Customs Chief Lapeña vows to stay amid ouster plots

Marje Pelayo   •   July 10, 2018   •   4638

Bureau of Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapeña

QUEZON CITY, Philippines – Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapeña on Tuesday (July 11) maintains that he will stay in office as long as President Rodrigo Duterte says so despite ouster plot from several Bureau of Customs (BOC) employees who, he claims, are opposing his policies in the agency.

“Nararamdaman ko iyon. In fact, may information nga ako na meron silang P20M na sinking fund daw to discredit me…I serve under the pleasure of the President, Kuya Daniel. Hangga’t andiyan iyong tiwala ng ating Presidente sa atin, gagawin natin lahat ng ating makakaya para mapagsilbihan ang mamamayang Pilipino,” Lapeña said during Tuesday’s episode of the program “Get It Straight with Daniel Razon.”

During the program, Lapeña also confessed that he was offered with “pasalubong” on his first day taking over as Customs Commissioner. That experience, he said, prompted him to impose the “No Pasalubong, No Tara System” policy within the agency.

In line with the administration’s anti-corruption campaign, the Customs Chief imposed the one-strike policy among Customs personnel, warning them against any involvement in corrupt practices such as smuggling.

Lapeña estimates around 850 customs personnel were already dismissed or transferred to different office under his administration due to illegal acts citing his authority as the Commissioner.

Commissioner Lapeña believes that the reshuffle of personnel hugely contributed to achieving the agency’s monthly target revenue collection.

“The one strike policy, kapag hindi na- hit ang target ng collector, I change him or her at kasama diyan iyong kaniyang staff in the assessment. So iyong kaniyang deputy collector, iyong mga tao niya sa assessment. Pinapalitan ko lahat iyan and it’s working,” he explained.

The record shows that the BOC’s revenue collection in July 2018 surpassed the agency’s monthly target. BOC reached a total collection of P50.139B this second week of July which is P2B pesos higher than the P47.80B pesos revenue in June.

This means that the agency’s campaign against corruption is effectively working.

“For the last 4 months nag- shoot up iyong revenue collection. It is an all-time high in the history of Bureau of Customs,” the Commissioner said. – Aiko Miguel / Marje Pelayo

Duterte urges Congress to expedite creation of agency concerning OFWs

Aileen Cerrudo   •   October 28, 2020

President Rodrigo Duterte

President Rodrigo Duterte urged Congress to expedite the creation of a new agency that will cater to the welfare of the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

“So I proposed in the coming months, and I hope to come up with a Department of Overseas Workers,” he said.

Duterte said the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has so much burden to focus on OFWs.

The President also said the new agency will address the persistent woes encountered by OFWs. There is also a proposal to create another agency for seafarers.

“So iyan ang ano ko sa mga kababayan ko na naghihirap sa labas, (So that is what I can provide for our fellowmen abroad) that there will be a more thorough review in policies for your protection and that somebody should look after you,” he said.

Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go in 2019 filed Senate Bill 202, or the Department of Overseas Filipinos Act of 2019 in support of President Duterte’s advocacy. AAC

Duterte to announce quarantine classifications for November tonight

Aileen Cerrudo   •   October 26, 2020

President Rodrigo Duterte will announce the new quarantine classifications for November on Monday (October 26) evening, according to Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.

“We will proceed with our meeting with him via Zoom at inaasahan pa rin pong magre-report ang ilang miyembro ng Gabinete lalong lalo na dito sa quarantine classifications (and we expect several Cabinet members will also present their report especially for the quarantine classifications),” he said during a press briefing.

Roque also confirmed the technical working group of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) already has a recommendation regarding the quarantine classifications.

The Palace official also confirmed that the President already assigned a vaccine czar two months ago. This was after the proposal of Senate President Pro Tempore Ralp Recto in order to prepare for the needed storage facility and the system for vaccine distribution.

“Two months ago, I recalled si Presidente may tinalagang vaccine czar kaya lang po, iyong naitalagang vaccine czar is hesitant when I asked him if I could remind the public that he has been designated as a vaccine czar kasi baka hindi na raw po maalala ni President. So we would like to wait for the Pesident to make an announcement anew (I recalled, two months ago, the President already assigned a vaccine czar. However, the assigned vaccine czar was hesitant when I asked him if I could remind the public that he has been designated. He said the President may have forgotten already so we would like to wait for the President to make the announcement anew),” Roque said. AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

Russia eyes establishing a pharma facility in PH for COVID-19, Duterte says

Marje Pelayo   •   October 15, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte said Wednesday that Russia is planning to establish a pharmaceutical company in the Philippines for the manufacture of COVID-19 vaccine.

The President said he had a serious discussion on the said plan with outgoing Russian Ambassador to the Philippines Igor Khovaev during the latter’s farewell courtesy call in Malacañang on October 14.

“I just had a talk with the ambassador of Russia, the outgoing, and we had a serious one-on-one talk. He said Russia is coming in. They want to establish here, gagawa sila ng pharmaceutical and vaccine papasok,” the President said.

He reiterated his preference to source the COVID-19 vaccine from either China or Russia once available.

He added that the government has already secured enough budget for the purchase of the initial batch of vaccines, although an additional amount is still needed to cover for the vaccination of the entire Filipino population.

“ I have the money already for the vaccine, but hahanap pa ako ng maraming pera because you know there are 130 million Filipinos and to me ideally, all should have the vaccine without exception,” Duterte said. MNP (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

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