Malacañang sa Sugbu: Customs wants "Aduana" back

07/31/2010 - Cebu Philippines – The Bureau of Customs wants to take back its building, which was made into the Malacañang sa Sugbu during the term of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Former BOC district collectors as well as new Commissioner Angelito Alvarez were unanimous in pushing that the BOC to reclaim the building, which once served as their headquarters here.

Alvarez, in a press conference yesterday, said that he will make representations with the Secretary of Finance Cesar Purisima and President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III to express their intent.

"We have to get back that building because the bureau is the owner of the building," said BOC Port of Cebu district collector Ronnie Silvestre in the same conference.

Former Cebu Customs collector Ricardo Belmonte, brother of House Speaker Feliciano "Sonny" Belmonte, Jr. said that he will also help facilitate for the return of the said structure to the BOC for their use.

"By history, the nine-hectare lot including the plaza is owned by the Bureau of Customs. No other government agency or entity has a title over the said property," former colletor Rolando Yebes told The FREEMAN.

The old BOC building was converted in 2006 by Arroyo as the Malacañang (Presidential Palace) in the South. To pave the way for its new use, the BOC was asked to transfer.

BOC Cebu is now leasing the building of the Cebu Port Authority and pays a monthly rental of P50,000.

"We should get back that building. So that wala na tayong babayaran na renta kung makuha natin uli yun," Silvestre said.

Several former district collectors were in Cebu together with Alvarez for the 124th Founding Anniversary of the Bureau of Customs in Cebu.

Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama said that if he has his way he wants the Malacañang sa Sugbo will remain as it is.

"It's good that building will be declared as a landmark," the mayor said.

Rama added that it's good that whatever is left in the building including its memorabilia from the Arroyo administration will be preserved.

A source from Malacañang said that the Office of the Executive Secretary is still trying to figure out what to do with the presidential office in Cebu.

The source said that the building can still be useful to the Palace as it can house several offices saving the government money to pay for rent. (THE FREEMAN)

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