Is Eric Palacios the right man for the job at Customs? - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Is Eric Palacios the right man for the job at Customs?

Posted: Jul 09, 2018 4:21 PM Updated:

A man tasked with leading the very agency that protects what comes in to our borders is in the hot seat. The current head of Guam Customs, who has been scrutinized based on his qualifications to do the job, is defending his role. Tonight, he goes before lawmakers.  

His leadership in question, the acting Director of the Guam Customs appearing for his confirmation hearing to determine whether he will remain the man in charge. Palacios was appointed two months back to lead the agency causing uproar over his qualifications. "I do have plan, protection, and quarantine experience as well from early in my working career," he explained.

Palacios trying to prove the naysayers wrong. "Just on Friday, I responded in the affirmative to the Department of Administration to proceed in providing us a certified list of candidates for 29 recruits," he stated.

 Recruits he says would replace the 35 officers lost in the years that followed findings of corruption within the agency. Palacios even touting renewed agreements with sister agencies in the CNMI and federal agencies like ATF, and the US Postal Inspection Service.  "We just memorialized our understanding of wanting to help each other, wanting to share resources, share Intel reports that we get and that they get, and seeing where we can bridge our collective enforcement efforts," he shared.

And he says his work is far from over, noting, "I'm going to make it my priority to finally get the officers hazardous duty pay because they deserve it, it's going to remain my priority to work on promotions that have been long standing, well-deserved promotions for both uniform and civilians, it's going to remain my priority to hire more personnel, both uniform and civilians."

Issues that if rectified he says could ultimately better improve the protection of borders and interception of drugs, as he noted, "When we don't provide those opportunities, the government is really doing them an injustice."

Though the outcome from Monday's hearing rests in the hands of lawmakers, Palacios is confident and ready to continue leading the agency. "Through the end of the administration, absolutely," he said. "We've begun so many different projects and I'd like to see a lot of them through to continue to push them forward. Beyond the current administration, if the opportunity presented itself to come back to Customs, I would do it in a heartbeat."

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