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Biazon quits Customs

 Claims move to spare PNoy from intrigues
CUSTOMS Commissioner Rozzano Rufino Biazon resigned irrevocably Monday after a 40-minute meeting with President Benigno Aquino III.

“It is a decision that I am at peace with. I resign in order to prevent the exploitation of the controversy by parties who would like nothing better than to have an issue to throw against the Aquino administration,” he said in a late afternoon press conference in his office.

Resigned. Embattled Customs Commissioner Rufino Biazon, who has been charged with misusing his pork barrel when he was a congressman, said the case had nothing to do with his resignation on Monday. Danny Pata
“Critics will surely have a field day taking potshots at the President if I stay in the post. I would rather see the reforms of his administration succeed than retain my opportunity to serve,” he added.

Biazon’s resignation came three days after the Justice Department filed criminal charges against him and other former and active lawmakers before the Office of the Ombudsman in connection with the P10 billion pork barrel scam.

“My resignation has nothing do with an admission of guilt, I know I can defend myself properly when the time comes. I resign to protect my family, particularly my young children, from the exposure to the hostile environment of a public controversy involving their father. The intense discussion in media may be too much for them to endure. They are too young to understand that in the face of allegations like these, anyone is deemed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law,” said Biazon.

Biazon also said that he resigned to uphold the honor of his father, former senator, Armed Forces chief and now Muntinlupa Rep. Rodolfo Biazon, who had 52 years of untarnished service.

“No position is worth sacrificing the well-being and peace of mind of my family,” he said.

“I resigned in order to relieve myself from the stress and pressure that have been brought upon me by those that have been affected by the reforms that I have initiated,” Biazon said, adding that there’s a “well-funded” attack against him.

“In the past two years, I have so far survived the attacks and obstacle thrown at me, but I can only take so much.”

Asked if he was a sacrificial lamb being offered up by the Aquino administration, Biazon said: “So be it. There are people who will be happy. At least I know who my real friends are.”

Biazon told reporters that he met the President around 3 p.m. in Malacanang and discussed the case filed against him by the Justice Department.

“He told me, not directly but in the way the discussion was moving, I think he gave me space to think about it, but once I sat down, that is what was on my mind,” he said.

“There is an appropriate time to address the issues. At this point I don’t even have a copy of the complaint. In fact there is no case yet against me,” he added.

Biazon said he decided to offer a resignation since Friday night, hours after the case was filed. To his as yet unnamed successor, he had this advice: “Watch your back.”

Before Biazon was charged, President Aquino had been cool to calls for him to resign amid reports of rampant smuggling and his inability to meet revenue targets.

Biazon later did offer to resign through a text message, when President Aquino berated his agency during the State of the Nation Address. Mr. Aquino turned down the offer.

Documents from the bureau’s Finance Service Office showed that in his more than two years as commissioner, Biazon had never met his collection goals.

Last Friday, Biazon said he is ready and willing to face the criminal complaint filed against him and other former lawmakers in connection with the controversial pork barrel scam.

He had admitted that a portion of his P70 million pork barrel allocation when he was Muntinlupa City congressman went to a non-government organization.

In a statement, the President said Biazon submitted his resignation when they met Monday afternoon.

“In his letter to me, and in our conversation, he explained that it would be best to provide the secretary of Finance the widest leverage and flexibility to steer the future direction of the Bureau of Customs, in light of the controversy brought about by Commissioner Biazon’s inclusion in the complaint of the National Bureau of Investigation before the Ombudsman.

“Commissioner Biazon believes that the proper thing to do is to defend himself without compromising his past record, or the ongoing reforms in the bureau. He is especially concerned with protecting his family, in particular his children, from the effects of a public controversy,” Aquino added.

Aquino said he has have given Biazon “until the end of the week to wind up his affairs in the Bureau of Customs, in order to ensure an orderly transfer.”

“I thank him for his years of service to our administration and the nation. I wish him nothing but the best as he returns to private life,” Mr. Aquino said.

Lawmakers led by House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. welcomed news of Biazon’s resignation.

Belmonte, who had a day earlier urged Biazon to quit, called his resignation “a noble gesture.”

House Deputy Majority Leader Sherwin Tugna added that Biazon showed he was a man of delicadeza, for saving the administration from the cloud of protecting a party-mate.

Isabela Rep. Rodolfo Albano III, who described Biazon as a friend, said his fate showed that “nobody is indispensable.” With Ronald O. Reyes and Maricel V. Cruz

 

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