MANILA, Philippines - The Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Manila on Tuesday ordered Customs Commissioner Rozzano Rufino Biazon to suspend for 72 hours the implementation of an order transferring 27 Customs collectors previously assigned to various ports all over the country to the Customs Policy Research Office (Cpro)—known in Customs circles as the “freezer,” which is under the Department of Finance (DOF).
But Biazon said he has yet to receive a copy of the court’s order.
In his three-page temporary restraining order (TRO), Manila RTC Executive Judge Marino M. de la Cruz of Branch 22 said the collectors covered by Customs Personnel Order (CPO) B-189-2013 managed to show a “prima facie case” for the court to believe the order was “illegal” because it was issued by Biazon “beyond his authority” under the Tariff and Customs Code (TCC).
“The petitioners also stand to suffer grave injustice if the implementation of the assailed CPO is not enjoined before the matter can be heard on notice, as 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 order said.
De la Cruz also said the reassignment of the petitioners to the CPRO was made when the election ban on the movement of government personnel was “hovering.”
He also questioned the reason for the abrupt creation of the CPRO and the blanket reassignment of the petitioners to the office, which “has yet to exist.”
Among the petitioners were Collectors Ronnie Silvestre, Edward de la Cuesta, Rogel Gatchalian, Imelda Cruz, Lilibeth Sandag, Raymond Ventura, Ma. Liza Torres, Arnel Alcaraz, Ma. Lourdes Mangaoang, Francis Agustin Erpe, Carlos So, Marietta Zamoranos, Carmelita Talus, Arifeles Carreon and Romalino Valdez.
Named respondents were Finance Secretary Cesar V. Purisima and Biazon.