THERE is no debate that corruption is prevalent in the Bureau of Customs (BoC), but the agency’s two top executives appear to have different opinions on how to curb the systemic anomalies involving some customs officials and employees in connivance with unscrupulous brokers and importers.
Customs Commissioner Alberto Lina said on Monday that a “paperless transaction” would achieve the agency’s twin objectives of curbing inefficiency and combating corruption.
Lina, who was slammed by OFWs for his implementation of a BOC policy to manually inspect balikbayan boxes, issued Customs Memorandum Order 29-2015 to eliminate unnecessary use of paper and expensive forms, ordering the bureau to take concrete steps to eliminate the unnecessary use of paper and expensive forms.
The plan also includes electronic interchange of information with other government agencies such as the Bureau of Internal Revenue, the Philippine Statistics Office, the National Economic and Development Authority and the Tariff Commission.
“Eliminating red tape, and all the ills that go with it, is an important step in improving the overall performance of Customs and in restoring the public’s confidence in the bureau,” Lina said.
Deputy Commissioner Agaton Uvero, tasked to implement the directive, explained that the important components of the “paperless transaction” included the discontinuance of the Import Entry and Internal Revenue Declaration (IEIRD) form, the Supplemental Declaration on Valuation (SDV) and the acceptance of print outs of the electronic Airway Bill (e-AWB).
“Our aim is to reduce documentation and paper costs by as much as 70%. We will achieve this by doing away with expensive carbonized forms and costly Airway Bill forms. We will also lessen the number of documents required from seven sets to two sets,” Uvero said.
Uvero added that the reduction process would cover around 50,000 transactions a month.
He said the scheme was one of the several reform measures to be implemented in the coming weeks and months.
Root cause of corruption
But Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence Jessie Dellosa has another take on the matter when he earlier said that “positions for sale” and not smuggling, is the “root cause” of widespread corruption in the BoC.
Dellosa was referring to some Customs officials who were either endorsed by influential figures or paid a handsome price in exchange for an appointment or promotion to a lucrative position.
Maj. Jovily Cabading, Dellosa’s chief of staff, explained that such practice leads to rampant corruption as Customs officials who owe a debt of gratitude to somebody, or paid their way to get their positions, have to make a lot of money in order to recover what they spent for and comply with their monetary agreement with their “godfather.”
“It belittles now the merit system, which supposedly should be the basis for promotion of the rank and file of the Customs bureau,” Cabading told The Manila Times.