By Raymund Antonio
Bureau of Customs (BoC) personnel are next on the chopping block of President Rodrigo Duterte, particularly those involved in corruption and illegal money-making activities.
A Customs insider said that a wide-ranging revamp is about to take place at the agency as part of the cleansing of the BoC to show that the government is serious in its anti-corruption drive.
BoC Commissioner Rey Leon Guerrero is ready to implement the transfer or movement of officers and employees within the bureau after the election ban ended on June 12.
The looming revamp comes in the heels of the complaint of a group of brokers that reached Malacañang regarding the “tara” system or distribution of grease money which the BOC has been notoriously known for.
They asked the Chief Executive to act against two personnel assigned at the Office of the Commissioner and Import Assessment Service for their alleged involvement in “tara” collection.
According to the group, the IAS has imposed a new “tara” system that entails them to pay P3,000 per container of general merchandise.
“The amount guarantees that any importer will be able to pay ‘duties and taxes’ that reach only from P180,000 to P200,000 each container instead of P250,000 to P300,000 if they refused,” they said.
Importers of vehicles are asked to pay from P50,000 to P100,000 per unit and those who refuse will be asked to pay the maximum amount in duties and taxes.
The brokers did not name them, but they claimed their alleged collusion with Manila port employees, who “forcibly asked for grease money on fears that they would be terminated or suspended from their official duties for disobeying them.”
The group lamented they “willfully disregarded” the directive of the President not to engage in the perennial problem of corruption.
Duterte previously tagged the bureau under the Department of Finance as one of the most corrupt government agencies in the country.
As part of the imminent personnel movement, the source said port district collectors who consistently failed to meet their respective revenue targets will be reassigned.
Leadership changes are not new in the BoC, which has seen turnovers of different commissioners and port collectors under a single administration.
The reasons for this continuing revamp include politics and performance in revenue collections, problems in curbing smuggling, and corruption in the bureau.