Dominguez said the government is planning to introduce measures against smuggling, such as the fuel-marking program, which seeks to strengthen the government’s fight against oil smuggling and identify traders who are trying to evade paying taxes. It is set to be implemented this quarter.
‘BOC has long way to go vs corruption’
Mary Grace Padin (The Philippine Star) - July 17, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The government still has a long way to go in curbing corruption within the Bureau of Customs (BOC), Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III admitted on Monday, as he emphasized the need to automate customs processes to address the issue.

In an interview with “The Chiefs” aired on Cignal TV’s One News, Dominguez noted that the BOC has been performing well in meeting its revenue targets this year, but admitted that the agency still has much to do to address corruption.

“They have a target this year of close to P60 billion a month and they have been meeting it. And I would say that they’ve done a good job from that point of view,” he said.

On BOC corruption, however, “I believe that there is much to be improved,” he said.

In the effort to fight corruption, Dominguez said the Department of Finance and the BOC are working together to automate the bureau’s processes to eliminate as much people-to-people contact during transactions as possible.

“We’re well on our way to getting that done. And we also want to do this automation to help trade going on,” he said.

The finance chief said about 80 percent of BOC processes currently involves face-to-face interaction between customs personnel and the public, a level which the government wants to reduce to around 40 percent.

Furthermore, Dominguez said the government is planning to introduce measures against smuggling, such as the fuel-marking program, which seeks to strengthen the government’s fight against oil smuggling and identify traders who are trying to evade paying taxes. It is set to be implemented this quarter.

The automation of BOC processes is part of Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero’s 10-point priority program.

Just recently, the bureau launched the National Value Verification System (NVVS), an online tool that can be used by customs examiners and appraisers to ascertain the accuracy of documents and declarations presented for customs valuation purposes.

It also introduced the Goods Declaration Verification System, which allows stakeholders to monitor the status of their goods declaration.

Other key system upgrades in the BOC include the Customer Care Portal System, which enables stakeholders to lodge their inquiries, requests and concerns online; and the Document Tracking System, which allows the public to track and monitor the status of documents received by the BOC.

For 2019, the BOC is targeting to collect P677 billion, 14 percent higher than last year’s actual collection of P593.1 billion.

As of the end of May, the bureau has already collected P251.7 billion, 9.8 percent higher than the P229.3 billion recorded in the same period last year.

No meddling

In the same interview, Dominguez denied allegations that he and other members of the Cabinet influenced the race for House speakership.

Dominguez said he gave President Duterte his criteria for House speaker, but gave “no names” when asked.

“This is the honest truth, when I was asked my opinion by the President, I told him, number one, I will not tell you any names,” the finance chief said.

“I will just tell you what should be the criterion if you have a preference. The criterion should be one only, that (they) will serve your program, that the persons there are going to serve your program, whether in the Cabinet or in legislature,” he added.

The executive department prefers to have counterparts in Congress who will be open to adopting their programs, without having to negotiate “every little deal that goes through them,” according to Dominguez.

He also noted that there should be no issue with term sharing for the speakership, so long as all the personalities concerned share the same goal.

?‘BOC 64’ transferred soon

Meanwhile, the transfer of 64 ranking BOC officials and employees to Malacañang, on suspicion that they are engaged in corruption, might take place soon as the agency is already processing their paper work.

A BOC source said it was possible that Commissioner Guerrero might already have a copy of the list of BOC officials and personnel who would be reassigned to Malacañang since the agency’s Intelligence Group is already working on the documents of their transfer.

“The BOC is in the process of crafting the necessary paperwork and orders, the memorandum for the implementation of the order of the President at the soonest,” the source said.

The source also believes that Duterte may have already checked and verified the allegations of corruption against the Customs officials and personnel even before he ordered the “freezing” of the 64 tagged in corrupt activities.

Recently, it was reported that Guerrero’s chief of staff Teodoro Jumamil was relieved of his post amid allegations of corruption.

Customs Assistant Commissioner Vincent Philip Maronilla, however, said that while it was true that Jumamil left the bureau last week, his departure from the agency was not linked to corruption.

“(Jumamil’s) replacement has nothing to do with any issues of corruption. He just opted to focus more on his job at the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP),” Maronilla said.

Jumamil joined the bureau when Guerrero assumed the post as the agency’s commissioner last Oct. 25.

Guerrero, the former chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, is a graduate of the Philippine Military Academy Maharlika Class 1984. Jumamil, a lawyer, is said to be an adopted member of the PMA Class 1984. – With Evelyn Macairan

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