By Argyll Geducos
The Bureau of Customs (BOC) on Wednesday laid down plans to develop and further boost the performance of the agency next year.
Speaking before members of the media, Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon said one of the proposals is to develop and improve port facilities for better supervision of importations and transshipments.
According to Faeldon, his office is now working with some engineers and developers to come up with a conceptual framework or concept for world-class port facilities for the Port of Manila (POM) and the Manila International Container Port (MICP).
Immediate disposal of commodities
The Customs chief said these ports will have rendering facilities to help make the disposal or condemnation of decaying commodities much easier. At times, the rendering process takes more than a year due to the lack of facility and due to the meticulous process that needs to be followed, he added.
“It is very hard to find a local government unit to allow us to go to their place and destroy these commodities. We need to come up with a rendering facility where we can destroy rotten commodities immediately. Para hindi na po tayo pupunta sa malayo (So we don’t have to go far to dispose them),” he said.
World-class facilities can also make the country into a trading hub which can cater shipments coming from the Asia-Pacific region and all over the world, according to Faeldon.
The Customs chief cited how Singapore’s ports contribute the biggest in their economy, while being only just a few nautical miles away from the Philippines.
According to Faeldon, the Philippines is better situated geographically since the country is between the two largest oceans: the South China Sea and the Pacific Ocean.
“We can easily cater the Asian region and the Pacific including Australia. So we will be building world-class port facilities here where the transshipment of commodities all over the world can be traded,” he said.
He added that improved port facilities can also substantially contribute to the economy of the Philippines.
However, he said world-class facilities would be useless if BOC will continue to be stereotyped as a corrupt government agency.
“You have to help us build a credibility that is very high as far as the international industries are concerned. If you will continue to stereotype the Bureau of Customs, even if we build a very beautiful facility next year, nobody is going to use our facilities,” he appealed to members of the media.
Meanwhile, one of the immediate plans of the BOC for 2017, is to strengthen their border security patrol. Border Security Patrol is the third mandate of the BOC specified in the new Customs Modernization Tariff Act (CMTA).
Faeldon said it is difficult for them to go after smugglers since BOC doesn’t have a single boat.
“‘Noong may hinahabol kaming barko, nasa lupa kami! (We were on land when we were going after a boat!). So it is very hard for us,” he said.
Faeldon said they cannot always ask the help of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and the Philippine Navy since they may have maritime missions at any time of the day.
Last July, BOC, with the PCG and the Philippine National Police (PNP), were able to seize a Chinese fishing vessel found to be manufacturing and transporting illegal drugs to the country. Four Chinese nationals, who were considered as high-value targets, were arrested during the said operation.