Court approves Customs revamp-A A +A
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
THE Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) has approved the transfer of all 27 port collectors to the Customs Policy Research Office (CPRO) as part of the reform program being initiated by the Bureau of Customs (BOC).
In a decision penned by Judge Felicitas Laron Cacanidin of Manila RTC branch 17, the court denied the petition for the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction filed by 13 of the 27 Customs collectors who sought not to implement Customs Personnel Order (CPO) B-189-2013 detailing the petitioners to the CPRO.
"The Court, after considering the verified Petition, the Judicial Affidavits and oral testimonies of the three petitioners as well as the documentary evidences presented denies the petitioners' application for the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction," the court order stated.
Cacanidin pointed out that "the court cannot enjoin an agency from performing an act within its prerogative, except when in the exercise of its authority it gravely abused or exceeded jurisdiction."
Fifteen of the 27 Customs collectors recently questioned before the court the CPO issued by Commissioner Ruffy Biazon, saying that it was an illegal act that would place them in floating status.
The court previously issued a 20-day temporary restraining order (TRO) enjoining the implementation of the CPO.
The petitioners who were against the said CPO were Collectors Ronnie Silvestre, Edward de la Cuesta, Rogel Gatchalian, Imelda Cruz, Lilibeth Sandag, Raymond Ventura, Ma. Liza Torres, Arnel Alcaraz, Ma. Lourdes Mangaoang, Francis Agustin Erpe, Carlos So, Marietta Zamoranos, Carmelita Talus, Arifeles Carreon and Romalino Valdez.
Cruz lately resigned from her post while Talusan withdrew her name from the petition and decided to report to the CPRO.
Biazon, for his part, said that officials of the bureau who had been transferred to the CPRO must immediately report to that office following the decision of the Manila RTC denying the motion to block their transfer to the CPRO.
"We welcome the decision of the Manila RTC to deny the application for the issuance of a Writ of Preliminary Injunction against the CPO assigning 27 BOC collectors to the CPRO... We hope that this resolution will compel all parties to move in the same direction towards reform in the BOC," Biazon said.
He added that the CPRO is a crucial part of the reform initiative for the Bureau of Customs. Biazon deemed it necessary to ensure that they must implement sustainable, relevant and effective changes at the bureau to enhance trade facilitation, border security and public safety.
Despite the favorable ruling, the Department of Finance said Tuesday the Manila court has no jurisdiction over the case.
In a petition before the Supreme Court, the department noted that issues related to the transfer of government employees should fall under the Civil Service Commission (CSC).
It also criticized the BOC personnel for failing to exhaust administrative remedies when they questioned the order in court.
"Courts must allow administrative agencies to carry out their functions and discharge their responsibilities within the specialized areas of their respective competence. To this end, administrative agencies are afforded a chance to correct any previous error committed in its forum," stated the petition prepared by the Office of the Solicitor General.
Failure to avail of all administrative remedies is one of the grounds allowed in the Rules of Court for the dismissal of a complaint.
"Having no leg to stand on, the main case must fail. It then indubitably follows that any issuance of the ancilliary remedies of temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction is null and void," the OSG said, referring to the previous actions of the Manila court against the CPO. (with reports from Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)