Featured Image courtesy of the Philippine Star
I HAVE COVERED the Bureau of Customs in 1985, during the height of the protest movement against the 20-year regime of President Ferdinand Edralin Marcos Sr.
Although martial law had been lifted on paper only, there were no overbearing guards at the BOC gates in Port Area, Manila.
And to think that the elitist opposition and the radical Left, including the Catholic church, some Christian congregations, and Muslim groups, tagged the first Marcos administration as corrupt, repressive, and dictatorial.
The press was muzzled then except for a few newspapers like Malaya that assigned me to gather news from the BOC.
But I never noticed any tinge of paranoia while inside the premises of BOC then and my favorite source of news was the Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service (CIIS) under Guillermo Parayno.
Good things don’t last forever, so they say, and the BOC was badly maligned during the six-year administration of President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III.
When the tough guy Rodrigo Roa Duterte became the country’s Chief Executive, for six years he had been appointing military men at the helm of BOC.
This was the beginning of the “militarization” of the BOC.
But in fairness, during the time of Commissioner Nick Faeldon and Commissioner Sid Lapena, there was still an air of freedom at the BOC.
It was only during the time of Commissioner Jagger Guerrero that the Port of Manila (POM) and the Manila International Container Port (MICP) became like reclusive North Korea.
Now that Bienvenido Y. Rubio, an insider who rose from the ranks, was named by PBBM as the BOC top honcho, many are hoping that the proverbial barricades at the BOC gates will be finally dismantled to give flesh to genuine trade facilitation.
On the other hand, several men and women in Customs are now crossing their fingers that Rubio will do a BM.
BM or Boy Morales is best remembered as the last BOC Commissioner who implemented — 12 years ago — the Lateral Attrition Law (LAL) that benefitted many employees in the country’s primary revenue-generating agency. (Amado Inigo/MTVN)