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BOC workers slam corrupt tag

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MANILA - More than 3,000 employees of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) wore black armbands yesterday to protest allegations of corruption in their ranks.

 

The BOC Employees Association (BOCEA) called a press conference yesterday to express disgust over the accusations of corruption in the bureau.

BOCEA president Romulo Pagulayan said President Aquino’s condemnation of the BOC, the National Irrigation Administration and Bureau of Immigration was “very disgraceful and humiliating to these agencies.”

The sweeping generalization affects and demoralizes all officers and employees of the BOC. This is in complete disregard of their right to dignity and due process as provided for in our Philippine Constitution.”

Vincent Villanueva of the BOCEA read another statement of their organization reaffirming its commitment to cooperate with the administration.

“We are part of your team, Mr. President, along with your political appointees,” read the statement.

 “We have done our share in making your appointees look good. Yet the employees, the rank and file have for the last few months been the political punching bag by those who have misinformed you because of their greed...

“As government officers, no matter what rank we have... we are co-owners of our agency and we are bound to protect the interest of the government and the principles of the men and women who have strived hard to do things right and make things right.”

Villanueva said the country has about 600 entry points, with about five private wharfs and ports.

“The outports that should have been controlled solely by BOC are controlled by politicians who belong to oligarchs who can manipulate designations of port collectors,” he said.

The BOC does not have any ship or boat that could help it in it the conduct of patrol, Villanueva said.

The BOCEA said Customs personnel have long been made the “whipping boy” of politicians, such that their accomplishments have been left in the shadow of accusations of corruption.

“Even if Customs personnel have apprehended million worth of these products of illicit trade and environment crimes, nothing seems enough,” read the statement.

“Even if we’ve been able to slam the statistics of our accomplishments in the faces of these politicians, they will not be recognized as newsworthy because for these people, positive things are not controversial that would make them more controversially ‘pogi’ in the eyes of the public.

“Some politicians are even the ones that hamper the development at the bureau by not passing the Customs and Tariff Modernization Act (CTMA) which has been drafted since year 2006. It (CTMA) has been lobbied several times only to be ignored by politicians who have vested interests making BOC a money milking agency.”

The BOCEA said employees are also hurting from allegations that the government has lost P200 billion due to corruption.

“Statistics with no basis have been slapped on our faces by those influential persons who are close to the speechwriters of the President,” read the statement.

The BOCEA said the BOC has difficulty meeting revenue targets because international free trade agreements have led to the decrease in the rates of imported goods.

The 5,000 tariff articles’ rates ranging between 20-30 percent in the 1990s have dropped to an average of zero to seven percent, BOCEA added.

BOCEA legal officer Antonio Bonifacio said they are also pushing for the repeal of Executive Order 47 broadening the powers of the secretary of finance over the BOC issued during the Estrada administration. (The Philippine Star)

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