Press Release
August 12, 2017

Palace seeks P4.2 B to hire 3,000 more Customs personnel

President Duterte is asking Congress to appropriate P4.2 billion so the Bureau of Customs could hire more than 3,000 personnel--or double its current workforce--next year, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto disclosed today.

Recto said the chief executive stated this request in the "President's Budget Message" for fiscal year 2018. The said document traditionally explains and distills the highlights of the proposed national budget.

In his message to Congress, Duterte said he is seeking P3.6 billion as the BOC's budget for 2018. The money, he explained, will be used "to implement an aggressive campaign against smuggling which deprives us, on average, of more than P165.5 billion in potential revenues yearly."

The President enumerated the "anti-smuggling activities" to be funded by the proposed appropriations, including "the enhancement of cyber security for all ports, and the acquisition of speedboats, firearms and other tactical equipment for better revenue collection."

On top of the P3.6 billion for BOC operations is a separate P4.2 billion lodged in a "special purpose fund" in the budget for the recruitment of more personnel, Recto said.

"In addition to the BOC's budget, we have tucked in an additional P4.2 billion under the (Fiscal Year) 2018 Miscellaneous Personnel Benefits Fund (MPBF). This will finance the BOC restructuring, to fill up its more than 3,000 vacant positions, capacitate personnel, improve systems and modernize facilities," Duterte said in his message to legislators.

Recto's research showed that of the 6,264 authorized permanent positions in the BOC, only 3,031 are filled, leaving a vacancy of 3,233. "These are the items the Palace wants funded and filled," he said.

Recto said he is supporting the President's request "if it is linked to reforms and measurable productivity goals. "

"If BOC hires 1,000, and then spends P1.4 billion for their salaries, but if in return they will be able to collect, say, just 10 percent, or P16.5 billion, of the taxes lost to smuggling, then it is a good return to investment," he said.

Recto said for next year, the "average per personnel collection quota is P210 million, based on a P637.1 billion total BOC collection target next year."

"So kung 'yung bagong empleyado na may sweldo na sabihin na natin P500,000, but will be able to yield tens of millions of pesos in additional revenue, bakit hindi," he said.

"Next year, based on the BOC budget and goals, the agency will need P1 in order to collect P182. That's the cost to collection ratio," he said.

"Although mired in controversy, let us not lose sight of the fact that the BOC is a strategic agency which funds public services," he added.

"For 2017, BOC is tasked to collect P468 billion. On a daily basis, that would be P1.28 billion. Its collection quota is 20 percent of total government tax income," he said.

"Thus it can be said that 20 percent of the total length of roads built, classrooms constructed, medicine bought, textbooks distributed, families given health insurance will be financed by BOC collections," he said.

"The government will not be able to deliver on its promises to the people if its second biggest supplier of funds is broken, malfunctioning and damaged," he said, adding that with the resignation of some high BOC officials, a new team may have to be appointed.

"These must be competent and ethical people, knowledgeable of the intricacies and culture of Customs operations, because the country cannot afford OJTs on training wheels being appointed to such a crucial job," he said.

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