Inspection of alerted cargoes in Customs continues to catch violators -- Lapeña

By Betheena Kae Unite

Inspection of alerted cargoes continues at the Bureau of Customs as its chief expressed eagerness to catch up with personnel who conspire with players outside the bureau to perpetuate their corrupt practices.

Customs commissioner Isidro Lapeña gestures during Senate blue ribbon committee hearing on the P6.4-billion shabu shipment that entered the country from China, October 4,2017. (Czar Dancel / MANILA BULLETIN) Customs commissioner Isidro Lapeña (Czar Dancel / MANILA BULLETIN)

Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapeña blamed the continuing connivance between some customs personnel and importers after the bureau failed to gain a P2-billion surplus on its April revenue collection.

"Basta meron akong bakante (As long as I have time), I will go to ground. I told the collectors of MICP (Manila International Container Port), POM (Port of Manila) to go to the ground, inspect alerted shipments. By that, we hope that we will be able to catch more and compel the importers and the brokers to do the proper and correct valuation process," Lapena said as he spoke before the Customs employees early this week.

Lapeña stressed that the collusion between individuals inside and outside of the bureau had resulted to improper valuation that led to the failed surplus projection.

"And I think the result that we had for the month of April, I expected more surplus in the month of April. I was expecting more than P2 billion surplus. So the report that I have, we had it verified on the ground and last Monday, turned out to be a confirming result, that indeed turned out to be true," Lapeña said.

Lapeña earlier disclosed that if the bureau continuously posts a surplus of P2 billion from its target every month, the 20 percent of the total surplus for 2018 will be "equally distributed to every employee of the bureau, from the commissioner down to the janitors" as incentive.

On Monday, nine container vans of various misdeclared goods worth P33 million were seized in two major ports in the country during on-the-spot ground inspections, which stemmed from intelligence reports.

The bureau hit its revenue collection target for April, with P930-million surplus or 2-percent higher than the P46.464-billion target, however, Lapeña expressed disappointment over the recorded surplus.

He argued, the bureau could have achieved the surplus target if only the collusion between customs personnel and importers had stopped.

"I have directed the investigation of the collusion. Again, ‘yung mga kasamahan natin (our colleagues) who continue to be in collusion with people (outside the bureau) will be made to answer," the commissioner warned.

"Stop your corrupt practices because if I catch up with you, you might not have another chance. I will be giving you the most drastic disciplinary action that may be given to an employee of this bureau because I don't want you to compromise what we have started and that is hitting the target of the Bureau for the year 2018," he added.

Early this year, Lapeña announced that more surprise inspection on cargoes will be expected this year.

He said spot inspection of cargoes will be conducted regularly in a bid to stop smuggling.

"We will do this as often as we can, if necessary, until such time all importers and players can do the business legitimately. This random inspection will let us know if the shipment contains misdeclared or undervalued shipment," Lapeña said.