Customs: Lifestyle check ordered on anti-CCTV workers’ leader

MANILA, Philippines – Bureau of Customs (BOC) Commissioner Alberto Lina on Wednesday, April 13, ordered a lifestyle check on a leader of its Manila port workers’ association after the latter was caught on national television practically admitting that employees of the income-generating agency indeed accept bribes.

Rommel Francisco, president of the Port of Manila chapter of the Bureau of Customs Employees Association (BOCEA) told GMA News in an earlier interview: "Subukan kaya nilang itaas 'yung sahod namin, ibigay sa amin ang tamang benepisyo? Sa tingin ba nila gagawa pa kami ng ganoon?"

(Why don’t they try raising our salaries, and giving us the appropriate benefits? Do they think we would still do that?)

Francisco was reacting to the vice presidential candidate Francis Escudero’s proposal to install closed-circuit television cameras (CCTVs) and clear glass desks without drawers to put a stop to under-the-table transactions at the BOC. He also proposed uniforms without pockets for customs employees.

Commissioner Lina has since said he was open to Escudero idea. He was “alarmed” by the reaction of the BOC workers’ leader.

Francisco “was summoned by Commissioner Lina to explain his side following his TV appearance,” according to Belle Maestro, acting head of BOC’s Public Information and Assistance Division.