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John Phillip Sevilla appointed permanent Customs Commissioner on Dec 12

PHILIPPINE President Benigno Aquino has formally appointed Finance Undersecretary John Phillip P. Sevilla as commissioner of the Bureau of Customs.

Sevilla was asked by Aquino to head the office as officer-in-charge for two months. He took over on Dec 9 from Rozzano Rufino Biazon, who resigned on Dec 2 amid allegations that he was involved in the P10-billion pork barrel scam.

Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima had earlier expressed his agreement with the President’s decision to appoint Sevilla, noting that his financial expertise and track record of public service rendered him more than capable of continuing the President’s reform agenda for the corruption-tainted agency.

“Leadership of the Bureau of Customs requires someone who is results-oriented and an expert on economics, international relations, and project implementation. These traits describe Sunny Sevilla perfectly,” Purisima said.

Before serving as a finance undersecretary, Sevilla worked as executive director at the US investment banking giant Goldman Sachs from 2000-2004. He also covered the Philippines as an associate director and sovereign rater for credit rating agency Standard and Poor’s from 1993 to 1996.

Sevilla served as chief operating officer of Synergeia Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of public education in the Philippines.

Other positions he had held were as vice-president of Fixed Income Credit Research at Salomon Smith Barney Hong Kong Ltd.; assistant director of Credit Research at Peregrine Fixed Income Ltd.; and program officer at the Department of Agrarian Reform.

In a press conference after formally taking over as OIC of the bureau on Dec. 9, Sevilla said three items needed to be reformed at the bureau: personnel, processes and legislation. He said he would focus on processes in his two-month stint as OIC.

After his appointment as Customs commissioner was announced on Dec. 12, Sevilla said there would be no changes to the agenda he had earlier spelled out.

Another priority is addressing the issue of alert orders that he said had created “public controversy”. There have been complaints of late of too many alert orders issued by deputy commissioner for Intelligence Jessie Dellosa.

Sevilla favors the proposal of brokers to set a timeline on alert orders but acknowledged there are certain aspects that need to be addressed first, such as the alleged lack of customs personnel in examination areas, and the lack of space in ports. –– Roumina M. Pablo

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