Marcos renews call for BOC digitalization vs smuggling

ZURICH, Switzerland — President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. believes that the digitalization of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) will be vital in the government’s fight against smuggling, noting that putting a stop to it will eventually lead to a steady supply of goods in the country.

President Ferdinand 'Bongbong' Marcos Jr.

Marcos said this amid the rising price of onions in the Philippines.

In an interview with reporters en route to Switzerland, the President said smuggling was “the other side” of the rising prices and low supply of goods, such as onion and sugar.

“The other side to this is smuggling. Ayon kailangan talagang i-solve yun (We really have to solve it),” he said.

“Masyadong laganap ang smuggling dito sa Pilipinas, kahit ano ini-smuggle, eh (Smuggling is very rampant in the Philippines. Everything is being smuggled). So we have to really look into that,” he added.

According to Marcos, his government was looking into ways to end the illegal act, particularly by digitalizing the BOC.

“We have some very good ideas. We see what other people are doing— other countries— and we can use some of the strategies that they are using,” he said.

“I think the digitalization of the Bureau of Customs is going to be an important, important part of it,” he added.

Boosting production

The President acknowledged that the most essential facet of the whole problem of the supply of goods was production.

“We have to go back to the sugar industry, we have to go back to the onion growers and help them para magkaroon tayo ng production, hindi na tayo kailangang mag-import (so we’ll have production, and we won’t have to import),” Marcos said.

“Diyan tayo naiipit, eh. Masyado tayong nasanay sa import. So import lang tayo nang import, hindi natin inaayos yung production side (We’re stuck because we’re used to importing. We keep on importing and we’re not fixing the production side),” he added.

President Marcos said importing goods raises the country’s inflation rate, but he was optimistic that the government could bring it down this year.

“When you take supplies from abroad, yung inflationary forces doon nadadala rito sa Pilipinas (you bring their inflationary forces in the Philippines),” he said.

“Kaya yun talaga ang tinitignan namin, ang taas ng inflation (We’re really looking into the high inflation rate). So we have to bring that down for the rest of the year. And I think it will come down,” he added.

However, the Chief Executive said importation continues to be unavoidable.

“Paano naman hindi tayo kailangan mag-import ? Tingnan mo yung production ng Pilipinas, tingnan mo yung demand, malayo talaga (How can you say that we don’t need to import onion? Look at the production and the demand, they’re difference is glaring),” Marcos said.

“Sinubukan natin na makuha lahat ng mga smuggled pero kulang pa rin kasi hindi rin natin nagamit yung smuggled. So talagang (We tried getting the smuggled ones but they’re not enough because we couldn’t use them. So) we were forced to import, so that’s what we’re doing,” he added.

Meanwhile, the President said he would maintain a buffer stock of sugar for two months to ensure the country had enough supply.