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Saturday, May 18, 2024

Anti-corruption body declared redundant

“While Malacañang has seen it fit to abolish an agency tasked to run after the corrupt in the bureaucracy but very little to show for it, it seems that the scourge of corruption still runs rampant even with the advent of a new administration”

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Last week, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. issued his first executive order abolishing the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission along with the Office of the Cabinet Secretary to achieve “simplicity, economy, and efficiency” in the bureaucracy.

In signing the EO, Marcos said the administration wanted to achieve “a comprehensive and meaningful recovery through a just allocation of resources and a simplified internal management and governance of the Office of the President and its immediate offices and common staff support system.”

Under the EO, the jurisdiction, powers, and functions of the PACC will be transferred to the Office of the Deputy Executive Secretary for Legal Affairs.

This office has been tasked to promulgate new rules of procedure in administrative cases under its jurisdiction, but existing rules promulgated by the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission shall remain in force unless otherwise repealed or amended.

The PACC, created under Executive Order 43 on Oct. 4, 2017, was the lead agency mandated to eliminate all forms of corruption in the Executive Department in close coordination with various government agencies.

The agency investigated and gathered evidence against public officials accused of corruption for referral to the Ombudsman. It conducted fact-finding investigations of cases, conducted lifestyle checks on government employees, and created special investigating panels to curb corruption within the government.

The abolition of the PACC, according to Tony La Viña, a former dean of the Ateneo School of Government and a fellow columnist in this paper, is a good decision by the president as there are multiple ways to make erring public officials accountable anyway.

“It’s really a superfluous office…There’s really no need for a Presidential Anti-Graft and Corruption office because that can be done by the Office of the Executive Secretary, they can immediately investigate,” he said. “It’s much faster that way without a commission.”

And here’s the clincher: “I can’t remember a single high presidential official that the PACC got rid of. I’m sure there must be but it just skipped my mind. That tells you it has been a superfluous office…this is not a necessary office, pang-drama lang siya (it’s only there for drama) to be honest.”

We agree completely.

But corruption at the waterfront continues

While Malacañang has seen it fit to abolish an agency tasked to run after the corrupt in the bureaucracy but very little to show for it, it seems that the scourge of corruption still runs rampant even with the advent of a new administration.

Informed sources tell us, for instance, that two officials of the Bureau of Customs who come from influential families are raking in grease money through the so-called “tara” system that deprives the government of revenues that should go to the national treasury and used for infrastrucure and social services such as education and health but end up in private pockets.

It appears there’s no way the Dynamic Duo can do any wrong when it comes to thinking of clever moves to make more money, insiders claim. They are reportedly behind the harassment of traders and brokers of cargoes arriving at the pier purportedly to force them to pay the “tara” if they want to expedite the release of their cargoes.

The modus operandi of the two Customs officials involves withholding or delaying the release of cargoes.

As a consequence, the traders and brokers will pay demurrage and storage fees with the shipping lines and at the port. In order to avoid the delay in the exit, they will be forced to pass through these two officials, but instead of facilitating the immediate release of the cargoes, the two will require the traders and brokers to produce more documents.

To expedite the release of the cargoes, the traders have no other choice but to pay the “tara.” Hundreds of thousands of pesos per week are reportedly raised by these two officials.

Despite the volume of complaints, the said BOC officials cannot be transferred or punished because they are said to be very influential and have connections in high places.

It was learned that the two BOC officials are asking their relatives to strongly lobby for their promotion to better and lucrative positions so that they can pocket more grease money through the “tara” system.

Can the new administration be able to stop these two corrupt Customs officials from committing more mischief at the port, and continue to torment and fleece traders and brokers so they fatten their pocketbooks even more? Abangan.

(Email: ernhil@yahoo.com)

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