President Rodrigo Duterte has proposed eliminating brokers and examiners from the Bureau of Customs to curb the rampant corruption in the agency.
“I want no brokers, Duterte told reporters Tuesday night.
“If there are brokers, there is corruption. Now, tell the Filipinos, if they really want to get rid of corruption, let’s remove them. No examiner in Customs, no brokers.”
But a group of customs brokers on Wednesday opposed his plan, saying the move would be detrimental both to the customs profession and the government.
And an official of the Chamber of Customs Brokers Inc. said removing brokers at the bureau would only cause confusion and disorder, adding ‘‘how can an ordinary person correctly assess and compute the right tax on imports as accurately as a trained licensed customs broker?’’
Meanwhile, a Customs examiner assigned at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport has been relieved for his alleged involvement in the extortion of a Korean national last week.
Lawyer Lourdes Mangaoang, NAIA Customs deputy collector for Passenger Service, said Customs Operations Officer 3 Carmelito Mantal was the subject of a complaint filed by Korean passenger Lee Sungchui who arrived at the NAIA Terminal 3 onboard Cebu Pacific Air flight 5J-5057 from Japan on Sept. 1.
Duterte said eliminating brokers from the Customs system would ‘‘cut corruption overnight.’’
Asked if he needed a law to remove brokers from the bureau, Duterte said this was unnecessary.
“I am the executive of this government. There are things which I have to do that Congress cannot tinker with. Those are one of them because that is to save the country from perdition, he said.
But Duterte later said this was just a proposal as he urged Customs not to transact with people who deal with brokers.
“You ignore the brokers. You go to a broker, I will not deal with you, the President said.
He recently fired 64 Customs employees over allegations of corruption and asked them to report in Malacañang.
Duterte has so far appointed three Customs chiefs: Nicanor Faeldon, Isidro Lapeña, and current chief Rey Leonardo Guerrero.
His administration has been criticized for the billions of pesos worth of shabu that slipped through the ports in 2017, which led to the resignation of Faeldon.
Duterte also proposed that computing the tax dues should be based on gross income and not net income.
He said this would simplify matters and make it harder to get away with corruption or the muddling of figures. With Vito Barcelo and Joel E. Zurbano