Senator Ralph Recto expressed support on Saturday to President Rodrigo Duterte’s request to double Bureau of Customs’ (BOC) workforce as long as it is linked to reforms within the agency.
In his 2018 Budget Message, Duterte is asking the Congress to appropriate additional P4.2 billion to hire 3,233 personnel to implement an aggressive anti-smuggling campaign. The fund, which is lodged in the Miscellaneous Personnel Benefits Fund, will be utilized for the improvement of cybersecurity of borders and acquisition of various equipment, Recto explained in a statement.
He said he is supporting the President’s request “if it is linked to reforms and measurable productivity goals.”
“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.
The Congress has launched simultaneous investigations into the smuggling of P6.4-billion illegal drugs from China that passed through the BOC’s express lane in May. The probe has resulted in the resignation of the agency’s top officials—intelligence chief Neil Anthony Estrella and Import Assessment Services director Milo Maestrecampo, who were both tagged by private customs broker Mark Taguba for accepting bribe money to process shipments in BOC.
Recto explained that the hiring of new personnel will be a good return of investment as long as they will collect millions for the government.
“So kung ‘yung bagong empleyado na may sweldo na sabihin na natin P500,000 (So if the new employee has, say, P500,000 salary), but will be able to yield tens of millions of pesos in additional revenue, bakit hindi (Why not?),” he said.
The senator earlier urged Duterte to hire new, competent, and ethical people knowledgeable in the intricacies of BOC operations because the country “cannot afford OJTs on training wheels being appointed to such a crucial job.” JPV
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