President Rodrigo Duterte oversaw Wednesday, May 30, the destruction of 122 motorcycles and vehicles at the Bureau of Customs (BoC) worth P34.7 million, calling on Customs personnel to veer away from corruption and smuggling.
In his speech following the destruction of the smuggled vehicles and motorcycles, President Duterte said Customs personnel who are conniving with smugglers are destroying the image of the government.
“Kasi ang negosyo na ‘yan very open. It’s not a translucent, a transparent glass there. So makikita ng mga kasama mo kung anong bisyo mo. And the way you progress in life, start with just an ordinary house, then you transfer. Makikita eh nang makikita. So there is no way of escaping the public notice and the public’s — maybe condemnation,” Duterte said.
The President however assured hardworking BOC employees of his support, particularly during times of distress and emergency.
“Well, sabi ko sa inyo if there is anything that you cannot afford — maybe karamihan niyan cancer… ‘yung mga medications, you can always go to my office,” Duterte said.
“There’s money. You do not have to extort us or beg. All you have to do is to say, ‘Mayor, may problema ako. Alam mo asawa ko nagkaroon ng cancer.’ I will look for ways. If not, I will borrow,” the President assured.
“So kung pagdating ng panahon na ganun, lumapit ka lang sa akin. I have the money. You collected in behalf of the government. Let’s all share. And I’m willing to do that but make it legal,” he said.
The President also praised the new paradigm at the BOC after it surpassed its collection target from January to May of this year.
“The fact is that we are improving on our income. There seems to be a new kind of paradigm sa Customs. I want you to maintain it because it benefits the country, all of us,” he said.
During the event, Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapeña reported intercepting millions worth of illegal drugs and other products from January to May this year. Heightened operation netted an estimated P294.8 million worth of illegal drugs.
Also, since January of this year, a total of P1.2 billion worth of various goods were intercepted by the BOC that include agricultural products, counterfeit items, used clothing, and other merchandise.
President Duterte meanwhile announced the firing of a Customs deputy commissioner for excessive travels abroad.
“He is now under investigation by the House. Matagal na ‘yang investigation sa House pati recommendation lang ‘yan. So I will cut short the agony of Congress,” Duterte said.
“I’m firing him today. Noel Patrick Sales Prudente. I think he is an assistant commissioner? Ah Deputy Commissioner. So I’ll make it easy for Congress. I’m firing him effective today,” he said.
The destruction of smuggled vehicles and motorcycles is the second at the BOC. It is aimed at sending a stern warning to smugglers to halt their activities.
The condemnation was simultaneously done at the Port of Manila and Port of Cebu.
Among those destroyed were 112 units of brand new Vespa scooters and used BMW motorcycles, a Harley Davidson bike, two units of Triumph motorcycle, Mitsubishi Pajero, two units of Land Rover and a Volvo car.
Simultaneously destriyed at the Port of Cebu were used 2002 Ford Ecoline E350 and 2005 Ford Ecoline E350. The vehicles and motorcycles entered the country in different dates through the Manila International Container Port, Port of Subic, Port of Cebu and Port of Iloilo.
The destruction of smuggled vehicles and motorcycles is in line with President Duterte’s thrust to discourage smugglers from bringing in illicit contraband such as cars, motorcycles, narcotics, agricultural products and other items.
Last February, the Bureau of Customs, during its founding anniversary, destroyed 20 high-end vehicles worth P61 million. The President also oversaw the event.
Similar condemnation was also carried out in Port Irene in Cagayan last March with the President also in attendance.
The BoC had also seized 24 luxury vehicles including several “supercars” at the Manila International Container Port, which are now under litigation. ###PND