Bureau of Customs
MANILA, Philippines –President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered a military takeover of the Bureau of Customs (BOC).
After a major shift in its leadership and relief of commissioners and section chiefs, the President also placed all Customs employees under floating status and were required to report directly to the Office of the President.
“I’d like to put on notice everybody in the Bureau of Customs they are all floating status. They will — they can — maybe start again working but I said they are on floating status…all police — Customs police are also on floating status, everybody. The Customs Intelligence Unit, they are to report to Malacañang, all of them. I am ordering everybody to report to my office,” he said during the celebration of former Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano’s natal day on Sunday (October 28).
“They will be replaced all — all of them — by military men. It will be a takeover of the Armed Forces in the matter of operating in the meantime while we are sorting out how to effectively meet the challenges of corruption in this country,” the President said further.
The President explained that though he believes not everyone at BOC is corrupt, he said he has no time to check every single employee’s track record so he decided to remove everyone to weed out the agency of “thieves or robbers.”
“Baka sabihin ni Duterte, ‘Hindi naman kami lahat magnanakaw eh.’ Correct. So very correct. You are right. Not all of you are thieves or robbers, but you know you must be an idiot not to understand. You say that you are honest, that you are not part of the cabal there. And so? If that is your line, I cannot move and you stay there then I have to speculate if you are really a gangster working for the Bureau of Customs, a government employee,” President Duterte said.
“I do not have time for that…you try to sort out there from the inside. No, I’d like them out, then one by one if they are still deserved. If none then since I cannot fire them I’ll have to file a case which could — appeal after appeal it could maybe last for another 10 years. And so by that time, we have lost so many billions and you are destroying my country,” he added.
President Duterte’s order came after he transferred former Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapeña to the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and replaced him with former Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) administrator Retired AFP chief of staff General Rey Leonardo Guerrero.
Lapeña was placed in hot water after a shipment of shabu valued at P6.8B loaded inside four magnetic lifters, slipped Customs inspection in August. – Marje Pelayo