THE Bureau of Customs (BoC) plans to roll out a day-and-night payment system for exporters to speed up the release of goods currently being delayed by the limited hours of Customs operations.

The current payment system is only open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero said in a webinar on Thursday.

“We’re working with the Philippine clearing house center for us to be able to come up with an upgraded version of this payment system… which will allow 24/7 payment for these shipments, or particularly exports.”

Mr. Guerrero said exporters can also open a pre-payment account for their shipments.

Meanwhile, Mr. Guerrero also addressed corruption allegations at his bureau.

Most presidential candidates at a televised debate held by CNN Philippines last month indicated that they would investigate the Bureau of Customs for corruption if they won the presidency.

“That was really a sad awakening for us because all the while we were confident that we were doing our best to address all of these issues,” Mr. Guerrero said. “The bad impression that the bureau has acquired over many decades of neglect cannot be erased in just two or three years. This is something we have to work on.”

The bureau reported that it transferred 721 of its employees to other offices and ports last year following an anti-corruption campaign.

Customs dismissed three employees and suspended 17 over the course of the year. Another 19 were relieved from their posts but remain in active service.

“We tried our best to investigate and follow up the prosecution of those found involved in malpractice or in graft and corruption. However, the decision, the outcome of the cases, is actually outside the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Customs. This is a concern that we have raised with the agencies concerned,” Mr. Guerrero said.

The Philippines fell two spots to 117th place out of 180 countries and territories in the 2021 Corruption Perceptions Index.

Transparency International gave the Philippines a score of 33 out of 100, which is based on perceived levels of public sector corruption, a “historic low” for the country. — Jenina P. Ibañez