‘Be a symbol of trust, honesty, efficiency,’ PBBM tells Customs

BOC eyeing P1 trillion collection this year

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PRESIDENT Ferdinand Marcos Jr. called on the Bureau of Customs (BOC) to continue with its transformation effort saying the agency should now be seen as a symbol of “trust, honesty, and efficiency” in public service as he lauded its accomplishments during its 122nd anniversary this month.

The President’s message was conveyed by new Department of Finance secretary, Ralph Recto, who was also the guest of honor and speaker during the celebration held last February 13, 2024, at the Rizal Park Hotel, a short distance away from the BOC’s main office at Port Area, Manila.

“The President himself has specifically emphasized that we must ensure a future where the BOC remains a symbol of trust, honesty, and efficiency — principles that will nurture a thriving economic environment and form the bedrock of every Filipino’s aspiration,” Recto said.

The event started with the ceremonial condemnation of forfeited vape products discovered in Valenzuela in October 2023.  It was followed by a donation of assorted goods to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) from the BOC-Ninoy Aquino International Airport, in support of the President’s advocacy for social responsibility.

 

Department of Finance Secretary Ralph Recto troops the line with Bureau of Customs Commissioner Bienvenido Rubio on his arrival as guest of honor and speaker during the BOC’s 122nd anniversary held last February 13, 2024, in Manila (photo: BOC-PIAD).

Embracing the World Customs Organization’s (WCO) 2024 theme, ‘Customs Engaging Traditional and New Partners with Purpose,’ the BOC recognized its trade partners for their invaluable contribution to the bureau’s success, with Recto and Commissioner Bienvenido Rubio handing out awards to the country’s top importers and exporters.

Rubio also used the occasion to announce the formal launching of the Customs Industry Consultative and Advisory Council (CICAC), a consultative body between the BOC and the business sectoror to address existing and potential issues, promote understanding, and further strengthen the BOC’s relationship with its industry partners.

Founded in 1902, the BOC has since then becomes the country’s second largest revenue generating agency after the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).

“We look back to over a century of accomplishments and values which have changed the course of our institution for the better, and we look forward to a concrete sense of future fueled by our passion to serve our stakeholders and fully modernize our customs administration,” Rubio said during his speech.

Ambitious revenue goal

Prior to the anniversary, Recto sat down with bureau officials on January 24, 2024 after formally assuming the top DOF post from Secretary Benjamin Diokno last January 12. Both the BOC and the BIR are under the DOF.

In this meeting, Rubio, along with his management team, assured the finance chief of achieving—and even surpassing—its current assigned collection target of P959 billion. Rubio even expressed confidence that this year would be the year when the BOC would reach another historic milestone by actually collecting P1 trillion for the government.

Based on their calculations, the BOC expects to further increase its collection of between 15 to 20 percent “through vigilant monitoring and continuous improvement of modernization projects.” He noted that the BOC’s digitalization of its systems and process now stands at 96.99 percent.

Last year, Rubio reported that the BOC’s actual cash collection totaled P883 billion for a surplus of P9.49 billion from its assigned target. At the start of 2023, the BOC was given a revenue target of P725.59 billion.

Also boosting Rubio’s confidence is the unrelenting anti-smuggling operation of the Intelligence Group under Deputy Commissioner Juvymax Uy, a bemedalled former Philippine Army general.

In 2023, the IG seized a staggering P43.295 billion worth of assorted smuggled goods and contrabands.

Records would show that the figure dwarfed all previous accomplishments of Uy’s predecessors to the second most powerful post in the agency.

The Customs chief said they expect “to fully implement” this year the National Customs Intelligence System (NCIS) to enhance actionable intelligence, support case build-up, and conduct risk profiling and analysis to curb smuggling effectively.

Finance Secretary Ralph Recto posing for posterity with top Bureau of Customs officials headed by Comm. Bienvenido Rubio, during the agency’s 122nd anniversary celebration last February 13, 2024 (photo: BOC-PIAD).

Rubio also informed Recto that systems’ improvement are also continuously being pursued by the agency such as the Enhanced Value Reference Information System (e-VRIS), a “critical risk assessment tool” for safeguarding government revenues and facilitating trade. He added that procedures and clearances are also being finalize involving e-Commerce “to prevent revenue leakages.”

Maintaining focus

In celebrating the agency’s 122nd founding anniversary, BOC Commissioner Bienvenido Y. Rubio Taking off from his initial ‘5-Point Priority Programs’ after taking the top customs post last February 2023 from Commissioner Yogi Filemon Ruiz, Rubio said his priority programs would remain the agency’s guiding posts to achieve their ambitious goal of breaching the P1 trillion collection mark this year.

These programs include the Digitalization of Customs Processes, Surpassing Collection Targets, Streamlining Procedures to Facilitate Secure Trade, Combatting Smuggling in All Forms, and Enhancing Employee Welfare and Development.

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