MANILA — Customs Commissioner Rey Guerrero should ask for blanket authority to curb alleged corruption in his agency after being called out by President Rodrigo Duterte during his 4th State of the Nation Address, Sen. Panfilo Lacson said Thursday.
Duterte, who recently relieved 64 Customs personnel of their duties, said the "corruption-ridden" agency could have raked in more than P598-billion collection last year had it been "clean."
The President should give Guerrero blanket authority for at least 3 months "to prove his worth", said Lacson, who led 2017 Senate inquiries into the alleged "tara" or grease money system in the bureau.
"At the outset, dapat hiningi n'ya blanket authority na huwag s'yang pakikialaman sa pagpili ng mga tao, sa pagpapalakad para talaga makita," the senator told radio DZMM.
(He should have asked for blanket authority so there would be no interference in his selection of employees and management of the agency.)
"'Di ka susundin ng tauhan mo, maski deputy mo pa siya, kung hindi naman ikaw ang nag-appoint at kung kaninong pulitiko lumapit. Siga-siga iyun, hindi mo iyun mare-rein in," he added.
(You will not be obeyed by your employees, even your deputy, if you were not the one who appointed them and they had approached another politician. They would be brazen and you won't be able to reign them in.)
Duterte in March appointed as deputy commissioner a sacked district collector who was investigated last year for a multi-billion drug shipment that slipped past Customs inspection, said Lacson.
The police chief-turned-lawmaker also claimed that China's exports to the Philippines last year were valued at P18 billion by Chinese authorities, but were only pegged at P12 billion in local records.
"Bakit ang laki ng discrepancy? Doon lang makikita natin na may mali. Magkano ang tax na nawawala?" he said.
(Why is the discrepancy big? You'd already see there that there is something wrong. How much tax are we losing?)
The bureau, he said, should automate its transactions and ban "fly by night" consignees that cannot be traced during investigations.