Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Customs tug-of-war erupts at Subic port

By WILLIAM DEPASUPIL, The Manila Times Reporter

But not, it seems, at the Port of Subic in Zambales, where two customs bureau officials claim to be the district collector, creating confusion among employees and persons transacting business at the port.

Contesting the same post are collectors Andres Salvacion and Grace Caringal, the sister of State Prosecutor Jovencito Zuño.

Caringal holds office at the main Customs building, while Salvacion resides at Building 303 inside the port.

In an interview, acting Customs Commissioner Napoleon Morales said that Caringal is the official Subic port collector since Salvacion has agreed to yield the position.

"Caringal is the collector there. Andy [Salvacion] has already returned to Manila. I talked to him," Morales told The Times.

In a telephone interview, Salvacion belied Morales’s statement, saying, "There is only one collector in Subic and that is me.

"I am in Subic now," Salvacion said, adding that he had no bone to pick with Caringal.

The Times had also learned that Salvacion petitioned an Olongapo Regional Trial Court to stop Caringal from "usurping the power and authority of the collector of the Port of Subic."

Salvacion confirmed the motion but declined to comment further "since it is with the courts."

Records show that Salvacion, a presidential appointee, is deemed the "legal collector" after Finance Secretary Margarito Teves ordered Morales to stop the revamp of customs personnel that includes 24 major posts in 13 collection districts, including Subic.

When asked about the Teves memo, Morales said that Caringal’s takeover of the Subic port was the exception "since Salvacion has agreed to my request to yield his post to Caringal."

Morales issued a directive on March 20, to reshuffle five major positions. changed. The order included the reassignment of Collector Carlos So of the Manila International Container Port and Salvacion of the Port of Subic to the office of the commissioner.

Assignment to the commissioner’s office is like "limbo" for officers without assignments.

Morales issued his second order on March 31 that had 31 officials in 11 collection districts moved around.


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