Some brokers at the Bureau of Customs cried foul after being blamed as the ones starting the corruption that’s currently happening in the bureau. This has been after the remarks of President Rodrigo Duterte stating that he wants to remove the accreditation of brokers and examiners from the agency in order to cut the heavy corruption that’s been going around for quite some time.
Accordingly, the brokers stated that they will do all they can to defend the livelihood of their 11,900 members and submitted a proposal to Malacañang to instead focus on the modernization of the bureau’s current systems.
The Chamber of Customs Brokers Inc., in particular, expressed their disappointment after hearing the news that they’re being blamed for the corruption that’s been going around in the BoC for more than a decade already. In fact, they will end up losing everything in the event their license gets revoked when they get in an anomaly.
CCBI president Adones Carmona stated that they will not go down without a fight. He even added that brokers normally go through extensive training just to get their professional licenses. According to him, the government’s crackdown will affect students throughout 85 universities and schools around the country who took Bachelor of Science in Customs Administration.
Meanwhile, Norberto Castillo, president of the Philippine Association of Customs Brokers in Education, stated that the government should instead focus on improving the technology in the bureau if they really are bent on fighting corruption.
He also added that President Duterte just can’t order to remove the brokers because they’re bound by the Customs Brokers Act of 2004.
Asserting their Professionalism
On an interview held last Friday, president Carmona asserted that they are professionals and are not the major source of corruption. He firmly believes that the President is actually referring to fixers, players, and financiers instead of the brokers.
He mentioned that there are those in the Customs who claimed to be brokers such as Taguba. He even added that there are lots of individuals like Taguba who’re doing shady business within the bureau. Mark Taguba was a fixer who allegedly bribed customs officials for the release of the P6.40 billion “shabu” shipment back in 2017.
Carmona insisted that the government’s crackdown on corruption should be focused on fixers as well as their backers since they’re the one bringing corruption in the BoC. As long as those people are caught, then corruption would significantly decrease.
In a news conference held at the Malacañang Palace last Wednesday, President Duterte said that if they really wanted to put an end to the corruption in the Bureau of Customs, then they should start by weeding out the brokers. He claimed that on a scale of 1 to 10, removing the brokers would cut the corruption by about eight or eight and a half.
Carmona implied that they shouldn’t be singled out because corruption is also happening in various other government sectors. He believes that it’s quite unfair since corruption is rampant in other agencies such as the Bureau of Internal Revenue.