By Raymund Antonio
Before the start of the election period, Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero has implemented changes in the revenue-generating agency by assigning new collectors in the country’s different ports.
Guerrero, a former military chief, issued a Customs Personnel Order (CPO) dated January 4 that designated new collectors in the Port of Manila, Subic port, and Manila International Container Port.
The CPO named lawyer Ma. Rhea Gregorio as the acting district collector of the Port of Manila, replacing Maritess Martin, who assumed her post in the Port of Subic.
Gregorio led the Subic port to achieve its record-breaking P22.4-billion revenue collection for 2018.
At the MICP, former POM collector Erastus Sandino Austria was assigned as its collector. Austria, who is concurrently spokesman for the BOC, replaced Filemon Mendoza Jr. after the latter was transferred to the Compliance Monitoring Unit.
The three new port collectors already took their oath separately before Guerrero last week.
Under the same CPO, lawyer Lourdes Mangaoang, who was the whistleblower in the P11-billion shabu controversy, reclaimed her old post as the X-ray Inspection Project chief.
Mangaoang, previously assigned as deputy collector for passenger service at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), took over the post of XIP head Romeo Guan.
The election period begins on January 13 for the upcoming national and local elections in May. This means the prohibitions such as the ban on the transfer or movement of officers and employees in the civil service takes effect.
But a Customs insider, who is privy to the matter, said the revamp in the agency could be far from over.
“The BOC may seek exemption from the Comelec (Commission on Elections) from the election ban,” he told The Manila Bulletin.
Leadership changes are not new to the BOC, which has seen different commissioners and port collectors under a single administration.
The reasons for this continued revamp include politics and performance in revenue collections, curbing smuggling, and corruption in the bureau.