CORRUPTION at the Bureau of Customs (BOC) is so extensive that “payoff” collections at the bureau could “wipe out” the budget deficit of the country in just two years, Senator Panfilo Lacson said Tuesday.
Lacson, who admitted obtaining information directly from customs brokers, said that the so-called “three o’clock habit” at the BOC has continued even under the leadership of Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon.
“As long as the three o’clock habit exists, there would be no reform [at the BOC],” added Lacson.
The senator was referring to the regular Friday afternoon meetings among customs personnel and importers where payoffs were given and divided among themselves.
Based on the information received by Lacson, the average expense of brokers to pay for “payola” ranged from P27,000 to P30,000 per container.
At the hearing of the Senate blue ribbon committee on the illegal entry of P6.4 billion worth of “shabu” (methamphetamine hydrochloride) in the country on Monday, Customs Deputy Commissioner Gerardo Gambala told senators that the bureau would receive up to 10,000 shipments daily.
Lacson said given the number and the average rate of “payoffs” per container, bribe collection at the bureau would amount to a daily average of P270 million.
“Pag multiply mo ng 365, (If you multiply it by 365) easily that’s P98.55 billion [in one year],” Lacson said, referring to the “payola”.
Lacson said the amount of illegal collection in the BOC could easily cover the budget deficit in just two years. The budget deficit for this year is about P147 billion.
“So, in just two years it could wipe out the budget deficit. But the collection goes straight to the pockets and not to the government,” he added. JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA