MANILA, Philippines - Oil smuggling is costing the government an estimated P40 billion in annual revenues, which could have been spent on education, housing and other social needs of Filipinos, noted President Aquino on Monday, February 6.
"We estimate that we lose P40 billion from VAT collections from oil smuggling. That is only an estimate," President Aquino said in his keynote address at the 110th anniversary of the Bureau of Customs.
To illustrate the importance of the anti-smuggling campaign, the President said that the amount can fund the construction of 218,000 low-cost housing units, or half of the total housing units needed for informal settlers.
"That is only for oil. We also have rice [smuggling]," he added.
He urged Customs officials and employees to follow his administration's mantra of Matuwid na Daan or the "straight and narrow path," promising that they would be rewarded for their good performance.
He said that everytime he hears of smuggling activities in the country, he feels as if he's been slapped on the face.
He said he does not mind "getting slapped on the face if it's for the country" but he cannot tolerate anomalous activities.
"I am asking you again to help us put in order the system and we will ensure that the government will improve your state. Do what is right, and the government will do what is right for you," he said.
He said that he had appointed Customs Commissioner Rozzano Rufino Biazon and Deputy Customs Commissioner Danilo Lim "to fix the Customs and they seem to be on top of the challenges that have been thrown in front of them."
"I know the capability and integrity of Commissioner Ruffy Biazon and Deputy Commissioner Danny Lim, I am confident that they will realize the long-needed reforms in your agency," Aquino said.
The bureau has been filing smuggling cases against erring individuals and entities under its ongoing name-and-shame campaign, Run After the Smugglers or RATS. - Rappler.com