The Department of Justice has recommended to Congress the relocation of officials and employees of the Bureau of Customs—from the deputy commissioners down to the lowest-ranked employees—every three years continuously until after retirement from the government service to eradicate corruption at the BOC.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima made the recommendation in a letter to Rep. Miro Quimbo (2nd Dist.-Marikina City), chairman of the House committee on ways and means, after the panel sought the DOJ position on several House bills seeking to amend or revise the Tariff and Customs Code to further strengthen the law’s anti-smuggling mechanism.
“In order to achieve the primary goal of obliterating corruption at the BOC, the sense of familiarity with one customs location should be prevented. It is, therefore, suggested that the tenure of customs officials in one station be limited to a term of three years wherein he will be transferred to another station for another three years, continuously until after his retirement from government service,” said De Lima.
De Lima said the proposed organizational arrangement should apply to all officials and employees from the deputy commissioners down to the lowest-ranked customs employees.
She said the DOJ recommendation is in consideration of the recommendations by the World Customs Organization (WCO) and other international customs organizations, in particular, the “regular relocation of staff.”
“One of the most important legislative measures that the DOJ would like to recommend is with regard to the tenure and assignment of customs officials and employees,” said De Lima.
The recommendations of international customs organizations, which are geared towards an efficient and effective customs administration focused on: Organization of customs organization; Staff rules; Internal culture; Information production and investigation; Human Resource Management; and Relations with customs brokers and the business community.
The proposals under the Human Resource Management category are: Relocate regularly the staff; Adopt an objective recruitment process, immune from interference, based on knowledge and standards of personal ethics; Adopt an objective promotion process, immune from interference, merit-based and jeopardized by inappropriate behavior; Provide professional training to customs officers throughout their careers, including on ethics and integrity issues; Provide a remuneration sufficient to afford a decent standard of living, including, in certain circumstances social benefits such as health care and housing facilities; and Set up incentive payments.
The Committee on Ways and Means has been conducting hearings on several bills seeking to prescribe the Customs Modernization Act and to strengthen the anti-smuggling mechanism of the Tariff and Customs Code of 1978.
De Lima said at the outset, the DOJ recognizes the fact that the country is in need of a new Tariff and Customs Law that will be responsive to the demands of modern trade and commerce.
“And in light of public clamor over rampant corruption in the BOC, a new tariff and customs law that will address the widespread violation of the former tariff and customs code due to the incoherence and inconsistencies in its provisions should be a top priority of Congress,” said De Lima.
Among the pending bills in Congress are House Bill No. 5 filed by Rep. Rodolfo Biazon (Lone Dist-Muntinlupa City); HB 10 by Rep. Reynaldo Umali (2nd Dist.-Oriental Mindoro); HB 166 by Rep. Eric Singson (2nd Dist.Ilocos Sur); HBs 1348 and 3504 by Reps. Rufus Rodriguez (2nd Dist.-Cagayan de Oro City) and Maximo Rodriguez (Party-list, ABAMIN); HB 1461 by Rep. Xavier Jesus Romualdo (Lone Dist.-Camiguin); HB 1583 by Rep. Evelina Escudero (1st Dist.-Sorsogon); and HB 3339 by Rep. Raneo Abu (2nd Dist.-Batangas). PNA