"Customs administration is also about facilitating commerce and helping the economy grow."
Three commissioners in a span of two and a half years is indicative of something that needs to be done with the Bureau of Customs other than changing the head of agency.
Maybe it’s time to seriously consider better and more effective systems as an antidote to all forms of smuggling. Customs administration, after all is not just about increasing revenues from imports, or apprehending smugglers and confiscating contraband. It’s also about facilitating commerce and helping the economy grow.
When vital raw materials and supplies are held up at Customs, business efficiency suffers. When manufactures are not delivered to their buyers on time because supplies needed to complete the manufacturing process are delayed, the economy loses much.
During the last years of the Cory administration, BoC entered into a pre-inspection contract with Societe Generale de Surveillance, a Swiss firm. This was implemented effectively during the succeeding Ramos government, but was scuttled by the Erap administration. Succeeding administrations have not revived pre-inspection.
If shipments imported into the Philippines are pre-inspected at origin, the chances of contraband slipping into the country are minimized. This would mean faster customs clearance and less opportunity for under-the-table arrangements between shippers and their brokers and corrupt customs personnel.
If a reputable company like SGS did the pre-inspection of the shipments of NFA rice from Vietnam or Thailand recently, there would likely have been no “bukbok” infestation in the imported rice, because they would have strictly enforced the terms of reference in the import contracts regarding the “age” of the shipped rice, and the pre-fumigation requirements thereto.
Maybe the new Customs commissioner should look at more effective systems other than just changing officials in the agency with a new set of military men.
Besides, the agency should have a list of reputable importers who have been clean through the years of their operation. Thus, examiners could just zero in on the more dubious and the less-known importers and their brokers. Apart from pre-inspection services, intelligence gathering and importer surveillance should help.
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For the longest time, we have been complaining about the duopoly in telcos and the lousy service it has been giving us. Thus, consumers are putting their hopes on a third telco that would break the duopoly’s practices and improve service considerably.
We have to congratulate Acting DICT Secretary Eliseo Rio Jr. for conducting the process of selecting a third telco with utmost transparency and a sense of urgency despite his not being designated as a permanent secretary.
But now that the DICT and NTC have bid out the license for a third telco to compete with the long-established Smart and Globe, everyone and his mother is throwing brickbats at the declared winner. Simply because Dennis Uy is from Davao, some charge that Malacañang pulled strings.
Simply because he partnered with China Telecoms, security issues are brought up. Conveniently, the critics and carpers do not tell the public that one telco is controlled by an Indonesian conglomerate once connected to the Suharto regime which fell under the weight of legendary corruption. Or that the other telco lording it over the country’s telecommunications business has another foreign entity, SingTel, as partner.
Just because the partner this time is Chinese, we throw in so many red flags.
Come on, do we want to break the duopoly or not?
Do we want faster Internet service or not?
Do we want our connectivity to each other and the rest of the world to be quick or not, with no blind spots?
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We have had several visitors in the past few weeks here in Taiwan. There was Rep. Lito Atienza and his wife Beng, along with members of his congressional staff. My tukayo and I reminisced about the days when I was a consultant in his office as mayor of the City of Manila.
There was former DTI and Finance Secretary Titoy Pardo and his family, who went to Taipei to attend a conference with the Seven-Eleven Group, their long-time partners in the Philippine operations. Titoy and I were together in the cabinet of President Joseph Estrada.
And last week, guess who blew into town?
Former PNP director-general and former Bureau of Corrections chief Ronald “Bato” de la Rosa and his wife, who were invited by his friends in the Taiwan police force.
Bato also met leaders of the Filipino community in Taiwan and visited the Taoyuan factory of I-Mei Food Products, where he was serenaded by workers who sang “Pusong Bato.” The former PNP chief gamely joined them in singing his signature song.
I have to commend Gen. De la Rosa’s handlers for a very catchy slogan: “Sagot ko kayo! Itaga niyo sa Bato!” which was emblazoned in a polo shirt which he gladly handed as a souvenir to some of us in Meco and the Taiwan police officials. The latter hosted a dinner for their visiting former counterpart who is now running for senator.
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Once again, BOC was able to foil the smuggling in of containers loaded with trash, this time from South Korea. Years ago, someone imported several containers filled with toxic hospital waste from Canada.
My unsolicited advice to the new BOC commissioner Guerrero: Have the PNP arrest the president of the importing company, and ship him out of the country inside the containers loaded with trash, back to South Korea.