‘Re-inventing the wheel’ at Bureau of Customs

October 29, 2018

BEFORE anything else, yours truly would like to again thank all the “partners” and friends of the National Press Club (NPC) for making our 66th anniversary celebration yesterday a huge success under this year’s theme, ‘Soaring High @ 66.’

And of course, also to be commended is the united effort by the present board, headed by Pres. Rolly ‘Lakay’ Gonzalo, in attending to the usual ‘nitty-gritty’ in the preparation of this very important event.

But then of course, we have had years of “training,’ as ‘hands-on’ officers of the club, in the preparation of such ‘big-ticket’ events that the positive result is just to be expected.

At siyempre, “iba” talaga kapag may “pagkakaisa” ang mga pinuno ng ating samahan kaya… mabuhay ang Press Freedom Party! Mabuhay ang National Press Club!

***

Although nothing new, the announcement by Pres. Duterte over the weekend that he would let the military to “temporarily” takeover the vital functions of the Bureau of Customs still surprised a lot of people.

Appreciating the depth of corruption that continues to plague the BoC, PDU30 also said that all customs personnel are now out of their respective posts and are all to report to Malacañang, as he also directed incoming Customs commissioner, former AFP chief, Gen. Rey Leonardo ‘Jagger’ Guerrero, to “train” military personnel in the technicalities of running the agency.

As to what extent this sudden presidential decision would affect the bureau’s revenue collection performance remains to be seen.

But certainly, apprehension has already been raised, with Atty. Lourdes ‘Dess’ Mangaoang, telling us:

“Whoever gave the Presidnt  this advise made a blunder. This will exacerbate port congestion and will lead to very high inflation.”

Certainly, Atty. Dess–– who has been fully vindicated over the magnetic scrap lifter controversy— has a good point there, as she has always been “prescient” in her observations, a quality that yours truly really admire.

But going back to PDU30’s announcement that he would let the military have a run of things at the waterfront, this again, is nothing new, to stress the point, dear readers.

In other words, PDU30’s announcement is like ‘re-inventing the wheel.’

In 1962, in appreciation of his friendship and reliability as a political ally, then Zamboanga City mayor, Cesar Climaco, was appointed Customs commissioner by Pres. Diosdado Macapagal, father of former Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Climaco’s father was a successful Customs broker and as such, he has a pretty good “idea” of how rotten the BoC was, even back then.

And among the “novel” ideas introduced by Comm. Climaco to combat graft and corruption at the BoC— and well-applauded too— was to bring in fresh graduates from the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) to fill the bureau’s positions, believing their patriotism, idealism and love of country are enough “armour” to shield them from the various “temptations” inside and out of the BoC.

Waterfront old timers mused that for a while— and only for a while— Climaco’s decision to entrust the bureau in the hands of these young military officers, actually worked.

But soon enough, they added, not even the idealism imbued in these young, promising military officers by the PMA proved “no match” to the allure of “easy money.” Translation? They ended up being “swallowed” by the “system.”

Ang kuwento pa nga  sa atin ng mga “beterano,” hindi nagtagal, “napuno” ang kahabaan ng ‘Dewey Boulevard’ (today’s Roxas Boulevard), ng mga militar at sundalo na “dinala” sa Aduana ni Comm. Climaco, referring of course to the time when the stretch of Dewey/Roxas Boulevard, was the country’s premier ‘Red Light District.’

Translation? “Kinain din silang lahat ng sistema.”

(Climaco would not stay long at the BoC, having agreed again to run for senator in the 1963 election under the Liberal Party, where he, for the second time, lost again).

Then too, during the martial law years and even beyond, a succession of military officers, all PMA graduates, got the chance to run the bureau with a mandate to “clean” it up. The result was the same: they all failed.

This is because those sincere in their efforts either got the ire of Malacañang and refused cooperation (like ex-AFP chief, Gen. Jessie Dellosa) or they fell victim to a wide-ranging conspiracy like Comm. Sid Lapeña.

At any rate, another highly-respected general, ex-AFP chief ‘Jagger’ Guerrero, is now being given the chance to make his try where others before him had failed.

And with Pres. Duterte’s show of full support, the only thing that Comm. Jagger should avoid and prevent from happening is that like Comm. Sid, he also ended up being a victim of a conspiracy.

And as you are also reading this, dear readers, the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee is to start its “last hearing,” hopefully, of the shabu smuggling brouhaha that has accomplished its goal of removing Comm. Sid.

Here’s hoping that the effort of SBRC chairman, Sen. Dick Gordon, to uncover the truth and pinpoint those that need to be thrown into jail (facing  a firing squad would have been much preferable), would not be in vain 

Abangan!