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Corruption at Customs now on lesser scale – Lapeña


By Betheena Kae Unite

Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapeña admitted that corruption at the Bureau of Customs (BOC) still exists. But the good news is that it is no longer as serious as before.

Customs commissioner Isidro Lapeña gestures during Senate blue ribbon committee hearing on the P6.4-billion shabu shipment that entered the country from China, October 4,2017. (Czar Dancel / MANILA BULLETIN)

Customs commissioner Isidro Lapeña

“I would say that the corruption is still there but not as serious as before,” Lapena said Thursday when sought for reaction over the report of US Trade Representative (USTR) that says that corruption remains a “pervasive” issue in the Philippines.

“National and local government agencies, particularly Bureau of Customs, are beset with various corruption issues,” USTR said in its 2018 National Trade Estimate Report of Foreign Trade Barriers.

“Reports of corruption and irregularities in customs processing persist, including undue and costly delays, irregularities in the valuation process, 100-percent inspection and testing of some products, and customs officials seeking the payment of unrecorded facilitation fees,” the US agency added.

Lapeña, however, believes that corruption such as “tara” or grease money, benchmarking, among others in the bureau have been reduced and it can be attributed to the improving revenue collection of the bureau.

“We have now a better collection.We are hitting the revenue collection that is all-time high in the history of the BOC. Corruption and revenue is directly related,” Lapeña said.

The commissioner explained that “tara” in the past came from the supposed revenue that the bureau was collecting.However, it ends on the pockets of the corrupt people in the bureau.

He also mentioned the huge discrepancy on data exports from China have also affected the bureau’s collection in the past.

“As I have been saying,the value of goods coming out from China at P42 billion when it arrives here it is reduced to only P18 billion. That is benchmarking, gross undervaluation,” Lapena said.

“Revenue is proportionate to that and it is because of the corruption. That’s why I’m saying that somehow, the corruption has been reduced but is still there. I’m saying na meron pa rin kasi meron naman talaga but not as serious as it was before. I would say that corruption has been addressed, although not totally, but significantly,” he added.

The Customs chief further said that the bureau would not able to hit their target in the first three months of the year if corruption in the BOC is still pervasive.

“Kung nandiyan pa yang corruption na ‘yan (If corruption is there), do you think we will hit our target? No,” he continued.

56 new x-ray machines eyed

Meanwhile, Lapena revealed that the BOC is planning to acquire 56 additional x-ray machines to intensify its campaign against smuggling.

A portion of the additional budget of P1.4 billion for 2018 will be allocated for the purchase of x-rays, which have been useful in the campaign against smuggling.

He stressed the need for more x-rays during the presentation of seized brand new Kawasaki jet skis in Cebu.

Two misdeclared brand new Kawasaki jet skis valued at $8,000 each were discovered inside a shipment which was only declared as used personal effects on March 27 at the Port of Cebu.

Investigation showed that the jet skis were shipped from the United States and arrived on February 6. It was consigned to Imerex Group of Companies, Inc. with office address at J. Several St. North Reclamation Area, Cebu City. The customs broker was identified as

Christopher Saavedra with office address at Jakosalem, Cebu City.

The X-Ray Inspection Project (XIP) office recommended the issuance of warrant of seizure and detention (WSD) against the misdeclared shipment while the rest of the declared personal effects were recommended for continued processing until released.

Customs Cebu also seized a used 2008 Porsche worth P1.5 million after the consignee failed to present the required import permit.

On Thursday, a shipment of brand new payloader and forklift worth more or less P30 million from China was also seized at the Port of Manila for misdeclaration after it was discovered during x-ray inspection. The shipment was declared as 11 packages of machinery and parts worth only P1.3 million against its actual P30-million value.

The shipment, according to the bureau, was consigned to Green Aphelion Marketing located in Sta. Ana, Manila. It arrived in the country on February 27.Documents further showed that the exporter is Xiamen XGMA International Trading and a certain Ferdie Alipio of BF Homes, Parañaque, was the signing customs broker of Green Aphelion.

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