TEN out of the 16 district port collectors were cited by the Bureau of Customs (BOC) Monday for exceeding their collection targets in 2009.

During celebration of the bureau’s 108th anniversary, Customs Commissioner Napoleon Morales identified the top revenue earners of the past year as the ports of Legaspi, Zamboanga, Tacloban, Iloilo, Aparri, Clark, Davao, Subic, Cebu, and the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia).

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Of the five major ports, Naia, posted the biggest surplus with P166 million for collecting P17.811 billion, surpassing its supposed target of P17.645 billion last year.

The Port of Manila (POM), Port of Batangas, and the Manila International Container Port (MICP), were also recognized for consistently collecting more than its target since 2006 when Morales took the position as BOC chief.

Among the guests of honor of the event are House Speaker Prospero Nograles and Finance Secretary Margarito Teves.

Morales in his speech admitted that the past year the most trying year for the BOC.

“I take back what I said last year that 2008 was the most trying year for us. It was not. It is 2009 undeniably,” he said.

Morales explained that the shortfall in the revenue collection, negative P59 billion or 19 percent lower of its target P279 billion was due to the drop in oil imports, as well as non-dutiable imports, among others.

“Analysis of our collections against target show despite revenue gains from higher foreign exchange rate, higher tariff rate and lower deferred payments which totaled some 19 billion pesos revenue impact, we were not able to complete offset the nearly 73 billion revenue loss due to un-materialized economic assumptions,” he noted.

Meanwhile, the Speaker thanked the bureau for doing what it is mandated to do.

“The purse is only as powerful as the amount of money inside it; but, the one who toils everyday to ascertain that the purse is not empty is as important as the person who decides how it is spent. Kasing halaga nung taong gumagawa ng pera yung taong nagsasabi kung paano ito gagamitin. Indeed, if there are no revenues, Congress’ power of the purse is meaningless. It is not unlike a man who carries an empty wallet to a mall wide sale,” Nograles said.

He added: “It is for this reason that I do not come here and greet you on your anniversary from an exalted position. I am aware of the mandate given to your agency to ensure that we have real finances to talk of. Your daily grind, your 24-hour mantra ‘to hit targets,’ the difficult task of maintaining the nation’s lifeblood—all these responsibilities constrain me to offer the highest respect for the Bureau and its personnel.” (FP/Sunnex)