For this next business issue, joint Anti-Smuggling Units are set to be
formed by the Bureau of Customs in coordination with the Bureau of Internal
Revenue. This is in compliance to the directive of the Dept. of Finance.
All district directors of the Bureau of Customs were directed by Customs
Collector Isidro Lapena to form Joint Anti-Smuggling Units in their
respective areas in coordination with the Bureau of Internal Revenue. The
Customs Chief is targeting erring importers, brokers and BOC personnel
after the Dept. of Finance issued orders to intensify anti-smuggling
efforts especially in the provinces or regions.
Most of the illicit trade happens outside Metro Manila, so DOF Secretary
Carlos Dominguez directed Customs Chief Lapena and BIR Commissioner Caesar
Dulay to focus on rice, fuel, steel and cigarettes. Food and agricultural
products like chicken, onions and garlic will also be carefully watched.
One of the most recent interceptions made by the Bureau of Customs where it
seized P25 million worth of smuggled goods from several shipments. These
contained agricultural products, liquor and auto and aircraft parts. The
Bureau also seized 18 luxury vehicles with a total value of P108 million
but which were undervalued at only P32 million. These two interceptions
happened at the Manila International Container Port. Customs Chief Lapena
has instituted changes in the Bureau to curb corruption. Among these is the
one assessment/no sectioning policy to erase the "palakasan" and "suki"
system. Previously, the Bureau's Assessment Division was divided into 15
sections per commodity. He is also implementing the "anti-fixer campaign at
the Customs' Accounts Management Office. Customs Collector Lapena has
already relieved or reassigned 116 customs personnel under his One-strike
policy. Included here are 10 district collectors, and because of these
measures, the Bureau collected P42 billion in October alone, the highest in
the Bureau's history. The Ports of Manila, Batangas and the Manila
International Container Port also registered their highest collection rates
during this period. In Sept. of this year, collection reached P40.26
billion, also a big improvement from the monthly average collection of P35
billion. At the top of his to-do list at the Bureau is to weed out
corruption , and this he intends to do by removing the "tara" system and
implementing the "no gift, no-take" policy. LiFestyle checks will also be
done on Customs personnel.
Customs Collector Lapena has a five-point program. Aside from stopping
corruption and increasing revenues, he intends to facilitate trade,
strengthen anti-smuggling efforts and enhance personnel incentives, the
rewards system and compensation benefits for BOC personnel.