POSITIONS for sale, not smuggling, are the “root cause” of widespread corruption at the Bureau of Customs, according to BOC Deputy Commissioner Jessie Dellosa.
Dellosa made the statement over the weekend after the seizure of some P85 million in smuggled sugar.
Dellosa’s chief of staff, Maj. Jovily Cabading, on Sunday said the deputy commissioner 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.
According to Cabading, no importers or financiers in their right mind would spend a good sum of money to import highly dutiable goods without the blessing of some Customs officials.
Such practice, she said, 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 added in a text message.
She said Dellosa had made a comprehensive report about the “systemic gaps” in the granting of positions in the bureau but the proposed reforms were sideswiped by strong resistance from so-called “power players,” who, she claimed, manipulate financiers and importers to smuggle in coordination with BOC employees.
Cabading clarified, though, that not all Customs employees are corrupt.
“There are few [BOC employees] whose motivating factor why they joined the bureau is to make [dirty]money, and there are also employees who have no choice but to kowtow to smugglers because they are not capable of defending themselves against death threats from armed smugglers,” she said.
“They have no choice but become one of the boys because if they won’t agree, they would get the ire of corrupt employees and stakeholders, they would not get promoted, cases would be filed against them before the Ombudsman, they would get a lot of death threats, and they would be ostracized by those in cahoots with smugglers,” Cabading added.
Dellosa, according to her, believes that nothing will happen if the focus is only smuggling.
“What is needed here is strong political will to solve this and reforms should be systemic. There should be no compromise on reforms,” Cabading said.