BUREAU of Customs (BoC) Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon continues to take steps to centralize all power and authority at the Office of the Commissioner (OCOM), this time creating a ‘Command Center’ (COMCEN) that would provide him “with situational awareness” in the entire bureau for his “informed decision-making and immediate action.” Under Customs Special Order (CSO) 45-2016, dated September 7, 2016, Faeldon, thru the CENCOM, also limited the authority of all district collectors to manage their own collection districts.
Among the center’s power and functions is to daily “monitor and supervise” the operations of all collection districts as well as the “regular performance of duties” of all district collectors and other bureau officials.
Following CSO 45-2016, Faeldon also on the same day “amended” Customs Memorandum Order (CMO) 35-2015 with CMO 23-2016 in relation to issuance and lifting of an “AO” against any shipment.
CMO 35-215, signed by then commissioner Alberto Lina, had already severely curtailed the power of other bureau offices as regards to the AO. While they can still issue an alert, its lifting has been given to the concerned district collector where a shipment was being held.
Under Faeldon’s CMO 23-2016, only his office, thru the CENCOM, can issue and lift an AO.
Waterfront observers note that Faeldon seemed focused in delimiting the discretion and authority of his subordinates and other career bureau officials and in centralizing all discretion and power of decision at his office.
They noted that only last August 10, Faeldon also created a ‘Special Studies and Project Development Committee’ (SSPDC) under CSO 44-2016 that he claims is needed “for the successful institution of reforms in the bureau and to ensure that collection targets are met, if not exceeded.”
Members and officials of the SSPCD, who remains generally unknown to the public up to now, are “principally mandated to conduct ‘special project missions’ as directed by Faeldon and are responsible only to him.”
Despite these changes, the bureau’s Public Information and Assistance Division (PIAD) averred stakeholders and the public can expect “more transparency” in its operations.