Customs chief cracks the whip on missed goal

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Isidro S. Lapeña
A photo the Bureau of Customs e-mailed to journalists on Nov. 20 last year shows its chief, Commissioner Isidro S. Lapeña, displaying contraband seized in Tondo, Manila.

THE HEAD of the Bureau of Customs (BoC) will relieve officers of districts that fail to hit revenue targets this month, the BoC said in a statement on Monday.

The move is in line with a Feb. 6 memorandum that says district collectors, deputy collectors for assessment, examiners, appraisers “and all personnel in charge of assessment” of districts that fail to meet targets will be relieved.

“I cannot put at stake another month for another experiment,” the bureau said in a separate press statement sent earlier on Monday, quoting its head, Commissioner Isidro S. Lapeña.

“Since I have just assigned some new collectors this January, we will base the relief on their February collection performance,” he explained, saying that such changes will take place in March.

The bureau cited preliminary data showing it collected P40.798 billion in January against a P46.394-billion target.

The bureau has been entrusted with a P598-billion collection target this year, compared to the P444.1 billion it collected in 2017 that fell short of a P459.6-billion goal.

Mr. Lapeña began cleansing the bureau almost as soon as he took over the bureau on Aug. 30 least year, yanking eight district collectors from their posts and reassigning 30 section chiefs in Manila to the provinces.

The bureau said in a Jan. 10 statement that there were “641 personnel movements” since September “in its campaign against corruption.”

Mr. Lapeña also ordered a halt to the practice of Customs collectors and traders of agreeing on the value of the latters’ shipments in lieu of correct valuation of goods.

He has also been bringing in officials from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, which he used to head, and other government offices to occupy strategic, sensitive posts like those for intelligence and investigation, import assessment, management information systems and traders’ accreditation, among others.

Mr. Lapeña in late-December formed the Interim Internal Affairs and Integrity Unit to investigate public complaints against Customs personnel; conduct motu propio investigation of incidents where evidence in the prosecution of smuggling cases was compromised, tampered with, obliterated, or lost while in the custody of Customs personnel; conduct lifestyle checks on personnel of the bureau; as well as recommend the filing of criminal cases against erring personnel.