Militarizing the Bureau of Customs is an option rather than a solution. After Lapeña’s controversy, President Duterte plans to make the Bureau of Customs be operated by military men, according to his statement on Oct. 28, 2018.
It appears that it isn’t that so hard to understand what President Duterte wants in the Bureau of Customs, referring to his first statement. He wanted a military camp inside the Bureau of Customs. He wanted it run by members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. He appears to be wanting to install martial law inside the Bureau.
Facts: From Faeldon to Lapeña controversies
Both Nicanor Faeldon and Isidro Lapeña served the Philippine armed forces.
Faeldon was commissioned officer in the Philippine Marine Corps in 1992, while Lapeña was a Philippine Military Academy graduate, an active officer of the Philippine National Police.
Both had served as commissioners of the Bureau of Customs appointed by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.
Faeldon took office on June 30, 2016; ended his service on August 21, 2017, and for just a little over a year assumed another office in the government as director-general of the Bureau of Corrections on Oct. 15, 2018.
Isidro Lapeña, chief of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, assumed office after President Duterte appointed him on August 21, 2017, to head the Bureau of Customs.
After Lapeña acknowledged that magnetic lifters may have contained at least 6.8 billion worth of alleged smuggled shabu, President Duterte removed Lapeña from the Bureau.
After a while, Lapeña assumed office to head the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority.
It is in the same situation where Faeldon’s controversy in the Bureau of Customs, which involved the alleged 6.4 billion worth of shabu smuggled under his watch, prompted him to resign.
Meanwhile, two days after President Duterte’s statement had stirred the public opinion on the constitutionality in militarizing the Bureau of Customs, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo, on October 30, 2018, quipped to clarify that President Duterte would not appoint any member of the Armed Forces. Rather, they [members of the Armed Forces] would be there in the Bureau to make their presence felt.
Militarizing the Bureau of Customs “intimidates corruption“
Panelo’s statement saying that military presence intimidates corruption does not mince words. Militarizing the Bureau of Customs, in the commonest sense, doesn’t follow any sound logical thinking.
Although Panelo is quick to save the President, it renders him useless. The 75% of Filipinos are just that convinced that the country under President Duterte is in the right direction (SWS, 2018).
Not only that, the net trust rating of President Duterte for the third quarter of 2018 reflects a convincing very good +62 (SWS, 2018).
But numbers are volatile, and changes are self-acting. At the expense of external forces, change is coming though we never know if it is constructive or violative, after all.
The impression of Panelo on militarizing the Bureau of Customs to intimidate corruption isn’t only fantastic in the fantasy world but also illogical in an illogical world that, of course, exists only in the limbo of lies Panelo is seemingly advocating.
Nobody believes Panelo’s statement like this, do you?
PH drug problem was “too big” to handle
With the findings of a retired US Drug Enforcement Administration Agent about the drug problems in the Philippines during the presidency of now House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (The Manila Times, October 30, 2018), and given the same magnitude under the current administration of President Duterte, how odd to believe that the presence of the military in the Bureau of Customs cows corruption and stops illegal drugs smuggling.
Dr. Dante Ang, chairman emeritus of The Manila Times, a publicist of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, and a special envoy for international public relations of President Duterte, on his op-ed column Whom can President Duterte trust? writes:
…I received a call from my contact in the US Embassy informing me that the retired US DEA agent felt that the drug problem in the Philippines was too big for him to handle, saying that people in high places were directly involved.
…the retired US DEA agent was scared of the powerful figures behind the illegal drug trade that included ranking PNP, AFP, and government officials.
This impression of findings must be fatal to President Duterte’s plan to militarize the Bureau of Customs. Unless President Duterte is undermining the influence of the former high ranking PNP, AFP, and government officials and is just looking at the solution to the drug problem in the Philippines as an option (that is, “a false solution), he would just rather stick to his first statement— militarizing the Bureau of Customs to pave the way to a mind conditioning on Filipinos for a creeping martial law peeping at a distance.
This is the realistic impression Panelo should have been saying. This is the realistic impression President Duterte must have been cautioned against trusting too much of military personnel. This must be the benchmark in finding the solution to save the Bureau of Customs from further decay.
Militarizing the Bureau of Customs can either be flex or one-trick. After all, the Bureau needs people of no influence, no brotherhood they may be indebted to. Simply put, competent individuals who have no issues with their integrity may do a simple tweak to the long-standing problems. ▲
Regel Javines is a former editor-in-chief of an official student publication in a state university. He has been blogging since 2011 writing news and opinion on various social issues; a stringer for already defunct Yahoo! Contributor Network and Allvoices.com. He is also a former content editor and proofreader for various book publishing companies and spent a short stint in The Manila Times as a Deskman for national and foreign business news. See Regel’s posts.