MANILA – Malacañang took up the cudgels for beleaguered Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon, whose resignation was rejected by President Aquino after an outburst by the Chief Executive in his State-of- the-Nation Address (SoNA) about unabated corruption in the Bureau of Customs.
Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte confirmed that Aquino had turned down an offer of Biazon to resign, which the Customs chief made through text message shortly after the President delivered his SoNA last July 22.
“That is correct. It will be interpreted that way, as Commissioner Biazon had already shared in his Twitter account yesterday (July 22) the President’s response that his confidence in the commissioner remains,” Valte told reporters.
“Both gentlemen know the challenges as well as the limitations that are being faced by Commissioner Biazon in the (Bureau of) Customs, and that the confidence in the commissioner remains,” Valte said.
She recalled that in the past, this had been the signal to replace the head of the agency concerned.
“But sometimes, if we take a step back and we look: Is it something that the leader can do alone? Or is it something that he cannot do alone?” she said.
Valte said that in all organizations, there are the “bad eggs” or those who can be considered as recidivists or those who continue with their old ways.
“He (Biazon) is but one, and given that the problem in Customs is not that simple – that corruption is well-entrenched and has been endemic, and this is becoming systemic. This is one opportunity for the head of the agency to perform his mandate,” Valte said.
She said the President understands the predicament or the situation of Biazon, and knows fully well the challenges ahead in implementing the reforms that need to be carried out.
“Commissioner Biazon knows what to do, and if we are to listen to the President, it is properly categorized as this is the shot across the bow already,” Valte related.
“This is already a warning.”
“The President was very explicit that his patience is running out with those whose agencies are not performing their mandate, who think that all of these will pass. We can’t sit this out. They are mistaken and, obviously, the President has his eyes on them,” she said.
The principle of command responsibility, Valte said, actually reached Biazon, but it was only that the Customs chief “takes responsibility for the things that are happening.”
“But, again, the President is also very cognizant of the challenges, as well as the limitations, that have faced the commissioner since the time he was appointed,” she added.
Meanwhile, Biazon admitted he has been mulling over the idea of giving up.
After thanking the President for his continued confidence, Biazon said, “Sometime in the near future I would hang up the gloves because sometimes you begin to think if this is all worth it. If all the effort you do, you put into it, is all worth it. If nothing would come out of it, why stay on?”
“I have a vision, I have a plan. But as far as staying in the bureau, I take it day-to-day. I would not shed a tear in losing the post. But I am really willing to fight for what I believe in,” he said.
Biazon said that since he assumed the position as Bureau of Customs (BoC) chief some 20 months ago, he has considered his stay at the agency one day at a time, aware that anytime he could be removed from the post.
Biazon confirmed sending to Aquino a text message offering to resign. The President, however, told Biazon he is aware of the difficulties in implementing changes in the bureau and assured him he still has confidence in him.