‘Hitler’ at the BoC?

‘Hitler’ at the BoC?

Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero

How fortunate for governments that the people they administer don’t think.

— Adolf Hitler

(Third of a series)

THERE is something happening in the Bureau of Customs (BoC) that a lot of people do not know — perhaps even Malacañang is unaware, because as we believe the Chief Executive, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, is truly against corruption in government.

The media for one has been silent about the iron-fisted leadership that has been shown by Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero.

We hear about retired and even active members of the military who have been given plantilla positions in the bureau or else as consultants, who act as close-in minions of the commissioner so much like the black-uniformed elite corps of Adolph Hitler known as the Schutzstaffel (‘protective echelon’ in German) or SS.

So what is the parallel between Guerrero and Hitler’s leadership?

For a fact, in assuming the title Führer und Reichskanzler, Adolf Hitler was the kind of leader who was first and foremost determined to command personally and according to his Führerprinzip, or his so-called Leader Principle, the ultimate authority rested with him and extended downward and at each level, the superior was to give the orders while the subordinates were to follow them to the letter.

In practice, the command relationships were more subtle and complex, especially at the lower levels, but Hitler did have the final say on any subject in which he took a direct interest, including the details of military operation, that is, the actual direction of armies in the field.

We see this kind of leadership concept in the Bureau of Customs today, although unseen outside its graying walls but very much known among the commissioner’s peers and subordinates as Guerrero has literally strangled the bureau to bend to his will.

As a bit of background, Rey Leonardo Borja Guerrero is a retired Philippine Army general who has been serving as the Commissioner of the Bureau of Customs since 2018.

Previously, he was the administrator of the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) from April to October 2018 and was the chief-of-staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) from October 2017 to April 2018.

Before entering military service, Guerrero was a student in the University of the Philippines Diliman, where he took his PMA exams in 1980 before entering the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) the same year and graduated as a member of the PMA ‘Maharlika’ class of 1984.

According to those close to him, he was known to be strict, determined, well-rounded, and serious, yet very kind-hearted and a great leader.

Aside from his PMA education, he also attended various military courses locally and abroad, such as the AFP Command and General Staff Course and the Basic Airborne Course, among others. He is also a qualified member of the Special Forces.

During his 38 years in military service (including spending a total of 4 years as a PMA cadet), he served as the former commander of the 61st Infantry Battalion of the 3rd Infantry Division, the 701st Infantry Brigade of the 7th Infantry Division, and the Presidential Security Group under the term of then-president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

He also headed the Special Operations Command and also served as the former Philippine Army chief-of-staff, where he earned his second star and was promoted to Major General. He also served as commander of the 3rd Infantry Division, before being named as the commander of the AFP Eastern Mindanao Command, where he earned his third star and was promoted to Lieutenant General.

He is often called ‘Jagger’ as his nickname in the military. He was appointed as the chief-of-staff of the AFP on October 26, 2017, but at the end of his term, it was extended by President Rodrigo Duterte from December 17, 2017, until April 18, 2018, allowing him to serve his term beyond the mandatory retirement age at 56.

He was replaced by the commander of the AFP Western Mindanao Command then-Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr., who is now presidential peace adviser and head of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation, and Unity (OPAPRU).

With that as his background, we are no longer surprised that his administration of the BoC has gone militarily, and being a firm believer it appears of the tenet that “the boss is always right,” it only proves why he is doing a Hitler-kind of management in the agency which finds subordinates following him to the letter and without question.
Death List

The alleged death list

And remember about the 14 high-ranking officials of the BoC, who were tagged by the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) as involved in anomalies within the bureau? Insiders say that these unfortunate guys may be considered as ‘sacrificial lambs’ for blindly following Guerrero’s orders.

I was supplied the names of these sorry individuals (minus one of course—that of Eudes Nerpio, who had been tagged as number 8 in the so-called Death List and shot dead by an unknown assailant after a failed attempt on the life of the list’s Number 1, Melvin Tan):

I was also informed that the No. 2 name in the list, that of Nestor Altarejos, who is the right-hand man of Duterte’s inaanak (Atty. Diño Austria) and district collector of Port of Davao, is considered very helpful by most, especially to his fellow Masons.

They say, he is heavily backed by several administration politicians because he is the section chief in charge of all importations of vehicles at the Port of Manila. All smuggled cars pass through Mr. Altarejo — lahat daw may basbas — that is why many are questioning why he has been included in the ‘death list’.

Another name surprisingly included in the list is that of No. 5 Atty. Noemi Mendoza. Mendoza is an old-timer and like Altarejos a most helpful lawyer. She is said to have the firmest loyalty to the bureau and to whoever is the commissioner of the agency—but she will also vocally disagree with memos and new rules if they went against established laws and rules of the BoC.

So, now we ask why they have been included in the Death List.

In ending, let me express my gratitude to those insiders and sources, including members of the media assigned to cover the BoC, who had been very helpful in my data regarding what is truly happening within the Bureau of Customs, especially at the OComm or the Office of the Commissioner.

Finally, let me give my regards to several friends, namely: Bambi Purisima, Tisoy Carvajal, Paul Gutierrez, Marlon Purificacion, Ben Paypon, Tony Tabbad, Doc Mike, and many others who I could perhaps mention in my next expose of what’s happening or real score at the BoC nowadays.

Next time, we’ll expose the names of the military men who are now employed inside OCOmm.
Till then, au revoir . . .

(ai/mtvn)

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