MANILA – Newly appointed Bureau of Customs commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero on Wednesday promised a strong anti-corruption drive within the agency.
“Expect that efforts against corruption will be both decisive and unrelenting,” Guerrero said in a speech during a turnover of leadership ceremony at the bureau.
The retired military official will focus on “addressing systemic weaknesses and implementing stronger internal safeguards, enhancing integrity systems and building the capabilities of our workers.”
“I commit to serve with purpose and integrity,” said Guerrero, who was the Maritime Industry Authority administrator prior to his new appointment. “Without trust, we will not be able to make change happen or rebuild our credibility and reputation.”
He emphasized that trust is the “basic element in building teamwork that will enable improvements and innovations.”
“I need to be able to trust every single member of the Bureau of Customs to be honest and upright, and each of you need to trust me in my commitment and capacity to lead with integrity,” Guerrero said.
“I thank the President for his continued trust and confidence in my ability to lead the bureau … guided by his directives to initiate reforms and cleanse the agency of corruption.”
Guerrero replaced Isidro Lapeña, who President Rodrigo Duterte made the head of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority amid the shabu shipment controversy besetting the Customs.
In 2017 the Customs also changed heads amid a shabu shipment issue – Lapeña replaced then Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon.
In an interview with the press Guerrero clarified Duterte’s remark that the Armed Forces was tapped to man the Customs’ operations.
Guerrero said it did not mean the “militarization” of the embattled bureau. “Clearly, the officers of the [Customs] will still be in control of the operations and activities of the bureau,” he stressed.
He said they have yet to discuss how soldiers are “assisting” the Customs officials and set guidelines if necessary.
“We will have to assess the situation to decide accordingly,” Guerrero said.
“Clearly the President said that he has not given an illegal order, so when he gives us instructions, it is understood that we are mandated to operationalize his instructions within the bounds of law.”/PN