‘No revamp, but raise Customs revenue’
MANILA, Philippines–Carrying out a major revamp at the Bureau of Customs was not among President Aquino’s marching orders to new Customs Commissioner Alberto Lina, Malacañang said on Thursday.
Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. told Palace reporters he was not aware of any such directive being given by the President when he appointed Lina to the top Customs post.
Coloma said Lina’s supposed priorities were to do the following: ensure that the bureau meets its revenue targets as it strictly implements the Tariff and Customs Code; continue the institutional reforms at the agency; and align the BOC’s trade facilitation efforts with the Philippines’ and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ integration goals.
The new Customs head should also bear in mind that all his official actions should adhere to the administration’s good governance principle and “matuwid na daan” crusade, Coloma said.
The President appointed Lina on April 23 to replace John Phillip Sevilla. His appointment papers were reportedly signed by Aquino just hours after the President accepted the resignation of Sevilla, who said he quit because of “political pressure.”
Lina had briefly served as Customs commissioner during the Arroyo administration, but resigned in 2005 with the so-called “Hyatt 10” Cabinet members who resigned following allegations of election fraud against then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
In his speech at the Customs turnover rites, Lina vowed to “double down on reforms” and “continue the good governance and process reforms” initiated by Sevilla.
At the same time, he revealed to his five-point plan for the reputedly corrupt agency: inculcate integrity in the BOC’s work ethic; level the playing field; battle corruption; decongest the ports; and do performance management.
According to Lina, “the President’s mandate of daang matuwid will be the foundation of all our actions.”
Some bureau oldtimers, however, dismissed Lina’s remarks as “promises and more promises,” adding that they were “easier said than done.”
A Customs official, who asked not to be named for lack of authority to speak to media, described as “uneventful” Lina’s previous stint at the bureau.
“We wonder why Mr. Lina, of all people, was handpicked by the President to run the Bureau of Customs,” the source said, adding that Lina should make good on his promise of full transparency in running the BOC and making sure that his business interests do not interfere with his official functions.
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