Home » Customs & Trade, Ports/Terminals » Fighting corruption is new BOC chief’s key concern

Philippine Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero. Photo from the Bureau of Customs.

Fighting corruption at the Philippine Bureau of Customs (BOC) will be the top priority of newly installed Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero.

“The fight against corruption and cleansing the Bureau of Customs of corrupt officials will be my top priority as your commissioner,” Guerrero told customs officials and employees during his first flag ceremony as the new BOC chief on November 5.

Ridding the customs bureau of corruption is President Rodrigo Duterte’s marching order to Guerrero. In a separate statement, Duterte ordered Guerrero to “double the zealousness” in performing his mission.

Kung sa Army ka pa, takot talaga sa’yo ang mga tao kasi istrikto ka daw [If you were still in the Army, people would be afraid of you because you are said to be strict]. Double the zealousness and maybe you’d have a better chance of retiring unscathed,” the President said.

Guerrero said his second priority is to stop “tara” (grease money) and other forms of bribery in transactions at the agency. The new BOC chief said he will also continue reforming the customs bureau and strengthen its public service.

Concerns and transactions should also follow official channels and the regular process, and “everything should be documented, recorded and transparent.” He also reminded customs officials and employees of the rules for and responsibilities of public servants.

To customs officials and employees, Guerrero said he can only guarantee one thing as the customs commissioner—“gagampanan ko ang aking tungkulin sa abot ng aking kakayahan [I will perform my duty to the best of my ability].”

He assured that he will be open, fair, and transparent with customs employees, but stressed he will not shy away from using his powers “to make sure that I will accomplish my mission.”

He called on them to help him fulfil his mission, and reiterated the need for trust between him and customs employees and officials.

“Let us serve with honesty and integrity. Let us keep the dignity and nobility of the public service,” Guerrero said.

In his speech during the turnover ceremony on October 31, Guerrero said: “We must regain the trust of those we serve, and we must start with building trust between and among us. Without trust we will not be able to make change happen. Trust is the basic element in building teamwork that will enable improvements and innovations in our position and our service. I need to be able to trust every single member of the bureau of customs to be honest and upright and each of you needs to trust me in my commitment and capacity to lead with integrity.”

The new BOC chief formally took office on October 31, following Duterte’s announcement on October 25 that Guerrero—formerly Maritime Industry Authority administrator and Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff—would replace former customs commissioner Isidro Lapeña. Guerrero’s appointment came after the discovery—under Lapeña’s watch– that a shipment of four magnetic scrap lifters found  in Cavite and earlier released from customs custody might have contained illegal drugs worth P11 billion. – Roumina Pablo

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