By FLORO L. MERCENE
What happened to President Duterte’s promise to stamp out corruption in government service within “three to six months”? He’s been three years into his tenure and corruption still rears its ugly heads in the civil service.
In his inaugural speech on June 30, 2017, the President underscored the corruption pervading our society; criminality in the streets, rampant illegal drugs, and the breakdown of law and order.
“They have to be stopped by all means that the law allows.” he said.
The President manifested zero tolerance for corruption in the bureaucracy firing scores of ranking officials and political allies.
Now, there are allegations that some enterprising Bureau of Customs (BOC) officials at the Manila International Container Port (MICP), encourage importers to cheat on tariff by mis-declaration, saying their shipment as “single item” instead of “general merchandise.”
The architects of this shenanigan have mastered the art of dodging tariff laws, for substantially reduced duties and taxes.
The correct duties and taxes for general merchandise commodity per container ranges from P180,000 to P220,000 while that of single item commodity is lower at P100,000 to P120,000 per container.
The difference goes to the pockets of these white-collar goons. A commission of P30,000 is a bargain for “favored importers.”
These crooks have also allegedly devised a tara (points) system of 5-50-250 representing P5,000 per container, P50,000 for special containers, and P250,000 for the lifting of alerts for “(dis)service fee.”
No wonder the MICP reportedly missed its January target by P152 million; February, P2.05 billion, and March, P1.28 billion, a first quarter deficit of P3.32 billion.
Customs commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero is mightily trying to weed out corruption by infusing idealistic young blood into the agency, but sadly, he can’t seem to get rid of well entrenched old hands.
So who’s afraid of the maverick mayor-turned President? Not this honcho at the MICP, who would claim he reports directly to the Palace, thus unfairly dragging the first family into issues of smuggling.
The honcho would even brag that he is a godson of Pangulong Digong, one of thousands the President has sponsored over the years.