By Genalyn Kabiling
President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the Bureau of Customs (BOC) to step up its revenue collection to shore up government resources for development projects.
At the BOC’s 116th anniversary rites in Manila on Tuesday, the President recognized the efforts of the Customs bureau but said “much remains to be done.”
“It has been a long and challenging journey for the agency as it strove to curb customs fraud and facilitate trade through effective customs management system,” the President said in his remarks.
“However, much remains to be done. The BOC needs to improve its overall revenue collection to meet its target so that the government will have more funds for its priority development programs,” he said.
The BOC aims to collect P598 billion this year, higher by 28 percent compared with the P467 billion revenue target in 2017. The Customs bureau missed, by a several millions, the 2017 revenue target after collecting only P457.6 billion.
The President, at the same event, directed the Customs personnel to sustain the campaign against the smuggling of goods including cars.
“Smuggling, this has been going on…ang history natin is for centuries na. Even the Customs… it’s more than a century old,” said Duterte after he witnessed the wrecking of 20 smuggled luxury cars at the BOC compound.
“This kind of racket has been going on again and again, and again, over a period of centuries. Well, it has to stop,” he said.
Duterte also said he believes in the integrity of the majority of the Customs personnel.
“It leaves a bad taste in the mouth to be talking about corruption and graft, especially among…well, at least educated and learned people and especially so about finances and money, revenues,” he said.
“I am not in front of an incorrigible crowd. I know that most of you are honest, otherwise we have not collected this huge amount,” he added.
The President, in a later speech at the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) event in Pasig City, however, acknowledged that some policemen and Customs agents were in cahoots with drug traffickers.
“I was fighting the front here at my back. The Customs people who are so corrupt, they were also in cahoots with the others, importing droga [drugs]… so by tonelada [by the tons],” he said.