Amid the massive reassignment and reshuffle at the Bureau of Customs, a transparency group is urging embattled BOC Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero to submit his courtesy resignation.
Brent de Jesus, spokesperson of the non-profit group Transparency in Public Service, likewise invoked the principle of “Command Responsibility” in his appeal to the Customs chief.
“From all reports and indications, Commissioner Guerrero is a true officer and a gentleman, especially during his time at the AFP,” De Jesus noted. “Being a lifelong military man, he of all people should understand what command responsibility entails, and present himself as a true example of this doctrine,” he added.
Last week, President Rodrigo Duterte announced that 64 officials from the BOC would be dismissed, and possibly face charges of corruption. The president gave these officials a chance to submit their courtesy resignations in order to avoid humiliation.
This announcement was the culmination of a series of events that ostensibly highlighted the continued corruption and inefficiency present at the agency. Last May 29, Senator Panfilo Lacson delivered a privilege speech seeking to address rampant bribery and fraud within the BOC. Lacson likewise exposed what he described as an obvious coverup story concocted by the BOC and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency to conceal the fact that P1 billion worth of illegal drugs had slipped past them.
A little over a month after this privilege speech, former BOC spokesperson and Manila International Container Port District collector lawyer Erastus Sandino Austria finally admitted that both agencies did indeed make a deliberate attempt to cover up the issue through their invented story.
Guerrero has since dismissed a number of key personnel, including his Chief of Staff, Teodoro Jumamil. Speaking for TIPS, however, De Jesus believes that the Commissioner must lead by example and present himself for scrutiny and possible dismissal. “First, it is a matter of delicadeza, especially since it has been revealed that he (Guerrero) participated in a cover-up,” De Jesus explained. “More importantly, there is actually a basis for command responsibility, specifically Executive Order No. 226, series of 1995.”
Based on this Executive Order, “a supervisor/ commander is duty-bound and, as such, is expected to closely monitor, supervise, direct, coordinate, and control the overall activities of his subordinates within his area of jurisdiction, and can be held accountable for neglect of duty in taking appropriate action to discipline his men.”
“It would be an honorable and admirable gesture if the Commissioner showed his subordinates that he is a true leader,” De Jesus said. “What better way to demonstrate this than to take accountability for the shortcomings of his agency?” De Jesus said.