New Customs chief says civilians 'in control,' readies corruption fight

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 31 2018 11:26 AM

The Bureau of Customs main office is seen from the Port of Manila. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA -- Customs personnel "will still be in control" and tapping security forces is not aimed at militarizing operations, the bureau's new head said Wednesday, as he set out to fight corruption.

Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero took over from Isidro Lapena, under whose watch an alleged P11 billion "shabu" shipment slipped past authorities. Lapena, who denied wrongdoing, was reassigned to the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority.

Guerrero is a former chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. He retired from the service last April.

"'Yung directive ni Presidente (The President's directive) to have military people, it's not a militarization process. Clearly, the officers of the BOC will still be in control of the operations and activities of the bureau," Guerrero told reporters.

Guerrero said the President directed him to "choose people with integrity" for the bureau.

"Clearly, the President said he has never and he will never given an illegal and unlawful order," he said.

Soldiers will guard customs and will "hopefully intimidate" corrupt personnel, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Tuesday.

President Rodrigo Duterte said over the weekend that he wanted the military to "take over" the agency.

Guerrero said he would be "on top of the situation" and improve intelligence to defeat corruption in the bureau.

Asked to elaborate on his plans, Guerrero said: "Mahirap sabihin ano gagawin ko (It's difficult to make my plans public). That defeats the purpose of having a plan."