The move of President Rodrigo Duterte in putting soldiers in the key positions in the Bureau of Customs has raised concern with some business groups.
With the recent revelation from Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Director General Aaron Aquino, that the actual amount of missing shabu (methamphetamine) from the four magnetic lifters found in Cavite last August was not P6.8-B, but 11-B, Duterte prompted to replace the BOC personnel by military men.
On this latest development at the bureau on militarization, business leaders said they would watch if it would improve transactions at the ports.
According to Duterte, he is forced to take this bold move as part of his “declaration of a state of lawlessness” at the start of his term in mid 2016, with “part of the lawless elements are there inside the Bureau of Customs.”
Some business leaders generally welcomed this latest step in Customs, but were cautious on how it would affect transactions in the country’s ports.
The American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines through its Senior Adviser John Forbes said, “he welcomed all reforms that would reduce smuggling of illegal and underpaid goods. However, he also noted that the exporters also need goods to flow smoothly since local materials are very insufficient and foreign markets need to receive orders on time at a time of “importing peak period in November”.
“We will need to understand what changes will result from the president’s announcement when more details are known,” the AmCham Philippines Adviser added.
For the Philippine Exporters Confederation President Sergio Ortiz-Luis, Jr., he commended the effort being taken by Duterte to clean up the Customs. But he also expressed his concern about having active military in the post without necessarily underestimating their capability by saying, “they (the military being appointed) may not have business sense…”
Meanwhile, the Philippine Chamber of Commerce of Industry (PCCI) President Ma. Alegria Sibal-Limjoco said that the President’s move in the bureau “is a good start”. THEPHILBIZNEWS tried to get in touch with PCCI President to expound what she meant by “a good start” but Limjoco is still out of the country. Based on the call made by THEPHILBIZNEWS which was answered by a certain Arlene, they will await for the reply of Edgardo Lacson, Honorary Chairman of PCCI and acting President while Limjoco is away, on our verification and revert to us. However, as of this posting we did not get any update yet.
To the President Semiconductor & Electronics Industries in the Philippines Foundation, Inc. Danilo Lachica, he shared what he is expecting on this move from the President. Lachica said, “While he was “indifferent” to the use of soldiers for Customs work, as long as they “are men of integrity”, ease the process of doing business and expect no corruption”, this should be okay.
This will be the third time that the Bureau of Customs got into controversy. Back under the time of under former BOC commissioner Nicanor Faeldon, who was implicated over the smuggling of P6.4-billion worth of “shabu” (crystal meth) last May 2017.
Then it was BOC commissioner Isidro Lapeña who was in hot water after some people accused him that he was in cahoots with drug smugglers after it was discovered that the scrap magnetic lifters contained drugs slipped through and now missing which was according to PDEA Director General Aquino was worth 11B and not 6.4B as previously estimated that led to Lapeña’s resignation as BOC Commissioner.