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PHILIPPINE President Benigno Aquino III said a “reset button” is what’s needed at the Bureau of Customs (BOC), which he called “an agency that has long been the face of corruption in government.”

In his speech at the Brotherhood of Christian Businessmen and Professionals Grand Breakfast on Oct. 2, Aquino said the ongoing reform at the BOC is “positive” proof of the government’s initiative to fight corruption.

The country’s treasury loses an estimated P200 billion annually because of “transactionalism, patronage, and blatant corruption that have long plagued customs,” Aquino said.

“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 of our efforts. Our answer: a reset button for an agency that has long been the face of corruption in government.”

The President also officially announced the appointment of five new deputy commissioners at the BOC, which he said is part of the reform the government is implementing at the bureau. http://www.gov.ph/2013/10/02/newly-appointed-customs-deputy-commissioners/

The reform was marked by the issuance of two customs personnel orders (CPO) and two executive orders (EO) last month.

Aquino on Sept. 2 signed EO No. 139 forming the Office of the Revenue Agency Modernization (ORAM) and EO No. 140 creating the Customs Policy Research Office (CPRO), both under the Department of Finance.

The CPRO is the customs policy think tank whose main task is to help improve revenue collections of the Bureau of Customs by providing necessary policy and procedural and legislative reforms.

The ORAM will manage reform projects and initiatives at the BOC.

At the BOC, Commissioner Rozzano Rufino Biazon issued CPO B-134-2013 ordering all BOC personnel to return to their mother units, and CPO B-189-2013 transferring 27 district and deputy collectors, with plantilla items Collector 5 and Collector 6, to the CPRO.

Aquino said that with CPO B-134-2013, “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.”

He also challenged those whom he said still want to “cling to the corrupt ways of the past” and said “I tell you: try me, and see where that brings you.”

The President was later asked about the 72-hour temporary restraining order issued by the Manila Regional Trial Court on Oct 1 against CPO B-189-2013 or the order transferring 27 district collectors to the CPRO. He said he does not want to “telegraph moves”, noting “We just wait for what will happen.”

Aquino also clarified that the term “revamp” is not even the right word to describe what is being done at the BOC. “We really are replacing quite a number of people in very key positions to effect the goal of having customs do what it’s supposed to do, which is to collect he appropriate duties in full and prevent smuggling.”

In the Official Gazette published online by the Office of the President http://www.gov.ph/2013/10/02/infographic-the-bureau-of-customs-reform-project/, the next step of BOC reform include the appointment of staff from the private and public sectors to the ORAM. Assigned ORAM personnel will then be detailed to the BOC to implement changes and improvements in the bureau.

Other projects in the government’s plans for a total reform are better coordination between the BOC and the Bureau of Internal Revenue; fast-tracking of BOC’s informational technology/electronic system; implementation of a multi-lane system; data transparency; ports rationalization; fast-tracking of implementation of internal commitments; and use of better information to make better decisions. –– Roumina M. Pablo

Photo from www.president.gov.ph

One Response to “Aquino presses ‘reset button’ to end customs corruption”

  1. I’m impressed. 😀 Mr. President you have restored my faith in this country..


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