Duterte wants brokers, examiners removed from PH Customs

Robie de Guzman   •   September 11, 2019   •   764

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte is looking to remove brokers and examiners from the Bureau of Customs (BOC) to significantly reduce corruption within the agency.

“Ang gusto ko wala nang brokers, pag may brokers, may corruption talaga yan,” Duterte told reporters on Tuesday night in Malacañang.

The president believes that if brokers and examiners are eliminated from the system, the persistent corruption in the BOC would be addressed.

“Kung gusto nilang walang corruption, tanggalin natin yung mga ano gross, wala nang examiners, sa Customs, wala ng brokers,” he said.

The Chief Executive suggested that instead of brokers, the BOC may be allowed to accredit or designate individuals or companies to arrange their shipment.

“Ang kumpanya may accreditation lang sila, sila na mismo ang magtrabaho duon,” he said.

Duterte has been lamenting the corruption in the BOC, prompting him to order a revamp and make agency leadership changes. So far, the president has appointed three BOC chiefs – first was Nicanor Faeldon, followed by Isidro Lapeña and then current chief Rey Leonado Guerrero.

The president said he would not wait for Congress to pass a law eliminating transactions with brokers.

“There are things which I have to do that Congress cannot tinker with. Those are one of them because that is to save the country from perdition,” he said.

Duterte, however, said this was just his proposal and urged BOC employees to ignore” brokers they dealt with before.

“You ignore the brokers. You go to a broker, I will not deal with you,” he said.

Following Duterte’s proposal, BOC executives met on Wednesday to discuss the drafting of a new system which will eliminate the use of brokers in the processing of shipments in the port area.

“We have been putting up (a system) right now and the initiatives along this line. We hope that it will lessen the transaction that is being done specifically that with the brokers,” said Bien Datuin of BOC Public Information and Assistance Division (PIAD). RRD (with details from Correspondent Aiko Miguel)

119 smuggled live tarantulas seized at NAIA – BOC

Robie de Guzman   •   October 30, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Operatives of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) have prevented another attempt of illegal wildlife trade by intercepting 119 live tarantulas this week.

The BOC on Friday said the live tarantulas were found concealed inside rubber shoes in DHL warehouse last Oct. 28.

The parcel, declared as “buty” — a Polish word for shoes— was shipped by a certain “Michal Krolicki” from Poland to a consignee in General Trias, Cavite.

“Through the vigilance of Customs operatives and examiners, the package yielded suspicious images, and was subjected to physical examination,” the BOC said in a statement.

Customs examiners uncovered different species of live tarantulas in individual plastic vials.

The seized tarantulas were immediately turned over to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources Wildlife Traffic Monitoring Unit (DENR WTMU) on October 29 for proper handling and disposal, the bureau said.

This is not the first time that the BOC intercepted smuggled wildlife species in NAIA.

In 2019, Customs NAIA intercepted 757 live tarantulas concealed inside oatmeal and cookie boxes and 87 live spiders inside white plastic canisters, both exported from Poland.

Tarantulas are classified as endangered wildlife species, and illegal wildlife trading is penalized with imprisonment of six months and one day to one year and a fine of P10,000 to P200,000 pursuant to Republic Act (RA) No. 9147 or the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act; while unlawful importation is penalized with not less than 30 days and one day but not more than six months or a fine of not less than P25,000 but not more than P75,000, or both, if the appraised value of goods unlawfully imported, including duties and taxes, does not exceed Php250,000.00 under Section 1401 of RA 10863 or the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act.

The BOC-NAIA assured that despite the pandemic, it will sustain collective effort to protect the country’s premier airport against all fraudulent attempts to import and/or export endangered wildlife species, aside from dangerous drugs and other high risk and dangerous contrabands that pose threat to national security and public health.

Roque to ask Duterte on possibility of voluntarily disclosing SALN

Robie de Guzman   •   October 29, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Thursday said he will ask President Rodrigo Duterte if he is willing to voluntarily release his statement of assets, liabilities, and net worth (SALN) following the strict rules imposed by the Ombudsman on the access to the wealth declaration of officials.

Roque said the president’s office is just following the guidelines issued by the Ombudsman.

“Mag-uusap po kami ng ating president at para matapos na po itong issue na ito, ay tatanungin ko po baka naman po magbigay ng permiso ang president para isapubliko ang kaniyang SALN,” he said.

The Ombudsman recently issued a memorandum circular restricting access to the SALN of public officials.

The circular states that a copy of a public official’s SALN may only be released if the requestor is an authorized representative of the declarant or the person who filed the document; if there is a court order in relation to a pending case, and if the request is made by the Ombudsman’s field investigation units.

Prior to the issuance of the circular, Roque said Duterte had released his SALN yearly.

“Wala pong itinatago ang ating president, bago po maglabas ng ganitong guidelines ang Ombdusman, taon-taon naman po inilalabas ng president ang kaniyang SALN,” he said.

The question of whether Duterte will voluntarily publicize his own net worth resurfaced after the 2019 SALN of 24 senators were released by the Senate on Thursday. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)



Proposed order for price cap on COVID-19 tests awaiting Duterte decision – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   October 29, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – A proposed executive order that will impose a price cap on coronavirus disease (COVID-19) tests is now awaiting the signature of President Rodrigo Duterte, Malacañang said Thursday.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the Department of Health’s (DOH) Technical Working Group (TWG) submitted the proposal after completing its review on the recommended price cap.

Roque refused to divulge the recommended price ceiling on coronavirus testing in private hospitals and laboratories but he expressed optimism that the president will approve the proposal.

“Hintayin po muna natin ang desisyon ng president. Why is that? Kasi yung iba naman, napakataas ng sinisingil, alam naman natin, pwedeng mas mura yang testing na yan,” he said in a televised briefing.

Roque said the proposal seeks to make COVID-19 testing affordable and could help boost the government’s contact tracing and mass testing efforts.

“Para mas maging affordable ang testing sa ating mga kababayan ng sa gayong paraan ay mas maraming matetesting,” he said.

The DOH earlier recommended the placing of a price ceiling after observing differences in the COVID-19 testing cost in various laboratories and hospitals in the country. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

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