Even military personnel may fall prey to corruption: Biazon

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 29 2018 09:04 PM | Updated as of Oct 29 2018 09:39 PM

MANILA - Former Customs chief and now Muntinlupa Representative Ruffy Biazon believes changing the personnel in the Bureau of Customs is not enough to curb corruption.

Speaking on ANC, Biazon said even military personnel who will take over Customs employees may fall prey to corruption.

"The personnel themselves who would be assigned there might be influenced as well by the system," he said.

"The problem is not just personalities. The problem is that the environment is conducive to corruption. And there are other stakeholders involved. It's not just Customs personnel. You have traders, you have businessmen who want to cheat on the taxes that they pay, you have brokers who want to earn more than they can legally earn, all benefiting from the corrupt system," Biazon added.

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Although he trusts the judgement of President Rodrigo Duterte in letting the military take over the Bureau of Customs, Biazon said it is important for people to know the details of the "takeover" because it may be a cause of concern for other stakeholders.

"We must see which positions will be taken over by members of the AFP, what functions they will perform, and the time frame of their assignment there," he said.

"We must keep in mind that the mandate of the Bureau of Customs, revenue collection, trade facilitation and border security, have an impact not only on anti-criminality but on trade as well, even the economy," Biazon said.

He, likewise, believes a week of training is not enough for members of the armed forces to efficiently do their job at the Bureau of Customs.

"I don't think a week of training is sufficient... It will be a cause of concern not just for persons like me, but most of all with the stakeholders, the traders, importers, exporters, and we don't have the luxury of time in training these people to do those functions because trade happens every day, and every day delayed in trade can cause money," Biazon said.

Malacañang on Monday said one week may already be enough for soldiers to learn how to run the Bureau of Customs, as critics questioned whether such a takeover is allowed by the Constitution.

President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday said he wants the military to “take over” the Bureau of Customs, days after he appointed Rey Leonardo Guerrero, the country’s former military chief, to the corruption-ridden agency.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo assured the public that there will be no disruption in the services of the bureau, saying it will not take long for the military to learn the ropes in the bureau.