MANILA, Philippines - A Manila court issued a 72-hour temporary restraining order (TRO) Tuesday prohibiting the transfer of 15 Customs officials with the rank of collector 5 and 6 to the newly created Customs Policy Research Office (CPRO).
Fifteen out of the 27 collectors of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) would be able to stay in their posts after the Manila City Regional Trial Court (MCRTC) issued a TRO to stop their transfer to the CPRO.
In a three-page order, MCRTC Branch 22 Executive Judge Marino de la Cruz Jr. said that for the next 72 hours the respondents could not implement the Customs Personnel Order no. B-189-2013 that details the petitioners from their present post to the CPRO, an office under the Department of Finance (DOF).
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.
The two respondents in the case are Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima and BOC Commissioner Rufino Biazon.
The CPO no. B-189-2013 covered all the 27 collectors with the rank of collector 5 and collector 6; however, only 15 of them applied for a TRO.
Of the three Customs collectors who have been dubbed as the “three kings” only Ricardo Belmonte, who was previously assigned to the Manila International Container Port (MICP), was not named as a petitioner.
Two of the so-called kings, namely Gatchalian and So, former heads of the Port of Manila (POM) and the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), respectively, were among the petitioners.
Judge De la Cruz said that the petitioners pointed out that the implementation of the CPO was a violation of their statutory and constitutional right to security of tenure.