Duterte names new Customs chief, moves Lapeña to TESDA

By CNN Philippines Staff

President Rodrigo Duterte moved Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapeña to head the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), and named Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) Administrator Rey Leonardo Guerrero as his replacement.

Duterte announced Lapeña’s transfer during a speech at the 117th anniversary celebration of the Philippine Coast Guard on Thursday.

“General Lapeña will move to TESDA. I will promote you to a Cabinet member position,” Duterte said.

The President told Lapeña the job at TESDA “could be messy at times,” but his military training will work in his favor.

Speaking to CNN Philippines, Lapeña said he only found out about his new appointment at the event, but believed the President’s decision would be for everyone’s good.

“It’s a promotion, actually, for me but a way of instituting reforms at the Bureau of Customs. I  respect that,” he added.

Lapeña has come under fire recently, after former Customs x-ray chief Lourdes Mangaoang accused him of ignoring her warning over magnetic lifters supposedly containing illegal drugs.

The alleged shabu shipment was said to amount to ₱11 billion.

Mangaoang has since been demoted to deputy collector at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

Duterte has frequently said he preferred to work with former military members as they follow orders immediately and do not tend to argue with him.

“Kasi ang military, ‘yung mga retired ‘pag sinabi mong, ‘Gawin mo ‘yan,’ gagawin ‘yan. ‘Pag sinabi mong, ‘Gawin ‘yan, huwag kang maghingi ni piso,’ susunod ‘yan,” he said in January.

[Translation: For retired military officials – when you say “Do it,” they will do it. When you say, “Do it, don’t ask for a peso,” they’ll follow.]

The President also said changes will happen at the Customs bureau.

Guerrero is new BOC chief

Meanwhile, the President expressed his confidence on the new Customs chief. Guerrero retired from the military in April.

“I know that you are happy there (in MARINA) and you are contented, so I heard. But the demands of public service and the need of honest men requires your presence there (Customs). Good luck,” said the President.

Guerrero told CNN Philippines he was surprised with the President’s announcement.

He added it was early to talk about his plans, and that he will first meet with Lapeña.

Meanwhile, Duterte ordered all Customs commissioners and department heads out so Guererro could have his choice of personnel.

For now, the President said affected Customs officials will be on floating status.

“Out lahat. To the last man. Out. The commissioners are out. The department heads out… Better go there tomorrow sa opisina ko so we can have the ceremonies right away… My order to you, Jagger, is ilagay mo yan sila sa opisina ko, they are on floating status,” he said.

[Translation: Everyone out. To the last man. The commissioners are out. The department heads out… Better go to my office tomorrow so we can have the ceremonies right away… My order to you, Jagger, is to have them come to my office, they are on floating status.]

CNN Philippines’ Pia Garcia and Ina Andolong contributed to this story.

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