By Evelyn Macairan, January 25 2019; Philippine Star

Image Credit to Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The ”tara” system or grease money scheme at the Bureau of Customs (BOC) has dramatically dropped from P35,000 to P5,000 per shipping container, indicating progress in the agency’s war against corruption.

“The tara before was P35,000 or higher per container. But these days, I heard it is only P5,000,” Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero yesterday said at a press conference.

The grease money is reportedly being divided among those processing the release of a shipment.

Guerrero attributed the lowering of tara to the removal or reassignment elsewhere of employees suspected of being involved in the scheme.

He said Customs has been gathering data on those reportedly involved in illegal activities at the bureau.

“We know where and who these people are and that is why we are filing cases against them. But it has been difficult (to build up a criminal case), so in the initial level we are taking administrative action,” Guerrero said.

The BOC has also implemented other measures to beef up its security monitoring and screening capabilities.

Last year, it acquired 50 units of x-ray machines, 25 hand-carried scanners, four mobile baggage scanners, six portal container scanners and 15 units of fixed check-in x-ray machines.

Guerrero said the upgraded scanning machines would be useful in detecting contraband such as the estimated P11-billion shabu allegedly hidden inside four magnetic lifters that reportedly had a 1.5-inch thick steel wall.