FORMER Customs Commissioner Titus Villanueva has proposed that shipments of legitimate importers should be delivered directly from the pier instead of coursing them through Customs for release, a reform that will greatly reduce graft and corruption in that agency.
Villanueva aired his proposal during a media forum attended by members of the Customs community and some members of the media covering Customs at the Jade Vine Hotel and Restaurant along UN Avenue in Ermita.
Villanueva explained that coursing the cargoes through Customs for release makes the cargoes vulnerable to human intervention which is the root cause of graft and corruption at the BoC.
Cargoes of big and accredited importers are presumed to be clear of anomalies and therefore should be delivered directly to them and their duties and taxes to be paid later upon filing of the corresponding import entry.
“After all, legitimate importers would not escape liability if their imports are found defective, but let the cargoes be free first from human intervention which could only be done if shipments are delivered directly to their owners upon arrival at the pier,” Villanueva said.
Villanueva added shipments of big and legitimate importers should no longer pass through Customs for examination and evaluation, he explained.
Only the processing of import entry papers for payment of duties and taxes should pass through BoC, the former Customs commissioner who had the longest experience in Customs operations said.
“Allowing BoC personnel to process import entry papers for release of cargoes as is being done at present gives corrupt BoC personnel the opportunity to cite importers for violations just to delay the release of cargoes, Villanueva said.
“Since delay in release of cargoes is critical to their operations, legitimate importers are forced to succumb to pressures by BoC personnel for bribes,” Villanueva said.
Only the cargoes of unaccredited importers, not the big and legitimate ones, should be submitted to the usual import processing until they become accredited as legitimate and dependable.
It will be recalled that the first major efforts to cleanse the BoC of graft and corruption started when President Marcos, upon imposing martial law, dismissed hundreds of erring and corrupt ‘scalawags’ in the BoC.