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‘SHABU’ SMUGGLING SCANDAL AT BUREAU

Palace to new BOC chief: Learn from ‘mistakes’ of predecessors

Malacañang on Tuesday said it was optimistic that the new customs commissioner would learn lessons from the mistakes of his predecessors in the Bureau of Customs (BOC).

But asked what the mistakes were, presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said it was up to new Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero to identify them.

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President Rodrigo Duterte has put the BOC under temporary military control to rid it of corruption.

Guerrero is a former chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

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Third commissioner

He is the President’s third customs commissioner, after Nicanor Faeldon and Isidro Lapeña, both of whom were reassigned amid scandals involving smuggling of illegal drugs into the country through the Port of Manila.

Panelo noted that the President had ordered Guerrero to rid the BOC of corruption and increase the agency’s revenue collection.

Two goals

“All his actions in the BOC will be in pursuit of [those] goals,” he said.

Panelo said Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III met with Guerrero last week and also directed the new customs chief to clean up the BOC.

Guerrero was also given a monthly revenue collection target of P55 billion, Panelo said.

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Senators are cautiously optimistic that Guerrero can reform the corruption-plagued BOC.

“He sounds very serious,” Senate President Vicente Sotto III said in a text message on Tuesday, commenting on Guerrero’s statement to BOC employees on Monday that he would not allow his name and reputation to be tarnished.

“I wish him well and will hold him to his word,” Sen. Francis Escudero said.

“He must be able to match his good intentions with competence in his new position,” Escudero added.

Difficult task

“It’s a difficult task, but hope springs eternal,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto.

“If he is serious and is given the full support of Malacañang, I do not see how he cannot succeed,” Sen. Francis Pangilinan said.

“The question is, is Malacañang serious in going after the big drug syndicates behind the smuggling of ‘shabu’ (crystal meth) through the BOC?” Pangilinan said.

Sotto has proposed privatizing the BOC to clean it up.

Panelo said the Palace was open to looking at the “pros and cons” of the proposal.

“Sotto thinks it’s a good idea and that’s the function of Congress to introduce bills and laws. Let’s see,” Panelo told reporters.

“That’s his idea. Let’s see the pros and cons of that idea,” he added.

Panelo said the proposal may be tackled in the Cabinet meeting on Tuesday night.

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TAGS: BOC, Bureau of Customs, Francis Escudero, Francis Pangilinan, Isidro Lapeña, military control of BOC, Nicanor Faeldon, Ralph Recto, Rey Leonardo Guerrero, Salvador Panelo, shabu shipment
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