House dangerous drugs panel wants to replace Customs bureau
The House of Representatives dangerous drugs committee which investigated the P6.4 billion shabu shipment had a quick solution to the rampant corruption in the Bureau of Customs (BOC) — replace the bureau with another agency.
This was one of the recommendations proposed by the committee in its report following its probe on the 604 kilos of shabu that slipped past the BOC’s green lane.
The committee proposed the passage of a law to replace Customs with a new revenue collection agency.
“Pass a legislation to replace the Bureau of Customs by a new revenue collection agency or instrumentality of government with different system of collection to avoid corruption and to increase revenue collection,” the report said in its recommendations.
The report did not give a detailed recommendation on the creation of a new Customs bureau.
The committee recommended a system of “fixing a one-time payment of import/export fees that would include duties/taxes, storage, warehousing, arrastre services and all expenses relative to importation/exportation.”
The committee made this recommendation following the testimony of private broker Mark Taguba of the “tara” or grease money in the graft-ridden bureau.
The committee also said the BOC’s deputy commissioners, heads of office, all port collectors, among other officers “shall take a leave of absence or be replaced immediately, in accordance with law, to give way for proper reform and/or for investigation on the corruption issue.”
The committee recommended the abolition of the BOC’s command center, which was created by the resigned Customs commissioner Nicanor Faeldon to centralize the powers of issuing alert orders effectively stripped off from deputy commissioners. An alert order is issued to hold a shipment’s release in case of Customs fraud.
The report recommended “revok(ing) Customs Memorandum Order (CMO) No. 23-2016 and restor(ing) the power to issue Alert Order to the Deputy Commissioners of Intelligence (IG), Enforcement Group (EG) and Assessment and Operations Coordination Group (AOCG) and to all District Collector.”
The committee also recommended strengthening the bureau’s border control function while ensuring the convenient flow of goods.
“The system may consider privatization of non-sovereign functions which will be part of an extensive study to be conducted by the Department of Finance,” the report further read.
The committee also recommended amending the Customs Modernization and Tariff Administration (CMTA) with the following: proper qualification of the head and the deputies of this new agency/instrumentality; requiring all cargo manifests, packing lists and whatever other supporting documents of all shipments shall identify the name and address of owner, shipper and/or end-user for every cargo/package included in a shipment; requiring registration of cargo consolidators, indenters, forwarders and similar business enterprise regularly engaged in importation of goods.
The committee likewise recommended the filing of charges for violations of the anti-graft law and the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act against Faeldon and other Customs officials for allegedly coddling the suspects and planting and bungling evidence.
Faeldon resigned amid allegations that he received a P100 million “pasalubong” in the Customs. He denied the accusation of Senator Panfilo Lacson, whom he tagged in cement smuggling. JE
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