MANILA, Philippines - Customs Commissioner Angelito Alvarez was upbeat when he faced ABS-CBN News late Wednesday despite persistent reports he was on the way out as bureau chief.
Alvarez emphasized he did not resign and was not about to resign.
He, however, qualified the statement. "Remember, I serve at the pleasure of the President. At any given time ay puwede niya akong palitan dito so kung dumating yung time na may mapili na nga siyang replacement for me, definitely i will turn over the position in a very professional manner," Alvarez said.
Two Malacañang sources told ABS-CBN News that a replacement has in fact been found in the person of defeated senatorial candidate and former Muntinlupa congressman Ruffy Biazon.
Biazon declined to comment but a source close to him confirmed that the former lawmaker has accepted the Customs post, even if his original preference was really the tourism portfolio.
Alvarez proved to be a controversial last-minute pick for the bureau because of accusations he cheated in a golf tournament.
However, Palace sources said what sealed Alvarez's fate was the series of controversies that hit the bureau in recent months.
Among them the disappearance of 1,921 container vans that contained imported and untaxed items.
Alvarez himself placed the value of the missing goods at P240 million.
He, however, insisted that at least 14 customs officials and several other personalities are already being held liable.
Alvarez also maintained that no one in Malacañang has informed him of his impending replacement.
Although on Monday, his immediate boss Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima apparently dropped a few hints.
"Pinatawag niya ako sa bahay, problem. Ang dami talagang nagaambisyon sa pwesto mo, " Alvarez said. "Maaring naapektuhan si Presidente dito sa mga job demolition that are being held against me."
While he would have wanted to continue his Customs stint, Alvarez said leaving the bureau would not be a bad thing, saying his family preferred that he go back to the private sector.