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Customs chief Ruffy Biazon resigns amid ‘pork’ controversy

(Updated 6:46 p.m.) Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon on Monday tendered his irrevocable resignation, days after he was named respondent in a malversation complaint in connection with a widening pork barrel scandal.

At a press briefing, Biazon, a former Muntinlupa lawmaker, said he decided to quit his post to protect his name and family amid the allegation that he was among those who received millions of pesos in kickbacks from the alleged scam.

He was the first Aquino ally to be accused in a pork corruption complaint, and also the first official to resign among all those who have been linked to the pork barrel scam.

“I resign to protect my family, particularly my young children, from the exposure to the hostile environment of a public controversy involving their father. The intense discussion in media may be too much for them to endure. They are to young too understand that in the face of allegations like these, that anyone is deemed innocent until proven guilty in the court of law,” he said.

He added that his father, former senator and now Muntinlupa Rep. Rodolfo Biazon, “served this country for 52 years with untarnished service. I would like to uphold the honor he earned for our name.”

Good name

“No position is worth sacrificing for well-being and peace of mind of my family,” the younger Biazon said. “A good name is more desirable than great riches.”

The complaint against Biazon and 33 others, including former lawmakers, was filed last Friday with the Office of the Ombudsman.

Biazon also said that he resigned to prevent parties from exploiting his situation against the administration. “I would rather see the reforms of this administration succeed than retain my opportunity to serve,” he said.

He said he also wants to relieve himself of the stress and pressure “brought upon me by those who have been affected by the reforms I have initiated, those whose interests have I blocked and disrupted, those who would like to uphold the status quo 'kalakaran' in Customs wherein they benefit from and those who have been taken out of their comfort zones.”

Well-funded enemies

Biazon believes the move against him is from the “well-funded enemies” of the reforms he initiated at BOC. He added although he survived the attacks and obstacles hurled against him in the first two years of his stint as BOC chief, “I can only take so much.”

Biazon said presidential appointees serve at the pleasure of the President and he had availed it “but I also believe that public officers serve with the trust of the Filipino people.”

Biazon announced his resignation even as he said that he is ready to face the allegation.

“I welcome the opportunity to clarify and answer the accusations whether before the National Bureau of Investigation, the Office of the Ombudsman or the courts,” he said last Friday.

Biazon, a member of President Benigno Aquino III's Liberal Party, served as Muntinlupa representative from 2001 to 2010.

In his speech, Biazon encouraged BOC personnel to “be the generation which will fulfill the desire of the people for a Customs Administration that they can trust and be proud of.”

He also thanked Aquino for giving him the opportunity to serve the people. “It has been a worthwhile endeavor, a learning experience and a memorable time.”

Meeting with PNoy

In a statement, Aquino said Biazon submitted his resignation during a meeting with him on Monday afternoon.

Aquino said Biazon is “especially concerned” with protecting his family from the effects of a public controversy, and that he believes the “proper thing” to do is to defend himself without “compromising” his past record or the ongoing reforms in the Bureau of Customs (BOC).

“In his letter to me, and in our conversation, he explained that it would be best to provide the Secretary of Finance the widest leverage and flexibility to steer the future direction of the Bureau of Customs, in light of the controversy brought about by Commissioner Biazon's inclusion in the complaint of the National Bureau of Investigation before the Ombudsman,” the President said.

Aquino said he has given Biazon until the end of the week to wind up his affairs in the BOC. “I thank him for his years of service to our administration and the nation. I wish him nothing but the best as he returns to private life,” he said.

Presidential Communications Operations Office head Herminio “Sonny” Coloma Jr., for his part, said in resigning from his post, Biazon “has done right by the President and by our people.”

“He has demonstrated the significance of valuing a sense of delicadeza in public service,” Coloma said.

It was not the first time Biazon resigned from his post. Last July, he offered to quit after Aquino castigated the Bureau of Customs during his State of the Nation Address (SONA) for allegedly failing to curb the smuggling problem in the country. Aquino, however, did not accept his resignation. — with Kimberly Jane Tan/KBK, GMA News