Aquino on what Customs needs: A 'reset'
MANILA, Philippines – Reshuffling officials will not address "blatant" corruption at the Bureau of Customs. The government should press the "reset button" on the agency.
President Benigno Aquino III said this is what they tried to do when they issued a series of orders to reform the bureau.
"It became clear to us: if we only shuffled officials among different positions, and allowed them to remain where they could still do harm, nothing would ever come out of our efforts," he said in his speech before the Brotherhood of Christian Businessmen and Professionals (BCBP) at the SMX Convention Center Wednesday, October 2.
"Our answer: a reset button for the agency that has long been the face of corruption in government."
He said they replaced "quite a number of people in very key positions."
Five new deputy commissioners were appointed to the bureau and they assumed their posts on September 30.
Aquino noted he also signed two executive orders "to inject new blood into the agency."
Along with these, Customs chief Ruffy Biazon signed two orders: one mandated the transfer of 27 Customs collectors to the Department of Finance's research unit, and the other directed all employees to return to their mother units or original posts.
"There will be no more security guards acting as collecting officers or warehousemen acting as examiners; positions will no longer be obtained through patronage, as opposed to merit," said the President.
He stressed the goal is to make Customs "do what it's supposed to do, which is to collect appropriate duties… and prevent smuggling."
'P200B lost to smuggling'
The reforms came after Aquino shamed Customs personnel in his 4th State of the Nation Address for "trying to outdo each other's incompetence."
He had the strongest words for the bureau, which, he claimed, permitted the smuggling of drugs and arms.
In his speech before the BCBP on Wednesday, Aquino said the government lost an estimated P200 billion to "transactionalism, patronage, and blatant corruption that have long plagued Customs."
He challenged those who want to cling to corrupt ways: "Try me and see where that brings you."
Customs collectors oppose order
On Tuesday, Customs collectors secured a temporary restraining order from the Manila Regional Trial Court to suspend their transfer to the DOF's Customs Policy Research Office (CPRO).
In granting the collectors' petition, the court argued their transfer might be "violative of their respective statutory and constitutional right to security of tenure."
The court added their new posts are "totally inconsistent with their position description."
Finance secretary Cesar Purisima however maintained that the CPRO "is a legitimate office created with the purpose of ensuring that the BOC is aligned with the international standards on customs administration. These collectors, by their own admission of seniority and rank, are in fact the most qualified to reach this objective. They are all experts in customs procedures, policies and global trade practices."
In the meantime, Customs employees are strongly opposing the order directing them to return to their mother units, citing "massive displacement" and "abandonment of functions." – Rappler.com
In these changing times, courage and clarity become even more important.
Take discussions to the next level with Rappler PLUS — your platform for deeper insights, closer collaboration, and meaningful action.
Sign up today and access exclusive content, events, and workshops curated especially for those who crave clarity and collaboration in an intelligent, action-oriented community.
As an added bonus, we’re also giving a free 1-year Booky Prime membership for the next 200 subscribers.
You can also support Rappler without a PLUS membership. Help us stay free and independent by making a donation: https://www.rappler.com/crowdfunding. Every contribution counts.