Barbers: BoC should have standard procedure in X-ray inspection
A standard operating procedure (SOP) in X-ray inspection should be established in the Bureau of Customs (BoC) to strengthen its capability to intercept smuggled illegal drugs and contraband, Surigao del Norte 2nd District Rep. Robert Ace Barbers said on Friday.
Barbers, chair of the House committee on dangerous drugs, said his panel along with the committee on good government and public accountability, would recommend this after they have seen some lapses in the procedure of the BoC X-ray Inspection Project.
“Dapat i-recommend ng committees na magkaroon ng mga standard operating procedure sa X-ray division dahil dun namin na nakita na medyo maluwag ang proseso,” he said in an interview over Radyo Inquirer.
“Dadalawa hanggang tatlong tao lang din pala ang makakakita ng mga ine-X-ray nila. So papaano pag na-kuntsaba ‘yan ng mga sindikato? Wala ng check, wala ng safety measures,” he added.
Barbers said the joint hearing will recommence once the lower chamber comes back from its break on Nov. 12. The joint panel has been probing the entry of around 1-ton of shabu worth P6.8 billion into the country in July. The four magnetic lifters believed to have contained shabu were found in a warehouse in Cavite on Aug. 8.
Muntinlupa Rep. Ruffy Biazon meanwhile said Customs should embark on a program to upgrade its capabilities on non-intrusive inspection of cargo using X-ray machines.
He also pointed out the three main weaknesses of the BoC’s system which emerged from the House inquiry:
- The stand-alone system of the X-ray units where only one to two persons are able to view the scanned images, perform image analysis and produce findings of either clear or not clear to release a shipment;
- The apparent vulnerability of the data collected by the scanning equipment to unauthorized access, copying, download or tampering; and
- The difficulty in auditing the image processing done by the X-ray operator/analyst which could help determine if the analysis was competently performed or if there was deliberate manipulation of the processing to conceal a derogatory finding.
Biazon also said he had proposed the upgrade of the Customs automated cargo clearing which included the installation of a more modern X-ray that could be electronically linked to a central database and monitoring system.
In line with this, the lawmaker said he had filed House Bill No. 1253 which seeks to amend R.A. 10863 by inserting a provision that would authorize the BoC to retain at least 1 percent of its collection of customs duties and taxes to pursue modernization. /muf
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