Customs chief says he'll never resign

by Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 25 2011 02:35 PM | Updated as of Aug 26 2011 06:48 AM

Says Ruffy Biazon is 5th rumored replacement

MANILA, Philippines - Embattled Customs chief Angelito Alvarez told reporters in a news conference at the Department of Justice (DOJ) this morning that he will "not give his detractors the satisfaction" of seeing him step down from the post amid reports he will soon be replaced.

"Hindi ko bibigyan ng sobrang kasiyahan yung aking mga detractors. Kasi pagka-nagresign ako, sasabihin [nila]: 'Talagang big time ako, kayang kaya ko hilingin ang ulo ng Commissioner.' So hindi ko sila bibigyan ng ultimate satisfaction," he said.

"Ang nag-appoint sa akin is si presidente, let him make the decision on this... I have served, so far, under the administration of President Aquino with humility and integrity, and I will do that until such time that he tells me na 'tama na, stop na, a replacement is now on board,'" he added.

Rumor is rife that former Muntinlupa Rep. Ruffy Biazon, who was part of the Liberal Party's senatorial slate in the May 2010 elections, was chosen to replace Alvarez.

Alvarez, however, pointed out that Biazon is the 5th person rumored to replace him as commissioner.

The first was retired Major General Gaudencio Pangilinan who is now Bureau of Corrections Director; then former Cagayan Rep. Manuel Mamba; former Bureau of Internal Revenue Commissioner and former Camarines Norte Representative Liwayway Vinzons Chato; and the fourth was Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines Inc. (CAMPI) past president Ms. Elizabeth Lee.

He pointed out that nothing materialized regarding the first four persons.

"For the past three months, araw-araw papalitan ako, pang-lima na siya (Biazon) na nag-crop up. Kaya sanay na ako. Sa akin naman, I serve at the pleasure of the president, kung tingin niya my time is up, itu-turnover ko ang position in a very professional manner," he said.

As for Biazon, Alvarez had this to say: "Si Ruffy Biazon ay kakilala ko kasi I also came from Muntinlupa. So congressman namin siya for three terms at alam ko mahusay na tao siya."

43 smuggling cases filed

Alvarez insists his all-out anti-smuggling campaign has struck several influential chords.

To date, the bureau has filed 43 smuggling cases against personalities and firms under his watch.

"Ang nananawagan lang naman ng matindi sa aking resignation ay isang pulitiko na may mga nagsasabi sa akin na may higher ambition sa politics. At alam ko naman na siya ay na-involve sa pag-iimbestiga sa kaso ng transshipment," he said.

"Ang tingin ko ay hindi magandang signal ang ipinakikita sa ating mga mamamayan, sa nakaupo sa gobyerno ngayon, na kung may nakikita kang anomalya, ang message ay huwag mo nang i-expose ito dahil pag ito'y inexpose mo ay hihilingin ko ang ulo mo. Mali yun. Dapat, kung mayroong nakita tayong problema, kung kailan man nangyari yan, ilabas natin yan, see to it na ang guilty parties will be charged, at lagyan ng permanent solution ang problem to ensure that things like these will never happen again.

"Hindi ko papayagan under my watch na kung ma-au-audit ko yan ay itatago ko yan. I-try mong i-level ang playing field, one group will be happy, a lot more people will be unhappy. So what can I do? Gagawin ko lang ang tama. Kung may nasasaktan na sa mga ginagawa ko, eh pasensya na lamang," he said.

Advice from Purisima

Alvarez said finance chief Cesar Purisima had also advised him to never lose focus.

Alvarez recently met Purisima at the latter's residence to discuss the matter on his supposed replacement and resignation.

"Lagi naman kami nag-uusap. Every time may lumalabas na balita about my replacement, lagi niya akong kinakausap. Pero alam ko na very serious this time kasi kung dati sa opisina, ngayon sa bahay na niya ako pinatawag eh. Ang sabi niya sa akin: 'Partner, mabigat. Talagang maraming nag-aambisyon sa pwesto mo kaya suggestion ko sa iyo, just perform. At the end of the day, the performance will be the one that will be considered,'" Alvarez said.

Alvarez boasts of a P15 billion increase in collections for the first 6 months of 2011 -- year on year.

He projects that the bureau will mark its highest collection in history at the end of this year with an expected actual collection of P260 billion to P270 billion, in spite of an expected P30 billion shortfall from a P320 billion target.

The previous collection high was at P227 billion.