By Genalyn Kabiling
President Duterte is seeking to stop “anarchy” in Bureau of Customs (BOC) by mobilizing the military to restore order in the agency.
The President explained that he has “dismantled” the bureau and tap the military to “keep peace” amid the widespread corruption.
He maintained that his decision was not a form of militarization as alleged by some lawmakers, saying no soldier would be appointed or designated to any post in the BoC.
“I dismantled the Customs. Tsaka hindi naman militarization ‘yan [And that’s not militarization],” he said during a visit to Palawan on Saturday.
“When you call the military to help, you are not appointing them to any position neither are you designating them with specific functions. Ano bang alam ng sundalo ng ledger pati journal? [What do they know about ledger and journal] They are there to keep peace because Customs is an anarchy,” he added.
Duterte hit back at some senators criticizing the involvement of the military in Customs, saying they were merely trying to earn brownie points.
“Itong mga politicians, may iba mga senador. Papogi-pogi lang ang y***, wala namang alam. Walang laman ang sinasabi,” he said.
He lamented that the customs bureau has been plagued by corruption, noting that even former Customs commissioner Ruffy Biazon, who was implicated in the pork barrel scam, also resigned from his post during the past administration.
“Maski sinong ilagay mo talagang may corruption. Na-p****** i** na ako sa totoo lang,” he said.
The Present earlier authorized the military to take over the operations of the BoC in a bid to stop corruption and smuggling activities. As he placed BoC section chiefs on floating status, Duterte asked new Customs chief Rey Guerrero to tap soldiers with technical expertise to help him.
“Remember that I have issued during the first days of my term, this is the declaration of lawlessness. Part of the lawless elements is there inside the Bureau of Customs,” Duterte said during his visit to Davao City last month.
Faced with criticisms on placing the BoC under military control, Duterte later clarified that he was invoking national security in calling out the military since “there was no law and order in the Customs.”
“Until I am satisfied that law and order is established in that area, the presence of the Armed Forces of the Philippines will be there.”