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Can anyone handle this?

Can anyone ever stop the corruption at the Bureau of Customs (BOC) in the Philippines?

This weekend’s Your Forum question is very simple; it’s this: Can anyone ever stop the corruption at the Bureau of Customs (BOC) in the Philippines? The PHP6.4 billion-worth of crystal meth that was given the green light to pass through all port controls at the Manila International Container Port (photo) in May is undoubtedly a massive scandal – not least given the government’s war on illegal drugs. But over the history of the BOC, that one incident – in terms of the value of smuggled contraband – is less than a drop in the ocean. In fact, it barely makes an impact on the annual cost of smuggling.

Corruption at the BOC is deeply entrenched – and widespread; it affects all 17 ports across the country. Government estimates back in 2015 put the cost of smuggling through those ports at PHP200 billion a year – that amounts to PHP547 million in lost revenue every single day.

Between 2005 and 2009 – during the administration of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo – based on data from the United Nations Commission on Trade, PHP94.87 billion was smuggled through the ports system in agricultural products alone. Statistics from other administrations are similarly depressing.

This is a government department riddled with corrupt practices. Corruption there is institutionalised; systemic – it runs through every strata from management; from billing to goods handling. And it always has. This isn’t a problem of a few rotten apples in the barrel; this is a problem with a corroded barrel that’s causing the apples to rot. The scope for corruption at the BOC is huge. The point is, for smuggling to be successful it requires a long chain of cooperation.

And that’s precisely why President Rodrigo Duterte appointed Nicanor Faeldon to clean out the Augean Stables there. Evidently, he failed.

Now a new BOC Commissioner has been appointed – Isidro Lapeña, who moves across from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency which he headed as director-general. We wish him the best of luck. But whether he succeeds where others before him have failed, remains to be seen. What we do know is that he has his work cut out.

68 Comments

  • The way to stop corruption at BOC is to take out all the employees there either through early retirement or re-assignment in other agencies and infusing the bureau with new blood who will adhere to the law.

    • The problem whether you overhaul the entire bureau & infuse new blood there would always be a third party who would go tempting to bribe the new ones. It seems we have to be harsh on these type of third party influence peddlers by sending them to a hard labor camp somewhere in a remote area of the country. Illegal drugs is big business so money is easy for any drug lord or syndicate to get rich easily. Fighting drugs is really a hard thing to stop. It can only be minimized to some extent but not eradicated. These syndicates know how to go around the law & continue their illegal trade. They are always one step ahead of the authorities. The lure of easy money is a factor for people to be tempted to act as runners inspite of the danger involve. Drugs are a world wide menace & no country can say they have eradicated it not even in China.

    • No # of good people can be placed their without the truthful but harsh law to lessen if not to abolish the corruption in that agency. It’s time to monitor the life style of all personel. Have the commisioner and all high ranking officials craft a guidelines for that plan. If found to be one of corrupt person, dont wait for someone to file a case. Let the bureau itself, ita legal department to do it.

    • Theres no total guarantee in changing overhauling the manning system. Systemic na ang corruption in that department since time immemorial.

  • …why is organized crime and drug syndicates not ever mentioned or factored in in stories like this?

    is Phil press so afraid of the TRIAD and the organized crime syndicates…

    it is not just about corrupt agencies … there are CORRUPTORS too

  • Corruption is equally shared by the people in the system and the system itself.

    If a person finds a loophole in the system, that person can definitely abused it to his advantage. But, the sad reality, there’s no “perfect” system since it is not crafted/device by humans which are also imperfect.

    Totally eradicate corruption? I don’t think it can be done, but what we can do is just to minimise it. Make a system so stringent, with the least possible red tape to make anybody difficult to corrupt the system. Plus, putting the right people in key position will help be done.

    Oh, one more thing, papers (documents that one fills-out) can easily fall in between the cracks. Unlike digital format, it can leave breadcrumbs, so to speak, and can be audited a lot faster.

  • Not immediately! That’s why people believe faeldon was the right guy, because he has fire n his belly which obviously upset the status quo. No one in the past has the gumpton and determination to do this except Faeldon. Clearly, he was chastized and vilified by pretentious lawmakers, not because the 6billion pesos worth of meth shipment slipped through surreptitiously, BUT BECAUSE, Faeldon’s team thru a tip from China, was able to apprehend it and prevent its spread in the market!

  • WALA NA DAPAT GREEN LIGHT …LAHAT DAAN NA SA EXRAY MACHINES AT YANGBANG BIGYAN NG BUDGET… NO SACRED COW…. ANG ANY POLITICIANS FUND TO HAVING BUSINESS SHALL BE AUTMATIC DISQUALIFIED FROM HOLDING ANYBPUBLIC OFFICE….
    PUBLIC OFFICE IS A PUBLIC TRUST….NOT A BUSINESS….

    • ang sabi ni Faeldon ay mga Congressmen at mga Senador ang karamihan sa may ari ng mga kompanya sa Custom, mga brooker na nakapangalan sa anak, kamaganak o kaya mga dummy lang, pano ang gagawin natin?

  • Matagal ng pamahon palit2 na ang Pangulo dyan parin ang BUWETRE ng BOC! Nahirapang c FAELDON dahil sa mga Tongressman, Senatong na sagka ng pagbabago 80% ang dati paring implayado ng gobyerno at 20% lang kay PRRD tapos sinisira pa ng nakaraan ng LP! Ang PAGBABAGONG ito! Sa akin! Systema ng Gobyerno ang palitan MAGFEDERAL TAYO! YAN ANG TOTOONG PAGBABAGO!!!

  • There are honest employees in the BOC. To determine, PDU30 needs to use his Intel Funds for a thorough Background Check. After finding a long-serving employee who leads a simple life; appoint him/her as the BOC Commissioner. Absent such person in the BOC, find somebody from within DOF.

  • With strong political will, an honest to goodness anti-corruption campaign & relentless war on drugs, yes it can be stopped & not to mention the right people with integrity.

    • Indeed it was instituted by the last administration,but taguba’s shipment is also labeled in the red light, since the rules initiated by the last admin,is that “every new players,is automatically treated to red light zone”!So you can’t blame the past admin,the blunder was committed by the new leadership of BoC!

    • Sani Inas who says the previous admin was blamed? It was pointed out that it was the old hands that knows more about the “kalakaran” in the green lane rather than the new guys who are not even custom people. The bottom line for me my dear is that, if it’s not Faeldon and Gambala that is being accused here I would entertain a bit of a doubt as to their integrity. Pero, were speaking of people who had sacrificed lives and limbs to protect us in the past and actually had even sacrificed their careers just to fight against corruption in the government. Some had compromised their integrity like Trillanes and Alejano and their ilk, but these two? Far out. Going back to the 6.4B shabu that passed green lane, well, it was apprehended right? It was apprehended by the BOC team of Faeldon themselves when they knew about it…. they were able to raid the warehouse where the shipment was received and was able to catch the warehouse owners and the recipient of the shipment right?

  • Ding Monserate is right. No one,before Faeldon took office, had d gut and d gumption to divulge d BOC’s rotten tricks. And now that he did d right thing,it seems like sia pa ang naging masama. In this country,u pay dearly for telling d truth.

  • A cancer in the culture of filipino.distroy the evil political system ! Total cleansing of pioneers in the boc.senate n congress must create a law that forbid poltician endorsement in any govt.offices for applicant ! To root out padrino system !

    • Sir Nevra Nabeste, these people wont do that because it can report billions of money that will be use by the govenrnment to finance its project in which case our country will be develop. They dont want that to happen.

  • … YES, corruption in BOC can be stopped by cutting down the red tape inside… so many people are involved before a shipment is released… and each one gets a cut of the cake.
    … BOC’s rules and regulations were done by men therefore, they can still be changed… it may be difficult at first but it can be done.
    … put all officials on freeze for at.least 6 months… let the “repairmen” who are not from BOC to temporarily sit and do the job… their job is to determine which section is easily penetratiable for corruption and find ways how it can be stopped… it’s like putting up a new building… each floor has to have all necessary equipmenta that they don’t need to borrow from other floors in case a unit concked out.
    … offer the officers early retirement plan… if they won’t agree to it, file a case of graft and corruption because there might be a truth it.

  • Singapore’s system is one that is all online clearing and payment. No human contact until cleared, then post payment examination is done either before it gets out of port zone, or followed by customs police operatives at vonsignee’s warehouse. The lack of opportunity to haggle and negotiate before payment allows proper valuation, or a seizure is done if misvalued

  • kaya daw yan sabi ni faeldon sa interview niya kay jessica soho basta hindi daw makikialam ang mga politiko sa paghire ng mga tao kasi karamihan daw diyan mga tauhan ng mga politiko, dagdagan ang mga tauhan pero dadaan daw dapat sa training sa customs academy kagaya daw sa ibang bansa na 4 yrs ang training para maging incorruptible, at budget daw galing sa congress para makabili sila ng maraming x-ray machines, patrol boats,etc.

  • I don’t think anyone can stop these CORRUPTIONS bcoz EVERYBOY HAPPY! To STOP CORRUPTIONS no IFs or BUTs , JAIL EVERYBODY INVOLVED,NO BAIL, AND THE COURTS RIGHT AWAY STARTS THE HEARINGS, AND LIFESTYLE CHECKS INCLUDING RELATIVES and DEATH PENALTY TO PLUNDERS! THERE’S ALREADY DOCUMENTS FROM PORT OF ORIGIN BUT ONCE IT REACHES THE PHILIPPINES, SATAN DOES GREAT UNIMAGINABLE MIRACLES! CORRUPTION WILL ALWAYS BE WITH MANKIND!

  • HOW COME THE NAME OF THE IMPORTER IS NOT DIVULGED? How come the broker is the one being prosecuted? Pakana ba ito para hiyain si Faeldon at si president, at idamay si Paolo? Gordon, Lacson, and Trillanes did a grandstanding to the core playing prosecutors but the important detail was missed.

    • It was asked.BoC gave the name of the company and the address, location, and country of origin!!! You’re right also, that there was grandstanding…but it was only Gordon.. he hardly gave time,other collegues to asked,and scrutinized BoC officials!

  • Corruption is created by man and so it can be stopped 99 % by man too. How?
    Quite straight forward if you think about it by:
    1. Top gun in charge integrity must be impeccable.
    2. Selection of all key managers let’s say top ten where corrupt activities are prevalent, too are expected to be incorruptible.
    3. The work flow and system are designed to be simple and inherent a parity check system to detect any signs or signal of a potential corrupt acts.
    4. Importers of goods if found corrupt will immediately pay a fine one thousand percent enough to ruin their businesses.
    5. Form an external investigation corrupt department consists of intelligence persons, policemen, legal members to work exclusively to eradicate corruption in the BOC. They will have a hotline for anonymous tips about traders or customs personnel who are suspected of corrupt activities.
    6. A special specialized court is appointed to deal with each corrupt cases expeditiously. Any lawyers representing their clients that failed to submit their whatever within a specified time will be dealt as contempt of the court and penalized accordingly. The defendant will have to appoint a new lawyer within 5 working days.
    7. Bonuses will be awarded to the top gun and the ten key manager for unearth every corrupt cases cap at 50 million peso per year.
    8. Any person found and convicted of corruption exceeding one billion peso from the BOC will automatically be penalized a twenty year imprisonment without any exemption. In cases of illegal drug: death penalty.

    These are not all the features of getting a corrupt free BOC but a simple attempt to show what can be done if you really want to solve the problem of corruption in the BOC.

  • The BOC has been known for corruption thru n thru. Maybe all employees should be replaced from janitor/messenger to the top positio even the career service position. The gov’t should study the possibility of automating the process to minimize human intervention and minimizing red tape also corruption. Maybe the only intervention would be the physical examination whichshould be witnessed by COA, military, independent press and recorded by CCTV with media broadcast live hahaha. Yes automate the process to minimize human intervention and maybe the consignee neet not go to the bureau to bribe their way out.

  • 900B pesos of smuggled goods during 2011-2015 but senate is silence about this..
    Matagal nga may kurapsyon jan sa dami ng nasagasaan ni faeldon.
    Tumaas ang nakolekta na buwis pag upo ni faeldon..

  • Until Philippine wages reflect the cost of living the people cannot by any stretch of the imagination stop making black money by any means possible. Sure some have become greedy but if one stops allowing drugs in the next guy will take it up and feed his family. The first thing needs addressing here is wages and the wages of the Philippine people that are forced to work overseas cheaper than their counterparts from other countries. Until this inequality is fixed there will be no moving forward. I am a foreigner living in the Philippine and I know most Philippine people cannot afford to shop at a supermarket so how should they live without black money? You can take every player in the criminal game out of the Philippines today and tomorrow there will be those wanting to feed families and accept the risk to take their place. It is a very difficult situation here for Philippine people which is very sad. The Philippines has the reputation of being a violent country but truth is this is not at all the nature of Philippine people but to feed children people will do anything. I know I would!

  • I can think of only two ways:

    1. Build factories so we won’t have to import. We have more than enough malls; let the capitalists help in nation-building instead of malls.

    2. Lower the tarrif so importers won’t have to offer bribes. In this day and age, every good man will have a price.

  • our kapitbahay Singapore, Hongkong, Japan, etc’s are most traffic sa shipment of goods coming from different countries they have their best practices when it comes to custom functions why not mag kopya yung applicable d2 sa Pinas, tama yung nag komento na less human intervention sa processo starting from the port of origin yung goods utilizing the I.T. system, yung tariff & customs duties may corresponding rates to be collected sa mga lahat ng goods na papasok d2 sa Pinas, maybe yung Assesment-Billing-Collection ay pwedeng e separate sa isat-isa kasi sa internal control point of view hndi healthy ang naturang practice, #JustSaying✌️

  • A lot of adicks and innocent, will die of that. And who’s to blames the adicks and the innocent or the fine gentleman and woman who was guilt and innocent who work on what you called BOC.

  • YES IF THE SENATOR AND CONGRESSMAN STOP APPOINTING AND RECOMENDING BECOMING B.O.C PERSONNEL.IN SHORT THEY MUST PROVIDE A LAW TO MAKE IT HAPPENED.NOT UNLESS CONGRESSMAN AT SENATORS WERE UP TO AND PROTECTIN THIERE OWN AND FAMILY BUSINESS.
    SIR FAELDON DO A GRET JOB TO B.O.C BUT WHEN HE SUSPENDED THE 800COMPANYS FOR IRREGULARITIES AND INVESTIGATE THE OTHER 1,400 COMPANY’S.THE CUCKING CONGRESS AND SENATORS JUST DO WHAT EVER IT TAKES TO OUSTED HIM WHAT A SHAMED.

  • Never will you stop ANY corruption in this nation as long as money is involved ! Same in the u.s.a. !! As long as greed trumps integrity,you’ll get corruption !!!