No need to split Customs, says Lacson

Trishia Billones, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 17 2017 12:23 PM

MANILA - The proposal to divide the Bureau of Customs into two separate offices will be complicated, said Senator Panfilo Lacson, who asserted that a change in leadership will be enough to solve the corruption problem in the agency.

The House Committee on Ways and Means has recommended emergency powers for President Rodrigo Duterte to reorganize the supposedly corruption-plagued bureau into 2 separate offices, which will be tasked with "(1) protecting and securing the national borders and (2) assessing and collecting duties and taxes."

However, Lacson, chair of the Senate Public Order and Dangerous Drugs Committee, said this change may be unnecessary in the meantime after former police general Isidro Lapeña took over.

"It’s going to be unwieldy. It will make things more complicated because how can they now synchronized their movements?...Parang mahirap yata. it should be well-defined, yung functions, yung delineation," he told ANC's Headstart.

"In the meantime, the change of leadership is enough because Commissioner Lapeña right now I think is in the thick of things and he’s introducing so many reforms," he said.

The Customs bureau has been at the heart of legislative probes at both houses of Congress, and a House panel said former Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon “systematized” corruption within the agency, costing government about P43.8 billion in lost revenues.

The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, for its part, has yet to release its official report but a leaked, unsigned draft report said the committee recommended a lifestyle check on Davao Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte and his brother-in-law Manases Carpio.

Duterte and Carpio were both mentioned by fixer Mark Taguba and Senator Antonio Trillanes IV during the panel's probe into the P6.4 billion shabu shipment that slipped past the Bureau of Customs.

Lacson, who said he found the draft "wanting," said he did not remark on the supposed recommendation of a lifestyle check on the relatives of the President.

"I did not comment on that matter. I only commented on the issues with some top Customs officials," he said.