Press Release
August 3, 2013

Cayetano calls Corruption in Customs, the new 'Wangwang'

"A new 'wangwang' reform should take effect in the whole bureaucracy."

Senate Majority Floor Leader Alan Cayetano made this statement Friday as he compared the rampant corruption and other forms of anomalies in the Bureau of Customs (BOC) as the new 'wangwang' irking the President and the people.

In a press conference, Cayetano urged the government to introduce not just proposals, but "major, bold, (and) radical reforms" to put an end to alleged corrupt practices among officials and employees of the BOC.

"Raising the issue in his SONA is already a stern warning and I believe [President Aquino] will effect changes himself in the BOC should nothing happen in the next few weeks," Cayetano said adding that he would support major reforms being pushed by the administration to cleanse agencies known for being 'corruption hotspots'.

Cayetano likewise said this is the best time for Customs Commissioner Rufino "Ruffy" Biazon to have the political will to lay down workable and pragmatic yet comprehensive reforms in his agency.

"I do understand the difficulty of having to effect a reform, but now that Commissioner Biazon and Commissioner (Danny) Lim are in the middle of this issue, and they have the support of the President and the people who want radical reforms in the agency, they should take this as opportunity to address the problem of corruption in the BOC," Cayetano pointed out.

He said Biazon's move on instructing the agency's port directors to resign from their respective posts as well as leading the bureau's reorganization is "a good first step" but added that "there should be a next big step towards reform."

BOC in bad light since 2009

To reaffirm the gravity of the issue, Cayetano cited a statement from the President's SONA, claiming that over P200-Billion worth of government money is lost due to corruption within the bureaucracy.

This amount of money, according to Cayetano, could have been spent on building 800,000 7x9-meter classrooms, providing 20 million scholarships for primary and secondary education, paying 650,000 public school teachers, loans for about 10 million small scale enterprises, or even on increasing Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) beneficiaries by about 13 million - all of which would have improved the lives of many Filipinos.

The Senator said even if government tried to fire everyone working within the BOC, this "radical" move would not entirely put an end to corruption since the replacements may be just as corrupt as the old officials.

"I am not generalizing but corruption is still widespread," he added.

Cayetano cited a 2012 SWS Survey of Enterprises on Corruption saying that although the Bureau of Customs improved its net sincerity rating in fighting corruption, the Bureau (still) distinguishes itself as the sole institution with a Bad rating.

According to the senator, the survey showed that out of 20 government institutions rated for sincerity in fighting corruption, 17, including the BOC, improved their net sincerity ratings from 2009 to 2012. Despite the increase, however, the BOC's rating remains to be the only bureau recorded to have a Bad net sincerity rating of -45.

Politics of 'Lagayan'

"Corruption still exists according to my consultations with the business sector and brokers. Even legit(imate) kargamento, may politika at lagayan... May lagay sa bawat container, lagay sa kulang na papeles," he said.

Cayetano added that corruption in the BOC has been the problem of past and previous administrations, with reports about the rampant smuggling of oil through special economic zones and agricultural products that is costing the government billions of pesos.

"The past administrations encountered problems when the government tried to thoroughly investigate the employees and officials before. But I'm sure if the President will do this now, he will not back down," the Senate majority leader said, adding that he has high hopes that the BOC will be cleansed through the Aquino administration's campaign "Tuwid na daan" .

"I think this is the time' for real reform (referring to the BOC). In our country, reforms will not start until the perpetrators are caught and punished," Cayetano said.

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