Reforms at Customs face legal setback


THE planned modernization of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) will have to wait after the Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) on Thursday issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) on the computerization contract between the bureau and service provider Webb Fontaine.

Annabelle Margaroli of Omniprime Marketing Inc. recently filed a complaint before the Manila court seeking to stop the project.

The court decision disappointed Commissioner Rozzano Rufino “Ruffy” Biazon, who stressed the importance of the project.

“It’s disappointing to have this setback in the reform plans that we have for modernization through IT,” he told The Manila Times.

Although he respects the court decision, Biazon said he is willing to seek legal means to continue the project.

“Of course, we are still studying legal remedies. We will have to defend our position and leave the courts to decide on the case,” the Customs chief said.

“We need to push this because this is one of our planned reforms. Our objective is to lessen human intervention in the whole process therefore making it easier for other countries to do business with us. It’s a project that we believe in,” he added.

As for the tomorrow’s meeting with the collectors, Biazon said “we will talk about the reform efforts we are trying to implement and I would like to get their commitment and support. We will also of course talk about the plans we are going to make’’.

Meanwhile, Biazon called on the Bureau of Customs Employes Association (Bocea) not to make an issue on President Benigno Aquino 3rd’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) where he lambasted government agencies including the BOC for being inefficient, incompetent and corrupt.

“I call for our Bocea members not to make an issue out of the presidents statement and throw it back to him and to the finance secretary because our responsibility now is to show our actions and to show that we do mot deserve such statements. But since that is the president’s message we should just accept it and work in accordance to the mission to clean the BOC,” Biazon said in Filipino.

The Bocea statement said Aquino delivered inconclusive data on the P200 billion revenue lost by BOC while those involved in the pork barrel scam were spared.

“With all due respect to the President and Secretary Purisima, there seems to be misapprehension of facts on the P200 billion lost. Without presenting hard data and basis, the president relied on Sec. Purisima which is improbable and inconclusive being speculative and no final determination or validity to support it. On the other hand, those involved in the P10 B PDAF scam were spared,” it said.

“The President’s pronouncements is very disgraceful and humiliating to these agencies,” the statement said, referring to other agencies berated in the President’s SONA such as the National Irrigation Administration and the Bureau of Immigration.

Bocea, headed by National President Romulo Pagulayan, said it should not be blamed for the shortage of revenue collection, pointing out that the tax effort rate measure of the Department of Finance (DOF) which are outdates as well as the lack of manpower as other reasons for not meeting collection revenues. Another reason the group has pointed out is that the problem of the bureau is structural in nature.

“The BoC cannot be totally blamed for not meeting its collection target. Question arises whether DOF’s tax effort rate measure which is still peg at pre-globalization era, as currently computed and imposed to the BOC, is an accurate measure of government tax collection efficiency in the context of a now changed economy,” the Bocea statement said.

Sheila Manalac


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