“We have disrupted the SOPs of corruption of smuggling syndicates”- BOC info chief

april 25, 2014

The public information chief of the Bureau of Customs said that the running reform moves in the bureau have “disrupted the standard operating procedures (SOPs) of corruption” of the smuggling syndicates, individuals and groups that have long been profiting from illegal operations including those who gave and received tara (grease money).

BOC acting public information and assistance division chief Charo Logarta said Wednesday in Davao City that with the aggressive reform moves and strictness of customs’ commissioners led by Commissioner John Sevilla “we would like to think now that we have shaken them” in the bid to change the image of the Bureau as one of the most corrupt agencies in the government.

On the same day, visiting Commissioner Sevilla told reporters in Davao City that the BOC is investing with “hundreds of millions of pesos” to make BOC have a full digital, electronic-based paperless transaction starting June 2015.

“Mabusisi lang ang preparation for our IT (information technology) platform. We still have a partial view of the things we have been doing. If we go fully digital, shippers, brokers and including the media and all can dig whatever information they want in our website,” he said in a press conference at BOC Port of Davao office.

The full automation of transacting with BOC would mean that, for example, brokers would not need to go anymore in the BOC offices as they can only transact online, “brokers need not be known” and the BOC would “just email o mag text lang kami sa kanila” on the actions taken on their shipments, Sevilla explained.

The completed BOC website would also have many functionalities including that which gives accurate values of customs duties and taxes.

“It’s not only aimed for better service but also for higher collections,” Sevilla said. 

He hoped the full automation would also hasten the disposition of alerted and problematic shipments, which at present would take BOC to dispose in “weeks or sometimes months” when supposedly these should be disposed in three days only.

The commissioner could not however say how much the BOC’s budget for the BOC’s full digital system except saying “hundreds of millions of pesos, as the BOC collects P1.6 billions per day” of customs duties and taxes.

On the other hand, Sevilla also informed that the BOC in the first quarter has posted 33 percent higher compared to last year’s collection performance against target on the same period, though in terms of growth rate the BOC still needs to reach an additional 10 percent. 

At the sidelines of the press conference, Logarta said that the customs officials “are not ruling out” there would be sophisticated form of corruption that would come out from a fully automated customs’ transactions.

She was given the scenario of a deceitful broker texting a corrupt customs official for special personal transaction at a hotel before the latter filed his shipment application online.

“Humans are corruptible. But corruption in the customs is borne out by the fact that people dont’ know what we are doing. We just have to push forward with our reforms. We are having transparency, full disclosure policy now with our strict commissioners,” Logarta added.

She urged reporters to visit the BOC website and see the many transactions that the BOC has been posting for information to the public.

Logarta informed that the BOC this year has high target collection of P408 billion compared to last year’s target collection of P340 billion. (Rural Urban News/Cha Monforte)

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