CEBU CITY, PHILIPPINES- The top leadership of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) has installed a new district collector here but his supposed predecessor questioned the assumption of Atty. Charlito Martin Mendoza. Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero personally installed Mendoza last Monday, July 1, 2019, but Collector Elvira Cruz through her lawyer questioned its legality. Atty. Zeus Librojo explained that Cruz has long before raised the issue of her “collectorship” to the Civil Service Commission (CSC) when an earlier order for her reassignment outside of Cebu surfaced.
Cruz appealed the reassignment order and citing the CSC, Cruz reassignment order should not be executory. “The position or what has happened or what transpired last Monday was that the Commissioner designated and appointed Attorney Mendoza to assume the function in spite of the fact there is an order from the Civil Service Commission, both the regional office as well as the head office in Manila stating that pending appeal regarding the reassignment of Atty. Cruz the status quo should be observed.
That means Atty. Cruz, pursuant to the order of the civil service should remain to do her functions as Collector of Cebu,” Librojo of Librojo and Associates law offices in Pasig City told the local media in a press conference yesterday. Librojo assisted Cruz in the filing of a petition in the Court of Appeals (CA Cebu station) in seeking to stop the implementation of Guerrero’s order. “We are seeking the court to stop the illegal orders being pushed by Commissioner Guerrero,” stressing that it is their position that Mendoza “usurped” the functions of Cruz.
“I would not say he is the new Collector. He is someone placed there by the Commissioner to usurp the powers of the Collector which is Atty. Cruz because the law recognizes Atty. Cruz as the Collector up to this time.” The lawyer also assailed the presence of armed military personnel in the gates of the Bureau of Customs in the pier area. According to Librojo, Cruz was not permitted to enter the premises of the Port of Cebu after Mendoza was installed.
“Since Monday, yesterday, she (Cruz) is being prevented from going into the compound not just by security guards but by armed Coast guard personnel, armed to the teeth so to speak. Security guard ka ba naman Armalite ang dala mo.” Librojo emphasized that Cruz is taking the legal action and is seeking due process not for herself but for other civil servants so that they will not also suffer what she has experienced.
Librojo said that since the Civil Service Commission is a constitutional body, it should be respected by any head of agencies in the government. “This is precisely the fight of Atty. Cruz. It’s not just for her, for her its easy to step back however if she does that, it is allowing the head of an agency to disrespect our constitution.” Mendoza is not immediately available for his comment but in their Facebook post, the Bureau of Customs Port of Cebu announced the assumption of Mendoza.
A part of the post last July 1 reads: “In an installation ceremony presided by BOC Commissioner Rey Leonardo B. Guerrero, Atty. Charlito Martin R. Mendoza took his oath as the new Acting District Collector of Port of Cebu, effective 01 July 2019. The assumption is in compliance with Customs Personnel Order No. B-55-2019 dated 13 June 2019. The said CPO was signed by Commissioner Guerrero and approved by the Department of Finance Secretary Carlos Domiguez III on 25 June 2019.
Atty. Charlito Martin R. Mendoza is a Bar Topnotcher, placing Third (3rd) in the 2004 Philippine Bar Examinations.” According to the same post, Atty. Mendoza was a private law practitioner before joining the Bureau of Customs. The Port of Cebu belonged to the so-called “billionaire ports” in the BOC along with Manila International Container Port (MICP), Port of Manila (PoM), Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), Port of Batangas, Port of Subic, Port of Cagayan de Oro and Port of Davao./AAJ