge of the changes at the agency. He was out of the loop when the new presidential appointees were being named in the ongoing revamp at the Customs Bureau.

Purisima, the immediate head of Biazon and also active in his own social media network, posted this in his Facebook account a day after Biazon’s resignation: “We thank Commissioner Ruffy Biazon for his service to the Bureau of Customs over the past two years. We recognize his contribution and the difficulty he had faced. We wish him the best.”

Customs is one of the attached agencies of the Finance Department along with the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR). In fact, it was earlier speculated that BIR commissioner Kim Henares would take over the Customs Bureau. Henares, a proficient target-shooter, is one of the so-called members of P-Noy’s KKK (Kaklase, Kaibigan, Kabarilan). She, too, is P-Noy's classmate in Ateneo,

In the meantime, newly appointed Customs deputy commissioner Jesus Dellosa will assume in “acting” capacity this Friday when Biazon officially steps out of his Aduana office. Dellosa, retired Armed Forces chief of staff, is one of the new presidential appointees in the ongoing revamp of the Customs Bureau.

Among those eyed to replace Biazon is ex-Customs chief Albert Lina, a member of the “Hyatt 10.” Lina, along with Purisima, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman were among the so-called “Hyatt 10” government officials who resigned en masse in July, 2005 in the aftermath of the “Hello, Garci” scandal involving ex-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Biazon quit his post a few days after he was named in the second batch of seven former lawmakers who were implicated in the alleged misuse of their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF). Biazon was charged for allegedly channeling his PDAF to one of the bogus non-government organizations of businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles.

Biazon revealed he got a tip he was purportedly included at the last minute in the graft complaint when this was filed at the Office of the Ombudsman last Friday. Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, however, vehemently denied Biazon’s name was “inserted.”

A family man, the 44-year-old Biazon declared he would rather resign than let his name and honor tarnished by unfounded allegations coming from his unseen but “well-funded” enemies. He did so “to protect” his family, especially for the sake of his four sons, ages: 21, 13, 10, and 6. “No position is worth sacrificing the well-being and peace of mind of my family,” he stressed. Well taken.

A Liberal Party (LP) stalwart, P-Noy appointed Biazon as Customs chief and swore him into office on September 16, 2011. It was a memorable date for Biazon because it was his wedding anniversary. He was offered the Customs post when he and his wife Trina were about to fly for their scheduled trip abroad to celebrate their wedding anniversary. It was several weeks later he decided to accept the presidential appointment.

Actually, Biazon was reluctant to accept the Customs post. He was really angling to get the Department of Tourism (DOT) post when then Secretary Albert Lim resigned on August 31,2011. Two few days earlier, P-Noy announced the resignation of Customs chief Lito Alvarez.

During that period, it was already way past the one-year ban on appointment of candidates who ran but lost in the senatorial elections. Biazon was one of the three LP candidates of P-Noy who did not make it in the 12-man Senate race in 2010.

At that time, Biazon admitted he was already thinking P-Noy may have forgotten about him. When finally the call came, P-Noy told Biazon he wanted him to become the Customs Commissioner. “I need somebody I trust,” Biazon quoted the President telling him.

When he asked P-Noy who endorsed his appointment, P-Noy supposedly replied: “None. I know how you work. Ayusin mo lang at maraming problema doon.” It was enough to convince him to accept the Customs post even as he knew little about the job he was about to take.

A graduate of medical technology and three consecutive terms as Muntinlupa City congressman, nothing prepared Biazon for the Customs post. Like P-Noy when he became President, Biazon assumed an on-the-job training as Customs chief.

When he took over as Customs chief, his immediate predecessor, Alvarez, gave him wise counsel: “Watch your back.” With his bedimpled smile, Biazon said he will give the same advice to his successor.

 Whoever becomes the new Customs chief — the third one to serve under the three-and-a-half-year-old Aquino administration — I guess he or she will get the same presidential assurance: “I have your back.” That is, until it lasts during the remaining 940 days in office of P-Noy.












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