Customs bureau woes-A A +A
Friday, March 8, 2013
LET us not kid ourselves. The Bureau of Customs (BOC) is one of the money centers of our government. Whether we like it or not, people who are familiar with the function and work in the bureau would know how to make some money from it. And, of course, how to manipulate the process to make the money.
Not many weeks ago, there was a case in the BOC that made me recall that it has never changed since a Manila friend asked my help in a fertilizer case.
It was a case that happened many years back. My friend had a shipment of feeds for his fish pond. But when it arrived at the Cebu port, the unloading and delivery was somehow delayed so that he was forced to convert its use to fertilizer.
To have it released as such, it cost my friend some P100,000. I recall that my friend had to deposit the amount in a Manila bank account because the Customs man was in Manila and asked that it be done that way.
That was my introduction to the ways of the BOC. But to those I have been in contact with in the Cebu BOC, including the media group that covered the bureau then, it occurred to me that it was a normal situation, and that one who has become part of the bureau’s milieu would not be surprised about how things are done there.
Indeed, they do not talk about it, and no one asks questions. As far as I am concerned, the bureau is a public organism living by itself.
The recent case that merited a headline tells of seized rice, guns, and bags in the Cebu BOC. The five-column front page head reads thus: “P116M in hot stuff.” The five-column subhead said: “Bureau finds P10M worth of smuggled rice, plus P5M sugar cargo.”
I remember that several weeks ago, I also wrote about misdeclared commodities brought in and passed off by the BOC, but were eventually cleared. I cannot recall now what actually happened to the case, but the local collector was on top of it.
The point I would like to bring out here is my belief that in Cebu--and of course, in Manila when I was still with the Manila Times--chicanery has become of the bureau’s culture. And since it has become the bureau’s culture, it is difficult to change, much less, cure.
I feel that regardless of how well-intentioned and motivated some BOC lower echelon officials are all over the country, eventually, they will be contaminated, and thus succumb to the innate culture of the agency.
Don’t ask me what we ought to do.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 08, 2013.