By Catherine S. Valente, August 15 2018; The Manila Times


Image Credit to Philstar.com

President Rodrigo Duterte is training his sights on supposed crooks in the Bureau of Customs (BoC) and the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), the head of the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) said on Tuesday.

In a phone interview, PACC Chairman Dante Jimenez said Duterte wants the anti-corruption body to look into reported anomalies in the BoC and the BIR as part of his promise to rid his administration of corruption.

Duterte previously tagged the two bureaus under the Department of Finance as the most corrupt government agencies in the country.

“Ang susunod namin diyan ay Bureau of Customs at BIR. Department of Finance, under niya ang BIR at BoC [Our next step will be to investigate the Bureau of Customs and the BIR. The BIR and BoC are both agencies under the Department of Finance]. These are the major collection agencies of the government,” Jimenez told The Manila Times.

He made the statements after Duterte fired the chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Medical Center, more popularly known by its old name V. Luna General Hospital, the head of its logistics office and 20 others reportedly for massive corruption.

The Commander-in-Chief ordered the court martial of Brig. Gen. Edwin Leo Torrelavega, head of the AFP-Health Service Command, and Col. Antonio Punzalan, commander of the V. Luna Medical Center.

Jimenez, the founding chairman of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption, said heads of all government agencies must “take the cue” from the military’s move to cleanse its ranks.

“I am very happy with the DND [Department of National Defense] and the DILG [Department of the Interior and Local Government for their] response [to]our challenge to them to clean their rank and file of corruption because that is specifically a call of no less than Commander-in-Chief, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte,” the PACC chairman added.

“We hope that all other departments and bureaus of the government will do the same kind of cleansing in their rank and file. This serves as a warning to all heads of departments and bureaus to ensure that all forms of corruption are unearthed, exposed and corrected,” he said.

Jimenez added that Duterte’s intent to cleanse the bureaucracy was in line with his commitment to promote public accountability among public servants.

“Yes, yes tuloy tuloy ‘yan [the fight against corruption continues]… We will make sure that [the fight will be]from commission to conviction. I am applying the same kind of exposure that I had with the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption,” he said.

The PACC chief assured the public that government officials facing the chopping block would be given due process.

“The role of the commission is to take the lead and provide… the necessary [pieces of evidence], clear [pieces of evidence]of existing corruption in the various departments. That’s the role of the commission here, setting the pace and for all the department heads and the heads of bureaus under the departments to do the same [because, you know] it’s so difficult with this kind of corruption going on for decades… I’m appealing to their sense of patriotism. Let’s support the President,” he said.

Last week, the Customs bureau drew flak over a P6.8-billion shabu shipment that again slipped into the country undetected.

However, Roque said the President will not let go of Customs chief Isidro Lapeña despite the recent discovery of several magnetic lifters that were suspected to have contained the prohibited drug.

Last year, the Customs bureau got embroiled in a controversy after it was discovered that P6.4 billion worth of shabu from China entered the country.

Then-Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon stepped down from his post in August last year amid accusations that he had accepted bribes to allow the contraband into the country.

But Duterte backed Faeldon, saying it was the BoC itself that is “corrupt to the core.” |

He has since appointed Faeldon to the Office of Civil Defense.