MANILA: Customs Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence Group Jessie Dellosa on Tuesday said he was not quitting despite the resignation last week of his erstwhile boss, ex-Customs Commissioner John Sevilla.
Dellosa, however, admitted having thoughts about staying at the Bureau of Customs.
“Recent events led me to pause and ask if the cause was still worth fighting for. Knowing the risks, sacrifices and frustrations that come with any change effort, each of us has our reasons for committing to this reform campaign,” he said in a statement.
“I was faced with two options—to leave and surrender to the forces that seek to impede the reforms and return to the practices of the past; or to hold my ground, continue the fight and frustrate the assault from many fronts, more sacrifices notwithstanding,” Dellosa said.
In the end, the retired military general said, he decided to stay at the bureau despite calls for him to resign “because there is still much work that needs to be done.”
He said he was staying for the sake of those who are facing cases for doing their job.
“We have witnesses who risked their lives and livelihoods to support our cause. I will not leave them behind. I will not abandon them so that those in the front lines and the transacting public will know that the bureau backs its people and its partners when they do right. The welfare of our personnel is an equal priority,” he said.
Dellosa said he was staying despite talk that he was holding on because of the “tara,” bribes paid by smugglers and port fixer to facilitate the release of misdeclared and undervalued international cargo.
“We have absorbed and survived all kinds of attacks and threats since joining the BOC,” he said.
“I will stay in my post and quit only when properly relieved by the appointing authority. I will not allow the shrewd and the scheming to ease me out on the often cited principle of delicadeza (propriety),” he said.
He said he respected Sevilla’s decision to resign. He said Sevilla’s resignation—which became controversial after he said he had been pressured into leaving—exposed the pitfalls and challenges of serving in the bureau.
“I realize the wisdom behind his resignation. Let us not put to waste the sacrifice that came with his decision to quit. He took a step backward so the reformists in the BOC can take two steps forward. Let us look at it as an opportunity for the public to realize the uphill battles we face on a daily basis, and seek broad support for the sustainment of the reform momentum,” Dellosa said.
He said he wanted to give newly appointed Commissioner Alberto Lina a chance to fulfill his promises and continue Sevilla’s reforms.
“Let us all give him a chance to prove that his word is his bond,” Dellosa said, adding that he still believed President Aquino was committed to customs reform.
“I will stay because I remembered the words of a junior officer when I asked if accepting this customs job was a good idea—“‘If good people stay away from government service, we will get the kind of government that we deserve.’ We are serving our country and our people through the Bureau of Customs. In that alone, the cause is worth fighting for,” Dellosa said.