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Customs cleansing

By: Robert B. Roque, Jr.

Corruption abounds in several government offices in spite of President Duterte’s efforts to rid the system of dishonest employees.

A clear example here is the Bureau of Customs (BoC), currently in the limelight for the controversial shabu shipment worth R6.4 billion from China that landed inside a warehouse in Valenzuela City.

Since last week, lawmakers have been probing BoC officials led by Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon. A lot of people believe he should have resigned over the controversy but the President says he still trusts the Customs commissioner.

In Japan, officials and executives involved in controversial issues that brought shame to them would take their own life, perhaps or perhaps not in the traditional way of slicing their bellies with a small knife or a small katana (samurai sword) in a ritual suicide known as harakiri.

Here in the Philippines, some officials linked to corruption even have the gall to smile for photographers and wave to people like movie stars.

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Several questions cropped up in the manner the warehouse in Paseo de Blas, Valenzuela was raided by a combined force from the BoC and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

A report said they were not even armed with any search warrant. Why did they not coordinate with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), which should have been the primary group to enter the warehouse and properly process the illegal drugs inside? PDEA was called upon hours after the raid.

A case could not be filed against the Chinese caretaker of the warehouse specifically due to these technicalities that the BoC missed out on.

During last Monday’s hearing at the House of Representatives, Mark Ruben Taguba II, the broker for the shabu shipment, named seven Customs officials and several others for allegedly accepting bribes in exchange for allowing contrabands to pass through inspections without a hitch. The broker said he dished out P37,000 weekly to these corrupt Customs boys.

Everybody is aware that corruption continues to thrive at the BoC for years. But this is the first time that a witness showed enough courage to name the officials involved in the irregularity. Our lawmakers are also informed on the breakdown of the grease money that these officials are receiving.

Firing Line understands that this information still needs to be proven. But let’s admit that Taguba’s revelation is a giant step towards the cleansing or purging badly needed at the bureau.

The President should act and heads should roll.

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