Outgoing Customs Commissioner Alberto Lina on Tuesday denied allegations he defied the order of Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima when he drew the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA).
Lina allegedly proceeded with the hearing of the IRR even after Purisima's directive to leave the task of issuing the IRR of the newly enacted Customs law to the incoming finance officials.
But in an interview with ANC's Headstart, Lina maintained he was only doing his job as the incumbent commissioner when he created the IRR draft.
"It is my duty as the commissioner of Customs to work on [this], and this is a work-in progress. It is my duty that the draft of the CMTA [is created], because that was his (Purisima) order before," he said.
"I think there were semantics over there that makes it I’m defying the order. I will not defy the order of my boss. It’s just that, I think, it was said in different jest," he added.
He also underscored that the IRR he will present to his successor, Captain Nicanor Faeldon, is simply a draft and it will be up to the next administration to revise or scrap it.
"What is wrong [with] me preparing the draft and handing it over to them? They may change it, they want to revoke it, or what—it’s up to them. But I will prepare the draft so I can hand it over to them," he said.
Broadsheet The Standard reported that freight handlers Asian Terminals Inc. (ATI) and International Container Terminal Services Inc. (ICTSI) have both filed letters of protest to question the “hasty passage" of the IRR.
ATI described the abbreviated public hearing as “oppressive” and violated the constitutional rights of stakeholders, but Lina maintained, he is not insisting on his IRR.
"I am not insisting on the IRR; I am just doing the draft. Who am I to insist? These are the works of a committee, the technical group, and the public is being consulted on this," he said.
Lina said he has spoken with incoming Finance Secretary Sonny Dominguez, and the latter has given his approval.
“I told him, ‘Mr. Secretary, I will make the draft and I will hand it over to you. Bahala ka nang mag-amend or whatever.’ Ganun lang naman yan e,” to which Dominguez replied “okay,” according to Lina.
"Magkasama kami, I was seated beside him. We spoke for almost two and a half hours. We had lunch together, and he said 'go ahead'," he added.