MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte proposed one solution to address rampant and persistent corruption in the Bureau of Customs (BOC): eliminate brokers from the system.
In an interview with reporters on Tuesday, September 10, Duterte said he would rather the BOC "accredit" persons designated by importers to arrange their shipments.
"Wala na broker, broker (There will be no more brokers). [The] importers will designate a person who will be accredited with the Bureau of Customs and they are the only ones allowed to go there," said Duterte in Malacañang.
However, he did not explain how corrupt BOC personnel would be stopped from accrediting persons they can connive with to smuggle in contraband. The system of accreditation could itself be abused.
Because of scandals in the BOC, Duterte has so far gone through 3 BOC chiefs – first Nicanor Faeldon, then Isidro Lapeña, then current customs chief Rey Leonardo Guerrero.
His administration has been criticized, in particular, for billions of pesos worth of shabu entering the country despite Duterte's avowed hardline stance against illegal drugs.
Duterte also proposed that computing tax dues should be based on gross income and not net income. This system, he said, would simplify matters and make it harder to get away with corruption or muddling of figures.
"I am strongly recommending gross kagaya ng (like) Hong Kong, Singapore, and even Japan. Gross, i-gross mo (make it gross)," he said.
Ignore the brokers
Duterte said BOC personnel would be ordered to "ignore" brokers they dealt with before.
"You ignore the brokers. You go to a broker, 'I will not deal with you,'" said the President.
He said eliminating brokers from the system would significantly reduce corruption in the agency, from 10 to "8."
"Take away brokers and you would have cut corruption overnight," said Duterte.
Asked if he needed a law to do what he wanted, Duterte said this was not necessary.
"Hindi ko kailangan ng law, lulu...sabihin ko lang (I don't need a law...I'll just say so). There are things I have to do that Congress cannot tinker with. Those are one of them because that is to save the country from perdition." – Rappler.com
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.