Secret deals between smugglers and allegedly corrupt personnel of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) are still happening and even sabotaging the country’s economy.
This was revealed on Friday by the United Filipino Consumers and Commuters, a civil-society and consumers’ group, at the weekly forum Balitaan sa Hotel Rembrandt in Quezon City.
Rodolfo Javellana Jr., the group’s president, said the cost of smuggling along with tax evasion is pegged at P200 billion a year, which translates to P547 million a day in lost revenues.
Javellana noted that there are 635 tax-evasion cases pending at the Department of Justice (DoJ) that involve around P103 billion.
“Our country’s budget deficit is P117 billion, and adding up the P200 billion a year that is lost to smuggling and the P103 billion from the tax-evasion cases would be more than enough to wipe out the budget deficit,” he said.
The group, according to Javellana, had given Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon a list of 30 suspected big-time smugglers operating at the bureau.
He, however, chose not to divulge the names of the suspected smugglers at the forum for fear that they might be able to escape charges if identified.
His said the list included importers and consignees linked to smuggling of cement, agricultural products and other prime commodities.
“It is clear that smugglers have been sabotaging the economy. The death penalty perhaps can help eradicate smuggling,” Javellana said.
President Rodrigo Duterte has said he wants to restore capital punishment to get rid of criminality and the illegal drug trade in the country.