Customs chief accused of 'illegal' appointments

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 1) — Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero is facing a complaint at the Office of the Ombudsman for some allegedly illegal appointments he has made in the Customs bureau.

Joana Marie Gonzales of the anti-corruption group Transparency in Public Service filed the complaint onThursday against Guerrero for graft and usurpation or unlawful use of authority.

The appointments being questioned are those of Guerrero's Chief of Staff Teodoro Jumamil, Acting Deputy Commissioners Raniel Ramiro and Donato San Juan, and Risk Management Office Chief George Avila.

Gonzales claimed they were not qualified for their posts and that they began working in November 2018, when their appointment papers only came out May this year.

“During the intervening period wala silang appointment, wala silang karapatan na i-discharge yung functions nila, making the appointment and their acts illegal," said Joseph del Rosario, the complainant's lawyer.

[Translation: During the intervening period they did not have appointment (papers), they did not have the right to discharge their functions, making the appointment and their acts illegal.]

The beleaguered Bureau of Customs is now being investigated by the Ombudsman, following President Rodrigo Duterte's repeated pronouncements that dozens of Customs officials and employees are involved in corruption.

READ: Duterte reveals 100 more Customs officials face termination

Guerrero is the third Customs chief to be appointed by Duterte. The first two, Nicanor Faeldon and Isidro Lapeña, are now with different government agencies after massive shabu shipments slipped into the country under their watch.

When Guerrero took over the bureau in October last year, he said Duterte had ordered him to "choose people with integrity and with a high-learning curve" to ensure a corruption-free bureau.

CNN Philippines' Eimor Santos contributed to this report.