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Internal reforms among PH Customs chief’s achievements in first 100 days

bocbiglogoCustoms Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon said he introduced a slew of reforms in his first 100 days in office as head of a government agency often identified as among the country’s most corrupt.

“The leadership of Commissioner Faeldon did not fail, as it has delivered on its first 3 months a number of reforms that has improved services in the Bureau,” the Bureau of Customs (BOC) said in a statement. A former Marine captain, Faeldon took over the agency on July 1.

Between July and September 2016, BOC said, around P60.96 million worth of various kinds of illegal drugs including marijuana, cocaine, shabu, and ecstasy were seized in different ports in the country and were then turned over to Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency.

In August, BOC uncovered the attempted smuggling of firearms through a balikbayan box. “The firearms were later on found to be (intended to be) used for the alleged assassination of President Rodrigo Duterte,” BOC said.

Also apprehended in various ports were smuggled vehicles, fabrics, gadgets, and agricultural products like rice, onion, and sugar. The collection district of Manila International Container Port (MICP) alone seized several shipments valued at P4.686 million that were found to have violated customs laws, according to BOC.

“Commissioner Faeldon has highlighted in press conferences his vow to stop the entry of illegal goods and commodities in the country—particularly dangerous drugs—under his leadership,” BOC noted.

It added that at the beginning of his term, Faeldon already made clear his warning to corrupt BOC officials and employees, and emphasized the need to reform the agency from within.

BOC claimed that around 18 cases involving employees of the bureau have been investigated to date, with 14 cases already forwarded to the Department of Justice. Also, the Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service has acted on 22 complaints filed by stakeholders.

CCTV livestreaming

For full transparency, BOC has installed CCTV cameras in BOC offices. Currently, 158 CCTV cameras have been installed and operating in and around the Port of Manila and in the Office of the Commissioner building. Livestreaming has also been made available online to make camera feeds accessible to the public.

BOC said Faeldon continues to appeal to stakeholders and the public to cooperate with BOC by reporting corrupt activities.

“Do not isolate us. Instead, approach us, give us the opportunity to do our job,” the customs commissioner has said.

To prepare for the implementation the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA)—a new law signed last May that intends to overhaul BOC operations—a series of weekly public consultations concerning the drafting of the law’s implementing rules and regulations was started in August.

READ: PH Customs modernization act signed into law

Before Faeldon’s 100th day in office, one customs administrative order—CAO No. 02-2016 —has been approved. Under the CAO, imported goods of de minimis value of P10,000 and below are no longer subject to duties and taxes.

In September, BOC organized a forum on streamlining permits for efficient trade facilitation attended by trade-related government agencies, and kicked off a series of seminars on basic Customs procedures, rules and regulations attended by stakeholders. It also hosted in the same month international events such as the 2016 World Customs Organization-Partnership in Customs Academic Research and Development Conference, and the First Train-the-Trainers Workshop on the Implementation ASEAN Harmonized Tariff Nomenclature 2017.

To enhance the bureau’s performance, created were special offices, committees, and departments, such as the Committee on Revenue Enhancement (to address revenue collection shortage in the past), the Command Center (to centralize issuance of shipment alert orders), and the Special Studies and Project Development Committee.

Additional revenue generated

Around P1.4 million worth of additional duties and taxes have been collected from August to September from shipments in the Port of Manila (POM) and MICP that were subjected to spot checking and found to be undervalued, BOC said.

In addition, MICP generated a total of P50.599 million in revenues from public auction sales it conducted from July to August.

These, BOC said, supplemented its monthly revenue collection targets, which reached 85.9% and 95.2% for July and August, respectively. These figures are higher by 6% and 8%, respectively, compared with collections in the same month last year, BOC noted.

“We are digits higher than last year’s collection. 2014 and 2015 reports are same. Our plan is to improve the revenue collection of BOC,” Faeldon said, adding that eradicating corruption will help the agency accomplish this.

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