The Bureau of Customs in our country has had quite a negative connotation for decades due to unscrupulous individuals. Needless to say, the corruption is so rampant that smuggling and ‘payoffs’ has been an accepted norm because enforcing regulations and catching violators were to no avail.
I had the privilege to sit down with present BOC Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon and learned that there’s still a ray of hope to ‘clean’ the bureau.
The BOC is not just an assessment and revenue collections agency, most Filipinos don’t know that they also curb illicit trade and customs fraud. A daunting task because they have to secure 17 ports/borders of our country including wharves in Zamboanga which is a ‘hot spot‘ of smugglers. In line with this, they have laid down plans for procurement of 20 speed boats.
“It’s all about corruption..” said Comm. Faeldon. The top smuggled goods are drugs, firearms (including accessories), rice, cosmetics (ex. Kylie Jenner brand), sugar, petroleum (of which BOC suggested color kits for fuel which petroleum companies opposed), medicines, bags (fake or imitation), mobiles/gadgets, agriculture products (onions, bananas, etc.)
“Help us challenge the importers..” said Comm. Faeldon. Importers whom have been vocal about corruption within the bureau were challenged to point out the corrupt official, broker, etc. but none has come forward yet.
“We cannot do this alone..” said Comm. Faeldon. The BOC encourages everyone to be vigilant and to not be afraid to report illegal dealings.
Aside from the drug smuggling apprehensions at the NAIA, an interesting case was told by Comm. Faeldon about the discovery and apprehension of the ‘floating’ shabu factory a few weeks ago. It was a very delicate case because the tips came from a top list of person of interest and suspects.
To further curtail corruption within the Bureau, the BOC created a Command Center and installed 158 operational CCTV cameras in and around the Port of Manila and OCOM building, including the office of the Commissioner. Livestreaming online is also available to the public (http://126.96.36.199/)
More about the BOC after the jump
From July to October that he’s worked at BOC some of their accomplishments are:
- Seized around 250.3 million worth of various kinds of illegal drugs; marijuana, shabu, cocaine (estimated value 43.8 million) and ecstacy (estimated value P10 million) in different ports
- Successful arrests of drug couriers at NAIA of which they have been commended twice from Secretary of Finance Carlos Dominguez III; 28 kilograms of cocaine found from 2 Hong Kong and one Russian nationals at the NAIA on Ocotber 5 (estimated value P135 million); 55 kilograms of cocaine from a Brazilian and a Venezuelan on October 15 & 17 respectively, (estimated value P55 million)
- Investigated 18 cases involving employees of the Bureau, with 14 cases already forwarded to the DOJ – including undervalued firetrucks procured by by the Bureau of Fire Protection
- Apprehension of smuggled agricultural products: 88 containers of onions with no import clearance abandoned at the Manila International Container Port; 9 containers of sugar initially declared as ‘steel tubes & scaffolding