Full automation of Customs operations, throwing the book at erring personnel minus double standards, and leadership by example.
This is the three-pronged solution needed to finally stop the persistent problem of agricultural smuggling as well as corruption in all agencies of government, Sen. Panfilo “Ping” M. Lacson said Wednesday.
“First, it is time to fully automate our Customs operations just like most, if not all, of our trading partner countries. Everything, from the filing of application for accreditation all the way to payment of taxes and duties, should be done online. This will eliminate human intervention every step of the way. Tingnan ko na lang kung makapang-kurakot pa ang mga tiwaling kawani nila (Let’s see if corrupt personnel can still engage in corruption),” Lacson said.
Second, Lacson said, is to throw the book at erring personnel by applying only one standard in dealing with such scalawags.
But the third and most important measure is to practice leadership by example – a trait Lacson practiced during his careers both in law enforcement and lawmaking.
“This applies to all agencies of government, by the way,” Lacson said of the three-pronged solution, which he will strictly implement should he win the presidential election in May 2022.
On Tuesday, Lacson scored the persistence of agricultural smuggling, despite three laws having been passed to stop it.
He also questioned why the Bureau of Customs, during the Senate’s hearing on the matter on Tuesday, reported filing only 75 cases, in spite of reporting to have intercepted/raided hundreds of smuggling activities in their anti-smuggling operations.
“Wala pang nakukulong (And up to now, no one has gone to jail for agricultural smuggling),” Lacson said in an interview on Radyo 5.
“Importante na mag-automate tayo. May batas tayo, ang Customs Modernization and Tariff Act. Computerized tayo pero ayaw mag-automate (We have to automate our systems. We have the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act. But while our systems are computerized, we do not seem to want to undergo automation),” he added.
On the other hand, Lacson said the right person should be appointed for the post. He cited the case of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth), which is a health insurance agency that should be headed by one with knowledge of finance matters – yet whose ex-officio chairman is a doctor.
“Sa skills matching, may diperensya tayo kung sino ang ina-appoint. Hindi tugma ang position sa skills (We have a problem with skills matching. The appointees’ skills don’t match with the requirements of the job),” Lacson said.
In the meantime, Lacson said the Bureau of Customs should use its intelligence funds to unmask the violators of the laws against agricultural smuggling. He also vowed no letup in investigating the problem. “Institutional and organizational ang problema (The problem is institutional and organizational),” he said.