By Genalyn Kabiling
The government is mulling the replacement of 650 personnel of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) amid the intensified campaign to fight corruption and smuggling.
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III informed the President Duterte about the estimate number of personnel affected by the BoC reorganization during a Cabinet meeting in Malacañang last Tuesday.
“That is the plan, to do it system-wide and actually we were doing the rough numbers the last day of working day last week and we came up with the number of 650 people will have to be replaced,” Dominguez said during the Cabinet assembly.
The finance chief recently met with new Customs chief Rey Guerrero to discuss the latest BoC reorganization following President Duterte’s order to the military to assist the agency.
“We met yesterday and also the — right before the holidays. He is basically making a list of all the personnel that we will require and he is also reviewing all the procedures that he will implement,” Dominguez said.
He noted that the technical personnel who would be assigned to the customs bureau must undergo “an extensive training program.”
“I just want to inform you that all those people that we will be seconding or detailing will have to undergo an extensive training program because this is quite a technical job. And I’m assured by (Defense) Secretary (Delfin) Lorenzana that they have the technical personnel who who can speed up that training program,” he said.
Dominguez welcomed the President’s decision to detail new personnel in the BoC since it would “reduce familiarity.” “By law that system of secondment and detailing can be done legally and I think it is — it’s going to work,” he added.
President Duterte recently authorized the military to help restore law and order in the BoC following a slip of a suspected drug shipment in the country’s ports.
Duterte, in the Cabinet meeting, said the “chiefs of offices and section chiefs” would be placed on floating status while their assistants would perform the job.
He added that a “few” technical staff of the military would be tapped to help the customs bureau to restore law and order. But the President made clear that he has not appointed or designated any soldier to take over the functions of the BoC employees.
“I’m more worried about the technical things. Pero ‘yung may computations, ‘yang nandiyan, madali nang i-check ‘yan. I mean, all you have to do is just to collate all the reports and you can get the full picture of how much,” Duterte said.
“But I want a similar setup in the provinces, maski na ‘yung maliit, that a little over — ah little just like one unit to keep watch,” he added.
Invoking national security, he said the military presence in the BoC would remain until he was satisfied that law and order have been restored.
“Yang Customs na ‘yan talagang lawless so I am ordering the Armed Forces to gather their technical men and place there,” he said.
“Shabu is a problem. It has been, I said, raised to the level of a national security threat and the pantalan is a huge door there and shabu is entering the country almost everyday,” he added.