With Commissioner Lapeña
THE “honeymoon period” between Bureau of Customs (BoC) Commissioner Isidro Lapeña, the employees and
customs brokers appears to be at an end with the BoC Employees Association (BOCEA), saying they are
“disappointed” with their new customs chief.
BOCEA president Remedios Princesa, in a talk with this writer, said their grievances against
the new administration is starting to pile up, claiming Lapeña and the management team he brought with
him appears “not serious” in addressing the issues affecting the welfare and interest of the bureau’s
rank and file.
“Not one of our formal letters to Comm. Lapeña and even our official statements since he
assumed as commissioner was answered; we were not given the courtesy of any reply,” Princesa said.
Princesa said that on the issue of their CNA (collective negotiation agreement) that was first
approved for implementation under Comm. Bert Lina, the union is yet to receive any reply on the three
letters they sent to Lapeña.
She added they also wrote and issued official statements pertaining to the transfer and
reassignment of customs employees but also failed to elicit any reply from the management.
The union, she added, was also “dismayed” to learn that on their first meeting with Lapeña
last Monday, the customs chief allegedly is yet to read and understand the provisions of the CNA that
binds the management and the employees to work and consult together on work-related issues, among
“And yet, they (management) just went ahead with their plans and decisions to remove or
transfer employees without bothering to consult with the union as provided for in the CNA and related
rulings by the Civil Service Commission,” she added.
After “several requests,” BOCEA finally sat down with Lapeña last November 6, some three
months since he assumed the top customs post last August 30.
On Wednesday, over two dozen ‘document processors,’ or those employed by customs brokerage to
process the release of arriving shipments at the Port of Manila (POM) also trooped to the office of
POM district collector, Atty. Ernie Aquino, to protest the “undue delay” in the processing of their
The slow processing of shipping documents, they averred, was directly due to the decision two
weeks ago by Lapeña to dissolve the entire Assessment (Formal Entry) Division at the POM and at the
Manila International Container Port (MICP) and replacing it with his so-called, “queuing system.”
“Comm. Lapeña’s new ‘queuing system’ is taking its toll not only on our patience but also on
lost business hours for us that would mean lost income due to penalties,” said several document
processors and customs brokers who talked with People’s Tonight yesterday.
They also averred that the dissolution of the FED gave rise to the “centralization” of
document processing known in the past administration of Comm. Nicanor Faeldon, Lapeña’s predecessor,
as “ComCen” (Command Center).
“Nothing essentially has changed from the past discredited system under Commissioner Faeldon.
“They (Lapeña’s group) are just making it as hard as before for ordinary customs brokers to
transact their business here,” they added.