Thwarting shabu smuggling

"Is there a system that can eradicate the entry of illegal drugs? "


I find it weird that some senatorial candidates identified with the militant Left are condemning the deployment of military personnel at the Bureau of Customs to aid newly-appointed Commissioner, retired General Rey Leonardo Guerrero in the fight against smuggling, particularly that of illegal drugs. They describe it as the militarization of the BOC.

First, while Guerrero may have come from the ranks of the military, he is now retired, effectively bringing him back to civilian ranks. Second, while military personnel have been called to aid him, it is still he, Guerrero, a civilian, who will be calling the shots at the BOC.

Infuriated by rampant corruption that enabled P11 billion of the illegal drugs to slip through, President Rodrigo Duterte last week ordered the “military takeover” of the BOC.

Malacañang, however, has since clarified that soldiers would merely be deployed to the country’s ports to help deter crooked BOC officials and employees.

But what I find really odd is that while these candidates identified with the Left and running under the banner of the opposition are so paranoid with regard to former members of the military (I would have to reiterate, now civilian) taking over some government posts, they do not in any way condemn the program of the underground Left, which is currently waging an armed revolution against the State. History would tell us that in all countries where the Left had successfully staged an armed revolution, the governments installed were all heavily-militarized. 

So, why apply a different set of tenets for those situations? The proliferation of illegal drugs, I believe, is the most evil thing that ever happened to civilized world. It should be stopped at all costs.

And we should entertain all proposals which could help eradicate illegal drugs.

This is just like the proposal of Senior Minority Leader, Buhay Representative Lito Atienza who is urging President Rodrigo Duterte to order the compulsory pre-shipment inspection of all “containerized imports” to thwart the large-scale smuggling of illegal drugs through the Port of Manila.

Atienza notes that the President is in a position to administratively direct the mandatory PSI at the country of origin of all containerized cargoes destined for the Philippines.

And this, according to the congressman, is not entirely new as the BOC already requires all “bulk and break-bulk imports” to undergo PSI.

Hence, Atienza says containerized imports can also be required to go through PSI.

The solon says that all of the estimated P21 billion worth of methamphetamine or shabu smuggled through the Port of Manila in three batches between May 2017 and July 2018 arrived in 20-foot shipping containers from China, Malaysia and Taiwan.

PSI is the practice used by governments, mostly in developing countries, of requiring importers to engage accredited third-party surveyors to verify shipment details, such as the price, quantity and quality of goods, before cargoes depart the exporting country.

PSI is used to prevent the undervaluation of taxable imports and to compensate for the inadequacies in the importing country’s customs and other administrative structures, according to the World Trade Organization.

Atienza said PSI would also put an end to chronic corruption at the BOC that costs the National Treasury tens of billions of pesos in lost import taxes every year.

Of course, there are some quarters within the BOC who are opposed to the PSI. Atienza describes them as those engaged in smuggling as well as rotten officials within the agency.

And not only could it help combat the entry of illegal drugs. Atienza also estimates that the BOC could easily increase its annual collection of import taxes by 50 percent, or by P350 billion, once PSI is in place for containerized cargoes, more than P662 billion the Cabinet-level Development Budget Coordination Committee expects the BOC to collect in 2019.

It would be welcome news for the BOC to increase its collection by another 50 percent. But what is deemed more important is to place a system that would totally eradicate the scourge of illegal drugs.

Topics: Charlie V. Manalo , shabu smuggling , Bureau of Customs , Rey Leonardo Guerrero , illegal drugs
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