A total of 513 employees of the Bureau of Customs (BoC) have been officially promoted to the next higher rank in line with the agency’s reform program to speed up the facilitation of trade and eliminate graft and corruption.
Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapeña on Monday led the mass oath-taking of the employees, the first mass promotion in recent years which, he pointed out, was one of his priority programs to strengthen the bureau’s ranks and to improve service standard that is at par with that of developed countries.
“With this promotion, we hope that you will be using your position not for self-interest but to ensure that our country’s borders are safe from all kinds of illegal trends and transactions, and see to it that present policies against corruption [are implemented]and facilitation process to improve our revenue collection is enforced, Lapeña said.
The Customs chief called on the newly-promoted employees to be part of the reforms and changes he is implementing, particularly against graft and corruption, by promoting transparency, professionalism, integrity and accountability in public service.
“We are facing many challenges, challenges that cannot be solved overnight. But despite all these challenges and public criticisms, we remain steadfast and optimistic in rebuilding the bureau’s image,” he said.
“It must be coming from us. The change in the image has to come from us. It is to be us, you and I. Nobody can change the image of the bureau but us,” Lapena added.
As public servants, he said, everybody is expected to demonstrate a high level of integrity, fairness and transparency.
“Don’t destroy your reputation. Be braved enough against corruption and smuggling,” Lapeña told the employees.
Lapeña noted that revenue collection has improved since he assumed office but said he is not yet contented because the tara [grease money]system has not yet been eradicated.
“When I arrived, the benchmark [for the tara system]was P40,000 [and it was]increased to P80,000 per container van. It [was]later increased further to P120,000 and P200,000. But I did not settle for that because my instruction is correct valuation because that’s the legal way. There is still benchmarking, [however]” he added.
Lapeña said he expects the 513 promoted employees to be at the vanguard of the fight against corruption through proper valuation and assessment of goods.
Proper valuation, he added, is the key to speedy trade facilitation without resorting to under-the-table deals with crooks in the bureau.
“If we can deliver the process, speedy process, I think much of the problem here in the bureau will be addressed and solved,” Lapeña said.