Aquino: We pushed ‘reboot’ button at Customs
MANILA, Philippines—President Aquino has pushed the “reboot” button in the graft-plagued Bureau of Customs (BOC) precisely to address incidents of smuggling in the country.
“When we said we pressed the restart button—just like in the computer—everything was rebooted,” the President said in an ambush interview in Batangas City.
Aquino was responding to criticism that his administration had so far failed to curb rampant smuggling in the country, which cost the government more than P1.33 trillion in lost revenues from 2002 to 2011.
According to a study by the Federation of Philippine Industries (FPI), which groups about 800 companies, government revenue lost due to smuggling reached P889.5 billion from 2002 to 2008, with further losses of P119.65 billion in 2009, and P326.76 billion in 2010 and 2011.
The FPI arrived at those figures by computing the “disparities in import data” from the BOC and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
“The huge discrepancy is most likely due to smuggling,” the FPI said.
Under the Aquino presidency, from 2010 to 2011, “data from foreign exporters said goods shipped to the Philippines amounted to more than $70.5 billion and $78.4 billion, respectively,” the group said.
But government statistics showed imports of only $51.07 billion in 2010 and $54.3 billion in 2011, or disparities of $19.43 billion and $24.1 billion, respectively.
Sought for comment, the President asked:
“So how do you have efficiency there, and how do you have accountability? So one of the simple things that they did was to tell everybody: ‘You applied for this position existing in that particular port, you have been ordered to go back to your legitimate assignment (or mother unit).’”
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