Former Marines Capt. Nick Faeldon, the incoming chief of the Bureau of Customs (BoC), has vowed to make a difference where his predecessors previously failed by implementing drastic changes and innovative reforms aimed at stamping out rampant corruption in the bureau, which costs the government some P200 billion a year in revenue losses.
Faeldon on Friday pointed out that one of the biggest problems in the graft-laden bureau is the traditional “padrino” system.
He said this has to stop because it is one of the sources of corruption.
“It is used as payment for political debt. It is used as milking cow by whoever,” Faeldon noted.
He warned politicians, vested interest groups and influence peddlers to stop meddling in the bureau.
“Ngayon pa lang sinasabi ko sa inyo, magkakahiyaan tayo. [This early let me tell you that you will be shamed.] I’ll say no to you. So huwag niyo na akong subukan [please do not test me]because I will say no,” Faeldon said in a television interview.
“Nakikiusap ako sa taong bayan [I am appealing to our countrymen], please stop doing this to our country, You’ve been bleeding this country. Talagang ninanakawan niyo, mahiya naman kayo [You are stealing and you should be ashamed].”
Faeldon said Customs personnel will be closely watched and those who do illegal acts will be sacked.
Faeldon said everybody is fair play under his watch, including friends or close associates of President-elect Rodrigo Duterte and members of the PDP-Laban, Duterte’s political party.
“You don’t need to go there and ask me to facilitate your trade because the mandate of the bureau is trade facilitation. I will make sure that all your trades, if they are legal, will be processed the fastest that we can. You don’t need to go there because that is our job,” he added.
Faeldon disclosed that he has four reforms in mind that he wanted implemented as soon as he takes office.
One is the complete computerization of the bureau, which implementation has long been delayed because of pending court cases filed by certain vested groups and individuals.
Faeldon said he also wants to implement “pre-shipment” inspection, wherein shipments are inspected and assessed before they leave their port of origin, leaving no chance for unscrupulous importers and brokers to misdeclare or undervalue their importation.
The pre-inspection was implemented by the government during the Ramos administration by hiring the Swiss-based inspection firm Societe Generale de Surveillance (SGS), but was stopped by the Estrada administration allegedly because of its prohibitive cost.
Faeldon said he also wants to do away or make optional the mandatory use of brokerage firms to facilitate one’s shipment, which is the practice in other countries.
“These unscrupulous brokers are the conduit of smugglers,” he added. “Once they are caught, it would turn out that they use fictitious names and addresses.”
Faeldon acknowledged though that an act of Congress is needed to abolish the use of brokers but said he would make representations to repeal the Brokerage Act of 2004.
“They are doable within six months,” he said.