THE transfer of 27 collectors of the Philippine Bureau of Customs to a newly formed unit at the Department of Finance (DOF) is suspended for three days following a temporary restraining order (TRO) issued by the Manila Regional Trial Court on Oct 1.
The court, in a 3-page decision by presiding judge Marino dela Cruz, Jr., granted the petition of 15 deposed customs collectors for a 72-hour halt to their transfer to the Customs Policy Research Office (CPRO), a think tank widely seen as a “freezer” for the collectors.
“There is extreme urgency in the matter as the assailed CPO was made effective immediately and the petitioners stand to face the enforcement of such CPO which they believe to be violative of their respective statutory and constitutional right to security of tenure,” the court said.
The court added the petitioners may suffer “grave injustice” if the implementation of the CPO pushes through because “they stand to be reassigned to an office whose principal purpose is research and policy formulation, which is totally inconsistent with their position description, which is enforcement of the Tariff and Customs Code.”
The 15 petitioners were former Customs collectors Ronnie Silvestre, Edward dela Cuesta, Rogel Gatchalian, Imelda Cruz, Lilibeth Sandag, Raymond Ventura, Ma. Liza Torres, Arnel Alcarez, Ma. Lourdes Mangaoang, Francis Agustin Erpe, Carlos So, Marietta Zamoranos, Carmelita Talusan, Arifeles Carreon, and Romalino Valdez.
Both orders caused chaos that slowed transactions at the bureau as posts were left vacant or staff were unwilling to process documents, forcing Biazon to direct next-in-line personnel to assume the vacant positions.
On Sept 30, Collector Agapito Panlasigui Jr. was appointed to the Port of San Fernando in La Union, Collector Leovigildo Dajoya to the Port of Manila, Antonio Meliton Pascual to the Manila International Container Port, Nerza Rebustes to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, Collector Reynaldo Galeno to the Port of Batangas, Chuchi Medina to the Port of Legaspi, Collector Ernelito Aquino to the Port of Iloilo, Collector Paul Alcazaren to the Port of Cebu, Collector Julius Premediles to the Port of Tacloban, Collector Cesar Tugday to the Port of Surigao, Collector Ruby Claudia Alameda to the Port of Cagayan de Oro, Darwisha Shuck to the Port of Zamboanga, Collector Samsom Pacasum to the Port of Davao, Collector Lucila Medina to the Port of Subic, Collector Oswaldo Geli to the Port of Clark, Collector Antonio Ferraren II to the Port of Aparri, and Collector Elvira Cruz to the Port of Limay.
The logistics industry now expects greater confusion and further slowdown in shipment processing as a result of the temporary restraining order.