Villanueva: Simple bodycams of Customs personnel may help curb agri products smuggling, save farm jobs

Villanueva: Simple bodycams of Customs personnel may help curb agri products smuggling, save farm jobs

by Ernie Reyes

MANILA – An affordable and available gadget could save Filipino jobs lost to reported rampant smuggling of agricultural products, Senator Joel Villanueva, chair of the Senate labor and employment committee, said.

Taking the lead from the police, Bureau of Customs personnel should start wearing body cameras during raids and inspections on imported food shipment, Villanueva said.

“If there is video recording of Customs procedures, it can protect local farmers from unfair trade practices,” he said.

“Yung mga pulis nga na nanghuhuli ng mandurukot na tumangay ng isang cellphone, may body cam. Dapat ganun rin po ang Customs police na magbubukas ng container van na puno ng bawang, sibuyas, karne ng baboy, at iba pang mga produkto na kadalasang pinupuslit ng mga smuggler,” Villanueva said.

Villanueva said “downloadable footage of an apprehension will aid in the prosecution of smugglers.”

“And because an officer will not be recording his own misdeeds, the body cam is a deterrent to unethical practices,” he said.

“It is an anti-bribery device. Kung may ipapalusot ka, at nakita mong may bodycam ang nag-iinspeksyon ng kargamento mo, madali pong mababawasan ang mga magtatangkang manuhol,” Villanueva added.

Funds needed to equip Customs personnel with bodycams is a drop in the bucket of the taxes and duties it collects, he said.

Aside from body cams, Villanueva surmised that these gadgets could also be complemented by “hulicams” such as dashcams mounted on BOC vehicles. These cameras could be linked as part of an elaborate CCTV network, “in which every van movement in every port can be monitored by the Customs Commissioner from his office,” he explained.

“Yung mga naghahatid nga ng pizza, may dash cam. Yung bakery sa kanto, may CCTV. Tapos ang Bureau of Customs, wala?” Villanueva said.

He said these are available and affordable technology and gadgets. “BOC cannot plead poverty of knowhow and funds as an excuse in not buying them.”

“Dapat isama na po sa procurement budget ng mga ‘yan sa annual budget nila,” he said.

“There should be a digital receipt from stationary and portable cameras. Pag binuksan ang isang van, dapat nakasuot po ng body cam ang mga tauhan na gagawa ng inspection,” he said.

After years of delay, the PNP had started mounting body cams on personnel serving court warrants and those conducting arrest and seizure operations. (ai/mtvn)

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