Customs chief to PNoy: I can't curb smuggling overnight

ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 30 2011 10:30 AM | Updated as of May 30 2011 07:09 PM

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE) - Customs chief Angelito Alvarez on Monday appealed to Malacañang to give him more time to curb smuggling activities in the country amid reports that President Aquino is not satisfied with his performance.

Speaking to ANC's Headstart, Alvarez said he is satisfied with his own performance after upping collections year-on-year and curbing smuggling activities in the country.

"I can understand [the President's] impatience for results but please bear with me. Smuggling activity is something I can't stop overnight. It will take awhile but 80% of activities will be curbed in 3 years' time. That's something that all of us can be proud of already," he told ANC host Karen Davila.

Alvarez said people affected by his crackdown on smuggling activities are putting pressure on his office.

"A lot of people are jockeying for the position. I've filed 35 smuggling case in the [Department of Justice]. The total claim is P52 billion. What do you expect? When you try to level the playing field some people will be happy, others unhappy," he said.

He said that even if he is eventually replaced, he will still try to implement reforms in the bureau in the soonest possible time. He said he will have no qualms and will leave the post immediately if the President decides to replace him.

Reports earlier said the President is not satisfied with Alvarez's performance following the discovery of an alleged smuggling ring in Bukidnon and Cagayan de Oro involving carjacked luxury vehicles from the United States. At least one of the carjacked vehicles - a Martin Brothers chopper - is owned by Hollywood screenwriter Skip Woods.

Alvarez said the bureau has already issued a warrant of seizure and detention on the vehicles, which were found on the properties of alleged smuggler Lynard Allan Bigcas.

He said the bureau will call on Bigcas to prove the regularity of his importations.

"He will have to prove to us the evidence of payment of duties and taxes and certificates of registration issued to the Land Transportation Office but based on what we have, he may not be able to produce these documents," he said.

Meanwhile, Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda sought to downplay reports of further changes in the President's Cabinet.

"Customs Commissioner Lito Alvarez remains in service at the pleasure of the President, as all appointees are. Any changes within the President’s official family will be announced by the President himself at the proper time. 

 

"The President recognizes the earnestness of his Cabinet’s efforts, especially as regards his reform agenda of curbing corruption and alleviating poverty. More importantly, he is seeing the results, and is expecting more results forthcoming from government agencies. At this point, he is giving his appointees the space and trust to fulfill their mandate with integrity and competence, as is expected of them," he said. 

 

A Philippine Daily Inquirer report earlier said Alvarez may be replaced by former Camarines Norte Representative Liwayway Vinzons Chato or former Cagayan Rep. Manuel Mamba.