THE entry of five new deputy commissioners at the Philippine Bureau of Customs (BOC) will hopefully change the performance of the agency, Customs Commissioner Rozzano Rufino Biazon said.
On Oct. 7, the five officials — deputy commissioner for Assessment and Operations Coordinating Group Atty. Agaton Teodoro Uvero; deputy commissioner for Enforcement and officer-in-charge for Intelligence Group retired Armed Forces of the Philippines chief Jessie Dellosa; deputy commissioner for Management Information Systems and Technology Group Primo B. Aguas; deputy commissioner for Revenue Collection and Monitoring Group Maria Edita Tan; and deputy commissioner for Internal Administration Myrna Chua —were formally introduced to the media.
Biazon said he hopes the new executives will help meet the P300-billion revenue target for the year and fight corruption at the bureau.
“The advantage of all the new deputy commissioners is they came in simultaneously, it’s easier to align the individual offices to the same goal. In the past, the depcoms joined at different times so there’s a tendency that each of them had become myopic in approach. But with the entry of five deputy commissioners all at the same time, it’s easier to align them towards one goal and that is the reform at the Bureau of Customs,” Biazon said.
“We are hoping with the new leadership in place, there will be a change in the performance of the bureau, especially that our efforts to introduce new leadership is not just at the depcomm level but even at the port collectors level,” he added.
The new deputy commissioners said they were still adjusting to their new posts and vowed to support the leadership in pushing for reforms.
“The first change you will notice with the team is whereas before, you probably noticed each depcom having his own kingdom or empire… when we had a meeting, we said we would help each other; each office is not an independent republic. You’ll see a lot of coordination,” Uvero said.
Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima welcomed the five new deputy commissioners. In a statement, he said, “President Aquino’s quest to stamp out corruption across many institutions is a long and challenging task, and at times it will be difficult for all of us. To our colleagues in the BOC, I call on you to share our President’s vision and accept your orders with nobility.”
Biazon said the next step in the reform process is to put new leadership in place at the port level, assuming a temporary restraining order issued by the court over the weekend is lifted.
Fifteen customs collectors are seeking to stop the implementation of Customs Personnel Order B-189-2013, which transfers 27 customs collectors to the Customs Policy Research Office, a unit of the Department of Finance.
The Manila Regional Trial court last Friday extended to a total of 20 days a 72-hour TRO it had initially granted on Oct 1.
Biazon also hopes the Customs and Tariff Modernization Act (CTMA) will be passed into law within the term of President Benigno Aquino.
Biazon noted CTMA, among others, cuts procedures, saying most customs procedures are currently “too restrictive”.
Too many restrictions, he said, “open up opportunities for corruption. The trend worldwide is to loosen up the border and strengthen post-entry audit.” He said that is the standard under the Revised Kyoto Convention, which the country is not yet compliant with.
CTMA will help “boost collection in the sense that if we improve the processes by lessening the opportunities for exercise of discretion, then we avoid situations where smuggling is proliferating,” Biazon explained.
Meanwhile, the BOC once again failed to meet its collection target for the month of September, raking in only P25.274 billion versus the target of P29.2 billion, or a P3.9-billion deficit, Biazon said.
Year-on-year, the September take is, however, 8.9% higher.
Biazon said the revenue was affected by the slowdown as reforms were being pushed. But he said he expects a double-digit revenue increase for October due to the “spillover” of revenue from September. ––Roumina M. Pablo