New Customs chief’s target: 2 big smugglers every 2 weeks
MANILA, Philippines – Newly-appointed Bureau of Customs (BoC) chief Angelito Alvarez on Thursday said he will name 2 big-time smugglers every 2 weeks and file cases against them as part of his effort to meet the agency’s revenue target.
Alvarez, however, admitted that despite his 20 years experience dealing with the Bureau of Customs, he would still need more time to start the campaign against smugglers as he is still new in the job.
The new BoC chief’s appointment was announced by Malacañang 2 days ago.
He said the reports about smugglers he has heard are only based on rumors, and the BoC would need to gather proof against them before announcing their names and filing charges against them.
“Meron akong alam. Kailangan lang natin ng ebidensya… ‘Pag ikaw ay nasa private sector, napakarami ng bulungan diyan about the involvement of certain persons. Sa akin, madaling magsalita, [pero] kailangan ng proof,” he said.
Alvarez said going after big-time smugglers is one of the main tasks he received from Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima.
He said Purisima as well as new Bureau Internal Revenue (BIR) chief Kim Henares believe that going all-out against smugglers would boost the BoC’s revenue collection, and effectively provide the government the much-needed funds to implement projects lined up by the new administration.
Alvarez admitted that he was highly recommended by Purisima for the job because of his experience in customs transactions.
The new customs chief served for 20 years under the Lina group, working as a top executive in the companies owned by Bert Lina.
Alvarez, meanwhile, assured that his ties with Lina, who also has transactions at the BoC, will not affect his anti-smuggling campaign.
He said that aside from direct smugglers, the BoC will also start an intensified campaign against technical smuggling and erring employees.
He said he will start the campaign by strengthening the BoC’s force entry audit group.
Alvarez, meanwhile, admitted that when he was interviewed by Executive Secretary Paquito “Jojo” Ochoa on June 29, he got the impression that he would be appointed to the BoC.
He said he thought he would be included in the first group of appointees presented by President Aquino after his inauguration last June 30.
“Nalaman ko kay Secretary Purisima na itong incident ng golf na ito ang nakarating sa atensyon ng Pangulong, naging malaking concern,” he said.
President Aquino has said that one of the primary criteria for his appointees is integrity.
Alvarez’s integrity was put in question over a golf tournament in February at the Alabang Golf and Country Club.
Reports said Alvarez was suspended for 6 months and banned for 5 years by the golf club for allegedly doctoring his scores in the tournament.
The new BoC chief denied the allegation, saying “I [just] played for fun and played honest.”