MANILA, November 22, 2003  (STAR) By Des Ferriols - Finance Secretary Jose Isidro Camachoís departure from government service would likely trigger an exodus of his key appointees and nominees to the Department of Finance and its attached agencies.

This as ranking officials led by Bureau of Internal Revenue commissioner Guillermo Parayno, Bureau of Customs commissioner Antonio Bernardo, Social Security System president Corazon de la Paz and National Treasurer Sergio Edeza, together with Finance Undersecretaries Eric Recto, Nieves Osorio, Grace Tan and Innocencio Ferrer Jr. all rushed to the DOF for a hastily-called meeting with Camacho shortly after he announced his decision to leave public service yesterday.

Recto, for one, was unequivocal about his decision to resign from his post too, pointing out that staying on was not an option since he was brought into the DOF by Camacho himself.

"The person who had confidence in me is leaving, I donít see how I can stay on further," Recto said. "The things I am doing can easily be done by anyone."

However, Recto admitted that his resignation would have to be accepted by President Gloria Arroyo since he is a Presidential appointee.

Bernardo arrived at the DOF during Camachoís press conference, also seemingly shocked and bewildered by his bossí sudden decision.

As head of Customs, Bernardo had received a number of death threats as he closed down over a thousand customs bonded warehouses that were suspected of being used for the smuggling of various goods.

Bernardo was rumored to have attempted to resign a number of times earlier but Camacho prevailed upon him to stay on and continue his work. He worked with Camacho all the way back during the latterís short stint as Department of Energy Secretary.

"But for now, I am staying," Bernardo said.

Parayno arrived late at the meeting and he looked even more puzzled than Bernardo. He was also even less committal about whether he intended to stay on as head of the BIR.

"Iíll think about it," Parayno replied when asked whether he would stay. "I really donít know."

Edeza, for his part, has repeatedly begged to be let go by Camacho, saying he would stay only until the end of January next year.

Parayno, Edeza and Bernardo are three of Camachoís key people at the DOF who are primarily responsible for keeping the governmentís revenue program on track.

All three men have been on top of efforts to reform the revenue generation program of the government as it struggled to contain the national deficit, along with Budget Secretary Emilia Boncodin.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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