Home » Customs & Trade, Ports/Terminals » Duterte: Guerrero stays; we were ‘just shooting the breeze’

Customs commisioner Rey GuerreroPresident Rodrigo Duterte has flatly denied reports Customs commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero would be replaced as head of the Bureau of Customs (BOC).

“It was just—we were just shooting the breeze, who are the capable guys to handle [the agency]. But it doesn’t mean to say that they are the one. Kung sakali lang [Just in case]. But I’m satisfied with General Guerrero and he stays there,” Duterte responded when asked during a press conference on January 13 to confirm a report that there would be a new customs commissioner.

A local news article published on January 10 claimed that Duterte, over dinner in Malacañang on January 9, had offered Guerrero’s post to Davao-based businessman William de Jesus Lima, who was said to have accepted.

Citing a “highly reliable source,” the news article said that among the reasons for the replacement were BOC’s failure to meet its collection target for 2019 and rampant corruption.

Guerrero, when asked about the article at a media event on January 10, said: “I am still waiting for the guidance of the President and the secretary of Finance.” BOC is an agency attached to the finance department.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, when also asked by media, said in a text message: “I met with the President several times this week and he never even hinted at it.”

Guerrero, who took over BOC in October 2018, is the third customs commissioner to be installed as head of the agency since 2016.

Duterte, meanwhile, said he will talk with Guerrero regarding complaints of corruption in BOC.

“…there are still some complaints, so I’ll talk to him. Lalo na ‘yung mga tao na sinabi ko na paalisin na niya [Especially about the people I told him to remove]. Some of them are lingering there. So sabihin ko kay [I will tell] Jagger, alisin mo na ’yan kasi ’yan ’yung mga tao na [get rid of these people] who have been there for 25 years, 20 years, puro corruption ang ginawa [who have done nothing but corruption],” Duterte said.

In July last year, Duterte said he would terminate the services of BOC employees who were allegedly involved in corrupt activities.

In August 2019, the Office of the Ombudsman ordered seven BOC officials and employees dismissed for grave misconduct and neglect of duty.

According to BOC, 20 BOC personnel were dismissed and eight suspended for graft and corruption in 2019, while 147 were issued show cause orders and 152 were charged with administrative cases.

There were 120 pending decisions with the Department of Justice, Ombudsman, and other courts as of 2019.

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