Institutional changes

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As of yesterday afternoon, there was still no word from Malacañang on whether President Aquino had accepted the resignation of Danilo Lim as deputy commissioner for intelligence of the Bureau of Customs.

 

The offer came on the heels of a similar offer that Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon sent by text to the President shortly after he lambasted the BOC in his State of the Nation Address last Monday.

Yesterday another BOC official, Deputy Commissioner for internal administration Juan Lorenzo Tañada, also announced that he had texted his resignation to Biazon. All the offers are not irrevocable, and are reportedly meant to give the President a free hand if he wanted to reorganize the bureau.

Lim, a chronic coup plotter until he decided to join the government, should blow the whistle on anyone requesting for favors from the BOC that would violate the law. That a self-styled reformist is giving up on the bureau indicates the difficulty of eradicating the culture of corruption in an agency that is perceived to be among the most graft-ridden.

Similar problems exist, in varying degrees, in many other government offices. Unless communication is intercepted and recorded, money received as payoff marked, or someone is willing to go on record to denounce corruption, it is difficult to pin down anyone demanding a commission or “facilitation fee” from those doing business with the government.

The President, in his SONA, acknowledged that corruption continues under his watch, and he vowed to go after those involved. He should make good on his threat, and ensure that all probes will be credible and undertaken by independent bodies. Anyone who shows prejudgment of a complaint should be taken out of an investigation ASAP.

Apart from catching crooks under his watch, the President must instruct all agencies to implement changes in their systems and processes to plug opportunities for corruption. Procurement and bidding rules must be simplified and transparency built into the process to prevent collusion among bidders and the design of requirements to favor a particular bidder. Concerns have been raised that reforms initiated under the current administration may not be sustained. This possibility can be prevented if the changes are institutionalized, built into the system and difficult for individual officials to reverse.  (The Philippine Star)