DAVAO CITY – Incoming president Rodrigo Duterte yesterday gave warning to corrupt and inefficient government agencies and officials of three state agencies that they would be booted out.
He named the Bureau of Customs (BOC), the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and the Land Transportation Office (LTO) as the “most corrupt,” saying it might be better to simply disband these agencies.
“I’m very sorry but the most corrupt agencies – BIR, Customs, LTO – those three… I might as well abolish them,” Duterte said in a press conference here.
It remains uncertain though if Duterte is serious about his statement as he himself said he is still looking for people who can lead the three agencies.
Duterte revealed he had tried to persuade retired Rear Adm. Guillermo Wong to handle the BIR but the former Navy officer declined.
“They want to be patriotic but they have necessities,” Duterte said, referring to people who declined his offer to join his administration.
Duterte said he is also eyeing military men to handle the Bureau of Immigration and the Bureau of Corrections, which maintains the New Bilibid Prison.
He said the immigration bureau is a “sensitive agency” and he wants somebody there who is “very strict.”
Duterte also described as “useless” the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, saying many of its officials are involved in the sale of illegal drugs.
Duterte previously said nothing is final yet with regard to his appointees and he might implement a reshuffle once he assumes office.
On the other hand, Customs officials agreed with Duterte’s observation of corruption in the agency but urged the incoming president to “think it over.”
Customs deputy commissioner Jessie Dellosa said Duterte’s idea to abolish the agency should be further studied.
Dellosa said he is hoping that Duterte would be able to appoint good and decent officials to the BOC to rid the agency of corruption, but not people who would use their positions for their own financial gain.
“He will have to find someone who is committed and make (anti-corruption) his advocacy,” he said.
For his part, Customs commissioner Alberto Lina said Duterte’s recognition of the Aquino administration’s good economic policies should include higher revenues.
Under Duterte’s eight-point economic agenda, the incoming administration vowed to “continue and maintain” the current macroeconomic policies.
“It can’t be ignored that the revenue efforts of both (BIR and Customs) played a critical role in achieving investment grade rating for the country, partnered with institutional reforms,” Lina said.
As far as BIR chief Kim Henares is concerned, it would be the data speaking for itself against the perception of the public.
Henares said she respects the view of Duterte that BIR is among the most corrupt agencies, but added official data may show otherwise.
“That’s his perception, but the data will bear us out,” Henares said.
“As far as I am concerned, we did what we have to do and we did it well, so what’s the point of arguing?” she added.
Henares said the BIR and its employees should actually be credited for “working hard for the past six years,” saying it is the only agency whose revenue collections have consistently grown.
Department of Finance data showed BIR collections rose an average of 11.7 percent from 2011 to 2015, better than the 10.01 percent recorded from 2005 to 2010.
As of the first quarter, BIR already improved revenues by eight percent, higher than BOC’s two percent. BIR and BOC account for around 90 percent of government income.