Monday, April 03, 2006

Missed targets behind order?

AMID criticisms on the manner of her assumption as District Collector of the Port of Cebu, Gracia Zuño Karingal is appealing to customs personnel and the local business community for cooperation.

In a text message to Sun.Star Cebu, Karingal said she believes that with the help of Port of Cebu personnel, the political leadership in Cebu and the local business community, “I feel confident that we can achieve our collection targets and at the same time ensure the vibrant growth of business not only in Cebu but also in the whole country.”

Karingal also said yesterday that Bureau of Customs (BOC) Commissioner Napoleon Morales has issued a personnel order naming her as the new district collector for the Port of Cebu.

“I humbly accept the post of district collector for the Port of Cebu and I look forward to assuming my duties and responsibilities as collector,” Karingal said in her text message sent through her aide, Sgt. Joel Bermejo.

As of yesterday, there was still no reason for the replacement of District Collector Ma. Lourdes V. Mangaoang.

Mangaoang contradicted a former Cebu collector’s assertion that she should go because she has failed to meet revenue targets set for the Cebu port.

Mangaoang explained the Port of Cebu missed its target from August to December 2005 because of the political turmoil, as President Arroyo faced calls for her resignation.

Sun.Star Cebu tried to contact Morales but repeated calls to his mobile phone in the past three days have gone unanswered.

It was Morales who issued Personnel Order 169-2006, which transferred Karingal, currently the deputy collector at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA). He also sent Marieta Zamoranos to the Port of Subic.

BOC sources have said that former Commission on Elections commissioner Virgilio Garcillano did not back up Karingal but Zamoranos, whose family is among his close associates in Medina, Misamis Oriental.

An earlier order issued by Morales and approved by Finance Secretary Margarito Teves reassigned Karingal to Subic, but Zamoranos reportedly wanted the position, prompting Garcillano to call up President Arroyo.

To prevent Karingal from getting angry at Zamoranos, Garcillano allegedly recommended to President Arroyo that Karingal be assigned in Cebu.

But Ricky Gantuangco of the Professional Customs Brokers Association of the Philippines (PCBAPI) and Deo Alberca of the Chamber of Customs Brokers Inc. (CCBI) said the order violates Executive Order 133, issued by President Arroyo last January.

This requires the approval of the finance secretary in the transfers of district collectors.

Meanwhile, former District Collector David S. Odilao Jr. has urged Mangaoang to immediately vacate her office, saying she has failed to meet the targets for eight months now.

“As a public servant, she doesn’t have a torrens title to the position,” Odilao said.

But Mangaoang said there was a 70 percent decrease in the volume of imports and only four out of 20 importers continue to import.

Despite this, Cebu missed the target only by 1.7 percent, even when nationwide collection was declined by 4.5 percent.

Mangaoang added that the Manila International Container Port was negative by 15 percent, Port of Manila negative by five percent, NAIA negative by 20 percent, Port of Subic negative by 38 percent, Port of Clark negative by 42 percent and Port of Zamboanga negative by 35 percent.

She added that while the nationwide target for 2005 was increased by only 25 percent, Cebu’s target was increased by 33 percent.

Despite drastic decreases in the volume of imports, Cebu collection for 2005 increased by 17 percent.

Also, in 2004, the average amount paid for duties and taxes in the Port of Cebu was P13,000 per metric ton. In 2005, it increased to P21,000. (EOB) Sun Star

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