Time and again, since he took over the helm of presidency, Rodrigo Duterte would pick on Customs and make drastic moves to rid the agency of corruption.
Yesterday, his spokesman, Atty. Salvador Panelo said President Duterte ordered the “freezing” of high-ranking officials and employees of the Bureau of Customs due to alleged corruption anomalies, GMA News reported.
Panelo did not disclose how Palace could enforce the “freezing” of Customs employees and officials.
RA 713, the law governing civil service employees code of conduct and ethics, only allows erring civil service officials and employees to pay a fine, be suspended, and/or serve prison terms as penalties.
“The President has directed the freezing of several high-ranking Customs officials and employees, whose names would be disclosed at the appropriate time, as they face administrative and criminal charges, for unlawful activities,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a statement Wednesday night, July 10.
Panelo said “freezing” corrupt customs employees “underscores this administration’s zero tolerance on corruption among erring officials.”
The statement came two days after the Bureau of Customs announced a major reshuffle in the agency — nine district collectors and two deputy district collectors were installed.
Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero noted the decrease in revenue collection and attributed it to graft and corruption. “Graft and corruption in the Bureau involves not only BOC personnel but also those transacting business with the agency. And it continues to exist because it is tolerated by unscrupulous individuals,” Guerrero added.
Guerrero asked all Customs personnel and stakeholders to expose, report and file cases against corrupt employees, importers, brokers, fixers and other entities involved in smuggling, bribery, illegal drugs and other illegal activities.
In October 2018, President Duterte said he would like the military to take over the BOC to stop corruption there in the agency.