IT may be “premature” for the House of Representatives’ dangerous drugs committee to seek the replacement of the Bureau of Customs in response to the smuggling of P6.4-billion worth of shabu (crystal meth) in May.
This was the take of Muntinlupa City Rep. Ruffy Biazon, himself a former Customs commissioner under the Aquino administration, after the committee chaired by Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers (2nd district) issued its findings in a committee report on Wednesday.
Barbers’ committee called for legislation to create a new agency with a “different system of collection” in order to “avoid corruption and increase revenue collection.”
The proposed agency may consider “privatization of non-sovereign functions,” upon extensive study by the Department of Finance, the 52-page report suggested.
But Biazon cautioned against making such recommendations on the basis of the congressional inquiry into what has been dubbed the largest haul of smuggled drugs in the country.
“The inquiries have only scratched the surface of what ails the BOC, and what have been seen are just the symptoms and manifestations of the sickness of the agency,” Biazon said.
“I would caution against prescribing a cure without fully knowing and understanding the roots of the symptoms and manifestations through an in-depth study of the conditions inside the agency and its processes and procedures,” he added.
Instead, Biazon said the House should proceed with a separate inquiry focusing on the mandate, organization, policies and processes of the BOC to learn and understand its ideal conditions and loopholes, as well as the government’s shortcomings in providing support.
“While suggestions and recommendations at this point are welcome, the judgment on which one is the best for the BOC will only be arrived at after a thorough and objective study and review,” he said.
He also renewed his call for the House to act on House Resolution No. 1, which he filed on June 30, 2016 to look into the status of the Customs automation program.
Biazon served as Customs commissioner from September 2011 to December 2013, when he resigned following allegations that he funneled his pork barrel fund allocations to a non-government organization linked to businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles.