Customs spokesman denies military takeover of BOC
Customs spokesman Erastus Austria on Wednesday denied reports that the military had entirely taken over operations in Bureau of Customs (BOC).
“Yung instructions na directive galing sa pangulo ay to augment ang anti-smuggling efforts and capabilities ng Customs,” Austria said in an interview with radio station dzMM.
(The directive from the President is only to augment anti-smuggling efforts and capabilities at Customs.)
President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered that the Armed Forces of the Philippines would temporarily take over the Bureau of Customs due to the controversies hounding the agency.
“They will be replaced, all of them, by military men. It will be a takeover of the Armed Forces in the matter of operating, in the meantime, while we are sorting out how to effectively meet the challenges of corruption in this country,” Duterte said.
Austria noted that the intelligence and assets of the AFP and the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) are vital to the operations of the BOC.
He noted that the Philippines has a very long coastline, but Customs doesn’t have naval assets.
“Magagamit natin ang assets nila pati ang Philippine Coast Guard kaya napakahalaga din na may malakas na ugnayan with Armed Forces of the Philippines,” he said.
(We can use their assets and the Philippine Coast Guard’s as well. So the collaboration between the BOC and the Armed Forces of the Philippines is crucial.)
“Sinabi ni [Customs] Commissioner [Rey] Guerrero [na] this program will be a 6-month period to see its effectiveness and further enhance the capabilities of the Bureau of Customs,” he said.
(Commissioner Guerrero said this program will be for six months to see its effectiveness and further enhance the capabilities of the Bureau of Customs.)
Austria, however, did not disclose further details about the program.
The agency has been under fire due to the alleged smuggling of P11 billion worth of “shabu” (crystal meth) that slipped through Custom’s security.
Former Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapeña had resigned over the issue and was later transferred to the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority. A former AFP chief replaced him at the BOC.
Lapeña’s predecessor, Nicanor Faeldon, also resigned after the P6.4-billion worth of shabu was reported to have slipped past authorities in May last year. /ee
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