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Biazon says ‘premature’ for House panel to seek BOC replacement

/ 03:56 PM September 03, 2017
National Bureau of Investigation personnel display hundreds of plastic bags containing kilos of shabu, part of a P5-billion shipment seized from a warehouse in Valenzuela City, on Friday based on a tip from Chinese authorities. —MARIANNE BERMUDEZ

National Bureau of Investigation personnel display hundreds of plastic bags containing kilos of shabu, part of a P6.4-billion shipment seized from a warehouse in Valenzuela City, on May 27, 2017, based on a tip from Chinese authorities. Photo by MARIANNE BERMUDEZ / Philippine Daily Inquirer)

It may be “premature” for the House of Representatives’ dangerous drugs committee to seek the replacement of the Bureau of Customs in response to the smuggling of P6.4-billion worth of shabu (crystal meth) in May.

This was the take of Muntinlupa City Rep. Ruffy Biazon, himself a former Customs commissioner under the Aquino administration, after the committee chaired by Surigao del Norte 2nd Dist. Rep. Robert Ace Barbers issued its findings in a committee report on Wednesday.

Barbers’ committee called for legislation to create a new agency with a “different system of collection” in order to “avoid corruption and increase revenue collection.”

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The proposed agency may consider “privatization of non-sovereign functions,” upon extensive study by the Department of Finance, the 52-page report suggested. 

But, Biazon cautioned against making such recommendations on the basis of the congressional inquiry into what has been dubbed the largest haul of smuggled drugs in the country.

“The inquiries have only scratched the surface of what ails the BOC, and what have been seen are just the symptoms and manifestations of the sickness of the agency,” Biazon said.

“I would caution against prescribing a cure without fully knowing and understanding the roots of the symptoms and manifestations through an in-depth study of the conditions inside the agency and its processes and procedures,” he added.

Instead, Biazon said the House should proceed with a separate inquiry focusing on the mandate, organization, policies and processes of the BOC to learn and understand its ideal conditions and loopholes, as well as the government’s shortcomings in providing support.

“While suggestions and recommendations at this point are welcome, the judgment on which one is the best for the BOC will only be arrived at after a thorough and objective study and review,” he said.

He also renewed his call for the House to act on House Resolution No. 1, which he filed on June 30, 2016 to look into the status of the Customs automation program.

Biazon served as Customs commissioner from September 2011 to December 2013, when he resigned following allegations that he funneled his pork barrel fund allocations to a nongovernment organization linked to businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles.

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TAGS: BOC, Bureau of Customs, Congress, Government, Illegal drugs, Ruffy Biazon, shabu, Smuggling
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