MANILA— The Bureau of Customs said Thursday it welcomes the justice department's move to prioritize the agency in its investigation of alleged corruption following President Rodrigo Duterte's order.
The bureau is among 5 state agencies that would likely face probe by a task force headed by the Department of Justice, its chief Secretary Menardo Guevarra earlier said.
The bureau, tagged in earlier corruption controversies, had launched an anti-corruption drive following the appointment of Customs chief Rey Guerrero in 2018, said spokesperson Vincent Maronilla.
Some 228 personnel have been issued show-cause orders while 135 others were investigated for corruption and 45 administrative cases have been filed, Maronilla said.
It has transmitted 167 cases to the Office of the Ombudsman and 7 cases to the DOJ, while 28 were referred to the National Bureau of Investigation, he added.
"Itong task force na ike-create sa pamumuno ni Secretary Guevarra will serve to complement and validate 'yung efforts na ginagawa ng Bureau of Customs. Baka po kasi mayroon pa kaming di nakikita internally at 'yun po ay sana matulungan kami ni Secretary Guevarra," Maronilla told ABS-CBN's Teleradyo.
(This task force that will be created under the leadership of Secretary Guevarra will serve to complement and validate the Bureau of Customs' efforts. Maybe we missed something internally and we hope Secretary Guevarra can help us.)
The bureau has also enforced an automated system that lessens opportunities for corruption, the spokesman said.
"Nakita namin na systemic 'to and the solution is to actually fully automate our system. Eradicate po natin ang face-to-face transactions kasi 'yung malaking bulk ng opportunities for corruption nandun po sa phase kung saan may kaunting manual interaction pa between the stakeholders and Customs personnel namin," he said.
(We saw this was systemic and the solution is to actually fully automate our system, eradicate face-to-face transactions because this is where the bulk of opportunities for corruption are, in the phase where there's manual interaction between stakeholders and Customs personnel.)
The bureau previously came under fire for letting billions of pesos worth of illegal drugs slip past its watch.