By Raadee Sausa
MANILA — A high-ranking official of the Bureau of Customs believes that corruption will soon be a thing of the past following the implementation of a series of system upgrades in the agency.
Bureau of Customs (BOC) Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero expressed optimism that with the bureau’s move to modernize its facilities and systems, they will be able to eliminate the lingering systemic corruption that has soiled his agency’s reputation for years.
“Corruption will no longer have a place in the bureau,” declared the commissioner after signing a manifesto against corruption as part of the agency’s support to the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) campaign to stamp out corruption.
By signing the manifesto, he reiterated the BOC’s commitment “to cleanse its ranks and weed out unscrupulous individuals from the bureau.”
The bureau’s internal culture change and cleansing initiatives–such as BOC’s enrolment to the Performance Governance System (PGS)–will boost the anti-corruption initiatives of the government, the customs chief reckoned.
The signing of the manifesto was held at the Office of the Commissioner at the Port of Manila.
It was attended by PACC Chairman Greco Antonious Beda Belgica, PACC Executive Director Fortunato Guerrero, and other top BOC officials.
For his part, Belgica said, “this is another version of the ‘tokhang’ wherein PACC is knocking on your sense of nationalism, putting the interest of the nation above self and appealing to your loyalty in your own office.”
“We have no intention to be your prosecutor, we want you to be our partner. The President expects you to cleanse your own ranks. If you fail this expectation, the PACC will do the job for you,” he stressed.
Belgica said the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), and the BOC will be prioritized in their investigations amid the Duterte administration’s fight against corruption.
“If you get into corruption this time, pasensiyahan po tayo [please don’t blame us],” he warned government officials.
In December, President Rodrigo Duterte read a list submitted by the PACC of nine alleged corrupt incumbent and former House lawmakers and DPWH district engineers, even if the commission admitted it had “no hard evidence” against them. Duterte also ordered the immediate relief of 14 DPWH district engineers.
In 2020, the Department of Justice named the BOC and the BIR as “corruption-prone agencies” along with the DPWH, Bureau of Immigration (BI), and Land Registration Authority (LRA). (AI)