By Genalyn Kabiling
Kill all fixers in customs.
President Duterte issued this latest directive to new Customs commissioner Rey Guerrero who will be aided by the military in stamping out corruption and smuggling in the bureau.
The President, who has authorized a major reorganization at the BoC, said he has cautioned Guerrero to remain vigilant since the bureau was “contaminated with corruption.”
“Sabi ko diyan ka, magdala ka ng sundalo. Patayin mo lahat ‘yang fixers diyan kasi pati ikaw kakainin ka diyan [I told him to go there, bring soldiers. You kill all the fixers there because you might be eaten alive too],” Duterte said during an agrarian reform event in Boracay Thursday night.
Duterte said soldiers could spot the fixers in the BoC and deal with them accordingly. “Sabi ko ‘pag makita ninyo, barilin mo na, tapon mo sa dagat. Way lang mag-amin. Linte na mga criminal diha [I said, ‘When you see one, shoot him and throw him into the sea. Just don’t admit it. Those foolish criminals],” he said
The President earlier directed the military to assist the new customs chief in restoring law and order in the bureau following the alleged smuggling of drugs into the country. Some groups, however, criticized the military takeover of customs as unconstitutional.
To dispel concerns that his decision was unlawful, Duterte explained that he has not appointed or designated any soldier to any post in the BoC. He said he merely placed custom personnel on floating status pending an investigation into their alleged corrupt practices.
“Kaya sinarahan ko ‘yung Bureau of Customs [That’s why I shut down the Bureau of Customs] I am not appointing anybody. I am not designating anybody. Alam — ano bang alam ng sundalo ‘yung ledger o journal o resibo o trust agreements diyan? [What do the soldiers know about ledger, journal, receipts or trust agreements there?]” he said.
Duterte admitted that it was difficult to get evidence of corruption so he temporarily relieved the section chiefs pending a probe.
“The only way na malaman ko talaga is alisin ko kayong lahat tapos bago ako mag-imbestiga. Noon ka na nandiyan kayo sige nakaw tapos sige ako mag-investigate. I need proof and it is hard to get. And in the meantime that I will be investigating, you continue with your practice of corruption,” he said.
He claimed that the country “never had a customs historically,” citing that revenue collectors were known to own lavish houses and cars. “Magprangkahan na lang tayo, kayo ‘yan diyan eh [Let’s be honest. That’s you] because all of you are contaminated with corruption,” he said.